by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway
HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Driver Todd Cummings made his first 2017 appearance in the winner's circle at Buffalo Raceway on Saturday night (May 6) and did so in fine fashion by steering Western Alumni to a stunning $28.80 victory in the $10,000 Open Pace.
While Cummings got to the winner's circle for the first time, driver Drew Monti was wearing out a path to there. Monti collected six victories on the night, including three in the Claiming Championship Series finals for the horse and gelding pacers.
Littlebitofclass led the way over the sloppy track in the feature and posted fractions of 28.4, 57.4 and 1:27.0. Turning for home, the pocket-sitting Western Alumni dropped into the passing lane and was able to hold off a stubborn Shady City (Stalbaum) who was hung out to dry the entire mile on the rainy night.
The margin of victory was 1-1/2 lengths as Western Alumni covered the mile in 1:56.1, equaling his seasonal best. Littlebitaclass (Morrill Jr.) managed to hold on for third.
Owned by James Dunn and trained by Tammy Cummings, it was the third victory in 11 appearances this season for the 9-year-old gelded Western Alumni (Western Hanover-Countryview Miss). The win pushed his earnings to $17,030 on the campaign and $324,109 lifetime.
In the Claiming Championship finals, Beechwood Wayne overcame the outside post and posted a $22.80 surprise to take the lion's share of the $9,000 purse for the $4,000 claimers. In the $12,500 finale for the $5,000-$6,000 classification, Ideal Affair rallied in the stretch to post a $7.70 decision.
The 14-year-old Saint William A ($5.80) won his fifth straight in capturing the $15,000 title race for the $8,000-$10,000 bracket and Royal Reception ($4.00) won his ninth race of the season by registering a win in the $17,500 final in the $12,500-$15,000 level.
Beechwood Wayne (Monti) came from last to first to win the $4,000 division in 1:58.0 as the top four finishers were separated by less than a half length. Beachfront (Jim Morrill Jr.) finished in second with Halton Hurricane (Todd Cummings) taking the show spot.
Owned by Tessa Roland and trained by JD Perrin, it was the fifth win in 15 tries in 2017 for Beechwood Wayne (Western Terror-Sanskrit Hanover). The win upped his seasonal winnings to $19,921 and $267,562 lifetime.
In the battle for the $5,000-$6000 claimers, Monti made it two straight wins in the Claiming Series as he guided Ideal Affair to a 2-1/4 length victory over Story Book (Morrill Jr.) in 1:58.2. Box Car Johnnie (Stalbaum) finished in third.
Owned by Eric Prevost and conditioned by Sabrina Clevenger, Ideal Affair (American Ideal-Private Affair) has now earned $27,188 this year thanks to six wins and moved his career bankroll to $125,019.
The classy old-timer Saint William A (Stalbaum) went coast-to-coast in the $8,000-$10,000 class and held off the late threat from Panalytical (Ray Fisher Jr.) in 1:58.4. Bahama Bay (Kevin Cummings) was able to roll into show position.
Owned by Stalbaum and conditioned by Kim Asher, Saint William A (Presidential Ball-La Saint) has $28,100 in earnings this season and $730,483 in his career.
Finally, Royal Reception (Monti) got the photo opportunity in the $12,500-$15,000 division with a half length triumph over a late closing Montezuma Blue Chip in 1:57.2. Steuben Patriot (Stalbaum) got the third place check.
Jason Newell owns the 6-year-old gelded Royal Reception (Stonebridge Royal-Celebrity Hall). Trained by Richard Roth, Royal Reception moved his 2017 earnings to $37,155 and $124,359 lifetime.
Despite Monti dominating the night in the sulky, Fisher Jr. still managed to post a triple.
Racing will resume on Wednesday night with a 10-race card scheduled for 5 p.m. There will be a $797 carryover in the Pick-5 which begins in the second race.
For more information including upcoming promotions, race replays, results and the latest news, go to www.buffaloraceway.com