Most of the time at Buffalo Raceway, horses racing in the $4,000 claiming class --- one of the lowest classes offered at the Hamburg harness track --- compete for a purse of $3,000, with the winning owner getting a $1,500 prize.
But in Wednesday night's sixth race, there's a lot more money at stake. Eight pacers who normally race near the bottom of the class ladder will compete for a purse of $21,500, with $10,750 going to the winner. This is big money considering that the horses in the race have earned an average of about $764 per race throughout their careers.
The race is the final of the "Niatross" claiming series, a four-week, knockout event that started with 45 horses whose owners ponied up $250 per horse in entry fees. All horses nominated had to have raced in a $4,000 claiming race (where they could have been purchased for that price) at least once in 2008.
Good luck picking a winner among the series' eight survivors.
Race secretary Robin Burns has made Up Front Northern (No. 5, driven by Keith Kash Jr. for trainer D.J. Millner) the 6-5 morning line favorite. The 10-year-old gelding has been the fastest winner in the series, taking last Wednesday's semifinal mile in 1:59 3/5.
Second choice, at 3-1, is Cam Bo Informal (No. 2, driven by Chris Page for Bobbi Martin), a runner-up the last two weeks. Also a 10-year-old gelding, Cam Bo Informal last week was beaten by the only female in the series --- a 7-year-old mare named Kotton Kandi (No. 3 with Ron Beback Jr. driving for trainer Neal Russo).
The complete field, with drivers and odds:
1-Walk In The Sun, Ray Fisher Jr., 10-1; 2-Cam Bo Informal, Chris Page, 3-1; 3-Kotton Kandi, Ron Beback Jr., 7-2; 4-Medoland Big Guy, Kevin Cummings, 12-1; 5-Up Front Northern, Keith Kash Jr., 6-5; 6-Chasing The Dream, Tom Agosti, 15-1; 7-CN Grey, Mike Baumeister, 20-1; 8-On The Dream, Ken Holliday, 20-1.
Who do you think will win?