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August 24, 2020 - 3:50pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in sports, Bowling, notify, mancuso bowling center.



Mancuso Bowling Center opened its doors for business at 3 p.m. today, welcoming bowlers back for the first time since being forced to shutdown in mid-March due to COVID-19.

Former Batavian Randy Johnson (top photo), an avid bowler, drove in from Buffalo to get in some practice time. Photo at bottom shows a sign -- Please Social Distance 6 Ft. Apart -- as part of New York State's reopening requirements.

Other changes include hand sanitizing stations throughout the faciliity and instructions on face coverings, food service and proper use of house bowling balls and rental shoes. Manager Mike Sputore said league meetings are being held this week.

Photos by Mike Pettinella.

Previously: Amid confusion, public health director responds to questions about bowling league guidelines

August 23, 2020 - 5:21pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo: Black Is Back with driver Drew Monti out front.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Having not seen post one in what seems like forever, Black Is Back took full advantage of the anomaly on Saturday night (Aug. 22) and went gate to wire with relative ease in the $8,500 Open I pacing feature at Batavia Downs. 

Percy’s Z Tam (Jim Morrill Jr.) left fast from post seven and took an early lead. But Black Is Back (Drew Monti) pulled the pocket quickly and went to the front for what would be the remainder of the race. After the :29 first panel, Monti backed down the the half to a pedestrian :58.3 and looked about as solid as a favorite could at the point. 

As they headed into the third turn, Under Paid (Denny Bucceri) was rolling up to Black Is Back and tried to push the pace and Black Is Back responded with a :27.2 third quarter. With his chasers now in check on the strength of that burst, Black Is Back spun off the far turn under loose lines and kicked home smartly to win by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:54, which was his best effort of the year. 

It was the fourth win in 10 starts for Black Is Back ($3.50) who is owned by Curtis Edholm and Mihajlo Zdjelar Sr. Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr. trains the winner. 

In the $7,250 Open II-III pace, Long Train Runnin (Denny Bucceri) pulled third over from sixth at the half, tipped three-deep at three-quarters, took the lead in the stretch and with Bucceri bouncing in the bike, paced away to a 1-1/2 length win in 1:53.4. The time was also a new seasonal mark. 

Long Train Runnin ($3.00) is owned by William Emmons and is trained by Jim Clouser Jr. 

Five drivers accounted for all 13 winners on Saturday as Billy Davis Jr., Drew Monti and Jim Morrill Jr. had driving triples while Denny Bucceri and Dave McNeight III each scored two wins. Trainers Darrin Monti and Gerry Sarama led all conditioners with two wins each as well.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Aug. 26) with post time at 5 p.m.

August 21, 2020 - 1:43pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in sports, Bowling, notify.

Bowling center proprietors and managers are reaching out to state and local bowling association representatives and to the New York State Bowling Proprietors Association to find out what they can and cannot do when it comes to running their leagues for the 2020-21 season.

Normally, fall leagues begin just before or right after Labor Day, which is on Sept. 7th this year.

Last Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that bowling centers would be able to reopen on Aug. 17, ending a five-month shutdown of the state’s nearly 300 bowling establishments as New York dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor’s press release listed the following safety protocols for bowling centers:

  • Operating at 50-percent maximum occupancy limit;
  • Face coverings and social distancing will be required at all times;
  • Every other lane must be closed;
  • Patrons need to stay with the party at their assigned lane;
  • Thorough cleaning and disinfection of shared or rented equipment between each use;
  • All food service must follow all state-issued guidance.

Furthermore, in New York City, due to restrictions on indoor dining, food and beverage service will not be allowed in New York City bowling centers.

Still, those who operate these facilities have expressed a degree of confusion, seeking more specifics. They also have varying ideas of how they believe (to some extent, wishful thinking) things should proceed.

Proprietors and managers -- judging by initial conversations with league secretaries -- are anticipating a drop off in membership as a result of one-lane only and face covering mandates.

In an effort to answer their questions, The Batavian reached out to Paul Pettit, Genesee/Orleans public health director, with the following:

Q. Can a team in a league, let’s say of four members, bowl on a pair of lanes (as is normally the case) – having just one bowler on the approach at a time – and have the pair of lanes next to them dark? For example, one team on lanes 1-2, lanes 3-4 dark, another team on lanes 5-6, lanes 7-8 dark, another team on lanes 9-10, and so forth? This still meets the 50-percent occupancy requirement.

A. On Aug. 14, the Governor’s office published a press release outlining the stipulations for bowling alleys to safely reopen (see above). An interim guidance has yet to be released by the State. Based on the press release, every other lane must be closed.

Q. Do masks have to be worn on the approach, or can a bowler remove the mask as he or she steps onto the lane, and then put the mask back on when stepping off the approach?

A. Face masks must be work at all times.

Q. How is the 50-percent capacity determined?

A. The 50-percent capacity would be based on the establishments building occupancy (not by multiplying the number of lanes by a specific number).

Q. Is there a chance these restrictions could be eased?

A. These restrictions are set forth by the state. Locally, we do not have the jurisdiction to alter or lessen the state requirements. If the restrictions are lifted or lessened, the state would be in charge of making that formal announcement.

Q. What else can you share at this time?

A. Again, we are waiting for the state to deliver the formal guidance for bowling alleys. This is not the first time the state has allowed a business to reopen with little to no guidance.

Facilities should monitor the New York Forward website for specific guidelines when they are released. Facilities can also email specific questions to the Finger Lakes Regional Control Room at: [email protected]. We appreciate the patience of the community as we wait for the state to release the guidance.


Doug Bohannon of Glens Falls, president of the New York State Bowling Proprietors Association, provided information about what is considered a “group or event”:

“We are allowed to operate at 50-percent capacity. The part in the guidance about ‘limiting the number of patrons/players to any event at the facility to no more than the current social gathering restrictions that are in effect for the region as a part of the State's phased reopening (i.e., 50 or fewer people in Phase Four 4 regions, as of Aug. 15, 2020)’ is confusing but I have obtained clarification from Albany which states that a league is not a group or event.

“This part of the guidance refers to, for example, a church group or a summer camp that wants to book an outing to your center. If that type of group wants to book an outing, then they are limited to 50 people.”

August 20, 2020 - 1:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo: Driver Billy Davis Jr. and Noble Legend take the lead.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs​

It was a big night for driver Billy Davis Jr., trainer Maria Rice and the ownership group of Vogel and Wags Nags, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Aug. 19) as they sent three from their stable to the Purple Haze winner’s circle, including the winner of the co-featured race. 

In the $8,000 Open I-II trot, Noble Legend followed Il Mago (Jim Morrill Jr.) the entire mile until the head of the stretch when Davis tipped and out-trotted the leader to the wire while holding off a fast-closing Lunar Credit (Jim McNeight Jr.) and won in 1:58.1, which was a new seasonal mark.

It was the second straight win for Noble Legend ($6.50) and third win of the year.

Then in the $7,250 fillies and mares Open II-III pace, Protect Blue Chip drafted third most of the mile while Tellawoman (Jim Morrill Jr.) and HP Sissy (Denny Bucceri) took turns on the lead. Davis pulled from that spot at the three-quarters, cleared by the top of the stretch and held off one final bid by Tellawoman to win by a length in 1:54.4, which was also a new seasonal mark. 

The heavily favored Protect Blue Chip returned $3.10. 

Finally in the $7,250 Open II-III trot, Keystone Apache displayed some old form as he went unchallenged from the word go, scoring a wire to wire 8-1/2 length victory in 1:57.3. That, too, was a new seasonal mark for the winner. 

It was the fourth win in the last six starts for Keystone Apache ($2.80) 

Jim Morrill Jr. also had a driving hat trick, including winning the other $8,000 feature which was the Open I-II for fillies and mares with Toothofthedragon. 

Toothofthedragon who had been third the whole race, found just enough room to get out in the stretch and catch the race long leader Little Joke (Billy Davis Jr.) by a head to win in 1:56.

Toothofthedragon ($4.30) is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Aug. 22) with post time at 6 p.m.

August 16, 2020 - 12:18pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo: Driver Drew Monti pushes Class Six into the lead to win the race.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The third time was the charm for Class Six who scored his first top-class victory in three Batavia Downs tries after he won the $8,500 Open I pace on Saturday (Aug 15).

Drew Monti pushed Class Six off the gate and to the lead where he would stay the entire mile. After getting to the half in :58.2, Under Paid (Denny Bucceri) launched a mild bid on the outside going to three-quarters, but never got close enough to contend and Class Six rimmed the final bend and headed down the lane. Iluvtomakemoney (Ray Fisher Jr.) who sat the garden spot for 7/8ths of the mile, popped the pocket and made a run, but that was futile as well and Class Six held on to win in 1:55.1. 

It was the fourth win of the year for Class Six ($7.70) who is owned by Eric Prevost and trained by Sabrina Shaw. 

In the $7,500 Open II pace, Western Conquest (Ray Fisher Jr.) also took advantage of the night’s front-end bias and went gate to wire with little opposition and denied the heavily favored Atlantis (Jim Morrill Jr.) at the wire in 1:57.1.

It was the second win in three starts and the fourth win of the year for Western Conquest ($17), owner Tanah Merah Farms and trainer Ryan Swift.

Several horsemen had a multiple win night led by Shawn McDonough who drove three winners while also training two of them. Billy Davis Jr. had a driving hat trick ahead of Jim Morrill Jr. and Ray Fisher Jr. who each scored two pilot victories. Trainers Ryan Swift and Jim Clouser Jr. both sent two horses to the Purple Haze winner’s enclosure. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday afternoon (Aug. 19) at 5 o'clock.

August 15, 2020 - 10:16am
posted by Mike Pettinella in sports, notify, Genesee Region USBC, Bowling.

Bowling center proprietors have crossed one giant hurdle, finally convincing Gov. Andrew Cuomo that they can reopen their establishments safely, but now they face another significant challenge in figuring out how to run their leagues.

On Friday, the governor announced that centers will be allowed to reopen starting this Monday – good news for managers who rely on the weeks before Labor Day to determine the strength of their leagues and recruit new bowlers.

However, with the mandate to limit capacity to 50 percent and to keep every other lane closed due to social distancing, deciding where and when leagues will be able to bowl when they begin in early September likely will take on the look of musical chairs.

Normally, league opponents are set up to bowl on two adjoining lanes – lanes 1-2, for example – and to alternate lanes for each frame over the course of their three-game match.

In the first game, the team starting on lane 1 would bowl frames 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 on lane 1 and frames 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 on lane 2. The alternating pattern would continue through the next two games.

Rule Changes Allow Bowling on One Lane

Fortunately, several weeks ago the United States Bowling Congress, the governing body of the sport, temporarily waived USBC Playing Rules 106a, 106b, 320a and 320b, which state two lanes must be used for competition and bowlers must alternate lanes – bowling five frames on each lane of the pair.

The USBC also waived the requirement that both lanes must be used for a bowler to be eligible for awards and average recognition.

Those rule changes open the door for leagues to continue, but league bowling teams are going to have to be flexible and be willing to bowl on just one lane until the time comes when Albany loosens the limitations on lane usage and capacity.

“It’s tough,” said Mike Sputore, manager of the 24-lane Mancuso Bowling Center in Batavia, which plans to open on Aug. 24. “We’ve come up with a couple thought processes, but there’s no perfect plan … bowlers are going to have to work with us.”

Sputore said the only fair way to get the ball rolling is to “offer all of our leagues an opportunity to have a meeting and gauge the total number of league bowlers willing to still bowl (considering the restrictions).”

“One of our thoughts is to run double shifts for all the leagues, for instance, our Tuesday league that bowls on lanes 1 through 10 would be able to have five teams bowl on that first shift – maybe go odd (team numbers) the first week and even (team numbers) on the second shift,” he said. “That’s the only fair way to allow all of the teams to participate.”

Will League Bowlers Start Earlier?

He also said the weekly starting times could be moved up, so instead of the league starting at 7 p.m., it would be willing to start around 5:30. That way the second shift would be able to begin around 7:30 or 8 p.m. – the exact times determined by the number of bowlers on each team.

Sputore also said an option could be to have all the bowlers in one league bowl on the first shift on the first and third weeks of the month, and another league scheduled for that particular night having the first shift on the second and fourth weeks of the month.

That way, all members of a 12-team league, for example, would be able to bowl at the same time, but spread out over the 24 lanes, skipping every other lane.

Mancuso’s has the most lanes of all the centers serviced by the Genesee Region USBC, with other “larger” centers being Medina Lanes (20), Oak Orchard Bowl in Albion (18) and Livingston Lanes in Geneseo (16).

Finding something that works at the smaller centers will be all the more difficult.

Eight Isn't Enough

“I’m really hoping that the guidelines change again by the time we start our leagues,” said Bob Santini, proprietor of Mount Morris Lanes, which has eight lanes and a full weekly schedule of leagues, including two with five members per team. “If we have to go every other lane, it’s going to be tough.”

Santini, like Sputore, mentioned the first and second shift notion, but bemoaned the fact that the second squad of a five-person league wouldn’t finish until around 11 p.m.

He said the other option would be to allow half of a particular league to bowl on week one of the month, and the other half of the league to bowl on week two of the month. However, that would reduce the number of sessions for each group to 16 (for a 32-week league), effectively cutting his income in half.

“There’s two options and neither one of them are very good,” he said.

Santini also wondered if the requirement out of Albany that everyone has to wear a face covering applied when the bowler is actually on the lane, making his or her delivery. He mentioned that masks aren’t required when people are sitting down at a table eating.

“We’ve had two league meetings thus far and for the most part, everybody’s good with everything, except the masks,” he said.

The other Genesee Region USBC bowling centers with certified leagues are Rose Garden Bowl in Bergen (8 lanes), Paris Lanes in Oakfield (12 lanes), Perry Bowling Center (8 lanes), Letchworth Pines in Portageville (12 lanes), and Legion Lanes in Le Roy (8 lanes).

Waiting for More Guidelines

Doug Bohannon, of Glens Falls, president of the New York State Bowling Proprietors Association, said he is waiting for further details on the guidelines, including if face coverings have to be worn at all times.

“I know in Texas you have to wear a mask even when you’re bowling, and Florida it might be that way, but all the states surrounding us, you don’t have to wear the masks when you bowl,” he said. “The state has let us open, but they really haven’t given us the full set of rules yet.”

As far as all the requirements, Bohannon said proprietors will just have to make it work.

“It’s much better than staying closed,” he said. “If everybody just keeps doing what they’re doing (in terms of health and safety protocols), I think we will see a loosening in the restrictions.”

Other guidelines for bowling centers include: social distancing required at all times; bowlers need to stay at their assigned lanes; thorough cleaning and disinfection of shared or rented equipment between each use will be required; and all food service must follow all state-issued guidance.

August 14, 2020 - 4:19pm
posted by Press Release in steve hawley, Bowling, sports.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley is celebrating the state’s decision to allow local bowling alleys to reopen at 50-percent capacity this upcoming Monday.

All bowling alleys will be able to start up with food being served by wait staff, ensuring that local economies receive the boost in revenue they need while also allowing locals to get in some exercise and play after being cooped up inside for so long.

“I’m thrilled to hear that progress continues to be made with the reopening of the state,” Hawley said. “I had written a letter some time ago to the governor asking for bowling alleys to be opened as soon as possible for the sake of local economies alongside the service they provide citizens in stretching their legs and having some light fun.

"Our conference had then sent another letter requesting much of the same. It’s good to hear that the governor is hearing us and taking into account the steps needed to ensure that people are protected and remain healthy during this continually challenging time.”

August 14, 2020 - 2:19pm

Press release:

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) announces online permits for the youth waterfowl hunt and COVID-19 waterfowl blind draw procedures. Additionally, the Refuge announces the 2020 Final Hunting Plan for Iroquois NWR has been approved and awaits publication in the Federal Register.

The Iroquois NWR Youth Waterfowl Hunt remains the same except permitting will now be done online. Permits are available first-come, first-serve from Aug. 15 until Sept. 15. The permit is free, but space is limited to 15 participants this year.

You will receive your permit letter and Parental Consent Form upon checking out on RecAccess. 

The preseason waterfowl lottery draws will once again be on RecAccess. However, morning blind draws for the entire regular season will now be held at the Refuge Shop at 1101 Casey Road in Basom to ensure the safety of staff and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Details of how we will safely proceed will be disseminated through our website, Facebook, and RecAccess as opening day approaches.

The 2020 Final Hunting Plan has been approved and posted on our website. This plan includes changes to the 2020-2021 hunt seasons on Iroquois NWR, including other migratory birds, small game, fall turkey, and the second session of the waterfowl season.

Once these changes are published in the Federal Register, we will be able to implement them. This will be reflected on our website and fact sheets as appropriate. Please continue to check our website periodically for updates. 

For further information please see our website or email Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge or phone Visitor Services specialist Eric Schaertl at (585) 948-5445, ext. 7036. Iroquois NWR is located midway between Buffalo and Rochester and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

August 14, 2020 - 12:32pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in sports, notify, bowling centers.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today said that bowling centers will be allowed to reopen starting Monday.

"Bowling is back, now let's back bowling," proclaimed Randy Hanks, proprietor of Oak Orchard Bowl in Albion, upon hearing the news that bowling center owners have been waiting for since the middle of March. Hanks said he plans to open his establishment on Aug. 21.

Cuomo said that center proprietors will be required to limit capacity to 50 percent and bowlers will have to stay at their assigned lanes, Cuomo said. Additionally, it is being reported that everyone must wear face coverings and every other lane must be closed.

Food and alcohol service will be permitted, but only by wait service at individual lanes.

In a telephone briefing with reporters, published reports indicated that Cuomo said, “They (servers) come to you. You don’t go to a bar. They come to you.”

Bowling centers have been shut down since mid-March – losing a considerable portion of their budget revenue for the 2019-20 season and now are in jeopardy of being unable to fill their leagues for the 2020-21 season that traditionally begins in September.

Proprietors across the state have been appealing to state senate and assembly members, and have engaged in letter writing and email campaigns in their collective effort to convince the governor to let them reopen safely.

Mike Sputore, manager of Mancuso Bowling Center in Batavia, said he plans to open the facility on Monday, Aug. 24, with league meetings set up for that week.

The report also indicated that the governor will issue protocols on Monday detailing what is necessary for fitness centers or gyms to reopen.

August 13, 2020 - 12:37pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Ray Fisher Jr. had a big night at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Aug. 12) after winning both $7,500 pacing and trotting features.

Fisher first took the fillies and mares Open-II pace with Lady London who led every step of the way. 

Lady London went for the front but got stung to the quarter in :26.4 by The Bay Front (Denny Bucceri) before settling in. However once she was on top, she proceeded to pace with authority. Lady London got to the three-quarters in 1:24.1 with an open two length lead and the field stacked up behind her. The race turned for home and Lady London finished what she started, winning in 1:54, which was a new seasonal mark. 

Lady London ($10.40) is owned by VHF Racing and trained by Sabrina Shaw. 

Then later in the Open I-II trot, Fisher was a passenger behind the runaway State Ofmyhead As who scored a major upset at 17-1.

State Ofmyhead As took the lead and was up by three lengths at the quarter in :28 and from there, he didn’t relent. After getting to the half in :56.3 and three-quarters in 1:26.1, State Ofmyhead As turned for home and opened up a 4-1/4 length margin as he cruised to the wire all alone in 1:57, giving himself a new lifetime mark. 

State Ofmyhead As ($36.80) is owned by the Tanah Merah Farm and the Swift Racing Stable and is trained by Ryan Swift.

Other drivers had multiple win nights including Jim Morrill Jr. who had three and Jim McNeight Jr. who had two. Trainers Gerry Sarama and Jim McNeight also scored two wins apiece.

Trainer Maria Rice hit a personal milestone in race five when her trotter Montepulciano ($4.70) guided by Billy Davis Jr. scored a 1:59.4 victory. It marked the 700th career training victory for Rice in a career that goes back to 2004. Rice has started 4,136 horses during that span garnering 700 wins, 679 seconds and 558 thirds, giving her a lifetime .305 universal trainer rating while bankrolling in excess of $4.4 million in purses.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Aug. 15) at 6 p.m.

August 10, 2020 - 11:03am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo: American Courage with driver Matt Kakaley.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs played host to the New York Sire Stake 2- and 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings on Sunday afternoon (Aug. 9) and the perfect weather brought out some exceptional performances. 

Outstanding 2-year-old colt American Courage (American Ideal-Nola Fool Bluechip) remained undefeated when he won his $50,400 NYSS division. After starting a bit off the gate, American Courage tucked in fifth momentarily before driver Matt Kakaley pulled and advanced him to third at the quarter behind the leading Carrythetorchman (Marcus Miller). But just past the three-eighths, Kakaley had him out and rolling again and this time right to the front.

American Courage cleared and took the lead by the five-eighths pole and really dug in from there. Kakaley sat chilly as American Courage opened up four lengths at the three-quarters, six lengths by the top of the stretch and then jogged home by 10 open lengths, wrapped up in 1:54.2.  

“The gate got going a little fast and got away from us. I just wanted to get away clean and get around the track,” Kakaley said. “This is a serious colt.” 

American Courage ($2.10) remains perfect, now winning six of six lifetime starts for owner Fiddler’s Creek Stable, who also bred the winner. Travis Alexander is the trainer.

(Photo: own Gossip with driver Jim Morrill Jr.)

The other $50,400 2-year-old division went to Town Gossip (American Ideal-Fibbertigibbet) who led at every station from post one. Jim Morrill Jr. backed down the half to a pedestrian :59 before stepping on the gas and letting Town Gossip accelerate away from the field. After hitting the three-quarters in 1:28.1, Town Gossip turned for home and opened up a 5-1/4 length lead at the wire for a 1:57.1 win. 

It was the second NYSS win of the year for Town Gossip ($3) who is owned by Robert Weinstein. Jennifer Bongiorno trains the $25,000 Lexington Selected acquisition who was bred by Winbak Farm. 

(Photo: Groovy Joe takes the lead with driver Matt Kakaley.)

The sophomore set saw its best performance come in the second $55,000 split when the 3-year-old colt Groovy Joe (Roll With Joe-Chotat Milk) went coast to coast in the fastest mile of the day.

Matt Kakaley rushed Groovy Joe off the gate and out-muscled Save Me A Dance (Jason Bartlett) for the lead at the quarter in :27. The race proceeded in single file to the half and past the five eighths before anyone decided to pull on the leader. 

Splash Brother (Tyler Buter) tipped from last midway up the backstretch and tried to push the issue but came up short in the last turn. Groovy Joe was clear in the lane by two lengths with only the pocket sitting Save Me A Dance with a chance at him. He did close strong down the lane but Groovy Joe hung on to win by a half length in 1:52. 

It was the second NYSS win this year for Groovy Joe ($4.30) who is owned by Hutt Racing Stable, Blake Macintosh, Ozzie Mackay and Hoofbid Racing. Blake Macintosh also trains the winner who was a $17,000 Goshen Yearling sale purchase that was bred by Winbak Farm.

(Photo: Major Betts and driver Dexter Dunn in the forefront.)

The first $54,000 3-year-old division was won by Major Betts (Art Major-Southwind Johanne) for driver Dexter Dunn who made his first-ever driving appearance at Batavia Downs. 

Major Betts took the lead and cut fractions of :27, :56.4 and 1:25.4 before his first challenge of the race came from Blank Stare (Corey Callahan) who pulled within a length of him at that third station. Major Betts successfully rebuffed that attack and headed down the lane on top by a length. But as he drifted just off the pylons, the pocket sitting Ideal Perception (Jason Bartlett) shot up the cones to take his best shot. Major Betts still had pace and stood his ground to win by a head in 1:53.3. 

It was the third straight NYSS victory for Major Betts ($2.10) and owners Joseph Jannuzzelli, Mark Harder and Deena Frost. Mark Harder also trains the colt who was bred by Southwind Farms and sold at the Lexington Selected sale for $70,000. 

There were seven $15,000 divisions of Excelsior A and four $6,600 divisions of Excelsior B races Sunday as well and those results can be found at this link. (https://racing.ustrotting.com/chart.aspx#636946)

Matt Kakaley, Jason Bartlett and Drew Monti all had hat tricks on the all-stake card with Tyler Buter and Jim Morrill Jr. each scoring two wins as well.

August 9, 2020 - 1:04pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Percy Z Tam started slow but put on a spirited late rally to capture the $8,500 Open I pacing feature at Batavia Downs on Saturday evening (Aug. 8). 

Getting away fifth, Percy Z Tam (Jim Morrill Jr.) watched as Under Paid (Denny Bucceri) took command and led the group to the half in :57. Thor De Vie (Ray Fisher Jr.) pulled at that point and Percy Z Tam followed one back as the race moved around the clubhouse turn. 

From there, positions remained unchanged until halfway through the final turn when Morrill tipped Percy Z Tam three-deep into the head of the lane and started to accelerate. First he circled Mr. Euroman (Billy Davis Jr.) who came off the pylons and then caught Under Paid before the wire to win by 1/2 length in 1:54.2. 

It was the fifth win of the year for Percy Z Tam ($8.80) who is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama. 

In the $7,500 Open II pace, Iluvtomakemoney (Ray Fisher Jr.) was hopelessly boxed in at the three-quarters yet managed to find racing room in the last turn. Fisher then went three-high turning for home and Iluvtomakemoney was able to catch Atlantis (Jim Morrill Jr.) at the wire by a nose to win in 1:55.3.

Iluvtomakemoney ($8.70) scored his fourth win of the year for the Tanah Merah Farms and Swift Racing Stable. Ryan Swift is the trainer. 

Shawn McDonough remained red hot at Batavia, winning three more races as both driver and trainer. Jim Morrill Jr. and Billy Davis Jr. also both had three driving wins Saturday while trainer Jim Clouser Jr. also had a hat trick. Trainer Gerry Sarama and Maria Rice each scored two conditioning victories as well. 

With two weeks of racing now in the books, Jim Morrill Jr. is the current dash driving leader with 13 wins followed by Billy Davis Jr. with 10, Dave McNeight III with seven and Shawn McDonough with six. On the training side, Gerry Sarama and Shawn McDonough are tied for the lead with seven wins apiece followed by Jim Clouser Jr. with six and Maria Rice with five. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs today (Aug. 9) with a special early post time of 1:15 p.m. It’s an all New York Sire Stake card featuring 2 and 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings.

August 8, 2020 - 1:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

A marathon 15-race card will be held at Batavia Downs on Sunday (Aug. 9) when the New York Sire Stakes roll into town for the second and final time this summer. Four NYSS divisions of 2- and 3-year-old male pacers headline with an undercard featuring 11 Excelsior legs that all tolled offer $341,200 in purse money. 

Nine 3-year-olds will go to post in two NYSS divisions and will feature some very fast horses. 

The first $54,000 leg has Major Betts (Art Major-Southwind Johanne) listed as the morning line favorite and for good reason. Major Betts took a lifetime mark of 1:49.4 at Tioga Downs in a NYSS event in June before competing in the $636,650 Meadowlands Pace in July. In that stake he drew post eight, got away tenth and chased a 1:47.2 mile in vain. The following week he jogged in 1:51.1 in another NYSS race at Yonkers. 

Dexter Dunn is scheduled to make his first-ever driving appearance at Batavia Downs to drive Major Betts for trainer Mark Harder. 

The other three horses in the short field of four have all been race timed under 1:50 this year but will definitely have their hands full on Sunday. Blank Stare (Bolt The Duer-Hypnotize) took his mark of 1:50.1 in a NYSS race at Tioga, Genius Man (Art Major-Unred Hanover) has won his last two starts and Ideal Perception (American Ideal-Southwind Siren) has not missed a check in NYSS action this year.

Blank Stare gets Corey Callahan for trainer John Butenshoen, Genius Man has Marcus Miller up for Erv Miller and Ideal Perception will have Jason Bartlett driving for Andrew Harris. 

The second $55,000 split features three closely spotted starters. 

Splash Brother (So Surreal-Sugarcoated) is a winner of three out of five races this year including one NYSS victory and his 1:48.2 lifetime mark at the Meadowlands in June. That is the fastest mile paced by a 3-year-old gelding so far in 2020. 

Groovy Joe (Roll With Joe-Chotat Milk) who won six NYSS races last year at two before finishing second in the final. In three tries this year he has only one win, but it was a lifetime best effort of 1:48.4 at Vernon Downs. 

Save Me A Dance (Heston Blue Chip-Dance Hall Girl) has three consecutive second place finishes in NYSS action after winning his seasonal debut at the Meadowlands in 1:51.1. 

Tyler Buter drives Splash Brother for trainer Ray Schnittker, Matt Kakaley will steer Groovy Joe for Blake McIntosh and Jason Bartlett will team Save Me A Dance for Andrew Harris.  

A dozen 2-year-olds will also compete in NYSS action in two $50,400 splits and this division features one of the top freshman horses in North America.

American Courage (American Ideal-Nola Fool Bluechip) is undefeated coming in to Batavia, going five for five this year and including two NYSS wins. He also won the $154,250 MGM Springfield Stake at Yonkers. He took his lifetime mark of 1:51.3 in his last start at Tioga Downs and that win pushed his earnings to $119,908.

To date he is the fastest 2-year-old pacing colt, the richest overall 2-year-old pacer and the third winningest overall 2-year-old pacer in North America.

Matt Kakaley will drive American Courage for trainer Travis Alexander.

Trying to take their best shot to beat him is Carrythetorchman (American Ideal-Kattimon) who won a preliminary leg of the MGM Springfield at Yonkers and has finished second in two NYSS events and Sauvignon Bluechip (Art Major-Some Girls Do) who tripped-out behind American Courage last week to finish second at Tioga.

Marcus Miller will drive Carrythetorchman for trainer Erv Miller and Tyler Buter will team Sauvignon Bluechip for trainer David Dziengiel.

The other 2-year-old leg has two competitors getting some relief from chasing American Courage, but who will now face off against each other. 

Town Gossip (American Ideal-Fibbertigibbet) has raced American Courage three times this year and finished second behind him twice. He did win his only start when not facing him in a NYSS race at Tioga where he went wire to wire in convincing fashion. 

King James Express (Art Major-More Diamonds) tripped-out and won his first NYSS event at Saratoga before drawing in with American Courage at Tioga and getting a rough overland trip where he was parked over half the mile. 

Jim Morrill Jr. will drive Town Gossip for trainer Jennifer Bongiorno and Jason Bartlett will be behind King James Express for Mark Harder. 

There are also seven $15,000 Excelsior A races carded along with four $6,600 Excelsior B races. Post time for the first race is 1:15 p.m.

August 6, 2020 - 1:09pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

Photo: Gia’s Surreal with driver John Cummings Jr.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

There were some big performances put forth at Batavia Downs on Wednesday afternoon (Aug. 5) as Gia’s Surreal muscled her way to victory in the top distaff pace and Jim Morrill Jr. won five races on the card to extend his driving lead for the meet. 

After coming up short from a tough spot last week, Gia’s Surreal put an exclamation point on her performance in the $9,000 fillies and mares Open I pacing feature at the Downs. 

Gia’s Surreal (John Cummings Jr.) settled in fifth off the gate but only until the eighth pole, where Cummings pulled her and flew to the lead by the quarter in :28.1. She didn’t get much of a breather from there as HP Sissy (Denny Bucceri) pulled before the half and was on the attack and pushing the issue. 

HP Sissy fully engaged Gia’s Surreal and kept the fractions honest going up the backside, but after the 1:25 third panel on the rim, she tired while Gia’s Surreal accelerated. Cummings commenced bouncing in the bike around the far turn and opened up 2-1/4 lengths by the top of the stretch. From there the race was history as Gia’s Surreal extended her lead to 3-1/2 at the wire where she won in 1:54.4. 

It was the fourth score of the year for Gia’s Surreal ($4.50), who is owned by Edward Peron, Lee Winters, Thomas Mariano and Jim Graham, who also trains the winner. 

The top trot of the night was the $8,000 Open II event where Noble legend (Billy Davis Jr.) took a new seasonal mark of 1:58.2 after leading unchallenged at every station to score his second win of the year. It was the 35th lifetime win for the 8-year-old son of Kadabra-Lovin It and the purse pushed his total earnings in excess of $300,000; now with $302,519 in the bank for owners Vogel & Wags Nags, Team Rice and Adelphi Bloodstock. Maria Rice trains Noble Legend. 

Driver Jim Morrill Jr. turned heads once again on the strength of his five win outing on Wednesday. He was a frequent visitor of the Purple Haze winner’s enclosure as he made his way back there with Lyra (1:55.3, $12.40), Littlebitaclass (1:57.3, $3.80), Mighty Nicky (1:59.2, $7.80), All Music (1:59, $3) and The Bay Front (1:56.3, $2.30). He ended the night with a .535 universal driver rating.  

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Aug. 8) with post time at 6 p.m.

August 4, 2020 - 1:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in golf, sports, Stafford Country Club.

Dr. Matthew Prindle, of Geneva, shot his first-ever hole-in-one while playing at the Stafford Country Club on Saturday with his father-in-law Bill Hayes, of Batavia, and Dan Prong and Sam Frank.

Hayes, who submitted the video, said it's a tradition for them is to play at the Ricky Palermo Tournament at Terry Hills in the morning and then take in 18 more holes at Stafford.

Prindle hit a pitching widge on the 120-yard, Par 3, fourth hole.

August 2, 2020 - 10:49pm

Photo: Driver Andy Miller with Love A Good Story.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

It was a big stake day at Batavia Downs on Sunday (Aug. 2) as an all-New York Sire Stake card of racing featured 2- and 3-year-old trotting fillies vying in four divisions for a total of $213,400 in purses.

The highlight of the day was Love A Good Story (Chapter Seven-Celebrity Lovin) who took the second $55,000 division for 3-year-olds in memorable style. 

Driver Andy Miller floated Love A Good Story off the gate and dropped in third while Without A Warning (Scott Zeron) got to the quarter in a quick :27.4. Positions remained unchanged in the throttled-down :30.2 second panel until Love A Good Story pulled first up as she made her way into the turn. 

Past the five eighths, Love A Good Story drew alongside Without A Warning and the two trotted side-by-side up the backstretch and to the three-quarters in 1:26.2. The match race continued around the last turn and down the lane when Love A Good Story got the edge with Miller urging her on and hit the wire in 1:55.1. 

The time was a new track record for 3-year-old trotting fillies, besting the standard of 1:55.4 set by Quincy Blue Chip just last year. 

It was the 10th win in 15 lifetime starts for Love A Good Story ($2.50) who has now earned $400,484 for owners the Pinske Stables, the Kentuckiana Racing Stable and Daniel Plouffe. Julie Miller trains the winner. 

Love A Good Story was bred by Celebrity Farms and was a $90,000 Lexington Selected yearling purchase. 

(Photo: Tom Jackson with Island Lily.)

The first $54,000 split had an abbreviated four-horse field that saw Island Lily (Chapter Seven-Up Front Hotsey) dominate. 

Tom Jackson put Island Lily on the front and then led at every station with Destiny Blue Chip (Ake Svanstedt) on her back. After fractions of :29, :58.4 and 1:28.2, Destiny Blue Chip pulled the pocket and took a run at the leader in the turn. But Island Lily headed for home and trotted away clear to an easy 4-1/2 length victory in 1:57.2

It was the first lifetime win for Island Lily ($4.90) who was unraced at two. Fred Grant both owns and trains the filly. 

Island Lily was bred by Noel Daley and Up Front Racing and sold for $70,000 at the Harrisburg yearling sale.

The freshman class saw the best performance come in the second $52,200 division from Destined To Dance (Chapter Seven-Go Go Dancer) who dropped in fourth from post seven as Eliza B (Scott Zeron) scooted to the quarter in :29 flat. With four horses breaking early, the field was now in two groups with the top quad playing follow the leader to the half. 

Past the five-eighths Just Joshing (Andy Miller) came from third and made a move for the lead while Destined To Dance was still a gapped fourth. But after they entered the final bend, Tyler Buter hit the gas and Destined To Dance responded in dynamic fashion. Still three lengths off the lead, Destined To Dance dug in hard and with a full head of steam, flew down the stretch with ease while reeling off a :28.1 quarter to win by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:59.1.

It was the third straight win, all in NYSS action, for Destined To Dance ($3.80) who is owned by Heritage Standardbreds, Crawford Farms Racing and Rich Prezzioti. John Butenshoen trains the winner. 

Destined To Dance was bred by Crawford Farms and sold for $100,000 at the Lexington Selected yearling sale.   

(Photo: Ake Svanstedt with Broad Strokes.)

The complexion of the final $52,200 division changed quickly as post time favorite No Pay No Way (Scott Zeron) broke going for the lead. But Ake Svanstedt was happy to take her place when he guided Broad Strokes (Chapter Seven-Lady Marian) to the front and then never looked back. Broad Strokes slowed the half down to 1:01.1 as no one challenged and Svanstedt continued to grab leather into the second circuit. 

Credit Income (John Stark Jr.) finally advanced on the outside and got within a length of Broad Strokes in the final turn and the two were on a breakaway. Broad Strokes and Credit Income traded leads all the way down to the wire where Broad Strokes got a slight advantage and won by 1/4 length in 2:01.2.

It was the first lifetime win and a lifetime mark for Broad Strokes ($6.80) who is owned by Little E, Joe Sbrocco, L. Berg Inc. and Triple Play Trotters. Ake Svanstedt also trains the winner. 

Broad Strokes was bred by Fair Winds Farm and was a $50,000 Harrisburg yearling sale acquisition. 

There were six $15,000 divisions of Excelsior A races held on Sunday as well with the following results.

3-year-old trotting filly Excel A winners:

  • Lady Jeter (Muscles Yankee-Salt Hill Brigid) 1:59.2, $22.40
  • Owner -- Ann-Mari Daley, James Crawford IV and Donald Brenner
  • Trainer -- Dan Daley
  • Driver -- Dan Daley
  • Breeder -- Salt Hill Farm
  • Morrisville sale -- $22,000


  • Reciprocalbluechip (Chapter Seven-Fraction) 1:59, $5.90
  • Owner -- Carrie Norris, M T Pockets Stable, Acadia Farms and G and B Racing
  • Trainer -- Charlie Norris
  • Driver -- Charlie Norris
  • Breeder -- Diamond Creek Farm
  • Lexington Selected sale -- $65,000


  • Soprese (Conway Hall-Isabella Gal) 1:59, $8.30
  • Owner -- Crawford Farms, James Crawford IV and Ann-Mari Daley
  • Trainer -- Dan Daley
  • Driver -- Dan Daley
  • Breeder -- Crawford Farms
  • Lexington Selected sale -- $25,000

2-year-old trotting filly Excel A winners:

  • Lovely Belle (Chapter Seven-Somebody To Love) 2:02, $3.20
  • Owner -- Crawford Farms Racing
  • Trainer -- Tony Alagna
  • Driver -- Jason Bartlett
  • Breeder -- Crawford Farms
  • Lexington Selected sale -- $110,000


  • A Million Chuckles (Lucky Chucky-Win A Million) 2:04, $3.70
  • Owner -- Peter Peck
  • Trainer -- Jim Shupe
  • Driver -- Tyler Buter
  • Breeder -- Peter Peck
  • Homebred


  • Enchanting Woman (Deweycheatumnhowe-Enchantment) 2:04, $7.70
  • Owner -- Hossman
  • Trainer -- Robert Gale
  • Driver -- Jimmy Whittemore
  • Breeder -- Dunroven Stud
  • Lexington Selected sale -- $15,000
August 1, 2020 - 1:08pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The New York Sire Stakes makes its first of two stops at Batavia Downs on Sunday (Aug. 2) and will feature both 2- and 3-year-old trotting filly divisions. 

There are 16 freshman fillies divided into two divisions, each going for $52,200. 

The first group features No Pay No Way (Credit Winner-Not A Diva) who has one NYSS win in only one lifetime start. After qualifying handily at the Meadowlands in 1:56.4, No Pay No Way took a come from behind win at Yonkers on July 21 in a state-bred race, banking the bulk of the $$48,866 purse after the win in 2:00. 

Scott Zeron will be in the bike for trainer Rick Zeron. 

Titans Hope (E L Titan-Fiery Manes) made an impressive first start at Yonkers, finishing third after a mid-mile move. A change in barn and driver seemed to step her up from her qualifier and she looks to continue improving in here.

Jason Bartlett drives for trainer Andrew Harris. 

Also in the race is Credit Income (Credit Winner-Income De VIe) who won an Excel A outing in 2:01 at Saratoga Raceway on July 8 before stepping up to a top level, second-place finish at Yonkers where she trotted in 1:59.2. 

John Stark Jr. drives for trainer Maureen Salino.

The second division has Destined To Dance (Chapter Seven-Go Go Dancer) starting from post seven and looking for her third consecutive win on the year. This filly has won gate to wire at Saratoga on July 8 in 1:59.4 and from off the pace at Yonkers on July 21 in her lifetime best 1:58.3. 

Tyler Buter will steer again for trainer John Butenschoen. 

Just Joshing (Chapter Seven-Jodi’s Jayme) has two consecutive wins in Excel A company and both were very impressive. She takes the next step here and looks to be a formidable force against the top group this week for driver Andy Miller and trainer Julie Miller. 

Elize B (Chapter Seven-Legal Lady) made a stellar debut after cutting the mile and just getting beat in 1:59.2 at Saratoga. She made a break in her next outing at Yonkers from post seven and looks to make amends for that misstep. Scott and Rick Zeron are also the driver/trainer team on this filly. 

There are only nine entrants in the sophomore soiree that will also go in two groups for $54,000 and $55,000 respectively. 

The first division has four starters who are winless this year but who also show a lot of potential. 

Destiny Blue Chip (Chapter Seven-Chasin Clouds Away) was caught up in a torrid 1:53 mile at Tioga Downs on June 21, chasing Love A Good Story who is in the other division. In her last start at Vernon Downs, she was parked out for over three-quarters of the mile before tiring in the last turn in a race that went in 1:52.1. She is now in a short field that looks like she should be able to make use of those tighteners. 

Ake Svanstedt both trains and drives. 

Starystarrynight (Conway Hall-Makes Me Crazy) has won three times last year but has still not found the winner’s circle in 2020. After winning her qualifier on June 15 at Yonkers, Starrystarrynight has been racing overnight condition races at Harrah’s Philly where she was recently race timed in 1:55.2. Now back facing her own age and gender, she should be well prepped for a top effort in her first stake start this year. 

Billy Davis Jr. drives for trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera. 

Island Lily (Chapter Seven-Up Front Hotsey) showed good early work this year before finishing fourth in an Excel A event. After a month layoff, she qualified in a lifetime best time of 1:56.4 by 3-1/2 lengths at Pocono. She steps up to the top level here but comes in looking the part. 

Tom Jackson drives for trainer Fred Grant. 

The second $55,000 leg is stacked with three of the top five point-getters in this division. 

Love A Good Story (Chapter Seven-Celebrity Lovin) has won both of her NYSS outings this year taking a lifetime mark of 1:52.1 at Vernon Downs on July 11. She also finished second to Hypnotic Am in the $207,250 Empire Breeders Classic and most recently competed in the $253,500 Del Miller at the Meadowlands against Hambletonian hopeful Ramona Hill who won it in 1:50.3.  

Team Orange Crush handles Love A Good Story with Andy Miller in the bike for trainer Julie Miller. 

No Mas Drama (Muscles Yankee-Massive Drama) hasn’t missed a check all year until an impossible trip in the Del Miller where she found herself 10th at the quarter chasing a 1:50.3 mile and Munster (Chapter Seven-Richesse Oblige S) has also cashed in four starts behind the gate. However both are still looking for win number one of the year. 

Jim Morrill Jr. Drives No Mas Drama for trainer Jenn Bongiorno and Tyler Buter will team Munster for Per Engblom. 

Post time for the first race is 1:15 p.m.

August 1, 2020 - 1:03pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

(Photo: Driver Dave McNeight III with Black Is Back.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The first Open I pace of the year saw Black Is Back impose his will on a field of seven, going gate to wire handily to capture the $10,000 feature at Batavia Downs on Friday night (July 31). 

Driver Dave McNeight III seated the field after taking a quick point position with Black Is Back and then went to the quarter in :28.3 and the half in :57.4. It was there that Class Six (Renaldo Morales III) pulled first-over and made his way up the outside. 

Class Six got to within a length of Black Is Back at the three-quarters before hanging there around the last turn. And that was as close as he would get as Black Is Back rebuffed the challenge and paced away to a 2-1/4 length win in 1:54.3, which was a new seasonal mark. 

It was the 32nd lifetime win in only 110 starts for Black Is Back ($3.90) who is owned by Curtis Edholm and Mihajlo Zdjelar Sr. Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr. does the training.


(Photo: Driver Denny Bucceri with Under Paid.)

The $9,000 Open II saw a raw speed duel between Under Paid (Denny Bucceri) and Atlantis (Jim Morrill Jr.) who left from post seven and eight respectively. Under Paid got the lead and parked out Atlantis for three quarters of a mile while going fast fractions of :27.2, :55.3 and 1:25. When Atlantis understandably tired in the last turn, Don McWhite (Billy Davis Jr.), who had the perfect pocket trip, tipped out and looked to go by the leader. But the leader wasn’t done and Under Paid finished strong to win by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:54.2. 

It was the second win in a row for Under Paid ($13) who is owned by Jennifer Rogowski and trained by Mike Ohol. 

Shawn McDonough’s stable had one big night at the Downs on Friday. Horses he trains made seven starts and scored four wins, one second and two thirds. Of those seven starters, McDonough drove six of them. He won three, had one second and two thirds. This all equates to McDonough having a Universal Trainer Rating of .746 and a Universal Driver Rating of .703 for the night. Statistically, that is one of the best dual performances ever recorded at the Genesee County track. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs with a special Sunday (Aug. 2) matinee card featuring all New York Sire Stake races. Post time Sunday is 1:15 p.m.

July 30, 2020 - 6:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, batavia, video, covid-19, coronavirus.
Video Sponsor

Press release:

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The 2020 racing season got underway at Batavia downs on Wednesday (July 29) with owners only on hand to watch the action. But absent a crowd and the usual fanfare, the horses showed up and took full advantage of a lightning-fast track.

A pair of $10,000 Open events headlined the card and the winner of each took a new seasonal mark for their efforts.

In the Open I trot, Il Mago (Jim Morrill Jr.) proved he was the best on the grounds this week after making every step from gate to wire a winning one.

Morrill shot Il Mago off the gate and to the front and the race could have been called at that point. Trotting like a loose horse on the point, Il Mago went quarters of :28.1, :57.1 and 1:26 flat, while extending his lead at each station. With only Chuckabuck (Drew Monti) remotely close, Il Mago was up by 3-1/2 at the top of the stretch and rolled home in front by 4-1/4 in 1:56.3.

It was the third win in the last four starts at three different tracks for the classy Il Mago ($2.80) who now has 49 career wins and $869,373 in earnings. The son of Kadabra-Northern Style is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama.

The fillies and mare Open I was also contested Wednesday and Julio’s Girl (Dave McNeight III) upset the apple cart for the second straight week.

HP Sissy ( Jim Morrill Jr.) left best and Lady London (Ray Fisher Jr.) followed while the rest of the field followed in post position order. After HP Sissy got to the half in :56.3, McNeight pulled Julio’s Girl first over entering the third turn and started the outside grind toward the leader. After a quarter-mile in the breeze, Julio’s Girl got even with HP Sissy at the top of the stretch and then paced clear down the lane to win by a length in 1:54.2, holding off a late rush from Protect Blue Chip (Billy Davis Jr.) and Gia’s Surreal (John Cummings Jr.) in the process.

After returning $33.60 in victory last week, Julio’s Girl blew up the tote board again in her seventh win of the year and rewarded her backers with $35.20 this week at Batavia. Julio’s Girl is owned by William Emmons and is trained by Jim Clouser Jr.

Jim Morrill Jr. had the hot hand in the bike on opening night, scoring a grand slam during the evening. Besides the already mentioned Il Mago, Morrill also won with Lyra (1:55.2, $4.90), Leaderofthepack (1:59.4, $4) and Edom Up Blue Boy (1:58.4, $2.30).

Dave McNeight III and Billy Davis Jr. also had productive nights, getting three wins each on the card.

Trainers Gerry Sarama and Jim Clouser Jr. led all conditioners with two wins apiece.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (July 31) with post time at 5 p.m.

July 27, 2020 - 1:24pm

Press release:

The 74th season of live harness racing at Batavia Downs kicks off on Wednesday and opening night features some of the best horses on the grounds, including the Open filly and mare pacers and the Open class trotters. Post time for the first race is 5 p.m.

The Downs will conduct a 43-day meet, with racing on Wednesday and Friday this week, before switching to a Wednesday/Saturday schedule for the remainder of the meet that runs through Dec. 12. Post time for Wednesday is 5 p.m. and Saturday is 6 p.m. Post time for Friday (July 31) is 5 p.m.

Two special Sunday matinee cards are scheduled for Aug. 2 and Aug. 9 when the New York Sire Stakes come to town. Those cards will feature all-stake races that will see the 2- and 3-year old trotting fillies compete on Aug. 2 and the 2- and 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings go to the gate on Aug. 9. Post time for both of these dates is 1:15 p.m.  

The New York Sire Stakes will be the only stake races at the Downs this year as the track's signature race, the $50,000 Robert J. Kane Pace, will not be contested in 2020.

“We look forward to another exciting race meet,” said Henry Wojtaszek, president and chief executive officer of Western Regional Off-Track Betting, the owner of Batavia Downs. "During these difficult times, we’ve made a series of adjustments that we hope will lead to a successful season."

Fans will not be allowed to attend the races at this point due to ongoing concerns and New York State regulations surrounding the coronavirus. However, listed owners of horses in to go will be allowed on the track apron starting opening night as per New York State Gaming Commission regulations.

Listed owners must make a reservation to attend in advance and be put on a list that will allow them to enter. Reservations must be made 24-hours before race time by calling Mary Bucceri at (585) 344-6144 or by e-mailing your request to [email protected]. Listed owners who register will receive an email confirmation. Security will only let in those who are on the list.

There will be no food or beverage service available, however, owners may bring food, water or soft drinks in until the gaming floor opens. 

Upon arriving at the Downs, a temperature check and health status questionnaire must be completed by each listed owner in the lobby. Once that process is complete, the owner must then proceed through the Park Place Event Center hallway to the apron. No one is allowed to walk through the gaming floor to the apron. Also, only hotel guests will have access to the second floor.

Anyone coming to the track as a visiting owner on the apron or as a trainer, driver or groom in the barn area or paddock must wear a mask at all times and practice social distancing. This will be strictly enforced.

Listed owners only will be allowed in the winner’s circle for pictures if their horse wins while wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.

Also please be aware that any horsemen or owners coming from states that are on the New York State Coronavirus Quarantine List are not allowed to Batavia Downs attend at anytime. 

Wagering will be available at all WROTB branch or EZ Bet locations, WROTB Dial-a-Bet System for account holders and online at bataviabets.com. The Downs signal is also simulcast to a vast number of brick and mortar and ADW betting sites and may also be wagered on through them. Replays of the Downs races can be viewed the following day at bataviadownsgaming.com, where all Downs racing information can also be found.

On the track, all the local horsemen will be back including 2019 driving champion Billy Davis Jr., Jim Morrill Jr., Dave McNeight III, Drew Monti, Shawn McDonough and Ray Fisher Jr. On the training side, last year’s conditioning champ Jim Clouser Jr. brings his stable back along with Maria Rice, Gerry Sarama, Mike Ohol and Ryan Swift.

“This is definitely going to be a different year for us,” said Todd Haight, director/general lmanager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. “Without fans allowed in the stands, we won’t have any promotions this year like our traditional dollar hot dog and draft days, Family Fun days including the wiener dog races, nightly giveaways and our Labor Day driver’s bike race that goes back to 1978.

"Right now we are happy that the horsemen can continue to work and hope that with constantly improving Covid test numbers in the state, we may welcome back our guests at some point before the meet ends.”

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