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SEVERAL OF the world's top-ranked drivers and many of North America's fastest 2-year-old pacing colts will be at Buffalo Raceway tonight to race in five eliminations ($10,000 each) of the $200,000 Hopeful Stakes.

The top reinsmen include John Campbell, the all-time leading money-winner; Michel Lachance, three-time (1984-86) national dash-winning champion; Delevan native Bill Fahy; Ohio star Dave Rankin; former Western New York regulars Buddy Gilmour and Ben Webster; Doug Ackerman, the Michigan kingpin; and many others from the Meadowlands, Yonkers and Canadian circuits.

The winners of each elimination division, plus three second-place finishers (those to be drawn from a five-horse lot), will be in next Sunday's $200,000 Hopeful final at the Hamburg track.

Campbell has four driving assignments, Lachance three, Webster two and Gilmour one. However, Gilmour's colt, Squire Squirt, appears the most promising. The son of Falcon Seelster has already posted a 1:58 4/5 win at Toledo's Raceway Park in the $26,385 W.N. Reynolds Stakes. The colt also picked up a second, beaten by a nose, in a $25,000 stakes at Windsor, Ont.

Squire Squirt, however, is in perhaps the toughest of tonight's five divisions. Squire Squirt will race against track record holder Executive Decision, whose 1:59 mile in the Red Jacket June 13 is a national season mark for a freshman colt on a half-mile track.

Patsy C. Rapone will drive Executive Decision, from the stable of the late Rob Rankin. The colt's new trainer is Fred White Jr.

Also in the sixth race with Squire Squirt is Cambest, a son of Cam Fella and a winner of all three of his starts, with Dave Rankin driving; former Hamburg regular Eldon Harner's Dial A Fortune, who won two straight at Vernon Downs; Roger Hammer's Hello Almahurst, a 1:56 2/5 winner at the Meadows, Pa.; Warren Harp's June's Baby, second in a 1:57 4/5 mile; and Canadian regular Trevor Ritchie's Instant Return.

Webster has Lightning Time, an Albatross colt who has won three of four races, one in 1:57 4/5 , in the ninth race. He'll go against He's Discreet, also from the Rankin stable, and Campbell's Bunnytron.

Lachance will handle Whata Spur, a winner of two straight in 2 minutes at Scioto Downs, in the seventh race against Campbell's Michael's Revenge and Three Wizzards from the Ron Henderson barn at Windsor.

On the rail

Gerry Sarama, who has returned to Buffalo Raceway after 12 years in New York, posted his first driving triple of the meet Friday night, winning with Niatrator, a Joe Sarago-trained colt in 2:02 on a track labeled "sloppy." Sarama won the featured $4,500 trot with Fly Rod ($22.60) and won the third with Daylon Cobra ($3.60). . . . Anniecrombie set a Vernon Downs track record of 1:54 2/5 for aged pacing mares in winning the $6,000 invitational. The sport's current winningest pacing mare, the 7-year-old Anniecrombie cut more than two full seconds off the old track mark of 1:56 3/5 , set by Sparkling Hooker in 1982.

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