By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs
On Friday, Oct. 17, Batavia Downs will look back and honor the careers of two longtime female trainers who plied their trade on the Western New York circuit for many years. Mary Ann Sarama-Luce and Brenda Ohol will have races named in their honor and presentations made with their families in the winner’s circle as the local horsemen pay their respects and remember their careers at Batavia Downs.
Mary Ann Sarama-Luce passed away in July of 2011 at 73 years of age after a long battle with leukemia. She ended her driving career in 1990 with 109 wins and $201,435 in earnings. At that point she started training full time and continued to do so until her passing. As a conditioner she sent 107 horses to the winner’s circle whose efforts earned $334,835. Some of the top horses Sarama-Luce trained included Gold Bandit N, Top Dog Alex, Top Dog Nicholas, Easy L Bar and Guy Lee Debbie.
After her passing, her son Carl and husband Richard have carried on with her stable.
“Harness racing was her number-one priority and passion” her daughter Lynette McGiveron said. “Her horses were the driving force behind her battle to recover. Even in her final days she worried more about her horses than herself.”
McGiveron continued “A passion of Mary Ann's was to have her mares bred and to raise the foals to race. She named them after her kids and grandchildren and had planned on doing so until every child and grandchild was named. The last foal to be born on her farm was "Top Dog Morgan" named after her grandson. Unfortunately Mary Ann never got to see it in person. He was born the night she went into the hospital for her final stay.”
Bruce Tubin, president of the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association, described Mary Ann as “A fierce competitor both as a trainer and a driver.”
After the fifth race, named the Mary Ann Sarama-Luce Memorial Trot, we will remember a great mother, person, horseman and friend to so many in Western New York.
Brenda Ohol died in August of 2013 after a long battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
She was born in Batavia and raised in Akron, New York, and was around horses her entire life. She was always in the barn with her father Ron Lederhouse who campaigned his own stable for many years and then as an adult, married Mike Ohol who was an established trainer/driver on the Western New York circuit.
During her 22-year training career she sent 691 winners to post and amassed earnings of $2.85 million. Her most prolific year came in 2009 when she had 1,018 starters with 79 winners, 91 seconds and 122 thirds along with $396,953 in monies won. Some of her best known horses included Little Man Cam, Adelia’s Prince, Honeybee Hershey, Fundy Breeze, Collier St. Bobby and Sunray Kash.
She left a legacy of women in racing behind as her daughter Courtney and granddaughter Brittney are now currently active full time trainers at Batavia. Ohol’s sister Lisa Lederhouse is an accomplished trainer as well.
Bruce Tubin, president of the western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association, said “Brenda was a hands-on, hardworking trainer who left us way too soon.”
Jim Mulcahy, treasurer of the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association said “Brenda always had a nice stable of horses that were always competitive. She was one of the top female conditioners on this circuit.”
After the seventh race, named the Brenda Ohol Memorial Pace, we will remember our other great mother, person, horseman and friend to everyone who raced on this circuit.
Post time for the first race is 6:35 p.m.