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September 6, 2015 - 2:53am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing..

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

One of the toughest horses to ever race in upstate New York continued his dominance at Batavia Downs by winning his third consecutive start in the $9,500 Open pacing feature on an 85 degree, late-summer Saturday night (9-5) in front of a full house of race-goers.

It was a battle from the start as Closing Credits (Dave McNeight III) pushed hard for the lead, parking Cobble Beach (Jack Flanigen) and Pocono Downs invader Scott Rocks (Kevin Cummings) two and three wide to the quarter in :26.4. Scott Rocks eventually cleared the front but didn’t slow the pace as the group rambled to the half in :55.1. At that point Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio) was sitting last.

Scott Rocks continued his unfettered lead past three-quarters in 1:23.2 when his immediate pursuers started to fan three-across the track at the top of the stretch, forming a wall in front of the trailing Fireyourguns. But undaunted, Caprio dinked inside one horse and dunked around another, finding just enough room to allow Fireyourguns to turn on the afterburners and make up about two-lengths in the final 20 yards and score a breathtaking victory in 1:52.3.

It was the eleventh win in 14 starts for the gelded son of American Ideal and it pushed his 2015 earnings to $68,625 for owners Jennifer and Robert Lowe and Terry McClory, who also trains the horse. The winner paid $9.20.

Saturday was also Drew Monti bobblehead night and the promotion seemed to have a decided effect on the attendance and handle. Not only were all the bobbleheads distributed to anxiously waiting fans, the on-track handle was up 16 percent, making it the second best live wagering night of the season. The overall handle was likewise up 11 percent.

The track also catered to a sold-out crowd in the clubhouse and was encouraged to see a solid group fans on the apron and at the fence. Attendance was estimated at 3,000.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Monday afternoon (Sept. 7) for the annual Labor Day matinee with post time set for 1:15.

(Photos courtesy of Paul White.)

September 5, 2015 - 12:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, Le Roy, Oakfield, alexander, Notre Dame.


Apparently, Le Roy hasn't missed a beat. With a new head coach, new defensive cooordinator, first-time starter at QB, the Oatkan Knights started off 2015 in familiar territory -- by winning.

Le Roy beat Letchworth/Warsaw, in the first game for the two merged programs, 42-7.

The bulk of the offense came on the legs of Nick Eggling, who rushed for 255 yards and four TDs on 20 carries.

Josh Laurie, in his debut as the varsity starter, was 3-4 passing for 19 yards. He rushed 12 times for 43 yards and two touchdowns.

Dom Filio carried the ball seven times for 60 yards and Nate Flint nine times for 51 yards. Single receptions were recorded by Jason Doemling and Ryan Boyce.

On defense, Reed Kacur had nine tackles, Egeling, six and Filio five.

Also in Genesee County's Friday Night Football action:

Alexander beat Finney 47-14. Senior running back Jake Wozniak rushed for 290 yards on 19 carries. He scored four TDs. Dane Heberlein gained 80 yards on 13 carries, with two TDs, and QB Jared Brown had a TD pass of 15 yards to Derrick Bushe and had a two-point conversion through to Dustin Schmeider. 

Notre Dame beat Oakfield-Alabama 26-12. For Notre Dame, Connor Logsdon was three for six for 54 yards passing. Allen Chatt, QB for the Hornets, was 18-33 for 305 yards and a TD. For the Irish, Jack Sutherland ran 29 times for 185 yards with three touchdowns. Peter Daversa ran 12 times for 93 yards with one touchdown. For the Hornets, Sal Schwable had five receiptions for 73 yards, Austin Fisher, one for 71 yards, Jon Harris, three for 66 yards and a TD, Reice Woodward, four for 57 yards and Josia Yantz, four for 34 yards.  Defensively for Notre Dame, C.J. Souzzi had seven tackles as did Casey Midwick. For O-A, Gage Dieterie, seven-and-a-half tackes. Jon Harris, Cameron Smith had seven each, Sal Schwable, six and a half, and six for Josiah Yantz.

NOTE: Section V had an error on the schedule for today's games. Elba/Byron-Bergen hosts Pembroke at 7 p.m. at Byron-Bergen.

Photos by David Boyce.








September 5, 2015 - 12:34pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Wings Of Royalty with driver Chris Lems.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Perfect weather and a lightning fast track greeted the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters to Batavia Downs on Friday (Sept. 4) and those participants took full advantage of the conditions to pursue their share of the $120,400 in purses available.

Heavily favored Wings Of Royalty (RC Royalty-Sparkling Cider) rewarded his backers as he turned in a very strong performance, winning his division convincingly in 1:56.3.

After pole-sitter Mythology Bluechip (Mark Macdonald) made a break in the first turn, Gabe The Bear Dean (Ray Schnittker) took the early lead until Wings Of Royalty (Chris Lems) motored on by before the quarter in :28.4. The participants then remained single-file behind the leader through a :59.1 half and 1:27.4 three-quarters.

At that point Schnittker pulled Gabe The Bear Dean from second and tried to mount a challenge, but the attempt was futile. Lems let Wings Of Royalty out a notch and he flew down the stretch to win easily by three lengths with a snappy :28.4 final panel.

“I knew Ray (Schnittker) would let me go (to the front) and once we made it, he was on cruise control. He was very strong finishing the mile,” said driver Chris Lems.

It was the fourth win in 14 starts for Wings Of Royalty ($3.20) and it raised his 2015 earnings to $178,323 for owner Raymond Campbell. The colt is trained by George Ducharme.

(Fashion Creditor with driver Jim Morrill Jr. and Royal Deceptor with driver Michael McGivern.)

The first division was historic as it was the only time a NYSS race at Batavia Downs ended in a dead heat. The judges camera could not separate Fashion Creditor (Credit Winner-Bon Voyage) and Royal Deceptor (RC Royalty-Art of Deception) at the wire.

There was a stiff battle off the gate when Royal Lad (Aaron Byron) would not let Maestro Bluechip (Trond Smedshammer) go, who in turn parked-out Royal Deceptor (Michael McGivern) and the three horses went three-wide to the quarter in :28.3. As they hit the turn, they all finally seated with Royal Deceptor being the best of the bunch. At this point, Fashion Creditor (Jim Morrill Jr.) was a gapped fourth watching the proceedings.

After the dust had settled, McGivern grabbed leather and grabbed it hard as he gave Royal Deceptor a serious breather with :31 and :30.3 second and third quarters. During that time, Royal Lad made a break from third and Fashion Creditor advanced to that spot, creeping closer to the leader.

Then Morrill pulled at three-quarters and began to force the issue. Royal Deceptor still had a three-length lead but the advantage was clearly perilous. At the head of the stretch, Fashion Creditor was trotting his hips off down the lane, gobbling up ground with every stride while Royal Deceptor was expending every ounce of energy he had left to hang on to his lead. At the wire, both horses’ best efforts gained them victory in 1:58.3.

It was the third win in 13 starts for Fashion Creditor ($2.10), pushing his earnings to $106,380 for the year. The gelding is owned by Joseph Smith and trained by Tom Fanning.

For Royal Deceptor, it was his seventh win in 13 starts and it increased his 2015 bank to $137,163 for owners Charles Foster, Michael Sentiwany Jr., and Michael James. The colt is trained by Cheryl McGivern.

There were also two divisions of the NYSS Excelsior Series “A” trot that went for a combined $30,000 in purses.

Crazshana (Crazed-Keystone Shana) won the first division in 1:59.2 for trainer-driver Trond Smedshammer. The gelding is owned by Wanda Polisseni’s Purple Haze Stable.

The second split was won by Bavaro (Credit winner-Repetitions) in 1:59 flat for trainer-driver Ray Schnittker. Schnittker shares ownership of the colt with Paul Bordogna and Jonathan Kurnit. The winner returned a handsome $46.80.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Sept.5) with post time set at 6:35 p.m.

(Photos courtesy of Paul White.)

September 5, 2015 - 11:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, batavia, Batavia HS.


University Prep walked onto Woodward Field on Friday night with a reputation for being big, fast and athletic, and as a Class A team, the Griffins were expected to give the Batavia Blue Devils all they could handle.

Instead, the tables were turned. UPrep was a tough challenge for the defending Section V Class B champions, but even after giving up a couple of big plays, Batavia seemed to be in charge and never really surrendered that all-important intangible, momentum. 

Even so, this wasn't a statement game for the varsity squad, said running back Dom Mogavero.

"Every game is important to us," Mogavero said. "We work so hard, all the way from two-a-days, we've been working out since winter; we've all been together, doing the off-season work, and all of that just leads up to this game and then the next one. We just wanted to play as hard as we can, get a W and start the season right."

Mogavero once again proved to be a key part of the Blue Devils' effort on offense and defense, helping the Blue Devisl to a 33-26 victory. Offensively, he had 23 carries for 135 yards and two TDs. He had eight tackles.

QB Greg Mruczek was 13 for 18 for 124 yards and one touchdown.

Newcomer Ray Leach opened the game with a kick return for a TD and 110 total return yards.

Danny Williams, back on defense this year, had eight tackles.

Even for all the success on opening night, Head Coach Brennan Briggs wasn't entirely satisfied. The defense exposed a couple of weaknesses and missed some assignments. That left the fourth-year coach a little frustrated after the game, a fact he shared with his team.

“Obviously a win is a win, but we talk about improving ourselves every single week and I guess this is the baseline right here," Briggs said. "If we can improve our mistakes and tighten up some things we didn’t do right, I think we can get to where we need to be."

Picked as the preseason #1 small school team in Section V in a coaches' poll, Batavia has a schedule full of strong teams looking to knock down the top team, so Briggs said he expects the hard work to continue.

“It was great having to defend athletes like this because there is no doubt that they are very athletic and a very good football team,” Briggs said. “I’m proud of these guys because the next three weeks we play against teams that are very much like this.”











To purchase prints of these photos. click here.

September 4, 2015 - 4:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports.


The 2015 football season kicks off this evening. It should be an interesting year. Batavia High School starts the season ranked #1 in the region. Le Roy, always a powerhouse, has a new coach. And the Genesee Region league is stacked with talent and experienced, quality coaches.

The Batavian will cover games every week, doing our best to cover each team at least once.

This year's schedule for local teams is below. Head out to a field near you and catch a game. It should be interesting and exciting.


  • University Prep at Batavia, 7:30
  • Notre Dame/Batavia at Oakfield-Alabama, 7 o'clock
  • Le Roy at Letchworth/Warsaw, 7:30


  • Pembroke at Elba/Byron Bergen, 1:30 p.m. (CORRECTION: Section V listed this game on the schedule incorrectly. It's at 7 p.m. at Byron-Bergen's field)

Friday, Sept. 11

  • Cardinal O'Hara at Batavia, 7:30 p.m.
  • Pembroke at Attica, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 12

  • Alexander at Notre Dame, 1:30 p.m.
  • Elba/Byron-Bergen at Holley, 1:30 p.m.
  • Dansville at Le Roy, 1:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 18

  • Batavia vs. Wilson, at Sahlen's Stadium, 7 p.m.
  • Oakfield-Alabama at Pembroke, 7 p.m.
  • Attica at Alexander, 7 p.m.
  • Le Roy at Wayland-Cohocton, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 19

  • Notre Dame at Elba/Byron-Bergen, 1:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 25

  • Edison Tech at Batavia, 7:30 p.m.
  • Elba/Byron-Bergen at Oakfield-Alabama, 7 p.m.
  • Bath-Haverling at Le Roy, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 26

  • Alexander at Holley, 1:30 p.m
  • Pembroke at Notre Dame, 1:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 2

  • Batavia at Penn Yan, 7 p.m.
  • Notre Dame at Bishop Kearney, 7:30 p.m.
  • Holley at Pembroke, 7 p.m.
  • Oakfield-Alabama at Alexander (TBD)
  • Le Roy at Hornell, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 3

  • Attica at Elba/Byron-Bergen, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 9

  • Wayne Central at Batavia, 7:30 p.m.
  • Le Roy at Cal-Mum, 7:30 p.m.
  • Alexander at Pembroke, 7 p.m.
  • Notre Dame at Attica, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 10

  • Oakfield-Alabama at Holley, 1:30 p.m.
  • C.G. Finney at Elba/Byron-Bergen, 1:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 16

  • Batavia at Geneva, 7 p.m.
  • Attica at Oakfield-Alabama, 7 p.m.
  • Elba/Byron-Bergen at Alexander, 7 p.m.
  • Livonia at Le Roy, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 17

  • Holley at Notre Dame, 1:30 p.m.

Here's a recap of our football preview stories:

Here's a slide show of all of our pre-season photos, including some that weren't published with the original stories. Prints of photos may be purchased through this link to my photography Web site.

September 4, 2015 - 3:21pm

The Batavia High School Blue Devils want to spray chalk designs on your dirveway, your lawn, your parking lot -- wherever you choose -- to raise money for the Batavia Cheerleading Program and boost pride.

Each design is $10 and can be done once, or weekly, to suit your budget. All designs are to be completed each week by Thursday. They feature a giant capital letter B with the well-known Blue Devil logo superimposed over it. Size is 3 feet by 55 inches.

All spray chalk is temporary and can be removed with water. The designs fade in one to three days and/or in water. All design completions are final.

"The community will be full of pride and Devil Spirit -- Show yours!"

To get your chalk-spray design, provide your name, the address, details of what/where, phone number, and e-mail and send cash or check to Batavia Cheerleading Boosters c/o:

Batavia High School

Attn: Athletic Department

260 State St.

Batavia NY 14020

If you have questions, please e-mail:

[email protected]

September 4, 2015 - 2:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Labor Day Weekend is the last hurrah for summer fun and Batavia Downs is taking full advantage of the great weather Western New York is in the midst of by presenting a full slate of giveaway’s and activities to help its racing fans ease into fall.

It all starts on Saturday (Sept. 5) when the Downs presents Drew Monti bobblehead night.

Monti is one of the rising stars at Batavia Downs and has quickly become a fan favorite. So much so the fans themselves asked for this promotion featuring “Driving Drew." So starting at 5 p.m. on Saturday, fans can pick up a ticket at the Players Club desk and redeem it for a Drew Monti bobblehead after the seventh race in the Paddock Room. Distribution is limited while supplies last. You must be a Players Club member for this promotion.

You are encouraged to bring your bobblehead back to the track on Labor Day, Monday afternoon (Sept. 7) to get it autographed by Monti trackside, prior to the first race.

The Drew Monti bobbleheads are sponsored by TAG Jewelers and Gold Brokers (, of Cheektowaga.

Saturday the Downs will also be honoring longtime local horseman, Anthony “Tony” Strollo with a memorial race in the seventh. Strollo died this past April after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

The Labor Day matinee card also features a list of promotions that offer something for everyone in the family.

The feature event of the day is the annual Batavia Downs driver’s bike race. This “friendly” competition between the horsemen has been going on at the Downs since 1979 and the tradition will continue this year. Eight local drivers 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 “Driving Drew” Monti in a photo over Mickey Holliday. Monti will be back to defend his title against Holliday and face new challenges from Shawn McDonough, Dave McNeight III, Lee Dahn, Rock Vinci, Denny Bucceri and Bradley Jackson.

But the best part is the fans get to win the actual brand new bikes used in the race.

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 bike race will be held after the seventh harness race and the drawing, 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 present to win.

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

And what would Labor Day be without a cookout? Batavia Downs has that covered, too, and for any size appetite.

Charcoal grilled Sahlen’s hot dogs for $1 along with $1 beer and soda will be available on the apron from noon until the last race.

In the clubhouse, there will be a $10.95 chicken barbeque with all the fixings. And for every barbeque purchased you will receive $10 back in free-play on the gaming floor. So you can enjoy a holiday cook-out without the work or mess for only $0.95 net! This food special will only be available from noon to 3:30 p.m.

Chicken barbeques will be prepared by the Center Street Smoke House (, of Batavia.

Post time for Saturday (Sept. 5) is 6:35 p.m. Monday (Labor Day, Sept. 7) is a matinee with first post set at 1:15.

September 4, 2015 - 1:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, oakfield-alabama.


There was a point during the off-season where it looked like the tradition of Hornets football might come to an end. The team was struggling to fill its roster and negotiations were under way to merge with Pembroke.

But the coaches and the players rallied, and when Oakfield-Alabama takes its home field tonight against Notre Dame, 26 players will suit up.

"We talked about keeping the football team here and keeping the tradition here and they (players and coaches) really stepped up to the plate and did a nice job of being here and keeping our program going," said Head Coach Brian Palone.

This will be a season where a young team needs to grow, especially on the lines, where this year's starters are last year's second string, or modified player. But it's also a team other GR coaches acknowledge needs to be taken seriously every week with returners Allen Chatt at QB and Sal Schwable and Reice Woodward as wideouts. Those three alone give Palone some weapons he can use to challenge opponents.

"Our goal is to improve every day," Palone said. "I tell the guys how fortunate they are to come out every day and wear the Hornets' uniform and represent their school and their community. We're going to compete and get better every game."







September 3, 2015 - 2:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Photo of Wings of Royalty with reinsman Michael McGivern courtesy of Steve Roth.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

It’s not too often Hambletonian competitors make their way to Batavia Downs but that will be the case Friday night (Sept. 4) when the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings convene at that fast half-mile track in upstate New York.

Thirteen horses will go in two divisions (slated as race three and four) to compete for a total of $120,400 in purses.

The first $60,200 leg has Fashion Creditor (Credit Winner-Bon Voyage) as the 5-2 morning line favorite.

Besides competing in the NYSS, Fashion Creditor has been facing many of the top juvenile trotters on the Grand Circuit all year, including a start in the first elimination of the $1 million Hambletonian. After getting away last and having to deal with a breaking horse in front of him, Fashion Creditor rallied to finish only three and one-half lengths behind the race and eventual Hambo winner, Pinkman, and was only a half-length shy of qualifying for the final. And then on August 15, he was narrowly beaten fourth in the $200,000 Colonial Trot at Pocono Downs.

Fashion Creditor took his lifetime mark of 1:52.3 at the Meadowland on July 31, the first of three consecutive races he was timed in 1:52 and change. His six in-the-money finishes (that include two wins) have earned him $83,805 for the year. Jim Morrill Jr. will drive for trainer Tom Fanning.

His toughest competitor looks to be Royal Deceptor (RC Royalty-Art of Deception) who has put together a solid campaign this year.

Although Royal Deceptor has two NYSS wins and one Excelsior series tally, he did not fare as well in the $255,325 Empire Breeders Classic or the $370,000 Zweig. He was solidly beaten in both of those but has still managed to put away $114,588 for the year.

Michael McGivern will drive again for trainer Cheryl McGivern, which has been the case for the horse’s entire career.  

In the second $60,200 stanza, Wings of Royalty (RC Royalty-Sparkling Cider) puts his impressive resume on the line and is the odds maker’s choice at 5-2.

Much like Fashion Creditor, Wings of Royalty has faced some of the best trotters in his class this season. He finished one and one-half lengths behind Hambletonian champion, Pinkman, in the Zweig in 1:52.1 before finishing fifth behind Hambletonian runner-up, Mission Brief, in the Hambo elimination. Although he qualified for the final, he drew post nine and was never a factor in the race. He just missed qualifying for the final of the $580,000 Yonkers Trot last week finishing fifth, but is listed as the also eligible for the race.

He is the highest money earner in this race for 2015 with $148,223 made on the strength of three wins, only one of which was in NYSS action. Chris Lems drives Wings of Royalty for trainer George Ducharme.

A major threat to the favorite’s success will come from Mythology Bluechip (Crazed-Sirenuse) who is now racing for a new barn.  

Mythology Bluechip was sold on July 7 and switched trainers to Nancy Johansson. The story isn’t that the colt had been racing poorly for his previous connections but more the bad posts he’s drawn for his new owners. He has had three nine-holes and an 11 in his last five starts and last week when he left from post five, he was interfered with. The horse has shown gate speed as well as closing ability and his 1:53.1 mark at the Meadowlands this year is the best of anything in this race.

Marcus Johansson will make a rare Batavia Downs visit to drive for trainer Nancy Johansson, who also does not compete at this venue too often.

There are also two $15,000 NYSS Excelsior Series “A” legs on the card that will go as races two and five.

September 3, 2015 - 2:14pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

(Photo provided by Batavia Downs of Country Delight with reinsman Jack Flanigen.)

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

It was bombs away at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Sept. 2) as the betting public errantly overlooked Country Delight in the $10,000 mares Open pace feature.

When the gate released the pacers, Country Delight (Jack Flanigen) took the lead immediately as the rest of the field seemed content to follow in post-position order to a :28 quarter. With no pressure at all, Flanigen continued to grab leather and strolled to a pedestrian :58 half.  

Having had enough of it at that point, post time favorite Call Me Maybe (Drew Monti) pulled first-over and got as close as a length off by three-quarters in 1:27, but at that point it was too late. Flanigen let his mare out a notch and she did the rest; pacing home in :28.1 to win in a season’s best, 1:55.1.

It was the eighth win in 28 starts for Country Delight ($22.20) and it pushed her annual income to $48,623 for owner James Frandsen and trainer James Clouser Jr.

Driver Dave McNeight III scored a driving triple getting across with Jimgethejobdunn ($7.50), Momara ($4.10) and Heavenly Place ($3.40). Drew Monti and Ray Fisher Jr. both had driving doubles.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 4) at 6:35 p.m. when the New York Sire Stakes come to town featuring 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters who will compete for $120,400 in purses.

September 1, 2015 - 6:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, byron-bergen, football, sports.


Some key starters from the 2014 edition of the Elba/Byron-Bergen Lancers have graduated and moved on, but Head Coach Mike Cintorino is confident in the squad he will put on the field in 2015.

"This is the most veteran group we've ever had," Cintorino said. "We have a lot of guys who played with us as freshman and sophomores and we've got 15 seniors returning, mostly starters, so we lost some names such as (Steele) Truax, (Mike) Shanley and (Garrett) Chapell, and guys like that, but in all reality, we had guys with us last year already ready to fill those roles who have been with us for a couple of years."

John Hockmuth, a standout at tight end last season, has been waiting his turn to lead the offense and is ready to step in as QB-1, Cintorino said. Richard Flores, perhaps the fastest running back in the Genesee Region, returns as half-back and there are younger guys ready to contribute at receiver and tight end.

Size and experience will benefit the offensive and defensive lines.

"They've been playing together actually since they were in seventh or eighth grade, so this line is probably the most experienced line that we've ever had in terms of them playing together and having that continuity," Cintorino said.

There are no pushovers in the GR this year, Cintorino said, so preperation for each game is going to be a key to a successful 2015 for the Lancers.

"It's that old cliche, one week at a time," Cintorino said. "We don't want to look ahead. Right now, our number-one focus is Pembroke. In a league like this, you can't take any team for granted."












August 30, 2015 - 4:47pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Betting Exchange with reinsman Jason Bartlett. Photo courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

There was no doubt who the best New York bred 3-year-old colt competing at Batavia Downs was on Sunday (Aug. 30) after Betting Exchange (Bettor’s Delight-Cheeky Hanover) tied the track record of 1:51.2 for sex and gait in winning his division of the $120,400 New York Sire Stakes (NYSS).

After taking an easy lead from post one, Betting Exchange (Jason Bartlett) extended his advantage to two lengths over The Spy (John Cummings Jr.) at the quarter as post time favorite Artistic Major (Jim Morrill Jr.) got away poorly and was gapped a distant third. The leader was cruising along untested until Morrill rushed Artistic Major up by half-time and alongside Betting Exchange into the turn.

The challenge continued up the backside and to three-quarters in 1:24 but it was there the race was decided. Bartlett gave Betting Exchange his head and he simply paced away from the field. At the wire he was 10 lengths the best in 1:51.2, pacing the back half in a dazzling :55 flat.

The winning time tied the track record for 3-year-old pacing colts set by All Bets Off in 2014 and was also just one-fifth off the all-time track record of 1:51.1 set by Aracache Hanover in 2011.

After the race, Jason Bartlett commented “He raced super. I let him roll on the turn and he opened up. He's really a nice one.”

It was the second win in 14 starts for Betting Exchange ($4.50) and it pushed his 2015 earnings to $318,475 for owners Howard Taylor, Susan Kajfasz and Tom Fanning, who also does the training.

(Rockin In Heaven in the forefront with reinsman Trevor Henry. Photo courtesy of Paul White.)

In the first division, Rockin In Heaven (Rock N Roll Heaven-Tropic’s Beachgirl) overcame a fast battle for the lead and two subsequent challenges to hold on for an impressive victory.

Off the wings, no one played nice when Americanprimetime (Jason Bartlett), K-Rock (Matt Kakaley) and Rockin In Heaven (Trevor Henry) went three-abreast to argue for the lead. The trio motored up the backstretch and eventually seated with Rockin In Heaven taking the lead in a speedy :26.3. Positions remained unchanged to the half when Americanprimetime pulled first over from third to go after the leader.

With Americanprimetime outside prompting Rockin In Heaven past three-quarters in 1:24.1, K-Rock was sitting the perfect trip behind the pair waiting for his chance. When they hit the head of the lane it was obvious Rockin In Heaven had put away Americanprimetime but then had to fight off K-Rock who made his way into the passing lane. This was accomplished with a strong finishing kick as Rockin In Heaven won in 1:53 by a half-length.

“I wanted to get him out of the starting gate and to the lead. He dug in well when I called upon him” said Trevor Henry in the winner’s circle.

It was the eighth win in 15 starts for Rockin In Heaven ($2.60) and it boosted his earnings to $310,565 for 2015. The colt is owned by Douglas Polley, Francois Lecomte, Gordon McComb and Dr. Ian Moore, who also trains the horse.

There were two divisions of the NYSS Excelsior Series “A” also on the card that went for a combined $30,000.

The first event was won by the heavily favored Masterson (Bettor’s Delight-Tug River Princess) in 1:54 and it was the fourth straight win for the gelding owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock. Masterson ($3.20) was driven by Jim Morrill Jr. for trainer Tracy Brainard.

In the second split, Pop Icon (Bettor’s Delight-Pop Queen) overcame a slow start and breaking horses to win in 1:56.3. It was the second Excel “A” win this year for Pop Icon ($11.80) who is owned by Ken Weckstein, Richard Rubin and Gary Messenger, who also trains the horse. Jim Morrill Jr. did the driving.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 2) with post time set at 6:35 p.m.

August 30, 2015 - 4:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, football, sports.


It's been a few years since the Pembroke Dragons have been a force in Genesee Region football, and nobody is predicting a championship title for the team in green, but coaches in the league are all saying pretty much the same thing: Don't take Pembroke for granted.

Legendary Head Coach Dick Diminuco is heading into his second full season leading the Dragons and that in itself is enough to tell other coaches that Pembroke will come in to each week's game ready to play, but GR coaches have also seen the Dragons in summer seven-on-sevens and combines. The Dragons have some talent, but most impressively, they have some size on the line, a fact Diminuco was eager to show off when a photographer showed up to a recent practice.

"We're not a great team yet," Diminuco said. "We're not going to win the state championship or anything like that, but we're going to be better. We're going to compete. Thank God, hopefully, we don't have any injuries because we're thin. We've got 25 kids."

The Dragons will be a mix of veterans and the inexperienced. There are seven returners starting on offense. There are also five sophomores who will be starting on offense or defense. With exception of tight end, all of the skill positions, including QB, will be staffed by young players.

Even the offensive/defensive line is a mix of veterans and neophytes. The largest player on the squad, Dan Prichett, who is well over 6 foot tall and looks strong enough to flip Toyota Corollas, is inexperienced. The junior transfer never played football before.

"He's a wonderful boy, just raw," Diminuco said.

A year ago in pre-season camp, Diminuco clearly had his hands full. His frustration was palpable. This year, the energy is completely different. Diminuco and the players were loose and having fun and lessons were being learned.

Last season, Diminuco, was plagued by discipline issues. So far, everybody is showing up to every practice this year.

"These kids are good kids," Diminuco said. "They come here every day. They work hard. They're really a pleasure to work with, this group. I think they're getting used to me. Last year, we had some ups and downs, some battles, discipline, but this year, they've bought in. They've been good."

So what's Diminuco's prediction for 2015?

"Predictions? We're going to get better," Diminuco said. "We're going to be better. How's that for a prediction?"





August 30, 2015 - 1:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, GLOW Ducks, batavia, football, youth sports, mighty mites.


The GLOW Ducks youth football program opens its 2015 season today at Notre Dame's football field, and for the first time, it fielded a team of 5-,6- and 7-year-olds, who needed quite a bit instruction as the game progressed.









August 30, 2015 - 11:37am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Some of the biggest names in Standardbred racing will be at Batavia Downs on Sunday (Aug. 30) for the $120,400 New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings division. Fourteen horses are entered to compete in two splits, each vying for $60,200 in purse money.

In the first division (carded as race two), Rockin In Heaven (Rock N Roll Heaven-Tropic’s Beach Girl) is the 5-2 morning line choice and for good reason. He is coming in off a lifetime best, 1:50 flat win at Tioga Downs in the $290,000 Empire Breeders Classic. He is a multiple stakes winner this year, having already captured the Somebeachsomewhere and a leg of the Summertime series at Mohawk Raceway as well as the NYSS at Yonkers. And in those races has finished ahead of the likes of $400,000 Adios winner Dudes The Man and $300,000 Art Rooney Pace winner In The Arsenal.

Rockin In Heaven leaves from post five and will be driven by Trevor Henry for trainer Dr. Ian Moore.

His main competition appears to be American Primetime (American Ideal-Prime Xample A). Having raced the same slate of races as Rockin In Heaven over the past five starts, American Primetime has not had favorable draws. This week he starts from the rail and should be able to put forth his best effort as a result. His lifetime mark of 1:52.4 was taken over the half-mile oval at Yonkers Raceway and that bodes well for this start at Batavia.

American Primetime is 3-1 morning line and will be driven by Jason Bartlett for trainer Rick Dane Jr.

In the second division (carded as race four), Betting Exchange (Bettor’s Delight-Cheeky Hanover) brings an impressive resume to the table and as a result is the 2-1 early choice.

Most recently, Betting Exchange finished fourth in the $290,000 Empire Breeders Classic at Tioga Downs. After drawing post seven, Yannick Gingras took the colt to the front in :26.2 before getting covered up second by Arque Hanover. They sat the two-hole trip the entire race and fell just short in the stretch once getting loose in the stretch. Betting Exchange finished fourth in 1:50, beaten only three-quarters of a length by Rockin In Heaven.  

His biggest effort of the year came in the $810,000 Meadowlands Pace final on June 20 where he finished third behind Wakizashi Hanover and Wiggle It Jiggleit (currently first and third in North America for 2015 earnings) in 1:48 flat. He was only beaten by three lengths and was race timed in 1:48.3 in that marquee event.

Betting Exchange has drawn post one and will be driven by Jason Bartlett for trainer Tom Fanning.

Artistic Major (Art Major-Western Dancer) will be a major stumbling block for the favorite and has been listed as the 5-2 second choice. Having put together as solid a season as anyone could want, Artistic Major is 10 for 10 in the money and that money has totaled $203,351 this year. He was second in the fastest Empire Breeders Classic elimination (1:49.3) and then finished second once again in the final. All three of his wins have come in NYSS competition including his lifetime mark of 1:50.3 taken at Vernon Downs in June.

NYSS leading driver Jim Morrill Jr. takes the reins behind Artistic Major and will leave from post 4 for trainer Steve Elliott.

There are also two $15,000 NYSS Excelsior Series “A” races slated to go as race one and three.

Post time for the matinee card is set for 1:15.

August 30, 2015 - 11:35am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Fireyourguns with reinsman Mike Caprio. Photo courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

The horse named pacer of the meet for the last two years at Batavia Downs is making a case for a third as Fireyourguns won his second straight $9,500 Open pace at the oldest lighted harness track in North America on Saturday night (Aug. 29).  

Leaving from post five in the five-horse field, Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio) got away last as Bad Fox (Lee Dahn) rushed to the lead before Youwillwishyouhad (Kevin Cummings) brushed right on by at the quarter. Cummings then throttled down Youwillwishyouhad through as stodgy :30 second quarter as they hit the half in :58.1.

At that point, Caprio rolled Fireyourguns out to initiate his march to the front and incrementally improved position with each stride the pacer took. He pulled even with the leader at the three-quarter pole and a real battle ensued at that point. They paced in tandem around the last turn and halfway down the lane before Fireyourguns displayed superiority against his opponent and pulled away to a one-and-one-half length victory in 1:54.2.

It was the 10th win in 14 starts this year for Fireyourguns ($3.10) and the victory pushed his annual earnings to $63,875 for owners Jennifer and Robert Lowe and Terry McClory, who is also the gelding’s trainer.

Drew Monti, who was involved in a spill at the Downs on Wednesday night (Aug. 26), returned to the bike on Friday (Aug. 28) but did not hit the winner’s circle. However that changed Saturday. Monti came back with a vengeance, scoring three wins and two seconds as he got back into a real groove.

Jack Flanigen also had three winners on the card while Kevin Cummings chimed in with a driving double. Maria Rice and Carl Smith both registered training doubles.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Sunday (Aug. 30) with post time at 1:15 p.m. The card features two divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings going for a total purse of $120,400.

August 29, 2015 - 11:19am
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

(Lutetium with reinsman Kevin Cummings. Photo courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Despite the best efforts of local rival BZ Glide and the red hot ship-in Auspicious Hanover, Lutetium once again demonstrated he was the best Friday night (Aug. 28) in the $9,500 Open trotting feature at Batavia Downs. He is now four-for-four at the Genesee County oval and remains undefeated there in 2015.

Kevin Cummings sent Lutetium to the front from post six and led the whole race by two lengths while the rest of the field could do nothing but argue for place. The 8-year-old gelded son of Credit Winner set fractions of :28.1, :59 and 1:28.3 along the way before closing out the victory in 1:57.3.

It was the eighth win in 23 starts for Lutetium ($8.70) whose earnings were increased to $56,081 as a result of his efforts. The winner is trained by Mark Laidlaw for owner Colleen Girdlestone.

Batavia Downs leading driver Kevin Cummings had four victories on the night, pushing his win total to 43 for the meet. Shawn McDonough, Jim McNeight and Dave McNeight III all scored driving doubles. Trainers Kirk Desmond and Dave McNeight Jr. also had two conditioning wins apiece.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Aug. 29) with a 6:35 post time for the first race.

August 27, 2015 - 2:48pm

The 14th annual Batavia Blue Devil Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner will be held on Saturday, Sept. 26, at Terry Hills Restaurant and Banquet Facility.

Cost is $30 per person. Social hour begins at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6.

Tickets are available at the Athletic Director's Office at Batavia High School. For more information, call 343-2480, ext. 2003.

This event is sponsored by the Batavia Coaches Association.

The following individuals will be inducted into the Hall of Fame:

  • Bobbie Gavel -- 1969-99
  • Ed Anderson -- 1978-98
  • Shirley Bacon Malek -- 1982
  • Ted Lesh -- 1989
  • Jennifer Bromsted Masse -- 1991
  • Rob Hale -- 1992
  • Chris Reigle -- 1992
August 27, 2015 - 11:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, batavia, Bulldawgs, Batavia HS.


The Batavia Blue Devils varsity football team hosted the Batavia Bulldawgs youth football program at Van Detta Stadium on Wednesday night.

(Photos submitted by John Reigle.)







August 27, 2015 - 10:59am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Photo of Drew Monti by Jeff Zamaiko.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Western New York driving favorite Drew Monti was taken to a local hospital Wednesday night (Aug. 26) after being involved in a post-race spill that took place just past the wire.

After finishing second with Schooner or Later in the fourth race, Monti’s horse locked wheels with another horse while pulling up after the finish line, causing him to fall off the race bike. Before he could get up, he was struck by a trailing horse and knocked down again.

Track and first-aid personnel were on the scene immediately to assist Monti off the track and into the ambulance. He was evaluated on the scene and then transported to the Erie County Medical Center as a precautionary measure. Monti suffered cuts and abrasions but no broken bones and was released from the hospital late Wednesday night.

Drew Monti currently sits third in the Batavia Downs driver standings with 19 wins on the meet. He finished second at the recently concluded Buffalo Raceway meet with 139. For his career, the 20-year-old Monti has 417 wins and $2.1 million in earnings.





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