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February 13, 2019 - 12:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, batavia, music, news, entertaiment.

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced they will be putting on their very own Woodstock Tribute with “BATAVIASTOCK,” taking place on Saturday, July 20th. The show will consist of five tribute bands of artists who played at the original Woodstock Festival and will be headlined by Melanie, who actually performed at Woodstock in 1969.

Other performers include: Green River Revival – A Creedence Clearwater Revival Tribute, Abraxas – a Santana and Sly & the Family Stone Tribute, The Who Show – a Who Tribute, and Piece of My Heart – a Janis Joplin Tribute.

Concert Headliner Melanie hails from Queens and was one of only three women who performed solo at Woodstock in the summer of '69, playing on the first day of the festival. Known for her hits "Brand New Key," "Ruby Tuesday," "What Have They Done to My Song Ma," and "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)," she continues to perform across the country. She will be joined by her daughter, Layla.

Tickets will be available at www.BataviaConcerts.com beginning at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14th. Individual pre-ale tickets will be $10 for General Admission while VIP tickets will again be just $15. Concertgoers will be able to purchase tickets in the Premium Section directly in front of the stage for $20. Tickets can also be purchased at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel at the Lucky Treasures Gift Shop located in the lobby.

“With the original Woodstock festival celebrating its 50th anniversary, we were inspired to put on an event that showcases tribute acts from that iconic concert,” said Henry Wojtaszek, CEO/president of Batavia Downs Gaming. “We are so pleased to welcome Melanie, who performed at the original Woodstock, to our stage as well.”

Hotel room/ticket packages will be available. Purchase of a hotel room on the night of a concert using the code BS720 includes two VIP tickets to the show while supplies last. Each concert ticket is also redeemable once at Player’s Club in the three days following the concert for $10 Free Play to be used on one of Batavia Downs Gaming’s 800+ gaming machines. The concert is held Rain or Shine. Additional information may be found at www.BataviaConcerts.com under the BataviaStock event.

February 8, 2019 - 7:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, news, batavia, business.

 

Video Sponsor

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel announced the official opening of its new Gatsby bar with a ribbon cutting on Friday at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel. The Gatsby bar is located just outside Fortune’s restaurant and will feature high-end bourbons, gins and other spirits along with other handcrafted cocktails. 

“We’re excited for guests to check out the Gatsby Bar for quick drink or appetizer before dinner in Fortune’s,“ said Vice President of Operations Scott Kiedrowski. “Alternatively it’s a nice place to get a quiet drink if 34 Rush is busy with sports or live entertainment.”

The bar will also feature New York State Lottery Games like Quickdraw and will have a self-service terminal to place horse wagers.

“This is the first phase to open of our new expansion,“ said Henry Wojtaszek, president and CEO. “This and those that follow will better serve our valued guests.”

Expansions for more seating at Thurman’s 34 Rush and Fortunes are due to open in the following months. A new look inside the “Park Place,” formerly known as the Paddock Room, is near completion.

“This is another banner day in the history of our facility,“ said COO Michael Nolan. “We pride ourselves on customer service and giving our guests what they want. Our expansions continue to make the facility a premier entertainment destination.”

February 7, 2019 - 2:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, music, arts, entertaiment, news, notify.

bownsconcerts2019.jpg

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced the lineup for their third annual Rockin’ the Downs concert series, which take place outside on the racetrack, with eight consecutive Friday dates, starting in June and running into August.

Kicking off the series on Friday, June 21st is Grammy Award-winning rock band Survivor. Best known for the double-platinum-certified song "Eye of the Tiger," Survivor’s massive hits also include "Burning Heart," "The Search Is Over," "High On You," "Is This Love," and "I Can’t Hold Back." This Academy Award-nominated band has had 18 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 during their storied career.

Next up, on Friday, June 28th is classic rock band Queensrÿche. With more than 30 million albums sold worldwide, Queensrÿche continues to tour the globe to sold-out audiences. The band has earned multiple Grammy Award nominations, and won the MTV “Viewer’s Choice” award for the #1 chart-topping hit "Silent Lucidity." Even with 11 gold and platinum plaques and several Top 10 hard rock anthems under their belt, Queensrÿche consistently delivers high-octane live shows combining the hungry fire of a new band with the tempered experience of master showmen.

On Friday, July 5th Canadian rock icon Kim Mitchell takes the stage in Batavia. A gifted and peer-respected guitar player as well as an acclaimed songwriter, Mitchell has recorded many hits, including "Go For Soda," "Rock 'N 'Roll Duty," "Patio Lanterns," "I am a Wild Party," "Easy To Tame," and "All We Are," to name just a few. Mitchell has achieved gold and multiplatinum sales status over a long and storied career that focused on “alternative” and "independent” long before the words became clichés.

Rocking the stage on Friday, July 12th is singer Steve Augeri. Best known as the lead vocalist for the rock group Journey from 1998-2006, Augeri headlined an eight-year tenure that included three albums, and brought one of the world’s most accomplished melodic rock groups back to the stage for multiple world tours to millions of adoring fans. Augeri promises to bring his high-energy mix of new music as well as material from his career to the Downs.

Gin Blossoms performs on Friday, July 19th. Hailing from Tempe, Ariz., the band hit the big time with their first major label album, "New Miserable Experience," which went quadruple platinum, and gave us the hit single "Hey Jealousy." Other hits from the Grammy-nominated band include "Follow You Down," "Mrs. Rita," "Found Out About You," "Pieces Of The Night," and "‘Til I Hear It From You." Gin Blossoms remain a rare breed, continuing to create, craft and perform their glorious catalog of material.

Friday, July 26th sees Kenny Wayne Shepherd at the Downs. Synonymous with the phrase “young blues rock guitarist," Shepherd has established himself as an immensely popular recording artist, a consistently in-demand live act, and an influential force in the worldwide resurgence of interest in the blues. The Louisiana-born axeman and songsmith has sold millions of albums, shining a light on the rich blues of the past while forging ahead with his own twist on a classic sound he has embodied since his teens.

Country music royalty Tanya Tucker will rock the Downs on Friday, Aug. 2nd. Named one of CMT’s 40 Greatest Women of Country Music, this Academy of Country Music Award-winning and Grammy-nominated singer’s number-one hits include "Delta Dawn," "Blood Red and Goin’ Down," "Would You Lay With Me (In a Field of Stone)," "Lizzie and the Rainman," "San Antonio Stroll," "Here’s Some Love," and "Strong Enough to Bend."

Closing out the series on Friday, Aug. 9th is Theory of a Deadman. Hailing from Delta, British Columbia, Canada, Theory, as they are known, has turned their hard rock/alternative sound into eight top 10 hits on the U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, including three number-one tracks in "Bad Girlfriend," "Lowlife" and "Rx (Medicate)."

Tickets for all eight concerts will be available at www.BataviaConcerts.com beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 8th.

Individual presale tickets to each concert will remain at $10 for General Admission, while VIP tickets will again be $25. For the first time, concertgoers will be able to purchase tickets in the Premium Section directly in front of the stage. Premium tickets are $50 and will be very limited for each concert. General Admission tickets are $15 if purchased on the day of the concert. Tickets can also be purchased at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel at the Lucky Treasures Gift Shop located in the lobby.

Concertgoers will once again have the option of purchasing a “Season Pass,” which includes admission to all eight concerts at a discounted rate. The Season Pass for 2019 is $60 for General Admission and $150 for VIP.

“We are very excited to once again host the region’s premier concert series, which includes another great lineup of musical icons,” said Henry Wojtaszek, CEO/president of Batavia Downs Gaming.

“We hope the community will continue to enjoy what has been an entertaining and affordable event each year. It’s great to see the community come together for a series that everyone can be a part of.”

Hotel room/ticket packages will be available for each concert. Purchase of a hotel room on the night of a concert using the code includes two VIP tickets to the show while supplies last. Each concert ticket is also redeemable once at Player’s Club in the three days following the concert for $10 Free Play to be used on one of Batavia Downs Gaming’s 800+ gaming machines.

Concerts are held Rain or Shine. Additional information may be found at www.BataviaDownsGaming.com.

Photo by Howard Owens.

January 28, 2019 - 2:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, sports betting, news.

Press release:

Today Henry F. Wojtaszek, president/CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming and Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation (WROTB), made the following statement regarding today’s proposed sports betting regulations by the New York State Gaming Commission.

“While we’re gratified the State Gaming Commission took the first step in authorizing sports betting in New York State, we think it’s important our million-plus customers and all Western New York sports fans and communities benefit from sports betting opportunities in their own back yard. Sports betting should be allowed at Western Regional Off-Track Betting (WROTB) and at OTB’s around the state.

"As currently proposed, a Bills fan would have to go to a Native American casino or drive 90 minutes to place a bet on the Bills. That’s not exactly convenient, and it won’t provide critical tax revenue to local governments.

“As the only municipally owned and operated a gaming facility in New York State, WROTB is not just a strong economic driver for Western New York, but we provide critical funding for community development, which creates jobs, protects families and helps to offset tax increases for residents.

“The more revenue we generate, the more we give back to communities. Since our inception, we have generated more than $226 million to 17 municipalities – legalizing sports betting in our region would only increase these important contributions.

"We look forward to working with officials on both sides of the aisle and the New York State Gaming Commission to ensure Western New Yorkers don’t miss out on this opportunity to create hundreds of jobs, enhance our tourism industry, and allow millions of dollars in investment to flow through our neighborhoods.”

December 31, 2018 - 12:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, news, batavia.

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel is announcing that due to the severe wind weather warning currently forecast for this evening, they will be moving up the time for their New Year’s Eve fireworks show to 9 p.m. from the previously scheduled midnight start.

“In order to ensure the safety of our valued guests and at the advice of our fireworks vendor we have decided to move up the showtime,” said Henry Wojtaszek, CEO/president at Batavia Downs Gaming.

Those wishing to see the fireworks may do so by exiting the building by the Homestretch Grill, or by viewing them inside via the enclosed Grandstands on the second floor.

December 20, 2018 - 1:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing, news.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The 67-night session of harness racing at Batavia Downs for 2018 wrapped up on Saturday (Dec. 15) with both highs and lows being noted. 

Whereas many competitive races were witnessed over the oldest lighted harness track in America, fewer races overall affected the Downs handle for the meet. The main reason for fewer races was a lack of available horses to race. 

In 2018 only 672 races were filled compared to 806 in 2017 and due to 134 less races (a 16-percent reduction) the handle also finished down 11.2 percent. 

“The reduction of races was due to the decreased amount of horses in the area," said Todd Haight, director/manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs.  "And we had a number of short fields trying to fill out race cards besides. Both of these factors played havoc with our numbers.” 

“However I also feel the numbers are a bit skewed since we were coming off a record season last year. That said, we are excited about the 2019 meet.”

There were three cards cancelled during the meet: two for lack of entries and one for weather-related issues. 

Although fewer races were held, the ones that went on provided excellent competition on the track and wagering opportunities for Downs' customers. 

Eight visits by the New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) during the summer months and a visit by the great Foiled Again were highlights of the meet and drew large crowds trackside. 

On the track Drew Monti took the driving title, garnering 122 wins for the meet and earning $724,847 in purses. This was Monti’s second driving title in the last three years at Batavia. 

Kevin Cummings finished second with 102 wins and Billy Davis Jr. was third with 99.

JD Perrin grabbed his fourth training trophy as a result of sending out 61 winners who earned $333,348. Perrin finished ahead of James Clouser Jr. who had 43 wins and Shawn McDonough who registered 29. 

Five track records were broken over the six-month run. 

Standards for 2-year-old pacing colt (Melodies Major, 1:54.1), 3-year-old trotting gelding and all-aged trotting (Winning Shadow, 1:53.4), aged trotting mare (Chelsea’s Chance, 1:56.1) and trotting under saddle (No Recess, 2:02.1) were all rewritten at the Genesee County oval. 

And possibly the biggest news of the meet was the announcement that Batavia Downs was named the host track for the NYSS Night of Champions that will be held on Saturday, Sept. 14. That night also marks the return of the Downs' signature race, the $50,000 Kane Memorial Pace, making it the richest night of harness racing ever offered in Western New York. 

The 65-card meet will kick off on Wednesday (July 24) pending state approval of the dates.

December 18, 2018 - 7:01pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, music, entertainment, news.

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced the lineup for their late winter and spring indoor tribute shows, with one concert each month featuring music from great artists.

The Paddock Room will play host to ZBTB, based out of Rochester. ZBTB is the nation’s premier Zac Brown Tribute Band. The band captures the true Zac Brown experience. They will play on Saturday, Jan. 19th.

Friday, Feb. 8th is the date for the Soul Brothers – a Blues Brothers Tribute from London, Ontario, CanadaReal-life brothers Chris and Geoff Dahl have been performing as the iconic duo for 25 years. The show features songs from the Blues Brothers, James Brown, Ray Charles, the Righteous Brothers, Sam and Dave and more!

Next up, on Saturday, March 23rd, Batavia Downs welcomes Music of the Stars – A  Tribute to Eight Internationally Famous Artists Such as Neil Diamond, Tom Jones, Elton John, Paul McCartney, The Bee Gees, Roy Orbison, Gary Puckett and Elvis. Music of the Stars has achieved a reputation of excellence, owing to its committed and talented team members and mentors.

21 Gun Salute –  AC/DC Tribute takes the stage on Saturday, April 6th. 21 GUN SALUTE is undoubtedly one of the premiere AC/DC reviews ever assembled. The band plays true homage to AC/DC’s high voltage rock 'n' roll. Every detail has been painstakingly reproduced, from the Hell’s Bell stage props to Angus Young’s schoolboy outfit and signature live antics and lead singer’s dead-on vocal rendition of both Bon Scott and Brian Johnson.

$10 General Admission tickets went on sale at www.BataviaConcerts.com for each show today, Dec. 18th. Each ticket is redeemable on the gaming floor the day of the concert or the next day for $10 in Free Play. Tickets can also be purchased in person at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel at their “Lucky Treasures” Gift Shop located in the lobby. Seating availability varies for each concert, full details are available on the website.

“Following the success of our fall tribute shows, including several sellouts, we are excited to continue booking these events to entertain our guests,” said Henry Wojtaszek, CEO/president at Batavia Downs Gaming.

“With ticket prices again set at a reasonable $10, getting $10 back in Free Play, we’re trying to make sure everyone can enjoy these great tribute shows and visit our newly renovated facility.”

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. WROTB owns and operates 29 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility. Since its inception, Western Region OTB has generated more than $215 million in operating and surcharge revenues to the taxpayers of those participating municipalities.

December 16, 2018 - 1:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo of Cheyenne Louie with driver Drew Monti.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

On a night when Drew Monti was to be honored as the top driver of the 2018 Batavia Downs meet, he put on a clinic and showed why he toted home the hardware again as he won seven races on Saturday night (Dec. 15).

Also it was no surprise that trainer JD Perrin, who Monti regularly drives for and was also honored as the top conditioner of the session, sent out six winners of his own.

Those winning connections put the exclamation point on their stellar season as they watched Cheyenne Louie cruise to the easiest of victories in the $20,000 Dash for the Holiday Cash late closer final, which was the feature race of the night.

Cheyenne Louie (Drew Monti) left strong and grabbed the lead past the eighth pole and from there the race was history. Cruising along in level fractions of :28.2, :58.2 and 1:27.4, Monti had the field stacked up behind as he sat chilly in the bike. At the top of the stretch several horses fanned wide to try and close the gap but Cheyenne Louie was four-lengths gone and under wraps when he hit the wire first in 1:57.

It was the seventh win of the year for Cheyenne Louie ($3.20) whose share of the purse pushed him to $26,983 for 2018. Cheryle Perrin owns the winner that is trained by JD Perrin.

Then the same driver/trainer pair hooked up to win the $11,000 overnight featured Open Handicap pace with Lucky McTrucky.

Getting away fifth in the short field of five, Lucky McTrucky tracked the early pace before pulling past the half, tipping three deep at three-quarters and clearing the front at the top of the lane to win by three in 1:55.2.

It was the 56th career win and 14th tally of the year for Lucky McTrucky ($5.70) who is now only $1,095 shy of $100,000 in earnings for 2018. Tessa Roland owns the 9-year-old McCardle gelding.

Other winners Monti steered besides the aforementioned Cheyenne Louie and Lucky McTrucky were with Cobble Beach (1:57.2, $4.70), Rock To Glory (1:56.4, $3.10), RM Hawk (1:55.3, $4.10), Heaven Rocks (1:56.3, $3.70) and OK Galahad (1:57, $4.10).

Perrin's training double Hat Trick consisted of five that Monti drove (Cheyenne Louie, Lucky McTrucky, Rock To Glory, RM Hawk and Heaven Rocks) along with Foreign Officer (1:56.4, $7.70) who was driven by Ray Fisher Jr.

After the 11th race this dynamic duo was named top driver and trainer of the Batavia Downs meet by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA).

 

This is the second driving title for Drew Monti (in photo above with trophy) at Batavia Downs and third overall of his career. The 24-year-old Monti put together another stellar year in the bike; to date starting 572 times, winning 122 races, finishing second 90 times and third 72 times. Those starts earned his connections $724,805 in purses and earned himself a Universal Driver Rating (UDR) of .337.

JD Perrin (above, center) won the training title at the Downs three straight years from 2014-2016 making this his fourth title at the track. With 208 starts, Perrin trainees have won 61 times with 31 seconds and 19 thirds giving him a Universal Trainer Rating (UTR) of .409. His stable banked $333,648 for the session.

Batavia Downs will resume live racing in 2019 on Wednesday (July 24) and is the host track of the New York SIre Stakes (NYSS) Night of Champions which will be held on Saturday (Sept. 14).

December 13, 2018 - 2:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, president, UNY USHWA

The final weekend of racing at Batavia Downs kicks off on Friday (Dec. 14) and although 26 more races are yet to be contested, there are two that have already been settled. 

The dash winning driver and trainer for the 2018 meet are Drew Monti and JD Perrin.

This is the second driving title for Drew Monti (inset photo, right) at Batavia Downs and third overall of his career.

The 24-year-old Monti put together another stellar year in the bike; to date starting 560 times, winning 115 races, finishing second 89 times and third 72 times.

Those starts earned his connections $686,305 in purses and earned himself a Universal Driver Rating (UDR) of .337. 

Those numbers were solid additions to Monti’s overall figures for the year where he has 252 wins, 194 seconds and 174 thirds out of 1,260 starts with more than $1.52 million in earnings and a UDR of .332. 

JD Perrin (inset photo, below left) won the training title at the Downs three straight years from 2014-2016 making this his fourth title at the track.

With 192 starts, Perrin trainees have won 55 times with 31 seconds and 19 thirds giving him a Universal Trainer Rating (UTR) of .409.

His stable banked $298,248 for the session. 

Perrin’s annual numbers show 442 starts yielding 126 wins, 68 seconds and 51 thirds earning his group $633,623.

Also, Perrin currently ranks fourth in North America for UTR among trainers with less than 500 starts this year. 

Drew Monti and JD Perrin will receive their trophies in the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle at Batavia Downs after the 12th race on Saturday night (Dec. 15).

Please note that post time for Saturday’s card is early at 4:45 p.m.

Also on Saturday night, there are many opportunities for the fans to take advantage of before the lights go off for the last time this year. 

The $20,000 final of the Dash for the Holiday Cash series is the feature event and goes as the sixth race. 

There is a free Pick-6 contest with a mandatory payoff of $1,000.

The Pick-6 starts in race four and runs through race nine.

Entry blanks can be picked up at Players Club and can be deposited with your selections prior to the start of the fourth race.

Entries are limited to one per person. 

The Pick-6 is cosponsored by the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association. 

Then there will be a random drawing from all the Pick-6 entries to win 10 “Driver of the Meet” Drew Monti bobble heads and 10 official Dan Patch Awards baseball caps.

Ten winners will be drawn and each will receive both prizes. 

The bobble head and baseball cap give away is sponsored by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) and TAG Jewelers. 

Friday night (Dec. 14) is the UNY USHWA Night of Distinction awards presentations at Batavia Downs that will take place in the winner's circle between races. Post time on Friday is 6 p.m.

December 12, 2018 - 1:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs, horses of the meet.

By Tim Bojarski, president, UNY USHWA

Akron, NY --- With the Batavia Downs meet coming to a close this Saturday (Dec. 15) the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) has announced their horses of the meet.

Horse of the Meet -- In Runaway Bay N

In Runaway Bay N (Mach Three-Pullover Brown) raced in the top pacing class at Batavia Downs 13 times in 2018, more than any other horse at the meet. From 17 total starts he won five, finished second twice and third five more times and earned $39,455.

That total surpassed any other male pacer this season. He also defeated the legendary Foiled Again on Saturday (Sept. 21) in that great horse's last career appearance at the Downs. 

In Runaway Bay N is owned by Mark Jakubik, trained by Angelo Nappo and driven primarily by Kevin Cummings. 

Mare of the Meet -- Sportsmuffler

Sportsmuffler (Sportsmaster-Whatifthere’smore) competed in 14 Mares Open paces at Batavia Downs this year and won six of them. And when she won she did it with an exclamation point. In her 16 total starts this meet she also had three seconds and three thirds giving her an earnings total of $42,363 collected at the Downs. 

Sportsmuffler is owned by Rose Campbell, trained by Steve Kiblin and driven primarily by Billy Davis Jr.

Trotter of the Meet -- Lougazi

Lougazi (Lou’s Legacy-Winning Blade) had a rough start to the meet, making breaks with frequency. But in mid-September everything seemed to click and he turned into a monster. Making his way up through the classes, he hit the Open I and looked unbeatable there for a month.

He won three in a row and four out of six and took a lifetime mark of 1:56.3 in the process. When the dust settled he had 14 starts with six wins, three seconds and one third and earned $38,231.

Lougazi is owned by Mary Warriner, trained by Ryan Swift and driven by Ray Fisher Jr. 

Iron Horse of the Meet -- Empire Earl N

Empire Earl N (Earl-Santa Nita) is a 10-year-old trotter who came to North America from the New Zealand in 2016. In the little over two years he’s been racing here he has more than doubled his previous lifetime bank and almost tripled his wins as well.

His steady work continued at Batavia Downs this meet where he raced 19 times, won four times, finished second six times and third four more. These efforts earned him $43,736 in purses. 

Empire Earl N is owned by Kim Asher, trained by the 2018 Rising Star Award winner Riley Asher-Stalbaum and driven primarily by Drew Monti. 

The connections of all four horses will receive their trophies in the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle during the Night of Distinction at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Dec. 14).

December 11, 2018 - 1:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, president, UNY USHWA.

She was born to race and hit the ground running this, her first year of training. And hard work and perseverance has paid instant dividends for Riley Asher-Stalbaum and that is why she was named the 2018 Rising Star at Batavia Downs by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA). 

Asher-Stalbaum was brought up in the business, the daughter of accomplished trainer Kim Asher and longtime driver Larry Stalbaum. And having them first as parents and then as tutors have helped her to become very successful in life as a young lady and also in harness racing in her first venture as a full-time conditioner. 

This year, Asher-Stalbaum has raced a small but powerful stable that featured win-machines Quicksilvercandy A, Kaitlyn Rae and Empire Earl N who combined have a total of 38 victories and $231,488 in purses earned in 2018. 

At Batavia Downs her numbers showed 124 starts with 17 wins, 15 seconds and 17 thirds and $133,409 in earnings. 

All those statistics are very impressive for a first-year trainer only 11 days removed from her 19th birthday. 

Asher-Stalbaum aspires to make a living doing what she loves and follow in the footsteps of her parents. And if the results of her first year are any indication, the business better take notice of the girl in the red and white silks in the coming years. 

Riley Asher-Stalbaum will receive her trophy in the Purple Haze Winner's Circle during the Night of Distinction at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Dec. 14).

Submitted photo from Riley Asher-Stalbaum on social media.

December 10, 2018 - 5:18pm

Press release:

The Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund has announced that the 2019 New York Sire Stakes Finals will be hosted on Saturday, Sept. 14 at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel.

The richest night of racing in New York, the “Night of Champions” will hand out $1.8 million in purse money to the top state-bred 2 and 3-year-old Standardbred horses.

The Fund’s Board of Trustees previously selected Batavia based on its impressive proposal to host the event and offer an exciting fan experience. This will be Batavia Downs’ first time hosting the event.

The New York Sire Stakes program promotes the breeding, buying, and racing of Standardbred horses in New York State, and is administered by the Fund. It was the first program of is kind, featuring 2 and 3-year old colts and fillies, and has become the model for state-bred racing programs in North America.

About the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund

The Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund is a public benefit corporation established in 1965 by the Laverne Law (Laws of New York, Chapter 567 of the Laws of 1965).

The mission of the fund is to promote agriculture through the breeding of Standardbred horses and the conduct of equine research within the state. To carry out its legislative mission, the Fund administers the New York Sire Stakes races, Excelsior/State Fair Series races, and County Fair Races.

Additionally, the Fund provides assistance to county agriculture societies and contributes to the statewide 4-H program and to the Harry M. Zweig Fund for Equine Research.

December 10, 2018 - 12:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs, USHWA, steve pratt.

By Tim Bojarski, president, Upstate New York USHWA

The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) has announced that Steve Pratt (inset photo) will receive their Lifetime Achievement Award during the Night of Distinction at Batavia Downs on Friday (Dec. 14).  

Pratt first got his grooms license in 1970 and from there has been involved in harness racing ever since. He has been training and racing horses in Western New York since the late seventies when the star of his barn was an Open trotter named Willow Hill Boy who under the reinsmanship of the legendary Gaston Guindon, won 42 races in only five years against the best horses on the grounds at the time. 

Pratt moved on from racing overnights to concentrate on breaking and developing young horses. He became a presence on the New York county fair circuit but made the move to the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) in the mid-'90s. There he found early success with horses like Sal The Barber (1:58.2, $114,887) and Choyote’s Miss (1:59.1, $121,785). But he really got on a successful roll in the NYSS starting in 2012. 

For the last seven years Pratt has been a trotting force in the state-bred series with a string of “Barn” named horses that have competed in the NYSS, the Excel series and also at the county fairs. The parade of his champions is led most prominently by Barn Doll (1:52.1, $874,083), Barn Bella (1:51.3, $742,350), Barn Girl (1:52.3, $734,668), Barn Babe (1:54.2, $350,463) and Barn Winner (1:56, $165,273).   

During those seven years Pratt-trained horses have earned more than $2 million in only 227 starts, winning 97 races which gave him a phenomenal 42-percent win percentage. Pratt’s Universal Trainer Rating (UTR) for that same period is a stellar .558 and all this was accomplished racing primarily in stake competition. 

Steve Pratt will receive his trophy in the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle between races during the live card. 

December 10, 2018 - 12:27pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo of driver Kevin Cummings courtesy of Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

After being involved in an accident at Batavia Downs late last week, perennial Western New York driving leader Kevin Cummings will not return to action until next year. 

While driving in the first race on Friday night (Dec. 7) Cummings horse made a break causing the horse directly behind to collide into him, hitting Cummings on the left-side back at full speed. The two horses became entangled but were brought to a stop in the clubhouse turn just past the half. 

Cummings and the driver of the other horse, Mike Caprio (who also became unseated), were evaluated on site immediately after the track was cleared. Caprio returned to drive the remainder of the night however Cummings was sent for further medical evaluation. 

After being examined in the hospital it was determined that Cummings had three broken ribs, torn cartilage and internal bleeding. He was sent home and is in the process of healing under the care of his personal physician. 

Given the severity of his injuries, Cummings estimated his time away from the sulky to be two to three months. 

“I always wear my safety vest under my colors. It’s paid off in the past and it certainly paid of Friday. If I didn’t have that thing on I would have crushed my entire rib cage and had extensive organ damage,” Cummings said.

“I always tell the young guys to make sure they use theirs because you never know when you are going down.” 

Cummings, who is a four-time dash champion at Batavia Downs, is currently second in the standings this year with 102 wins and had a legitimate shot at taking a fifth title. This season saw him earn more than $1.2 million in purses, which is the 10th straight year he has gone over the million-dollar mark. 

For his career Cummings has won 3,820 races and over $17 million in earnings.

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