Jeffers Downstate Classic provides excitement for Day 3 of harness racing; Altamont-native Finn finds himself in first place for driver's title

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Aug. 5—Richard Finn picked up eight points Wednesday to take the lead for the driver's championship at the Effingham County Fair.

The Altamont native won the Non Winners LT Pace by driving "Frontier Molly" in 2:08.1 and then came in second to Cordarius Stewart in the Non Winners of 2 In '22 by driving "Beat Of Ny" in 2:05.1.

Finn did not have any horses racing in the Jeffers Downstate Classic, which made up four of the seven races on the Wednesday program.

Atlee Bender picked up the first win of the Jeffers Downstate Classic after winning by a photo finished over Stewart in the Filly Trot. He drove "Ironclad Creation" in 2:09.2, while Stewart drove "Jazleyn" at that same time. Steven Searle came in third with "Lous Xanadu" in 2:12.

Searle would follow up that third-place finish with a second-place posting shortly after that, as he drove "Lousdobb" in 2:08 in the Colt and Gelding Trot, winning by a photo finish over "Lous Lancelot," which was driven by Juan Franco. "Lou's Di Nomite," driven by Curt Grummel, won the event in 2:07.4. The win for Grummel resulted in his only points of the day.

As for Franco, he ended the day with six points after winning the Colt and Gelding Pace with "Fox Valley Crete" in 1:58.3. Bender came in second with "Kingofmyheart," while Wyatt Avenatti came in third with "Illini Storm."

Overall, Avenatti earned four points on the day. He came in second in the third race of the Jeffers Downstate Classic after driving "Kizzzmelikeumissme" in 1:59. Defending driver's champion Archie Buford won the third race by driving "Rollnroz" in 1:58.3. Buford finished the day with 15 points.

TUESDAY RACES PUSHED TO WEDNESDAY DUE TO WEATHER

After rain halted harness racing Tuesday, the action picked up right where it left off Wednesday with the races that fair officials postponed one day before.

Defending driver's champion Archie Buford won the first race by driving "Can't Stay To Long" in 2:04.3.

Matthew Avenatti followed Buford by driving "Runaway Delight" in 2:05, while Freddie Patton Jr. came in third by driving "Lilmslandshark" in 2:05.4. The first race of the afternoon was the Big 10 Filly Pace.

Following his first win as defending driver's champion, Buford was quickly back on the seat for the Big 10 Filly Trot as he drove "Rocket Party" in 2:07.3.

However, Buford came in second to Michael Rogers and "Midnight Chrome," who won by a photo finish, while Wyatt Avenatti would round out the driver's earning points by driving "Telstar" to a third-place showing in 2:10.

Rogers then made it back-to-back victories with a win in the Big 10 Filly Trot by driving "Ingo Bingo Bango" in 2:17. "Rnkslittlemissanne" driven by Cornelius Cavett was second, while "Loyz Boujee Girl" driven by Richard Finn was third.

Then, in the final race of the Tuesday portion of harness racing, "Shady Maple Isaac," driven by Frank Fisher, won the Big 10 Colt and Gelding Trot in 2:10.2. Fisher's horse beat "Illini Chrome," driven by Marcus Turner, and "Lj's Lucky Lad," driven by Darla Martin Lohman, who came in second and third, respectively.

After the Tuesday portion of races concluded, Jordan Patton found himself in the lead with 21 points. Patton originally was in second to begin the day, but a driver's miscue from Monday's set of races had Cornelius Cavett winning a race that Patton was driving. That win for Patton moved him ahead of Wyatt Avenatti for the driver's championship lead after three days of racing.

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The current drivers' championship standings are below.

Richard Finn = 27

Wyatt Avenatti = 24

Jordan Patton = 21

Marcus Turner = 17

Michael Rogers = 16

Archie Buford = 15

Matthew Avenatti = 11

JD Lewis = 10

Atlee Bender = 9

Cornelius Cavett = 9

Cordarius Stewart = 8

Chris Brown = 7

Robert Decker = 6

Juan Franco = 6

Brendan Potts = 5

Douglas Graham = 5

C. Alan Finn = 5

Frank Fisher = 5

Curt Grummel = 5

Darla Martin Lohman = 4

Steven Searle = 4

Jerome Daniels = 3

Albert Plair = 3

Jacob Roedl = 3

Freddie Patton Jr. = 2

Daniel Shetler = 1

Wayne Decker = 1

Harold Finn Jr. = 1

Contact EDN Sports Editor Alex Wallner at 618-510-9231 or alex.wallner@effinghamdailynews.com.