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Batavia Downs

January 29, 2023 - 5:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crossroads house, Batavia Downs, news, batavia.

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The leadership at Crossroads House often talks about the importance of the volunteers who assist people in their last stages of life.  For Cathy Winding, volunteering at Crossroads House saved her life.

"I moved here many years ago, and it was hard," Windings said during the 25th-anniversary celebration of Crossroads Hosue at Batavia Downs on Saturday. "I left my family, my friends. I moved to Batavia, and I found Crossroads House. 

"I had read about it in the newspaper, and my mom had passed, then my dad passed, and I wished I had a place like Crossroads House because they had a horrible time."

She said she finds it rewarding to care for the people who stay in Crossroads House.

Julie Tybor, who is also a volunteer, also said it's rewarding.   

"Being with other families, spending time with other families has been the most rewarding part," Tybor said.

Tybor, left, and Winding, right, are pictured above with Benita Scoins, with stars from a wall of honor.  As part of the event's fundraising event, people could buy stars with names on them, either of people who have passed while staying at Crossroads or of the volunteers they appreciate. Scoins is holding the stars dedicated to family members, including Ron Weimer, who was the first resident of Crossroads House.

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Paul Figlow and Joanne Patri pull numbers in the night's reverse 50-50 drawing -- when you're number is called, you're eliminated from the drawing.  When there are only two numbers left, the number pulled is the winner ... 

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Meghan Gallagher was the winner ... 

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She donated her $600 prize back to Crossroads House.

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January 24, 2023 - 2:51pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in harness racing, Sports, Batavia Downs.

Press release:

On Monday (Jan. 23), Batavia Downs began a four-week Pop-Up Racing Series for Western New York-based Trackmaster pacers and trotters with preliminary leg classes going for between $6,000 and $9,000 each (depending on class). Monday saw 10 series races go postward and these events provided some very competitive racing.

The best pacing effort of the day was turned in by Sportskeeper (Jim Morrill Jr.) who went gate to wire in the $9,000 Trackmaster 78 class.

Morrill left from post five with Sportskeeper and grabbed the lead before the :27.4 quarter. Then once he settled on the point, the pair dominated the field. Operating with a gapped advantage, Sportskeeper went :56.2 to the half and 1:25.1 to three-quarters with only Pet Sur-rock (Kyle Cummings) staying remotely close. When he turned for home, Sportskeeper was clear, under a line drive from Morrill and willingly paced away to a 2-1/2 length decision in 1:55.2.

It was the second straight win for Sportskeeper ($3.70) at Batavia and the purse pushed his lifetime earnings over the $600,000 mark, as he now boasts $603,847 in bank. The classy 11-year-old gelded son of Sportswriter-Keeper Flying is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Sammy Smith.

The top trot came in the $9,000 Trackmaster 77 leg where Sanchez Rocks (Kyle Cummings) made a move past the half pay off with an impressive victory.

Pilgrim Caviar (Shawn Gray) led early and tripped the timer in a quick :28.4 before heading into turn two. But at the same time, Good Boy (Ray Fisher Jr.) brushed and crushed to the front and completed the first circuit in :59.4. It was at that point that Sanchez Rocks vacated the pylons from fourth and started trotting up a storm. Sanchez Rocks drew even with Good Boy on the backside, cleared at three-quarters and then extended his lead with every stride from there. By the top of the stretch, he was long gone and trotted home under no urging at all to win by 2-3/4 lengths in 2:00.2.

Sanchez Rocks ($5.80) is owned by Marie Houghtaling and trained by Ron Houghtaling.

The finals for the Pop-Up series races will be held on Monday (Feb. 20) and offer purses ranging from $12,000 to $18,000. Consolation races will also be offered and will go for $7,000 to $10,000 each. Spots in both will be secured by the top money earners in each Trackmaster category.

Jim Morrill Jr. and Keith Kash Jr. both had driving hat tricks on Monday, while trainers Joe Skowyra and Andy Torre scored two wins apiece.

Morrill is now only four wins away from 8,000 career victories, a number he should hit within the next week at Batavia. 

There will be two carryovers and a guaranteed pool when live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Thursday (Jan. 26) at 3 p.m. First, there is a $4,741 carryover in the Pick-5 (which starts in race one), and Batavia Downs has announced that pool will have a $10,000 guarantee through the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program. Complete program pages for those five races will be available on the USTA’s website under the “Handicapping” tab. Then later in the card there is a growing carryover of $1,322 in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta, which will be available in the 11th race.

Free full card past performance forms for the entire card of live racing at Batavia can always be downloaded at the Downs’ website (bataviadownsgaming.com) under the “Live Racing'' tab and all the racing action can be viewed as it happens at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page. 

January 22, 2023 - 3:58pm
posted by Press Release in KISS THIS, Batavia Downs, arts, entertainment, news.

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced the on-sale dates for 2 upcoming events taking place at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel’s Park Place Room.  These 2 events join other, already announced spring events. 

The 4th annual Batavia Brew Fest, presented by Young Lion and Genesee Brewery, is back on Saturday, Feb. 18 from 5 til 8 p.m.  For $40, attendees receive 3 hours of beer sampling from WNY breweries like Genesee Brewery, Young Lion, Boston Beer, DogFish, Four Mile Brewing, Heineken, Yuengling, K2 Brewing, Clarksburg Cider, Blue Barn Cidery,  Three Heads Brewing, Captain Lawrence Brewery, Constellation, Diago, Molson/Coors, Blue Toad Cider, Press Seltzer, Hop Water and many more.  Light snacks will be served, and attendees will receive a commemorative plastic sampling mug along with $20 in Free Play.  Designated Driver tickets will also be available.

KISS THIS returns to Batavia Downs on Friday, March 3rd.  Western New York’s Premier Tribute to KISS brings all of the theatrics and bombast of a classic KISS show to their performance.  Tickets are $15, and attendees receive $10 in Free Play on the day of the show.

Tickets for these 2 events will be available at www.BataviaConcerts.com beginning on Friday, Jan. 20 at 10 a.m.

Visitors to the concert ticket website can also purchase tickets for other upcoming events like the BBQ and Bourbon Dinner, the Music of the Stars Tribute Concert and all the recently announced Pepsi’s Rockin’ the Downs Summer Concert Series shows.  Announcements for the rescheduled Furball Animal Shelter Fundraiser, Polka Buzz and the Kentucky Derby Gala will be announced in the coming weeks.

“The tribute acts we bring in are a great addition to our event schedule,” said Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO for Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel. “We look forward to welcoming back KISS THIS as well as our annual large-scale events like the Brew Fest and Derby Gala.”

Video by The Batavian:  KISS THIS at Jam at the Ridge in July 2021

January 16, 2023 - 10:43pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, Sports, harness racing.

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A pair of $13,000 Open I Handicaps -- one on the pace and one on the trot -- topped a solid and bettable card at Batavia Downs on Monday afternoon (Jan. 16) and those races produced another stout handle as a result.

The pacing feature came first with JM’s Delight putting in another solid effort to remain unbeaten at the Downs in 2023.

Kevin Cummings stayed back fifth off the gate while longshots lunged for the lead. The 21-1 Walk It Talk It (Jim McNeight Jr.) parked the 20-1 Tap Tap Tap (Christian Meyers) while Daylight Rush (Dave McNeight III) got caught in the breeze second over. After hitting the quarter in :27.3 and neither looking to relent, Jim Morrill Jr. tipped Decoy three-deep at the top of the stretch and was followed by JM’s Delight from fifth. However not to be outdone, Larry Stalbaum flashed Rocknroll Runa A four-wide to grab the front past the half and took the group into the second circuit.

Moving by the five-eighths, JM’s Delight was forced to go three-deep around Decoy before drawing alongside Rocknroll Runa A halfway up the backside. With Cummings and Stalbaum both rocking hard in their bikes, JM’s Delight cleared at three-quarters before heading into the turn and opening up a 3-1/2 length advantage at the top of the stretch. From there,  JM’s Delight ran away with the race by 5-1/2 lengths at the line where he stopped the clock in 1:54.4.

Peerless at the meet to this point, JM’s Delight ($3.10) is now two for two for owner Greg Merton and trainer Shawn McDonough.

Cummings and McDonough also teamed up earlier in the card to win with I’m Thinking (2:01.1, $10.60), giving each a double for the day.

The top trot came next and Stalbaum got redemption after receiving a wholesale effort from Big Box Hanover who claimed a narrow victory at the wire.

Big Box Hanover led the field past the eighth pole where Credit List (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Dewey Arnold (Kevin Cummings) blasted two and three deep by the swift :27.4 quarter before they both dropped in around the turn. With Dewey Arnold now commander of fractions, the field hit the half in :57.2 while staying in single file until the five-eighths. That’s where Big Box Hanover came off the pegs from third and started his advance.

It took most of the backstretch, but Big Box Hanover finally caught Dewey Arnold at three-quarters and the two trotters then matched strides around the last turn. As they headed into the stretch, Credit List joined the fray in the passing lane and they battled three across the track to the wire. It took the entire lane but Big Box Hanover toughed it out and was able to get the advantage and win by a quarter length over Credit List in 1:56.4.

It was the first win of the year for Big Box Hanover ($5.40) who is both owned and trained by his driver.

Stalbaum had another stellar outing at Batavia, posting both a training and driving hat trick.

Despite not winning either feature, Morrill still was the leading driver of the day after notching a natural hat trick in races five, six and seven with Comeonover Hanover (2:00, $3.00), Mississippi Rabbit (1:58.2, $3.30) and Sportskeeper (1:56.2, $4.30) and then grabbing win number four with It’s Just Too Much (1:56.1, $5.40) in race nine.

Betting was brisk at Batavia once again on Monday as the 13-race card produced a hefty $234,671 handle, which came in just under the $257,510 realized on opening day.

There is a carryover of $618 in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta which will be available in the 13th race on Thursday (Jan. 19) when live racing resumes at Batavia Downs at 3 p.m. Free full card past performance forms can be downloaded at the Batavia Downs website and all the racing action can be viewed free as it happens at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page. 

Photo by McKenna Dziemian

January 12, 2023 - 3:29pm

Press Release:

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce is celebrating its 51st Annual Awards Ceremony, which will be held on Saturday, March 11, 2023 at Batavia Downs Gaming, 8315 Park Road, Batavia.

This is the County’s premier event that honors businesses and individuals for their achievements in business, community service and volunteerism. Tickets are $50 per person or a table of 8 for $360.

The evening begins at 5 p.m. with Hors d'oeuvres, Entrée Tables and a Cash Bar (no formal sit-down dinner is to be served). The Award Program starts at 7 p.m., when dessert and coffee will be served.

This year’s honorees are:

  • Business of the Year: Max Pies Furniture Company, Inc.
  • Agricultural Business of the Year: Fenton’s Produce LLC
  • Innovative Business of the Year: Empire Hemp Co. LLC
  • Special Service Recognition of the Year: Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council (GO ART!)
  • Geneseean of the Year: Norm Argulski

Call Kelly J. Bermingham at 585-343-7440, Ext. 1026 to make your reservations.

January 10, 2023 - 6:54pm
posted by Press Release in news, Rockin the Downs, Batavia Downs, arts, entertainment, music.

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Press Release:                     

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced the lineup for their sixth Rockin’ the Downs concert series, presented by Pepsi, which will take place outside on the racetrack, with eight Friday dates, starting in June and running into August of 2023.  

Kicking off the series on Friday, June 23rd is Almost Queen.  The Ultimate Queen Tribute show delivers a live performance, showcasing signature four part harmonies and intricate musical interludes. Donning genuine costumes, Almost Queen recaptures the live energy and precision that is the Queen experience.  Almost Queen was the first post-pandemic concert to take place at Batavia Downs in June of 2021 and played to a packed house.  Hear hits like We Will Rock You, We Are the Champions and many more.

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Next up, on Friday, June 30th, Batavia Downs welcomes back Get the Led Out.  One of the best attended concerts from last year, this group of professional musicians are passionate about their love of the music of Led Zeppelin, making it their mission to bring the studio recordings of the Mighty Zep to life on stage.  Songs performed by the band could include Led Zeppelin hits like Black Dog, Immigrant Song, Stairway to Heaven and many others.

Making his debut on Friday, July 7th is Country Music Artist, Craig Morgan.  Morgan has charted 17 times on the Billboard Country Charts including That's What I Love About Sunday, Almost Home, Redneck Yacht Club, Little Bit of Life, International Harvester, Love Remembers, and Bonfire.  Morgan’s New Album, God, Family, Country has just been released along with his memoir.  Morgan is an Army Veteran and is involved with several Veterans charities, having also been inducted into the U.S. Field Artillery Hall of Fame in 2022.  Opening for Craig Morgan will be Drake White.

Rocking the stage on Friday, July 14th is Heavy Metal Rockers Skid Row. After forming in New Jersey in 1986, the band has performed all over the world with hard guitars and a unique songwriting style.  They’ll be performing their hits; In a Darkened Room, We Are the Damned, Youth Gone Wild, 18 and Life and many more.

On Friday, July 21st, Batavia Downs welcomes back Southern Rock legends The Marshall Tucker Band.  MTB will bring their 40 years of hits to Batavia Downs with hit singles like Heard It In a Love Song, Fire On The Mountain, Can't You See, and Take The Highway, The Marshall Tucker Band earned seven gold and three platinum albums. During the 90's, the MTB scored four hit singles on Billboard's country chart and one on Billboard's gospel chart.

Performing on Friday, July 28th  is the returning Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone. Peter Noone is a multi-talented entertainer, who achieved international fame as Herman, lead singer of the legendary Sixties pop band Herman’s Hermits.  His classic hits include: I’m Into Something Good, Mrs. Brown, you’ve Got A Lovely Daughter, I’m Henry VIII, I Am.  The Grass Roots will once again open for Peter Noone.  Last year’s Concert featuring both artists saw one of the largest concert crowds in Batavia Downs History.

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Don Felder, formerly of the Eagles, will perform on Friday, August 4th.  As a renowned former lead guitarist of The Eagles, one of the most popular and influential rock groups of our time, Don has helped write and perform many iconic classics.  His 2008 memoir was a New York Times best seller.  Don will perform solo and Eagles’ hits during his set including Heavy Metal (Takin’ a Ride), Hotel California, Life in the Fast Lane, the Long Run and Tequila Sunrise.

Closing out the series on Friday, August 11th is Mike DelGuidice and the Big Shot Horns. A recording artist, singer and songwriter who is currently on tour with Billy Joel, Mike has wowed audiences across America with his voice and musicianship .  Mike and the Big Shot horns enjoyed a standing ovation after each of their last 5 songs during last year’s concert series.  Mike and his band play all of Billy Joel’s big hits along with other renditions of classic rock songs.

“We are excited to be welcoming new artists and some of the most popular ones from year’s past,” said Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO for Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel. “We’re appreciative to have Pepsi again as our headline sponsor this year and looking forward to allowing great charities like Make-A-Wish Western New York and Kat Colony Animal Rescue to utilize our events to help raise much needed funds for their organizations.”

Tickets for all eight concerts will be available only at www.BataviaConcerts.com beginning on Wednesday, January 11th at 10 a.m.

Tickets this year will be $15 for General Admission, $30 for VIP, $60 for Premium and $75 for front row seats.  All tickets can be redeemed at Player’s Club at any time in the three days following the concert for $10 Free Play to be used on one of Batavia Downs Gaming’s 950+ gaming machines.

Season Tickets are also back and will also go on sale for General Admission, VIP and Premium Sections.  A Season pass for General Admission will be $100 (a savings of $20) Season Passes for VIP tickets are $200 (a savings of $40). A Premium Season Pass is $400 (a savings of $80).  Season passes may ONLY be purchased online.

Until February 8th, tickets purchased online for the General Admission section will only be $10. Concert goers will still receive $10 in Free Play on show day with this ticket.

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

Photos: File photos.  Top photo, Almost Queen by Philip Casper; second photo. Get the Led Out, by Howard Owens

January 10, 2023 - 1:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

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It was a good day for harness racing at Batavia Downs on Monday. It was cold.  But it was good.

Don Hoover, director of live racing, said that while patrons mostly huddled inside during the races, the turnout for the first night of winter racing at the Downs, in many decades, was strong.

"If you compare this to like Wednesday nights during the season, or regular racing, we have more people here than a typical Wednesday and people seem to be enjoying it," Hoover said.

And they were betting.

"We're only through eight races (at the time of the interview with The Batavian), but the handle looks good," Hoover said. "I'm being optimistic right now because we still have races to go, but our total handle today could surpass any day of last year. It's possible, but it'll definitely be in the top five."

Hoover's prediction proved correct. Total wagers on for the evening were $257,510. That total was over $20,000 higher than any race card of 2022 and the best overall handle at Batavia Downs since 2019 when betting topped $339,000 during the New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions.

The winter meet came about, he said, because the Western New York Harness Horseman's Association came to Batavia Downs and said the Buffalo Raceway said it wasn't going to hold winter meets any longer. 

"They had a raft of cancellations (due to weather) last year," Hoover said.

After some negotiations, Batavia Downs agreed to host two race events each week in January and February. Assuming drivers and trainers can get to the track on a winter's day, Hoover said he thinks Batavia Downs is well-positioned to host the planned events.

"We have a great track crew," Hoover said."We bought some new equipment. We have a different starting gate if needed. So we're hoping that the preventative measures we've taken will overcome the weather unless, you know, if we have blizzard conditions, nothing can overcome a blizzard."

While Batavia has a bit of an advantage over Buffalo in terms of storm impacts, being further from Lake Erie, many of the race participants have to travel from or through the area to get to Batavia.  That could have an impact on races.

"The first time we canceled in November, we were fine here, but the problem was there was a travel ban," Hoover said. "Many of the horsemen come from the Hamburg area, and there would have been no way for them to get here. Kevin Cummings, Jim Morrill, other drivers are coming from that area, so they couldn't get here. So even though we're not Buffalo, and we think the track will be in better shape, because we won't have as extreme weather, we also have to factor in, 'can the participants get here safely?'"

The 15-day session will run through Feb. 27 and operate on a Monday and Thursday schedule. Post time for each race day is set at 3 p.m. 

Hoover is optimistic this winter meet won't be a one-and-done experiment.

"We have to see how it goes and see if it's worthwhile doing it again," Hoover said. "I mean, we're committed for this year, and then we'll, at the end of February, we'll take a look at it and see how it worked out. But if you were going to ask me today how it's working out, I'd say it's working out great."

See also: Stalbaum steals the show in Batavia Downs winter opener

Photos by Howard Owens. 

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Bad to the Bone, winner in the eighth.

January 10, 2023 - 1:16pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, Sports, harness racing.

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Former Batavia Downs driving regular Larry Stalbaum has only been racing at the Downs as a part-time ship-in in recent years as his base of operations has moved away from Western New York. But after spending more time in Genesee County this past year, Stalbaum was a force to be reckoned with on the opening day of the first winter meet in over 20 years as he trained and drove five winners on the 13-race card that produced the highest betting handle since 2019.

“The Bomber” won with Malibu Kid (2:00.2, $2.70), Black Hawk Joe A (1:57, $2.20), Inquiring Mind (2:00.3, $20.00), La Puddie A (1:56.1, $14.20) and American Zest A (1:56.3, $3.30). He also had two thirds from his eight starts giving him a .764 UDR and UTR. Stalbaum was the leading dash driver at Batavia Downs in 2017 when he posted 134 wins that earned $743,422 for his connections.

Downs regular Jim Morrill Jr. also had a big day in the bike winning four races of his own that included a natural hat trick in races eight, nine and 10. The ninth was the co-featured $13,000 Open I trot that he scored with Credit List in a close finish.

Dewey Arnold (Kevin Cummings) went to the front and led the single file field to the half in a swift :56.4 while Morrill sat fifth with Credit List. It wasn’t until the five-eighths that an outer flow formed, led by Share The Wealth (Drew Monti) who was followed by Hobbs (Cory Kreiser). As the top two trotted past three-quarters in 1:26.2, Credit List was locked in fifth and was losing ground. Halfway through the turn, Share The Wealth made a break and at the top of the stretch, Big Box Hanover (Larry Stalbaum) came off the pegs for the drive. This provided Credit List a clear path to the wire that he took to a neck victory in 1:56.4.

It was the fourth win in the last five starts (going back to last year) for Credit List ($11.80), his owner Room4040 LLC Stables and trainer Kevin Reynolds Jr.

Morrill added three seconds and two thirds to his 13 drive tally to end the day with a .513 UDR.

The featured $13,000 Open I pace was won by Monticello Raceway shipper JM’s Delight, who was driven to an eye-popping victory by the Downs 2022 driver of the meet, Kevin Cummings.

Cummings put JM’s Delight right on the point and never looked back from there. After pacing fractions of :27.3 and :57 to the half, JM’s Delight had opened up a two length advantage at that station. But TJ’s Indy Pacer (Drew Monti) pulled first-over into turn three, drew alongside the leader up the backside and forced a slick :27.3 thrid panel. But under heavy urging from Cummings, JM’s Delight turned back that challenge and again opened up by 1-1/2 lengths on the field at the top of the stretch. Heading down the lane, JM’s Delight just kept on going and stretched out to a 2-3/4 length victory in 1:52.4.

JM’s Delight is owned by Greg Merton and trained by Shawn McDonough.

Cummings ended the day with a total of three winners.

The bettors seemed to like the opening day card and early 3 p.m. post as they pumped $257,510 through the windows. That total was over $20,000 higher than any race card of 2022 and the best overall handle at Batavia Downs since 2019, when punters wagered over $339,000 during the New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions. The $10,733 carryover and $17,500 guaranteed pool for the “must-pay” Jackpot Super Hi-5 wager in race 13 drew $41,724 in new money and pushed that race’s total handle to $67,058. The 4-1-5-3-2 combination returned $97.70 for the 20-cent wager.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Thursday (Jan. 12) with post time at 3 p.m. Free full card past performance forms can be downloaded at the Batavia downs website and all the racing action can be viewed live at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page.

Photo courtesy Batavia Downs.

January 6, 2023 - 11:32pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, Sports, harness racing.

It has been decades since Batavia Downs hosted a winter race meet at the oldest lighted harness track in North America, but that all changes on Monday when the 2023 harness racing season gets underway in Western New York. The 15-day session will run through Monday (Feb. 27) and operate on a Monday-Thursday schedule. Post time for each race day is set at 3 p.m. 

All the Downs favorite local drivers and trainers will be back in action along with a host of ship-in talent, who already have a strong presence on day one. The wagering menu remains the same and will feature (on a 13-race card) five Doubles, 13 Exactas, 13 Trifectas, 12 Superfectas, two Pick-3s, two Pick-4, one Pick-5 and one Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta. 

“I am happy to have Batavia Downs host a live winter racing meet for the first time in over 20 years. And I was also very pleased with the trainer’s response to the first draw, with 127 horses entered for our opening day program. That card will feature two divisions of Open pacers and two divisions of Open trotters,” said Don Hoover, General Manager and Race Secretary at Batavia Downs. 

“The 13th and final race of the day is a very competitive upper-level conditioned trot featuring a nine-horse field. It also has a $17,500 guaranteed pool in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta with a 20-cent minimum wager.”

That Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta had a carryover of $10,733 going into the final night of the 2022 season and was required to be paid out as it was the last card of the year. But when racing was canceled due to weather prior to that race, the carryover was moved to opening night of 2023 (Monday, January 9) and will again be offered as a "must pay". But the pool has also been guaranteed at $17,500 through the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, a free program page for that race can be downloaded at the USTA website under the “Handicapping” tab. 

Full card past performance forms for all live race nights at Batavia Downs can always be downloaded for free from the track’s website at bataviadownsgaming.com under “Live Racing”. You can also stream all the live action as it happens for free on the Batavia Downs YouTube page.

January 4, 2023 - 5:20pm
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, news.

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Press release:

Officials from Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel formally closed the books on a record-breaking 2022.  Credits played topped $1 Billion for the first time ever.  Net win totaled just over $76 Million Dollars.  That was up 14.5 percent or $9.63 Million over 2021’s numbers.   Surcharge & Earnings to be distributed to member municipalities are projected to total $9.2 Million, with earnings projected to be $8.6 Million, a record amount since the Corporation’s inception in 1974.  This is an increase of 48 percent over the 2021 Surcharge & Earnings distributions to member municipalities of $5.8 Million.

Batavia Downs Gaming contributed $37.25 Million to State Education via the New York State Lottery.  This number was also a record, beating 2021’s number of $32.55 Million by $4.7 Million.

The Hotel at Batavia Downs, which was purchased by the corporation in the spring of 2021, has generated projected bottom-line revenues to the Corporation of $675,000.  The occupancy rate for the hotel was 78%, beating out last year's rate of 61 percent.

Batavia Downs’ Food and Beverage outlets generated projected bottom-line revenues to the Corporation of $1.2 Million, a new record.  Several improvements to Fortune’s Steakhouse and a rebranding of the Homestretch Grill provided guests of Batavia Downs with new options when dining onsite.

“We are very encouraged by all we’ve accomplished in 2022,” said Jacquelyne Leach, Chief Financial Officer for Western OTB/Batavia Downs.  “Our total distributions to municipalities are projected to be $9.2 Million, bringing our total since our inception in 1974 to $251 Million. At a tax rate of 49%, almost half of the money generated at Batavia Downs goes to NYS to help fund the State Education Budget.  We’re proud to have given the highest amount we’ve ever had back to the citizens of New York.”

“These numbers showcase the positive direction of our facility, “said Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO of Batavia Downs.  “In the post-Covid economy, we have begun adding events and expanding our promotions.  By utilizing our onsite hotel and improving our food and beverage offerings, we have made Batavia Downs an entertainment destination.”

“With our Summer Concert Series, Harness Racing Dates and marquee promotions all in the upcoming months, we’re looking forward to contributing more to our member municipalities and the State Education Fund this year, “ Wojtaszek continued.

Batavia Downs had their three busiest days of all time, with each day reaching over $5 million in credits played.  Several record weeks topped $24 Million in credits played.

In a separate table listing county-by-county distribution, Batavia Downs reported a projected distribution to Genesee County of $194,821, bringing the total distribution since 1974 to $12,911,504.

Photo: File photo by Howard Owens

December 28, 2022 - 6:01pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

The 2022 racing season came to a close at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 17) and although some declines in handle were realized, the track performed better than many national trends.

The track recorded its fourth-highest total on-track handle for Batavia live racing since Western Regional OTB reopened the track in 2002, finishing only $33,599 behind the 2021 totals while racing the same number of days (55). However, the total handle (from all sources) for Batavia live racing was down 6.4% from last year, and that may have been a direct result of more competition for the expendable gaming dollar.

Don Hoover, General Manager of Live Racing and Race Secretary at Batavia Downs said, “Keeping these numbers in context, total wagering on harness racing in the United States this year is down 8.4% over 2021, which puts Batavia ahead of the national average. The introduction of online sports wagering in New York State in January of 2022 had a definite impact on the betting dollar at every race track and the months of road work on the new Park Road extension put a definite crimp on our in-house business during our prime summer dates.”

The good news was that local horsemen and women were beneficiaries of some of the best purses in the state during the meet, and those numbers drew more horses that stiffened the competition on the track.

Total purses (including stakes) at Batavia Downs were up 31% from 2021. Overnight purses alone increased by 29%, due in part to holding 88 more races this year. That latter increase was distributed to local racing participants and the agricultural infrastructure in the area will benefit directly from that money as it goes back into the local economies of Western New York and the Southern Tier, supporting the farmers, blacksmiths, veterinarians and others businesses that directly service the racing industry.

Bigger purses brought more horses and that added competition produced better payouts. Batavia Downs registered 45.8% winning favorites and that was the lowest among competing tracks at Buffalo, Monticello, Northfield, Saratoga and Yonkers who averaged between 46.8% and 48.3%.

“In sum, despite slight declines in overall wagering, I am happy with the robust growth shown in racing, with increases in average field size, overnight purses distributed, and the total number of horses competing at Batavia Downs in 2022,” said Hoover.  

Probably the single greatest racing moment of the meet was when American Dealer N (Joe Bongiorno) scored a 2-1/2 length victory in the 17th edition of the $75,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Invitational Pace which was held on Friday (Aug. 26) at Batavia Downs, setting a new all-time track record of 1:50.2. The lightning-fast speed strip also produced two other track records along with a list of new lifetime marks for competing horses.  

Local driving favorite Kevin Cummings captured the dash title at the recently concluded session by winning 150 races, 14 more than the second place Jim Morrill Jr. However, Morrill and Cummings both made history by being the first drivers to ever surpass $1 million in earnings in the history of Batavia Downs (Morrill-$1,115,951, Cummings-$1,032,364). Shawn McDonough won his first-ever training title at the Downs finishing with 52 wins, only two more then the second place Jennifer Giuliani (50).

The completion of the 2022 meet does not mean that Batavia Downs will be dark for long. For the first time in over 20 years, winter racing will be back and begin at the Genesee County oval on Monday (Jan. 9) and continue through Monday (Feb. 27). The eight-week meet will be conducted on a Monday-Thursday schedule with post-time at 3 p.m. for all race days. Opening day will feature a $17,500 guaranteed pool that also has a mandatory payout on the Jackpot Super Hi-5 in the day’s last race. 

Tom Bojarski is the publicist for Batavia Downs.

December 16, 2022 - 1:51pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has announced the horses who will be honored for their performances at Batavia Downs during the 2022 racing season. These horses who have competed at the Downs all season, will each be honored with a trophy in the winner’s circle between races during “The Day of Distinction” that will be held on Saturday, December 17.  Post time for the first race is 3 p.m.

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Pacer of the Meet: Stranger Things (Western Terror-Southwind Prairie) 18-8-3-2 - $71,300 - 1:53.2 at Batavia Downs
Owner: Virginia Schoeffel, Kathy Schoeffel and James Reuther
Trainer: Angelo Nappo

Stranger Things was the winningest horse of the meet and top money earner-- regardless of age, gait or gender --- amassing a total of eight victories and $71,300 in purses while facing Open class company each week. Overall in 2022, Stranger Things has had 31 starts with 12 wins, six seconds and two thirds with $103,945 in earnings and put an exclamation mark on his career year with a new lifetime mark of 1:53.2 at Batavia on October 22.  

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Trotter of the Meet: C R Blazin Beauty (Crazed-Melrose Abbey) 18-6-2-2 - $51,880 - 1:57 at Batavia Downs
Owner: Marissa Russo
Trainer: David Russo

CR Blazin Beauty is another horse boasting a career year and who was also the winningest trotter of the meet, scoring six wins including four in the Open and this was no small task being a mare racing against the boys every week. The 8-year-old also scored a landmark win at Batavia on December 3 when she achieved the 50th victory of her career. For the year, CR Blazin Beauty has 37 starts with 10 wins, nine seconds and four thirds with $105,384 in the bank.

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Mare of the Meet: Saulsbrook Olympia (Big Jim-Racino Star) 16-5-2-2 - $50,530 - 1:53.4 at Batavia Downs
Owner: William McNeil and Edward Gorc
Trainer: Jennifer Giuliani

For the first year competing as an aged mare, Saulsbrook Olympia excelled in her new classification. The 4-year-old took an impressive 1:50.3 lifetime mark at Woodbine Mohawk Park prior to arriving at Batavia. Since the start of the Batavia meet, Saulsbrook Olympia garnered five wins and the highest earnings by a pacing mare ($50,530) while facing the best resident and best ship-in talent from all over the state. Her overall numbers for 2022 show 33 starts, 10 wins, two seconds and six thirds with $85,226 in purses earned.

Please note that post time for Saturday was moved to 3 p.m. to avoid conflict with the flexed Buffalo Bills versus Miami Dolphins game later that night. The clubhouse will open their doors at 2:30 p.m. and will offer a prime rib and shrimp buffet that will be served from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Railbar will be open from 2:30 p.m. until the end of the last race, which will be approximately 7 p.m., however it will not remain open for the Bills game.

There may be an early Christmas present for some lucky player at Batavia Saturday. A Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta carryover that has been growing for weeks has reached $10,733.58 and with the meet ending, a mandatory payout will happen Saturday. So Batavia Downs has guaranteed the pool at $15,000 through the United States Trotting Association Strategic Wagering Program for that pentafecta wager in race 13. 
Free program pages are available on the USTA website for that race under the “Handicapping” tab and free full past performance race programs for the entire card can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab. If you can’t attend the races live, you can still watch all the action on the Batavia Downs YouTube channel.

December 16, 2022 - 1:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Marsha McWilson, Batavia Downs, arts, entertainment, news.

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Marsha McWilson brought down the house at Batavia Downs on Thursday night with her high-energy soul, R&B, and funk Christmas-themed variety show.

Photos by Howard Owens

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December 15, 2022 - 1:33pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

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There were six mares in the $14,000 Distaff Open I Handicap at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Dec. 14) but it turned into a match race that saw Shallow out-duel Demeter N to claim her 12th win of the year. 

Jim Morrill Jr. put Shallow on the lead but Larry Stalbaum had Demeter N revved up in the breeze and they drew alongside the leader at the quarter in :28.4 and from there, the pair that had been splitting starts between Saratoga and Batavia got into it. With no hole to be had and the front unattainable, Demeter N continued to dig on the rim past the half in :57.3, around turn three and then up the backstretch to three-quarters in 1:27.2. 

Shallow was under urging from Morrill and Stalbaum was rocking in Demeter N’s bike as they rounded the last bend only one-half length apart. Heading into the lane there was no quit in Demeter N, who continued to gain ground on Shallow who started to look vulnerable. As the gap shortened along with the stretch, it appeared Demeter N could reach. But Shallow had enough left to close out the deal and won by a neck in 1:57 in a real thriller. 

With the win, Shallow ($3.40) eclipsed the century mark in earnings, now boasting $104,236 for owner Room4040 LLC Stables and trainer Andy Gardiner. 

In the $10,000 conditioned event for fillies and mares, Candy’s Desire (Kyle Cummings) caught a perfect trip behind Saulsbrook Olympia (Dave McNeight III) into the stretch and then shook loose to catch Lyons Anita (Kevin Cummings) at the light to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:57. Owned by her driver Kyle Cumming along with Alyssa Cummings, the Tammy Cummings trained Candy’s Desire returned $6.40. 

Kevin Cummings and Jim Morrill Jr. each had driving hat tricks as trainer Shawn McDonough also won three on the conditioning side.

Batavia Downs wraps up the 2022 meet on Saturday (Dec. 17) at 3 p.m. and there is another carryover available. The Jackpot Hi-5 Pentafecta in the 13th race will start with $10,733 in the pool and as it is the last night of racing for 2022, there will be a force out and the pool has been guaranteed at $15,000 through the USTA Strategic Wagering Program.

The clubhouse will open the doors at 2:30 p.m. and will offer a prime rib and shrimp buffet that will be served from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Railbar will be open at 2:30 p.m. until the end of the last race, which will be approximately 7 p.m., however it will not remain open for the Bills game.

The final day of racing will also host the “Day of Distinction” year-end awards, which will be presented by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association and Batavia Downs to honor all the human and equine stars of the 2022 meeting.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery.

December 15, 2022 - 1:29pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, Sports, harness racing.

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With the 2022 meet coming to a close, the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association and Batavia Downs will honor the top performing driver and trainer in the winner’s circle on closing day, Saturday, December 17. However, this year is a little different because accolades will be going to two drivers for their achievements, where the training title has yet to be decided.

After a ferocious meet-long “two-horse race" between Kevin Cummings and Jim Morrill Jr. that saw the third-place driver end up over 75 wins behind both, the dash driving title and trophy goes to Kevin Cummings, who at the end of Wednesday night’s card had 149 wins to Morrill’s 136.

To date, Cummings’ numbers for the meet show 526 starts with 146 wins, 104 seconds and 72 thirds with earnings of $1,024,864 and a UDR. of .439. Cummings has won the dash title at Batavia four times before and finished second to Morrill last year.

Cummings' body of work for all of 2022 saw him start 943 times with 217 wins, 175 seconds and 129 thirds with $1,670,595 in earnings and a UDR of .379. Those overall numbers reflect his second-highest one-year earnings total, his most wins since 2015 and his highest UDR since 2003.

Morrill’s numbers are just as gaudy. At Batavia, he had 455 starts with 136 wins, 100 seconds and 62 thirds with $1,115,951 in purses and a UDR of .466. Morrill has won this title the last two years and four times overall.

Altogether this year, Morrill had 916 starts with 246 wins, 199 seconds and 126 thirds with $2,412,882 in earnings and a UDR of .435. That UDR rating has him sitting in second place among all drivers in North America for percentage performance.

Another defining accomplishment that Cummings and Morrill had in common this year is that they both went over the $1 million mark in earnings at Batavia Downs and that’s the first time that any driver has surpassed that milestone since the track opened in 1940. As a result, a special plaque presentation commemorating that historic event will be made to both.

The training title is still up for grabs between Jennifer Giuliani and Shawn McDonough and will go down to the final night of action.  After Wednesday’s card McDonough has 52 wins and Giuliani has 50. And both have a busy day on Saturday with Giuliani entering seven horses and McDonough starting five, so the winner will be determined at some point during that card.

So far, McDonough’s Batavia tally shows 271 starts with 52 wins, 39 seconds and 40 thirds that banked $383,444 and provided him a UTR of .321. His 2022 overall totals for 2022 showed 108 wins and $819,482 earned, both of which were career highs for McDonough by a wide margin. McDonough won the driving title at Batavia in 2013 but has never won a training title, although he did finish second at Batavia in 2020.

To this point in the meet Giuliani has 247 starts with 50 wins, 49 seconds and 30 thirds with earnings of $416,298 and a UTR of .353. For the year she has 86 wins and $701,122 in purses, both of which are career highs for the fourth-year conditioner. Giuliani won her first training title at Batavia last year.

Please note that post time for Saturday was moved to 3 p.m. to avoid conflict with the flexed Buffalo Bills versus Miami Dolphins game later that night.

There may be an early Christmas present for some lucky player at Batavia Saturday. A Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta carryover that has been growing for weeks has reached $10,733.58 and with the meet ending, a mandatory payout will happen Saturday. So Batavia Downs has guaranteed the pool at $15,000 through the United States Trotting Association Strategic Wagering Program for that pentafecta wager in race 13.

Free program pages will be available on the USTA website for that race and free full past performance race programs for the entire card can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab. If you can’t attend the races live, you can still watch all the action on the Batavia Downs YouTube channel.

The clubhouse will open their doors at 2:30 p.m. and will offer a prime rib and shrimp buffet that will be served from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Railbar will be open from 2:30 p.m. until the end of the last race, which will be approximately 7 p.m., however it will not remain open for the Bills game.

Photos by Wendy Lowery. Top photo, Kevin Cummings. Bottom photo, Jim Morrill.

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December 15, 2022 - 1:19pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Closing day at Batavia Downs is this Saturday (Dec. 17) and an early Christmas present may be waiting there for some lucky player. A Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta carryover that has been growing for weeks has reached $10,733.58 and with the meet coming to a close, a mandatory payout will happen Saturday. So Batavia Downs will be offering a guaranteed $15,000 pool through the United States Trotting Association Strategic Wagering Program for that pentafecta wager in race 13. 

Please note that post time for Saturday was moved to 3 p.m. to avoid conflict with the flexed Buffalo Bills versus Miami Dolphins game later that night.  

Free program pages will be available on the USTA website for that race and free full past performance race programs for the entire card can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab. If you can’t attend the races live, you can still watch all the action on the Batavia Downs YouTube channel.

The clubhouse will open its doors at 2:30 p.m. and will offer a prime rib and shrimp buffet that will be served from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Railbar will be open at 2:30 p.m. until the end of the last race, which will be approximately 7 p.m. however it will not remain open for the Bills game.

The final day of racing will also host the “Day of Distinction” year-end awards, which will be presented by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association and Batavia Downs to honor all the human and equine stars of the 2022 meeting.

December 14, 2022 - 3:11pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association and Batavia Downs will honor three 14-year-old veteran race horses who will officially retire on January 1, 2023. These horses have competed at the Downs this season and will be presented with a trophy commemorating their outstanding careers in the winner’s circle between races during “The Day of Distinction” that will be held on Saturday, December 17.  Post time for the first race is 3 p.m.

Two pacers and one trotter have finished their careers at Batavia and will hang up their harness for the final time.

Freaky Flyer (Dontgetinmyway-The Nanny) 458-63-68-66 - 1:53.2 - $374,773

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Although Freaky Flyer has been a fixture at Batavia Downs for the last nine years, he has raced his heart out at tracks from New York to Florida ever since his 2-year-old campaign without ever missing a year of action. “The Freak” as he is known, averaged 35 starts per year his entire career and had his best season since 2018 this year, winning a total of 10 races, four of which were at Batavia. After registering his fourth highest annual earnings total in 2022 ($40,418), he has left the building and entered his “forever home” with his new owners in Avon, New York where he’s being spoiled with his favorite treat: bananas. Trainer Rose Russo owned and raced Freaky Flyer prior to his retirement.

Bettor’s Reward (Bettors Delight-Romancing The Sea) 267-43-30-32 - 1:51.3 - $453,380

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Bettor’s Reward made his very first pari-mutuel start at Batavia Downs on September 28, 2010 and got his first lifetime pari-mutuel victory there two weeks later, winning a maiden race in 2:03.1. After having success in the New York Sire Stakes at three, Bettor’s Reward went on to become a hard-knocking Open class aged pacer in Canada and on the New York/New Jersey circuit. For two years he faced the likes of Golden Receiver, Escape The News, Up The Credit, Statesman N, Hypnotic Blue Chip, Aracache Hanover and Western Shore. Unfortunately he suffered from soundness issues from 2014 to 2018 and only made 14 starts during that time. But he came back strong in 2019 and raced 147 starts his final four years and closed out his career with six wins in 2022, his last coming at Batavia on October 8. Bettor’s Reward is owned by Fortunate One LLC.

Parkhill Horton (Oaklea Julian-Guardian Image) 321-36-40-54 - 1:54.2 - $198,454

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He was never a star or stakes winner, but Parkhill Horton came to work every week for 13 years and earned his way to a well deserved retirement. He’s a horse that liked to leave and often found himself on the front, trotting his best with the lead. His lifetime mark of 1:54.2 was taken at Vernon Downs in 2016, but his win in 1:58 at Batavia this year was his fastest since 2017. And his $27,508 in earnings this year was also his second best one year bank deposit of his life. His final start at Batavia will be on Wednesday (Dec. 14). Parkhill Horton is owned and trained by Rachelle Mungillo. 

Post Time for the final card of racing on Saturday (Dec.17) was moved from 6 p.m. to 3 p.m. to accommodate fans of both harness racing and the Buffalo Bills after the game between them and the Miami Dolphins was flexed to Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. The clubhouse will open their doors at 2:30 p.m. and will offer a prime rib and shrimp buffet that will be served from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Railbar will be open from 2:30 p.m. until the end of the last race, which will be approximately 7 p.m., however it will not remain open for the Bills game. 

December 13, 2022 - 6:41pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

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Ron Beback Jr. will be presented with the Good Samaritan Award by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association and Batavia Downs for his heroic actions to save an overturned kayaker from drowning this past summer. The ceremony will take place in the winner’s circle between races during “The Day of Distinction” that will be held on Saturday, December 17.  Post time for the first race is 3 p.m.

The incident occurred when Beback was out fishing on August 31 at Horseshoe Lake at the De Witt Recreation area in Batavia, New York. As he was taking his fishing gear to the water, he was approached by a man who was yelling, “She fell out of the kayak!” The man’s friend was an older woman who was unfamiliar with the currents in the lake on a windy day, tipped over and was unable to get back upright.

Beback dashed to his truck to get his kayak, paddled out to the middle of the lake and was able to get the woman back in her kayak before dragging her to the center island where they waited for authorities to come in a boat and get her back to shore. The event was well documented in the local news and Beback was greeted as a hero when he arrived to race at Batavia Downs that night.

Ever humble, Beback didn’t want any notoriety for his heroics and simply said in an interview, “I’m just glad I ended up there that day and was able to help.”

Beback’s actions were representative of the caring and helpful nature harness racing horsemen and women are known for and as such, not only helped bring someone in dire straits to safety, but also put the sport in a very positive light nationally. And UNY-USHWA and Batavia Downs are pleased to present him with this award.

Post Time for the final card of racing on Saturday (Dec.17) was moved from 6 p.m. to 3 p.m. to accommodate fans of both harness racing and the Buffalo Bills after the game between them and the Miami Dolphins was flexed to Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. The clubhouse will open their doors at 2:30 p.m. and will offer a prime rib and shrimp buffet that will be served from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Railbar will be open from 2:30 p.m. until the end of the last race, which will be approximately 7 p.m., however it will not remain open for the Bills game.

December 11, 2022 - 4:23pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

A clear night and a very fast racing surface produced outstanding miles and some huge payoffs at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Dec. 10) and those performances were led by CR Blazin Beauty (Kevin Cummings) who tracked fast fractions early and went from worst to first while capturing the $14,000 Open I Handicap trotting co-feature at 25-1 in a real thriller. 

Buzz (Mike Baumeister) took the field to the quarter in :28.2 while Wilberforce (Christian Myers) sat outside of Captain Krupnick (Jim McNeight Jr.) as the pair chased the leader to the half in :57.4. Just past that station the field was four in and four out, with CR Blazin Beauty still sitting last on the pylons. 

As Wilberforce faded up the backstretch, Con Air Hall (Dave McNeight III) moved three-wide into contention heading through the last turn while Cummings found room at the pegs and advanced CR Blazin Beauty into fifth by the head of the stretch. As they barreled into the straight, Con Air Hall was even with Sass, CR Blazin Beauty found the middle of the track and continued to gain ground while Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) came out of nowhere and was flying home four wide. In deep stretch four trotters fanned even across the track, but CR Blazin Beauty broke through from the rest and grabbed a neck advantage at the light and won in 1:58. 

It was the tenth win of the year and 51st lifetime for CR Blazin Beauty, ($52.50) and it pushed her bankroll to $105,384 this year for owner Marissa Russo. David Russo trains the winner. 

Cummings' win with CR Blazin Beauty was only one of five he scored on the card. He also visited the Purple Haze winners enclosure with American General (1:57.4, $16.80), Thor De Vie (1:55.4, $6.80), Gemini Eddie (1:58, $3.00) and Paprike Blue Chip (1:56.3, $7.20). Cummings is now 13 wins ahead of Jim Morrill Jr. for the dash driving title for this meet with only two days of racing left. 

The $14,000 Open I Handicap pace wasn’t nearly as action-packed as the trot, but Stranger Things (Jim Morrill Jr.) put on quite a show of his own en route to his 12th win of 2022.

After the heavy post-time favorite The Longest Yard (Kevin Cummings) made a break in the first turn, Morrill tucked second with with Stranger Things behind Pocket Watch N (Ray Fisher Jr.) but once settled, came back out and took the lead at the quarter in :28 and from there never looked back. He got to the half in :57.4 and three-quarters in 1:26.4 with a comfortable 1-½ length lead and no one close enough to challenge. By the time he hit the top of the stretch he extended that gap to five lengths and just cruised home to win in 1:55.2 while Morrill sat chilly. 

It was the second win in a row for Stranger Things ($7.60) who also cracked the “hundred-grand” mark, now boasting $103,945 in earnings for owners Virginia Schoeffel, Kathy Schoeffel and James Reuther. It was one of two winners for conditioner Angelo Nappo on Saturday. 
With only two days left in the meet, live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Dec. 14) at 6 p.m. and there is another carryover available. The Jackpot Hi-5 Pentafecta in the 11th race will start with $8,306 in the pool. 

Also please note that post time for the final night of racing, Saturday, Dec. 17, has been changed from 6 p.m. to 3 p.m. This was done after the National Football League “flexed” the Week 15 game between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins to 8:15 p.m. that same day.

The clubhouse will open the doors at 2:30 p.m. and will offer a prime rib and shrimp buffet that will be served from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Railbar will be open at 2:30 p.m. until the end of the last race, which will be approximately 7 p.m., however it will not remain open for the Bills game.

The final day of racing will also host the “Night of Distinction” year-end awards, which will be presented by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association and Batavia Downs to honor all the human and equine stars of the 2022 meeting.

Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab and then you can watch all the races live on the Batavia Downs YouTube channel.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery.

December 7, 2022 - 11:54pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

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Press release:

New Zealand ex-pat Demeter N made her second start at Batavia Downs a winning one after upsetting in the $14,000 Open I Handicap for pacing fillies and mares on Wednesday night (Dec. 7). 

Demeter N (Larry Stalbaum) got away last as Shallow (Ray Fisher Jr.) fought hard off the gate with So Amazing (Kevin Cummings) before claiming the lead at the quarter in :28.1. But as soon as she cleared, Cummings came right back with So Amazing to retake and led the field from there. As the group passed three-eighths, Demeter N was out and rolling with Stalbaum, bouncing in the bike with every stride. 

Demeter N drew near So Amazing at three-quarters, but So Amazing responded and held Demeter N at bay around the final turn. When they straightened out for home, Cummings and Stalbaum were both rocking and knocking as the mares paced dead even all the way down the lane. Three pylons from the line, Demeter N got a slight advantage and ended up winning by a one-quarter length in 1:56.3. 

Demeter N ($17.40) reached $131,499 in earnings this year on the strength of her seven wins for owner Shark Racing and trainer Larry Stalbaum. 

In the secondary featured $10,000 conditioned distaff pace, Faithful Desire (Jim Morrill Jr.) scored her third consecutive victory in a gate-to-wire romp timed in 1:56.1. Faithful Desire returned $2.90 for owner Eva Saintcross and trainer Shawn McDonough. 

The Downs leading dash driver Kevin Cummings continued to add to his numbers after he won five more races on Wednesday. He scored with Amora Beach (1:57.3, $2.60), Sudden Change N (1:59, $7.00), Lyons Anita (1:55.4, $5.40), Delightful Summer (1:57, $5.30) and Ellieonthemove (1:58, $7.90). Cummings extended the gap between himself and second-place Jim Morrill Jr. to nine wins (141-132) as Morrill had a hat trick himself this night. 

McDonough also had a big outing at the track as he scored a training grand slam on the card. McDonough trainees getting their pictures taken included the aforementioned Faithful Desire, Amora Beach and Delightful Summer, along with Lucky Town (1:57, $6.30). McDonough also added one catch-driving win behind Bacardi (1:59.2, $23.00) to give him five total wins during the night. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 10) at 6 p.m., and there is another carryover available. The Jackpot Hi-5 Pentafecta in the 13th race will start with $7,351 in the pool. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab, and then you watch all the races live on the Batavia Downs YouTube channel.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

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