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August 3, 2021 - 7:36am
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

Press release:

The New York Sire Stakes will make their final visit to Batavia Downs for 2021 on Wednesday (Aug. 4) and will feature 2-year-old trotting colts competing for a total of $101,700 in purses. There will be a total of 13 going postward in two divisions and trotters from the stable of Hall of Fame trainer Linda Toscano are favored in each. 

In the first $51,300 division, Grand Spa has been tabbed the 2-1 favorite by the track handicapper and starts from post two. 

Grand Spa (E L Titan-Day At The Spa) has raced exclusively in the NYSS this year and has a win and two seconds to show for his efforts. The win was a lifetime mark of 1:57 taken at Vernon Downs where he won by 1-1/2 lengths. Last week at Tioga over a wet track he made a break off the gate and although he salvaged a second-place finish from the rough start, he futilely chased a runaway winner in Cool Papa Bell who was off by 7-1/4 lengths. He’s spotted well in here with the inside draw and looks like the one to beat. 

Scotty Zeron will be aboard Grand Spa once again this week. 

Quincy Market (E L Titan-Dance To Market) could possibly be the horse to beat Grand Spa because he did it on June 28 when he won an NYSS event at Yonkers in 2:00. Since then he has a second and third in series action but has also been trotting faster in those subsequent starts, albeit over larger tracks. Quincy Market has gate speed and likes the front and that should bode well for him here. The question that remains is can he close it out?

Corey Callahan leaves from post six with Quincy Market for trainer John Butenschoen and they have been made 3-1 morning line. 

The second division is worth $50,400 and the Toscano/Zeron tandem has Molotov Cocktail, which will start from post five and is listed as the favorite at 2-1 morning line. 

Molotov Cocktail (Chapter Seven-Moonlight Cocktail) copied his stablemate Grand Spa by taking an identical 1:57 lifetime mark at Vernon Downs on the same night but found himself up against a buzz-saw named Justice at Tioga last week who won in 1:55.4 there, which was the fastest of three splits. Molotov Cocktail raced well in that event and in fact, was race timed in an identical best 1:57, but finished fourth beaten six lengths. This field looks a bit more equal speed-wise so he should be very effective. 

The very close second choice at 5-2 is Velvet Style (Credit winner-Velvet’s Katie Bug) who tripped out behind that same Justice mile last week but couldn’t catch him either. However, Velvet Style did finish second and was race timed in 1:56.4, which was the fastest he has trotted all year. And Velvet Style is the only two-time winner in 2021 of the 13 entered in Wednesday’s stake. The horse can leave and this looks like a spot where he might. 

Jason Bartlett will drive Velvet Style from post six for trainer Mark Ford, who reached a milestone 4,000th training win on Sunday (Aug. 1). 

There are also two $15,000 Excel A races and one $6,500 Excel B race on the card Wednesday. Post time for the first race is 5 p.m.

August 2, 2021 - 2:20pm
posted by Press Release in Bowling, sports.

Press release:

The Genesee Region USBC Board of Directors has scheduled meetings for league secretaries to pick up supplies for the 2021-22 season for Tuesday, Aug. 10 at Rose Garden Bowl in Bergen and Thursday, Aug. 12 at Mount Morris Lanes. Both meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m.

The meeting in Bergen is set up for secretaries at the following bowling centers: Medina Lanes, Oak Orchard Bowl in Albion, Mancuso Bowling Center in Batavia, Legion Lanes in Le Roy and Rose Garden Bowl.

The meeting in Mount Morris is set up for secretaries from Mount Morris Lanes, Perry Bowling Center, Livingston Lanes in Geneseo and Letchworth Pines in Portageville.

Association Manager Mike Pettinella will have kits prepared for the secretaries and will go over different areas of the GRUSBC program, including changes for the coming season.  New President Mike Johnson also plans to be at the meetings.

League secretaries of record will be notified by telephone later this week.

August 2, 2021 - 1:17pm
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

Press release:

As a result of the heady drive by Shawn McDonough, Mugshots Bro made quick work of his competition and won the $11,200 Open Handicap trot at Batavia Downs on Sunday afternoon (Aug. 1). 

Mugshots Bro started widest in the scratch-shortened field of five and darted off the car and got the lead with no opposition at all. After scooting to the quarter in :28.3, McDonough grabbed leather and stifled the second panel to :30.3 as no one was mounting an attack. The four followers continued to do so around turn three and up the backstretch to the three-quarters where Mike Caprio finally pulled right line on All About Thechase from third and tried to advance, but Mugshots Bro had a 2-1/4 length lead at that point and maintained it around the last turn. As they headed down the lane All About Thechase and CR Blazin Beauty (Kevin Cummings) trotted sharply and did cut into the margin, but Mugshots Bro had the jump and wouldn’t be caught, crossing on top by 3/4’s of a length in 1:57.1. 

It was the first Open class victory of the year at Batavia Downs for Mugshots Bro ($3.80) and fifth Open of the year overall. With this win the 9-year-old gelded son of Jailhouse Jesse-Photo Emmy broke the quarter-million dollar mark and now boasts $252,046 in earnings for owners Herman Niedhammer Jr. and Herman Niedhammer. Shawn McDonough also trains the winner. 

McDonough ended the day with a training/driving double after winning with Best Ears (1:58, $3.00) in the 10th race. 

In the $10,000 Open II trot, Lunar Credit pulled off the upset after being a loose leader in a wire to wire win timed in 1:58.4. Trained by Jim McNeight, Lunar Credit is owned and driven by Jim McNeight Jr. and paid $14.40 to win. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday at 5 p.m. and there are several events of note for that session. 

The New York Sire Stakes will be in town with the 2-year-old trotting colts division going for a total purse of $101,700. 

And there is a $1,516 carryover in the Pick-5 wager that starts in the first race. Batavia Downs will be offering a guaranteed $5,000 pool for that wager in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program. That means free program pages for the first five races will be available starting Monday at ustrotting.com under the handicapping tab and at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab. 

And don’t forget that free full card past performance programs are always available for download for every live racing night at Batavia Downs at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab.

August 1, 2021 - 3:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in golf, sports.
Event Date and Time: 
August 22, 2021 - 8:00am to 5:40pm

The money raised will be donated to Crossroads House and also to fund a culinary scholarship created in memory of Chef Russell Bugbee who passed away in 2010. Deadline for registration is Aug 13th. Forms may be picked up at Alex’s Restaurant, 8322 Park Road, Batavia.

August 1, 2021 - 3:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in golf, sports.
Event Date and Time: 
August 19, 2021 - 8:00am to 5:00pm

Join us on Thursday, Aug 19th for the 21st Annual Van Hulburt Memorial Golf Tournament organized by Hesperus Lodge #837. This event is in memory of Van Hulburt, who was a much-loved local teacher and golf coach. One of his former students, Aaron J. McAdam, will be the guest speaker. “AJ” started his golf career in the 90’s and not only westernized the game in Europe, he also established two golf academies there. The deadline to register your team is Aug 9th.

August 1, 2021 - 3:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

Press release:

Thor De Vie left a string of second-place finishes behind and got back to his winning ways after out-muscling a solid field of six in the $11,200 Open I Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (July 31).

It was Katy-bar-the-door horse racing in the night’s feature race as four horses left and no one would give way. It was Thor De Vie (Dave McNeight III) on the point on the pegs, Windsong Jack (Ray Fisher Jr.) one out and even, Endeavors Pride (Kevin Cummings) behind Thor De Vie and Surfer Beach (Jim Morrill Jr.) behind Windsong Jack. These four paced as a pack through fractions of: 27.4 and: 56.4 and continued the same past the five-eighths marker.

As the group headed up the backstretch, the outer flow began to lose touch and Endeavors Pride finally had room to roam. Cummings pulled Endeavors Pride approaching the three-quarters and hooked up with the leader. Endeavors Pride got as close as Thor De Vie’s wheel but getting closer was hard to do. Thor De Vie swelled up at the head of the stretch and held off the challenge as well as one from a late-closing Stranger Things (Kyle Cummings) to win by a neck in 1:54.3.

It was the fourth win of the year for Thor De Vie ($10.20) who is owned by Jim Graham, Lee Winters, Paul Tandlmayer, and Giuseppie Micchia. Jim Graham also trains the winner. 

The $10,000 Open II pace went to Lord Willoughby A who was catch-driven by Ray Fisher Jr. for owner/trainer Larry Stalbaum. Fisher sat chilly in the garden spot for seven-eighths of a mile while Catch A Lefty A (Mike Baumeister) dictated the pace, walking to the half in 59 before tapping the gas in a:27.4 third panel. But Lord Willoughby A kept uptight as the pace increased and when Fisher tipped him coming off the last turn, Lord Willoughby A paced hard down the lane and he caught Catch A Lefty A at the line to win by only a nose in 1:55.2. 

After scoring his fourth win of the year, Lord Willoughby A returned $5.40. 

Jim Morrill Jr. led all drivers on Saturday with three wins and trainers Jenn Giuliani, Gerry Sarama, and Lee Dahn all had two wins apiece. 

July 30, 2021 - 1:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, batavia, muckdogs, notify.


The collegiate-player version of the Batavia Muckdogs finished out its inaugural season in a way that was rare when professional ballplayers passed through town -- with a stadium full of fans excited to see a team they embraced in 2021 because the team embraced this city.

"It’s been great," said Tom Turnbull, a regular Dwyer Stadium visitor, and local community leader. "You can see the spirit, the vibe, the college kind of rah-rah that the players have and it’s carried over into the stands. People are just happy to have the Muckdogs back. It’s just been a wonderful year. They’ve been a part of the community and when you go to a concession stand and the owner is working the cash register, you know they’re invested in the city. It’s been fantastic."

For a Thursday evening, the stands were packed and there was a palatable excitement in the air.

"We’re thrilled, my wife and I pleasantly surprised," said owner Robbie Nichols during a conversation at a table where fans were bidding on player jerseys. "You can sea from the crowd tonight the support we’ve recieved. We had a short season to put it together. You’ll see next season, this place will be packed every night."

The reason for the success, Nichols noted, is the team -- not just Nichols and management staff, but coaches and players -- have gotten involved in the community over the past couple of months, in a way the pro players of the previous era never did.

Community is what is also about Nichols said.

"We always say, my wife and I are the holders of the keys but this is a community team," Nichols said. "You see people over there in line, talking, having a beer, people bringing their grandkids to the game, and that’s what it’s all about.  It’s America’s game. It’s about bringing your family to the ballpark and Batavia answered the bell and this crowd is amazing."

Community is a big reason Nichols announced before last night's game that he's offering Coach Joey Martinez and two-year extension on his contract.

"It’s community first," Nichols said. "Wins and losses are important but it’s how we are out in the community, attending events and doing things. I think our team did a great job this year and we want to continue that. That’s what I want to continue. I like working out in the community helping everybody we can especially special olympics, challenger division baseball, the parades we did, reading to people, the veterans, all the stuff we did, that’s what I’m most excited about."

The players enjoyed the year, too.  Players who have more college eligibility after this season have said they want to come back to Batavia next year.  That will go a long way building a stronger baseball organization.  Martinez only had a short time after the Muckdogs joined the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League to recruit players and few potential players knew anything about Batavia. After this season, Nichols noted, that will change. He said this year's players will go back to their schools and tell the best players on their teams, "you want to go to Batavia."

“I think the team is really going to improve next year," Nichols said.

This year, the Muckdogs finished just out of the running for a playoff spot with a final record of 22-19, one game behind Geneva for the coveted second playoff spot of the Western Division. If not for a rainout and some rescheduling confusion with Geneva, maybe the Muckdogs would have had a better shot at the playoffs, but last night's loss to Niagara wouldn't have helped matters.

Starter Julian Pichardo, who has been the ace of the staff this season, got hurt by three first inning errors and gave up a couple of solid base hits allowing Niagara to score three first-inning runs.  Pichardo battled through 3 1/3 innings giving up four hits, three runs (only one earned), and striking out two.  He finishes with a 4-2 record and a 2.46 ERA.

Abner Benitez had a big night at the plate going 3-5 and driving in five runs.  He finishes the year with a .282 BA and 27 RBIs.

"Next year going to have win early and win often (to make the playoffs)," Nichols said.

Photos by Philip Casper. Top photo: Dewey wishing there was more Muckdogs’ baseball in Batavia this year.


Young fans at Dwyer catching some up close pregame action while the players warm up.


Charlie Szykowny & Julian Pichardo


Coach Jose ’Skip’ Martinez after being offered a 2-year contract extension by Robbie Nichols



Charlie Szykowny 


Dancing on the dugout with Dewey


Blair Frederick charging towards first after a successful bunt


Blair Frederick crossing home plate 


Daniel Burroway


Julian Pichardo thanks the fans as he walks off the field for the last time in 2021

July 29, 2021 - 1:58pm
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.


Press release:

The New York Sire Stakes visited Batavia Downs on Wednesday (July 28) with both genders of 3-year-old pacers competing in four divisions for a total of $225,000. With excellent efforts put in by the entire group, Town Gossip stole the show as he tied the track record for 3-year-old pacing geldings with an impressive 1:52.2 effort. 

Joe Bongiorno and Town Gossip (American Ideal-Fibbertigibbet) battled with Major Bean (Matt Kakaley) to the quarter but got the lead by that pole in :27.3 and from there, he just kept going. With no one pulling right lines until the five-eighths, Southwind Petyr (Jason Bartlett) made the first move and could only advance to second on the rim at the three-quarters where the clock showed 1:24.1. Town Gossip started to pull away in the final bend and when they hit the stretch, he swelled up and paced away to a 2-1/4 length win in 1:52.2, which equaled the track record for 3-year-old pacing geldings. 

“The best two horses were on the outside so I wasn’t sure how it was going to shape up. Jason (Bartlett, driving Southwind Petyr) dropped in the three-hole and I went to the front. My horse is usually lazy but today on the front he kept to his task on his own pretty well. I knew the horse from behind would give me a run but we didn’t have to go a crazy third quarter and he was pretty wrapped up at the wire,” said Bongiorno.  

It was the third straight win for Town Gossip ($3.50) and it pushed his earnings for this year to $91,588 for owner Robert Weinstein. Jenn Bongiorno trains the winner. 

The other group of colts and geldings saw the 2-year-old NYSS male pacing champion, King James Express (Art Major-More Diamonds), make a statement for more year-end laurels this year. 

I’ll Drink To That (Jim Morrill Jr.) was a strong leaver and dictated the pace for most of the mile. After a speedy: 27.1 quarter, Morrill backed down the next two panels substantially and that’s when King James Express (Jason Bartlett) pulled from third and started to advance. As they went around the last turn, King James Express was wearing down I’ll Drink To That and when they hit the stretch, King James Express had the better foot and paced to the wire with a ½ length victory in 1:53.4.

“In a well-timed move with him he’s pretty fast and he’s great with a target. So I always have to make sure he has a target. When I moved him I thought I was a winner. He’s been getting better and better every start since he qualified this spring and with his progress, he should be very good for the final,” said Bartlett. 

King James Express ($6.50) won his second straight and now has banked $81,605 this year for owners Mark Harder, Deena Frost, Wayne Carleton and Dean Lockhart. Harder also trains the winner. 

The definite star of the entire filly division was Heart Of Mine (Roll With Joe-Aquavella) who claimed her eighth win of the year in the easiest of fashion.

Scotty Zeron left and floated his way to the lead in :28.2 and cleared just past that station. With no opposition from there, he backed down the half to :58.1 and the race was basically over at that point. Heart Of Mine continued on the second circuit and maintained a 1-¾ length lead up the backstretch, around the last turn and heading into the stretch where she extended it to almost three. Down the lane Zeron had Heart Of Mine wrapped up and pacing with authority to win in 1:53.4 at the beam. 

“She’s pretty nice. She’s extremely professional out there so she can position herself, good gaited so she gets around the turns well and she’s so easy to drive. She’s doing it pretty easy right now and she’s not breaking a sweat so we’ll see how she is going forward,” said Zeron. 

Hall of Famer Linda Toscano trains Heart Of Mine ($2.40) for owners The Bay’s Stable, Radio Racing Stable, Fred Wallace and the Camelot Stable. The filly now has $176,916 made this year and went to $308,331 lifetime in only 20 starts. 

The first filly division went to Summer Rae (Roll With Joe-Solar Eclipse) who put in another solid effort. 

Bartlett went right for the lead with Summer Rae and looked very strong on the point. The field followed single-file through fractions of :27.3, :56.3 and 1:24.4, with Party Queen (Matt Kakaley) tracking from second. Kakaley pulled off the far turn and charged the leader in the stretch. But Summer Rae hung tough and won by 1/4 of a length in 1:54. 

“She got a little hot on me on the second turn and third turn, so I was a little bit concerned with that. So we were going more than we were forced to go and at the wire, she got a little tired, But in the lane she hung pretty tough once the horses got to her so I was pretty pleased with that,” said Bartlett. 

It was the third win in the last five starts for Summer Rae ($3.60) and owners Kathleen Whitaker, Charles Rowe, Paul Land and Tom Fanning, who also trains the filly. 

Besides winning two of the four NYSS events, Bartlett also won two Excel A divisions to register the Grand Slam on the night.

July 27, 2021 - 2:19pm
posted by Press Release in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs, NYSS, 3-year-old pacers.

Above, Jason Bartlett steers Town Gossip out front.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs begins the second week of their meet on Wednesday (July 28) and the New York Sire Stakes will once again be in town. This time it’s a two-for-one deal as both male and female divisions of 3-year-old pacers will convene at the Genesee County track for a total purse of $225,000. With the Excel A and B races also carded, the money distributed by the NYSS alone on Wednesday is $319,800.

Looking at ladies first, eight will go postward in their first division for $58,000. Summer Rae (Roll With Joe-Solar Eclipse) kicked off her stake season well, scoring a win and a second in three NYSS starts. And in between she took a speedy 1:53 lifetime mark at Yonkers in an overnight event. The filly is the top money winner in this race, drew post one and looks to have all the advantages.

Trainer Tom Fanning has her regular driver Jason Bartlett up and has been tabbed 5-2 by the track handicapper.

Think Of Galaxies (So Surreal-Lightning D Dube) looked sharp in winning back to back starts in overnight races at the Meadowlands in June, including her lifetime best 1:51.3 mile. In her last start in NYSS action at Yonkers, she left from post seven and tripped-out to finish second behind Test Of Faith, who won in 1:52.2. She gets major post relief here as she moves into post three.

Jim Morrill Jr. will drive for trainer John Mc Dermott and starts at 3-1.

The second $57,000 split has seven starters and Heart Of Mine (Roll With Joe-Aquavella) is the prohibitive favorite.

Heart Of Mine has won seven races out of eight starts this year and her only loss was to Test Of Faith in the $150,000 final of the Park MGM stake at Yonkers, in what was then a battle of the unbeatens. Heart Of Mine bounced back last week and won in NYSS action with her seasonal best effort of 1:53.3. The filly likes the front and that should be easily attainable from post four.

Hall of Fame trainer Linda Toscano sends the 7-5 Heart Of Mine out with Scott Zeron in the bike.

Tava (American Ideal-Major Harmony) who starts from post one, will be looking to capitalize with a trip and should sit the pocket here. Although she only has one win in seven 2021 starts, Tava has not missed the board since her first start of the year and that includes three NYSS starts. Her win was a 1:53 jogger at Harrah’s Philly in an overnight event which was her lifetime mark. She’s spotted well here and has a chance to close the deal. 

Matt Kakaley drives the 3-1 Tava for trainer Scott DiDomenico.

The colts and geldings are split into two five-horse, $55,000 fields and both have prohibitive co-favorites.

The first group features I’ll Drink To That at 7-5 and King James Express at 8-5.

I'll Drink To That (American Ideal-Margarita Monday) got his first NYSS win this year at Buffalo in June before heading into the Messenger Stake at Yonkers. He fared well in the elimination where he cut the mile and finished second to Abuckabett Hanover in 1:51.3. In the final he got away third and after racing covered, got out coming off the last turn but could not advance on the leading American Courage who won in 1:51.4 over the off track.

Jim Morrill Jr. drove him to victory at Buffalo and is back up for this outing for trainer Chris Ryder.

King James Express (Art Major-More Diamonds) was the NYSS 2-year-old male pacing champion last year and earned $209,201 for the season, and after a slower start this year seems to be rounding into form now. After a third place finish to I’ll Drink To That in the first NYSS event at Buffalo, King James Express raced three overnight conditioned events where he showed good closing speed. His last start was back in the NYSS at Saratoga where he went his season’s best mile of 1:53.3 in victory with Jason Bartlett aboard. He draws post one here and will be dangerous.

Bartlett is back in the driver’s seat for trainer Mark Harder.

The second quintet also has co-favorites with Southwind Petyr tabbed at 8-5 and Town Gossip at 9-5.

Southwind Peytr has two second place finishes in NYSS this year, but they bookend two outstanding overnight wins that include a 1:50.1 career best at the Meadowlands in June and followed that up with a 1:52.4 win at Yonkers over an off track. The competition here is stiff, facing off against Town Gossip who beat him in their last start. But Southwind Peytr did finish ahead of Town Gossip earlier this year when he placed at Buffalo. Southwind Peytr drew wideset in here, but there are only five at the gate.

Jason Bartlett steers for trainer Mark Harder. 

Town Gossip has come on very strong lately and enters this race razor sharp. After winning an overnight at Yonkers in a lifetime best 1:52.4 by 2-½ lengths, Town Gossip shipped to Saratoga and fired a 1:51.1 mile at the competition. He sat with cover behind Southwind Petyr who tangled with I’ll Drink To That in a :26.4 third quarter before finding room in the lane to win by ¾’s of a length. The time lowered his personal best again and bodes well for his chances in this race.

Joe Bongiorno will drive for sister Jenn Bongiorno and will start from post four.

There are also a total of five $15,000 Excel A races and three $6,600 Excel B events on the card, two of which will go as non-betting races before the pari-mutuel card begins. Post time for the first non-betting event is 4:30 p.m. and the regular card kicks off at 5 p.m.

Top photo of Town Gossip courtesy of Melissa Simser-Iovino.

July 26, 2021 - 1:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Youth Baseball, batavia, sports, baseball.


The Batavia Twins became the 10U baseball champions yesterday beating the Batavia Mets 7-2.

The Twins were 3-2 going into the sixth inning and then added on four more runs to seal the deal. 

"Congratulations to both teams on a great season!" said Twins Assistant Coach John Caleb.

Photo and info submitted by John Caleb.

July 26, 2021 - 1:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, baseball, Baseball Muckdogs.


Nathan Hinkley, a senior at Keystone College, spun a gem and the Batavia offense scored runs in bunches leading an early exit from Dwyer Stadium for the first-place Jamestown Tarp Skunks.

The Skunks got skunked 12-0.

Hinkley (2-5) pitched all seven innings of the truncated game while giving up only three hits and issuing only two walks.  

Cameron Conley, playing second base, raised his season average to .270 with three hits.He also knocked in four runs and scored twice while also drawing a walk.

Jerry Reinhart was 2-2 with an RBI and run scored. 

Shortstop Charlie Szykowny has been on a tear recently. He was 2-4 with an RBI and scored two runs. He's now hitting .331.

The Muckdogs are now 21-18 on the season and are in second place, a half-game ahead of the Geneva Red Wings in the battle for a playoff spot. The team has two games left. They play Jamestown (27-14) again on Wednesday in Jamestown and Niagara at home at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday to close out the regular season.

To view or purchase photos, click here.

Photos by Steve Ognibene.












July 25, 2021 - 11:07am
posted by Press Release in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs has announced that with the approval of the New York State Gaming Commission, the special twilight card of live harness racing that was originally scheduled for Monday (July 26) has been canceled due to a lack of entries.

Racing will resume at the Downs on Wednesday (July 28) at 5 p.m. as was originally scheduled. That night will feature the New York Sire Stakes 3-year-old colt and filly pacers.

July 24, 2021 - 10:14pm
posted by Press Release in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

It was the first Saturday night (July 24) card of the meet at Batavia Downs and driver Jim Morrill Jr. and trainer Maria Rice put on a clinic on the track for the fans in the stands.  

Morrill had a natural Grand Slam in races six, seven, eight and nine and Rice had a natural Hat Trick in races seven, eight and nine and between the pair, they swept the top three feature races of the night. 

In the $11,200 Open I Handicap pace, Morrill sent Art Scene to the front and never looked back. Cutting fractions of :27.4, :56 and 1:24.1 with as much as a three length lead, Art Scene turned for home looking solid. But Endeavors Pride (Kevin Cummings) had been tracking the leader from the pocket and left that spot for the stretch drive. Endeavors Pride cut into the 1-½ length deficit as Cummings drove him down the lane, but Art Scene had enough in the tank and hit the beam in front by a neck in 1:53.4.

Art Scene ($2.80) got his first win for his new owners Team Rice Racing, who claimed the gelding at Yonkers in June for $25,000. 

In the $10,000 Open II pace, Morrill sent Surfer Beach down the road from post one and led a field that stayed single-file for most of the mile. With Stratosphere (Drew Monti) on his back, Surfer Beach got to three-quarters in 1:26.3 and his lead never looked in doubt. Stratosphere took a shot at him down the lane but couldn’t get closer than his bike in the :28 last quarter and Surfer Beach won by 1-¼ lengths in 1:54.3. 

Surfer Beach ($3.90) is another new acquisition for the Rice stable, as he was privately purchased on July 16 by his new owners Vogel and Wags Nags Stable, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock.

The sweep was finalized with the $9,000 Open III victory by JM’s Delight. Morrill was parked out over a quarter mile to get the lead before opting to yield it back to Reggiano (Ray FIsher Jr.) who hung him originally. Reggiano backed down the half but hastened the pace to three-quarters, getting there in 1:26.3. The whole time JM’s Delight was raging with pace in the two-hole just begging to get out. Morrill gave him that chance off the last turn and JM’s Delight went right on by to win by ½ length in 1:55.1. 

It was the second win in a row for JM’s Delight ($4.30) who is owned by Greg Merton. 

Morrill rounded out his four win night with Lucky King (1:57.1, $6.50).

There was another dynamic trio making hay at the Downs on Saturday. Driver Kevin Cummings, trainer Gerry Sarama and owner Mike Torcello teamed up to send three horses to the Purple Haze winner’s circle, Their Hat Trick consisted of Percy’s Z Tam (1:54.1, $5.60), Dondoubtthelakers (1:57.2, $10.40) and B’sYankee (1:54.4, $8.70). 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Sunday (July 25) with a matinee card that starts at 1:15 p.m.

July 23, 2021 - 2:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, baseball, sports, batavia.


Batavia hitters unloaded on Newark pitchers Thursday evening in an offensive onslaught that included a grand slam home run by shortstop Charlie Szykowny (top and bottom photos).

Szykowny went 2-2 raising his season average to .311. The big blast was Szykowny's first HR of the season. 

Batavia native Jerry Reinhart was 2-3, scoring twice.

The Muckdogs won 11-1 lifting the team's recored to 19-17. Batavia is in third place, a half-game behind the Geneva Red Wings with six games to go in the regular season. 

Blair Frederick was the winning pitcher, going five and a third innings, giving up only two hits, walking one and whiffing eight.

The Muckdogs' final home games of the regular season are tonight at 7 against Jamestown, Sunday at 4:05 p.m. also against Jamestown, and Thursday, 7:05 p.m., against Niagara Power. Jamestown is in first place in the Western Division with a record of 26-12.

Photos by Philip Casper.


David Chua throwing out the first pitch.


Blair Frederick



Daniel Burroway 


Jerry Reinhart with a head-first slide into second base after a line drive into right field.


Reinhart scores.


July 22, 2021 - 2:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports, batavia, video.
Video Sponsor

Press release:

Batavia Downs welcomed a large crowd of live fans back to the track on Wednesday (July 21) as they opened their 2021 live racing season and the New York Sire Stakes were in town to put on the show.

Thirteen 2-year-old filly trotters went postward in two divisions for a total of $101,700 in purses and the two best of this group remained perfect lifetime. 

In the first $51,300 seven-horse division, the undefeated Bomb Hugger (Chapter Seven-Stylemaker) ran her streak to three consecutive wins after tripping-out the entire mile. 

Iluvmymiumiu’s (Andrew McCarthy) took control off the pylons while Bomb Hugger (Anthony Macdonald) left from mid-pack and tucked second at the pegs. After cutting fractions of :28.4, :59 and 1:28.3, Pioneer AS (Jim Morrill Jr.) made her way to second on the outside and then drew even with the leader.

However, coming off the last turn Pioneer AS broke, giving Bomb Hugger a clear lane to the outside. Macdonald pulled the filly and she responded willingly. Bomb Hugger trotted quickly by Iluvmymiumiu’s and drew clear by 1-½ lengths at the line in 1:58.2. 

Bomb Hugger ($5.40) is now two-for-two in NYSS action. The filly is owned by Thestable Bomb Hugger Group and is trained by Ryan Swift. 

A group of six lined up for $50,400 in the second round and Gertrude (Devious Man-Ophelia) became the second filly of the night to remain unbeaten.

Following the pattern of the first division, the rail sitter Seven On The Rocks (John Stark Jr.) left hard while the heavily favored Gertrude (Andy Miller) darted from post five and dropped in the garden spot. While the race proceeded in single file fashion through somewhat pedestrian quarters of :30.2, 1:01.1 and 1:31.1, Seven On The Rocks looked strong heading into the last turn.

But Gertrude had other ideas when Miller tipped her off the pylons. Gertrude got almost even with Seven On The Rocks at the top of the stretch but couldn’t quite get by the stubborn leader. The two battled heartily to the beam where Gertrude finally got a slight advantage and won by a ¼ length in 1:59.3, with a swift :28.2 final panel. 

Now two-for-two lifetime, Gertrude ($3.10) is owned by the Andy Miller Stable and is trained by Julie Miller.

It was Miller Time at Batavia Downs on Wednesday as Andy Miller led all drivers with three wins on the card while wife Julie Miller led all trainers by sending two from her stable to the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle.

There were also three $15,000 Excel A divisions also contested and they were won by Adjure Hanover (Chapter Seven-Anonyme Hanover 1:59.4, $2.70), New Year’s Eve (Credit Winner-Sweetest Zete 2:03.2, $10.60) and Soundsofsilence AS (Conway Hall-Shutupandholdon AS 2:00.3, $16.20).

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (July 24) with post time at 6 p.m. Free full card past performance forms can be downloaded for all live race dates at bataviadownsgaming.com or on the Batavia Downs Facebook page.

July 21, 2021 - 4:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, Le Roy, motocross, Joey Spadaro, notify, Pavilion.


The first time he saw it, the first time he went to the motocross track in Pavilion, there was something about the speed, the dust, the bikes flying over hills, the racing, that made then 8-year-old Joey Spadaro tell his dad, "I want to do that."

Seven years later, Joseph Spadaro says of his son, "He's a beast on the bike. A hard worker. Super competitive. He absolutely hates to lose. He will go above and beyond most boys, most men, because he doesn't like to be behind anybody."

That competitive spirit has won Spadaro his second trip to the Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., starting on Aug. 2.

"That’s the most fun event," said Joey, who is now 15 and in the 10th grade at Le Roy High School. "Everyone there is fast. Everyone there knows what they’re doing. A bunch of people. The atmosphere is cool."

Joey didn't win his first race -- at Area 51 -- when he was 8 but he figures he's won more than 400 races in the local area since. He made it to the national event by finishing in the top six at the regional meet in Unadilla, NY. At that event, Joey ran three races coming in fourth, first, and ninth, for a fourth-place overall finish.

His father figures that makes Joey one of the 40 best in his class in the nation as he heads off to nationals.

"He's been a gear-head since he was tiny," Spadaro said. "He never rode a bike. He went from walking to riding a dirt bike. He never rode a bicycle until he was already riding a dirt bike. From his first race it was like, 'Woah, you already know how to do this.' "

Before this season, Joey raced in Class C and won more titles than he can count both at home and away. He's moved up a class and will be able to race in that class for two seasons.

Before going to Pavilion, Joey said, he had training wheels on his 50cc dirt bike. Those quickly came off after Pavilion and he took off to the races.

"I just thought it was really cool," Joey said. "I never thought I would be as good as the people I watched and it turned out I became better than the people I was watching."

He now runs a KTM 125 and a KTM 250.

During the off-season this year, Joey will travel to Chesterfield, S.C., where he will train at a motocross club. That off-season training is what helps elevate Joey to a pro-level rider, Spadaro said.

"If he can train in the off-season like the pros do, I think he can be a pro at a higher level," Spadaro said.

Yes, Joey does want to race dirt bikes for a living. It's what he loves to do and he loves to win.

"I enjoy it because I'm good at it," Joey said. "It's just fun to be good at something you love to do."



July 20, 2021 - 1:44pm

Photo of Gertrude by Melissa Simser-Lovino.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

When Batavia Downs opens their 2021 harness racing season on Wednesday (July 21), the card will be highlighted by a visit from the New York Sire Stakes and the 2-year-old trotting filly division. Post time for the first race is 6 p.m.

Thirteen first-year trotters will go postward in two divisions for a total purse of $101,700. It’s the second of five stops on their schedule this year leading up to the Night of Champions at Yonkers Raceway on Friday (Sept. 10).

The first $51,300 division is in race seven and seven starters are programmed to go. The morning line favorite is the undefeated Bomb Hugger (Chapter Seven-Stylemaker) who will start from post five at 2-1. 

After breaking her maiden at the Meadows last month in her first lifetime start with a 1:58.4, 7-3/4 length romp, Bomb Hugger made her NYSS debut at Saratoga on July 6 a winning one with a wire to wire effort in a lifetime best 1:58.2. Despite a very brief body of work, she appears to have the best resume in this field at this time. 

Anthony Macdonald will drive for trainer Ryan Swift and owner Thestable Bomb Hugger Group. 

She’s A Scorcher (Chapter Seven-Chilitodayhotamale) made her first ever start in the NYSS division at Saratoga and was faced with post seven and chasing a runaway winner in Joviality S, who went a torrid mile in 1:56.4. She’s A Scorcher was out at the half and gave chase, but understandably tired late in the race. With that experience behind her, She’s A Scorcher can improve here from post two and is listed at 7-2.

Hall of Fame trainer Linda Toscano has Scott Zeron in the bike for owner Ryan Smith. 

Iluvmymiumiu’s (Chapter Seven-Iluvmyjimmychoos) made her first lifetime start in an Excel A event at Saratoga and didn’t disappoint at all. She came from off the pace with a strong stretch drive and won by 3/4 of a length in a timely 1:58.3. Although moving up the the top NYSS division, Iluvmymiumiu’s will definitely be formidable competition from post one at 4-1. 

Brad Grant owns the Tony Alagna trained filly that will be driven by Andrew McCarthy.

In the second $50,400 division, Gertrude (Devious Man-Ophelia) has been labeled the 8-5 favorite on the strength of an impressive debut. 

Gertrude won a strong 1:55.4 qualifier at the Meadowlands in mid-June and crossed the wire five lengths in front of her competition. Then she won her first lifetime and stake start at Saratoga in an equally impressive wire-to-wire, 1-1/4 length win in 1:57.4, with a :28.3 final panel. She does move out to post five here after two consecutive starts at the pylons, but that doesn’t appear to be a hindrance to her chances in this race. 

It’s all Team Orange Crush connections here with Andy Miller driving and Julie Miller training for owner the Andy Miller Stable. 

Former local favorite John Stark Jr. returns to Batavia with the 5-2 second choice Seven On The Rocks (Chapter Seven-Spicedbourbongirl) who sat the pocket the entire mile behind Gertrude in her win, and just wasn’t able to catch her in the stretch. But that was then and this is now. It looks like a similar trip is in the future and Seven On The Rocks fortunes could certainly change from post one. 

Stark both trains and drives for owners Mortgage Boys Stable, James De Armond, Peter Barbado and Sam Bova. 

Cranberry Lake (Devious Man-Ann’s Promise) won a maiden race at Saratoga her first lifetime start in 2:01 with a solid :28.4 last quarter. In her NYSS start the following week over the same track she went a fast mile, trotting in 1:59.2, but a slower final split of :29.4 to finish third. She looks to bring her best in here and is listed at 4-1 from post three. 

Trainer George Ducharme has Scott Zeron up to drive for owner David Firmstone. 

There are also three divisions of the Excel A series going for $15,000 each and two Excel B splits competing for $6,600 apiece. 

Free full-card past performance forms are available for download every race day at Batavia Downs by visiting www.bataviadownsgaming.com > Live Racing > Free Full Card Past Performances.

July 20, 2021 - 1:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in hockey, sports, schools, news, batavia, Notre Dame, Batavia United.


A Batavia City School District trustee who held up approval of a merger between the Batavia and Notre Dame hockey teams at the district's school board meeting on Thursday afternoon met with the schools' athletic directors and coaches and said he had his questions answered and looks forward to the agreement being on the board's next agenda.

The Batavian has attempted to clarify with John Marucci that his statement means he intends to vote in favor of the merger but he has not responded to two emails.

Three Four other members of the board have responded to emails and said they intend to support the measure. One hasn't responded.

Previously, The Batavian emailed five questions to Marucci about his apparent objections to the merger, trying to clarify his position and didn't get a response until yesterday. He didn't provide answers to the question but did make this statement:

I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. Just so you know that today at 3:15, I was able to meet with BCSD BOE President Alice Ann Benedict, BCSD AD Mike Bromley and hockey coaches Marc Staley and John Kirkwood. We had a very lengthy and thorough discussion about the proposed merger between Notre Dame and Batavia as it pertains to hockey. I feel very satisfied that I had my questions and concerns answered and look forward to having this item on our agenda for our August 5th BCSD BOE Meeting. 

At last week's meeting, Marucci expressed concern about other schools in the county being eased out of a combined hockey program with Batavia and that once current players from those districts have graduated, students at those schools would have to attend Notre Dame if they wanted to play hockey. He suggested Notre Dame recruits athletic students and that he was concerned the merger wouldn't be fair to Batavia students.

Our questions to Marucci included trying to find out how the merger wouldn't be fair to Batavia students. He didn't answer that question.

At the meeting, he said, "I just want clarification," and, "I'm not trying to be that guy but I guess I'm being that guy."

With two seats vacant on the board due to resignations and one person absent, Marucci's unwillingness to vote to approve the agreement meant there wasn't a quorum, so the board had to table the matter until its Aug. 5 meeting.

The merger would mean Notre Dame, which has won two sectional championships in recent years under Head Coach Marc Staley, and Batavia players would form a single unit.

Last week the schools announced the new team would be known as Batavia United.

Advocates of the merger argue that the merger would allow both schools to have a JV program, which will help produce a more successful program and end the dangerous practice of including JV-aged and -sized kids on varsity rosters.

And yes, students at schools such as Le Roy, Alexander, Oakfield-Alabama, and Pembroke, who want to play hockey in the future, will need to attend a private school such as Notre Dame. Which is how it was for those schools before Batavia, in a bid to increase its hockey numbers seven years ago, accepted those schools into its hockey program.

Since that realignment, Batavia has won 13 games with only two of those wins coming against Section V opponents and no wins against teams with winning records.

The merger is going to get the support of at least three trustees.

Statement from Alice Benedict:

I wholeheartedly support the Batavia Notre Dame Hockey merger. It will help both schools be able to offer hockey opportunities for grades 7 through 12.

Statement from John Reigle:

Thank you for reaching out to me regarding the hockey merger. 

As you are aware we tabled the agenda item at our last school board meeting for some final clarification and questions. It is a big decision for our district and I’m glad our board of education is putting in so much collaborative thought and consideration into the topic. Unfortunately, our athletic director and/or the coaches were unable to attend the last meeting to have more discussion on the topic. However, it is my understanding they were able to meet with our board president and Vice President yesterday to discuss. 

After speaking with some hockey families from both schools, along with learning more of Coach Staley’s & Coach Kirkwood’s goals and intentions for the United program, I am in favor of the merger. I look forward to bringing back a competitive hockey program to our city that the student-athletes, our schools, and our community are proud of. 

Statement from Barbara Bowman:

I am in complete support of the hockey merger because it will be advantageous to BHS and ND students and the community in general.

Newly elected Trustee Jennifer Lendvay did not respond.

UPDATE: Lendvay's statement: 

I am in favor of the merger of the BHS/ND hockey teams and look forward to seeing them play.

July 19, 2021 - 11:43am
posted by James Burns in sports, baseball, muckdogs, batavia.


UPDATE 11:58 a.m.: Griffin Dellapenna, the Muckdogs' broadcaster, says the Muckdogs won 10-10.

Yesterday's Batavia Muckdogs game against Elmira ended in confusion and we still don't really know what happened.

Fans left the game thinking the Pioneers forfeited but the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League lists the game as suspended and is not listing the game as a win for the Muckdogs in the Western Division standings.

By all appearance in the bottom of the ninth, the Muckdogs won on a walk-off check swing. Yeah, that sounds crazy, but that’s what happened. To quote the Dwyer Stadium announcer “I think we just won 10-10 folks."

The tone was set for the crazy ending in the bottom of the first inning where Batavia scored two runs off a wild pitch, one that appeared to hit the batter in the foot. Elmira Pioneers felt this should have been a dead ball and the batter should have taken first base; the umpire ruled it a wild pitch and the two runs scored. From this point forward the relationship between the Pioneers and the umpires was, well, contentious. An inning later, the Elmira coach was ejected during a vigorous discussion with an umpire.

After five innings Batavia led 8-0 and Elmira started to climb back into the game. The game was delayed 30 minutes for a lightning strike in the area and for kids to pick up candy dropped on the field by a helicopter. (The helicopter was one of the less crazy events of the game.) At the end of nine innings, the score was knotted at 10 apiece.

In the top of the 10th, the Pioneer pitcher took umbrage with an umpire's ruling that the batter had a checked swing, denying the pitcher a strike call. This happened again on the next pitch and the pitcher, rather colorfully, expressed his disgust with the call as he approached the umpire and was held back by his catcher. The pitcher was ejected from the game. 

Elmira called in a new pitcher from their bullpen and he started to warm up, after a couple of warm-up pitches, the home plate umpire signaled the pitcher he had three more warm-up pitches left before play needed to resume. Yet again, there was another upset Elmira pitcher. He protested in a somewhat impolite way and the umpire responded by signaling he now had only two warm-up pitches remaining.

At this point, the Elmira pitcher used some of the same colorful language to express his dissatisfaction that the previously ejected pitcher did, simultaneously half of the Elmira dugout came onto the field to express their feelings about allowing the pitcher to warm up as did most of the infield. It was at this point the umpire ejected the entire Elmira Pioneers team.  

One would think that would make the final score 10-10, a Batavia win.

Apparently, the league doesn't see it that way and as of this writing, we don't know why.

Once that impromptu craziness was over, it was time for the scheduled craziness to begin, the Battle of the Badges, an exhibition game between Batavia PD and the City of Batavia Fire Department. 

The BPD did try their best including sending a few young children over to the CBFD to tell them “A cat is stuck in a tree, can you come and help?” to distract the firemen. But this tactic did not seem to work. 

After three innings, heavy rain forced the players from the field while the CBFD held a commanding lead over the BPD, 7-0. Three innings is below the five-inning minimum for an official game but we're giving the win to CBFD. But maybe we'll get overruled. That seems to be the way of the night.

There was no official word on the cat in the tree. 















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