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May 25, 2017 - 1:49pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs:

Batavia Downs is pleased to announce that Shane Hoehn will be joining their staff as Assistant Race Secretary and Program Director for the upcoming live harness racing meet that begins on July 26.

Hoehn was born and raised in Vernon and started working at Vernon Downs right out of high school. During his 20-year tenure there, he started out selling programs and eventually became their full-time Race Secretary, a post he held for seven years.

In 2010, Hoehn left his duties at Vernon to pursue his own business venture. However in 2012, he went back to his racing roots and took the Assistant Race Secretary position at Saratoga Raceway, where he worked until 2014.

“I am looking forward to coming to Batavia Downs and get back into racing full time," Hoehn said. "I have never been to Western New York and am very excited to move there and get started. I have known (Batavia Downs Race Secretary) Joe Zambito for quite a while and am looking forward to working with him."

As much as Hoehn is anxious to starting his new position, track management is equally pleased with the new addition to their team.

“In an era that requires personnel in our industry to wear many hats on a daily basis, Shane Hoehn brings 22 years of experience in race track administration with him to Batavia Downs and will be a valuable asset to the racing community here” said Todd Haight, director and general manager of Live Racing at the Genesee County oval. We look forward to getting him settled in and underway in with his duties.”

Batavia Downs opens its 2017 live racing season on Wednesday (July 26) and will host 71 cards of harness racing action through Saturday (Dec. 16).

May 17, 2017 - 2:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, batavia, news, business.

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Work crews were at Batavia Downs this morning resurfacing the parking lot.

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May 10, 2017 - 2:35pm

Press release:

Representatives from Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation (WROTB) announced Tuesday that wagering at WROTB locations on Saturday’s Kentucky Derby was its highest total ever at $2,031,741, beating 2014’s record handle.

Handle was up over $200,000 over last year’s handle -- a 12-percent increase. Batavia Downs Gaming also posted a record gaming handle of $3.5 million for the day.

“This was an incredible day of wagering," said WROTB President Henry Wojtaszek. “We at WROTB want to thank our patrons for coming out to our branches, EZ bets, Batavia Downs and for using our online service Batavia Bets.com.

"We appreciate their patience on our busiest day. We could not have pulled this off if it wasn’t for our dedicated OTB branch and Batavia Downs staff, who worked tirelessly on Derby Day. We send congratulations to all our winners including the 34 patrons who hit the Trifecta and to the person who hit the $75,000 Superfecta.”

Derby wagers placed just at Batavia Downs Gaming totaled $91,330, an increase of nearly 58 percent over last year. Wagering using BataviaBets.com, WROTB’s online website, on the Derby was $98,352.50, a record. Batavia Bets.com signed up 720 new accounts on Friday and Saturday, also a new record.  Buffalo ranked #4 in the country in terms of Derby viewership.

“It’s exciting to see that interest in the Kentucky Derby is alive and well in Western New York, “ said Todd Haight, general manager of Racing at Batavia Downs Gaming. “We had a record number of attendees at our onsite party.

"We’ll have another party for the Preakness with live mutuels sellers, food, free play and a complementary Preakness wager like we had for the Derby.”

The Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, is scheduled for 6:48 p.m. on Saturday, May 20.

About Batavia Downs/WROTB

Owned and operated by 15 Western New York counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo, Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation is a public benefit corporation with headquarters in Batavia, NY. WROTB owns and operates 19 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility. Since its inception, Western Regional OTB has generated over $215 million in operating and surcharge revenues to the taxpayers of those participating municipalities.

April 21, 2017 - 12:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, batavia, entertainment, music, news.

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The Marshall Tucker Band

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced the lineup for this year’s Rockin’ the Downs concert series, and classic rock and country music fans will be very excited.

Kicking off the series on Sunday, June 4th is country powerhouse Lonestar. Known for merging their country roots with strong melodies and rich vocals, Lonestar has sold over 10 million albums, and achieved 10 #1 country hits including "No News," "Come Crying to Me," and their crossover smash "Amazed," which was also #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The band's awards include the 2001 CMA Vocal Group of the Year.

Next up, on Friday, June 23rd, is Dennis DeYoung and the Music of Styx. DeYoung was the songwriter of the band Styx’s hits like "Come Sail Away," "Babe," "Mr. Roboto," "The Best of Times," " Don’t Let it End," "Show Me the Way," and "Lady."

On Friday, June 30th, the money man, Eddie Money, will rock the house with his slew of massive hits that includes "Baby Hold On," "Two Tickets to Paradise," "Think I’m in Love," "Shakin’," "Take Me Home Tonight," and "I Wanna Go Back." Along with having sold more than 28 million records, Money’s songs have appeared in dozens of movies and television shows, and have recently been included in hit video games like Grand Theft Auto and Guitar Hero.

Founding member of Foreigner, Lou Gramm will be bringing down the house on Friday, July 7th. A native of nearby Rochester, Gramm has brought his amazing voice to the rock scene for more than 40 years. Gramm performed vocals on such hits as "Hot Blooded," "Feels Like the First Time," "Cold as Ice," "Double Vision," "Dirty White Boy," "Head Games," and "Juke Box Hero." With Gramm at the helm, Foreigner's first eight singles cracked the Billboard Top 20, making them the first band since The Beatles to achieve this.

Southern rockers The Marshall Tucker Band bring their 40 years of hits to Batavia Downs on Friday, July 14th. With hit singles like "Heard it in a Love Song," "Fire on the Mountain," "Can't You See," and "Take the Highway," The Marshall Tucker Band earned seven gold and three platinum albums while they were on the Capricorn Records label. During the '90s, the MTB scored four hit singles on Billboard's country chart and one on Billboard's gospel chart. Their music has also been featured on the soundtracks of movies such as "Smokey and the Bandit," "Blow," "The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper," "Shipwrecked," "Crank 2," "Don’t Mess with Zohan," "Stop Loss," "Swing Vote," "Taking Chance" and many others as well as many TV Shows.

On Friday, July 21st, Lee Greenwood brings his chart-topping music to the Downs. His hit song, "God Bless the USA" has been voted the most recognizable patriotic song in America. Greenwood has won numerous industry awards including, Male Vocalist of the Year for the Academy of Country Music in 1983, two Male Vocalist of the Year awards from the Country Music Association, 1983 and 1984 and a Grammy for Top Male Vocal Performance in 1985 for “I.O.U.” With seven number-one songs and 25 charted singles, his hits include "It Turns Me Inside Out," "Ring on Her Finger Time on Her Hands," "She’s Lyin'," "I don’t Mind the Thorns if You’re the Rose," and "Dixie Road."

Tickets for all six concerts are available at www.BataviaConcerts.com and sales began at 10 a.m. today (April 21). Individual tickets to each concert are $10 for General Admission while VIP tickets are $25. Tickets can also be purchased in-person at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel at their “Made in America” store located in the lobby.

“We are very proud to offer our loyal patrons and the people of this region an amazing lineup of music legends that are sure to electrify Batavia Downs with their hits from today and yesterday,” said Ryan Hasenauer, director of Marketing at Batavia Downs Gaming. “The fact that we are able to keep General Admission ticket prices at just $10 ensures that local music fans aren’t priced out of seeing their favorite artists.”

Hotel room/ticket packages will be available for each concert. Each concert ticket is also redeemable once at Player’s Club in the three days following the concert for $10 Free Play to be used on one of Batavia Downs Gaming’s 800+ gaming machines. Additional information may be found at www.BataviaDownsGaming.com.

April 14, 2017 - 1:22pm

Mercy EMS is finding its current ambulance staging area at St. Jerome's on Bank Street a little cramped and not conducive to keeping ambulances ready to roll in all kinds of weather, so it's planning a new 11,500 square foot facility off Route 98, just north of the Thruway, in the Town of Batavia.

The new facility will cost about $2 million and the site plan was reviewed and recommended for approval last night by the County Planning Board.

"There’s no space," said Mercy EMS General Manager Bill Schutt of the current location. "We’re in essentially four old hospital rooms there. There’s very limited parking space, obviously, if you’ve been there. In winter times, it’s especially difficult. Ambulances have fluids in them, medications that need to be kept warm, so you’re trying to run heaters inside them to warm them while parked outside. We don’t have any space there to hold meetings, do training, any additional private spaces, very limited crew space."

The new facility will have eight interior parking bays and additional spaces with electrical hook-ups for ambulances to park outside in emergency overflow situations.

The location, 2.2 acres being split out from an 8.6 parcel, is part of the Gateway II project on Call Parkway, just off of Oak Orchard Road.

Schutt said the new location will have no effect on response times.

There will also be expanded crew space, a meeting and training room.

The new location will also include a purchasing department that will house regional purchasing for Mercy Flight.

Also on Thursday's agenda:

  • The board recommended approval of two new commercial buildings on a parcel just north of Home Depot, abutting the Thruway, at 4181 Veterans Memorial Drive. The buildings will be a 12,600 square foot facility that will house medical offices and a 7,500 square foot building that will contain three spaces. Two will be restaurant spaces. The $1.2 million project is being undertaken by Holland Trotta out of Rochester.  A spokesman for the developer told planners that the large space was originally intended for a well-known local restaurant, but those plans changed. The signage on the architectural drawings in the planning board packet for the smaller building show an urgent care business and a Mexican chain restaurant, Qdoba Mexican Eats.
  • The board recommended approval of a conditional use permit for 17.4-acre, 2-megawatt solar farm at 2901 Pearl Street Road, Batavia. 
  • The board recommended approval of a nine-month moratorium on the planning and construction of solar farms in Stafford, giving officials time to review policies and zoning plans for such facilities.
  • The board recommended approval of a site plan review for a new 29,456 square foot paddock at Batavia Downs to be constructed on the east side of the race track. The previous paddock was removed to make room for construction of the new hotel. Currently, stables, are being used for paddock space. Paddocks are where horses and drivers are prepared for each race and return to after the race for washing and testing (winning horses are tested for banned substances, as required by the gaming commission). 
April 6, 2017 - 11:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, Western OTB, news, business.

Richard Siebert, a member of the Western OTB Board of Directors, used yesterday's Ways and Means Committee meeting to brief members of the County Legislature on the relationship of WOTB with George Maziarz and the status of Henry Wojtaszek, the organization's CEO.

Both have been in the news recently in connection with a criminal investigation by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Maziarz is accused of shielding $95,000 in secret campaign payments to a former staff member. Wojtaszek, as part of the same investigation, has pled guilty to a misdemeanor related to paperwork that was filed, or not filed, by the Niagara County GOP Committee, which Wojtaszek once led.

News reports have linked Maziarz to Western OTB, but Siebert told legislators that's not entirely accurate.

The former 20-year veteran of the State Senate was hired as a consultant by a lobbyist that Western OTB uses, Patty Lynch, and Lynch has apparently used Maziarz to work on some Western OTB issues in Albany. 

Maziarz was not directly working for Western OTB, Siebert said.

"We made it very clear at our last board meeting to Patty Lynch that George Maziarz was to no longer to be associated with Western OTB," Siebert said. "We cleared that up. We have no relationship with George Maziarz. Technically, we’ve never paid him, it was just something that Patty Lynch did on her own."

As for Wojtaszek, Siebert said Wojtaszek had resigned as the Niagara County GOP chair in 2009, but somehow he was hung with a 2012 violation related to paperwork that wasn't properly filed.

Siebert, who is also the Republican elections commissioner for the county and chairman of the county GOP, said Schneiderman's office gave Wojtaszek a choice, plead guilty to a misdemeanor and be able to keep his license and his job running Western OTB, or face felony charges that would be tried in Albany, which could have mean legal bills well over $100,000.

At a meeting, the Western OTB board, which includes two Democrats, two Conservatives, and 14 Republicans, agreed unanimously, Siebert said, to support Wojtaszek. The board wants him to stay on as CEO, he said.

"Henry’s done a great job," Siebert said. "Our previous CEO never came out of the office. Henry is out there asking people what they can do better, what we can do better, what management can do better. He’s been a great morale booster. He has great contacts in Albany."

April 3, 2017 - 11:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, batavia, news, business.

Press release:

Due to the recent expansion of gaming in Western New York and the lack of tax parity amongst gaming entities, WROTB/Batavia Downs Gaming could potentially lose in upwards of 100 jobs in Western New York. WROTB/Batavia Downs Gaming currently employs more than 500 hardworking Western New Yorkers throughout 15 counties and two cities.

A bill that would create ‘tax parity” appears to be logjammed in the budget process. If a concession is not made, there would be devastating effects to the local economy as WROTB has returned more than $226 million to local governments, purchased more than $480 million in local goods and services, and is one of the largest employers in Genesee County.

Having created new state casinos and a hypersensitive business environment without leveling the playing field, potentially means job cuts here and additional loss for horsemen through Central and Western New York.

“We have been working diligently with state officials to create a stable plan for tax parity and are very hopeful this can be accomplished in the state budget,” said Mike Nolan, chief operating officer at Batavia Downs Gaming. “Other facilities have fewer restrictions placed on them. With new gaming competitors entering the market, we are looking to be on a level playing field.

"We want to continue to make facility improvements, satisfy our patrons and continue to provide employment to hundreds of employees that rely on these jobs to provide for their families. We urge our representatives in the Assembly, Senate and in the Governor’s office to give our employees the peace of mind that tax parity will ensure the solvency of our corporation moving forward.”

March 28, 2017 - 2:55pm

brassbataviadowns2017.jpg

This Saturday, music lovers who love brass can get an earful at Batavia Downs as five brass bands will perform in the Paddock Room.

The bands are Mighty St. Joe's Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps, Niagara Memorial Militaires Alumni Drum Corps, St. Joe's of Batavia Brass Ensemble, Parkside Brass, and Darkside of Parkside.

Food and beverages available during the performances.

Tickets are $15, which includes lunch and $10 in free play at Batavia Downs.

The show starts at 1 p.m.

Photo, Frank Panepento with his horn, on the right, Frank Cecere, T.J. Noce, assistant group sales manager for Batavia Downs, Mary Bucceri, group sales manager, and Harold McJury.

March 25, 2017 - 5:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, business, news.

According to a reader who contacted The Batavian, about a dozen employees at Batavia Downs had complaints about new scent defusers installed at the facility, but according to Mike Nolan, COO for Western OTB, only two employees were seen by doctors.

While the employees complained about the new machines, a connection between their symptoms and the machines hasn't been confirmed, he said.

Also, in response to the e-mail received by The Batavian, Batavia Downs is in compliance with regulations to have on hand material data safety sheets, he said.

Here's the full statement from Nolan:

Within the last week Batavia Downs installed a few scent air machines. They are widely used across the country in retail establishments. 

We did have a couple of employees complain of allergies during the week and went for medical treatment blaming the scent machines, no confirmation they were the source of the ailment at this time.

We do have MSDS sheets on site at the Downs and have offered them to the affected employees for consultation by their physicians.

We discontinued use over the weekend so the vendor can come on site Monday and make adjustments if necessary.

The goal is to create a great environment at our facility for Patrons.

February 27, 2017 - 11:38am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, batavia, news, fire.

Audio and visual fire alarms at Batavia Downs have been set off.

The building has been evacuated.

City fire is on scene, investigating.

Town of Batavia fire responding.

A possible pull station was activated. Investigating.

UPDATE: I thought I updated this earlier: False alarm. 

February 26, 2017 - 5:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, Bridal Show, batavia, news, business.

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Batavia Downs hosted a bridal show today.

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February 15, 2017 - 3:37pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, news, Announcements.

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel is proud to announce that Runaway June, singers of the country hit single “Lipstick,” will be performing at Batavia Downs Gaming’s Paddock Room Events Center on Friday, April 21stTickets will go on sale at their website, BataviaDownsGaming.com, at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 17th

“As the area’s premier entertainment destination we are committed to bringing exciting musical acts like Runaway June to entertain our loyal patrons,” said Ryan Hasenauer, director of Marketing at Batavia Downs Gaming. “We are looking forward to having Naomi, Hannah and Jennifer onsite for what is sure to be a fun and memorable experience for their fans and soon to be fans.”

All tickets are $10 General Admission plus facility and processing fees.

About Runaway June

Composed of the organic, three part harmonies of Naomi Cooke, Hannah Mulholland and Jennifer Wayne, Runaway June is Wheelhouse Records brand new vocal trio. With its debut single “Lipstick,” Runaway June is the first all-female trio to earn a Top 30 hit on the Billboard Mediabase Country charts in a decade.

About Batavia Downs/WROTB

Owned and operated by 15 Western New York counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo, Western Region Off-Track Betting Corporation is a public benefit corporation with headquarters in Batavia, NY. WROTB owns and operates 29 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility. Since its inception, Western Region OTB has generated over $215 million in operating and surcharge revenues to the taxpayers of those participating municipalities. 

December 22, 2016 - 9:59am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, sports, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

On Saturday (Dec. 17), the curtain came down on the 70th anniversary season of racing at Batavia Downs. America’s oldest lighted harness track’s meet that began on Monday (July 25), ran two days longer than originally scheduled after racing was extended for an extra weekend.

As usual, the stake season was highlighted by eight divisions of the New York Sire Stake series, which featured the best state bred horses and Grand Circuit horsemen. The series featured visits from the likes of John Campbell and Andy Miller and produced two new track records.

On Saturday (Sept. 3) Pointomygranson (Marcus Miller) toured the facility in 1:53.2 and set a new standard for 2-year-old pacing geldings and on Wednesday (Sept. 14) Zack’s Zoomer (Marcus Miller) trotted a mile in 1:58.1 and established a new track record for 2-year-old trotting colts.

Racing under saddle (RUS) made its debut at the Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 7) and that produced a new track record as well. Admirable Hanover who was ridden by Vanessa Karlewicz won the $4,000 event in 2:03.4.

On Saturday (Oct. 9), Batavia Downs signature stake, the $50,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial trot saw the $7 million man, Foiled Again (Kevin Cummings) come from well off the pace to win by a length in 1:52.2 on the strength of an exciting stretch drive at 9-1. That win marked the 90th trip to the winner’s circle for the richest standardbred in the history of the sport.

For the first time ever, Batavia Downs offered a new claiming series that ran throughout the whole meet. Claimers of both gaits accrued points month to month in order to make finals worth between $15,000 and $20,000. On Saturday (Nov. 13) trotters Love U Forever and Chrome Finish, and pacers Outoftexas, War Front, Vals Jett, Big Unit and Can U Be Fun won the finals in their respective divisions.

In September, Batavia Downs hosted a new owners' seminar in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association and the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State. Twenty-six people took part in the workshop that took them from the classroom to the paddock and provided them with everything they needed to learn in order to make informed decisions about standardbred ownership.

On the track, one of the best driving colonies in some time put on quite a show. Perennial local favorite Jim Morrill Jr. put in another stellar effort that was highlighted by a seven-win night, two six-win nights and four five-win nights.

But it was 22-year-old Drew Monti who eventually won the dash driving title with 116 wins for the meet. Monti also registered a seven-win night and two five-win efforts as well. It was the first ever driving title won by Monti.

Jim Morrill Jr. did set a new single meet earnings record at the Downs after he banked $849,024 in purses from July to December.

JD Perrin “three-peated” his training crown, finishing first again this year with 47 wins. Perrin’s meet started off strong before many of his horses fell ill. But after a trying middle stretch, the stable got back on track over the last month and Perrin was able to defend his title again.

The winningest post position was post one with 231 wins followed by post two (151), post four (138) and post three (126). Post one also made the board 63 percent of the time.

Also, the favorites won the race 46 percent of the time during the course of the meet.

“We had a very exciting year at Batavia Downs this year. The product on the track was very competitive and having drivers like Jim Morrill Jr., Drew Monti, Shawn Gray and newcomer Larry Stalbaum joining the fray, the competition was fierce every night” said Todd Haight, GM/Director of Live Racing. “Despite our handle being down 5 percent for the meet, we paid out a record $5.9 million in purse money and we look forward to doing that again next year.”

Pending approval from the New York State Gaming Commission, the 2017 live racing meet at Batavia Downs will start on Wednesday (July 26).  

The management and horsemen of Batavia Downs would like to wish everyone in the industry a very happy Holiday Season and the best of luck in the upcoming new year. 

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