by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway
HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Empire Earl N ruled over the field in Buffalo Raceway's $10,000 Open Trot on Friday night (May 5) by tying a lifetime best of 1:58.3 with a solid 2-1/4 length victory over Winkys Pride.
In the $16,500 Claiming Championship Series final for trotters ($8,000-$12,500), Osprey Vision took top honors with a 2:00.4 mile over the sloppy track while in the $11,500 title race for the trotters ($4,000-$5,500), it was Wild Ride who captured the crown with 2:02.1 clocking.
It was a heads up drive by Buffalo Raceway's leading driver Larry Stalbaum which aided in Empire Earl N's Open victory.
The pace-setting Kahoku set the fractions of 28.4 and 58.4 but started to stall down the backstretch. Southern Palms was first over and took over the lead while Empire Earl N ($5.00) sat the pocket.
Sensing he might get caught behind the back peddling Kahoku, Stalbaum alertly found a closing gap to maneuver Empire Earl N to the outside and easily rambled past Southern Palms (Jim Morrill Jr.) in the stretch. Winkys Pride (Drew Monti) rallied late to get the place position while Southern Palms took third.
Owned by Stalbaum and trained by Kim Asher, it was the first win of the season for Empire Earl N (Earl-Santa Nita). The 9-year-old gelding has put $12,570 in the bankroll in 2017 and $98,495 lifetime.
Osprey Vision ($9.90) used a first over journey to register the victory in the $16,500 finale with a three length advantage over Tymal Colossus.
Sitting third behind Dash For The Cash, Osprey Vision (Stalbaum) started to make his winning move before the half and never looked back once gaining the top. The favored Tymal Colossus (Jack Flanigen) took second with Dash For The Cash (Todd Cummings) holding on for third.
It was the fourth win in 14 appearances this season for Osprey Vision (Ken Warkentin-Summerhill Hallie). The 8-year-old gelding, owned by Marissa Russo and trained by David Russo, moved his season winnings to $28,424 and $129,157 in his career.
Wild Ride (Monti) was able to sneak past the favored Grecale AS (Morrill Jr.) to spring the $19.00 upset victory in the $11,500 claiming title clash.
The pair were noses apart down the long Buffalo Raceway stretch but Wild Ride managed to get a nose in front in the shadow of the wire to post the win.
Wild Ride (Pegasus Spur-Birdsall Annie) is an 8-year-old gelding that is owned by Sharon Tufts Morgan and is trained by Darrin Monti. The victory was the second in 11 attempts in 2017 for Wild Ride, now a winner of $12,225 this year and $119,962 in his career.
Stalbaum finished the evening with four wins in the bike while Ray Fisher Jr., Monti and Morrill Jr. each doubled. David Russo had two training victories.
Racing will continue on Saturday night at Buffalo Raceway with a 13-race program set with a special 7 p.m. scheduled post to accommodate the running of the 143rd Kentucky Derby. There will be four finals in the Claiming Championship Series for the male pacers along with the $10,000 Open Pace.
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