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September 12, 2016 - 12:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, batavia.

(Milky Way on the rail, pulling ahead, with driver Jim Morrill Jr.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Horses trained by Tracy Brainard and driven by Jim Morrill Jr. have been tough to beat over the years and Saturday night (Sept. 10) at Batavia Downs was no exception. That dynamic duo swept both 3-year-old pacing filly divisions of the New York Sires Stakes and claimed the winner’s share of $119,300 in purses.

In the first $60,200 division, Milky Way Rae (American Ideal-Aurora Borealus) was used early and late before grinding out a victory down the lane.

Milky Way Rae left for the lead but was pursued from the outside by American Ivy (Dan Daley) through a :27.3 quarter. By the three-eighths America Ivy had taken a seat third allowing the leader a breather and a :56 half. But before Milky Way Rae could get too comfortable, No Clouds Bluechip (Kevin Cummings) had pulled from fourth with Dime A Dance (Drew Monti) right behind her.

As the trio paced by three-quarters in 1:25, No Clouds Bluechip stalled and Dime A Dance went three-wide around her in the last turn. Starting with a two-length deficit at the top of the stretch, Dime A Dance put on a ferocious drive and took it to the leader, but Milky Way Rae fended off the challenge to win by a nose in 1:54.4.

“The race shaped up good for her because she likes to rock on the front” said Morrill. “I thought she could go in 1:52 tonight on this track but it didn’t come to that.”

It was the fifth win of the year for Milky Way Rae ($13.20) and it boosted her 2016 earnings to $86,674 for owner Fortunate One LLC.

 

(Wishy Washy Girl (#5) with driver Jim Morrill Jr.)

The second $59,100 leg saw Wishy Washy Girl (Roll With Joe-Wish All you Want) trip-out for the win and give the Morrill/Brainard team their second winner's circle presentation.

Wishy Washy Girl left and dropped in second behind Time On My Hands (Ray Fisher Jr.) who was rolling from the pylons. But despite the two being ahead of the field by a good ten lengths, Morrill pulled and tried to go to the front, cutting the quarter in :27. However Fisher would have none of that and he pushed his filly on and made Morrill see-saw his back into the hole.

Between the half in :55.2 and three-quarters in 1:24.4, Art Critic (Drew Monti) pulled and drew alongside Wishy Washy Girl. At the same time, Fisher was highly animated in urging on the front-running Time On My Hands who was clearly running out of gas. This locked in Wishy Washy Girl who was raging with pace until the top of the lane. When the passing lane finally opened up, Morrill popped Wishy Washy Girl through the opening and sped to an instant two-length lead and won in 1:54.4.

“She was good but she would have been a lot better if they went 1:22 to three-quarters” Morrill explained. “That’s why I came out of the two-hole at the quarter, because when they go too slow she’s tough to hold. She was crawling over that horse around the last turn; she was very good.”

The win gave Wishy Washy Girl three for the year and the purse enriched her bank account to $82,328 for owners Michael Cimaglio and Stephen Demeter.

There were also two divisions of the $15,000 Excelsior A series on the card.

Ghost Runner (Art Major-Spirit Of The West) was an easy wire to wire winner in 1:54.1 for Jim Morrill Jr. and trainer Erv Miller. Ghost runner ($2.30) is owned by Dr. Scott Leaf, Deborah Mackenzie, Gerald Fielding and Tom Jackson.

The Morrill/Miller combo also took the second division with Rolling Going Gone (Roll With Joe-Long Gone) in 1:58, and once again wire to wire. Rolling Going Gone ($2.30) is owned by Ross Bonafield.

Driver Jim Morrill Jr. ended the night winning five races.

September 10, 2016 - 1:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Photo of Kahoku with driver Kevin Cummings.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

In Hawaiian, Kahoku means “star” and Friday night (Sept. 9) at Batavia Downs, Kahoku ($4.30) lived up to his name as he shown bright on the front end in the $10,500 Open trotting feature.

Driver Kevin Cummings left from post four with Kahoku and out-tussled Noble Legend (Jack Flanigen) for the lead past the quarter timed in :28.3. That would be the last lead change of the race. Kahoku trotted with a gapped lead and went to the half in :59.2 and three-quarters in 1:28.3. With the field unable to catch him up to that point, Kahoku strode away to an easy two-length victory in 1:58. 

Noble Legend followed him to the wire for second and B Z Glide (Mike Caprio) closed the best for show.

It was the tenth win in 28 starts for Kahoku and it bumped his earnings up to $59,358 for the year. The 8-year-old altered son of SJ’s Caviar is owned by Colleen Girdlestone and Michael Gentner and is trained by Mark Laidlaw.

In the co-featured $8,500 Open II trot, The Bronx Bumper ($7.60) stepped up from the claiming ranks to dominate some top-flight condition horses when he came from off the pace to win in 1:58.3. Dave McNeight III drove the winner to his fourth win of the year for trainer Gerry Sarama and owner Mike Torcello.

Three drivers won 90 percent of the card on Friday as Kevin Cummings, John Cummings Jr. and Dave McNeight III all scored driving triples.

Racing resumes on Saturday night (Sept. 10) at Batavia Downs with the first post set for 6:15.

September 9, 2016 - 2:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Photo of No Clouds Bluechip; driver unidentified.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The seventh of eight sessions of the New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) stops at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 10) and this week it will be the 3-year-old pacing fillies who will participate in two divisions, going for $119,300 in available purses.

This will be the last stop for the second-year distaff side-wheelers who are trying to position themselves for the NYSS Night of Champions finals at Yonkers Raceway on September 24.

The first $60,200 division features No Clouds Bluechip (Roll With Joe-B J’s Sunshine) who comes in fresh off a big win in the $239,225 Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) at Tioga Downs. After winning her elimination in 1:53 wire to wire, No Clouds Bluechip came from off the pace in the final to annihilate her competition, winning in 1:50.1 by five lengths.

No Clouds Bluechip is a four-time winner this year and has amassed $233,208 in earnings for her efforts and currently sits sixth in points for the final.

Trainer John Berger has tabbed Batavia’s leading driver, Kevin Cummings to steer and has been named the 2-1 morning line favorite from post two.

The race’s second choice, Dime A Dance (Roll With Joe-Hat Dance Hanover) raced at Batavia Downs on one other occasion. Just short of a year ago, the filly scorched the Genesee County oval in 1:52.4 and set a new track and world record for 2-year-old pacing fillies over a half-mile track.

This year, Dime A Dance has matched her wins from 2015 but not her mark or earnings. Most recently she won two straight NYSS events before qualifying for the EBC final at Tioga. Unfortunately in that race, she drew post nine and made an untimely break at the quarter and was never in contention after that.

Dime A Dance has four wins on the year and $166,210 in the bank. She is also the top point-earning filly in her division and is a lock for the NYSS final.

Dime A Dance drew post five and has been made 7-2 on the early line. Trainer Ron Burke has called upon Drew Monti to sit in the bike for this event.

In the second $59,100 split, Time On My Hands (American Ideal-Bewitching Jewell) looks like the one to beat on the strength of her body of work. She’s a three-time NYSS winner and took her lifetime mark of 1:53.2 in a leg at Saratoga Raceway.

Her most recent outing was in the $109,050 Lady Maud at Yonkers where she got away last and was chasing a :56.2 closing half. She did finish fifth and paced home in a snappy :27.4 final quarter.

In 2016, Time On My Hands has four wins and $146,893 in assets. She is currently second in points and has qualified for the final as well.

Time On My Hands has drawn post one and will team with Ray Fisher Jr. for trainer Chris Ryder.

Wishy Washy Girl (Roll With Joe-Wish All You Want) cut blazing fractions in the EBC but paid the price in the end. She finished sixth, but it was not unexpected with a 1:21.3 three-quarters. Prior to that under more moderate rating, she has been a handy filly since entering the Brainard stable.

Although her lifetime mark is 1:54.1 at Pocono Downs, she just missed going wire to wire in 1:51.3 in the EBC elimination two starts back where she finished third by a half-length.

Wishy Washy Girl has won two races this year but neither were in Sire Stake action.

Jim Morrill Jr. picks up the lines for the fourth straight time behind Wishy Washy Girl as assigned by trainer Tracy Brainard and the pair will depart from post five listed at 7-2.

There are also two divisions of the $15,000 Excelsior Series A races on the card that will go postward at 6:15 p.m.

September 8, 2016 - 4:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, sports, RUS, racing under saddle, Batavia Downs, batavia.

(The race to the finish line in Batavia Down's first-ever "racing under saddle" contest Sept. 7.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Wednesday night (Sept. 7) was historic for Batavia Downs as the first ever racing under saddle (RUS) contest was held at the oldest lighted harness track in America. And the show put on by the competitors in the $4,000 RUS New York championship race had the fans on their feet and cheering.

Five horses went postward before My Friend Charlie (Andrea Pratt) went right for the lead as the race began. But shortly after getting away second, Funny Photo (Sophie Engerran) came early, pulled alongside the leader and immediately pushed the issue.

The two trotted side by side setting fractions of :30 and 1:00.3 to the half before Funny Photo made a break past the five-eighths pole. At that point My Friend Charlie was alone on top but Admirable Hanover (Vanessa Karlewicz), who inherited second after the break, was right on her tail. As the race moved off the last turn, Karlewicz pulled Admirable Hanover and drew alongside the leader. The pair trotted in step in a thrilling race to the wire before Admirable Hanover got a slight advantage and won by a neck in 2:03.4.

My Friend Charlie was second and Jeanie Marie closed sharply for third after an early race miscue in the non-betting event.

It was the third win in six starts under saddle for Admirable Hanover this year. This is the fourth year the 9-year-old gelded son of Cantab Hall has competed in RUS and the 2:03.4 clocking was a new lifetime mark under saddle for him. 

Admirable Hanover is owned by Peter Gerry and is trained by his rider, Vanessa Karlewicz.

“The crowd loved this race” said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing. “They were on their feet at the rail cheering as the two horses battled down the stretch. The girls put on a great show and we hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of RUS at Batavia Downs.”

Since this was the first-ever RUS event at Batavia Downs, the winning time of 2:03.4 is a new track record. 

September 8, 2016 - 4:21pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Photo of All Charged Up and her trainer/driver John MacDonald.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Vernon Downs invaders All Charged Up and her trainer/driver John MacDonald have made Batavia Downs their second home now that they’ve won their second straight $10,000 fillies and mares Open pace on Wednesday night (Sept. 7).

MacDonald fired right to the front when the gate released the field and All Charged Up took complete control of the race. With the field in single file behind her and no one pulling the right line, MacDonald was on top grabbing both as he slowed the pace to 1:00.1 at the half. From there the race was over.

The Filly Princess (Kevin Cummings) eventually did come first over past the half and brought My Tallia Ideal (Dave McNeight III) with her in tow. They advanced towards the leader who had sped the third panel up to :28.1, but All Charged Up was steady and paced away in a :28 flat closing quarter to win by almost three lengths in 1:56.2.  

It was the tenth win of the year for All Charged Up ($4.30) and it padded her already stout bankroll to $79,144 for owner J P Stables.

Mark Whitcroft won three races on the card while Chris Lems and Truman Gale won two apiece. Trainer Sally Cartier also sent two horses to the winner’s enclosure.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 9) with the first post set for 6:15.

September 7, 2016 - 12:46pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

With the county fair racing now wrapped up in the Empire State, the top point-getters from each age, gait and gender group will converge on Batavia Downs on tonight (Sept. 7) to compete in the eight $10,000 finals.

After racing was scheduled at 22 stops around New York from July 1 through Aug. 25, it has come down to 53 horses spread across eight finals on one night. Those events have been carded as races one through eight with the first post time set for 6:15 p.m.

Here is a list of the top point leaders from each group.

3-year-old pacing colts and geldings          Midnight Pass (Kenneth J-The Company Store)         362 points

3-year-old trotting colt and geldings           Steuben Bentley (Crazed-Be A Babe)                         333 points

3-year-old pacing fillies                              Sea’s Ideal (American Ideal-A B Sea)                          483 points       

3-year-old trotting fillies                              Linda’s Choice (Conway Hall-Howard’s Sister)            358 points       

2-year-old pacing colts and geldings         Sea Rocky Roll (Rock N Roll Heaven-A B Seascape)  311 points

2-year-old trotting colt and geldings           Steuben Surfs Up (Conway Hall-Pana Colada)            255 points

2-year-old pacing fillies                              Math Writer (Riverboat King-Mathamomics)                 383 points

2-year-old trotting fillies                              Too Cool To Fool (Conway Hall-Travelin Deal)             300 points

A complete list of county fair points broken down by category can be viewed by clicking on this link. (http://www.nysirestakes.com/backend/News/news_upload/county_fair_schedule__105.pdf )

September 7, 2016 - 12:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, news, Batavia Downs, racing under saddle, monte racing.

(Photo courtesy of RUS NY.)

Press release from RUS NY:

The race that so many have been working all summer for is finally here. Tonight (Sept. 7) at Batavia Downs, horses and riders will be competing to capture the title of champion of the New York Racing Under Saddle Fair Series. 

Racing under saddle (RUS), also known as Monte racing in Europe, is where trotters are raced with riders on their back rather than with a sulky behind them like you normally see at Batavia Downs. 

The RUS event is a non-wagering event that will be raced after race eight at about 8:50 p.m. This is the first time in the 70 history of Batavia Downs that racing under saddle will be conducted there. 

This marks the third year of the series, which included 12 races at nine fairs across the state and a race at Saratoga Raceway. Horses earned points during the series to determine final entries.

In order to be eligible for the final, horses needed to compete and finish in any two races. Fifteen horses participated in the series with nine qualifying to race in the final. This year’s field will consist of five horses:

Jeanie Marie: This is the first year Jeanie Marie has been used under saddle. The mare leads the group with 176 points. She has raced in five races, winning three. She was a close second to Funny Photo in Palmyra. Jeanie Marie’s worst finish was Tuesday in Saratoga where she placed eighth with a new rider. Jeanie Marie will be starting in post position four. She has mostly been ridden by Heather Reese and the two of them are a strong team.

Funny Photo: Funny Photo Is second in points with 145, but could be considered a favorite because he and rider Sophie Engerran have shown good speed on the big and small tracks. Funny Photo won a race at Vernon Downs in a time of 1:59.1. The duo has captured three wins on fair tracks, only losing one when they were placed down for not losing ground when making a break. Engerran started racing under saddle in France in 2004. She raced there for 10 years.

Funny Photo and Engerran were introduced last year when the horse was being trained by Andy Gardner at Vernon Downs. Engerran broke the dark chestnut to ride and had success on the track and decided to purchase him last November. According to Engerran, it was not planned to race at the fairs this year because Funny Photo is more comfortable on big tracks, but she said they gave it a try and the horse seems to enjoy it.

Admirable Hanover: Is not far behind in points (138), but shows to be more of a threat on the fair tracks. Batavia may pose as a challenge for the 9-year-old gelding and his rider Vanessa Karlewicz. The duo, who will be starting on the rail, has shown improvement as the season has moved forward so don’t totally count them out. They captured victories in both Morris and Bath and finished mid-pack on the bigger Saratoga track. This marks Karlewicz’s second season with Admirable Hanover and her first year participating in RUS on a regular basis. The rider said she mostly used Admirable Hanover in the amateur driving series last year.

“He's a pretty handy horse on the fair tracks and I've been happy to have three wins with him this year,” she said.

My Friend Charlie: Will be defending his title. This 5-year-old gelding and his rider, Andrea Pratt, were named the winners of last year’s fair final in Monticello. This duo has raced on three fair tracks this year, earning two seconds and a fourth. In July, Pratt rode My Friend Charlie to a second-place finish at Vernon Downs in a time of 2:02.1. The pair has a total of 59 points and placed sixth in the final race of the series in Saratoga. My Friend Charlie seems to like the bigger tracks better so having the final at a larger track may give this team an added edge. They will be starting in post position two.

Kash Now: Is the longest shot on the board, so to speak, as there is no betting on RUS. This is the only horse that no longer races in harness. She was ridden by Michelle Miller in the first fair series where the two of them learned to race under saddle together. The duo didn’t make a comeback until mid-season in Morris as Miller was using another horse. The 12-year-old mare had not raced in almost two years, but was used to ride and keep Miller in shape. Kash Now has always struggled to finish strong, but has been getting stronger each outing. This duo will be starting in post position three and really have their work cut out for them. Kash Now and Miller have earned 50 points in four races.

All participants will earn $800 for earning their way into the championship race. Batavia Downs is contributing $1,000 toward the final purse and the rest of the money comes from RUS NY sponsors and fundraising. The New York Sire Stakes is the series’ flagship sponsor and generously donates $5,000 as initial purse money. 

The winner will also receive a championship saddle pad donated by Everett Hopper of Advantage Edge Equine-Pro and a halter and lead line gifted by Divine Equine Custom Equipment.

A High Point Rider Award will once again be presented at the final to the rider who has earned the most points, regardless of horse(s) ridden throughout the series. To be eligible for the award riders must participate in at least three races.

Post time for the complete card of harness racing is 6:15 p.m.

September 7, 2016 - 12:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, bike race.
 
(Photos courtesy of Paul White. Above, in front, is Drivers' Bike Race winner for 2016 -- Mickey Holliday.)
 
By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs
 
During the Monday afternoon (Sept. 5) Labor Day card of racing at Batavia Downs, the highly anticipated annual Drivers' Bike Race was held and for the third time in four years, Mickey Holliday was the winner and he did it in convincing fashion despite the high-80s temperatures that had everyone looking for shade.
 
A full field of eight drivers went postward, with their wheels front and back instead of left and right, on brand new cruising bikes to compete for bragging rights for the coming year. Patrick Galbraith, Rock Vinci, JD Perrin, Jimmy McNeight Jr., Mickey Holliday, Lee Dahn, Denny Buccerri and Drew Monti lined up behind the gate and when track announcer Joe Zambito said "GO!" at the top of the far turn, the gate pulled away and it was a mad rush for the wire. 
 
While Drew Monti and Jim McNeight Jr. both got away bad off the gate, the middle of the pack peddled fairly even until they straightened out at the head of the stretch and Perrin opened up a three length lead. Holliday got in gear and eventually drew even with Perrin, then the two separated themselves from the field by at least 15 lengths. They battled it out until about 50 feet from the wire when Holliday simply out-legged Perrin to win by an open length.
 
After the race Mickey Holliday summed up the experience by saying "(drawing breaths)...I'm tired!." Holliday then drew eight winners at random from the crowd of 3,000 fans who attended the afternoon's festivities and they were awarded the eight bikes used in the race. 
 
The annual bike race has been a part of the Batavia Downs Labor Day matinee since 1979 and was sponsored by Craze Cheap Cars, of Oakfield.
September 5, 2016 - 12:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Driver Marcus Miller with Pointomygranson.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Two divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings went postward at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 3) to compete for their share of the $110,000 purses up for grabs and one of the winners made track history.

Pointomygranson (American Ideal-Sangaal) went to the front and took a lead he would never relinquish en route to a five-length victory in 1:53.2 in his $55,500 division. That time was a new track record for 2-year-old pacing geldings.

Marcus Miller rushed Pointomygranson off the gate and set unchallenged fractional times of :28.2 and :58. At that point, Jim Morrill Jr. had the heavily favored Funknwaffles rolling up on the outside trying to catch the leader. But when Miller saw him coming past five-eighths, he asked his horse for more and then hung on as Pointomygranson accelerated.

Pointomygranson would not let the challenger get anywhere close to him up the backside and when they hit the stretch, he was pulling away with every stride and Miller was sitting chilly behind him. He paced his last quarter in :27 flat under wraps.

“He was real strong in the race, I couldn’t have been happier with him” said Marcus Miller. “It was the first time I drove him but they told me he would be good tonight and he was!”

It was the second NYSS win of the year for Pointomygranson ($7.00) and it pushed his earnings to $63,229 for owner Gold Standard Equine, LLC. The winner is trained by Chris Ryder.

(Driver Drew Monti with Americanfirewater.)

It was bombs away in the first $55,500 split when 30-1 Americanfirewater (American Ideal-Lucky Turn) pulled a major upset.

1-4 favorite Miso Fast (Jim Morrill Jr.) had things his own way on the front end with the field in single-file behind him, cutting even fractions of :28.2, :58.1 and 1:27.3. But just when things were looking anticlimactic, Drew Monti pulled Americanfirewater from the three hole and shot up alongside the leader in quick fashion.

Miso Fast and Americanfirewater then tore around the far turn, matching strides as they went. At the top of the lane it was anyone’s race and after both colts were driven hard to the wire, Americanfirewater wanted it more and won by a length in 1:56.2, which was a new lifetime mark.

“When he came out of the hole, I knew he had a real shot. He was super aggressive today and you could tell right away” said Drew Monti.

It was the first lifetime win for Americanfirewater ($62.50) and the winner’s share boosted his annual income to $54,739 for owner Rock & Roll Stable, Inc. Americanfirewater is trained by Rick Dane Jr.

There were also two $15,000 divisions of the Excelsior A series on the card.

In the first division, Rollin About (Roll With Joe-Flitabout) was a wire to wire winner for driver Marcus Miller in 1:56.4 for owners Anthony Lombardi, D Van Witzenburg and George Golemes. The winner paid $8.20.

The second division went to Percy’s Z Tam and Pat Lachance in 1:56.2 on the strength of a three-wide move at three-quarters. Percy’s Z Tam ($9.70) is owned by Z Tam Stable, LLC, M & M Harness Racing, LLC, Royal Flush Stable, LLC, and Pat LaChance, who also trains him.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs this afternoon (Sept. 5) with a special Labor Day matinee card featuring the annual Drivers' Bike Race, which will be held after the seventh race. 

September 3, 2016 - 11:31am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Photo of Winky’s Pride (#4) and driver Drew Monti.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Drew Monti put on a driving clinic at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 2) winning five races on the card that included both top trots of the week. 

In the featured $10,000 Open for the diagonal gaited, Winky’s Pride ($14.20) went gate to wire in unfettered style. After leaving from post four, Winky’s Pride was perfectly rated through fractions of :28.2, :58.2 and 1:28.2 when J A T O (Mike Caprio) sidled her at three-quarters. Monti glanced back and popped the plugs right after and the chestnut mare new to turn it up.

After they circled the turn and headed down the lane, J A T O continued his assault from the outside and Studio City (Dave McNeight III) shot through the passing lane in pursuit as well. But Winky’s Pride would not relent and under mild urging, held off all challengers to the wire and won by a long neck in 1:57.4. Studio City was second and J A T O was third.

It was the fifth win of the year for Winky’s Pride and the second consecutive week she beat the boys in the feature. With the winner’s share of the purse, her earnings rose to $46,039 in 2016 for owner-trainer Robert Hummel.

In the co-featured $8,500 Open II trot, Monti scored with El Diablo Hall ($12.20) in his first local start after a private purchase. El Diablo Hall sat second behind BZ Glide (Mike Caprio) for the entire mile, before finding room in the passing lane. From there, he powered up the pylons to a half-length victory in 1:57.4.

El Diablo Hall is owned by James Caradori and is trained by Darrin Monti.

Rounding out Monti’s five winners were Chelsea’s Chance ($8.70), Tenor Duharas ($4.20) and Warhorse ($5.00). His UDR for the night was .593.

There were other outstanding performances by several horsemen on Friday night as well. John Cummings Jr.'s Batavia homecoming saw him win three races during the night as did trainer Darrin Monti. And Kevin Cummings hit the winner’s circle twice along with trainer Mike Carrubba.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 3) with two main events. The New York Sires Stakes for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings rolls into town along with the $7.4 million dollar horse, Foiled Again, who will compete in the overnight featured $10,000 Open pace. Post time for the first race is 6:15 p.m.

September 2, 2016 - 2:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

(Above photo of Foiled Again, who has won more than $7.4 million and is the richest standardbred ever of either gaitcourtesy of Ken Weingartner.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Foiled Again, who has won more than $7.4 million and is the richest standardbred ever of either gait, will be at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 3) to compete in the weekly featured $10,000 Open Handicap pace.

Batavia Downs has hosted the elite of the sport over the 70 years it has been in existence including Proximity, Good Time, Bret Hanover, Albatross and Niatross. Foiled Again is in the same league as all those legends but has also surpassed every trotter or pacer that has ever competed in the sport for earnings.

Foiled Again has won countless stakes and has been race-timed in 1:47.1. He has 88 wins, 61 seconds and 40 thirds in 263 lifetime starts and has earned $7,407,758 in purses. The United States Harness Writers Association named him Pacer of the Year in 2011, best older male pacer in three consecutive seasons (2011-2013) and he also was a two-time O'Brien Award winner as top older pacing horse in Canada (2011 and 2013).

Foiled Again has competed at Batavia Downs twice before in his career, both times in the tracks signature race, the Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace. And Foiled Again won both times: in 2009 timed in 1:52.3 with Matt Kakaley driving and in 2013 timed in 1:52 with Brett Miller aboard.

The all-time track record at Batavia Downs is 1:51.1 and that was set by Aracache Hanover in 2011. Given the great weather forecast and how the new racing surface has been setting up, there is a legitimate chance that standard could be in jeopardy.

Saturday night’s card also features two divisions of the $111,000 New York Sires Stakes for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings that will feature the best freshman male pacers in the state.

Post time for the first race is 6:15 p.m.

(Inset photo of Foiled Again courtesy of Batavia Downs.)

September 2, 2016 - 1:10pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, bike race, Batavia Downs.

(Pictured is Mickey Holliday winning the 2015 drivers' bike race at Batavia Downs.)                      

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

A tradition that started in 1979 continues on Monday (Sept. 5) during the Labor Day matinee extravaganza at Batavia Downs and that is, the annual drivers' bike race. This “friendly” competition between the horsemen features eight local drivers who 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 Mickey Holliday who won with a strong stretch drive. Holliday will be back to defend his title against some new faces as well as some cagey veterans. But the best part is the fans get to win the actual brand new bikes used in the race.

You must sign-up in the Paddock Room between noon and 2:45 p.m to be eligible. 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 drivers used. The bike race will be held after the seventh harness race and the drawing for the bikes 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 you mist be present to win.

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

Click this link for a video of last year’s race. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l_rbJ9yhR4 )

Here is the line-up of drivers competing in the 2016 Invitational:

Post -Driver                        

1 -- Patrick Galbraith            

2 -- Rock Vinci                       

3 -- JD Perrin                         

4 -- Jimmy McNeight Jr.       

5 -- Mickey Holliday           

6 -- Brad Jackson                 

7 -- Denny Bucceri               

8 -- Drew Monti             

Also featured on the Labor Day card are $1 Sahlen’s hot dogs, draft beer and soda on the track apron from noon to 4 p.m. And in the Clubhouse from noon-3:30 p.m. you can enjoy a $10.95 chicken bar-b-que provided by the Center Street Smoke House, of Batavia. And with each dinner you buy you will receive $10 worth of free play on the gaming floor, so it’s almost like eating for free!        

And of course there are 13 live harness races scheduled to start at 1:15 p.m. 

September 2, 2016 - 1:04pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The top two point leaders for New York Sire Stake 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings will headline the 16 starters who will compete for $111,000 in two divisions at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 3)

In the first $55,500 division, Miso Fast (Roll With Joe-Sakura Hanover) comes in leading all his peers with 205 NYSS points on the strength of four consecutive wins in that competition this year. In his last start at Yonkers, he got parked out the better part of the mile and ended up finishing fifth in 1:55.4. That event was on Aug. 18 and he hasn’t raced since, so he comes in to this race off a 16-day layoff.

This year, Miso Fast has a mark of 1:53.1 at Tioga Downs and has banked $79,636 in earnings.

Trainer Ron Burke has retained the services of Jim Morrill Jr. to do the driving and Miso Fast will leave from post three as the 9-5 morning line favorite.

Serious Major (Art Major-Seriously) will be strong competition as he moved into the NYSS level after winning three straight races at the Excelsior A level. Since making the jump he has won at Yonkers Raceway in 1:56.2 and finished second at Vernon Downs in 1:52.3 to Funknwaffles who will race in the other division here. For the year, Serious Major is five out of six in the win column.

Serious Major  took a mark of 1:54.4 at Tioga Downs and has won $78,606 in purses.

Ray Fisher Jr. will pick up the lines for trainer Chris Ryder and leave from post 5 as the 7-2 second choice.

In the second $55,500 split, Funknwaffles (American Ideal-Hatsoff Hanover) is a perfect six for six on the year, leads all his NYSS competitors in earnings and currently sits second in points with 150. He started out in Excelsior A, winning three races there before moving up to NYSS action where he won three more.

Funknwaffles just scored his lifetime mark at Vernon last week in 1:52.1 and has $106,439 in purses for his efforts.

Jim Morrill Jr. will be in the bike for trainer John Butenschoen and is listed at 9-5 from post seven.

Pointomygranson (American Ideal-Sangall) has only one NYSS win this year and would just make the final if today’s points were to decide it. But he’s been a solid competitor in every race he’s been in. He was second at Monticello Raceway in 1:56.1, coming home in :27.3. And last week at Mohawk Raceway in the Metro he closed sharply from seventh in :26.1 to finish fourth, beaten only a length and a half in a 1:51.3 mile.

Pointomygranson has a mark of 1:55.1 at Saratoga Raceway and has earned $35,479 this year.

Marcus Miller will be in the house to drive for trainer Chris Ryder and drew the invisible rail at 4-1.

There are also two divisions of the Excelsior A series on the card that is slated to begin at 6:15 p.m. 

September 1, 2016 - 1:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Photo of Dayson with driver Jim Morrill Jr.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

He’s diminutive in size but dominant on the track. Dayson ($2.20) came from off the pace and pulled away to a convincing victory in his division of the $119,300 New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Aug. 31).

Off the wings, Allerage Echo (Chris Lems) and The Royal Harry (Oskar Florhed) both left and battled old-school to the quarter in :28 flat before The Royal Harry finally took the lead. Meanwhile Dayson (Jim Morrill Jr.) relaxed in third about eight lengths behind, waiting for the dust to settle. The field remained unchanged to the half but became more closely grouped, nose to tail. 

At the five-eighths pole, Morrill tipped Dayson and asked for more, and more is what he got. He eased past Allerage Echo and snuck up on The Royal Harry as they circled the final turn. When they hit the top of the stretch, Dayson found another gear and he pulled away on his own. Morrill had the whip tucked and the lines in his lap as they crossed the wire a four-length winner in 1:57.3.

“He was very good; nice and strong. He got around the track perfect tonight and didn’t do anything wrong” said winning driver Jim Morrill Jr. “I tipped him up the backside and was hand-wrapped to the wire.”

It was the eighth win in 12 starts this year for Dayson (Conway Hall-Nervey’s Taurus) who now boasts $230,583 in 2016 earnings for owners Burke Racing Stables LLC, Our Horse Cents Stable, J&T Silva Stable LLC and Rossie Smith.

In the other NYSS division, A Jersey Contract ($14.00) pulled the upset after a crafty drive by the Downs leading driver Kevin Cummings that gave him the home-field advantage.

With the scratch of morning line favorite Smalltownthrowdown due to his participation in the $500,000 Yonkers Trot on Saturday, Sir Royson (Jim Marohn Jr.) became the favorite and went off at 1-1. However he also made a break before the gate opened and that immediately made the race interesting. Southern Palms (Jim Morrill Jr.) took full advantage off the gaffe and opened up a three-length lead over pocket-sitting A Jersey Contract going to the quarter. 

(Photo of A Jersey Contract with driver Kevin Cummings.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The field stood pat past the half when That’s A Bad Boy (Tyler Freese) pulled first over with Drazzmatazz (Mark Macdonald) on his helmet. The top four were then grouped two-by-two at three-quarters in 1:28.4. Around the last turn, Drazzmatazz tipped three-wide around That’s A Bad Boy trying to gain on the leader, but A Jersey Contract who had the perfect journey in second, shot up the pylons and collared Southern Palms by a neck in 1:57.4. The time was a new lifetime mark for the winner.

“The race shaped up real well for us. We got a two-hole trip right to the wire and he had a lot of trot sitting in there” said driver Kevin Cummings of A Jersey Contract. “I knew when I got him in the passing lane he’d give me more.”

It was the third win this season for A Jersey Contract (Lucky Chucky-Giza Dream) and it pushed his yearly earnings to $88,574 for owners Tom Vassiliou and Nicholas Tallarico. A Jersey Contract is trained by Maureen Salino.

There were also two divisions of the Excelsior A series on the card.

The first division was won by Credevi (Credit Winner-Fleur De Vie) in 1:58, which was a new lifetime mark. Credevi ($2.30) was driven by Jim Morrill Jr. for owner Wanda Polisseni’s Purple Haze Stable and trainer Trond Smedshammer.

The second leg went to Royal Bachelor (RC Royalty-Becca J) in 1:57.4. Royal Bachelor is trained and driven by Dan Daley and is owned by Ann-Mari Daley, James Crawford IV and Michael White. The winner returned $9.

Jim Morrill Jr. is the leading driver on the New York Sire Stake circuit and also the third leading UDR driver in North America and he showed why on Wednesday as he won five races; three in stake races and two overnighters. His victories included Credevie ($2.30), Dayson ($2.20), Thanks for Playin ($2.60), Terrorcam ($5.10) and Purple N gold ($5.10).

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 2) with post time set for 6:15.

August 30, 2016 - 2:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo of Dayson with driver Jim Morrill Jr.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

On Wednesday night (Aug. 31), the New York Sire Stake 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters will visit Batavia Downs to compete in two divisions for a total of $119,300 in purses and Dayson comes in ready after recent Grand Circuit competition.

Dayson (Conway Hall-Nervey’s Taurus) took on the best male sophomore trotters in North America in his last start when he faced off against Hambletonian champion Marion Marauder and Southwind Frank in the $500,000 Colonial Stake at Pocono Downs. After being parked out half the mile, Dayson finished fifth behind winner Southwind Frank, beaten only three lengths in 1:52.4.

Prior to that start, Dayson strung together three straight wins including a lifetime mark of 1:51.2 at the Meadowlands in the $50,000 Townsend Ackerman Stake. For the year, Dayson has seven wins in eleven starts and $201,033 in the bank. He currently sits second in the points standing for his sex, age and gait.

Trainer Ron Burke has assigned leading NYSS driver Jim Morrill Jr. to steer Dayson in his $59,100 division and they will leave from post three as the prohibitive morning line 6-5 favorite. 

The Royal Harry (RC Royalty-Wilsonator) will be major competition for the favorite after he recently competed in the Hambletonian in August. The Royal Harry faced the best of his class in that race and acquitted himself well, trotting back to back heats race-timed in 1:53 and 1:53.3.

In four NYSS starts this year The Royal Harry has posted two wins and two second-place finishes and that ties him with Dayson for second in overall points. Those starts also helped pad his wallet this year to the tune of $136,283.

Trainer Ake Svanstedt has listed Oskar Florhed to drive The Royal Harry and they will line up in post two as the 2-1 second choice.

In the other $60,200 split, NYSS divisional point’s leader Smalltownthrowdown (Cash Hall-Ann’s Promise) comes into western New York red hot on the heels of two eye-popping victories.

Last week he went wire to wire in 1:56.2 at Monticello Raceway to win by almost nine-lengths and two weeks before that, he won in similar style at Saratoga Raceway in 1:54.4 by five-lengths. That time was also a new lifetime mark. Smalltownthrowdown has five wins in 12 starts this year and $156,795 in earnings.

Trainer/driver Dan Daley will be in his usual spot behind Smalltownthrowdown and depart from post five, listed at 7-5.

Sir Royson (Crazed-Leibovitz Hanover) has had a mixed bag of racing luck of late. A nice 1:56.3 second place effort behind Dayson at Yonkers on July 14 was sandwiched between a break at Buffalo Raceway and one at Saratoga. But after a 10 day sabbatical, Sir Royson qualified in good form at Freehold in 1:59.2 and looks to build on that effort in here.

Sir Royson has three 2016 wins, two in NYSS action and $94,928 in earnings. He took a mark of 1:54 at Tioga Downs back in May.

Trainer Linda Toscano has Jim Marohn Jr. in the sulky and Sir Royson will leave from post two as the 4-1 second choice.

There are also two $15,000 divisions of the Excelsior A series on the program that are carded as race one and two.

Post time for Wednesday’s first race is 6:15 p.m.

August 29, 2016 - 3:00pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Wiener Dog Races, Batavia Downs.

(Photos courtesy of Paul White.)

Above, winning wiener dog, Pablo, with owner Adrienne Penders.

Above, the crowd packed the spectator area at Sunday's Wiener Dog Races at Batavia Downs and free bottles of cold water helped them beat the heat.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The centerpiece of Batavia Downs Family Fun Day on Sunday (Aug. 28) was the annual Wiener Dog Races and this year, 2,400 live patrons came out to watch a great program of live harness racing while anticipating the nine qualifying wiener heats that followed.

After the qualifying events were held and the final field was set, nine dogs went postward in the two-pylon sprint as the rail trackside was literally five-deep with spectators.

Track announcer Joe Zambito gave the word and they released the hounds for the race. After the pack thundered down the stretch and the dust had settled, Pablo was a convincing winner, with Nibbles beating out Minnie in a close photo for second.

It was the third time Pablo had competed in this event and the third time was a charm for him and his owner.

“He’s always been competitive and always done well in the race, but he never won it,” said Pablo’s owner Adrienne Penders. “This year he finally got it done.”

Nibbles is owned by Tammy Anderson; and Minnie is owned by Lori Laine.

Last year’s champion Piglet, won his qualifying heat this afternoon but failed to hit the board in the final despite a hearty attempt.

"Once again, Family Fun Day was a great success" said Todd Haight, director/general manager of Live Racing. "The stands were full with kids of all ages and everyone had a great time at Batavia Downs. The wiener dogs put on another great show and we would like to thank everyone who brought their dogs out to compete and to Genesee Feeds of Batavia who sponsors the event every year." 

Each of the nine qualifying heat winners received a $25 free play voucher to Batavia Downs Gaming. The winning owner of the final was presented a $100 free play voucher, the second-place finisher received $75 in free play, and the third-place finisher will enjoy $50 in free play. All three owners will also get two complimentary buffets each in the Batavia Downs clubhouse.

The 2-9-3 doggie-tri combination was reported to return 25 Milk-Bones among trackside punters.

August 29, 2016 - 2:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Photo of Kevin Cummings courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The weather wasn’t the only thing that was hot at Batavia Downs on Sunday afternoon (Aug. 28), Kevin Cummings was as well. The Downs leading driver who is currently sporting 37 wins at the meet reached that total on the strength of today’s performance.

Cummings won with Windemere Maggie ($4.20) and Ona Dream ($7.20) to complete the early Daily double ($24.60). After that, he finished the card scoring with Sea Deuce ($4.10), Lexis Amigo (5.40) and B Evas Lucky Lad ($8.60).

Cummings third winner, Sea Deuce, took the afternoon’s $7,200 feature pace in 1:56.3. Sea Deuce went wire to wire in victory, coming home strong in :28.2 to hold of the pocket sitting Mystical Valentine (Jack Flanigen) in the process. It was the sixth win of the year for the 6-year-old gelded son of Armbro Deuce that is owned by Cummings and trained by Priscilla Mooney.

Not to be outdone, Dave McNeight III (who is currently second is dash wins behind Cummings) and Ray Fisher Jr. also reached the winner’s enclosure twice.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Aug. 31) at 6:15 p.m. and will feature two divisions of the New York Sires Stake 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings who will vie for $119,300 in purses. 

August 29, 2016 - 2:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Photo of Milliron Pete with driver Ron Beback Jr.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Milliron Pete made his local debut for new connections last week after 19 days off and experienced an off-track and road trouble for his effort. But the Northfield Park invader more than made up for that outing on Saturday night (Aug. 27) when he won the $10,000 Open pacing feature at Batavia Downs in convincing fashion.

With the scratch of Heaven Rocks, the abbreviated field of five departed the gate with Milliron Pete (Ron Beback Jr.) scooting right to the front. Everyone stood pat until the three-eighths when the 2-5 favorite Knocking Around (Dave McNeight III) pulled first up as they hit the half in a meager :58 flat.

Positions remained unchanged as the group circled the final two turns with Knocking Around just outside the flank of the front-running Milliron Pete. And despite his best effort to collar the leader down the lane, Knocking Around could not as Milliron Pete held fast and paced home in :28.1 to win by a long-length in 1:54.4. Knocking around toughed out the place spot while China Dream (Jack Flanigen) came from mid-pack for third.

It was the ninth win of the year for Milliron Pete ($20.40) and the winner’s share of the purse pushed his annual income to $60,315. Milliron Pete is owned Elm Racing and is trained by Ron Beback Jr.

Saturday turned out to be long-shot night at the Downs led off by Green Olives ($53) winning the second race and triggering a $305 Exacta (8-5), $1,662 Trifecta (8-5-3) and $4,220.50 Super (8-5-3-2). Then in the third, Kashability ($21.00) spurred a $621 Exacta (3-8) and a $2,712 Trifecta (3-8-5). 

Ray Fisher Jr. scored three wins on the card while Kevin Cummings followed up with two.

August 29, 2016 - 6:01am

098a3140.1.jpg

The fourth annual Wiener Dog Race held yesterday at Batavia Downs Gaming brought thousands of families to cheer, laugh and smile for a fun-filled afternoon of free entertainment.

Pictured above is Pablo, the winner of today’s race with owners Jon Wright and Adrienne Penders from Pavilion.

“This is the first race we have won in the three years of racing,” Adrienne said.

Last year Pablo came in second but shined in the final race.

More than 60 dogs participated in today’s race. There were nine heats of seven to eight dogs per race. 

Winners of each heat race are:

  1. #4 Skittles
  2. #5 Pablo
  3. #4 Minnie
  4. #6 Frank
  5. #3 Maximus
  6. #3 Ruby
  7. #7 Mickey Zoom
  8. #4 Piglet (who won the 2015 race)
  9. #2 Nibbles

Winners overall were: First Place -- Pablo, Second Place -- Nibbles; and Third Place -- Minnie. Each owner took home a winning free play certificate and various prizes.

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August 27, 2016 - 3:18pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

After back-to-back second place finishes to Serendipitious and Studio City in Open company races the last two weeks, Winky’s Pride got her revenge by beating them both, along with five other top-flight trotters in the $10,500 feature trot at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Aug. 26). 

As the starting car sped away, Serendipitious (Ray Fisher Jr.), WInky’s Pride (Drew Monti) and Kahoku (Ron Beback Jr.) all left as fast as the gate and then argued strongly for the lead. As they moved by the quarter in :28, Serendipitious took the front from the first seated Winky’s Pride and the two mares left Kahoku parked-out to dry.

The field stayed pretty much unchanged to the half in :57.2 and three-quarters in 1:27.3 before Kahoku folded from taking air and Serendipitious started to look like a winner. But Monti had other ideas as he tipped Winky’s Pride by the head of the stretch and under light urging, trotted away to a two-length victory in 1:57.2. Studio City (Dave McNeight III) snuck up the rail to be second and Serendipitious hung on for third.

It was the fourth win in 26 starts this year for Winky’s Pride ($19.60) and the winner’s share pushed her earnings up to $41,039 for 2016. The time of 1:57.2 was a new seasonal mark for the 8-year-old chestnut daughter of Amigo Hall and only 2/5th’s of a second off her lifetime best.

Winky’s Pride is owned and trained by Robert Hummel.

Dave McNeight III and Ray Fisher Jr. both had driving doubles and trainer Lisa Mariacher conditioned two winners as well.

Racing resumes at Batavia Down tonight (Aug. 27) with post time set for 6:15.

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