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Batavia Downs

September 27, 2020 - 12:01pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Percy’s Z Tam in the lead with driver Jim Morrill Jr.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The last time Percy’s Z Tam drew post one was March 14th and he took full advantage of his starting position as he won the featured $8,500 Open I pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday evening (Sept. 26). 

Long Train Runnin (Denny Bucceri) bolted the wings and overtook the point by the quarter in :27.2. With Percy’s Z Tam (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Mr. Euroman (Billy Davis Jr.) following closely in line, Long Train Runnin paced unimpeded to the half in :56.4 and would not feel the heat until midway up the backstretch. That’s where Morrill pulled Percy’s Z Tam and took the lead at the three quarters, rounded the last turn and took a two-length advantage into the stretch. He then paced sharply to the wire, holding off a late rush from Mr. Euroman to win by ½ length in 1:53.3, which was a new seasonal mark. 

It was the sixth win of the year for Percy’s Z Tam ($5.30) who is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama. 

In the $7,500 Open II pace, Harry Hoo N (Shawn McDonough) followed Under Paid (Ray Fisher Jr.) all the way to the top of the stretch where he tipped, took the lead and held it to the wire where he won by ½ length in 1:54.2, which was his best effort this year. 

Harry Hoo N ($11.60) scored his second win in the last three starts and the fourth win of the year for owner Harry Wortzman. McDonough also trains the winner. 

Drew Monti was the leading reinsman on Saturday winning three races on the card. Billy Davis Jr., Dave Mcneight III, Jim Morrill Jr. and Shawn McDonough all visited the Purple Haze winner’s circle twice. McDonough also registered two wins on the training side as well.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

September 24, 2020 - 5:25pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Western Regional OTB, Batavia Downs.
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Despite attendance limits at Batavia Downs Gaming and fewer dates on the horse racing schedule, wagering through services provided by the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation is way up.

And officials of the public benefit company say they are amazed.

“In gaming, we’re at 25-percent occupancy rate (due to COVID-19 restrictions imposed by New York State) and we’re achieving 90 percent of last year’s numbers,” Chief Financial Officer Jacquelyne Leach said following this morning’s WROTB board of directors meeting at the Park Road facility. “This is much better than expected.”

Leach reported a “net win” of $2.2 million since the gaming site reopened on Sept. 9.

“Forty-nine percent of that goes to the state and the rest stays here,” she said, also reporting that the Downs distributed $91,604 in surcharges to municipalities for the month of August.

Wagering has hit remarkable levels at the Batavia Downs harness track and at the corporation’s Off-Track Betting branches as well.

Todd Haight, director/general manager of live racing, said that after 19 of the 42 racing dates, the handle is up more than 57 percent from last year.

“The betting is just off the charts this year; I really never saw this coming,” he said. “Despite having 11 less race cards, the OTBs, which include Batavia Bets, are up over $6,300 in handle, which is amazing.”

Haight said the corporation’s other simulcast sites -- excluding OTBs and EZ-Bets (terminals placed at bars and restaurants) and online betting -- is up 36 percent and total betting, despite a lack of spectators, is up 18 percent.

He said that on Kentucky Derby day, the handle was the second-largest ever at the Downs since OTB purchased the track in 1998.

“It was a pleasant surprise, for sure, but we want to get our spectators back and fill that clubhouse to 100-percent capacity,” he said. “But for now, we’re really excited about the season.”

Sean Schiano, director of branch operations, reported that the Kentucky Derby handle through Batavia Bets, the corporation’s interactive online and telephone wagering platform, was up $53,000 from last year, and that the August handle of $2.2 million was up $755,000 or 53 percent.

Through Sept. 20, Batavia Bets has handled almost $1.4 million, up $757,000 or 119 percent from last year, and year-to-date, the service’s wagering is up almost $2.8 million or 29 percent, Schiano said.

“That’s pretty amazing considering that we were closed for almost two months,” he said. “There were no tracks running anywhere, and when tracks finally starting running, it just picked up. With the closing of the casinos, people have money.”

Schiano said the numbers make him think of how things were several decades ago.

“If horse racing was the only game in town like it was 40 years ago when OTBs were thriving, people will go and bet the horses,” he said. “I wish it would last; I’d love it if the gaming facility and the horse racing was great, but right now, people have the money and they want to bet.”

He mentioned the Kentucky Derby success and predicted similar big numbers for the Preakness on Oct. 3 and the Breeders Cup in November.

“Everyone wants to get through this pandemic, but they still love to bet horses. Sadly, NYS needs to help us out a bit with all the regulations in place really hurt us. But, it’s very nice to see the handle go up,” he said.

In other developments, the board:

  • Voted to raise health insurance co-pays for all employees from $15 to $25 and employees’ contribution to their plan to 5 percent. WROTB CEO Henry Wojtaszek said the co-pay change will enable the corporation to get better rates on their plans.
  • Established a new position on the gaming floor – cage operations supervisor.
  • Approved a contract extension with Upstate Strategic Advisors LLC of Buffalo, a lobbying firm, through Dec. 31, at a rate of $3,500 per month.
  • Authorized a five-year contract with the Bonadio Group, a certified public accounting business based in Buffalo, for professional outside auditing services.
  • Approved closing the Newark OTB parlor at the end of October due to low betting handle numbers.
September 24, 2020 - 3:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Majestic Kat takes the lead with driver Billy Davis Jr. at the reins.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

A pair of $8,500 Open I Handicap races topped the card at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 23) -- one for trotters and one for pacing mares -- and both produced gate to wire winners. 

Majestic Kat moved up to the Open I trot after a 4-1/2 length, 1:57.2 seasonal best win in the Open III last week and despite the jump in class, went almost the exact same mile. Billy Davis Jr. left with Majestic Kat and cut quarters of :28.3, :58.4 and 1:27.1 before Before I Die (Dave McNeight III) trotted alongside him in the last turn and then matched strides all the way down the lane. With less than a half-length between them for the last 1/16th of the mile, Majestic Kat managed to hold her ground and beat Before I Die at the light by a 1/2 length in 1:57.1, which was another new seasonal mark. 

Majestic Kat ($7.90) is owned by Vogel and Wags Nags Stable, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock and is trained by Maria Rice.  

Billy Davis Jr. added two more wins during the proceedings, walking away with a driving hat trick.

Above, HP Sissy and driver Denny Bucceri.

One race later in the top distaff pace, HP Sissy rebounded from two consecutive eight hole draws and went right to the front where she does some of her best work. Denny Bucceri sped to the quarter in :27.1 before grabbing leather in a :30 flat second panel, where the race was really decided. Blacknsweet Adda A (Jim Morrill Jr.) pulled on the second circuit with Protect Blue Chip (Billy Davis Jr.) on her back, but HP Sissy was up to the task. She hit the three-quarters in 1:25.4, rounded the far turn and opened up a two-length advantage while pacing sharply to the wire in 1:54.4. 

It was the fifth win of the year for HP Sissy ($7.10) who is owned by Finnocchario’s Dream Stable and trained by Mike Ohol. 

Finnocchario, Ohol and Bucceri doubled their pleasure Wednesday as they also won with Mach’s Echo who blew up the tote board with a $39.60 payoff. 

Jim Morrill Jr. had a big night in the bike, winning four races on the card. He scored with Sentimental Lady (1:57.1, $5.30), Il Mago (1:57, $4.40), Odyssey Blue Chip (1:58.1, $2.50) and You Mach Me Crazy (1:56.4, $2.30). 

Gerry Sarama trained the last three Morrill winners, giving him a training triple that was matched by fellow conditioner Sabrina Shaw. 

Drew Monti was the final multi-win horseman teaming two winners on the card. 

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

September 21, 2020 - 2:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs has announced a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 23). The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages are available courtesy of Trackmaster on the USTA’s website or by direct download clicking here

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, a carryover pool will move to the Saturday (Sept. 26) program.

Post time for the first race Wednesday is 5 p.m.

 

 

September 20, 2020 - 12:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Stratosphere with driver Drew Monti.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Despite a jump in class, a return to an inside post proved to be the ticket as Stratosphere went the route in the $8,500 Open I Handicap on Saturday night (Sept. 19) at Batavia Downs. 

Percy’s Z Tam (Jim Morrill Jr.) took a quick early lead but as soon as he crossed over, Stratosphere (Drew Monti) left the pocket, took the lead and called all the shots from there. After hitting the half in a rated :57.3, Stratosphere saw Under Paid (Denny Bucceri) at his flank as that one tried to apply pressure to the three-quarters. 

When they hit that station in 1:25.2, Under Paid had enough and started to fade, allowing Percy’s Z Tam a clear path to pull. Morrill pulled the trigger and Percy’s Z Tam took his best shot. But his best wasn’t good enough this night as Stratosphere kicked away and kicked away hard, opening up a two length advantage at the top of the stretch and pacing home in hand to win by 2-½ lengths in 1:53.4. 

It was the third win in the last five starts and the fifth win of the year for Stratosphere ($5.80) who is owned by Drew Monti and trained by Darrin Monti. 

In the undercard $7,000 Open III pace, McSpidey (Denny Bucceri) was never headed after taking command off the gate and cruised home to a 2-¾ length, 1:53.3 win, which was a new seasonal mark. William Emmons owns the Jim Clouser Jr. trained McSpidey ($3.20) who scored his third win of the year, all of which were at Batavia Downs. 

Drivers Drew Monti and Billy Davis Jr. each had three winners on the card while Jim Morrill Jr., Denny Bucceri and Ray Fisher Jr. had two wins apiece. Trainers Don Rothfuss and Don Niles both had two winners as well. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 23) with post time at 5 p.m. There will be a $3,000 guaranteed pool in the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday that is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering program. The Pick-5 starts in race one and runs through race five and free program pages for those races will be available on both the USTA and Batavia Downs websites early next week.

September 17, 2020 - 2:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo: Before I Die with driver Dave McNeight III.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

It’s not too often a 9-year-old goes the race of a lifetime, but that’s just what Before I Die did in the $8,500 Open I Handicap trot at Batavia Downs on Wednesday evening (Sept. 16). 

Before I Die (Dave McNeight III) started from the pylons but got away fourth after a three-deep :27.4 mad dash for the front by Victoria Swan (Drew Monti), Il Mago (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Noble Legend (Billy Davis Jr.), who eventually took command. The action stayed fresh as the race passed the three-eighths where Before I Die tipped and proceeded in the breeze rounding the third turn. 

Before I Die trotted alongside Noble Legend and then went right by as the group entered the back straight and from there, he was gone. After opening up a 3-1/2 length lead in a 1:26.1 third quarter, Before I Die gained momentum with every stride around the last turn and then kicked away hard down the stretch to win by 7-3/4 lengths in 1:56.2, which was a new lifetime mark. 

Overlooked at 10-1, Before I Die ($22.80) scored his second win of the year for owners Jaime and Caren Dubay. Jaime Dubay trains the winner.

Above photo, Lady Dudette with driver Kyle Cummings (in red) out front, just before dead-heat with Protect Blue Chip and driver Billy Davis Jr. (in blue).

There was a dead-heat for win in the $8,000 Open I pace for fillies and mares after Protect Blue Chip (Billy Davis Jr.) led at every station with Lady Dudette (Kyle Cummings) right behind her. At the top of the stretch Lady Dudette pulled and matched strides with Protect Blue Chip all the way to the light and the photo nor the judges could separate the two in a race that went 1:54.4. 

Lady Dudette ($5) is owned by Kyle Cummings and trained by Tammy Cummings and Protect Blue chip ($3.40) is owned by Vogel and Wags Nags Stable, Team rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock and is trained by Maria Rice. 

Five drivers had multi-win nights at Batavia on Wednesday. Jim Morrill Jr. led the pack with three and Kyle Cummings, Ray Fisher Jr., Dave McNeight III and Drew Monti all scored two. Trainers Ryan Swift and Tammy Cummings also scored two wins apiece. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Sept. 19) at 5 p.m.

September 16, 2020 - 2:55pm
posted by Press Release in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

There is a carryover of $858 in the Pick-5 at Batavia Downs and a guaranteed pool of $3,000 has been announced for that wager this afternoon (Sept. 16).

The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages are available courtesy of Trackmaster on the USTA’s website or by direct download by clicking here.

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, the carryover amount will move to the Saturday (Sept. 19) program.

Post time for the first race today is 5 p.m.

September 13, 2020 - 12:23pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Mr. Euroman with driver Billy Davis Jr. in the forefront.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

After taking a week off, Mr. Euroman returned with strong resolve and won the $8,000 Open II Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 12). 

Daylight Rush (Dave McNeight III) started from the pylons and kept that position for most of the race. With no other leavers in the contest, McNeight guided Daylight Rush to a tepid half of :57.2 with Mr. Euroman (Billy Davis Jr.) sitting right on his back. 

Mcspidey (Kyle Cummings) pulled first-over in front of the stands but only got as close as a half-length to Daylight Rush by the three-quarters in 1:25.2. As they made their way through the turn, Mcspidey faded and Davis pulled right line on Mr. Euroman who popped out of the hole, barreled down the lane and ran down Daylight Rush at the wire to win by 1/4 length in 1:53.3, which was a new seasonal mark.  

It was the third win of the year for Mr. Euroman ($17.40) who is owned by Vogel and Wags Nags Stable, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock. Maria Rice is the trainer. 

In the $7,000 Open III pace, Polak A (Ray Fisher Jr.) came in fresh off a two-month layoff and bounced back strong his first start out of the box with a come-from-behind effort and strong stretch drive to catch the race-long leader Machlicious (Drew Monti) at the wire to win by a head in 1:55.2. 

Polak A ($25.20) is owned by Eric Prevost and trained by Sabrina Shaw. 

Billy Davis Jr. and Drew Monti both drove three winners on Saturday’s card while Shawn McDonough piloted two. McDonough also registered two wins on the training side along with Maria Rice.  

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs at 5 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 16). There will a carry over pool of $858 for the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday and as a result, a United States Trotting Association Strategic Wagering guaranteed pool of $3,000 for that wager with free program pages available starting Sunday (Sept. 14) at www.ustrotting.comwww.bataviadownsgaming.com and on the Batavia Downs Facebook page.

September 11, 2020 - 12:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, business, batavia, video.
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The gaming floor at Batavia Downs reopened this week, along with Fortune's and the Backstretch Grill, and the Grandstands will be opening soon, after a six-month closure mandated by the State of New York in the battle against COVID-19.

Race fans, however, are still prohibited at this point from attending live harness racing.

-----------------

Update: Sept. 11, 3 p.m.

Even at a fourth of maximum capacity, Batavia Downs Gaming will be able to keep its employees on the job but, unfortunately, monetary distributions to the municipalities it serves will suffer.

That’s the perspective of Henry Wojtaszek, president and chief executive officer of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. that oversee operations at the casino, harness race track and OTB parlors in 15 counties plus the cities of Buffalo and Rochester.

A public benefit corporation, WROTB returns a portion of its profits to counties and the two metropolitan communities.

“You know, we've done the math, we've done some projections, and we certainly can pay our bills probably at 25 percent,” Wojtaszek said on Wednesday, the day the gaming facility was allowed to reopen – but only at a quarter of the maximum occupancy. “If we remain pretty steady, we can pay our bills. We can keep our employment levels pretty close to where we were before.”

Wojtaszek said “difficulty” comes into play when considering profit and return to municipalities – “which is obviously one of the big reasons why we exist.”

“We exist to make sure we create jobs and create an environment for people to have an entertainment venue, but also to return money to the municipality. So that's going to be a little tough. But I think for now, even at 25 percent, we can cover our costs.”

He said the business has to dig itself out of a “deep hole” caused by ongoing utility and building maintenance costs and unemployment insurance and by having to pay employees still on the job.

Despite the setbacks, Wojtaszek said he it is “very rewarding to see people come back so quickly.”

“We were having people call us all the time during the last six months," he said. "They were stopping at the front door. A lot of emails following our Facebook page. So, when we knew we had a pretty good following of people who want to come back here, we'd like to think we do deliver great customer service."

Batavia Downs has had to cancel its summer concert series due to the pandemic, but six of the eight bands have been rescheduled for next year, Wojtaszek said.

“And we’ve added two,” he said. “We have Queensrÿche signed up for sure. And then the eighth band will remain silent until I confirm it. But it's a great band. They'll be probably the best band we've ever had here.”

September 10, 2020 - 1:23pm
posted by Press Release in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Press release:

On the approval of the New York State Gaming Commission, post time on Saturday at Batavia Downs will be moved back an hour --from 6 p.m. to 5 p.m. starting Sept. 12 and remain at that time for the remainder of the meet. 

Batavia Downs is racing a Wednesday/Saturday schedule and now both days will start at 5 p.m.

The only exceptions will be: Saturday Oct. 3 that will start at 7:05 p.m. due to the Preakness; Saturday Oct. 31 because of Halloween; and Saturday (Nov. 7) for the Breeders Cup, both of which will begin at 1:15 p.m. 

There are currently 27 racing dates left on the meet that runs through Saturday Dec. 12.

September 10, 2020 - 1:17pm
posted by Press Release in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo of Daylon Phantom with reinsman Renaldo Morales III.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

If last week’s 7-3/4 length romp wasn’t enough, Daylon Phantom put the exclamation point on the page this week with his best effort of 2020, winning the $8,000 Open I-II Handicap trot at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Sept. 9). 

Daylon Phantom (Renaldo Morales III) got away fifth while Il Mago (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Lunar Credit (Jim McNeight Jr.) jousted for the lead. With the latter taking control from the former by the half, Morales came first up with Daylon Phantom, drew alongside Lunar Credit at three-quarters and headed down the lane on top while holding off a late closing Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) to win by 1-1/4 in 1:57.1, which was a new seasonal mark. 

It was the second straight top class trot win for Daylon Phantom ($11.80) and owners Franklin Meier and Super Mile. Angelo Nappo is the trainer. 

Later in the $7,250 Open II-III trot, Victoria Swan (Drew Monti) led at every station before pulling away at the top of the lane and stretching out to a three length victory at the light in 1:58.1. Victoria Swan ($7.60) is owned by R.B.H. Ventures and Spagnola Racing. Sabrina Shaw trains the winner. 

Jim Morrill Jr. led all drivers on Wednesday with a grand slam on the card while Kyle Cummings had a hat trick of his own. Trainer Tammy Cummings was the top conditioner of the night with three wins as well. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Sept. 12) with a new, earlier post time of 5 p.m. 

September 9, 2020 - 10:53am
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, news, batavia, covid-19, coronavirus.

Press release:

Officials at Batavia Downs Gaming today announced that in accordance with the state’s guidelines for reopening, Batavia Downs Gaming will once again be open beginning at 8 a.m. today, Sept. 9th. 

Upon arrival, all guests of Batavia Downs will undergo temperature checks and must have on a face covering. Clear markings on the floor will indicate where patrons may go in order to maintain safe social distancing.

Select Restaurants and Bars will be open and patrons may enjoy food and drink inside those restaurants.

Batavia Downs will be increasing the rigor of cleaning and sanitizing procedures throughout the facility. They will also be increasing the number of shifts and hours of their environmental service team to maintain the desired level of cleanliness upon reopening. There will be more than 120 hand-sanitizing stations located on the gaming floor, event spaces and in all the restaurants.

Batavia Downs asks that guests looking to visit wash or sanitize their hands frequently and always after visiting the restroom. They should wipe down frequently used personal items such as their phone and glasses. If someone is feeling ill or has felt ill recently, they ask that you remain home until you are feeling better.

“We are so looking forward to welcoming back our guests,” said Henry Wojtaszek, president and CEO of Batavia Downs. “Our staff is working diligently on providing a safe, secure entertainment environment for everyone to return to and enjoy.”

September 6, 2020 - 12:45pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Class Six in the forefront with driver Billy Davis Jr.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

You might say it was a two-horse race at Batavia Downs, except that it was between the top two drivers in Western New York. Billy Davis Jr. won six races including the feature and Jim Morrill Jr. won five races including stringing four in a row, accounting for the winners of 11 of 13 races contested on Saturday night (Sept. 5). 

Davis’s best victory came in the $8,000 Open II Handicap pace behind Class Six. Davis sat in fourth with Class Six while Under Paid (Denny Bucceri) led the field around once. Then Davis pulled Class Six first over and made a three-wide move at the three-quarters, grabbed the lead by the top of the stretch and held off a late rally by Daylight Rush (Dave McNeight III) to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:54.1. 

It was the fifth win in 20 starts this year for Class Six ($19) who is owned by Eric Prevost and trained by Sabrina Shaw. 

Davis also scored with Inspector Murdoch (1:58.1, $4.80), Hold The Gold (1:55.4, $25.80), Sizzling summer (1:55.3, $5.10), Rockin Legend (1:58.2, $5.30) and This Baby Rocks (1:56.3, $2.20). All six wins were for six different trainers. 

Among the five wins Morrill scored was the co-featured $7,000 Open III pace where he went gate to wire with Atlantis ($3.80) in 1:56.3 for owner Mike Torcello and trainer Gerry Sarama. 

Morrill also won with Beachy Dream (1:55..2, $2.90), Sir Richie N (1:56.1, $3.20) and Odyssey Blue Chip (2:00.2, $8.60) which are also owned by Torcello and trained by Sarama giving them a grand slam evening, and Whosurpapa (1:56.1, $2.50). 

After their big nights, Morrill remains the leading driver of the meet with 39 wins, followed by Billy Davis Jr. who has 31. Drew Monti sits in third with 17 and Dave McNeight III is fourth with 16.

Davis is currently the ninth-leading percentage driver in North America for drivers with 500 or more starts (Davis has 536) with a UDR of .343, sitting right behind Tim Tetrick and just ahead of Dexter Dunn. Morrill is seventh among drivers in North America with between 300 and 499 starts (Morrill has 495) with a UDR of .383.

Batavia Downs had a big following at the windows on Saturday night as they registered their second largest handle ever under Western Regional Off Track Betting ownership, only behind the 2019 New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions last September. The Downs customers pumped over $120,000 more through the windows tonight than they did one years ago on this same date. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 9) with post time set for 5 p.m.

September 3, 2020 - 12:52pm

Press release:

Officials at Batavia Downs today announced that in preparation for the Kentucky Derby running this weekend, they have implemented several safety procedures in order to keep those wishing to make a wager safe.

All Western OTB Branches will open at 10:30 a.m. on Friday for advance wagering which will help guest avoid the crowds. All branches will open at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. All branches will have enter and exit only signs to help direct traffic.

As in year’s past, there will be extra staff on site to help give out free programs, answer any questions and help control the flow of traffic to help maintain safe social distancing. Face coverings are required to be worn inside all branches.

Due to COVID-19, there will not be any prize drawings at the branches this year and the Batavia Downs Simulcast Center will be closed. The gaming floor also remains closed at this time.

Wagers can also be placed on BataviaBets.com from a phone, tablet or computer. Customers can also wager over the telephone by calling the Dial-A-Bet service at 1-800-724-4000.

“The Triple Crown may be out of order this year, but we look forward to welcoming Derby bettors to our branches and EZ bets,” said Todd Haight, general manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. “If people are still hesitant to venture out, our Batavia Bets platform is a nice easy way to make a wager from the comfort and safety of your own home.”

About Batavia Downs/WROTB

Owned and operated by 15 Western New York counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo, Western Region Off-Track Betting Corporation is a public benefit corporation with headquarters in Batavia, NY. WROTB owns and operates 17 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility. Since its inception, Western Region OTB has generated over $220 million in operating and surcharge revenues to the taxpayers of those participating municipalities.

Editor's Note: The Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the United States, dating back to 1875. The 146th "Run for the Roses" can be seen Saturday on NBCSN (NBC's Sports Network) with live coverage from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. Post time for what's touted as "the most exciting 2 minutes in sports" is 6:50 p.m.

September 2, 2020 - 11:00pm
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs.

daylon_phantom.jpg

Photo: Daylon Phantom with driver Renaldo Morales III.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

A pair of big come-from-behind performances were put forth by the winners of the featured trot and pace that highlighted the card at Batavia Downs on Wednesday evening (Sept. 2). 

In the $8,000 Open I-II Handicap trot, Daylon Phantom (Renaldo Morales III) tracked the leading Il Mago (Jim Morrill Jr.) from fifth to the half before following State Ofmyhead As (Ray Fisher Jr.) outside to the three-quarters where he tipped three-deep and from there, annihilated the field down the lane winning by 7-3/4 lengths in 1:57.4.  

It was the third win of the year and a new seasonal mark for Daylon Phantom ($12.20) who is owned by Franklin Meier and Super Mile. Angelo Nappo does the training.  

lady_dudette.jpg

(Photo: Lady Dudette with driver Kyle Cummings.)

And in the $7,500 Open II-III pace for fillies and mares, Lady Dudette (Kyle Cummings) followed a similar path, getting away fifth behind Lady London (Ray Fisher Jr.) who had paced away to a five open length lead at the three-quarters.

There, Lady Dudette was fourth on the outside and pacing up a storm. A highly animated Cummings continued to urge the mare around the last turn and Lady Dudette caught the leader mid-stretch and opened up a 1-3/4 length lead at the wire in 1:55.4. 

Lady Dudette ($16.20) now has two wins in a row for Kyle Cummings, who also owns the mare. Tammy Cummings trains the winner. 

Driver Billy Davis Jr. had the hat trick on Wednesday while Ray Fisher Jr., Dave McNeight III and Jim Morrill Jr. all had doubles. Trainer Jim Clouser Jr. also had a training double. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night with a later post time of 7:05 due to the Kentucky Derby.

September 1, 2020 - 12:28pm
posted by Press Release in news, steve hawley, Batavia Downs, gaming, VLT, Gambling, covid-19.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley has sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo requesting the state allow casinos, Video Lottery Terminal gaming facilities and racetracks to open while following proper social distancing and COVID-19-protection protocols.

Hawley points out how other ventures have been allowed to open that often draw more risk in enclosed spaces compared to casinos, despite not bringing in the same revenue the state desperately needs to pick itself up.

“With the economy continuing to struggle, I see the unwillingness to allow casinos and other gaming ventures to open and follow appropriate protocol as nothing but hindering the state’s further economic recovery,” Hawley said.

“New York is losing millions in tax revenue by making this decision, not to mention keeping a sizeable job market from opening in the rural areas of the state that could use support at this time. We need to open these casinos, gaming sites and racetracks now.”

If you or someone you know struggles with a gambling addiction, know that you’re not alone, and you don’t have to fight it alone. For help and resources on how to combat gambling addiction, visit https://oasas.ny.gov/problem-gambling.

August 30, 2020 - 2:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo of Black Is Back with reinsman Drew Monti.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

After winning the top class pace going gate to wire last week, Black is Back did it again from off the pace on Saturday evening (Aug. 29) in the $8,500 Open I pacing feature at Batavia Downs. 

Black Is Back (Drew Monti) started from fifth and watched the action from there as Mr. Euroman N (Billy Davis Jr.) led the race to the half in :56.3. At that station Long Train Runnin (Denny Bucceri) came first up and provided live cover for Black Is Back, who was eagerly following. 

Long Train Runnin was grinding away at Mr. Euroman N up the backside to the three-quarters and into the final bend where Monti tipped Black Is Back three deep and threw the lines at him for more speed. Black Is Back responded and methodically overtook everyone as he paced down the lane to the wire and won by 3/4’s of a length in 1:53.4, which was a new seasonal mark.

It was the third Open win at Batavia this year for Black Is Back ($12.60) who is owned by Curtis Edholm and Mihajlo Zdjelar Sr. Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr. is the trainer. 

Drew Monti also scored a win in the underbilled $7,500 Open II pace with Stratosphere, who led every step of the mile before kicking away to a 2-1/4 length victory in 1:53.3, just missing his lifetime best by 1/5th of a second. It was the second straight win for Stratosphere ($3.20) who is owned by his driver and trained by Darrin Monti. 

Drew Monti capped off a big night with two more wins with Cultural Paradise (1:56.4, $4.00) and Charmbo Orbit (1:55, $11.80) giving him a grand slam for the evening. 

Jim Morrill Jr. also scored a grand slam, winning with Sir Richie N (1:57, $2.90), Triple Seelster (1:55.4, $4.50), Littlebitaclass (1:57.2, $2.90) and Mr. Sideburns (1:57.1, $4.40). 

Other horsemen tallying multiple wins included driver Billy Davis Jr. and trainers Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr. and Gerry Sarama who all garnered two wins on the night. 

After Saturday’s action, Jim Morrill Jr. continues to lead all drivers for wins during the meet with 32 victories, Billy Davis Jr. is second with 23 and Drew Monti jumped into third Saturday with 15. Dave McNeight III (14) and Ray Fisher Jr. (12) round out the top five.  

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 2) with post time at 5 p.m.

August 27, 2020 - 11:39am
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs.

HP Sissy back on her game in Batavia feature

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

HP Sissy had a career session in 2019 but hasn’t won a top class pace this year since March 4. That drought was quenched on Wednesday (Aug. 26) when the mare dominated in the $8,500 Open I distaff pace at Batavia Downs. 

HP Sissy (Denny Bucceri) started from post two and stayed right there while Tellawoman (Drew Monti), who left from post three, marched off quarters of :28, :57.3 and 1:25.2. At that point Bucceri finally popped the deuce and was matching strides with Tellawoman around the final turn in what turned into a very exciting finish. As the pair headed down the lane, HP Sissy got the advantage, kicked away from Tellawoman and the rest of the field and scored a 2-1/2 length win in 1:54.2.

It was the fourth win of the year for HP Sissy ($7.20) who is owned by Finocchario’s Dream Stable and trained by Mike Ohol.

In the secondary featured $7,500 Open II trot, New York Sire Stake 3-year-old trotting colt Barn Holden made a cameo appearance at Batavia and displayed what’s made him the fourth highest point-getter in his division this year.  

Barn Holden (Kyle Cummings) got away fourth while Lunar Credit (Jim McNeight Jr.) led the field the entire race. Heading into the stretch Lunar Credit had a two-length advantage and looked like a sure winner. But Barn Holden, who was almost four-lengths off the front at that point, displayed a furious :28.4 brush coming to the wire and caught Lunar Credit by 1/4 length in 1:56.3. 

Barn Holden ($6.30) scored his third win of the year and pushed his earnings to $70,360 in the process for owners Steve and Nancy Pratt, Purple Haze Stables and Out In The Country Stables. Steve Pratt trains the sophomore son of Conway Hall-Barn Babe. 

Driver Dave McNeight III and trainer Jennifer Giuliani each had three wins on the night. 

Racing resumed at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Aug. 29) with post time at 6 p.m. 

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 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.

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