Focus Power, Southern Palms Share Spotlight

by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- The betting favorites couldn't find the winner's circle in Buffalo Raceway's co-featured $10,400 Open Pace and Trot events on Saturday night (May 12) so it was time for others to steal the spotlight.
Focus Power ($8.40) used a 1:53.1 mile to notch the neck win over Linkjack Hanover in the Open Pace while Southern Palms ($9.90) wore down a stubborn Trooper Jim to take the Open Trot by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:58.0.
 FOCUS POWER 5-12-18.jpg    
Photo by Steve Roth    
Focus Power takes Saturday's Open Pace.    
It was quite a night for driver Shawn Gray as he had six victories on the 13-race program. It was also a good evening for the tandem of driver Ray Fisher Jr. and trainer Ryan Swift as they teamed up to capture four races. Fisher Jr. completed the night with five wins.
In the Open Pace, Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio), starting in his first race of the season, zoomed to the lead off the starting gate and posted some snappy fractions of :27.3, :56.2 and 1:24.4. Those grueling split suited Focus Power just fine.
Sitting in the third spot with a quarter mile to pace, Focus Power (Drew Monti) popped out around the final turn. The pace-setting Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio) found the fractions too much called it a night, eventually settling for sixth. 
Both Linkjack Hanover (Fisher Jr.) and Upfront Countryboy (Shawn Gray) made stout attempts to catch Focus Power in the stretch but finished second and third respectively. The 1:53.1 mile by Focus Power was the quickest of the season.
Owned by James Caradori and trained by Darrin Monti, it was the second win in five tries this season for the 6-year-old gelded Focus Power (Shadow Play-Luv's For Ever). He has a bankroll of $13,936 in 2018 and $174,903 lifetime.
SOUTHERN PALMS 5-12-18.jpg    
Photo by Steve Roth    
Southern Palms wins third straight race.    
It was a battle on the front end in the Open Trot as Trooper Jim was parked by Edom Up Blue Boy for over three quarters of a mile. With the final panel to trot, Edom Up Blue Boy surrendered but Trooper Jim still stood tall.
While it was an extremely gutsy performance by Trooper Jim, it just wasn't enough. Southern Palms (Kevin Cummings) had the shorter journey and it paid off in the victory in 1:58.0 over the fast track. Trooper Jim (Monti) was second and SR Radar (Shawn Gray) took third. 
Trained by Gerry Sarama and owned by Mike Torcello, Southern Palms (RC Royalty-Pacific Elegance) is a 5-year-old gelding who has third victories in nine tries this season. He has won $19,476 on the campaign and $213,591 in his career.
Trainer James Clouser Jr. had three winners on the night.
Racing will continue on Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. with a 12-race program scheduled. There's a $770 carryover in the Pick-5 which begins in the second race.