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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Racing Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Auction items include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Racing Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Racing Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Racing Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 15, 2015 - 1:08pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.




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