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August 25, 2016 - 1:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The $9,500 mares Open pace at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Aug. 24) was like “Groundhog Day” for the winner as My Tallia Ideal once again came from off the pace to dominate at the end and score consecutive victories in the Genesee County oval’s top distaff class.

Looney Dune (Ben McNeil) took a slow slow methodic outside route to the lead after the small but select field of mares broke from the gate for race one. She cleared before the quarter in :27.3 and from that point, the trailing field followed her in post-position order until they straightened out for the half.

At the head of the stretch, My Tallia Ideal (Dave McNeight III) pulled and began motoring up towards the leader followed by All Charged Up (John McDonald) and Who Says That (Drew Monti) in the outer flow. By the middle of the backstretch, My Tallia Ideal’s forward assault was complete when she cleared and tripped the three-quarter timer in 1:25. From there, the gauntlet was laid down as the daughter of Western Ideal opened up by two, then three and pulled away more to a 1:53.4 win over All Charged Up and Who Says That.

It was the sixth win of the year for My Tallia Ideal ($5.90), including three out of four Batavia Downs starts, all being in the top class at the Downs. The win pushed her earnings for the year to $43,525 for owners Peter Kibler, Kenneth Owczarczak and Courtney McNeight. My Tallia Ideal is trained by Dave McNeight Jr.

Four drivers owned most of the card as Todd Cummings won three races and Kevin Cummings, Jack Flanigen and Dave McNeight III each won two. Trainer Dave McNeight Jr. also sent two horses to the winner’s enclosure.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Aug. 26) with post time for the first race at 6:15.

August 23, 2016 - 1:56pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, sports, news, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

If you have ever attended live harness racing and realized you may be interested in becoming an active participant in America’s oldest organized sport, Batavia Downs is offering a new owner seminar at 3 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 10) in the Robert J. Kane Boardroom, located in the lower grandstand. It is being held in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association and the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State.

The program will include a two-and-a-half hour classroom presentation by representatives of the United States Trotting Association (USTA) and the Harness Horse Breeders of New York (HHBNYS) and will include guest trainers, drivers, owners and management from Batavia Downs Racetrack. Topics will include risk and reward, what it costs, choosing your horse, trainer and driver, and time will be allowed for questions and answers throughout the evening.

The package includes:

  • All needed classroom materials;
  • A hands-on tour of the paddock as horses prepare for the night's action;
  • Reserved seating in the clubhouse;
  • Dinner at the prime rib, crab leg and shrimp buffet;
  • A trip to the winner’s circle for a win picture after a race;
  • Membership to the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State;
  • $20 worth of free-play on the gaming floor;
  • and a free one-year subscription to the industry’s award-winning publication, "Hoof Beats Magazine."

The cost is only $30 for a single and $50 for a couple. Reservations should be made in advance but payment will be made at the door. There are several ways to register. There are links on both USTA and Batavia Downs Facebook pages or go to shop.ustrotting.com and click Prospective Owners Events. You can also e-mail [email protected] or call 877-800-8782, ext. 5555 or 585-343-375, ext. 6322.

This is your opportunity to own your own sports franchise and go from the grandstand to the winner’s circle with your winning horse. Purses have never been higher at many tracks in North America and there has never been a better time to get involved in all the fun and excitement of harness racing ownership than right now.

August 22, 2016 - 12:20pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Robin J with driver Jim Marohn Jr.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

A heavy early rain dampened the track, but not the enthusiasm shown by the eight 2-year-old pacing fillies competing for one of the largest single purses ever offered at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Aug. 20). And when the all the moves were made, Robin J (Roll With Joe-Mommy Robin Q) saved her best one for last and captured the victory in the New York Sire Stake event.

Artrageous (Jim Morrill Jr.) left sharply for the lead and Robin J (Jim Marohn Jr.) settled in behind her as the field moved to the quarter in :28.3. Shortly after they passed that marker the outer flow set up with American Cheer (Billy Davis Jr.) coming first over and Pleasant Roll (Chris Lems) and Roaring To go (Kevin Cummings) following right behind.

At the three-quarter pole they fanned four across the track when Pleasant Roll tipped three wide and Roaring To Go went four abreast. Pleasant Roll took the lead from Artrageous by a half-length in the last turn, but Artrageous dug in and took it back before they hit the stretch. As they headed down the lane Artrageous was in the middle of the track trying to fight off Pleasant Roll when Marohn moved Robin J into the passing lane and powered by them both to take the win in 1:56.

“She was real good tonight, but I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. The way it set up and the way the race went; it was all about the trip” said Marohn after the race.

It was the fifth win in six lifetime starts for Robin J ($4.50) and the purse enhance her lifetime total to $131,605 for owner Ken Jacobs. Robin J is trained by Linda Toscano.

There were also four $15,000 divisions of the Excelsior A series on the program.

The first division was won by Megyn K (American Ideal-Fantasy Jet) in 1:58 for driver Jim Morrill Jr. and trainer Jean Drolet. Megyn K ($2.90) is owned by Stephen Schneider, William Siegel, Jay Lieberman and Karen Munk.

The second division went to Bullvillestephanie (Roll With Joe-Bullville Ana) in 1:57.4 for driver Ray Schnittker and trainer Steve Crevani. Bullvillestephanie ($11.40) is owned by Crevani Farms.

The third leg was won by Ann Hill (Rock N Roll Heaven-Taxi Fare Hanover) in 1:57.1 for driver Chris Lems and trainer Tony Alagna. Ann Hill ($3.30) is owned by Tom Hill.

The final split was taken by Pirinea’s Princess (Roll With Joe-Chant-a-nuka) in 1:59.1 for driver Jim Morrill Jr. and trainer Dennis Laterza. Pirinea’s Princess ($3.00) is owned by Latz A Luck Stable.

Jim Morrill Jr. scored four driving wins on the card that included three in stake action and one in the overnight featured $10,500 Open pace with Ron Burke’s multi-million dollar winner, Clear Vision (Western Hanover-Artistic Vision) in 1:53.4, wire to wire.

August 20, 2016 - 12:49pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Photo of Serendipitous and driver Ray Fisher Jr.)

By Tim Bojarski

There were two mares against the boys in the $10,000 Open trotting feature at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Aug. 19) and girl-power prevailed as Serendipitous, who was overlooked at 9-1, pulled out a wire to wire victory in a lifetime best time of 1:57.1.

Weekly leaver Lutetium (Todd Cummings) made a break off the gate which handed Serendipitous (Ray Fisher Jr.) the lead and with it, the mare took the field in post-position order to the half in :57.3. At the five-eighths, Noble Legend (Kevin Cummings) pulled first over and brought heavily favored J A T O (Mike Caprio) in tow and the pair motored up toward the front.  

That outer flow chased the leader to the three-quarter station in 1:27.1 without gaining much ground when J A T O pulled three wide in the last turn and started his solo assault. But when he actually drifted five-wide in the move, Serendipitous was able to maintain her lead in mid-stretch and fend off the pocket-sitting Winky’s Pride as well as the late rush by J A T O to win by a neck.

Winky’s Pride (Drew Monti), who was the other mare in the race, finished second and J A T O settled for third.

It was the sixth victory of the year for Serendipitous ($21.80) and the winner’s share of the purse padded her bank account to the tune of $33,267 for Guy Polillo Est. and trainer John Mungillo.

The secondary feature carded as the $8,500 Open II saw Kahoku ($7.70) avoid some early road trouble and go wire to wire in a fast 1:56.3 for driver Ron Beback Jr. The 8-year-old gelded son of SJ’s Caviar is trained by Mark Laidlaw for owners Colleen Girdlestone and Michael Gentner.

Batavia Downs leading dash driver Kevin Cummings had a driving triple on the night while Drew Monti doubled up.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs tonight (Aug. 20) with the first post set for 6:15. Saturday’s card features the NYSS 2-year-old pacing fillies going for $110,200 in race four on the card.

August 19, 2016 - 1:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Photo of Robin J, courtesy of Fotowon.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

There is $110,200 up for grabs in the 2-year-old pacing filly division of the New York Sire Stakes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Aug. 20) but it’s being competed for all in one race. In a rare instance, only eight of the 43 2-year-old pacing fillies that have started in NYSS competition this year have entered the top level this week and they will go postward in race four.

The $110,200 one-race payoff is one of the most lucrative purses ever offered at Batavia Downs behind the all-time record of $286,756 that was distributed in the 1988 Breder's Crown.

Robin J (Roll With Joe-Mommy Robin Q) has been made the prohibitive 8-5 morning line choice on the strength of four wins in five lifetime starts and all were in stake competition. Last week, Robin J went wire to wire in the Geers Stake at Tioga Downs and registered the victory in 1:54, with a last quarter in an eye-popping :26.3, and in doing so set a new lifetime mark. She can race on point or off the pace and that makes her a double threat.

Jim Marohn Jr. makes an infrequent appearance at Batavia Downs to drive Robin J for trainer Linda Toscano and leaves from post two.

Challenging will be Artrageous (Art Major-In Deep Thought) who is a two-time winner this year, most recently in NYSS action at Saratoga Raceway where she won cutting the mile in 1:55.4, her career best. It’s interesting to note Artrageous defeated Robin J in that contest. The filly was race timed in 1:52.4 at Vernon Downs last week in a third place finish and hasn’t been off the board this year in five tries.

Jim Morrill Jr. takes the reins for trainer Andrew Stafford and departs the gate from post one.

Pleasant Roll (Roll With Joe-Pleasant But Bad) has only one win this year but has shown tremendous growth over her last two starts. After dropping down to the Excelsior A level two weeks ago, Pleasant Roll destroyed her field and won by six lengths in a lifetime best 1:53.3. She then followed that effort up with a second place finish in 1:53 in the Geers Stake at Tioga after being parked out for a good part of the mile. Her division time and her personal clocking of 1:53.3 were both faster than Robin J’s race that day.

Chris Lems is in the bike for trainer Julie Miller and will leave from post five.

There are also four $15,000 divisions of the Excelsior A Series on the card and they will provide some outstanding wagering opportunities.

The first division (Race 2) has Megyn K (American Ideal-Fantasy Jet) listed as the 2-1 morning line choice from post five for driver Jim Morrill Jr. and trainer Jean Drolet.

The second division (Race 3) features the Blake Macintosh-trained entry of Takeyourbreathaway (Rock N roll Heaven-Leave Em Gasping) with Billy Davis Jr. aboard from post two and Clear Idea (American Ideal-Glass Maker) with Drew Monti at the lines from post eight, pegged as the 5-2 handicappers selection.

The third division (Race 6) has trainer Tony Alagna’s Ann Hill (Rock N Roll Heaven-Taxi Fare Hanover) listed at 5-2 for driver Chris Lems who will leave from post five.

And the final division (Race 7) has seen Opaline Blue Chip named the 5-2 early favorite for trainer Richard Ringler and local driving favorite Kevin Cummings, who starts from post five.

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

August 18, 2016 - 1:34pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Photo of My Tallia Ideal with driver Dave McNeight III.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

My Tallia Ideal ($5.50) let her foes do the heavy lifting for the first half of the race and then proceeded to pick up the pieces for an easy victory in the $9,500 mares open pace at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Aug. 17).

Wanna Rock N Roll (Todd Cummings), Jann Down (Jack Flanigen) and V’la Faire (Wade Tomaszewski) went three-wide around the first turn and then up the backside, scorching a :27.2 quarter in the process. V’la Faire finally claimed the lead and led the girls to the half.

My Tallia Ideal (Dave McNeight III) pulled first-over in advance of that station and floated outside the leader as they went around the clubhouse turn. When they straightened up the backside, McNeight let out the lines and his mare responded in kind. Clearing by the three-quarter pole in 1:26.3, My Tallia Ideal proceeded to stride away from the rest of the field and opened up a four-length lead by the time she stopped the timer in 1:54.3, pacing her last quarter in :28 flat.

Who Says That (Drew Monti) rallied strong to be second and a very game V’la Faire hung on for third.

It was the second win in three Batavia downs starts for My Tallia Ideal, both of which were in the top company. The 6-year-old daughter of Western Ideal has now earned $38,775 in 2016 for owners Peter Kibler, Kenneth Owczarczak and Courtney McNeight. Dave McNeight Jr. does the training.

Wins came in multiples for many horsemen on Wednesday night. Drivers Dave McNeight III and Ray Fisher Jr. both had triples while Drew Monti and Kevin Cummings chimed in with doubles. On the training side, Dave McNeight Jr. and Angelo Nappo each sent two horses to the winner's enclosure for photos.

Racing resumes on Friday night (Aug. 19) at Batavia Downs with the first post set for 6:15.

August 15, 2016 - 1:03pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Photo of Goosebumb Hanover with driver Jim Morrill Jr.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Despite the oppressive humidity at post time, victory in the $119,300 New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old trotting fillies was no sweat for Goosebump Hanover and Non Stick at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Aug. 13).

Goosebump Hanover (RC Royalty-Good Common Cents) took a wait-and-see approach in the first $59,100 division as Jim Morrill Jr. took back to last while Lindylicious (Kevin Cummings), Swinging Royalty (Chris Lems) and Earn Your Wings (Charlie Norris) accounted for three lead changes before the half that was reached in :58.2.

At that station, Earn your Wings was on top by two when Morrill pulled Goosebump Hanover to follow the live cover of Lindylicious, who had made a move at five eighths. Morrill followed the outer flow until it stalled and then swung three-wide at the top of the far turn and started pouring on the speed. When they hit the straightaway, Goosebump Hanover was in full-stride and scored a one length victory in 1:58.

After the race, driver Jim Morrill Jr. spoke glowingly of his filly. “The race set up perfectly for her with the fast half. But when I tipped her and asked her for more, she trotted strong to the wire.”

Goosebump Hanover ($10.40) is trained by Ron Burke for owners Burke Racing Stable, LLC, J&T Silva Stables, LLC, Crawford Farms, LLC, and Joseph DiScala Jr.

(Photo of Non Stick with trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt.)

In the second $60,200 leg, Non Stick (Lucky Chucky-Meucci Madness) took no prisoners as trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt left immediately and worked his way to the lead by the quarter in :29 flat. Open Access (Charlie Norris), who left behind Non Stick, was pressuring her on the outside at that point but made a break in the turn and that allowed the leader a :30.4 breather in the second panel.

Approaching the five eighths pole, post time favorite Fad Finance (Jim Morrill Jr.) pulled from third and drafted outside of Non Stick up the backside. But as soon as the pair hit the final turn, Morrill gave the filly her head and Fad finance surged a length ahead of Non Stick. However the tables turned quickly when they straightened out in the lane as Non Stick came back on and pulled away to an easy two-length win in 1:58.2.

Non Stick ($5.60) is owned by Ake Svanstedt, Inc., and Little E, LLC.

There were also three $15,000 divisions of the Excelsior A series on the card and two of them showed up the headliners by just missing the track record for 3-year-old trotting fillies by a fifth of a second (Cowgirl Hall, Bouncing Bax-1:57.2).

The first division was won by Wendy’s Girl (Lucky Chucky-East Creek Wendy) who was driven by Jim Morrill Jr. in 1:57.3. Wendy’s Girl ($2.80) is trained by Tracy Brainard for owners Howard Taylor and Edwin Gold.

The second leg was won by Dazzling Dollars (Cash Hall-Designed To Dazzle) who was also driven by Jim Morrill Jr. and was also timed in 1:57.3. Dazzling Dollars ($3.30) is trained by Trond Smedshammer for owner Wanda Polisseni’s Purple Haze Stable.

The third split was captured by Hullaba Lulu (RC Royalty-Lulu Pernilla) who was teamed by his trainer, John Stark Jr. in 1:58.2. Hullaba Lulu ($16.20) is owned by the estate of Edmund Smith, Daniel Giannuzzi, James Giannuzzi and Carol Wink.  

Jim Morrill Jr. had a driving triple on the card while Dave McNeight III won with two.

August 13, 2016 - 1:34pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Photo of J A T O with driver Mike Caprio, courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

J A T O is an acronym for jet-assisted take-off and given the style of his racing, there has probably never been a more aptly named horse. At Batavia Downs on Friday night (Aug. 12), J A T O (Mike Caprio) turned on the jets from last and flew home to capture the $10,000 Open trotting feature in the fastest trotting mile of the meet.

Lutetium (Todd Cummings) took his familiar position up front as he left from post six and dictated the fractions. He went to the half in :57.2 with a two-length lead before anyone made a move. As they motored up the backside, Lutetium then opened up a four-length lead and was beginning to look like a winner, but Mike Caprio pulled J A T O from last and made a very strong three-wide move.

When the field reached three quarters in 1:26.3, J A T O had moved into second and cut Lutetium’s lead in half and when they hit the top of the stretch, it was all over; J A T O simply trotted away to a length victory in 1:57.2. Lutetium hung on for second and Noble Legend (Kevin Cummings) closed well for third.

It was the third win in nine starts for J A T O ($3.80) and it pushed the 4-year-old gelded son of Big Apple Deli’s bankroll to $35,075 for 2016. The time of 1:57.2 was a seasonal mark for the winner.

J A T O is trained by Alana Caprio for owners Margaret Butler and Amy Butler.

Kevin Cummings scored a driving triple and that pushed him into second place among the local driver colony for dash wins, now with 15. Drew Monti and Todd Cummings both had doubles on the card as well. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on tonight (Aug. 13) with two legs of the New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old trotting fillies on the card. Post time for the first race is 6:15 p.m.

August 12, 2016 - 12:49pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Photo of Non Stick courtesy of Fotowon.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

When the 3-year-old trotting filly division of the New York Sire Stakes rolls into Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Aug. 13), three of the top six richest distaff sophomore trotters of 2016 will be on hand to compete for the $119,300 in purses being offered. 

In the first $60,200 leg that is carded as race three, Non Stick (Lucky Chucky-Meucci Madness) comes in with $158,332 bankrolled this year on the strength of a win in the $225,000 Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) at Vernon Downs on Sunday (June 19) in a career best 1:54 time. Those earnings rank her fourth among all 3-year-old trotting fillies in North America.

Last week at Yonkers Raceway, Non Stick was a beaten 1-5 favorite after making an uncharacteristic break for driver Daniel Dube while on the lead in the last turn. But the filly drew well again here and will look to make amends this week.

Non Stick is the 2-1 morning line favorite and will start from post two. Trainer Ake Svanstedt takes back the reins and will do the driving here.

Fad Finance (Credit Winner-Armbro Vanity) is more than a formidable foe and comes in boasting three straight NYSS victories. On Sunday (July 24) Fad Finance finished third in the $140,000 Zweig Memorial trot at Vernon Downs, beaten by Flowers N Songs and Woman’s Will who both competed in the Hambletonian Oaks eliminations at the Meadowlands on Saturday (July 30).

Fad Finance has four wins this year, is the leading point-getter in her division of the NYSS and has $141,806 banked, putting her sixth in North America in earnings for age, sex and gait. The filly is picked second and listed at 5-2 morning line and will once again get the services of Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike.

Race four is the second $59,100 division and Swinging Royalty (RC Royalty-Swing Anna Cash) comes in with a very impressive resume. After finishing second to Non Stick in the EBC, Swinging Royalty scorched the Vernon Downs oval in an overnight event in 1:54.1, winning by 15 lengths and registering a new lifetime mark. The filly then backed that up with her first NYSS win the week after at Tioga Downs.

Swinging Royalty is the third highest point-getter in her division and her $142,147 in earning this year has her ranked fifth among all 3-year-old trotting fillies in North America.

Trainer George Ducharme has Chris Lems back in the bike after a two-week hiatus and he will leave from post six at 2-1. Lems has been aboard for all four lifetime wins by Swinging Royalty.  

Goosebump Hanover (RC Royalty-Good Common Cents) had a slow start this year before winning the $27,690 Tompkins trot at Tioga in July. However her subsequent two outings may have been considered less than expected. So trainer Ron Burke added Lasix for her last start at Yonkers and that could make a difference this week.

Jim Morrill Jr. will steer again this week and leave from post 5 at 3-1.

Earn Your Wings (Credit Winner-Southwind Serena) put in a stellar effort at Yonkers last week, winning from post eight in 1:57. After leaving in :28.2, Earn your Wings yielded the lead to heavy favorite Non Stick and then sat in the pocket. Non Stick made a break before the stretch and Earn Your Wings took it from there, scoring a length victory at 30-1.

With three wins this year and just under $100,000 accumulated, Earn Your Wings drew post two and trainer Annette Lorentzon has called on Mark MacDonald to pilot this week.

There are also three divisions of the $15,000 Excelsior A series carded as races five through seven and all look like solid wagering opportunities.

Wendy’s Girl (Lucky Chucky-East Creek Wendy) is the 8-5 choice in race five for trainer Tracy Brainard and driver Jim Morrill Jr., Winky’s Gal (RC Royalty-Tessel) is the 5-2 favorite in race six for driver Chris Lems and trainer James Weidman and Outsidecourt (Conway Court-Getaway Cheyenne) is the 2-1 morning line in race seven for driver Jim Morrill Jr. and trainer Gary Messenger.

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

August 11, 2016 - 12:56pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Photo of Who Says That with driver Drew Monti.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

After getting away fifth and chasing a stiff pace to the half, Who Says That ($11) followed live cover in a wily drive by Drew Monti to capture the $9,500 mares Open pacing feature at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Aug. 10).

My Tallia Ideal (Mike Caprio) left and got the lead in a speedy :27.1 first panel. But as soon as she settled in, Yes You Can (Todd Cummings) pulled and went right after her and in doing so, rang up a :55.2 half.

Out of the third turn, My Tallia Ideal had pulled a full length ahead, but V’la Faire (Wade Tomaszewski) tipped three-deep around the now back-peddling Yes You Can and Who Says That pulled from fifth to follow that move. The three mares paced side-by-side around the far turn and into the stretch when Who Says That inflicted her will on the opponents and pulled away to a three-length victory in 1:54.

It was the 10th win in 27 starts this year for Who Says That and it pushed her earnings total for 2016 to $44,162. The time of 1:54 was a new lifetime mark for the 5-year-old Badlands Hanover mare that is trained by Maria Rice for owners Vogel and Wags Nags Stable, Christopher Shambo and Jack Rice.  

Todd Cummings and Ray Fisher Jr. both scored driving triples and Drew Monti had a double. Trainers Tony Cummings and Maria Rice both sent two winners postward.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on tonight (Aug. 12) at 6:15.

August 8, 2016 - 1:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Photo of Sam Hill and driver Kevin Cummings, courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Trainer John Sullivan is a regular at the Meadows Racetrack. But the Rochester native visited his old stomping grounds on Saturday night (Aug. 6) and left with the winner’s share of the $10,000 purse after winning the Open pace at Batavia Downs with his classy veteran, Sam Hill.

If the race were a fight, they would have called it early after Kevin Cummings left with Sam Hill and put local top side-wheeler Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio) in his place when he tried to leave against him. From there, Sam Hill called all the shots.

Sam Hill led and Fireyourguns was sitting second when they passed the half in :56.3, then Whosurpal (Todd Cummings) joined the party when he pulled from fifth and tried to challenge. But the best he could do was get within a loose length of the leader in the :28.3 third panel. From there Kevin Cummings gave Sam Hill his head and he powered away to an easy two-length victory in 1:53.3. The time was the fastest pace of the 2016 meet to date.

It was the fifth win in 15 starts for Sam Hill ($5.10) and it pushed his earnings to $55,100 for the year. The 10-year-old Artsplace gelding now has 44 wins and $478,767 lifetime. Sam Hill is owned by Don Tiger.

In the co-featured $9,000 Open II pace, the red hot Jim Graham Stable saw Closing Credits ($8.70) add to their win total as the 6-year-old Rambaran gelding went wire to wire in 1:54.3 for driver Dave McNeight III. Closing Credits is owned by his trainer and the Cybo Stable Inc.

Drivers Dave McNeight III and Jack Flanigen both scored triples on the card, as did trainers Jim Graham and JD Perrin. Flanigen and Perrin teamed up to win the last three races of the night.

August 8, 2016 - 12:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Roll Away Joe)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Perfect summer weather enticed a large live crowd trackside to watch the New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings at Batavia Downs on Sunday afternoon (Aug. 7) and the horses did not disappoint.  

In the first $59,100 division, it was all about Roll Away Joe (Roll With Joe-Chatelaine) who left sharply to take a lead he would not relinquish. Jim Morrill Jr. led the field to a very soft :59 half as no one pulled to challenge the pacesetter to that point.

When an outer flow finally did start to form, they couldn’t even get close to Roll Away Joe after Morrill gave him his head at the five-eighths pole and then sat as a passenger. They flew home in :56 flat, stopping the clock in 1:55 as a wrapped-up winner by two-lengths.

After the race, Morrill said “It couldn’t have gone any easier. After a half in :59, it would take a pretty good horse to beat him. I just shut him down; it was kind of like a training mile for him.”

Roll Away Joe ($2.40) is owned by Howard Taylor, Stephen Demeter and Thomas Lazzaro and is trained by Tracy Brainard.

In the second $60,200 split, they were piled four-deep around the first turn with Talk Show, Acting Out, Ideal Son and Fine Diamond all gunning for the front. Talk Show (Jim Morrill Jr.) released Acting Out (Kevin Cummings) and Fine Diamond (Matt Kakaley) who then continued to battle to the quarter in :27.2. When Fine Diamond finally cleared in the turn, Morrill immediately pulled Talk Show at the three-eighths pole and was back on the pylons with the lead by the half.

Up the backside, Talk Show was holding a gapped lead with Beast Mode (Mike Whelan) outside at his flank when Artmagic (Billy Dobson) moved from fifth and swung three-deep to challenge at three-quarters in 1:25.1. But as soon as he got close, Morrill popped the plugs and Talk Show went into overdrive. He opened up an immediate three-length lead and then cruised down the lane, crushing the field by over five-lengths in 1:54.2.

“That (first) quarter helped me. I just tried to keep him nice and quiet and those guys mixing it up made it easy for me to do that” said Morrill. “He had a ton left in the tank at the end of the mile; I shut him right down to a walk.”

(Talk Show)

Talk Show (Art Major-Lush Limbaugh) is owned by Talk Show Partners, LLC, Bradley Grant and Howard Taylor and is trained by Tracy Brainard. The winner paid $2.90.

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

The first division was won by Dateline Hanover (Rock N Roll Heaven-Don’t Deny Me) in 1:55.1, which was a new lifetime mark. Dateline Hanover ($8.60) was driven by Tyler Buter and trained by Mark Harder for owners Rick Phillips, Peter Venturini, Deena Frost and Mark Harder.

The second leg saw Fresh Cut (American Ideal-Flip For Love) score in 1:54.4 for driver Kevin Cummings and trainer Erv Miller. Fresh Cut is owned by Bay Pond Racing Stable. The winner returned $7.50.

Jim Morrill Jr. drove six winners on the card, surpassing his total of five taken during his last visit to the Downs this past Wednesday. He tallied with Americanation ($2.10), Roll Away Joe ($2.40), Talk Show ($2.90), Fashionable Apple ($5.50), Fast Fool ($5.90) and No Real Surprise ($5.50)

Billy Dobson also had a driving double while trainer Dave McNeight Jr. sent three to the winner’s circle and Tracy Brainard guided two.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Aug. 10) with first post set for 6:15 p.m.

August 4, 2016 - 11:46am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Making her local debut for new connections, My Tallia Ideal ($3.80) took a garden-spot trip and turned it into a victory in the $9,500 mares Open pace at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Aug. 3).

When the gate closed, the field got away in post-position order and remained that way until the half. Wanna Rock N Roll (Todd Cummings) cut fractions of :29.2 and :59.2 while My Tallia Ideal (Dave McNeight III) sat in tow second.

As the group passed the half, Who Says That (Drew Monti) pulled first over and prompted the sluggish pace to the three-quarters in 1:28.3. That bid took a toll on the leader as they headed down the stretch when My Tallia Ideal found the passing lane and drove right by her to win by two lengths in 1:57. Who Says That toughed it out for second and Wanna Rock N Roll hung on for third.

It was the fourth win of the year for My Tallia Ideal and the purse raised her annual income to $33,265. The daughter of Western Ideal-Bolero Tallia is owned by Peter Kibler, Kenneth Owczarczak and Courtney Wright and is now trained by Dave McNeight Jr.

Jim Morrill Jr. took up residency in the winner’s circle as he registered five driving wins on the card.  He smiled for the camera with Springhouse Star ($8.70), Caddy Jeff ($4.20), Lake Shark ($6.70), Mr. Avalanche ($4.40) and Kaitlyn Akeeper ($3.10).

Dave McNeight III also had a driving triple and trainer Jim Graham won two on the conditioning side.

The Batavia Downs annual breast cancer awareness fundraiser, held in conjunction with the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester (BCCR), raised in excess of $6,000 for that organization. The BCCR provides support to those touched by a diagnosis of breast cancer, to make access to information and care a priority through education and advocacy, and to empower women and men to participate fully in decisions relating to breast cancer.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Aug. 5) with the first post slated for 6:15 p.m.

August 2, 2016 - 3:04pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

From Batavia Downs Media Relations:

Longtime Western New York Horseman, David A. Spaziano, of Rochester, New York, died on July 25, 2016 at age 76.

According to his family, “If we had to sum up David's life in one picture, this one says it all. Horses and horse racing were his heart and soul.”

Mr. Spaziano drove home 152 winners during his harness racing career. His trainees won over 70 races. Some of his most popular horses include Scorpion Prince and Passion Time. 

His last driving win came at Buffalo Raceway on November 12, 1997 behind Handsome Boy.

David is predeceased by Ida & Anthony Spaziano. David is survived by; daughters Laurie, Layna and Michelle; (former spouse Ann Marie Spaziano); son David (companion Gloria Jean Ricci); grandchildren Frankie, Michael, Shane and Kendra; sister Dolores (Lee) Capomaccio; and brother Al (Elaine) Spaziano. 

Celebrate David's life with a night at Batavia Downs. No calling hours.

August 1, 2016 - 3:56pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

To say Fireyourguns is a local favorite would be an understatement, but the fans made it clear Saturday night (July 30) when they sent him off at 1-9 and then watched him reply in kind by winning the $10,000 Open pacing feature at Batavia Downs.

Making his first start at the Downs this year, Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio) took control of the race by the quarter after feeling some resistance from Instant Thrill (Jim Morrill Jr.) away from the gate. Caprio then led the short field of five through fractions of :27.1, :56.4 and 1:25.3 and had a comfortable three-length advantage at the head of the stretch.  

As the leader paced for home, Knocking Around (Dave McNeight III) and Whosurpal (Todd Cummings) rallied late to make it interesting but both came up short behind Fireyourguns, who won in 1:54.3 by one-half length.

Fireyourguns ($2.10), a 7-year-old son of American Ideal-Villa Hanover, is owned by Jennifer and Robert Lowe and Terrence McClory, who also trains the gelding.

In the co-featured $9,000 Open II, Beast Mode (Michael Whelan), who competed in the North American Cup in June, left for position and then pulled again before three-quarters to take the lead by the head of the stretch. From there he powered to an impressive three-length victory in 1:55.1.

Beast Mode ($2.60) is owned by Christopher Nicol and is trained by Todd Clements.

Jim Morrill Jr. won four races on the card while Dave McNeight III scored a double. JD Perrin had a training double as well.

As was previously reported, the live racing card for Sunday (July 31) at Batavia Downs was cancelled. Live racing will resume on Wednesday (Aug. 3) with the first post set for 6:15 p.m.

July 30, 2016 - 3:49pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Down.

Submitted photo of JATO and driver Mike Caprio.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

After taking a wait and see approach, JATO (Mike Caprio) mounted a furious closing brush to capture his foes along with the winner's share of the $10,000 purse in the Open trot at Batavia Downs on Friday night (July 29).

With the morning line favorite Lutetium scratched, a short but select field of five lined up behind the gate. It was a three-horse blast to be front as Studio City (Dave McNeight III), Noble Legend (Kevin Cummings) and Lucid Thoughts (Shawn McDonough) were spread across the track. Noble Legend eventually won the argument and the field settled in for the journey.
 
The leader cut fractional times of :28.2 and:58.1 before Red Clay (Drew Monti) pulled and advanced to second by the three quarters in 1:28.1. These two then trotted side by side, stride for stride around the far turn while JATO (Mike Caprio) was winding it up from last in overdrive and began gobbling up ground. Caprio tipped three-deep at the top of the stretch and simply trotted away from the field from there, winning by two lengths in 1:58.4.
 
It was the second win in only six starts this year for JATO ($6.00) who is owned by Margaret Butler and Amy Butler and is trained by Alana Caprio.
 
In the co-featured $8,400 conditioned trot, Leave Your Mark (Todd Cummings) took a quick, early lead and dictated the first three quarters of the race. But around the last turn, Serious George (Kevin Cummings) tipped three-deep around Undercover Bro (Ray Fisher Jr.) and trotted his hips off down the lane to power by Leave Your Mark and win by one half-length in 1:59.2.
 
It was the second win of the year for Serious George, who is owned by James Palladino and trained by Richard Mays.
 
Drivers Kevin Cummings, Mike Caprio and Ray Fisher Jr. all had driving doubles and conditioner John Mungillo sent two winners to post.
 
Racing resumes on tonight (July 30) at Batavia Downs with the first post set for 6:15.
July 29, 2016 - 6:20pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

If you have a horse in a claiming race at Batavia Downs, as of Monday (July 25) you are eligible to compete for up to $20,000 if it accumulates enough points to make the final for its respective gait and class. That's because of the Batavia Downs Claiming Championship Series that is currently underway.

The point-based competition will be broken down by gait and claiming price and the accrual of points will be on a monthly basis. There is no nomination or entry fee to participate and the event is being conducted under the rules and regulations of Batavia Downs Gaming, in conjunction with the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association.

“If you predominantly race claimers, you may want to consider racing them at Batavia Downs” said Todd Haight, director/GM of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. “The Downs is offering a great earnings opportunity and with the short fields we have seen, you have a chance to accumulate solid points early in the process.”

Divisions will include $4,000, $5,000-$6,000 and $8,000-$10,000 claimers on the pace and $4,000-$5,000 and $7,500-$10,000 on the trot. Points will be awarded to the top-five finishers of each race and points will accrue monthly.

The eight horses from each class category making the final will be comprised of the top three pointer earners in August, (July 25 – Aug. 31) and September (Sept. 1- 30) and the top two point earners in October, (Oct. 1- 31). They will advance to the Nov. 12 Claiming Championships Finals.

Once a new month starts, all point earned towards the finals revert back to zero (with the exception of July, which will carry over into August).  

The $4,000 and $4,000-$5,000 categories will compete for $15,000 in the final and all other categories will vie for $20,000.

Anyone interested in racing at Batavia Downs can contact our race secretary Joe Zambito, directly at 585-344-6161 for more information or to enter your horses.

For complete rules log onto www.bataviadownsgaming.com and click the “Live Racing” tab and then the “Horsemen” tab. 

July 28, 2016 - 6:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

Press release:

Officials at Batavia Downs Gaming were forced to cancel live racing on Sunday July 31 due to the lack of entries.

The Old Fashion Day celebration scheduled for July 31 has been rescheduled to Sunday Aug. 7.

Live racing at America’s oldest lighted harness track will continue as scheduled this Friday and Saturday night with a 6:15  first race post time.

“We regret to have to cancel Sunday’s program,” Todd Haight, director/GM of Live Racing, said, “but there is currently a horse shortage in Western New York and while every effort was made by our racing department to fill Sunday’s program, those efforts proved unsuccessful."

July 28, 2016 - 1:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Photo of V'la Faire, courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs:

Despite consistent performances most of the summer, V’la Faire was lightly regarded and sent off at 5-1 when the windows closed. But she made a believer of those who backed her as she came from off the pace to beat three others by a nose in the $9,500 mares Open pace at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (July 27).   

Princess Katie (Ray Fisher Jr.) left for the lead and got it by the quarter. From there, Fisher grabbed leather as he dictated an uncontested pace and got the field to three quarters in a stodgy 1:30. The action started there when V’la Faire (Wade Tomaszewski) pulled first over with Wanna Rock N Roll (Todd Cummings) on her back.

When they hit the top of the lane, Ugly Betty (Kevin Cummings) slid-out around Princess Katie and V’la Faire and Wanna Rock N Roll fanned three and four deep. The cavalry then charged to the wire with V’la Faire getting the nod by a head in 2:00.1.

It was the third win of the season for V’la Faire ($13.40) and it pushed her bankroll to $24,169 for 2016. The 9-year-old daughter of Village Jove-Trade Fair is owned by Oakhurst Farms and trained by Richard Tomaszewski.

In the $8,000 co-featured mares Open II, Mach This Way (Todd Cummings) got away first in the short field of five and never yielded the lead. After leading the group through fractions of :28.1, :59.2 and 1:29.1, Mach This Way held off a mid-race challenge from Kaitlyn Akeeper (Dave McNeight III) and a late-race rush from Taboo Seelster (Shawn McDonough) to win by a decisive two-lengths in 2:00.

Mach This Way ($3.50) is owned by William Emmons and trained by JD Perrin.

Todd Cummings won four races on the card while Drew Monti had a double. On the conditioning side, Leonard Segall and JD Perrin both sent two horses to the winner’s enclosure.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (July 29) at 6:15.

July 26, 2016 - 1:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Mamora Bay, photo courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski​, for Batavia Downs

Local racing fans turned out in healthy numbers on opening night at Batavia Downs on Monday (July 25) to watch three $37,267 divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for 2-year-old trotting fillies and they were treated to some very exciting finishes.

In what turned out to be a real heavyweight bout, Mamora Bay proved the best over Scarey Karie after a quarter-mile, two horse breakaway in the eighth race.

Four horses left, with Scarey Karie (Phil Fluet) eventually getting the lead and going to the quarter in 30.3 while Mamora Bay (Sam Schillaci) hit the wood. Mamora Bay then pulled first-over from fifth going to the half and methodically worked her way up to the leader before they hit three quarters, and from there it was a two-horse race.

With Scarey Karie on the rail and Mamora Bay on the outside, the two trotted stride for stride around the far turn and down the stretch. The battle continued all the way to the wire with Mamora Bay ultimately claiming victory by a head in 2:03.4.

“She’s just been an incredible filly. She’s never been flashy since day one; to be honest with you we never thought she was this good. But from the first time she’s seen the starting gate she just loves what she does” said trainer/driver Sam Schillaci.

Mamora Bay ($3.70) is owned by Peter Barbato.

(Mighty Surf, photo courtesy of Paul White.)

In the first division, prohibitive 1-2 favorite Might Surf (Kevin Cummings) went right to the front and opened up a quick three-length lead. As the field moved to the quarter, Barn Bella (Claude Huckabone Jr.) who was sitting second, made a break and that allowed Hotel Royale (Chris Lems) to then claim that spot.

The field stayed pretty much the same through fractions of :30.2, 1:01.4 and 1:32.4 until just before the top of the stretch. Hotel Royale pulled and challenged the leader down the stretch, but Mighty Surf was just too tough and hung on to win by a length in 2:03.2.

"She was good tonight, maybe a little bumpy in the turns. The track was a little deep but the race was never in doubt" driver Kevin Cummings said after the race.

Mighty Surf ($3) is owned by Roy Dobbins and trained by Dennis Laterza.

The second division saw Flyhawk Charm (Chris Lems) leave sharply to take an uncontested lead as Maewegonow (Charlie Norris) was content to sit second with the trip. The girls trotted to a pedestrian 1:03.1 half before Deli-Delite (John Campbell) pulled from fourth and moved into second on the outside by the three quarters.

That challenge lasted until the top of the stretch when Deli-Delite faded just as Maewegonow was moving up the rail to mount a rally against the leader. Maewegonow and Flyhawk Charm trotted side by side down the lane, with Flyhawk Charm proving to be the best and win by a nose in 2:04.

"She's great gaited, she gives you all's she's got, she's just a nice filly. She likes horses around her and that's why she responded so well down the stretch," commented driver Chris Lems.

Flyhawk Charm ($20.20) is owned by Edward Flynn and Joe Flynn, who also trains her.

There were also three divisions of the Excelsior A series that went for $15,000 each.

Eternal Flame AS ($3.90) driven by Jim Morrill Jr. and trained by Annette Lorentzen won the first leg in 2:03.4 for owners Acl Stuteri Ab.

Billie Blue ($16) driven by Chris Lems and trained by George Ducharme was victorious in the second division in 2:04.4 for owners George Ducharme Stable, LLC, Paul Fontaine and Charles Iannazzo.

Teasin N Pleasin ($5.10) driven by John Campbell and trained by Thomas Corelli wired the third heat field in 2:05.4 for owners Edward Reich, Thomas Corelli and Fred Corelli.

John Campbell, Chris Lems and Jim Morrill Jr. all had driving doubles on the card.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday evening (July 27) at 6:15.

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