One of the richest cards of the Buffalo Raceway spring-summer season is scheduled Saturday night as the Hamburg oval kicks off the Memorial Day weekend by offering $212,000 in purses for the 12-race harness program.
The night's events include eight stakes races for New York-sired 3-year-old pacers. Four races for colts and geldings carry purses of $24,900 each and a quartet for fillies have rewards of about $23,000 apiece. With good weather and a little luck, Raceway officials are hoping to at least equal the May 28, 1988, record of having six miles in two minutes or less.
The star of the night is expected to be L Dees Trish, a sophomore filly making her first start of 1989 after a triumphant 2-year-old season in which she ranked among the continent's best.
When she visited Hamburg last July 29, L Dees Trish set a track record (1:58 2/5 ) for her age, sex and gait en route to one of her 10 wins in 12 starts and bankroll of $236,161.
Since then, the daughter of Merger -- owned by Lawrence S. Dumain of Pine Bush -- set a lifetime mark of 1:52 for a mile last Oct. 1 at The Red Mile in Lexington, Ky., and was voted the third-best freshman pacing filly in North America, after Central Park West and So Cozy.
L Dees Trish, trained by John Berger and driven by Ross Hayter, drew post No. 5 in Saturday's second race and has been made the overwhelming 4-5 favorite on the morning line.
Her main opposition appears to be Brian Allen's Ms Magic, who set a lifetime mark of 1:57 at Vernon Downs last week.
Other stakes fillies on the card with lifetime marks of 1:57 or less include:
Queen Isabell, a daughter of Storm Damage, who went 1:55 3/5 in a time trial last year. Driven by Randall Waples, she is favored from the rail in the fifth race after getting buried in the $192,295 J. W. Miller Memorial at Rosecroft (Md.) May 13.
Tres Chic, a daughter of Niatross, trained by Larry Summer and driven by Buddy Gilmour from post No. 1 in the 11th race. She won in 1:57 at the Meadowlands on March 8 and is the 5-2 morning-line favorite.
The star of the colt ranks looks like Rob Rankin's Ahoy Captain, a winner in 1:55 2/5 at the Meadowlands on April 22. Ahoy Captain, by Sonsam, won ers to Raceway Saturday
seven of 16 starts as a 2-year-old and has lifetime earnings of $173,027. He's the 3-1 choice from post No. 3 in the third race.
The race also includes Stritross, a Canadian-owned son of Niatross, who won in 1:56 3/5 at Windsor April 29. He's trained by Robert McIntosh, whose 4-year-old Bond Street won the $50,000 Graduate Pace at Batavia Downs April 22. Dave Vance takes over from regular driver Bill Gale.
Other 1:57 stakes colts include:
Pilgrim's Patriot (1:56 2/5 ), an Illinois-owned son of Niatross who sports 11 wins in 39 starts and earnings of $111,611. On May 13, he finished third by a length in Rosecroft's $315,550 William E. Miller Memorial. Michael Borys trains and drives the 3-1 favorite in the sixth.
Walt Collins (1:56 3/5 ), the second choice from post No. 9 in the sixth. Owned by his breeder, Dan Gernatt Farms of Collins, he ships in from Vernon where he last won in 1:57 3/5 . Ed McNeight Jr. drives.
Deer Valley (1:56), a gelding owned by U.C. Steele of Boca Raton, Fla., a frequent owner of local stakes winners. Deer Valley drew the rail and the 3-1 favorite's role in the 12th with Jeff Gregory in the bike. He's making his second start of the year after winning four of 11 and $25,225 his freshman year.
Pacific O (1:56 3/5 ), is the choice in the 12th. Trained and driven by Ed Lohmeyer, he set his mark at Syracuse last year while earning $21,666 in nine starts.
Two of the top 3-year-olds on the card are not in the New York Sires stakes races.
They are Ontario-bred Keystone Wallis, a filly, and Beaudonnel, a colt, and both from the Jack Kopas Stables of Ilderton, Ont.
Keystone Wallis's major claim to fame is a fourth-place finish to champion Central Park West in last November's $429,914 Breeders Crown at Pompano Park.
Keystone Wallis, a gray filly known as "The Silver Bullet," has won 12 races and been in the money 20 of 21 times while earning $346,800. The daughter of Albatross won at Pompano Park last year in 1:55 3/5 . She is favored in the 10th race, a $5,000 pace for winners of over $5,000 lifetime.
Beaudonnel, the favorite in the $6,000 ninth race handicap, won in 1:58 at Greenwood last summer while winning seven of 15 starts and $70,372. He returned to action at the Raceway last week with a win in 2:02 3/5 . John Kopas, son of the trainer, will drive both horses.