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Batavia Downs

May 13, 2019 - 4:10pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, NY Sire Stakes.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY --- Batavia Downs has announced that they have retained the services of Heather Wilder and Peter Kleinhans as their on-air personalities for the broadcast of the $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) Night of Champions which will be held at the track on Saturday (Sept. 14).

Wilder will be doing pre and post-race interviews and Kleinhans will provide analysis and handicapping insight.

 

Heather Wilder, above, grew up with solid roots in harness racing  being the daughter of Dan and Ruth Altmeyer and later marrying Meadows leading driver Mike Wilder. Her knowledge of every aspect of the sport is extensive as is her relationships with all its participants. 

Besides being actively involved in racing everyday, Wilder currently handles talent management for the Delaware County Fair during the live TV broadcast of the Little Brown Jug. She has also been a regular part of the United States Harness Writers Association’s (USHWA) Dan Patch Awards Banquet both as an onstage host and Facebook live interviewer and producer for many years. 

While she worked as public relations and marketing director for the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) she became a pioneer of reporting on racing on Facebook Live and coordinated the promotion of countless on-track events. In recognition of her fine work she was the recipient of USHWA's Lew Barasch Memorial Breakthrough Award for industry career achievements in 2013. 

Wilder’s lifelong involvement with the sport and its players will make for interesting trackside and winner’s circle interviews throughout the night.

Peter Kleinhans started going to Roosevelt Raceway as a teenager and his passion for the sport grew from there. Eventually he started training and driving his own stable and reached the top of the game. 

Kleinhans was training a stable of 20 horses led by Enough Talk who was the first trotter in the world to break the 1:50 barrier when he won by over eight lengths in 1:49.3 at Colonial Downs in 2008. Enough Talk also won the Breeders Crown in 2010 and received the Dan Patch older trotter of the year trophy from USHWA in each of those two seasons.  

Although he still competes as an amateur driver, Kleinhans has expanded his role in the sport to announcer, analyst and host and has recently filled in at the Meadowlands in those capacities. His knowledge and expertise of the sport and articulate delivery of same will provide an informative and entertaining look at the night’s races for all who are watching.  

“We are very excited to add such accomplished and professional talents to our production of the Night of Champions” said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. “Heather and Peter have performed at the highest levels of the sport both on and off the track and will bring a unique perspective to the show for our fans.” 

The Batavia Downs live racing meet kicks off on Wednesday (July 24) and runs through Saturday (Dec. 14). For more information on the upcoming racing season log on to www.bataviadownsgaming.com/live-racing.

(Wilder photo credit: USTA. Kleinhans photo credit: Meadowlands)

May 13, 2019 - 4:01pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

Longtime Western New York harness horseman John P. Cummings Sr. passed away on Saturday (May 11) after a lengthy illness. 

Mr. Cummings first got involved in harness racing in 1968 at the age of 22 through his brother-in-law Steve Flanigen. While working full time at both Trico Products and Bethlehem Steel (where he was a tradesman bricklayer) he started jogging and training horses with Flanigen and found what would soon become a lifelong vocation. 

He started out with a couple homebreds named Clippers Classic and Windjammer Munk and soon added overnighters like Don J and Jack Flood to build his stable. Then through his 42-year career he went on to train horse that included Pembroke Primo (1:55.4, $341,026), Mr. Casanova (1:53.2, $274,073), Cambestion (1:52.4, $184,892), Good Evening Smile (1:57.3, $89,219), Solitaire Hanover (1:53.2, $63,953), Pitch The Prez (1:54.4, $89,396) and New York Sire Stake winner Pass Now (1:55.2, $81,918). 

Mr. Cummings most notable horse was Arm And A Leg (1:54, $320,791) who in 2009 won 13 out of 39 starts and $86,000 to be named the Western New York Horse of the Year in a ceremony held at Batavia Downs. 

Over the years Mr. Cummings amassed 3,779 training starts with 731 wins, 574 seconds and 466 thirds and earnings in excess of $1.8 million. 

Although he did also drive, it wasn’t too often. Early on he used Flanigen who had more experience in the bike, and then later he had several more viable options that provided him the luxury of staying solely in the jog cart. You see Mr. Cummings is not only known as a trainer at the track, he also has the distinction of being the patriarch of one of the largest family of drivers in New York State. Four of his five children were boys who were brought up in the business since they could walk. 

John Cummings Jr., Tony Cummings, Todd Cummings and Kevin Cummings were taught the ropes by their father and have all been training and driving since they were old enough to get their licenses. And now Todd’s son Kyle Cummings has made his grandfather proud by breaking out on the racing scene earlier this year with his first driving win.

All told, Mr. Cummings impact on harness racing through himself and his family has been 54,387 starts with 8,272 wins and over $38 million in earnings. That is a family tradition. 

Although his wife, children and horses were his primary passion, when Mr. Cummings had any free time he enjoyed playing cards and was also an avid bowler. He did roll a 300 game and proudly wore the ring he received indicating that milestone everyday. 

"Harry", as he was affectionately known by everyone, had an affable personality and the ability to make people laugh in any situation throughout his entire life and his presence will be sorely missed by all that knew him. 

John Cummings Sr. was the beloved husband of Lallah (nee Flanigen) Cummings; devoted father of John Jr. (Megan Wilson), Anthony (Barbara), Colleen (Tim) Gallagher, Todd (Tammy), and Kevin (Rhonda) Cummings; son of the late Edward and Dorothy (nee Pike) Cummings; loving brother of Edward (late Clara), Frank, late Dorothy "Snookie" and late Peter Cummings; cherished grandfather of 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren; also survived by many nieces and nephews. 

Friends will be received on Tuesday (May 14) from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home, 4199 Lake Shore Road (corner of Camp Road and Route 5) Hamburg, NY. A mass of Christian burial will be held Wednesday (May 15) at noon at Saint John Paul II Parish 2052 Lakeview Road, Lakeview, NY.  

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the American Diabetes Association. Donations and condolences may be left online at www.lakesidefuneralhome.com.

May 6, 2019 - 1:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, sports, Batavia Downs, WROTB, Derby Day 2019, kentucky derby.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs Gaming

Representatives from Western Regional Off-Track Betting (WROTB) reported today (May 6) that a record $2,039,088.30 was wagered on the Kentucky Derby through their outlets including BataviaBets.com, OTB Branches and EZ Bet Locations.

In particular the Empire branch in Rochester, saw significant growth, up 27 percent from the previous year. And wagering was also very strong at Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel, up 7 percent there.

Batavia Downs hosted three separate parties with a full house of happy, gambling revelers enjoying the Run for the Roses. The Park Place Party served an all-time high 751 dinners; well eclipsing the 605 meals sold last year. Thurman Thomas’ Sports Bar “34 Rush” had their highest single day total for sales.

Down on the gaming floor, $4 million credits were played which was the second highest in their history. The week ending Saturday saw the highest credits played total of all time, with $18.3 million in Credits Played, beating the previous best seven-day period of $17.4 million.

The results of the 145th Kentucky Derby may have been controversial with the subsequent disqualification of Maximum Security, who was first under the wire, but according to Henry Wojtaszek, president and CEO of WROTB, Derby Day 2019 was unbelievable all the way around.

“The wagering, party and gaming numbers are a continuation and reflection of the solid year Batavia Downs has been experiencing,” Wojtaszek said. “We could not have pulled this off if it wasn’t for our dedicated OTB branch and Batavia Downs staff, who worked tirelessly on Derby Day. We appreciate the solid support from our loyal customer base.”

WROTB is already gearing up for the second jewel of thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown to be held on May 18 at Pimlico racetrack.

Among the events scheduled for Preakness is the $15 Trifecta special that will take place in the Park Place Event Center at Batavia Downs from 4 to 7 p.m.

Live harness racing return to Batavia Downs on Wednesday (July 24) for the meet that will run through Saturday (Dec. 14).

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May 5, 2019 - 3:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, batavia, video.
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Hundreds of people turned out to Batavia Downs on Saturday to watch the running of the Kentucky Derby.

April 29, 2019 - 4:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, Western OTB, batavia, news.

Officials at Western Regional OTB released a statement this afternoon flatly denying a report that there is an FBI investigation into "lucrative contracts" for "politically wired" companies.

Buffalo-based Investigative Post reported that the FBI is looking into contracts granted to firms with ties to OTB Chairman Richard Bianchi, a member of the Monroe County Conservative Party’s executive committeeand CEO Henry Wojtaszek, former chairman of the Niagara County Republican Committee.

Reporter Jim Heaney wrote that the story is based on multiple unnamed sources. He wrote that an FBI spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.

Batavia Downs and Western OTB spokesman Ryan Hasenauer released the following statement:

“The FBI has not confirmed that there is an investigation of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation (WROTB) and WROTB has not received any inquiry from the FBI.

“Any inquiry or investigation would learn that our contracts are reviewed by an independent Board of Directors appointed by the County Legislatures of 15 counties and the Mayors of two cities. These contracts are audited, public documents and available for public inspection. Furthermore, WROTB has procurement policies that are strictly observed.

"We are proud of our record at WROTB, as the only municipally owned and operated gaming facility in New York State. We are 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.”

April 18, 2019 - 5:06pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, YWCA SPRING FEST, news, charity.

Submitted photos and press release:

It's that time of year again to plan for YWCA Spring Fest, formerly known as the Carnival at Batavia Downs. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 9 -- only seven weeks away!

This is its fourth year and it promises to be the best one yet.

The YWCA of Genesee County is taking over the event which means it will become bigger and better! The YWCA is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

The proceeds of Spring Fest will go toward supporting programs that help enhance the lives of families in Genesee County.

Also, anyone wishing to set up a game booth may do so for free and proceeds can go to the charity/nonprofit of your choice.*

The YWCA Spring Fest is a family friendly event for the whole family. It is the only festival during the month of June in Genesee County for families.

There will be bounce houses, a train ride, pony rides, exotic animal petting zoo, games, 10 food trucks, entertainment, face painting and more than 100 artists, vendors, crafters, authors, potters, jewelers, entrepreneurs, quilters, spice purveyors, exotic jerky sellers, maple syrup sappers, bee product vendors and toy reps from throughout Western New York.

Come and enjoy a fun-filled day with family at Spring Fest. Free Play Coupons for the adults inside the casino and FREE admission and parking. Batavia Downs is located at 8315 Park Road, Batavia.

* To get a game booth contract that you can print out, fill out and mail in, click here.

Send to: Lucille DiSanto, 3732 S. Main Street Road, Batavia, NY 14020

Note: Batavia Downs Gaming reserves the right to deny any applications.

April 11, 2019 - 11:36am

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Quentin Marozzi, a resident of Caledonia, can't wait to defend his MMA title in the 135-pound weight class in the Throwdown at The Downs on June 15.

"I am pumped," Marozzi said. "I'm ecstatic. I'm ready to go. I'm so honored to be here to do what I do. It's what I live for."

Batavia Downs is once again teaming up with local mix martial arts promoter Richard Mitchell and Ground Force Fights.

"Oh man," Mitchell said, "obviously last year's show was big, big. This year is going to be bigger. We're going to have 15 to 20 flights again and a lot of exciting fighters. There will be at least five title fights, maybe more."

Local fighters on the card so far include Peter Flanagan, Kenny Hale and Steven Kleckler.

Heavyweight Jon Marconi returns from Canada to defend his title.

Shotzie Doran, from Rochester, is also fighting.

"Honestly, I just love fighting and I'm just humbled by the entire experience, so I'm happy to be here, happy to be a part of it," Doran said.

Marozzi said he's looking forward to taking on the challenge of a fighter who comes to MMA from wrestling.

"He's really tough," Marozzi said. "He's undefeated. I'm looking forward to really going out there with a wrestler. Most wrestlers I've fought have a really good jaw. So we're going to test his jaw and see how good it really is. He's a good guy. He's humble and he's respectable so he's going to be a good opponent. It's going to be a good time."

Marozzi said he's also pleased to be fighting again in one of Mitchell's events.

"He takes care of his fighters," Marozzi said. "He cares about the fighters in the ring and out of the ring, in their lives and at camps. He's not like a lot of promoters who really just care about the fighter to showing up. He actually cares about his fighters. He's the best promoter I've fought for and I've had like 15 fights."

“We are excited to have Ground Force Fights back at Batavia Downs,” said Henry Wojtaszek, CEO/president at Batavia Downs Gaming. “After the success of last year’s event, we began talks almost immediately on putting together another event here in June of 2019. We’re looking forward to another great night of fights that will entertain the passionate MMA fans of Western New York.”

Tickets are on sale now at bataviaconcerts.com. Doors open at 4:30 p.m.; event starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $35 for General Admission and $55 for VIP seats closer to the cage. Lawn chairs (which are normally permitted for other Batavia Downs events) are NOT permitted for this event. There will be limited chairs and bleacher seating available.

Each concert ticket is also redeemable once at Player’s Club in the three days following the event for $15 Free Play to be used on one of Batavia Downs Gaming’s 800+ gaming machines.

Photo: Quentin Marozzi, Richard Mitchell and Shotzie Doran.

April 8, 2019 - 1:35pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, news, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Even though live racing at Batavia Downs doesn’t begin for another three months, track officials have announced that when the summer/fall meet begins on Wednesday (July 24) it will be the most lucrative session of Standardbred competition ever offered in Western New York.  

With the equine competition once again highlighted by eight legs of the lucrative New York Sire Stakes (NYSS), this year Batavia Downs will also be host to the $1.8 million NYSS Night of Champions finals and $50,000 Kane Memorial Pace that will both be held on Saturday (Sept. 14). 

And where the stake action garners most of the attention, the overnight races make up the bulk of the meet. And that is where good news for horsemen choosing to race at Batavia Downs this year comes in. 

Track officials have announced that purses will be raised 10 percent across the board on opening night and remain that way for the duration of the meet. 

With the increases in place, the Open I events on both gaits (with a minimum of six starters) will compete for $12,500, Open II for $11,000 and Open III for $10,000. Claiming races will be positively affected as well and at all levels. For example, a $25,000 claimer will go for a $10,500 purse, a $10,000 claimer will go for $8,500 and a $5,000 claimer will go for $5,700. 

As a result, Batavia Downs will pay out over $8 million in prize money during the 65-night meeting. 

“This is big news, make no mistake about it. Racing in Western New York has never been better and this will be the year to compete at Batavia” said Todd Haight, director/general manager of Racing at Batavia Downs. “We are already making preparations to get the meet underway and are looking forward to having the best horses in the state competing here all year.”

Haight explained the bigger purses are a result of fewer races last year and a robust gaming floor feeding the purse account. 

“We simply weren’t able to card as many races as we had hoped in 2018 and as a result, all the money sitting in the purse account was not paid out," Haight said. "Plus the Batavia Downs Gaming floor has been registering record numbers all winter and is coming off the best month we have ever had. That translates to a very healthy purse account that we will be distributing to everyone participating at the meet this year."

This is the second purse increase at Batavia Downs since October of 2018 when they were also raised by 10 percent. 

There are several things to note for horsemen who plan to race at Batavia this year.

Management has hired track consultant Kim Crawford to oversee a complete resurfacing of the Batavia oval, including freshly banking the turns. This will ensure a fast and safe racing surface that will provide more competitive races and much sounder horses.

As a result of polling local horsemen, the track will once again offer a traditional condition sheet and will not utilize the ABC System. Trainers will enter their horses by earnings or for a claiming price, and will be classified as such. 

The track has also announced there will be another claiming series this year with several legs for both gaits and a final for the top finishers. More details about this will be available closer to the meet. 

Batavia Downs will also switch to the USTA Electronic Draw System to determine post position this year. 

“The 2019 championship meet at Batavia Downs is a great opportunity for overnight horsemen to join the racing colony here and take advantage of everything we have to offer," Haight concluded. "Stall applications will be available on the Batavia Downs website on Saturday (June 1) and we would love to see new stables ship in for the meet.” 

For more information about racing at Batavia Downs in 2019, log onto www.bataviadownsgaming.com and access the live racing link.

April 1, 2019 - 1:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, Western OTB, business.

Press release:

Today, leaders from Batavia Downs/Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation (WROTB) thanked leaders in Albany for allowing 15 local counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo to receive additional revenue to help hold the line on property taxes, fund first responders and public libraries.

Prior to this change in the tax code, Batavia Downs was losing critically needed revenue because we paid the highest tax rate of any Upstate New York gaming facility. With the 2-percent increase approved in the State Budget, localities will see a significant increase effective immediately.

“The passage of this tax fairness legislation is critical for our continued success,” said Henry F. Wojtaszek, president/CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming WROTB.  “We are proud to have a wonderful partnership with Governor Cuomo and our local elected leaders -- especially Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Senator Tim Kennedy.

"Our representatives in Albany understand the important economic impact Batavia Downs Gaming has in Western New York and we are so thankful to them for their hard work on getting this legislation passed today. Thanks to their efforts, we are looking forward to increasing our financial contributions to our community, which will be seen and felt across Western New York.”

March 25, 2019 - 11:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, batavia, news, notify.

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Nearly 500 people turned out at Batavia Downs on Sunday afternoon in support of Joe Trigillo, who is battling glioblastoma, a cancer that forms in a person's brain and is very difficult to eradicate.

Trigillo was diagnosed in January and has been through two rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment -- one for 33 days and another of 40 days -- and the fundraiser is intended to help Joe and his wife Kathy with any extra expenses.

Kathy said her husband was overwhelmed by the outpouring of community support.

"It means the world to him," Kathy said. "Every time I bring it up he just starts to tear up and he can't believe the great outpouring of love that he's gotten."

Trigillo and members of the Trigillo's family have worked at Batavia Downs for decades, including both of Trigillo's parents. Trigillo has been a stalwart of the local bowling community his entire adult life and is a regular on the local golf tournament circuit.

"He's always been the social person," Kathy said. "He's the one that goes to the bowling tournaments. He's the one that goes to the golf tournaments. He loves to be with people. He never, ever says no because he loves to go out with other people and do things. He's just always happy to do that and he loves people."

The symptoms of glioblastoma can be non-specific and are different for individuals, depending on where in the brain the cancer starts and how it progresses. At the start of the bowling season, Trigillo didn't have his A-game going and he and Kathy took it as an early-season slump.

"You just think it's a slump but he wasn't getting out of the slump," Kathy said. "Still, we didn't think much of it other than he's in a slump."

The community sees Joe the competitor and may not perceive he has a softer side, Kathy said, but he can get emotional in private; however, when Joe started crying during Hallmark movies, Kathy sensed he was being more emotional than usual. Even so, she didn't suspect a serious issue.

But then one day DirecTV called and when Joe wanted to hand the phone off to his wife, he couldn't remember her name.

That weekend, walking across some pavement, Kathy noticed Joe was shuffling his feet. She started to suspect a mini-stroke. That Monday, Jan. 14, she called a doctor who told her to take Joe to the emergency room at UMMC.

"They immediately ordered an MRI after I told them the symptoms," Kathy said. "I think they must have known more than we did."

The MRI revealed two tumors in the lower left frontal lobe and Joe was taken by ambulance to Buffalo General Medical Center.

Once there, surgery was quickly ruled out for treatment.

"If they did surgery to remove the tumors, it was a high risk to cause the whole right side of his body to be paralyzed and he would not be able to speak," Kathy said.

From Buffalo General, Joe was sent to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is also in Buffalo.

The regime of chemo and radiation was rough, Kathy said. Joe was hospitalized a couple of times during the treatment, with treatment suspended once because of complications.

The typical prognosis for glioblastoma is a survival rate of 12 to 15 months. Kathy is hopeful Joe will get back to doing the things he loves this spring and summer.

They'll know more when they meet with doctors at Roswell again on April 14.

"We're hoping that we're going to fight this and that we're going to play golf this summer and we're going to be at the long end of that prognosis," Kathy said.

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March 20, 2019 - 1:01pm
posted by Billie Owens in derby day, Batavia Downs, news.

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel announced today their plans for a second Kentucky Derby party to be held on Saturday, May 4th. A total of three parties will take place on site.

The party announced today will run from 11:30 a.m. until 7 p.m., will take place in the Batavia Downs Gaming Park Place event center, formerly known as the Paddock Room. This party has seen more than 600 attendees for several years in a row.

New this year is the Superfecta Deal. Patrons will receive their choice of a variety of meals, $15 in Free Play once one point is earned on the gaming floor, a $5 wager on the Derby and program, and a commemorative Kentucky Derby glass, all for just $20.

There will be $5 mint juleps specials, which includes Derby glass and samplings from Black Button Distilling as well as Angry Orchard Rose. Many big screen televisions will show the races and there will be mutuel clerks available to take wagers.

The second annual Derby Gala will take place in the Batavia Downs Gaming Grandstands Banquet Room on the second floor. Tickets went on sale in February at Bataviaconcerts.com and at the Lucky Treasures Gift Shop. Half of the tickets have already been sold.

Admission for the Derby Gala at the Downs is $75 per person and proper attire is required. Patrons will receive an open bar from 4:30 to 7 p.m., grazing stations, a $10 wager on the Derby, $25 in Free Play and a Free Derby program.  

The Gala also includes a Best Dressed Contest and Best Hat Contest, which will take place with prizes from the Hotel at Batavia Downs and Four Roses Bourbon. 

The third party, taking place inside 34 Rush, will have Woodford Reserve Bourbon sampling along with sampling from Blue Moon. Patrons may place Derby wagers using self-service terminals. The $5 mint julep special will also be available, which includes a Derby commemorative glass. 

Wagering will also be available at the second floor Downs Simulcast center. Prize drawings for Derby T-shirts and glasses will take place there beginning at 10 a.m.

The hotel at Batavia Downs is already sold out, but other local hotels do have availability and a shuttle will be running that day to take patrons from those hotels over to Batavia Downs beginning at 3 p.m. instead of the usual 5 p.m.

“We’re looking forward to another great day of parties surrounding our Kentucky Derby events,“ said Todd Haight, general manager of Racing at Batavia Downs Gaming. “The success of the Derby Gala last year adds to the already tremendous day of wagering and entertainment that our guests have come to expect from Batavia Downs.

"Based on the recent Kentucky Derby prep races, this year’s Run for the Roses seems more wide open than ever.”

March 10, 2019 - 7:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, Bridal Show, batavia.
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