by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway
HAMBURG, N.Y. --- The 2017 debut at Buffalo Raceway for the dynamic duo of driver Larry Stalbaum and trainer Kimberly Asher couldn't have gone much better as the pair swept all the season-ending honors at Hamburg half-mile oval.
Stalbaum was named Driver Of The Year while Asher was selected Trainer Of The Year for the 2017 campaign. To top off their incredible meet, two horses in the stable belonging to the tandem, Quicksilvercandy A and Empire Earl N, were named Pacer and Trotter Of The Year respectively.
Despite the season be cutting short by three days due to a tornado, Stalbaum and Asher put up some gaudy numbers.
Stalbaum finished the season at Buffalo Raceway with 194 victories in 839 starts, winning $1,010,597 in purse earnings.
Ray Fisher Jr. finished in second place in the driver's standings with 134 wins while Drew Monti took third place with 130.
Asher in the meantime dominated the training standings from start to finish. In 367 starts, she complied 115 wins for $575,663 in purse money and an astounding UTR of .473. Asher currently is atop the leader board nationally in the 300-499 start category with a .468 UTR and is seventh overall in training wins with 119.
Four-time defending training champion JD Perrin finished in second place with 74 victories while Gerry Sarama took third with 66.
Quicksilvercandy A, a 13-year-old mare, produced 13 wins on the year and earned $66,629 thus far to easily take the Pacer Of The Year award. The 13 victories is currently the second most nationally. She has been in the money 23 of 26 attempts this year and has a lifetime bankroll of $635,363.
Empire Earl N made it a clean sweep for the Stalbaum/Asher stable as he took the Trotter Of The Year award. He captured four races in just 11 starts but put $31,700 in the bank with most of his races coming from outside posts in Open competition.
There were four track records broken during the meet. Plunge Blue Chip started things off on June 30 by winning the New York Sire Stakes for 2-year-old filly trotters in 2:00.0, breaking the old mark of 2:00.1 established in 2009 by Munis Blue Chip.
The aged (5+) pacing mare mark of 1:54.2 set by Majic Laughter in 2014 was tied by Deliciouslynaughty in 2017 by was eventually broken by Sarah Cola on July 12 as she toured the half-mile oval in 1:54.1.
The long-standing 1:54.0 record of Civil Attack set in 2008 stood the test of time as the aged (5+) pacing horses couldn't beat it until late in the season. Ironically, it was shattered twice in a week as Show Stopping put up a 1:53.4 time on July 8 only to see Utah Beach come along on July 15 and wipe out that time with a 1:53.2 mile.
There were career milestones that were reached as well as driver Ray Fisher Jr. notched his 4,000th lifetime victory on March 29 and Ron Beback Jr. drove to his 2,000th career win on April 19.
On February 25, it was a unique night for the McNeights as driver David McNeight III drove home three winners for three generations of his family. He first guided Sea Star to the victory for his father David McNeight Jr. and then helped himself out be winning aboard his own, Lucky Millionaire. On the last event on the card, McNeight III won for his grandfather, David McNeight Sr., with Spring Terror to complete the unusual trifecta.
For the season, Buffalo Raceway had a 41.95 winning percentage for post time favorites.
In the handle department including the export, Buffalo Raceway broke even compared to the 2016 numbers. Director of Operations Jon Cramer said, "We are holding our own. We are very pleased with our simulcast network."
The 2018 season is expected to begin in mid-January.