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WROTB considers proposal from horsemen to have racing in January and February at Batavia Downs

By Mike Pettinella

Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. officials are considering a proposal by the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association to conduct 15 or 16 racing dates at Batavia Downs Gaming next January and February.

“While nothing is finalized, we are receptive to the horsemen’s request to having racing here during those two months after learning that Buffalo Raceway (in Hamburg) is not planning to be open then,” WROTB President Henry Wojtaszek said. “We want to work with them as long as they will reimburse us for the expense to operate then.”

Wojtaszek informed the public benefit company’s board of directors that the WNYHHA is willing to foot the bill to race in those months in order to give its members a chance to make a living.

Normally, Buffalo Raceway is open from January through mid-July and Batavia Downs runs from mid-July through mid-December, with racing scheduled two or three nights per week.

“Buffalo is not a well-maintained facility at this point,” Wojtaszek said, adding that Batavia’s track is able to handle the additional racing. He estimated that it would cost around $300,000 for the proposed racing dates in the first two months of next year.

He said a decision is expected later this month or in July.

Racing returns to Batavia Downs on July 20 and, currently, is set to run through Dec. 17.

A call to Bruce Tubin, WNYHHA president, was not returned at the time of the posting of this story.

In other developments, Wojtaszek reported the following:

  • WROTB will pay half of the $75,000 cost of new rubber rolled matting for the harness horse stalls, with the WNYHHA taking care of the other half.

The material – 28 sheets of rubber matting, 4 feet wide and 200 feet long – is being purchased from RubberForm Recycled Products LLC of Lockport, the low bidder.

  • WROTB will pay $30,000 to Benderson Development LLC of Buffalo to use the former Kmart lot for additional parking from June 1 through Aug. 31. Wojtaszek said a portion of the lot will be fenced off when construction of the new Starbucks along Route 63 begins.

Starbucks and another retail restaurant will be built on the parking lot in the coming months.

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