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October 8, 2015 - 1:27pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Photo of Country Delight with driver Jack Flanigen, courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Two divisions of $7,700 Open II pacing mares headlined the card at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Oct. 7) with eleven ladies going postward.

The better of the two contests turned out to be the second when Country Delight ($5) took a pocket trip en route to winning the seventh race by a long length.

Memumsnotnice (Kevin Cummings) got away sharply as Country Delight (Jack Flanigen) tucked in behind her as the only leaver in the race. From there, Cummings led the field through fractions of :28, :58.2 and 1:27 before they circled the far turn.

At the top of the stretch it appeared as if Memumsnotnice had the race won, but Flanigen shooed Country Delight into the passing lane where she accelerated past the leader to win in 1:55.4.

It was the ninth win of the year for the 5-year-old American Ideal mare who has now earned $57,473 in purses this year for owner James Frandsen. Country Delight is trained by James Clouser Jr.

In the first division, Infrontigo Hanover (Jim McNeight) went to go in front immediately at the start and maintained that position the entire mile, hanging on to beat the pocket-sitting 1-9 favorite, Climate Hanover (Drew Monti) by a mere nose in 1:57.

It was the fifth win of 2015 for Infrontigo Hanover who now has $50,444 in the bank for the year. The 7-year-old Western Hanover mare is trained by Bob Gruber, who co-owns with Summer Wind Stable of NY.

Driver John Cummings Jr. was on fire Wednesday, winning five races on the card. He took his picture with LG’s Pride ($65.50), Seascape Hanover ($5.10), Voltina ($10.80), Hawaiian Joe ($4.60) and Regal Beau ($4.60). Sean McDonough and Jack Flanigen each had driving doubles.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night with the first post set to go at 6:35.

October 6, 2015 - 2:12pm

(Submitted photo: Jerome J. “Jerry” Grasso)

Press release from Batavia Downs:

Jerome J. “Jerry” Grasso has been named the recipient of Batavia Downs Gaming’s annual Italian-American of the Year award. Jerry Grasso will be honored with this accolade on Monday (Oct. 12, Columbus Day) with a special trackside ceremony after the seventh race.

Joe Gerace, the first recipient of this award, will act as master of ceremonies.

“Jerry is a wonderful individual. In addition to being a good family man, he has been an asset to our community for many years and is truly deserving of this award.” Gerace said.

Mr. Grasso, who resides in Batavia, is a current trustee of the Knights of Columbus (Monsignor Kirby Council #325) where he was also a past Grand Knight. He is a faithful navigator of the Knights of Columbus 4th degree, Batavia Assembly #0755.

Aside from his involvement in the K of C, Mr. Grasso was a volunteer at Notre Dame High School for 25 years where he contributed his time heavily to sports and scholarships.

Besides his efforts for the school, Mr. Grasso has also spent countless hours volunteering and assisting in fundraising for multiple organizations, in and around Batavia.

He has been a Eucharistic Minister in the Catholic Church since 2001, taking particular pride in giving Holy Communion to those unable to attend church services.

Joining Mr. Grasso in the winner’s circle for the presentation will be past Italian-American award winners Chuck Zambito, Ray Cianfrini, Joe Teresi, Charles Ruffino, Russ Romano and Laurie Napoleone.

October 4, 2015 - 12:06pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Atta Boy with reinsman Jim Morrill Jr., courtesy Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

The marquee event at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Oct. 3) was the $50,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace. But history and outstanding performances in other races combined to provided a show that those in attendance won’t soon forget.

In the main event, Atta Boy Dan led at every post en route to a three-length victory in the 13th annual Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace.

Off the gate, Atta Boy Dan (Jim Morrill Jr.) rebuffed early challenges from Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio) and Doctor Butch (Jim Marohn Jr.) and seated them both past the eighth pole. Then after the field followed in single file to a :27.4 quarter, Morrill backed off the half to :56.3 and took full control of the race.

Royal Heart (Drew Monti) started an outer flow into the clubhouse turn and had Aslan (Sean McDonough) in tow, but no one got closer than two-lengths before they hit the head of the stretch. From there, Fireyourguns pulled the pocket for one last shot but Atta Boy Dan, pacing his last quarter in :27.4, was just too good and pulled away to an easy win in 1:52.1.

Fireyourguns hung on to be second and Aslan came up to be third.

“I had a smooth journey to the half and as soon as I called on him, he was on cruise right to the wire. That was a good horse (Fireyourguns) sitting on my back and I was a little worried about him, but mine felt pretty good too. I wish I could have a Burke horse off the rail every year in this race,” said winning driver Jim Morrill Jr.

It was the 16th victory of the year for Atta Boy Dan ($2.30) and the winner’s share boosted his earning to $222,757 in 2015 for owners Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi.

Atta Boy Dan was just part of the story for Jim Morrill Jr. on Saturday night as he won seven races out of the 11 he had on the card. Combine those with a second and third he also had and Morrill posted an amazing .717 UDR for the evening.

The all-time pacing track record of 1:51.1 was not broken in the race; however trotting history was made instead.

(Lutetium with reinsman John Cummings Jr., courtesy of Paul White.)

Lutetium got back to his front-running comfort zone and destroyed the field in the $12,500 Brian Schroeder Memorial Trot.

In a late driver change, John Cummings Jr. was tapped to steer Lutetium and wasted no time earning his keep. When prohibitive betting favorite, Tall Cotton made a break in the first turn, Cummings rushed Lutetium away and opened up a gap of as much as 15 lengths between himself and the rest of the field through fractions of :27.1, :55.4 and 1:25.1 before scooting home to a six-length victory in 1:55.2.

The winning time broke the existing track record of 1:56 for aged trotting geldings that was co-held by Lutetium and Second Hand News, both who set that mark in 2014.

“They said he hasn’t been leaving well lately, so I scored him down fast. Once he got the front in the race; the more I grabbed him, the more he went on. I was a passenger,” said Cummings Jr.

It was the ninth win of the year for Lutetium and it pushed his bank account to $68,886 for owner Colleen Girdlestone and trainer Mark Laidlaw. Overlooked at 10-1, Lutetium returned $22.60.

This was just one of three wins for John Cummings Jr., who scored the hat trick on the night.

There were also two, $50,000 New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) consolation events on the card for 2-year-old colts and geldings and also fillies.

The boy’s division was won by Southern Palms (RC Royalty-Pacific Elegance) in 1:59.2. The post-time favorite went wire to wire and won by four-lengths. It was the first career win for Southern Palms ($4.40) who is trained by Erv Miller for owners Ronald Michelon and Anthony Lombardi.  

After the race, winning driver Jim Marohn Jr. said “Erv (Miller) tipped me off that he was a handful tonight; and he was!”

The distaff leg went to Royal Surprise (RC Royalty-Miss Conway), also in 1:59.2. After getting away fourth, the filly tipped three-deep at three-quarters and pulled away to a two-length win. It was also the first career win for Royal Surprise ($6.50) who is trained by Dan Daley for owners Ann-Mari Daley, James Crawford, Richard Lombardo and Michael White.

“She was good the whole mile and when I asked her, she just trotted away. She was good tonight,” said winning driver Jim Morrill Jr.

There was a huge crowd on hand Saturday night and the fans both in the stands and watching remotely, were putting some money through the windows. The total handle was up 15 percent this year, versus Kane night of 2014.

The Paddock Room and enclosed grandstand were very crowded and the clubhouse was sold out once again. There were so many people in line to receive their free Kane Pace T-shirt, it took over two races to distribute the goods.

Racing will reconvene at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Oct. 7) for a 12-race program that will commence at 6:35.

October 2, 2015 - 12:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Picture, courtesy of Paul White, shows some of the horsemen who donated their training and driving percentages to the fundraiser.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Batavia Downs race track held a fundraiser Wednesday night (Sept. 30) to help support the family of driver Brad Hanners.

The event was overseen by Jami Rae Chatt, whose enthusiasm and passion to help others definitely rubbed off on the owners, trainers, drivers and even the fans of the Downs, as they all pitched in together to raise $9,200 for the Hanners family.

Brad’s Aunt, Ann Coe, was on hand Wednesday and was truly moved by the outpouring of support that everyone at the races that night provided. She spoke with many on hand near the silent auction area and was greeted by all in a winner’s circle presentation after the tenth race.

“Batavia Downs would like to thank everyone for their generosity in making this fundraiser a huge success," said Todd Haight, director/general manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. "It was truly a touching and remarkable night. I would also like to thank Jami Rae Chatt for once again leading the way with this effort and making it a winner for Brad's family.”

October 1, 2015 - 12:54pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Photo of Climate Hanover with reinsman Drew Monti, courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Taking full advantage of post and position in the race, Climate Hanover ($5.10) scored an impressive victory in the $8,500 Open mares pace at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Sept. 30).

Starting from the pylons, Climate Hanover (Drew Monti) yielded the lead to a hard charging Country Delight (Jack Flanigen) who left from post eight. With the field then following the leader in post-position order, Country Delight led the girls to a modest :58 half.

Past that station, Call Me Maybe (Shawn McDonough) was motoring on the outside and drew near-even with the leader at three quarters in 1:26.4. Those two then battled on top until the head of the stretch when the passing lane opened and left clear passage for the pocket-sitting Climate Hanover to shoot through and pull away to a two-length victory in 1:55.4.

It was the seventh win of the year for the 5-year-old Western Ideal mare and the winner’s share of the purse boosted her 2015 income to $57,284 for owner James Caradori. Climate Hanover is trained by Darrin Monti.

Climate Hanover’s triumph capped off a three-win night for driver Drew Monti, who also took post-race pictures with Maradona ($14.60) and Old Mcheath ($11.40). Drivers Dave McNeight III and Ray Fisher Jr. also had driving doubles.

Batavia Downs returns live on Friday night (Oct. 2) with a 12-race card that will begin at 6:35.

September 29, 2015 - 12:47pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Racing Media Relations

The racing community has once again come together at Batavia Downs to help out the family of one of their own. Wednesday night (Sept. 30) is the “Helping the family of Brad Hanners Fundraiser” night.

There are many facets to this endeavor but one singular goal as horsemen are donating purses and donated items will generate revenue through a silent auction.

Drivers who will be donating their entire 5-percent income for the Wednesday night card include Drew Monti, Shawn McDonough, Dave McNeight III and Jack Rice. Trainers who have also agreed to donate their entire 5% are Dave McNeight Jr., Maria Rice, Mike Carrubba and Bob Gruber.

Drivers and trainers who will be making a general donation include, Ron Beback Jr., Russell Bratt, Denny Bucceri, Mike Caprio, Kevin Cummings, James Clouser Jr., Lee Dahn, Alex Giuliani, Brad Jackson, Lisa Lederhouse, Jim McNeight, Darrin Monti, Jim Mulcahy, John Mungillo, Angelo Nappo, Jerry Nugent Jr., Courtney Ohol, JD Perrin, Don Rothfuss, Rose Russo, Ron Van Wagoner and Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr.

Owners who have agreed to donation a portion of their Wednesday earnings include Steve Andzel, Dave Bratt, Louis Frascella, Mike Torcello and Howard Ouriel.

Organizations who will be donating funds include the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) and the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association.

Those attending the races live can also make cash donations or bid on any of the silent auction items that will be available. The auction will be held in the Paddock Room and bids will be accepted from 6:15 p.m. until five minutes after the 10th race.

Auction items include:

-- A set of bobbleheads consisting of Jim Marohn Jr., Wendy Ross, Tim Tetrick, Drew Monti and Jody Jamieson;

-- An autographed whip from William O’ Donnell, David Miller and Jody Jamieson and a Sweet Lou cup;

-- A Future Hall of Famer, Yannick Gingras, autographed jacket and driving gloves;

-- A Hall of Famer, Ron Pierce, autographed driving jacket;

-- An autographed full set of driving colors from Hall of Famer, Ron Pierce;

-- A Breyer Foiled Again horse signed by Yannick Gingras.

Jami Rae Chatt is the driving force behind the fundraiser and is well qualified to do it. Chatt also organized the Anthony Coletta fundraiser that raised $12,835 in 2013; an effort that garnered her the Unsung Hero Award from USHWA last year.

“Because we did so well for Anthony Coletta, we wanted to help the Hanners family any way we could. When everyone is on the racetrack, it’s all business. But other than that, we’re all one big family and I have seen how generous the Western New York racing community can be on many occasions. I’m just glad to be a part of it,” Chatt said.

Todd Haight, director/general manager of Live Racing said “Jami is an amazing young lady. When she came to me asking if the track would help put this on we were more than happy to help anyway we could. Jami is a very caring individual and her efforts for Anthony Coletta proved that. I only hope we can be as successful for this family as they go through this very bad time.”

September 29, 2015 - 12:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Racing Media Relations

Horsemen are advised that Batavia Downs will be accepting entries for the $50,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace through Wednesday morning (Sept. 30) at 9 a.m. The race will be held Saturday (Oct. 3) on one of the richest cards ever offered at the oldest lighted harness track in America.

Known as the Downs signature event, The Robert J. Kane Memorial is named for the former Chairman of the Board of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation, owner of Batavia Downs. The race has had three millionaires win it, including Foiled Again ($7.1M), who won it twice; Bolt The Duer ($1.8M) and Aracache Hanover ($1.7M) who set the all-time track of 1:51.1 in 2011.

Other premium racing opportunities that night include the $12,500 Brian Schroeder Memorial Trot and a $10,000 Open pace. Also scheduled are two $50,000 New York Sire Stakes 2-year-old consolation races.

Entries or inquiries can be made by calling the race office at 585-344-6161.

September 26, 2015 - 11:06pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Photo of Cobble Beach with driver John Cummings Jr., courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Racing Media Relations

Cobble Beach was in full command the entire way as he put a circle around the five-horse field in the $9,000 Open pacing feature at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 26).

Leaving from post four, Cobble Beach (John Cummings Jr.) shot right to the lead and took instant control of the race. While about five lengths back, prohibitive betting favorite Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio) got away fourth and was content to stay there until the half.

After hitting that station in :56.4, Caprio unleashed Fireyourguns and advanced as far as second at the three-quarter pole. But the assault creased when the gelding faded uncharacteristically around the far turn. From there, Cobble Beach paced home in a speedy :27.4 to win by three-lengths in 1:52.4.

It was the eighth win of the year for Cobble Beach ($4.70) and the fourth top-class victory for him at Batavia Downs. The winners share boosted his bankroll to $67,565 for owner Leonard Segall and trainer James Clouser Jr.

Saturday was a night of multiplicity for several horsemen. The driving/training team of Dave McNeight III and Dave McNeight Jr. scored a hat trick with Goldstar Thumper ($3.50), Maple Leaf Matt ($14.20) and Outoftexas ($7.30) while the driving/training team of John Cummings Jr. and James Clouser Jr. registered a double with Bad Bad Boy ($3.40) and Cobble Beach ($4.70). Shawn McDonough, Jack Flanigen and Ray Fisher Jr. also had driving doubles as well.

The next card of live racing will be Wednesday (Sept. 30) at Batavia Downs with post time set for 6:35 p.m.

September 26, 2015 - 11:01pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Photo of BZ Glide with driver Mike Caprio, courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Racing Media Relations

BZ Glide ($6.10) made a change in race strategy pay off by going wire to wire in the $9,500 Open trot feature at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 25).

In what seemed to be a race from a parallel universe, nothing that is known to normally happen, occurred. BZ Glide (Mike Caprio), who almost always comes from off the pace, went right for the lead. And habitual frontrunner, Lutetium (Kevin Cummings), settled in the garden spot, opting to let someone else dictate the race.

In the end the contrary methodology of one paid off while the other, not so much.

BZ Glide performed like a well-oiled machine on top, covering scads of ground with his long, fluid stride. He controlled the field by a loose length the entire race under a passive hand-drive by Caprio, setting fractions of :28.2, :58.4 and 1:28.4 before rounding the final turn.

As they headed down the stretch, Cummings directed Lutetium off his cover and tried to gain momentum on the pylons, but their attempt was ineffective as BZ Glide trotted home without issue in 1:57.4.

It was the sixth win in 15 starts for BZ Glide this year and the winner’s share of the purse boosted his earnings to $42,695 for owner Caprio LLC. The 6-year-old Yankee Glide gelding is trained by Alana Caprio.

September 24, 2015 - 11:37am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Act Now with driver Kevin Cummings, courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

What does a mare that raced the likes of Anndrovette, Table Talk, Color’s A Virgin and Rocklamation just two months ago do when she comes to Batavia Downs? Win by four lengths in the $10,000 Open distaff pacing feature on Wednesday night (Sept. 23).

The 4-year-old pacing mare Act Now, who just scorched the Open class ladies at Flamboro Downs in 1:53 flat last week, came south of the border on Wednesday to take on the best in Western New York. However the best weren’t good enough to even challenge the invader who toured the facility unencumbered this night.

Act Now (Kevin Cummings) left the gate and shot right to the front, opening up a three-length advantage; a lead that was extended up to six-lengths during the race. Cummings had a stranglehold on the mare through fractions of :27.2, :55.1 and 1:23.4 when talk of another track record started swirling through the press box.

With the plugs popped and Cummings clearly driving with the time in mind, Act Now flew home with no opposition nearby, to win by four lengths in 1:53.3. The finishing time was only three-fifths of a second off the track record of 1:53 for aged pacing mares set by Xenia Hanover in 2013.

It was the second win in 10 starts this year (including two in a row) for Act Now ($4.10) and her share of the purse boosted her lifetime earnings to $521,717 for owners Joseph Davino and Patrick O’Brien. The Western Ideal mare is trained by Nikolas Drennan.

The Downs leading driver, Kevin Cummings, had five winners on the card Wednesday night. He took a picture with Socialdelight ($4.10), Dedalos ($4.20), Most Happy Rider ($4.70), Act Now ($4.10) and Mystical Danica ($5.10). Sean McDonough and Dave McNeight III both scored driving doubles.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 25) with the first race post time set at 6:35.

September 20, 2015 - 9:20am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Photo of Cobble Beach with driver Jack Flanigen, courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Winning the $9,000 Open pace at Batavia Downs seemed like a walk in the park for Cobble Beach on Saturday night (Sept. 19) as he made putting away the competition look pretty much, stress-free.

Assigned post seven, Cobble Beach (Jack Flanigen) left sharply to take a lead he would not relinquish this night. With the field in post-position order behind him, Cobble Beach set fractions of :27.3 and :56.3 before a weak outer flow developed past five-eighths.

As the group hit the six-furlong marker in 1:26.1, the outside threat failed just as Spender Hanover (Don Rothfuss) and Closing Credits (Dave McNeight III) came out to take their best shot after following quietly on the pylons. But their best wasn’t good enough as Cobble Beach coasted to an easy two-length victory in 1:55.2.

It was the sixth win in 32 starts for Cobble Beach ($8.40) this year and the purse increased his earnings to $63,065 for 2015. The 5-year-old gelded son of Artiscape is owned and trained by James Clouser Jr.

The Downs top-two drivers, Kevin Cummings and Dave McNeight III, both scored driving triples Saturday while Jack Flanigen and Sean Mcdonough both doubled their pleasure.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Tuesday afternoon with the second (and final) twilight post time of 4:30.

September 19, 2015 - 12:59am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Photo of Curious George with driver Jack Flanigen (not seen) pulling ahead on the inside track, courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Serious George ($10.80) took full advantage of a favorable draw and a perfect trip to narrowly capture the $10,000 Open trot feature at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 18).  

Starting from the pylons, Serious George (Jack Flanigen) immediately yielded the front to post time favorite Lutetium (Kevin Cummings) in lieu of a garden spot journey. With two marginal players making breaks before the quarter, the seven-horse field had narrowed to five and the pace to the half slowed to a stodgy :59.2.  

With no legitimate challenges coming from behind, Lutetium maintained a two-length advantage to three-quarters in 1:28.2 and it looked like he was going to chalk up his ninth win of the season. But when they straightened out for home, Flanigen pulled Serious George and charged hard at the leader, snagging him at the wire to win his first Open of the year by a neck in 1:57.4.

The finishing time equaled Serious Georges’ lifetime mark set back on July 15 of this year; his only other win of 2015. The purse boosted his annual income to $31,447 for owner James Palladino. The winner is trained by Rich Mays.

Jack Flanigen scored a driving hat-trick while Kevin Cummings, Sean McDonough and Dave McNeight III all visited the winner’s circle twice during the evening.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 19) with the first post set for 6:35.

September 17, 2015 - 12:37pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Photo of Dime A Dance with driver Matt Kakaley, courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

A lightning-fast track and 80 degree temperatures greeted the New York Sire Stakes 2-year-old pacing fillies at Batavia Downs where two divisions offering a total of $109,000 in purses, along with important points needed to make the NYSS final, were up for grabs on Wednesday night (Sept. 16).

Prohibitive 2-5 favorite Dime A Dance didn't dissapoint her backers as she put on a show in her $54,500 division, winning in definitive style and resetting the world's record for a 2-year-old pacing filly over a half-mile track.

Dime A Dance (Roll With Joe-Hat Dance Hanover) took off the pace fourth and watched as No Clouds Bluechip (Kevin Cummings) and American Ivy (Mark Macdonald) duked it out for the lead in a fast :26.4 quarter. From there, the field remained stagnant until the half when Mother Of Art (John Cummings Jr.) pulled first over from third and Dime A Dance (Matt Kakaley) took cover second-over behind her.

The group picked up the pace with a :28.4 third panel but that wasn’t fast enough for the eventual winner. Dime A Dance swung three-deep at that station and circled the field to clear and pull away by three-lengths in an impressive and uncontested victory in 1:52.4.

The time was a new world's record for 2-year-old pacing fillies, besting that of Isabella Blue Chip's 1:53.1 at Delaware, Ohio in 2006. It was also a new track record for Batavia Downs, smashing the old standard of 1:54.2 set by Sassa Hanover just last year.

“She’s definitely one of the better fillies this year. She was just awesome tonight; she could have paced faster,” said driver Matt Kakaley.

It was the third win in eight starts for Dime A Dance ($2.90) and it pushed her earnings to $101,513 for owners Our Horse Cents Stable, Blue Chip Bloodstock and J&T Silva Stables. The filly is trained by Ron Burke.

In the first $54,500 division, Encore Deo hung on strong down the lane for a close victory over Art Critic.

Wishy Washy Girl (Ray Schnittker) took a quick, early lead before yielding to Encore Deo (Matt Kakaley) before the quarter that went in :28. The field remained single-file to the half before the heavily favored Upside Surprise (Mike Micallef) pulled from fifth to start her outside trek.

Upside Surprise got to third and hung and couldn’t gain anymore as the leader took the field to three quarters in 1:25.4. Positions stayed the same to the top of the stretch and Encore Deo was riding a short lead when Art Critic (Jim Morrill Jr.) swung inside the fading Wishy Washy Girl and came up the pylons. The two battled in deep stretch with Encore Deo just hanging on by a nose in 1:55.1.  

“I wanted to try her on the lead tonight. At three-quarters I thought I was going to win but it got a little close there at the end,” Kakaley said.

It was the second win in eight starts for Encore Deo ($13.40) and the winning time was a new lifetime mark for the filly. The winner’s share of the purse pushed her earnings to $56,578 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Jason Melillo and Lawrence Carr. Ron Burke mentors the filly.

There were also two divisions of the $15,000 NYSS excelsior series on Wednesday.

The first split was won by Major Millie (Art Major-Gravity) in 1:57. The filly is trained by Erv Miller and was driven to the victory by Kakaley. Major Millie ($9.10) is owned by KDM Stables Corp.

The second stanza was won by Milky Way Rae (American Ideal-Aurora Borealus) in a swift 1:55.3. She is trained by Tracy Brainard and was driven by Jim Morrill Jr. Milky Way Rae ($3.90) is owned by Fortunate One, LLC.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 18) at 6:35.

September 15, 2015 - 10:23pm
posted by Robert Brown in veterans, fundraiser, Buffet, Batavia Downs.
Event Date and Time: 
September 23, 2015 -
5:30pm to 9:30pm
Batavia Downs Gaming at 8315 Park Rd. Batavia is hosting Vets Night at the races. Cost is $20 (half of all proceeds will benefit the Monroe County Veterans Court Mentor Program) per person and includes: Clubhouse Buffet, $2 Horse Wager Voucher, $15 free play, FREE racing program ($2 value) including a $5 free play coupon, T-shirt, No Ride Poker Run Entry (prize for best hand). The buffet opens at 5:30 PM - you will be asked for your arrival time when you make your reservation. There will be a Chinese auction on site with all proceeds going to the MCVCMP.
September 15, 2015 - 1:08pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

The eighth and final division of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) will visit Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 16) when 15 2-year-old pacing fillies congregate to vie for their share of the $109,000 in purses up for grabs.

This will be the last time this class will compete before the $900,000 NYSS Night of Champions for 2-year-olds at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday (Sept. 26) and for some, the outcome of their performance here will dictate whether or not they make the cut in the point standings. The top six point-getters are solid to make the final, but the last two slots are definitely up for grabs.

The first $54,500 division (carded as race three) has four horses on the verge of making the final, but the morning-line favorite is making her first start in a NYSS event this year.

Upside Surprise (Art Major-Latte Lady) got a late start to her career after being scratched sick in her first race back on July 10 at the Meadowlands. She did not return to the track until August 18 when she broke her maiden in a big way, winning by 10-lengths at Pocono Downs in 1:53.4.

Her next engagement was the Shes A Great Lady Stake at Mohawk Raceway where she was second in her elimination before finishing sixth in the $341,250 final behind L A Delight in 1:51.2 on Sept. 5.

Upside Surprise (2-1) will leave from post 4 with Jordan Stratton at the lines for trainer Tony O’Sullivan.

The next four horses by odds are all looking to capture those last two spots in the final and they all need a win to have a shot. But that is something three of them have not done all year.

North American leading trainer, Ron Burke, has three horses in the race: Art Critic (Art Major-Snippet Hanover) and the coupled entry of Encore Deo (Rock N Roll Heaven-Docdor Cameo) and Rockin Date (Art Major- Rockin Beauty).

Art Critic (3-1) has not won at all this year but also has not missed a check in NYSS action either. Her best race time was 1:54.3 at Vernon Downs just two starts ago and she put out a good performance at Yonkers last week as well.

Art Critic will have Jim Morrill Jr. aboard and leave from post 2.

Encore Deo (7-2) does have one NYSS victory at Buffalo Raceway back on July 1 in a career best 1:57.3. She was race timed at Vernon in 1:53 flat two starts ago and moves back inside after drawing post six at Yonkers last week.

Encore Deo gets the driving services of Matt Kakaley and will leave from post three.

Rockin Date (7-2) is also winless this year but also never seems to get beat by much. Unfortunately for her, after drawing post one and two four times in her last five starts, she moves out to post seven for tonight and that will be difficult to overcome.

Local driving leader Kevin Cummings picks up the lines for the contest.

In the second $54,500 split (carded as race four) six of the top seven point-getters are competing in the absence of the overall point-leader, Soft Idea. With a lot of early speed behind the gate, Sassa Hanover’s track record of 1:54.2 could be in jeopardy.

Dime A Dance (Roll With Joe-Hat Dance Hanover) comes into this event red-hot. She has won her last two outings including a lifetime best, 1:52.2 at Vernon Downs before coming right back in 1:55.4 at Yonkers. She is currently fifth in the standings but could move up considerably with a win here. This filly likes to come off the pace and with the all the leavers entered, this race could set up just right for her.

Dime A Dance (3-1) is another student of Ron Burke and will start from post three with Matt Kakaley in the bike.

No Clouds Bluechip (Roll With Joe-B J’s Sunshine) currently sits second in points with 224 as well as NYSS earnings of $101,999. She strung three-straight wins in NYSS action in July and August and hasn’t finished worse than third in the series all year.

Pegged as the second choice at 7-2, No Clouds Bluechip gets the services of Kevin Cummings as chosen by trainer John Berger.

American Ivy (American Ideal-Haunted) is seven for seven in the money this year and finished second to Soft Idea in her last two outings. Last week at Yonkers she was beaten a narrow neck in 1:53.4 off a perfect trip, but that was the fastest of the divisions that night.

Joe Holloway trains American Ivy (9-2) and has assigned Mark Macdonald to steer from post 5.

September 15, 2015 - 9:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, business, crazy cheap cars, Batavia Downs.


Mary Frombgen, of Gasport, was the big winner in a drawing at Batavia Downs on Saturday, claiming a prize of $5,000 toward the purchase of a vehicle from Crazy Cheap Cars, in Oakfield. Frombgen went to the dealership yesterday, test drove several vehicles and settled on a 2012 Buick LaCrosse, which she said she just loved. Pictured with Frombgen is Crazy Cheap Cars owner Mike Ognibene.

September 12, 2015 - 10:59pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations:

Batavia Downs cancelled their live races on Saturday (Sept. 12) before they got under way due to unsafe track conditions. Western New York was inundated with heavy rain all day and as a result, the track surface became very slippery despite efforts to grade it and clear the water.

The main concern was traction for the starting car. It was deemed that the car could not properly grab the track and accelerate away enough to break from the field to provide a fair and safe start. With both the horsemen and track management concerned, it was decided for the best interests of all involved that the card be cancelled.

Todd Haight, general manager/director of Live Racing, said “Our main concern is always for the safety of our horses and horsemen and the track did not lend itself to providing that condition tonight. Once we determined we could not proceed in a manner that we felt comfortable with, we decided to cancel the races.”

Racing will resume at Batavia Downs on Tuesday (Sept. 15) with a special twilight post time of 4:30 p.m.

September 12, 2015 - 12:15pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Photo of BZ Glide and driver Mike Caprio courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

After coming off two subpar performances and no wins since July, BZ Glide put on the performance of his life in winning the $10,000 Open trot feature at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 11)

Winkys Pride (Drew Monti) took an immediate lead at the start of the race while BZ Glide (Mike Caprio) left just enough from post five to tuck in third. Monti took the field through a soft :58.2 half until Caprio swung out at that station to start his assault.

BZ Glide advanced with machine-like precision up the backside while trotting a :28.2 third panel. His momentum continued around the far turn as his margin of dominance widened. He trotted down the lane without a challenge from the field or encouragement from his driver and in victory, set a new lifetime mark of 1:56.3.

It was the fifth win in 13 starts this year for BZ Glide ($4.90) and the effort increased his earnings to $37,445 for 2015. The 6-year-old Yankee Glide gelding is owned by the Caprio Stable, LLC, and trained by Alana Caprio.

Drivers Mike Caprio, Jim McNeight and Dave McNeight III all scored driving doubles on the card.

One of the biggest win mutuels in recent memory occurred in the sixth race when Stirling Cadillac (Mike Caprio) overcame post 8 to win at 77-1 and return $156. The exorbitant payoff triggered some lofty exotics as well. The 8-3 exacta paid $3,428 and the 8-3-all trifecta returned $4,169.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on tonight night (Sept. 12) with the first post set at 6:35.

September 10, 2015 - 9:39am
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

(Makes Her Mark and driver Kevin Cummings are out in front in this photo provided courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

After making quite a jump in class, Makes Her Mark ($15.00) took full advantage of an assigned inside post to trip-out in the $8,500 mares Open I-II Handicap on Wednesday night (Sept. 9) at Batavia Downs.

It was a pretty simple race most of the way: All About Boyz (Dave McNeight III) left and went right to the front while the rest of the field remained in post position order behind her. Makes Her Mark (Kevin Cummings) who had post one, sat in the garden spot as the group went through fractions of :28.1, :57.4 and 1:27.1.

When the field was approaching the third station, Call Me Maybe (Drew Monti) was moving on the outside with Ugly Betty (Mike Caprio) in tow. Then Caprio swung that one three-deep as the field entered the turn.

Call Me Maybe’s bid failed along with Ugly Betty’s and their demise opened the door for Makes Her Mark to come off the pylons and go after the leader. Cummings pulled the mare and went to the stick to get the advantage at the wire in 1:56.4. Badlands Love (Jim McNeight) snuck up the rail for second and Country Delight (Jack Flanigen) picked up the pieces for third.

It was the sixth win in 15 starts for Makes Her Mark and the victory pushed her yearly earnings to $20,732 for Jim Dunn, who owns and trains the 6-year-old Codyscoltfortyfive mare.

The Downs leading driver, Kevin Cummings, scored a driving triple on the card while Drew Monti and Dave McNeight III both tallied driving doubles.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 11) with post time set for 6:35.





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