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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photos courtesy of Paul White.)

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

(Wings Of Royalty with driver Chris Lems.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photos courtesy of Paul White.)

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The feature event of the day is the annual Batavia Downs driver’s bike race. This “friendly” competition between the horsemen has been going on at the Downs since 1979 and the tradition will continue this year. Eight local drivers will line up at the quarter pole and make their way around the far turn and head for the wire.

Last year’s winner was “Driving Drew” Monti in a photo over Mickey Holliday. Monti will be back to defend his title against Holliday and face new challenges from Shawn McDonough, Dave McNeight III, Lee Dahn, Rock Vinci, Denny Bucceri and Bradley Jackson.

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

Each patron can put their entry in one of eight boxes; each coinciding with a driver in the race. Then from the winning driver’s box, eight winners will be randomly drawn and each will be given one of the bikes. The bike race will be held after the seventh harness race and the drawing, after the bike race has been declared official.

There is no purchase necessary but you must be at least 18 years old to enter and present to win.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo of Drew Monti by Jeff Zamaiko.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

August 27, 2015 - 5:10am
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, Batavia Downs, sports.

(Photo of Badlands Hanover with reinsman Jim McNeight courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations:

A patient steer from a veteran driver produced an upset victory in the $9,500 mares Open pace feature at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Aug. 26). It was Badlands Hanover (Jim McNeight) who sat last and watched the rest of the field argue position before swooping in to claim the spoils.

There was a traffic jam off the wings when Country Delight (Jack Flanigen) and All About Boyz (Dave McNeight III) went toe-to-toe through a fast 27.3 quarter. Not wanting to join the front-end fray yet locked out of a hole, heavy 1-9 favorite Ugly Betty (Drew Monti) ended up drafting third on the outside the entire time. These positions held firm past the half and three-quarters; that station in 1:26.2.  

As the group left the turn at the top of the stretch, Ugly Betty tried a three-wide tip and Dontch Remember (Ray Fisher Jr.) reached four-high. But wily veteran McNeight, who was saving ground the entire race, stuck to his guns and thus, the pylons, before barreling up the inside the pack to end up best of all with a 1:57.2 victory.

It was the seventh win in 30 starts this year for Badlands Love ($29.40) and the winner’s share pushed her coffers to $52,803 for owners Richard, Randy and Robert Roth. Richard Roth conditions the 4-year-old Badlands Hanover mare.

Driver Shawn McDonough score a natural hat trick winning races six, seven and eight. Jim McNeight, Ron Beback Jr. and Jack Flanigen all tallied doubles.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Aug. 28) with the first post set for 6:35.

August 24, 2015 - 12:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Wiener Dog Race, Batavia Downs, sports.


Press release from Batavia Downs

The third time racing in the annual Batavia Downs Wiener Dog races sponsored by Genesee Feeds was the charm for Heidi Kaiser’s dachshund “Piglet." He cruised to a comfortable victory defeating nine other fleet-footed wiener dogs in the champion final.

Ten elimination heats were conducted to determine the final field.

Sarah Farley’s “Ruby” rallied on the far outside to out finish Adrienne Pender’s “Pablo” for second. "Pablo” was the most impressive heat winner and appeared to be the dachshund to beat.

The owners of top three finishers all received gaming free and Clubhouse buffets. All participants received a doggy bag from Genesee Feeds. 

The beautiful day included a first time ever visit by harness ambassador Sydney Weaver. The 15-year-old, known to everyone in North American harness racing, and her parents Lisa and Don Weaver were special guests of Batavia Downs.

Attendance for the dog races, the final piece of Fun Family Day was estimated at 3,200.

Photos by Howard Owens.




In the fourth race, the wiener dog "Wienie," owned by Debbie Odrobina and who relied on a wheeled cart for its hindquarters, was attacked by another competitor. The dogs were separated and put back in the race, but the other dog turned on "Wienie" again. "Wienie" was allowed to run again in a subsequent race, and was a clear crowd favorite, but he got a slow start the second time around and ambled up the track.






August 23, 2015 - 12:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Barn Doll with reinsman Jeff Gregory.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Barn Doll (Conway Hall-Headintheclouds) lived up to her hype as she toyed with the field in her division of the $120,400 New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) for 3-year-old trotting fillies at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Aug. 22)

As Ray Schnittker flew off the gate with Waiting Room to take an early three-length lead, Jeff Gregory floated Barn Doll out before settling in fourth. As the pack entered the clubhouse turn, Gregory started his outside march with the filly and quickly found himself sitting second outside of the leader at the three-quarter pole in 1:28.3.

Then halfway through the final turn, strategy came into play. Schnittker popped the earplugs looking to pull away while Gregory held his filly firm, making sure she got through that turn without issue. As the pair hit the top of the stretch, Barn Doll became explosive with trot and left the rest behind like they were tied to a post.

Barn Doll ($2.10) was a five-length winner in 1:57.3, which was only one-fifth second shy of the track record for this gait and sex. It was the ninth win in 11 starts for the top NYSS point-earning trotting filly and raised her 2015 earnings to $311,520.

After the race, Gregory commented “She just loves to pass horses down the lane. The filly is just a pleasure drive.”

Barn Doll is owned by Steve and Nancy Pratt and Wanda Polisseni’s Purple Haze Stable. Steve Pratt also trains the horse.

Jewels in Hock with reinsman Chris Lems.

In the other division, Jewels In Hock (Credit Winner-Jewels Galore) proved to be much the best even though she was tested early.

Chris Lems put Jewels In Hock took and held the point immediately, until Nunkeri (Ray Fisher Jr.) motored up the outside to challenge and then take the lead at the quarter. But with the tepid :30 clocking, Lems pulled to retake the front and did so without issue. From there the race was pretty much over.

Lems line-drove the filly to a 1:00.2 half and 1:29.4 three-quarters before letting her out a notch and trotting away from the field to win by two in 1:58.4.

“She just does it so easy,” Lems said. “She trotted real strong to the wire. She will definitely be a factor in the finals in a couple of weeks.”

It was the eighth win in 15 starts (and five out of her last 6) for Jewels In Hock ($3.10) who saw her 2015 earnings inflate to $220,450 for Ken Jacobs’ KJ Stable and trainer Linda Toscano.

There were also two $15,000 NYSS Excelsior Series A races on the card Saturday.

The first was won by Allerage Belle (Conway Hall-Bourbon Belle) in 2:00. The filly was driven by John Cummings Jr. for trainer Megan Wilson. Allerage Belle ($11.80) is owned by Alan Hainsworth.

The second division went to High Rise (Conway Hall-RC Biscuit) in 1:58.4. Chris Lems drove High Rise ($2.60) for trainer George Ducharme and owner Ray Campbell Jr.

The Downs $9,500 overnight pacing feature was won by Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio) in 1:53.4 in one of the most exciting finishes this track has seen in some time.

After getting away last and remaining there passed five-eighths, Caprio took full advantage of his rail ride as the field fanned four-deep at the three-quarter pole. Now only three lengths off the lead and with a wall of horses in front of him, Fireyourguns was tipped widest off all; five-deep, and he had a head of steam to back him up. At the top of the lane, Fireyourguns forced his will on the field and pulled away to a one-length victory.

It was the ninth win in 13 starts this year for Fireyourguns ($18.60) who is owned by Jennifer and Robert Lowe and Terry McClory, who also trains the 6-year-old son of American Ideal.  

Visiting drivers Jeff Gregory and Chris Lems both scored driving doubles on the card.

Racing resumes Sunday afternoon at Batavia Downs with a 1:15 post time.

(Photos courtesy of Paul White.)

August 23, 2015 - 1:26am
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, events, Wiener Dog Race, family fun day.
Event Date and Time: 
August 23, 2015 -
2:00pm to 4:30pm

Sunday, Aug. 23, is Family Fun Day at Batavia Downs from 2 to 4 p.m. Tthere will be pony rides, face painting, sand art and other family activities. It's also the big race for little dachsunds. Wiener Dog Races will begin shortly after 4 o'clock. Each year 80 wiener dogs vie for glory after live racing is completed on Family Fun Day.

August 21, 2015 - 11:24am
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

(Photo of Barn Doll courtesy of Steve Roth.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Two of the five richest 3-year-old trotting fillies in North America, that also just happen to be the top point-getters and money earners in the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for their sex and gait this year, will be in town on Saturday (Aug. 22) to compete for the $120,400 up for grabs at Batavia Downs.

Barn Doll (Conway Hall-Headintheclouds) currently ranks third for money earned in 2015 behind only Mission Brief (who finished second in the Hambletonian) and Wild Honey. She also ranks third for most wins by her sex and gait.

Barn Doll has four wins and two seconds in the state series along with wins in both the elimination and final of the $248,275 Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon Downs in June where she trotted back to back 1:52.1 miles. Jeff Gregory, who grew up just a short drive from Batavia, comes home to steer the classy filly that will start from post five as the morning line 4-5 favorite for trainer Stave Pratt.

In the other division, Jewels In Hock (Credit Winner-Jewels Galore) is fifth in North America in earnings for her sex and gait and second behind Barn Doll in the state for points and banked winnings.

Jewels In Hock comes in on a roll, winning four out of her last five starts, including three NYSS events. She has a seasonal mark of 1:53.3 earlier this year at the Meadowlands and has earned $190,350 on the strength of her seven victories. Chris Lems is in the bike this week for trainer Linda Toscano and will team the filly from post two as the handicapper’s choice at 7-5.

The two divisions are programmed as races three and four. There are also two divisions of the NYSS Excelsior series carded as race one and two. These events go for $15,000 each.

Batavia Downs overnight featured Open pace has three of the top side-wheelers in Upstate New York going head to head for the $9,500 purse.

JK Panache ships in from Tioga Downs where he just scored a three-length, 1:50.3 win. He has also been victorious in five of his last six outings. His seasonal and lifetime mark of 1:47.3 was taken at Vernon Downs just last month.

Fireyourguns has eight wins this year at Tioga, Vernon and Buffalo, but has yet to hit the line first at Batavia. Like JK Panache, he too set a lifetime best of 1:47.3 at Vernon Downs in June and figures to be a major player in this race.

Cobble Beach won this race last week in a sparkling 1:52.1 and is a winner of three out of his last four races. His gate speed gives him a definite advantage here as he is in top form right now and working on a career best year.

Post time for the first race is 6:35 p.m.

August 20, 2015 - 1:04pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Tioga Downs invader, Mach It A Par, tried to extend her winning streak at Batavia Downs last week but fell under the weather and was scratched. That only delayed the inevitable as she bounced back with a vengeance this week in the $9,500 mares Open feature pace on Wednesday night (Aug. 19).

Three horses left as the seventh race began. Eyemajet (Shawn Gray) and Ugly Betty (Drew Monti) both went for the front but not without an argument from Badlands Love (Jim McNeight). When the dust settled, Ugly Betty took her regular spot on top in :28 flat putting Eyemajet in the pocket. The field then stayed in single file to the half in :58.4 before the outer flow began.

Past five-eights, Country Delight (Jack Flanigen) pulled first-over and enticed Mach it A Par (John Cummings Jr.) to leave last place and follow. At that point, Ugly Betty picked up the pace and widened her leader's gap to two-lengths at the 1:28.1 three-quarter pole. When Country Delight stalled, Cummings Jr. swung Mach It A Par three-wide and paced by everyone to win by a length in 1:56.2. The mare hoofed her last quarter in :27.2 over a track rated as “good."

It was the ninth win in 16 starts this year for Mach It A Par ($3.60) including five in a row and seven out of her last eight. The 5-year-old daughter of Mach Three has now amassed $60,090 in 2015 earnings for owner Dan Clements. The winner is trained by Renaldo Morales III.

Drivers John Cummings Jr. and Drew Monti both scored driving triples on the night with Ray Fisher Jr. nabbing a double.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night with post time at 6:35.

August 19, 2015 - 4:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, Wiener Dog Races.

Press release:

Representatives from Batavia Downs announced today that there's a dearth of dachshunds to race in Sunday’s Family Fun Day Wiener Dog Race.

Each year 80 wiener dogs vie for glory after live racing is completed on Family Fun Day. Pony rides, face painting, sand art and other family activities take place from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 23rd with Wiener Dog Races beginning a little after 4 o'clock.

“With Family Fun Day being a little earlier than last year we’re hoping that last year’s racers and anyone new hoping to get in this year didn’t forget about it,“ said Ryan Hasenauer, director of Marketing at Batavia Downs.

“All entered dogs receive a Doggie Gift Bag courtesy of Genesee Feeds and the owners of all race winners, and the top three in the final race, receive free play for the gaming floor.

Dachshund owners wishing to participate should call Batavia Downs’ Wiener Dog Headquarters at 585-343-3750, ext. 437, and leave a message. Staff will call back to confirm.

Owned and operated by 15 Western New York counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo, Western Regional OTB is a public benefit corporation with headquarters in Batavia, NY. WROTB owns and operates 28 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility.

August 16, 2015 - 11:29am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Cobble Beach with reinsman John Cummings Jr. / Photo courtesy of Paul White)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

John Cummings Jr. bought a ticket to ride and he didn’t care while winning the $9,500 Open pace feature with Cobble Beach ($6.80) at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Aug. 15).

Cobble Beach flew off the wings and took the top before the quarter while post time favorite, Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio) took to the wood. After the leader passed the quarter in 27.1, Caprio wasted no time getting Fireyourguns in gear as he moved him to the outside in pursuit. Although it seemed like a good move in theory, the exercise was futile because there was no catching Cobble Beach tonight.

Cummings Jr. had the best view of the proceedings as his charge flew by the half in 55.3 and three-quarters in 1:23.2. Then he raised the lines, laid back in the bike and with a swish of the whip opened up four and was looking for more. The pair then proceeded to pace away to an impressive 1:52.1 win.

James Clouser Jr. owns and trains the 5-year-old altered son of Artiscape and his evenings efforts increased the horse’s annual earnings to $51,440.

Drivers scoring multiple victories on the card included Kevin Cummings and Dave McNeight III with three and Jim McNeight with two. Trainer Dave McNeight also registered a double.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Sunday (Aug. 16) with a matinee card starting at 1:15 p.m.

August 15, 2015 - 12:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Lutetium and reinsman Kevin Cummings; photo courtesy of Paul White)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

He’s three-for-three at the current meet and continues to win at will. Lutetium wired his foes on Friday night (Aug. 14) in the $10,000 Open trot feature at Batavia Downs.

Once again leaving from the widest post in the draw (7), Lutetium (Kevin Cummings) made quick work of taking the lead before setting-down for the mile. However this week his main rival BZ Glide (Mike Caprio) decided to leave as well and tucked in third for the trip.

The field was led to a soft half in: 58 when the tempo picked up on the backside. Lutetium tripped the three-quarters in 1:26.3 with BZ Glide on the outside, closing in for the chase. As the race hit the top of the stretch, Lutetium’s 2-length advantage was dwindling and continued to do so as the sparring pair drove to the wire. But when they hit, the 8-year-old gelded son of Credit Winner mustered just enough to gut out a head victory over the fast closing BZ Glide.

It was the seventh win in 21 starts for Lutetium ($7.60) and pushed his earnings to $48,331 for owner Colleen Girdlestone and trainer Mark Laidlaw.

Five drivers were seeing double on Friday as Kevin Cummings, Shawn Gray, Dave McNeight III, Ray Fisher Jr. and Jim McNeight all scored two wins on the card. Shawn Gray, Jim McNeight and Carl Smith also tallied a pair as trainers.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Aug. 15) with post time set for 6:35 p.m.

August 12, 2015 - 11:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Photo of Ugly Betty and reinsman John Cummings Jr. by Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Ugly Betty returned to Western New York after a quick trip to Northfield Park and wasted no time dominating the local mares once again in the $9,500 distaff Open at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Aug. 12).

In her normal style, Ugly Betty (John Cummings Jr.) went right to the front and led by two through quarters of 27.3, 56.4, 1:25.3 before coasting home to a one-length victory in 1:55.3. Eyemajet (Shawn Gray) came up the rail for second and All About Boyz (Dave McNeight III) rallied from last to finish third.

It was the 10th win in 25 start this year for Ugly Betty ($3.80), boosting her pocketbook to $62,505 for owners Margaret Payne and Jennifer Falcone. Rex Clabaugh trains the winner.

Drew Monti scored a driving triple on the night with VT’s Gold Key ($12.00), Climate Hanover ($3.40) and September Hall ($5.70). Kevin Cummings and John Cummings Jr. both registered driving doubles. Trainer Rex Clabaugh also sent two winners postward.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Aug. 14) with post time set at 6:35 p.m.


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