Photo by Paul White Drew Monti drove Stratosphere to the $8,500 Open I Handicap victory Saturday night at Batavia Downs.

BATAVIA — Despite a jump in class, a return to an inside post proved to be the ticket as Stratosphere went the route in the $8,500 Open I Handicap on Saturday night (Sept. 19) at Batavia Downs.

Percy’s Z Tam (Jim Morrill Jr.) took a quick early lead but as soon as he crossed over, Stratosphere (Drew Monti) left the pocket, took the lead and called all the shots from there. After hitting the half in a rated :57.3, Stratosphere saw Under Paid (Denny Bucceri) at his flank as that one tried to apply pressure to the three-quarters.

When they hit that station in 1:25.2, Under Paid had enough and started to fade, allowing Percy’s Z Tam a clear path to pull. Morrill pulled the trigger and Percy’s Z Tam took his best shot. But his best wasn’t good enough this night as Stratosphere kicked away and kicked away hard, opening up a two length advantage at the top of the stretch and pacing home in hand to win by 2-½ lengths in 1:53.4.

It was the third win in the last five starts and the fifth win of the year for Stratosphere ($5.80) who is owned by Drew Monti and trained by Darrin Monti.

In the undercard $7,000 Open III pace, McSpidey (Denny Bucceri) was never headed after taking command off the gate and cruised home to a 2-¾ length, 1:53.3 win, which was a new seasonal mark. William Emmons owns the Jim Clouser Jr. trained McSpidey ($3.20) who scored his third win of the year, all of which were at Batavia Downs.

Drivers Drew Monti and Billy Davis Jr. each had three winners on the card while Jim Morrill Jr., Denny Bucceri and Ray Fisher Jr. had two wins apiece. Trainers Don Rothfuss and Don Niles both had two winners as well.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 23) with post time at 5 p.m. There will be a $3,000 guaranteed pool in the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday that is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering program. The Pick-5 starts in race one and runs through race five and free program pages for those races will be available on both the USTA and Batavia Downs websites early next week.

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