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May 25, 2016 - 12:01pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, news, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Peter Arrigenna, a longtime horseman who also serves as a trustee of the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund and as a director of the Horse Harness Breeders of New York State, has been named the new track superintendent at Batavia Downs.

Arrigenna will replace Ralph Horton, who has retired after working at the Downs for 14 years.

Besides running a successful stable that produced 2012 Yonkers Trot champion, Archangel (Credit Winner-Michelle’s Angel 1:50 $1,140,972), Arrigenna also runs his own construction company. And it’s the combined experience from both fields that has provided him the insight and knowledge to design, construct and maintain very fast race tracks.

Arrigenna has built many farm tracks from scratch, but he also resurfaced Buffalo Raceway in 2014 to the rave reviews of the horsemen and was hired this year as a consultant at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

Although the meet doesn’t begin for another two months, Arrigenna’s duties will start immediately as his first order of business will be to rebuild the track.  

“We will be leveling and filling the existing track to the grade indicated from a survey done in 2009. It will entail filling the ditches where it washed out, banking the turns better and putting it back to the original grade,” Arrigenna said. “Once that is complete, we will be putting a new surface on top of that which should make it much better for the horses competing there.”  

This will be the first time the track at Batavia has been resurfaced since 2010 and the $125,000 project will see the turns banked up to 8 percent and over 5,000 tons of new material (a mixture of washed screenings and washed crushed stone) added to the surface.

The project is scheduled to begin on Monday (June 6) and be completed by Friday (July 1), well in advance of opening night of live racing, which is Monday (July 25).

“I look forward to starting at Batavia because it’s close to home and it’s a project I like to do,” said Arrigenna.

Todd Haight is the director/general manager of live racing at the Downs and he has high praise for Arrigenna’s abilities.

“We’re thrilled to have Peter as our track superintendent,” Haight said. “He knows what it takes to make a race track fair, but also safe, because he is a horseman as well as a contractor. His knowledge and experience will serve him well in his new position.”

“I would also like to thank Ralph Horton for his many years of service to the track and wish him the best in his retirement,” added Haight.

May 6, 2016 - 1:45pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, kentucky derby, news.

Press release:

Live racing doesn’t return to Batavia Downs until Monday July 25, but the grandstand will be filled with race fans this Saturday (May 7) as the track hosts its annual Kentucky Derby bash in the Paddock Room from 11:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.

The $10 “Kentucky Derby Meal Deal” deal includes your choice of five entrees, a $2.00 Kentucky Derby wager and $5.00 in free play on the gaming floor. Programs, live tellers and plenty of big screen TV’s will be available throughout the facility.

In Thurman Thomas’s 34 Rush Sports Bar, drink specials include $6 mint juleps served in the official Kentucky Derby commemorative glass along with $2 drafts. Both will be available from 11:30 a.m. until 7 p.m.

“The Derby party has really developed since 2005 and we are expecting in excess of 400 people to attend this year,” said Todd Haight, general manager/director of Racing at Batavia Downs. “It’s amazing how popular it has become and how much it has grown."

All the Western Regional OTB branches in Western New York will open at 10 a.m. Friday (Kentucky Oaks Day) for advance wagering on the Derby and again at 10 a.m. on Derby day.

Last year, WROTB had its second best handle ever and paid out more than it took in for the first time, dating back to 1974.

April 21, 2016 - 7:23pm

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James Carter "Jimmie" Walker Jr., who played James Evans Jr. ("J.J.") from the mid-'70s TV show "Good Times," headlined Batavia Downs' first of many Comedy Nights scheduled this year. Walker has been entertaining people for more than four decades, from TV to comedy acts with his great one-liners, humor and his signature catchphrase "Dy-no-mite!"

He spoke about the era many years ago when TV had a whoppomg three channel and when it got to be very late, the signal went off the air with a beep and lines. Walker was nominated for Emmys, Golden Globes and more. The 68-year-old guy Bronx native entertained a packed crowd with laughter, wit and charm and was well received by Batavia.

Rochester native Todd Youngman opened the show for Walker.

The next Comedy Night at Batavia Downs is Wednesday, May 11th, with Michael Winslow from "Police Academy."

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Pictured below, Todd Youngman.

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March 18, 2016 - 5:44pm
posted by James Burns in hlom, batavia, Batavia Downs, news.

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Running until 8 tonight and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. is the Batavia Antique Sale and Show in the Paddock Room at Batavia Downs. Admission is $5 dollars per person with proceeds going to the HLOM Museum. Free entry Saturday with proof of Friday admission.

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March 8, 2016 - 5:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs.

(Written by Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs.)

Michael P. McDonald, of Batavia, NY, died peacefully Friday morning (Mar. 4, 2016) at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY, after a lengthy illness. 

Mr. McDonald was born October 28, 1964 in Rochester; son of the late Paul McDonald and the late Barbara (Provenzano) Samberg.

Mr. McDonald graduated from the Aquinas Institute in 1982 and moved quickly into the family business. In 1984, he took over as the publicity director of Batavia Downs Racetrack, which was then owned by his mother Barbara Samberg (who was the first female Director of the USTA) and his Aunt Donna Warner, after the passing of their father Pat Provenzano, who founded the track in 1940.

For 14 years, Mr. McDonald publicized and organized the activities of the top names in the industry and managed many high level racing events held at Batavia Downs that included Grand Circuit races, New York Sire Stakes and a Breeders Crown in 1988.

When the track was eventually sold to Western Regional Off Track Betting (WROTB) in 1998, Mr. McDonald stayed on staff and became the facilities operations manager and inter-track wagering (ITW) manager and served in both capacities until 2006.

A member of Resurrection Parish in Batavia, Mr. McDonald was an avid sports fan (in particular of the Minnesota Vikings) and was very active in local youth sports. He was also very involved with his two sons and their activities. He enjoyed playing golf and participated in the local men's hockey league. He was a youth football coach, Little League baseball coach and a volunteer for Notre Dame High School football.

Mr. McDonald is survived by his stepfather Jim Samberg, of Webster; his pride and joy, sons Cam and Aaron McDonald, both of Batavia; loving sisters, Martha Smith, of Rochester, Margo Conheady, of Rochester, Meghan (Scott Boone) McDonald, of Scottsville, and dear brother, Mark (Jacquie) McDonald, of Atlanta; his former wife, Kelly McDonald, and many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.

The McDonald family will be present from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday (Mar. 9) at the Michael S. Tomaszewski Funeral & Cremation Chapel located at 4120 W. Main Street Road, Batavia. Prayers will be recited at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday (Mar. 10) followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. celebrated by the Rev. Bill Donnelly at Resurrection Parish (St. Joseph's site). Memorials can be made in his honor to Notre Dame High School, 73 Union St., Batavia, NY 14020.

Please share your words of comfort with Mike's family at www.tomaszewskifh.com or for more information please call (585)343-7500.

February 10, 2016 - 12:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Park Road, Batavia Downs, batavia, business, news.

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Members of the Batavia City Council are ready to raise a ruckus about a proposal for the Town of Batavia to sell a portion of Park Road to Batavia Downs, leading to a closure of the road to thru traffic.

About a dozen Redfield Parkway residents attended Tuesday's council meeting to express their concern about the potential for increased traffic on their residential street if Park Road is closed.

"Redfield will become the new Park Road," is the battle cry.

But that won't necessarily be the case, said Mike Nolan, COO of Western OTB. A traffic study commissioned by Batavia Downs indicates there will be minimal impact on city streets, Nolan said.

"We've been working on this for a year," Nolan said. "We've met with all the stakeholders, the business owners on Park Road, the Sheriff's Office, the fire department and we're trying to mitigate the impact in every way. This wasn't just something thought up a month ago."

City Manager Jason Molino worried that the traffic study doesn't really address the impacts on parallel streets, such as Redfield, Bogue, Union, all the way down to Oak Street.

A couple of weeks ago, Park Road was closed on an emergency basis because of construction work related to the new hotel at Batavia Downs and traffic backed up on Redfield. 

Nelson Baker (top photo) and other speakers expressed concern that the congestion represents Redfield's future if Park is closed.

Maybe, maybe not, Molino said.

"Obviously, people are concerned with that closure that is going to be the type of traffic congestion that could take place," Molino said. "That has some merit to it. On the flip side, it was an emergency and that is going to cause traffic to congest because nobody has time to plan on getting around it. If the closure is well known ahead of time, then people have time to plan. With one incident, it's hard to judge, but it certainly raises awareness and puts focus on it."

That congestion was a one-time event and the traffic study indicates people will find alternatives, more sensible routes, if Park is permanently closed, Nolan said.

The main issue for Batavia Downs, Nolan said, is one of pedestrian safety.

When the racetrack was first built in 1940, the kind of high-volume entertainment center Batavia Downs has become wasn't envisioned, so building it right on Park Road wasn't an issue.

Last year, more than a million people visited Batavia Downs, creating two million pedestrian crossings on Park Road, and Batavia Downs is just going to continue to grow, Nolan said. 

"This is all about trying to solve a big problem, and that's public safety," Nolan said. "That is what the town and Batavia Downs are addressing."

The City Council will take up the issue at its next conference meeting to discuss drafting a letter to the Town Board opposing the plan and maybe directing a council member to personally carrying the city's concerns to the town.

The decision is entirely within the hands of the Town of Batavia. All the city can do is share concern and monitor the issue.

"We as a city are going to be affected and we don't have a say in this, so I would encourage everybody in the city to speak out to the town as well," said Councilman John Canale. "I'm not sure how much of an effect that is going to have on the decision, but it's frustrating because it's going to have a negative effect on city streets."

January 15, 2016 - 1:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, business, batavia.

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A portion of Park Road is being shut down this afternoon so work crews can remove a scaffold raised for the construction of the new hotel at Batavia Downs that was damaged in last week's windstorm, Town of Batavia Supervisor Greg Post said.

It's a matter of public safety, Post said, to close the road while the scaffolding is removed.

The project took some time to get to, Post said, after the damage, because the project needed to be carefully planned.

Batavia Downs will remain open, Post said, as well as the other businesses on Park Road.

There's no estimate on how long the project will take to complete.

January 15, 2016 - 11:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, business, batavia.

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming has closed the books on another record year, making it 10 straight years in which the facility increased revenues from the previous one. In 2015 the 787+ video lottery terminals at the track’s gaming facility generated $52.6 million in net winnings, up 7.37 percent from 2014’s $48.9 million. This percentage increase in net growth was first among NYS facilities for the second year in a row.

“After the completion of our gaming floor expansion and the opening of our new lobby, patron visits have increased as have revenues,” said Michael D. Kane, CEO and president for Batavia Downs Gaming. “With the construction of a new 84-room hotel, opening in midsummer, we look forward to further serving our customers in the Western New York area while expanding our reach even further.

2015’s increase comes on the heels of 2014’s 5.37-percent net winnings increase over 2013. In 2014 Batavia Downs was one of only two NY state facilities to show an increase. This marks the third time in the last four years that Batavia Downs Gaming leads NYS facilities in terms of percentage growth.

“We’re happy to show continued growth,” said Ryan Hasenauer, director of Marketing for Batavia Downs Gaming. “We also had a record year of payouts, with $627 million in winnings paid out to our visitors. These increases also benefit the counties and cities that own us. As a public benefit corporation, all revenues net expenses are distributed to our member municipalities.”

Western OTB is a public benefit corporation owned and operated by 17 Western New York municipalities: Cattaraugus County, Cayuga County, Chautauqua County, Erie County, Genesee County, Livingston County, Monroe County, Niagara County, Orleans County, Oswego County, Schuyler County, Seneca County, Steuben County, Wayne County, Wyoming County as well as the cities of Rochester and Buffalo. Headquartered in Batavia, WROTB owns and operates 27 OTB branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility.

December 18, 2015 - 2:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations:

The 69th live racing season at Batavia Downs wrapped up last Saturday (Dec. 12) much the same way it kicked off back in July; with a packed house of fans watching the best racing in Upstate New York.

The stellar calendar of stake races provided those in attendance a great opportunity to see some of the best horses in New York State and a fair number of Grand Circuit players as well.

The New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) produced three record performances. The first was on Sunday (Aug. 30) when 3-year-old pacing colt 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 NYSS event. This was the fastest pacing mile of the meet.

Then on Wednesday (Sept. 16), Dime A Dance (Roll With Joe-Hat Dance Hanover) took advantage of a lightning-fast track and 80 degree temperatures to set a new world’s record of 1:52.4 for 2-year-old pacing fillies in winning her division of the $109,000 NYSS race. It (obviously) was also a new track record for Batavia Downs, smashing the old standard of 1:54.2.

The 13th renewal of Batavia Downs signature event, the $50,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace, took place on Saturday (Oct. 3) and one of the winningest horses in North America added his name to the roster of champions of that race. Seventeen-time winner in 2015, Atta Boy Dan (Western Terror-Dropitlikeitshot), paced his last quarter in :27.4 and pulled away to an easy win in 1:52.1.

The all-time pacing track record of 1:51.1 was not broken in that race, however track trotting history was made instead in the $12,500 Brian Schroeder Memorial the same night.

Top local trotting star Lutetium destroyed the field, at one point opening up a gap of as much as 15 lengths, 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 set in 2014. This race was also the fastest trotting mile of the meet.

Kevin Cummings easily defended his driving title at the Downs by winning 134 times during the meet, far ahead of the rest of his competition. Those rounding oIut the top five included Dave McNeight III with 89 wins, Shawn McDonough with 82 wins, Jack Flanigen with 81 wins and Drew Monti with 73 wins.

JD Perrin also defended his training title by sending 57 horses to the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle. The competition behind him was decidedly closer and included James Clouser Jr. with 45 wins, Dave McNeight Jr. with 41 wins, Maria Rice with 34 wins and Kirk Desmond with 32 wins.

Cobble Beach (Artiscape-Mirmattculous 1:51.2 $176,867) was named pacer of the meet with six Open wins, $42,270 in earnings and a seasonal mark of 1:52.4.

Lutetium (Credit Winner-Luby 1:52.4 $356,617) was the trotter of the meet with six Open wins, $37,750 in earnings and a new track record of 1:55.2.

Memumsnotnice (Jereme’s Jet-Bunny Town 1:51.4 $308,343) was named distaff performer of the meet with four Mares Open wins, $32,942 in earnings and a personal season's mark of 1:55.

The top three winningest post positions for the meet were post 1 with 230 wins, post 2 with 131 wins and post 4 with 129 wins.

In 2015, the on-track handle took a dip of 5.4 percent, or $1263 a night. But the export handle was up a substantial 21.2 percent, or $13,220 per night. Combined, the total handle was up a healthy 9.6 percent, or $10,250 per night.

Batavia Downs paid out $5,438,400 in purses this year, up $208,400 over 2014.

There was no shortage of promotions for Batavia Downs customers this year as something special was going on during 31 nights of the season. Giveaways, contests and food specials dotted the schedule but the year featured four major happenings.

In August the Downs hosted the annual wiener dog races, to the delight of thousands who gathered at the rail to see them. September included the Drew Monti bobblehead night, the annual Labor Day driver’s bike race and a special fund raiser for the family of Brad Hanners.

Then on Sunday (Nov. 15), Batavia Downs hosted the USTA District 8 membership meeting, Director election and New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) year-end awards banquet, sponsored by the New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund.

"We couldn't be happier with the way things went this year" said Todd Haight, GM/director of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. "We had outstanding weather the whole year; not one flake of snow. That facilitated many opportunities for our live crowd to come out and that they did.

"The product on the track was as good as it's ever been and the export numbers confirm that. A lot of people were betting the action at Batavia Downs at all the simulcast facilities that took our signal. The meet ended very strong."

To watch video highlights of the 2015 racing season, click on this link: (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B54kiFXcdsHxM0kxcmQ1dVNxbGM/view?pli=1 )

Live racing will resume at Batavia Downs in July; dates pending approval of the New York State Gaming Commission.

December 12, 2015 - 1:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

The curtain comes down on another racing season at Batavia Downs tonight (Dec. 12).

This is closing night and once again features the free to play $500 Pick-6 contest. This final contest will be paid out to the player(s) that pick the most winners, if no one selects all six winners. 

And it’s also the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association’s annual “Night of Distinction” where awards will be distributed to both human and equine performance leaders throughout the evening in the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle. Post time is 6:15 p.m.
 
“It’s been an outstanding year and we’re capping it off with one more action-packed weekend of promotions and giveaways” said Todd Haight, director/general manager of Live Racing. “...I would also like to thank all the horsemen, fans, Downs employees and off-track locations for their support this entire racing season.”

December 10, 2015 - 11:57am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, batavia, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Submitted photo of Ken Ball.

By Tim Bojarski, president, UNY-USHWA

Scores of horsemen and women have come and gone over the years at Batavia Downs, but the ever changing look of the local driving colony has had a single, steady constant in its midst that still sends horses postward after 49 years in the business. His name is Ken Ball.

Ball got started in harness racing in 1966 as a second trainer for Eldon Harner. But it wasn’t long before he departed to start his own stable.

The first and probably best owners he ever had were Morris and Betty Miller. They bred and raced a string of horses that bore the “Whiz” name. These horses were stalwarts of his stable for thirty years.

During his time in the business, his most successful horse was Missile T (1:57.2 $313,644). The Master of Style colt was one of the best 2- and 3-year-old male trotters in New York State in 2006 and 2007. The largest purse Ball ever won was the $100,000 Elitist Cup at the Syracuse Mile with Brass Target Sam ($1:56.2 $74,793) in 1990. And the fastest race he ever drove was a 1:56.2 mile with his good Open trotter, Derby Tex Whiz (1:56.2 $125,941), also at the Syracuse Mile.

But the hits didn’t stop there. Ball was also responsible for the careers of Major T Collins (1:59.2 $221,804), PJ Whiz (2:00.2 $161,696), Super Whiz (1:59.4 $142,879), Crescent T Collins (2:02.2 $94,178), Gantry T (1:57.2 $69,923), Tempest Lobell (2:03.2 $63,411), BJ Grattan (2:02.4 $60,035), Chip Rebel (2:02.3 $58,474) and of course, the local legend Mr. Tizwhiz (1:59.3 $48,633).

For his career, Ken Ball drove 1,143 winners that accounted for $3.1 million in purses. On the training side, Ball started 2,337 horses posting 263 wins, 311 seconds and 324 thirds (40 percent in the money) and earned another $1.1 million for those starts.

Ball is still actively training today, but limits his driving to county fairs and an occasional qualifying race. He defers the pari-mutuel lines to his son, Keith, who is continuing the family tradition. Keith Ball is also a Monroe County Sheriff.

Ken Ball still lives in Batavia with his longtime companion Patricia Arnold. But he’s more likely to be found shipping his horses to the track or a fair than at his house. But that’s the only way one could ever put together such an impressive body of work.

Ken Ball will receive his award in the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 12) during UNY-USHWA’s Night of Distinction.

December 7, 2015 - 12:21pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Submitted photo of Kevin Cummings, the leading dash driver of the 2015 season.

By Tim Bojarski, president, UNY-USHWA

The Batavia Downs meet isn’t over, but the competition for the winningest driver and trainer certainly is. Kevin Cummings and JD Perrin are the leading dash driver and trainer for the 2015 season, repeating their dominance from last year and they will be honored by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness writers Association (UNY-USHWA).

Cummings currently has 131 victories during the meet, which total 49 more than his nearest competitor. And his $683,838 in purses won is at least a quarter-million dollars more than anyone else.

For the year, Cummings has already posted career numbers with 334 wins, $1.77 million in earnings and a UDR of .367. That UDR ranks him tenth in North America among all drivers. Cummings seasonal totals only pile onto his career statics that include 3,304 wins and $13.7 million in earnings.

Perrin posted 56 wins for the meet and his horses earned $236,822 for his efforts. He is also firing at a lofty .376 UTR.

As far as the entire year is concerned, Perrin has 125 wins, $633,747 in earnings and a UTR of .353. That UTR ranks him 10th as well among all trainers in North America to this point in 2015. Perrin’s career numbers include 569 wins and $2.4 million in purses.

UNY-USHWA has also named James Clouser Jr. their recipient of the 2015 Rising Star Award.

Since relocating his base of operations to Upstate New York early last summer, James Clouser Jr. has been on a tear. After only making minimal starts as a conditioner from 2008 until 2013, Clouser made some noise in 2014 winning 42 races from 191 outings and banked $229,887 in earnings. But this year he’s more than doubled all those numbers.

With only days of live racing left this year, Clouser has won 86 races and earned $454,359 in prizes on the strength of 286 starts. He is also boasting a gaudy .439 UTR. The 86 wins make him the top dash winning trainer in North America for conditioners with fewer than 300 starts.

For the current Batavia Downs meet, Clouser is the second leading trainer (behind JD Perrin) with 42 wins from 140 starts, $207,894 in earnings and a .431 UTR.

Kevin Cummings, JD Perrin and James Clouser Jr. will receive their awards in the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 12) during UNY-USHWA’s Night of Distinction.

Submitted photo below of JD Perrin, the leading trainer of the 2015 season.

December 6, 2015 - 1:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo of Lucky Nadotremblay out in front (reinsman Shawn McDonough), courtesy of Paul White.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Lucky Nadotremblay was pushed every step of the way Saturday night (Dec. 5), but the performance of a lifetime got him across first in the $10,000 Open pacing feature at Batavia Downs.

Leaving from post one, Lucky Nadotremblay (Shawn McDonough) was immediately greeted by Adversary Seelster (Ron Beback Jr.) and Jokerman (Jim McNeight) as the race rounded the first turn. The treble cavalry charge ferociously continued up the backside and to the quarter in :27.1 before Jokerman pulled off from three-high and dropped in second-over behind Adversary Seelster.

Adversary Seelster continued to pace side by side with Lucky Nadotremblay past the half in :56 but started to do the backstroke by the three-quarters in 1:24.4. At that station Cobble Beach (Dave McNeight III) who had been tracking from fifth, tipped three-wide around the fading competition to move alongside Lucky Nadotremblay, which started a two-horse competition that pulled away from the field. Cobble Beach inched closer and closer but Lucky Nadotremblay refused to lose and hung on to win by a neck in 1:53.4, which was a new lifetime mark for the victor.

It was the eighth win of the year for Lucky Nadotremblay ($7.20) and it boosted his 2015 earnings to $65,320 for owners Paul Viele and Ronald Louis Viele. Alex Giuliani trains the 5-year-old son of Blissful Hall.

Veteran reinsman Jack Flanigen put on a show, winning five races on the card that included the first four straight events. He scored with Big Dutch ($2.60), Bondy N ($2.10), Boots N Bourbon ($4.90), China Dream ($7) and Keystone Dalton ($2.50). Dave McNeight III won three and Ron Beback Jr. scored a double. James Clouser Jr. had a training hat trick while Jim Graham and Maria Rice conditioned two winners each. 

The final week of racing kicks off on Wednesday night (Dec. 9) with post time set for 6:15. The meet is down to the final three nights of live racing for 2015.

December 5, 2015 - 1:15pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

It’s not too often a horse gets passed at the head of the lane and comes back on to win, but that is exactly what Justgottogetthere did in Friday night’s (Dec. 4) $9,500 trotting feature at Batavia Downs.

Leaving from post four, Justgottogetthere (Ron Beback Jr.) left quickly to take the lead and provide pylon-starter Leave Your Mark (Kevin Cummings) with a perfect trip. The rest of the field struggled to keep up as the leading pair went to the half in :59.3.

After that second station, it became two separate races; Justgottogetthere and Leave Your Mark broke away from the pack by four lengths. Cummings pulled Leave Your Mark at the three-quarter pole and drew alongside of Justgottogetthere before taking a length lead at the top of the stretch. Looking well on his way to victory, Leave Your Mark was quickly rebuffed when Beback urged Justgottogetthere on and the game trotter responded; retaking the lead and eventually winning the race by a length in 1:58.3.

The win was the 10th of the year for Justgottogetthere ($7.50), but the first since Aug. 28. The winner’s share of the purse pushed his 2015 earnings to $63,402 for owners Antonietta Landi and North Creek Racing, LLC. Jerry Nugent Jr. trains the 6-year-old gelded son of Valley Victor.

Shawn McDonough had the hot hands on Friday, winning four races driving as well as one as trainer. Drew Monti was right behind with a hat-trick and Ron Beback Jr. doubled up. Trainers Russell Bratt and Alex Giuliani both sent two winners to get their pictures taken.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday tonight (Dec. 5) at 6:15. There are only four cards of racing left in the 2015 meet.

December 3, 2015 - 3:35pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo of Mach This Way with driver Ron Beback Jr., courtesy of Paul White.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

It was round two of the heavyweight fight between Mach This Way and Memumsnotnice in the $9,500 distaff pacing feature at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Dec. 2) and when the race was run, Mach This Way avenged last week's result. 

In a complete role reversal from a week ago, Memumsnotnice (Ray Fisher Jr.) was forced to sit in second as Mach This Way (Ron Beback Jr.) forced her way to the lead and made it clear that no one else would head her. Then over a rain-soaked track, they proceeded to splash to the half in :57.3.

As the girls made their way past three-quarters, Mach This Way and Memumsnotnice separated themselves from the rest of the field and it became a two-horse race at the top of the lane. From there, Memumsnotnice pulled and tried to overtake, but Mach This Way dug in and toughed-out a solid length victory in 1:57.

It was the seventh win of the year for Mach This Way ($3.30), including four wins in six consecutive Batavia Downs starts and the winners share enhanced her financial situation to $55,130 for owner William Emmons. James Clouser Jr. trains the 6-year-old daughter of Mach Three.

Several horsemen had multi-win evenings. Ron Beback Jr. scored a driving triple while Kevin Cummings registered a double. Trainers Kirk Desmond, James Clouser Jr. and Russell Bratt all sent two winners to post.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Dec. 4) with post time at 6:15 p.m.

November 27, 2015 - 4:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Racing fans may want to take a break from their holiday Black Friday shopping to check out tonight's Batavia Downs live racing program.

The 12-race card features very healthy carryover pools in both the Pick-5 and Pick-6 wagers.

The Pick-5 that runs from race five to race nine begins with a carryover pool of $864. And the elusive Pick-6, that starts with race seven and runs through race 12, has a carryover pool of $2,137.

First race post time is 6:15 tonight. Racing at America’s oldest lighted harness track continues three nights a week through Dec. 12.

November 27, 2015 - 4:29pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Kevin Cummings driving Memumsnotnice out in front.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

After fading late in her last two outings, Memumsnotnice displayed true grit this week to win the $9,500 top distaff class at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Nov. 25)

Downs leading reinsman, Kevin Cummings, rousted Memumsnotnice off the gate and into the lead before pacing unchallenged to the half in :58.1. But it was at that point it became a true horse race. Mach this Way (Ron Beback Jr.) pulled first-over at that station and drew alongside the leader. The pair then paced in tandem through the cold night air, for the next quarter mile in :28.1.

They continued their duel into the far turn before Memumsnotnice got stout-hearted and forged ahead of her foe. When she established a length advantage, Memumsnotnice dug in and would not let anyone get closer than that. She hit the wire first in 1:56.

It was the sixth win of the year for Memumsnotnice ($4.90), including four wins in her last six starts at Batavia Downs. The winner’s share of the purse pushed the mare’s 2015 bankroll to $51,018 for owners Thatsideofthefence LLC and John Mungillo, who also trains the daughter of Jereme’s Jet.

Three drivers won ten of the 12 races on Wednesday. Kevin Cummings had a four-bagger while Shawn McDonough and Dave McNeight III both scored hat-tricks. Trainer Kirk Desmond also sent two of his students to the winner’s enclosure.

Batavia Downs would like to wish all horsemen and fans a very Happy Thanksgiving and looks forward to the next card of live racing which will be held on Friday (Nov. 27) at 6:15 p.m. Just a reminder; there are only eight racing days left in the year.

November 22, 2015 - 2:22pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Adversary Seelster with driver Ron Beback Jr., photo courtesy of Paul White.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

How do you top a five-win night? Simple; win six! That’s exactly the kind of weekend Batavia Downs dash driving leader Kevin Cummings had.

After winning five races on Friday, Cummings took six of the 12 races on the card Saturday night, including the last five straight races. And he finished second twice and third three times besides. In fact, he was only off the board once all night. That performance translated into a .676 UDR for the night.

Cummings took pictures with Lucky Nadotremblay ($2.80), B Eva’s Lucky Lad ($5.50), In The Clear ($7.20), Camstar ($10.20), Noble Legend ($7.50) and Precise Accusation ($18).

As a result of his two-day winning spree, Cummings now has 115 victories for the meet and that puts him 39 ahead of his nearest competitor. For 2015, Cummings has registered 318 wins and $1.7 million in earnings. That win total is only 16 shy of his career best, which was set last year.

In the $10,000 Open pace feature at Downs, a two-horse duel resulted in Adversary Seelster being the best among seven of the best resident pacers.

Jokerman (Jim McNeight) left fast to take control of the front, but Adversary Seelster (Ron Beback Jr.) came out early to overtake him by the quarter. Positions remained the same until Youwillwishyouhad (Kevin Cummings) pulled at the half and charged hard at the leader.

Cummings pushed the pace to three-quarters, gaining a slight advantage on the outside at that point. But after Beback popped the plugs on Adversary Seelster, the gelding found another gear and responded in kind. He put away Youwillwishyouhad and then fended off a late challenge by Jokerman before hitting the wire first in 1:55.2.

It was the fourth win of the year for Adversary Seelster, and the winning time was a seasonal mark for him. The winner’s share of the purse pushed his 2015 earnings to $35,100 for owners Keith Pinkowski and Curtis Edholm. Adversary Seelster is trained by the currently red hot Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr.

Jim McNeight and Ron Beback Jr. both had driving doubles, while conditioner Alex Giuliani sent three of his trainees to the winner’s circle.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Nov. 25) at 6:15 p.m.

November 22, 2015 - 2:16pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Lutetium (Kevin Cummings)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

It’s an old story, but one that’s frequently told in western New York. Lutetium wins another $9,500 Open trot feature race at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Nov. 20).

Leaving from the outside (post six) in an abbreviated field, Lutetium (Kevin Cummings) shot right to the front and took a lead he would never relinquish. With a loose, two-length advantage for most of the race, Lutetium cut quarters of :28.2, :58.3 and 1:28.2. As he opened up a wider margin past that last station, Cummings guided Lutetium to the wire first in 1:58.2 as the rest of the field viewed his efforts while arguing for minor spoils.

It was the tenth win of the season for Lutetium ($3.20) and sixth victory at Batavia Downs this meet. The winner’s share of the purse inflated his 2015 earnings to $80,371 for owner Colleen Girdlestone. Mark Laidlaw trains the 8-year-old gelded son of Credit Winner.

The Downs' leading driver, Kevin Cummings, registered a quintet of victories Friday night, extending his already insurmountable lead in the dash win category for the meet. He finished first with Lutetium ($3.20), Creating A Dream ($3.10), Leave Your Mark ($8.90), Livefreeordiehard ($8.10) and Rebel Teen ($4.80). Shawn McDonough and Ray Fisher Jr. also had driving doubles.

On the training side, John Mungillo sent three horses to the winner’s circle and Mihalo Zdjelar Jr. did the same with two.

November 20, 2015 - 1:23pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Wind gusts topping 50 mph could not dissuade the best effort of Mach This Way after she got aired-out for more than half a mile before winning the $10,000 Open mares pacing feature at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Nov. 18).

The race was basically the tale of two mares. Memumsnotnice (Drew Monti) who shot right to the front to cut the fractions as she normally does and Mach This Way (Ron Beback Jr.), who was taken back to sixth until past the quarter pole.

Coming to the head of the stretch the first time, Beback pulled Mach This Way first-over and started a slow, methodical march towards the leader. By the time the field hit the three-quarter pole, Mach This Way was almost alongside Memumsnotnice and had no intention of stopping. The pair broke away from the pack, paced stride-for-stride around the far turn and matched steps all the way down the stretch until Mach This Way got a late advantage to win by a half-length in 1:56.4.

It was the sixth win of the year for Mach This Way ($17.80) and pushed her earnings to $48,005 for owner William Emmons. James Clouser Jr. trains the Mach Three mare.

Ron Beback Jr. had an outstanding night in the sulky, winning four races. He took pictures with Dirt Track Momma ($6.90), Mach This Way ($17.80), China Dream ($3.30) and Carman Coyote ($13.20). Drew Monti, Jack Flanigen and Ray Fisher Jr. all scored driving doubles. Trainers James Clouser Jr. and Maria Rice also sent two horses each to the winner’s enclosure.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs tonight (Nov. 20) at 6:15.

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