The on-again, off-again sale of Buffalo Raceway's pari-mutuel license apparently is on again. This time it looks like the 48-year-old harness track at the Erie County Fair Grounds in Hamburg is on the verge of being sold to its landlord, the Erie County Agricultural Society.
"We are in deep discussion and close to a deal," said Stan Phillips, vice chairman of Delaware North Companies Inc., current owner of the Raceway. He said an agreement could be announced in "a week to 10 days." Terms were not disclosed.
Paul C. Laing, secretary and general manager of the Society, told Raceway employes "an agreement is in place to negotiate the purchase." Laing said the Society intends to continue racing at the facility.
A tentative sale of Buffalo Raceway and the Finger Lakes Race Track in Canandaigua to Wilmorite Inc. of Rochester fell through late last year after uncertainties developed over a bill in Albany that would have allowed a quarter horse track to open near Binghamton.
The Raceway, which opened in 1942, leases its facilities from the society.
Finger Lakes Race Track's $200,000 Budweiser Breeders' Cup on July 4 could turn into a battle of national importance. The track said leading candidates for the 6-furlong dash include Safely Kept, last year's Eclipse award-winning sprinter; Dancing Spree, the 1989 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner from the powerful Phipps stable; Regal Intention, Sam-Son Farm's 1988 Queen's Plate winner, and Houston, the D. Wayne Lukas 4-year-old who is on the comeback trail.
Frattare, upset winner of last year's Breeders' Cup at Finger Lakes, is being pointed toward a repeat. The 6-year-old made his 1990 bow a victorious one June 10. He defeated a field that included Mercedes Won, the 1988 Canadian 2-year-old champ making his seasonal bow in a 6-furlong allowance dash at the Canandaigua track.
Mercedes Won's third place finish in the $7,800 race was the first time the Arnold Fink-trained 4-year-old has been in the money in five starts.
The ambitiously placed son of Air Forbes Won finished last season running up the track in big-money races: the Haskell Handicap at Monmouth, the Gallant Man at Saratoga, the Molson Million at Woodbine, and the Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park. Despite those disappointments, he's won about $890,000 for owner Chris Spencer.
With Approval, winner of Fort Erie's Prince of Wales Stakes and Canada's 1989 Horse of the Year, is now the 10th-richest horse in training. According to The Blood-Horse magazine figures through June 9, the only active horses with more earnings than With Approval's $1,903,100 bankroll are Sunday Silence, Easy Goer, Great Communicator, Steinlen, Unbridled, Yankee Affair, Prized, Bayakoa and Pay the Butler. With Sunday's win in world-record time of 2:10 1/5 in the Bowling Green Handicap at Belmont Park, With Approval ran his earnings to $2,016,380.
There were a lot of gasps, but not much cheering, at Buffalo Raceway Saturday night when Center Full's number (4) was finally put up on the tote board as the official winner of the first race. The 4-year-old pacer driven by Larry Fudella paid a Raceway record $255.80 for a $2 win wager. Only $35 of a total win pool of $5,460 was bet on the winner, who was moved up on the disqualification of Kevin Cummings' Warrior Hill.
Shirley Dear, winner of Fort Erie's $39,100 Breeders' Cup Stakes on May 28, finished fourth, by 2 1/2 lengths, in a race for $80,000 claimers at Woodbine last Wednesday. Toronto industrialist Frank Stronach (owner of Jersey Derby winner Yonder) claimed two 4-year-old filles -- Andrea Ruckus and Diamond Coast -- from the race for $80,000 each. Shirley Dear is one of 80 nominees for the $50,000 Fort Erie International Turf Cup on July 4.
In news of other Fort Erie Alumni: Burning Oak, second by a neck in last year's Juvenile Stakes, was recently claimed for $25,000 by a client of trainer Martin F. Velden. . . . Cheerful Spree, second in last month's Fort Erie Breeders' Cup, won a Woodbine turf allowance race by 2 1/4 lengths last Thursday. . . . Wonchindordor, the 4-year-old filly who was a dead-heat co-winner of last year's Ontario Colleen Handicap, recently won Woodbine's $76,180 Seaway Stakes, paying $35.70. Blushing Katy, champion 3-year-old filly in Canada last year, was third. . . . Sunny Blossom, recent 9-length winner of the Oakland Handicap at Golden Gate, is aiming for the $100,000 True North Handicap over 6 furlongs at Belmont Park on June 23.
Man defeated beast quite handily in last Friday's exhibition race at Buffalo Raceway.
John Kralisz, a champion cross country runner, ran the half-mile in 1:58 to defeat the pacer Haggard, who had to race a full mile while pulling driver Hugh Stevens. It wasn't meant to be much of a contest. Haggard's lifetime mark for a mile is 2:00 2/5 .
Cambiance moved into fourth place on the local Fastest Five list Saturday night with a 1:57 3/5 victory at Buffalo Raceway. The 1990 list is headed by Dorunrun Bluegrass (1:54 3/5 , Herve Filion) and Sea The USA (1:56 4/5 and 1:57, Gerald Procino). Fifth is Macduff Hanover (1:57 4/5 , P.C. Rapone).
Fred Haslip's Handsome Boy owns the two fastest local trots of the year, a pair of wins in 2:02 2/5 . Next comes Ruby's Thunder (2:02 3/5 , Jack Flanigen), Major T Collins (2:02 4/5 , Ken Ball) and Longshot Lobell (2:03 3/5 , Larry Wittcop).
Beach Towel, beaten favorite in last year's $200,000 Hopeful at Buffalo Raceway, looms as the horse to beat in Saturday night's $1 million North America Cup at Toronto's Greenwood Raceway.
Driven by Ray Remmen, the 3-year-old pacer who has lost only twice in 18 starts, won his North America elimination dash last Saturday in 1:53 1/5 . Earlier he won miles at Rosecroft in 1:52 3/5 and 1:53.
His opponents in Canada's richest harness race will be Jake And Elwood, Chefs Magic, Mark Jonathan, Shipps Schnoops, Apaches Fame, Road Machine, Till We Meet Again, and King Gypsy.