Buffalo Raceway's reputation as a magnet for good 2-year-old harness horses will be further enhanced this week as the Hamburg harness oval wraps up its season with some of the richest juvenile dashes in track history.
Already home to the $100,000 Hopeful Stake and the $45,000 Hopefulette, the Raceway wraps up its 1996-97 season with a festival of New York Sire Stakes miles for 2-year-olds.
About $300,000 in purses are up for grabs with the trotters going for about $47,000 a race and the pacers about $32,000.
The trotting fillies highlight tonight's 7:30 card with trotting colts following on Thursday. The filly pacers are in Friday's spotlight followed by the male pacers on Saturday, closing night of the 9 1/2 -month meet that started in mid-October.
Vales Taurus and Twenty Dollar Man, winners of NYSS miles at Monticello in their last outings, look like the ones to beat in tonight's first division.
Driven by Saratoga Raceway star J.P. Morel, Vales Taurus wired his field in 2:06 2/5 , more than two seconds faster than the time Twenty Dollar Man posted in winning his division for Jeff Gregory.
The field also includes Marquis Stormont, a half-brother to nationally ranked Lord Stormont, who last month set the Raceway's track record (1:58 4/5 ) for 3-year-old trotters.
Thursday's second division features a showdown between Armbro Rhubarb and Top Bait, two high-priced daughters of super sire Speedy Crown from powerful trotting stables.
Armbro Rhubarb, a $127,000 auction purchase, makes her third pari-mutuel start for trainer Jim Campbell, who won the 1995 Hambletonian with Tagliabue.
Top Bait, driven by Jan Johnson -- the head trainer of the powerful Continental Farms -- sold for $210,000 last fall. Depending on the reference book, he was the first- or second-most expensive offspring of Speedy Crown sold at auction last year.
Ms Beverly Hills, a bargain-basement yearling who has already earned back almost three times her purchase price, looks like the probable favorite in Friday's first division for NYSS pacing fillies.
A $7,200 purchase at the Morrisville sale, the daughter of Goalie Jeff recently won at Vernon Downs in 1:57 3/5 and improved her career bankroll to $20,005 in four starts for trainer Chester Poole Jr.
Cafeuccino, the third-place finisher behind Happy To Be Best in last Saturday's Hopefulette, returns in Friday's second division with trainer Roger Hammer again at the reins. An earner of $38,711 already, Cafeuccino faces locally owned fillies Sunset Bonnie Sue (trained by Dave Fisher), Own The Road (Veronica Dylo) and Jenny's Bunny (Richie Mays).
So Elegant, a $38,000 yearling purchase driven by trainer Ed Lohmeyer, looks like the one to beat in Friday's third division. The front-running daughter of Precious Bunny drew the inside post and seems a threat to wire the field.
She qualified at the Meadowlands in 1:57 4/5 and was just beaten at Saratoga last week by Yankee Shiloh, who drew the No. 7 post for trainer-driver John Stark Jr. Yankee Shiloh's record shows stakes wins at Yonkers, Vernon and Saratoga while amassing $25,270 in five starts.