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September 7, 2016 - 12:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, bike race.
 
(Photos courtesy of Paul White. Above, in front, is Drivers' Bike Race winner for 2016 -- Mickey Holliday.)
 
By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs
 
During the Monday afternoon (Sept. 5) Labor Day card of racing at Batavia Downs, the highly anticipated annual Drivers' Bike Race was held and for the third time in four years, Mickey Holliday was the winner and he did it in convincing fashion despite the high-80s temperatures that had everyone looking for shade.
 
A full field of eight drivers went postward, with their wheels front and back instead of left and right, on brand new cruising bikes to compete for bragging rights for the coming year. Patrick Galbraith, Rock Vinci, JD Perrin, Jimmy McNeight Jr., Mickey Holliday, Lee Dahn, Denny Buccerri and Drew Monti lined up behind the gate and when track announcer Joe Zambito said "GO!" at the top of the far turn, the gate pulled away and it was a mad rush for the wire. 
 
While Drew Monti and Jim McNeight Jr. both got away bad off the gate, the middle of the pack peddled fairly even until they straightened out at the head of the stretch and Perrin opened up a three length lead. Holliday got in gear and eventually drew even with Perrin, then the two separated themselves from the field by at least 15 lengths. They battled it out until about 50 feet from the wire when Holliday simply out-legged Perrin to win by an open length.
 
After the race Mickey Holliday summed up the experience by saying "(drawing breaths)...I'm tired!." Holliday then drew eight winners at random from the crowd of 3,000 fans who attended the afternoon's festivities and they were awarded the eight bikes used in the race. 
 
The annual bike race has been a part of the Batavia Downs Labor Day matinee since 1979 and was sponsored by Craze Cheap Cars, of Oakfield.
September 5, 2016 - 12:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Driver Marcus Miller with Pointomygranson.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Two divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings went postward at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 3) to compete for their share of the $110,000 purses up for grabs and one of the winners made track history.

Pointomygranson (American Ideal-Sangaal) went to the front and took a lead he would never relinquish en route to a five-length victory in 1:53.2 in his $55,500 division. That time was a new track record for 2-year-old pacing geldings.

Marcus Miller rushed Pointomygranson off the gate and set unchallenged fractional times of :28.2 and :58. At that point, Jim Morrill Jr. had the heavily favored Funknwaffles rolling up on the outside trying to catch the leader. But when Miller saw him coming past five-eighths, he asked his horse for more and then hung on as Pointomygranson accelerated.

Pointomygranson would not let the challenger get anywhere close to him up the backside and when they hit the stretch, he was pulling away with every stride and Miller was sitting chilly behind him. He paced his last quarter in :27 flat under wraps.

“He was real strong in the race, I couldn’t have been happier with him” said Marcus Miller. “It was the first time I drove him but they told me he would be good tonight and he was!”

It was the second NYSS win of the year for Pointomygranson ($7.00) and it pushed his earnings to $63,229 for owner Gold Standard Equine, LLC. The winner is trained by Chris Ryder.

(Driver Drew Monti with Americanfirewater.)

It was bombs away in the first $55,500 split when 30-1 Americanfirewater (American Ideal-Lucky Turn) pulled a major upset.

1-4 favorite Miso Fast (Jim Morrill Jr.) had things his own way on the front end with the field in single-file behind him, cutting even fractions of :28.2, :58.1 and 1:27.3. But just when things were looking anticlimactic, Drew Monti pulled Americanfirewater from the three hole and shot up alongside the leader in quick fashion.

Miso Fast and Americanfirewater then tore around the far turn, matching strides as they went. At the top of the lane it was anyone’s race and after both colts were driven hard to the wire, Americanfirewater wanted it more and won by a length in 1:56.2, which was a new lifetime mark.

“When he came out of the hole, I knew he had a real shot. He was super aggressive today and you could tell right away” said Drew Monti.

It was the first lifetime win for Americanfirewater ($62.50) and the winner’s share boosted his annual income to $54,739 for owner Rock & Roll Stable, Inc. Americanfirewater is trained by Rick Dane Jr.

There were also two $15,000 divisions of the Excelsior A series on the card.

In the first division, Rollin About (Roll With Joe-Flitabout) was a wire to wire winner for driver Marcus Miller in 1:56.4 for owners Anthony Lombardi, D Van Witzenburg and George Golemes. The winner paid $8.20.

The second division went to Percy’s Z Tam and Pat Lachance in 1:56.2 on the strength of a three-wide move at three-quarters. Percy’s Z Tam ($9.70) is owned by Z Tam Stable, LLC, M & M Harness Racing, LLC, Royal Flush Stable, LLC, and Pat LaChance, who also trains him.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs this afternoon (Sept. 5) with a special Labor Day matinee card featuring the annual Drivers' Bike Race, which will be held after the seventh race. 

September 4, 2016 - 8:34am
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, Notre Dame, football, sports.

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The Alexander Trojans beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a Saturday night game played in Warsaw (because of renovations to Alexander's field) 45-15.

The Trojans scored all of their points in the first half and the Irish scored theirs in the second.

P.J. Brennan was 10 of 16 passing for 198 yards and three TDs and zero interceptions for Alexander. Derrick Busch caught three balls for 75 yards and two TDs. Dane Heberlein rushed for 61 yards on 11 carries and scored twice. Job Smith had 12 yards on three carries and scored. He also had two receptions for 26 yards and scored on a nine-yard TD pass. Chris McClinic caught two passes for 54 yards.

On defense, Eric Scharlau had three sacks and Zach Jasen had a sack and two tackles.

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To purchase prints, click here.

September 3, 2016 - 1:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, football, sports.

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Le Roy fell 60-32 to Bath in its season opener in Bath.

Photos by David Boyce. For more photos from the game, click here.

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September 3, 2016 - 12:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, news, batavia, Batavia HS.

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The Batavia Blue Devils, 2016 edition, quietly took apart Greece Olympia/Odyssey on Woodward Field on Friday night to the point that the Spartans seems to have lost their fight by the third quarter.

It's as if the team that has won two consecutive Section V titles hasn't missed a beat. In fact, the win was the 20th straight for the program against a Section V opponent.

The final score was 39-0.

"I'm very pleased because going into the game I wasn't sure what we had," said Head Coach Brennan Briggs. "I wasn't sure how we would respond to things and how we were going to go when we got hit in the mouth. But these guys came out and proved that they bought in and they’re a tough group of kids and we’ve got some playmakers out there. I’m very excited for what they can do from here."

This edition slots Jerry Reinhart and QB1 and, Ray Leach and Codie Dioguardi in the backfield, Chandler Baker, Andrew Mruczek and Eric Davis at wideouts and a defense that includes Baker, Mruczek, Taiyo Iburi-Bethel, Anthony Ray and Jzon Richardson.

Those are not names that popped up in many headlines over the past two championship seasons, but they're all players poised to make an impact, if one game is any indication, in 2016.

Reinhart certainly has a lot of confidence in his teammates.

"Everybody asked me, they all asked me, 'how are you guys going to be this year?' and I was like, 'come to the first game and find out,' " Reinhart said. "I was very positive about our team. In the off-season, I thought we were going do great."

Briggs is impressed with the quiet leadership Reinhart has brought to the team, replacing Andrew Mruczek's older brother, Greg, at quarterback.

"Greg was more rah-rah and everything and great about it," Briggs said. "Jerry is more reserved, but he goes out there and gets the job done. He's a leader. He's a great leader. You saw, he made some big plays. He's not afraid to tuck it and run and he kept us together. I'm proud of him. He did a great job."

Friday was also a chance for Andrew to move out from under the shadow of his older brother, and in a big way, and significantly with a key interception in the first quarter.

"I think the biggest turning point in that game was Andrew Mruczek's interception," Briggs said. "They had a drive going, I think 10-plus plays, and we always say a nine-plus play drive is devastating for a defense and we were starting to feel it and all the sudden, number 21 comes in and makes a huge play for us. I’m happy for him because he’s been a trooper and he’s been working his butt off and he’s just silently been doing it."

Mruczek exemplifies the quiet confidence that characterizes the team.

"I think people are going to realize, Batavia football is here to stay and we're going to keep working hard every day," Mruczek said.

The offense was good, the defense was good, but special teams really stepped it up Friday night.

Richardson, a linebacker on defense, handles kickoffs, extra points and field goals. On kickoffs Friday, he consistently put the ball past the 10-yard line, and with defenders hustling down the field, the Spartans were routinely starting drives with their backs to the wall.

"That is so big for our team," Briggs said. "From the standpoint of having just great energy and momentum, they did a fantastic job for us and special teams cannot be overlooked because field position is huge in football games."

Briggs praised the work of special teams coach Ben Buchholz in motivating the players and getting each to do their part to plug holes and cut lanes, and John Garlock has been applying those lessons well, Briggs said.

"Johnny Garlock has been doing it for us for three years and he goes down like a missile," Briggs said. "He’s long snapper on punts and the first guy down there and on kickoff coverage, he makes the plays."

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To purchase prints, click here.

September 3, 2016 - 11:49am

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Attica Blue Devils came out strong the first few minutes of the first quarter, leading 20-0 on a couple touchdowns by senior running back Hunter McCulloch, who added 117 yards on 11 carries.

Pembroke failed to convert turning the ball over on an interception and fumbles early in the first half. Attica led the half 20-0.

In the second half, Attica continued to move through Pembroke's defense led by senior quarterback Kyle Casey, who added points in the air and ground to seniors Cody D'Arconte and tight end Dawson Nelson, winning the game 40-0. 

Attica moves to 1-0 and their next game is home Friday night vs. Alexander at 7 p.m.

Pembroke drops to 0-1 and plays next Saturday 7 p.m. vs. Oakfield / Elba in Oakfield.

For more photos and to purchase go to: Steve Ognibene Photography

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To purchase prints, click here.

September 3, 2016 - 11:31am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Photo of Winky’s Pride (#4) and driver Drew Monti.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Drew Monti put on a driving clinic at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 2) winning five races on the card that included both top trots of the week. 

In the featured $10,000 Open for the diagonal gaited, Winky’s Pride ($14.20) went gate to wire in unfettered style. After leaving from post four, Winky’s Pride was perfectly rated through fractions of :28.2, :58.2 and 1:28.2 when J A T O (Mike Caprio) sidled her at three-quarters. Monti glanced back and popped the plugs right after and the chestnut mare new to turn it up.

After they circled the turn and headed down the lane, J A T O continued his assault from the outside and Studio City (Dave McNeight III) shot through the passing lane in pursuit as well. But Winky’s Pride would not relent and under mild urging, held off all challengers to the wire and won by a long neck in 1:57.4. Studio City was second and J A T O was third.

It was the fifth win of the year for Winky’s Pride and the second consecutive week she beat the boys in the feature. With the winner’s share of the purse, her earnings rose to $46,039 in 2016 for owner-trainer Robert Hummel.

In the co-featured $8,500 Open II trot, Monti scored with El Diablo Hall ($12.20) in his first local start after a private purchase. El Diablo Hall sat second behind BZ Glide (Mike Caprio) for the entire mile, before finding room in the passing lane. From there, he powered up the pylons to a half-length victory in 1:57.4.

El Diablo Hall is owned by James Caradori and is trained by Darrin Monti.

Rounding out Monti’s five winners were Chelsea’s Chance ($8.70), Tenor Duharas ($4.20) and Warhorse ($5.00). His UDR for the night was .593.

There were other outstanding performances by several horsemen on Friday night as well. John Cummings Jr.'s Batavia homecoming saw him win three races during the night as did trainer Darrin Monti. And Kevin Cummings hit the winner’s circle twice along with trainer Mike Carrubba.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 3) with two main events. The New York Sires Stakes for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings rolls into town along with the $7.4 million dollar horse, Foiled Again, who will compete in the overnight featured $10,000 Open pace. Post time for the first race is 6:15 p.m.

September 2, 2016 - 2:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

(Above photo of Foiled Again, who has won more than $7.4 million and is the richest standardbred ever of either gaitcourtesy of Ken Weingartner.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Foiled Again, who has won more than $7.4 million and is the richest standardbred ever of either gait, will be at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 3) to compete in the weekly featured $10,000 Open Handicap pace.

Batavia Downs has hosted the elite of the sport over the 70 years it has been in existence including Proximity, Good Time, Bret Hanover, Albatross and Niatross. Foiled Again is in the same league as all those legends but has also surpassed every trotter or pacer that has ever competed in the sport for earnings.

Foiled Again has won countless stakes and has been race-timed in 1:47.1. He has 88 wins, 61 seconds and 40 thirds in 263 lifetime starts and has earned $7,407,758 in purses. The United States Harness Writers Association named him Pacer of the Year in 2011, best older male pacer in three consecutive seasons (2011-2013) and he also was a two-time O'Brien Award winner as top older pacing horse in Canada (2011 and 2013).

Foiled Again has competed at Batavia Downs twice before in his career, both times in the tracks signature race, the Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace. And Foiled Again won both times: in 2009 timed in 1:52.3 with Matt Kakaley driving and in 2013 timed in 1:52 with Brett Miller aboard.

The all-time track record at Batavia Downs is 1:51.1 and that was set by Aracache Hanover in 2011. Given the great weather forecast and how the new racing surface has been setting up, there is a legitimate chance that standard could be in jeopardy.

Saturday night’s card also features two divisions of the $111,000 New York Sires Stakes for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings that will feature the best freshman male pacers in the state.

Post time for the first race is 6:15 p.m.

(Inset photo of Foiled Again courtesy of Batavia Downs.)

September 2, 2016 - 1:10pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, bike race, Batavia Downs.

(Pictured is Mickey Holliday winning the 2015 drivers' bike race at Batavia Downs.)                      

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

A tradition that started in 1979 continues on Monday (Sept. 5) during the Labor Day matinee extravaganza at Batavia Downs and that is, the annual drivers' bike race. This “friendly” competition between the horsemen features eight local drivers who will line up at the quarter pole and make their way around the far turn and head for the wire.

Last year’s winner was Mickey Holliday who won with a strong stretch drive. Holliday will be back to defend his title against some new faces as well as some cagey veterans. But the best part is the fans get to win the actual brand new bikes used in the race.

You must sign-up in the Paddock Room between noon and 2:45 p.m to be eligible. Each patron can put their entry in one of eight boxes; each coinciding with a driver in the race. Then from the winning driver’s box, eight winners will be randomly drawn and each will be given one of the bikes the drivers used. The bike race will be held after the seventh harness race and the drawing for the bikes after the bike race has been declared official.

There is no purchase necessary but you must be at least 18 years old to enter and you mist be present to win.

The bike race is sponsored by Crazy Cheap Cars, of Oakfield,

Click this link for a video of last year’s race. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l_rbJ9yhR4 )

Here is the line-up of drivers competing in the 2016 Invitational:

Post -Driver                        

1 -- Patrick Galbraith            

2 -- Rock Vinci                       

3 -- JD Perrin                         

4 -- Jimmy McNeight Jr.       

5 -- Mickey Holliday           

6 -- Brad Jackson                 

7 -- Denny Bucceri               

8 -- Drew Monti             

Also featured on the Labor Day card are $1 Sahlen’s hot dogs, draft beer and soda on the track apron from noon to 4 p.m. And in the Clubhouse from noon-3:30 p.m. you can enjoy a $10.95 chicken bar-b-que provided by the Center Street Smoke House, of Batavia. And with each dinner you buy you will receive $10 worth of free play on the gaming floor, so it’s almost like eating for free!        

And of course there are 13 live harness races scheduled to start at 1:15 p.m. 

September 2, 2016 - 1:04pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The top two point leaders for New York Sire Stake 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings will headline the 16 starters who will compete for $111,000 in two divisions at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 3)

In the first $55,500 division, Miso Fast (Roll With Joe-Sakura Hanover) comes in leading all his peers with 205 NYSS points on the strength of four consecutive wins in that competition this year. In his last start at Yonkers, he got parked out the better part of the mile and ended up finishing fifth in 1:55.4. That event was on Aug. 18 and he hasn’t raced since, so he comes in to this race off a 16-day layoff.

This year, Miso Fast has a mark of 1:53.1 at Tioga Downs and has banked $79,636 in earnings.

Trainer Ron Burke has retained the services of Jim Morrill Jr. to do the driving and Miso Fast will leave from post three as the 9-5 morning line favorite.

Serious Major (Art Major-Seriously) will be strong competition as he moved into the NYSS level after winning three straight races at the Excelsior A level. Since making the jump he has won at Yonkers Raceway in 1:56.2 and finished second at Vernon Downs in 1:52.3 to Funknwaffles who will race in the other division here. For the year, Serious Major is five out of six in the win column.

Serious Major  took a mark of 1:54.4 at Tioga Downs and has won $78,606 in purses.

Ray Fisher Jr. will pick up the lines for trainer Chris Ryder and leave from post 5 as the 7-2 second choice.

In the second $55,500 split, Funknwaffles (American Ideal-Hatsoff Hanover) is a perfect six for six on the year, leads all his NYSS competitors in earnings and currently sits second in points with 150. He started out in Excelsior A, winning three races there before moving up to NYSS action where he won three more.

Funknwaffles just scored his lifetime mark at Vernon last week in 1:52.1 and has $106,439 in purses for his efforts.

Jim Morrill Jr. will be in the bike for trainer John Butenschoen and is listed at 9-5 from post seven.

Pointomygranson (American Ideal-Sangall) has only one NYSS win this year and would just make the final if today’s points were to decide it. But he’s been a solid competitor in every race he’s been in. He was second at Monticello Raceway in 1:56.1, coming home in :27.3. And last week at Mohawk Raceway in the Metro he closed sharply from seventh in :26.1 to finish fourth, beaten only a length and a half in a 1:51.3 mile.

Pointomygranson has a mark of 1:55.1 at Saratoga Raceway and has earned $35,479 this year.

Marcus Miller will be in the house to drive for trainer Chris Ryder and drew the invisible rail at 4-1.

There are also two divisions of the Excelsior A series on the card that is slated to begin at 6:15 p.m. 

September 2, 2016 - 8:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports.

Here's a collection of all our pre-season, training camp, football pictures.

To purchase prints of preseason football pictures, click here.

Here's our pre-season previews:

The season opens tonight.

Tonight's games:

  • Batavia hosts Greece Olympia/Odyssey, 7 p.m.
  • Pembroke hosts Attica, 7 p.m.
  • Byron-Bergen, now with Cal-Mum, is at Livonia, 7:30 p.m.
  • York/Pavilion is at Letchworth/Warsaw, 7:30 p.m.
  • Le Roy is at Bath, 7:30 p.m.

Tomorrow's games:

  • Oakfield-Alabama/Elba is at C.G. Finney/Northstar, 1:30 p.m.
  • Alexander plays Notre Dame in Warsaw, 7:30 p.m.
September 1, 2016 - 1:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Photo of Dayson with driver Jim Morrill Jr.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

He’s diminutive in size but dominant on the track. Dayson ($2.20) came from off the pace and pulled away to a convincing victory in his division of the $119,300 New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Aug. 31).

Off the wings, Allerage Echo (Chris Lems) and The Royal Harry (Oskar Florhed) both left and battled old-school to the quarter in :28 flat before The Royal Harry finally took the lead. Meanwhile Dayson (Jim Morrill Jr.) relaxed in third about eight lengths behind, waiting for the dust to settle. The field remained unchanged to the half but became more closely grouped, nose to tail. 

At the five-eighths pole, Morrill tipped Dayson and asked for more, and more is what he got. He eased past Allerage Echo and snuck up on The Royal Harry as they circled the final turn. When they hit the top of the stretch, Dayson found another gear and he pulled away on his own. Morrill had the whip tucked and the lines in his lap as they crossed the wire a four-length winner in 1:57.3.

“He was very good; nice and strong. He got around the track perfect tonight and didn’t do anything wrong” said winning driver Jim Morrill Jr. “I tipped him up the backside and was hand-wrapped to the wire.”

It was the eighth win in 12 starts this year for Dayson (Conway Hall-Nervey’s Taurus) who now boasts $230,583 in 2016 earnings for owners Burke Racing Stables LLC, Our Horse Cents Stable, J&T Silva Stable LLC and Rossie Smith.

In the other NYSS division, A Jersey Contract ($14.00) pulled the upset after a crafty drive by the Downs leading driver Kevin Cummings that gave him the home-field advantage.

With the scratch of morning line favorite Smalltownthrowdown due to his participation in the $500,000 Yonkers Trot on Saturday, Sir Royson (Jim Marohn Jr.) became the favorite and went off at 1-1. However he also made a break before the gate opened and that immediately made the race interesting. Southern Palms (Jim Morrill Jr.) took full advantage off the gaffe and opened up a three-length lead over pocket-sitting A Jersey Contract going to the quarter. 

(Photo of A Jersey Contract with driver Kevin Cummings.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The field stood pat past the half when That’s A Bad Boy (Tyler Freese) pulled first over with Drazzmatazz (Mark Macdonald) on his helmet. The top four were then grouped two-by-two at three-quarters in 1:28.4. Around the last turn, Drazzmatazz tipped three-wide around That’s A Bad Boy trying to gain on the leader, but A Jersey Contract who had the perfect journey in second, shot up the pylons and collared Southern Palms by a neck in 1:57.4. The time was a new lifetime mark for the winner.

“The race shaped up real well for us. We got a two-hole trip right to the wire and he had a lot of trot sitting in there” said driver Kevin Cummings of A Jersey Contract. “I knew when I got him in the passing lane he’d give me more.”

It was the third win this season for A Jersey Contract (Lucky Chucky-Giza Dream) and it pushed his yearly earnings to $88,574 for owners Tom Vassiliou and Nicholas Tallarico. A Jersey Contract is trained by Maureen Salino.

There were also two divisions of the Excelsior A series on the card.

The first division was won by Credevi (Credit Winner-Fleur De Vie) in 1:58, which was a new lifetime mark. Credevi ($2.30) was driven by Jim Morrill Jr. for owner Wanda Polisseni’s Purple Haze Stable and trainer Trond Smedshammer.

The second leg went to Royal Bachelor (RC Royalty-Becca J) in 1:57.4. Royal Bachelor is trained and driven by Dan Daley and is owned by Ann-Mari Daley, James Crawford IV and Michael White. The winner returned $9.

Jim Morrill Jr. is the leading driver on the New York Sire Stake circuit and also the third leading UDR driver in North America and he showed why on Wednesday as he won five races; three in stake races and two overnighters. His victories included Credevie ($2.30), Dayson ($2.20), Thanks for Playin ($2.60), Terrorcam ($5.10) and Purple N gold ($5.10).

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 2) with post time set for 6:15.

September 1, 2016 - 12:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, football, sports.

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Pembroke has a new Head Coach, Ray Stoldt, but the only returning starting QB in the Genesee Region League.

Reid Miano will take snaps behind an experienced line, but they've got the size to protect him once they make the adjustment to the speed and technique of varsity-level football.

"I think they come around later in the year," said Stoldt, who has spent his career with Pembroke as an assistant on varsity and then coach of modified the past two seasons.

Blocking will be key because Miano, given time, can pass well and he's got some weapons at wideout, Stoldt said.

"I think every coach will always like to be a little further ahead at this point, but we’re young and we’re getting better every snap," Stoldt said.

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September 1, 2016 - 11:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, alexander.

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With 15 seniors and a trio of returning all-league defensive players and a new QB with a strong arm and field smarts, Alexander's Head Coach Tim Sawyer likes what he sees so far of the 2016 Trojans.

"I feel like I’ve got a fast and physical group of kids who understand our systems both offensively and defensively," Sawyer said. "It’s been fun. It’s been a good camp this year."

Alexander opens against Notre Dame tonight (at 7 p.m. in Perry, (NOTE: As soon as I hit publish on this story I got an e-mail from a Section V official saying the game has been moved to Saturday in Warsaw) because of renovations to Alexander's home field. 

Sawyer knows the Fighting Irish will be a tough match right out of the gate.

"There's not a lot of kids (at Notre Dame), but they get after it," Sawyer said. "It doesn’t matter the size, those kids will play. They always play tough."

Week two doesn't get any easier because the Trojans face perennial powerhouse Attica.

"Within the first two weeks, we’re going to know kinda where we stand," Sawyer said.

The starting QB is P.J. Brennan, a senior who was Jared Browne's backup last season. He's not big, Sawyer said, but he's got a strong arm and he handles read-options well.

Among his weapons is returning wideout Derrick Busch. He'll also marshal a rotation of running backs.

Josh Hylkema, Dustin Schmeider and Jake Jasen, all over 200 pounds and all all-league on defense last year, are back and ready to anchor a squad that also includes Busch, Dane Heberlein, Jacob Bykowski and Erik Scharlau (who's also expected to have an impact at tight end this season).

And for the first time in school history, Alexander will have a girl on the squad. Rather than play soccer this year, Hannah Paolucci will be one of two place kickers on the Trojans (bottom photo).

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August 31, 2016 - 12:32pm
posted by Steve Ognibene in pickleball, sports, YMCA, batavia, steve ognibene's blog, news.

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(Photos by Steve Ognibene. Story by Phil Coburn.)

Pickleball you say? If you’re wondering what this is, it’s a relatively new sport activity in Batavia! It’s lots of fun, easy to learn, and is one of the fastest-growing sports in America. 

The game is a combination of tennis, badminton and ping pong, and is played over a net that is 2 inches lower than a tennis net. The court is 20 feet x 44 feet, about half the size of a tennis court. The ball is a perforated plastic ball similar to a whiffle ball, and the paddles are wood or composite material.

The game is adaptable to all ages from youth to seniors, and both male and female. Due to the smaller court and lighter ball, it requires much less running and has less impact on the knees, arms and shoulders than tennis.

Locally, it all started after Batavia residents Phil and Bonnie Coburn decided to travel in an RV across the United States in 2007. They had often said “What will we do if we can’t play tennis anymore?" Well, very quickly they saw some pickleball being played, and they became hooked! Upon returning to Batavia, they located a group in Ogden and played there for a couple years.

Then, after getting tired of driving 25 miles each way, they spoke to the people at the YMCA in Batavia in 2012, and they agreed to let them tape two courts in the gym. They got help from Dave Thomas in Rochester to do the layout, and he also gave them a portable net to use. They obtained grant money from the USAPA, and bought another portable net.

Thus, pickleball was born in Batavia with about six players participating.

About two years later, the gym floor was refinished, and the lines were painted on for a more permanent facility. At about the same time, Eric Volk lent a hand, and they worked with the Town of Batavia to have pickleball lines painted on the tennis courts at Kiwanis Park (replacing the tape which didn’t do too well in the elements), adding the first outside courts in the area.

This year, again with encouragement from Eric, the city, as part of the court renewal at Kibbe Park and Farrall Park, painted pickleball lines on the tennis courts, giving participants an additional five outdoor courts to play on in the area.

(At one of the newest lined courts at Kibbe Park, pictured below are some members of the Batavia Pickleball Club, from left are: Joann McCabe, Chloe Budenhagen, Becky Swanson, and founding members Bonnie and Phil Coburn.)

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The YMCA has been very supportive of this activity, and currently there is play scheduled in the gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon, and Wednesday nights from 6:30-8 p.m.. Currently, every Saturday from 9:30-noon, players are welcome at Kibbe Park. Partners are not assigned, but use the "open" system of rotation for players waiting to play.

From the original six players, it has grown to around 30 fairly active players, and the ability level has definitely increased since those early days. There has been some discussion about holding a tournament next year for our local players, but there are no details available yet.

The club is always looking for additional players to try the sport, and to continue to help this activity gain momentum in Genesee County. Pickleball has become part of Physical Education in many schools, and is played in many parks and recreational facilities across the country. The Batavia YMCA has set the cost for non-Y members at $30 for a 10-play pass, $49 for a 7-week unlimited pass, or a $5 "drop-in" pass. No fee for Saturday play.

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August 30, 2016 - 2:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo of Dayson with driver Jim Morrill Jr.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

On Wednesday night (Aug. 31), the New York Sire Stake 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters will visit Batavia Downs to compete in two divisions for a total of $119,300 in purses and Dayson comes in ready after recent Grand Circuit competition.

Dayson (Conway Hall-Nervey’s Taurus) took on the best male sophomore trotters in North America in his last start when he faced off against Hambletonian champion Marion Marauder and Southwind Frank in the $500,000 Colonial Stake at Pocono Downs. After being parked out half the mile, Dayson finished fifth behind winner Southwind Frank, beaten only three lengths in 1:52.4.

Prior to that start, Dayson strung together three straight wins including a lifetime mark of 1:51.2 at the Meadowlands in the $50,000 Townsend Ackerman Stake. For the year, Dayson has seven wins in eleven starts and $201,033 in the bank. He currently sits second in the points standing for his sex, age and gait.

Trainer Ron Burke has assigned leading NYSS driver Jim Morrill Jr. to steer Dayson in his $59,100 division and they will leave from post three as the prohibitive morning line 6-5 favorite. 

The Royal Harry (RC Royalty-Wilsonator) will be major competition for the favorite after he recently competed in the Hambletonian in August. The Royal Harry faced the best of his class in that race and acquitted himself well, trotting back to back heats race-timed in 1:53 and 1:53.3.

In four NYSS starts this year The Royal Harry has posted two wins and two second-place finishes and that ties him with Dayson for second in overall points. Those starts also helped pad his wallet this year to the tune of $136,283.

Trainer Ake Svanstedt has listed Oskar Florhed to drive The Royal Harry and they will line up in post two as the 2-1 second choice.

In the other $60,200 split, NYSS divisional point’s leader Smalltownthrowdown (Cash Hall-Ann’s Promise) comes into western New York red hot on the heels of two eye-popping victories.

Last week he went wire to wire in 1:56.2 at Monticello Raceway to win by almost nine-lengths and two weeks before that, he won in similar style at Saratoga Raceway in 1:54.4 by five-lengths. That time was also a new lifetime mark. Smalltownthrowdown has five wins in 12 starts this year and $156,795 in earnings.

Trainer/driver Dan Daley will be in his usual spot behind Smalltownthrowdown and depart from post five, listed at 7-5.

Sir Royson (Crazed-Leibovitz Hanover) has had a mixed bag of racing luck of late. A nice 1:56.3 second place effort behind Dayson at Yonkers on July 14 was sandwiched between a break at Buffalo Raceway and one at Saratoga. But after a 10 day sabbatical, Sir Royson qualified in good form at Freehold in 1:59.2 and looks to build on that effort in here.

Sir Royson has three 2016 wins, two in NYSS action and $94,928 in earnings. He took a mark of 1:54 at Tioga Downs back in May.

Trainer Linda Toscano has Jim Marohn Jr. in the sulky and Sir Royson will leave from post two as the 4-1 second choice.

There are also two $15,000 divisions of the Excelsior A series on the program that are carded as race one and two.

Post time for Wednesday’s first race is 6:15 p.m.

August 30, 2016 - 12:00pm
posted by Session Placeholder in sports.
Event Date and Time: 
September 17, 2016 -
10:00am to 12:00pm

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August 30, 2016 - 10:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, Notre Dame.

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After graduating 15 seniors, Notre Dame's starting varsity will feature a lot of new faces, but Head Coach Rick Mancuso says his players are working hard and will be ready for Thursday's season-opening kickoff at Alexander.

"We have a good group of kids," Mancuso said. "We’re really happy with the effort. We just came off our scrimmage the other day. We’ve got a lot of stuff to clean up, but the effort that they’re putting in is good."

Brendan Klotzbach takes over at QB and a trio of players -- Jordan Weatherwax, Jake Weatherwax and Cam Clark -- will rotate through the backfield.

The offensive and defensive lines are strong.

"We're down in numbers, but what we have is quality," Mancuso said. "We’ve got lot of growing pains to get through to get up to speed as quick as we can."

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August 29, 2016 - 5:31pm

Sleds of Stafford Snowmobile Club will host its 10th annual Vintage Snowmobile/Outdoor Show on Sunday, Sept. 18, at BW's Restaurant / DC Meadows Golf Course in Pavilion.

It is located at 11070 Perry Road. The show starts at 10 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m.. It will feature new and used equipment, accessories and trailers. The entrance fee to the show is $3 per person. Door prizes will be announced at 2 p.m.

There will be refreshments available for purchase as well as breakfast and lunch.

Tickets ($5 donation) for Progressive 50/50 raffle and steak dinner will be available at the show and the winner will be drawn at the steak dinner.

This nonprofit, all-volunteer organization is also selling trophy sponsorships to help pay for the show's trophies. They are $35. 

Sleds of Stafford members will be on hand for club membership renewals. Also, a GC DMV rep will be available from noon to 3 p.m. for registration renewals.

For more information, contact Kelly Cordell at 356-9150.

August 29, 2016 - 3:00pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Wiener Dog Races, Batavia Downs.

(Photos courtesy of Paul White.)

Above, winning wiener dog, Pablo, with owner Adrienne Penders.

Above, the crowd packed the spectator area at Sunday's Wiener Dog Races at Batavia Downs and free bottles of cold water helped them beat the heat.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The centerpiece of Batavia Downs Family Fun Day on Sunday (Aug. 28) was the annual Wiener Dog Races and this year, 2,400 live patrons came out to watch a great program of live harness racing while anticipating the nine qualifying wiener heats that followed.

After the qualifying events were held and the final field was set, nine dogs went postward in the two-pylon sprint as the rail trackside was literally five-deep with spectators.

Track announcer Joe Zambito gave the word and they released the hounds for the race. After the pack thundered down the stretch and the dust had settled, Pablo was a convincing winner, with Nibbles beating out Minnie in a close photo for second.

It was the third time Pablo had competed in this event and the third time was a charm for him and his owner.

“He’s always been competitive and always done well in the race, but he never won it,” said Pablo’s owner Adrienne Penders. “This year he finally got it done.”

Nibbles is owned by Tammy Anderson; and Minnie is owned by Lori Laine.

Last year’s champion Piglet, won his qualifying heat this afternoon but failed to hit the board in the final despite a hearty attempt.

"Once again, Family Fun Day was a great success" said Todd Haight, director/general manager of Live Racing. "The stands were full with kids of all ages and everyone had a great time at Batavia Downs. The wiener dogs put on another great show and we would like to thank everyone who brought their dogs out to compete and to Genesee Feeds of Batavia who sponsors the event every year." 

Each of the nine qualifying heat winners received a $25 free play voucher to Batavia Downs Gaming. The winning owner of the final was presented a $100 free play voucher, the second-place finisher received $75 in free play, and the third-place finisher will enjoy $50 in free play. All three owners will also get two complimentary buffets each in the Batavia Downs clubhouse.

The 2-9-3 doggie-tri combination was reported to return 25 Milk-Bones among trackside punters.

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