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October 14, 2018 - 11:38am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo of A F F Bigdaddy with reinsman Denny Bucceri in the lead.

By TIm Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

A F F Bigdaddy continued to be a hot horse among the top class pacers at Batavia Downs as he won his second straight $11,500 Open Handicap pace on Saturday (Oct. 13).

The race got away in post position order meaning Bugatti (Jim Morrill Jr.) was calling the shots. After reaching the quarter in :28 flat, In Runaway Bay (Kevin Cumming) pulled first-up at the three-eighths and brought A F F Bigdaddy (Denny Bucceri) with him. Now in two rows, positions remained unchanged from the half to the three-quarters with the race proceeding in a timely 1:25.3.

As the pacers were rounding the final turn, Bucceri swung A F F Bigdaddy three-deep at the apex and it was clear the pair meant business. Under a full head of steam, A F F Bigdaddy paced by In Runaway Bay and then Bugatti before opening up a three length lead and hitting the wire a wrapped-up 1:54.1 winner.

It was the fifth win in the last eights starts for A F F Bigdaddy ($10.80) who now has seven for the year along with $41,393 in earnings. Jennifer and Marcus Rogowski own the 5-year-old Sir Luck gelding who is trained by Steve Kiblin,

In the $9,900 Open II Handicap, Cool Like Fire (Billy Davis Jr.) came from off the pace late amidst a four-horse charge down the lane to win his fifth race of the year by a length in a time of 1:54.2. Cool Like Fire ($14.20) is owned by WIlliam Emmons and is trained by Jim Clouser Jr.

Four drivers scored doubles on Saturday night. Drew Monti, Jim Morrill Jr., Billy Davis Jr. and Denny Bucceri all got a pair across during the proceedings.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday afternoon with post time set for 5 o'clock.

October 13, 2018 - 11:58am
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

Photo of Kaitlyn Rae with driver Ray Fisher Jr.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

It was a big night for Ray Fisher Jr. at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Oct. 12) as he won four races including both feature races. 

First in the $10,400 fillies and mares Open Handicap pace, Fisher sent Kaitlyn Rae off the wings and right to the front where she dominated her rivals all the way. With an open two-length lead, Kaitlyn Rae set fractions of :27.4, :58 and 1:26.1 before rounding the far turn and skating away to a six-length win in 1:54.3. 

It was the 59th career victory and 11th win of the year for Kaitlyn Rae ($21.60) who is owned and trained by Riley Asher-Stalbaum.

Photo above of driver Ray Fisher Jr. with Lougazi​.

Then one race later in the $11,500 Open Handicap trot, Fisher took Lougazi off the gate and settled in second to the quarter before pulling at the three-eighths pole to take the lead past the half. From there he called the shots as he got to the three-quarters in 1:27.4 and then trotted home sharply while holding off a late challenge from Empire Earl N (Jim Morrill Jr.) to win by a length in 1:57.2. 

Owner Mary Warriner enjoyed watching Lougazi ($7.80) get his seventh win of the year under the tutelage of Fisher’s wife, Ryan Swift. 

Fisher also won with Susie’s Delight (1:55.2, $4.10) and Bands Ariston (1:59.3, $9.60) to round out the Grand Slam. Both of these horses are trained by Swift as well giving her the hat trick.

Fisher is currently fourth in the standings for wins on the meet with 45 behind the leading Drew Monti who has 74, Kevin Cummings with 67 and Billy Davis Jr. with 54. 

Please note that when racing resumes at Batavia Downs on this afternoon (Oct. 13) it will do so with a very early post time of 4:15.

October 12, 2018 - 3:53pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

What was originally an unscheduled night of racing, Saturday (Oct. 13) has now become the earliest post time of the meet for Batavia Downs. Due to a concert previously scheduled, Saturday’s nine-race card will kick off at 4:15 p.m. 

Racing gates open at 2:45 p.m. and the clubhouse will be open at 3:15 p.m. 

There will also be a special menu in the clubhouse on Saturday. A Texas-style bar-b-que is being offered that will feature bar-b-que pulled pork, bone-in chicken, roasted red potatoes, mac-n-cheese, butter-basted corn, rolls, coffee, tea or soda and all for only $16.95. And everyone purchasing the buffet will receive $15 back in free play for the gaming floor. This offer is good from 3:15 until 6:45 p.m. and reservations are suggested. 

After the live racing card concludes, “Kiss This,” the East coast’s premier Kiss tribute band, will play a full-costumed concert in the Paddock Room starting at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are only $10 and are available at www.bataviaconcerts.com or at Lucky Treasures Gift Shop right at Batavia Downs Gaming.

October 8, 2018 - 12:47pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Horsemen please be advised that there will be no racing on Wednesday (Oct. 10) and Thursday (Oct. 11). Wednesday was cancelled due to a lack of horses and Thursday was simply moved to Saturday (Oct. 13), which was not originally scheduled. Saturday’s post time will be 4:15 p.m. 

Friday (Oct. 12) will remain as scheduled with a 6 p.m. post time and with the draw being held on Tuesday (Oct. 9). 

The draw for Wednesday (Oct. 17) will be held on Saturday (Oct. 13) instead of the normal draw day of Friday (Oct. 12). The box closes for both draws at 9 a.m.

For more racing information and updates please log on to www.bataviadownsgaming.com.

October 7, 2018 - 3:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo: Bioness takes the lead, driven by Kevin Cummings​.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

International trotting came to Batavia Downs on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 6) as the French-bred Bioness shipped in and captured the $15,000 Brian Schroeder Memorial Trot. 

The Downs annual signature invitational trot is named for the longtime Western New York trainer/driver Brian Schroeder whose specialty was breaking and racing diagonal-gaited Standardbreds. Schroeder passed away on Oct. 11, 2007 after a lengthy illness. 

Schroeder conditioned and raced some of the best trotters of his era at Batavia Downs as well as on the Grand circuit. Aside from all the races he won in western New York, Schroeder’s career highlights included competing in the 1993 Hambletonian with Collier St Joey and finishing second with Financial Paige in the Breeders Crown 3-year-old filly trot at Woodbine in 1995.

Leaving from post eight, Bioness (Kevin Cummings) made his way to the top and settled in past the quarter in :28.1. With no opposition Cummings backed the next panel down to :29.4 and looked confident on the point. As the race made its way into the third turn, Southern Palms (Shawn McDonough) pulled first-up from fifth and started the rim trek in a slow, methodical fashion. 

When the group hit the three-quarters Bioness had opened up a two length lead while Southern Palms made his way to second, but still with much work to do. At the top of the lane Bioness looked home free, but McDonough was working his horse hard and getting favorable results. Southern Palms came flying down the lane while Bioness really needed the line. With both drivers in full swing, Bioness hung on by a head to win in 1:57.

"The plan was to go to the front from the start and when I got there he felt fine the whole mile. He was game holding that other horse off at the wire but he was all in at that point," said Cummings after the race. 

Bioness ($5) scored his fourth win in 14 starts this year and the purse pushed his earnings to $101,688 for 2018. Northfork Racing Stable owns Bioness who is trained by Chris Oakes. The winner was greeted in the Purple Haze winner’s circle by many friends and family of Brian Schroeder. 

Bioness (Sam Bourbon-Quiradelle D’hilly) was purchased and imported this spring through the French-American Trotting Club (FATC) program developed by the Standardbred Owners Association of New York. The 7-year-old gelding competed in three legs of the FATC series at Yonkers in August before winning the $120,000 final, going the mile and one-half in 2:58. 

After having a three-week sabbatical, Bioness qualified at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 1:54.3 before shipping to Batavia for this engagement. 

October 6, 2018 - 12:41pm

Friends of Assemblyman Steve Hawley invite everyone to a political fundraiser at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel on Friday, Oct. 19.

The 11th annual Night ot the Races will be attended by Hawley and Republican candidate for governor Marcus J. Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive and a former mayor of Tivoli.

The fun starts at 6 p.m.

Cost is $80 per guest, or $150 per couple.

There will be a two-hour open bar, a special buffet dinner, racing and $20 in Free Play at the casino per person.

RSVP by Oct. 13 by calling (585) 356-0686.

Sponsorship opportunities are available:

  • $1,000 -- Triple Crown Level: 10 tickets, race named for sponsor, special gift, tote board and program recognition, group picture with "Triple Crown" race winner and Assemblyman Hawley;
  • $800 -- Kentucky Derby Level: 8 tickets, program recognition, special gift, group picture with "Kentucky Derby" race winner and Assemblyman Hawley;
  • $600 -- Belmost Stakes Level: 6 tickets, program recognition, group picture with "Belmont Stakes" race winner and Assemblyman Hawley;
  • $400 -- Preakness Stakes Level: 4 tickets, program recognition.

Friends of Steve Hawley -- State Assembly 2018: mailing address is 7768 Oatka Trail, Le Roy, NY 14482. Visit www.hawleyforassembly.com

October 4, 2018 - 1:01pm

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

There are many promotions and schedule changes at Batavia Downs over the next nine days and here is a look at the lineup.  

This Saturday (Oct. 6) has an early post of 4:45 p.m. and promises a full night of entertainment. 

The featured race on the live racing card is the $15,000 Brian Schroeder Memorial Trot, named for the longtime Western New York trainer/driver whose specialty was diagonal-gaited Standardbreds. Schroeder raced some of the best trotters of his era at Batavia Downs and even competed in the 1993 Hambletonian with Collier St. Joey. 

Among the entrants of that race is the French-bred trotter Bioness (Sam Bourbon-Quiradelle D’hilly) who was purchased and imported this spring through the French American Trotting Club program developed by the Standardbred Owners Association of New York. Since coming to the U.S. Bioness has won three out of seven starts, taking a mark of 1:54.3 at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs and has earned $88,970 in the process. 

Fans attending the races Saturday can take advantage of the Match Play promotion. Wager a minimum of $25 with a mutuel clerk on any Batavia Downs Gaming live harness race at the same time between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. and receive $25 in gaming free-play. 

After the races on Saturday, there will be a live tribute concert to the classic film "American Graffiti" in the Paddock Room. Tickets are $10 and seating is on a first-come basis.  

Then on Columbus Day Monday (Oct. 8) enjoy Batavia Downs annual matinee racing card with a special 1:15 p.m. post. Purchase a chicken barbecue (provided by the Center Street Smoke House) for $10.95 from noon to 3 p.m. in the clubhouse and receive $10 in gaming free play. 

If chicken isn’t your pleasure, there will also be $1 Sahlen’s hot dog, draft beer and soda at the Homestretch Grill and on the apron from noon until after the last race. All live racing programs will also be only $1.  

Then there is a schedule change that needs to be noted. There will be no racing on Wednesday (Oct. 10) and Thursday (Oct. 11). Wednesday was cancelled due to a lack of horses and Thursday was simply moved to Saturday (Oct. 13), which was not originally scheduled. Saturday’s post time will be 4:15 p.m. 

Friday (Oct. 12) will remain as scheduled with a 6 p.m. post time.  

Saturday (Oct. 13) will feature a special Texas Barbecue in the clubhouse with pulled pork and chicken and all the fixings to go along with it for only $16.95. And everyone buying the barbecue will receive $15 in gaming free play. The clubhouse and buffet both open at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday. 

For more information on live racing at Batavia Downs, please log on to www.bataviadownsgaming.com.

October 4, 2018 - 12:54pm
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs.

Photo of Roll With Faith in the lead with driver Kevin Cummings.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

She was perfect in September and has now started October the same way. Roll With Faith has owned the top pacing mares at Batavia Downs of late and proved it once again; winning her fourth consecutive $10,000 Open Handicap distaff feature on Wednesday evening (Oct. 3). 

Kevin Cummings sent Roll With Faith to the front of the scratch-shortened field and settled into a comfortable dictatorial position. Stepping off fractions of :29, :58.2 and 1:26.3, Cummings sat confident as Roll With Faith threw in a :28.2 final panel and won easily in 1:55.

It was the 12th win of the year for Roll With Faith ($3.30) pushing her seasonal earnings to $65,309 for owners Finish Line Investors, Lawrence Willer and John Mungillo, who also conditions the winner. 

In the co-featured $8,800 fillies and mares Open II pace, Kaitlyn Rae (Ray Fisher Jr.) won in similar fashion, going gate to wire in domineering fashion. Fisher went :28.1, :57.4 and 1:26.4 before scooting home in :28.4 to pull away by three in 1:55.3. 

It was the 10th win of the year for Kaitlyn Rae ($3.20) who now has put $51,025 in the bank for her owner/trainer Riley Asher-Stalbaum.

Asher-Stalbaum also sent her win machine Quicksilvercandy A to the winner’s circle for the 14th time this year and the 77th time in her career. Over the last two seasons this mare has won just under half of her lifetime races, bagging 35 wins over that period. 

It’s also interesting to note that based on Wednesday’s results, Quicksilvercandy A is tied in fourth for the most 2018 wins in North America and Roll With Faith is currently tied for sixth. 

Ray Fisher Jr. got the driving hat trick on Wednesday while Kevin Cummings and Shawn McDonough both scored driving doubles. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Oct. 5) with post time set for 6 p.m.

October 1, 2018 - 4:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in KISS THIS, foxprowl collectables, news, music, Batavia Downs.

KISS THIS photo from Batavia Downs.

KISS THIS -- the East Coast's premiere KISS tribute band, based in Buffalo, will be the stars of a meet-and-greet photo op in full regalia at Foxprowl Collectables on Tuesday (Oct. 2).

Its members are Kevin Blakita - Paul Stanley (Starchild), John Jeffrey - Ace Frehley (Spaceman), Julius Giambelluca - Eric Carr (the Fox), Bradley Heath - Eric Singer (The Catman), Taylor Stursa - Gene Simmons (The Demon).

Fans are welcome to do some "KISSmas" shopping early since all KISS collectibles will be 10 percent off during the band's brief store visit -- from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Foxprowl relocated to its old digs, at 440 Ellicott St. in the City of Batavia.

Also, KISS THIS will appear in concert Saturday Oct. 13 at Batavia Downs. Tickets are $10. Doors open at 7 p.m.; concert starts at 8. Minors under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

For concert tickets, click here.

September 30, 2018 - 1:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Lucan Hanover (John Cummings Jr.) made it three in a row at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 29) after winning the $10,500 Open handicap pace in impressive style. 

As was the case the past two weeks, Cummings put Lucan Hanover on the point right off the gate and was never headed from there. Posting fast fractions of :27.3, :56.3 and 1:24.2, Lucan Hanover turned for home and paced away with a two-length margin of victory in 1:52.2.

"Lucan did it all himself; he's all class," said Cummings after the race. 

It was the 35th lifetime win for Lucan Hanover ($9.70) who now has over $1.14 million on his card. He is owned by Vogel & Wags Nags Stable, Jack Rice and Pine Hill Racing LTD and is trained by Maria Rice. 

In the $9,000 Open II pace, Heaven Rocks (Drew Monti) got a perfect two-hole trip behind China Dream (John Cummings Jr.) from the start of the race until the top of the stretch when the leader bore out and Heaven Rocks shot through the void to win in 1:54.1, which was a new seasonal mark. 

Owned by Tessa Roland and trained by JD Perrin, Heaven Rocks ($12) registered his sixth win of the year.

The Downs leading driver Drew Monti and trainer JD Perrin teamed up for a Grand Slam on Saturday. Besides Heaven Rocks, the tag-team of Monti and Perrin also shuttled across Four Diamond (1:55.3, $5.70), Hands Off Frank (1:55.2, $2.40) and Hardts Or Bettor (1:54.2, $3.60). 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 3) at 5 p.m.

September 29, 2018 - 10:52am
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

Photo of BZ Glide with driver Mike Caprio.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

BZ Glide waved bye-bye to the field as he passed them all going from worst to first in the $10,500 Open Handicap trotting feature at Batavia Downs on Friday afternoon (Sept. 28). 

BZ Glide (Mike Caprio) got away last off the gate while Chelseas Chance (Billy Davis Jr.) smoked early fractions of :27 and :57. At that station, Southern Palms (Kevin Cummings) pulled first up with Call My Broker (Drew Monti) on his back and they tried to advance on the leader past the five eighths. But Southern Palms bid failed and Call My Broker was forced to go wide around him. 

At that point BZ Glide was locked in tight last behind horses fanning three deep at the three-quarters and things were looking bleak. But as the race progressed through the turn, Southern Palms finally faded to last allowing BZ Glide a spot to get off the pegs. Then a good five lengths off the leader and forced to tip three-wide himself, Caprio unleashed BZ Glide and with a couple of rocks and a couple of knocks the big horse responded heartily and rolled by everyone to win in 1:57. 

It was the second straight top-class trot victory at Batavia Downs for BZ Glide ($5.20) who now has seven wins on the year and $56,343 earned for owner Caprio stable LLC and trainer Alana Caprio. 

In the $8,000 Open II trot, Bold Dresser (Shawn McDonough) was never headed going gate to wire in 1:58.3 to score his fifth victory of the year. Harry Wortzman owns Bold Dresser ($3.70) who is trained by his driver, Shawn McDonough. 

Drew Monti led all drivers on the night with three wins while Shawn McDonough and Ray Fisher Jr. each garnered a pair. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 29) with post time at 6 o'clock.

September 28, 2018 - 1:22pm

Press release:

Batavia Downs has announced the lineup for the upcoming Legends and Stars collectors' expo to be held on Oct. 27th and 28th.

Former Dallas football player, three time Super Bowl champion, NFL Hall of Famer, and all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith will appear on Sunday. Also appearing Sunday will be former Buffalo football players including: Bruce Smith, Andre Reed, Marv Levy, Darryl Talley, Billy Shaw, Kurt Shultz, Antowain Smith, Mark Maddox and John Davis.

“We are extremely pleased to be welcoming back the Legends and Stars Collectors Expo,” said Henry Wojtaszek, CEO/president at Batavia Downs. “Bringing athletes of the past and present to Batavia Downs so that people can meet their sports heroes is something we and our customers look forward to each year.”

Current Buffalo football player Kelvin Benjamin will appear on Saturday as will former Buffalo hockey stars Matthew Barnaby and Pat Lafontaine.

“Legends and Stars are pleased to be returning to Batavia Downs for our Fall Sports Expo,” said Legends and Stars staff member Chris Sabatello. “With a robust lineup of autograph guests and sold-out Paddock Room filled with high quality sports memorabilia dealers, we expect this show to be a first-class experience for fans and collectors alike.”

Rounding out the show’s football stars include Ken Anderson, former Cincinnati Bengal, Mark Duper and Mark Clayton, former Miami Dolphin standouts and former Patriots teammates Irving Fryar and Steve Grogan -- all on Saturday.

Baseball fans may seek out Yankees great Ron Guidry, White Sox standout Jack McDowell and former Pirate Andy Van Slyke, all appearing on Saturday.

Appearing both days is actor Dwier Brown, who cinema fans may recognize as John Kinsella from the movie "Field of Dreams."

The show takes place 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Cost is $8 for admission (Kids 12 and under are free) and all attendees 18 years of age or older receive $7 in Free Play. Each paid admission includes one free autograph to a designated guest.

Specific information on which athletes are appearing on what days, the times they will be appearing and cost of signatures can be found at legendsandstars.net

About Batavia Downs/WROTB

Owned and operated by 15 Western New York counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo, Western Region Off-Track Betting Corporation is a public benefit corporation with headquarters in Batavia, NY. WROTB owns and operates 29 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a Standardbred 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.

September 27, 2018 - 1:55pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

When the going got tough, Machin Marley got going and won the $9,000 Open Handicap pace for fillies and mares at Batavia Downs on Wednesday evening (Sept. 26). 

Machin Marley (Drew Monti) hit the pylons last while Little Joke (Billy Davis Jr.) fired off the wings to take the early lead. But Little Joke would soon submit to a takeover coup by Sportsmuffler (John Cummings Jr.) who came hard midway up the backstretch. The field stayed in single file past the half in a tepid :30 second quarter before Kaitlyn Rae (Ray Fisher Jr.) pulled first over at the five-eighths. 

The top two tangled to the three-quarters in 1:26.1 with neither getting an advantage. Then in the turn, Badlands Delight (Kevin Cummings) tipped three-deep and Machin Marley went four-wide from last and had almost five lengths to make up. With the whole field racing literally side-by-side in the lane, Machin Marley flew down the center of the track and collared them all at the wire to win in 1:55.2. 

It was the sixth win in 30 starts this year for Machin Marley ($15.20) who now has earned $39,381 for owners Thatsideofthefence and John Mungillo, who also does the training. 

In the $8,000 Open II pace for fillies and mares, Aritzia Hanover (Billy Davis Jr.) got away mid-pack before pulling first-over to out-muscle Rockin Kasbah (Kevin Cummings) through the second lap and win by a length in 1:57.1. Aritzia Hanover ($4.40) is owned by Vogel & Wags Nags Stable and Pine Hill Racing. Maria Rice trains the winner. 

Drew Monti and Billy Davis Jr. both had driving triples on Wednesday. Monti is the current dash driving leader for the meet with 64 wins. Davis is third with 48 wins behind Kevin Cummings who sits in second with 60. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Sept. 28) with post time set for 6 p.m.

September 23, 2018 - 2:23pm
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs.

(Photo of driver Drew Monti courtesy of Paul White)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

It was another big Saturday night (Sept. 22) for driver Drew Monti as he captured six wins on the card, including four straight from races two through five, to vault himself back into the lead for the dash driving title at Batavia Downs. 

Monti got his picture taken with Glory Jean (1:57.1, $7.20), Foreign Officer (1:54.4, $5.50), Four Diamonds (1:55.4, $5.80), Hands Off Frank (1:54, $6.80), Hardts Or Bettor (1:55.4, $2.90) and Barry’s Shelby (1:55, $8.40). 

The six wins now give him 61 for the meet, one more than Kevin Cummings (60) who also had a driving double on Saturday. 

Four of Monti’s wins (Foreign Officer, Four Diamonds, Hands Off Frank and Hardts Or Bettor) were behind horses trained by JD Perrin. And much like Monti,  Perrin pushed himself into the dash win training lead now with 26 victories after Saturday, four ahead of James Clouser Jr. who has 22. 

Clouser and Perrin are the top two Universal Trainer Rating (UTR) trainers among all those in North America with less than 500 starts this year. Clouser has a UTR of .472 and Perrin is right behind him with a .417. 

The feature race on the card was an $8,500 Open III pace that was won by Barry Hanover (Shawn McDonough). Barry Hanover got away second behind Southwind Torque (John Cummings Jr.) who led the race until the three-quarters when McDonough pulled, took the lead and paced away to an impressive three-length victory in a new lifetime mark of 1:53. 

Barry Hanover ($4.40) is owned by John Sixt and trained by Judy Blaun. 

Racing Under Saddle (RUS) New York had an exhibition race on Saturday with a purse of $3,000 that proved to be one of the best on the card to watch. 

Rider Sietski Dijkhof from the Netherlands was making her first North American RUS start and this girl came to play. Dijkhof rode No Recess from post five in the field of six and got away second behind last year’s Batavia RUS winner, Funny Photo (Sophie Engerran) and sat there until the half in 1:01.4. There Dijkhof pulled No Recess and went right after Funny Photo. 

The two horses trotted side by side, stride for stride up the backside and into the far turn when Funny Photo got a half-length advantage. But when they spun into the stretch, Dijkhof asked for more from No Recess and he responded by passing Funny Photo to win by a length in 2:02.1. 

The time was a new lifetime RUS mark for No Recess and a new RUS track record at Batavia Downs, replacing the 2:03.4 mark set by Admirable Hanover in 2016. 

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

September 22, 2018 - 3:40pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, news, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Foiled Again, the richest Standardbred of all time, with driver Jim Morrill Jr. and a fan at Batavia Downs Friday night; photo courtesy of Kevin Oklobzija.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

It was a dark and stormy night in Genesee County as storms blew through the area on Friday night (Sept. 21). But that didn’t deter the multitude of fans of Foiled Again from turning out to witness the richest Standardbred of all time compete at Batavia Downs one last time. 

Prior to the eighth race, everyone in attendance gathered at the fence in anticipation of seeing one of the greatest pacers in the history of the sport.

Foiled Again was in a $10,000 Open II pace that saw him start from post seven and get away fifth, where he would stay until the race approached the three-quarter pole. That's where driver Jim Morrill Jr. pulled him and tried to advance toward the leader. Although Foiled Again raced gamely pacing homes in :28.2 over an off-track, he came up two-lengths short of the win, finishing fourth in 1:53.4. 

After the race, Foiled Again was brought back to the winner’s circle where he stood like a rock star with his caretaker Jordan Miller and his driver Jim Morrill Jr. to greet the hundreds of racing enthusiasts who ran down from all points of the grandstand and clubhouse to see him up close and take his picture. There is no doubt that Facebook accounts all over Western New York will be rife with images of Foiled Again for the foreseeable future. 

Batavia Downs Gaming is very appreciative of Burke Racing, the Weaver Bruscemi partnership, the JJK Stables and trainer Ron Burke for including it as a stop on the Foiled Again Farewell Tour.

September 22, 2018 - 3:30pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By TIm Bojarski, for Batavia Downs:

The $320,000 New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) consolation races were contested in eight divisions at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 21) with Jason Bartlett and Marcus Miller getting the lion’s share of the eight contests. Bartlett won three and finished third two more times while Miller won two and finished second four times.   

Despite a heavy downpour early in the card, the track set up quickly and two lifetime and two seasonal marks were set during the evening in the NYSS races.

Here is a race by race recap of the consolation events.

2-year-old filly pace

Winner -- Topville Angelina (American Ideal-A Fiesty Affair) 1:57.2

Owners -- Erv Miller Stable, Michael Anderson and George Golemes

Trainer -- Erv Miller

Breeder -- Robert Hamather

(non-betting)

Topville Angelina (Marcus Miller) travelled second the entire mile behind Sun Viser (Billy Davis Jr.) through even fractions until the top of the stretch when Miller tipped her and she quickly paced by the leader down the lane to win by three lengths in 1:57.2.

2-year-old filly trot

Winner -- Sweet Chapter (Chapter Seven-Mom’s A Sweetie Pie) 2:01.2

Owners -- Hutt Racing Stable, Blake MacIntosh, Glenn Bechtel and the Mortgage Boys Stable

Trainer -- Blake MacIntosh

Breeder -- Winbak Farm

Mutuel -- $3.20

Sweet Chapter (Jim Morrill Jr.) went right to the front and dictated the entire race. Contending with a heavy downpour during the mile, Sweet Chapter trotted to the three-quarters in 1:30.1 without a challenge before Hot Chapter (Marcus Miller) started an attack on the outside. Hot Chapter trotted hard down the lane in the middle of the track but Sweet Chapter had enough left to hang on and win in 2:01.2.

2-year-old colt and gelding pace

Winner -- KJ Leo (Art Major-Winsmith Jess) 1:54.4

Owners -- Brenda Messenger, Philip Shapiro and Scott Woogen

Trainer -- Gary Messenger

Breeders -- Brenda Messenger, Philip Shapiro and Scott Woogen

Mutuel -- $24.40

Cub Fan (Marcus Miller) was a strong leaver and set the pace once he settled ahead of KJ Leo (Billy Davis Jr.) who would get the perfect trip. After getting to the half in :57.1, Jet Rock (Kevin Cummings) pulled first up and pushed the issue with Cub Fan all the way to the top of the stretch. At that point he faded and KJ Leo popped the pocket and paced down the lane stride for stride with Cub Fan. When they hit the wire they were a neck apart with KJ Leo getting the better of the photo in 1:54.4, which was a new lifetime mark.

2-year-old colt and gelding trot

Winner -- JNR Express (Coway Hall-Yankee T L C) 1:59.3

Owners -- James De Armond and Russell Young

Trainer -- Jessica Okusko

Breeder -- Donald La Page

Mutuel -- $9

JNR Express (Kevin Cummings) took no prisoners as he left and led at every station. After trotting well in hand through a 1:29.2 three quarters, JNR Express took a two-length lead into a stretch and held off a late surge by Brady Bunch (Marcus Miller) and Whimzical Chapter (Dan Daley) to win in 1:59.3, which was a new lifetime mark.

(Above: Solitary with driver Jason Bartlett.)

3-year-old filly pace

Winner -- Solitary (American Ideal-Lonesome Day) 1:54.4

Owners -- William Daggett Jr., Lawrence Vukovic and the J L Benson Stable

Trainer -- Nick Surick

Breeder -- Docs Farm

Mutuel -- $3.30

Pelican Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.) grabbed the lead by the quarter and took the race to the half in :57. An outer flow began to advance and by the three quarters horses were three deep heading into the turn with Solitary (Jason Bartlett) locked in fifth with no racing room. Believe In Me (Drew Monti) who was second on the outside bore out and gave Solitary and opening to get out and get out she did. Bartlett gave the filly her head and she shifted gears and paced away from the field to win by three lengths in 1:54.4, which was a new seasonal mark.

“The race didn’t unfold as I expected and I had to make my way out of traffic in the last turn. But When I got her free it was over,” said Bartlett after the race.

(Above: I'm the Muscle with driver Jason Bartlett.)

3-year-old colt and gelding trot

Winner -- I’m The Muscle (Muscle Mass-Lady Bling) 1:57.4

Owner -- Rheau Viau

Trainer -- Rene Allard

Breeder -- Blair and Erna Corbell

Mutuel -- $2.30

In a race shortened by two scratches, I’m The Muscle (Jason Bartlett) wanted nothing but the front and didn’t waste any time getting there. He trotted unchallenged on top by two open lengths in :29.3, :59.3 and 1:29.1 before rounding the last turn and flying home in a quick :28.3 to win in 1:57.4.

“He has been getting better and better each week and last week he was closing on Six Pack Late. He’s a real nice horse,” said Bartlett in the winner’s circle.

3-year-old filly trot

Winner -- Supergirl RIley (Muscle Mass-Crown Laurel) 1:57

Owners -- Paymaq Racing, George Golemes and Harvey Eisman

Trainer -- Erv Miller

Breeder -- Brittany Farms

Mutuel -- $2.10

Marcus Miller took advantage of the continuing front end bias and put the 1-9 favorite Supergirl RIley right on the point as the field followed in single file. With the rest of the group gapping behind, the pocket-sitting Golden Muscle (Drew Monti) pulled at three-quarters to take her shot. But halfway through the turn, Golden Muscle broke and Supergirl RIley found herself all alone trotting down the stretch a wrapped-up winner by three in 1:57.

“She’s just an unbelievable horse. She does everything right and she won easy tonight,” said driver Marcus Miller after the race.

(Above: Ideal Feeling with driver Jason Bartlett.)

3-year-old colt and gelding pace

Winner -- Ideal Feeling (American Ideal-Feelinglikeastar) 1:52.4

Owner -- Rick Berks

Trainer -- Mike Deters

Breeder -- Winbak Farm

Mutuel -- $3.10

Ideal Feeling (Jason Bartlett) seated third off the gate but then came quick past the eighth pole to grab the lead. Rolling handily past the half and to three-quarters in 1:24.1 without any opposition, Ideal Feeling watched as Lyons Steel (Kevin Cummings) left his cover and made his bid for the win. As the race moved down the lane, Lyons Steel continued to gain ground but Bartlett kept Ideal Feeling to task and he won by a half length in 1:52.4 to take his third consecutive win.

Before the races began, Batavia Downs held a press conference with regional media outlets to formally announce the track being awarded the 2019 NYSS Night of Champions.

The Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding and Development Fund awarded the $1.8 million finals to Batavia Downs because of its excellent facilities and their ability to promote the race and offer an exciting fan experience.

Henry Wojtaszek, president and CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel expressed his excitement looking forward to next year: “We are very excited for Batavia Downs Gaming to host the $1.8 million finals if the New York SIre Stakes with the long history this facility has with harness racing. We have made so many improvements to the track and can’t wait to host everyone that weekend and showcase our new hotel and beautiful clubhouse.”

Kelly Young, executive director of the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding and Development Fund said: “2019 will be the 30th edition of the Night of Champions and we look forward to bringing it to Western New York and Batavia Downs. We’re really excited to watch this race track do what it does best; that is promoting harness racing and bringing fans in to watch the best horses the state has to offer.”

The date of the finals will be announced once the actual racing schedule is finalized.

September 20, 2018 - 1:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The horses that missed the cut for the $1.8 million up for grabs in the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) Night of Champions finals will convene at Batavia Downs on Friday evening (Sept. 21) to compete for the $320,000 in purse money available in the NYSS consolation races.

There are eight divisions that will go for $40,000 each and the first is non-betting with a 5:20 p.m. post time. Then NYSS events are carded in race one, two, three, five, six seven and 10. Post time for the first betting race is 6 p.m.

Supergirl Riley (Muscle Mass-Crown Laurel) is the early 6-5 favorite in the 3-year-old filly trot and comes in as the highest money earner competing in any of the consolations tonight with $221,589 on her card. 

Supergirl Riley appears to be at the top of her game after winning the $180,000 Zweig Memorial at Vernon Downs in a lifetime best 1:54.3 over a sloppy track. She then matched that mark last week, winning a $50,000 Kentucky Sire Stake race at the Red Mile. And not to be overlooked was her start at Yonkers Raceway in the Hudson Trot final where she finished second by a nose in 1:53.1 to Plunge Blue Chip. 

Supergirl Riley is one of six entries for trainer Erv Miller in these consolations and Marcus Miller will be in the bike as usual. 

I’m The Muscle (Muscle Mass-Lady Bling) headlines the 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings and a quick look at the form explains why he’s 8-5 morning line. 

After joining the Rene Allard Stable in July, I’m The Muscle rattled off five straight wins, the last of which was a four-length romp in 1:55.2 at Batavia Downs in the rain. In his last start at Yonkers he finished third behind Yonkers Trot winner Six Pack and the top point-getter for this division Helpisontheway. This race would have to be considered class relief after that start and he should take advantage of that with Jason Bartlett up for the ride once again.  

The 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers should be a very interesting race as all eight of the starters competed at Batavia Downs two weeks ago in the final leg of their division this year. 

Ideal Feeling (American Ideal-Feelinglikeastar) won his split by six lengths in 1:52 after toying with the field the whole mile. He has since won again in an overnight at Tioga Downs in 1:52.2 by three lengths. He has faced Courtly Choice twice this year and knows what it takes to be the best. Jason Bartlett is back up and drew post three at 2-1 for trainer Mike Deters. 

Topville Olympian (American Ideal-Our Sophia) went off the heavy favorite here last time and started out the mile with a quick :55.3 half. But he faltered late and his failure to get any points knocked him out of the NYSS final and into this consolation. If he regains the form he had in the $500,000 Messenger final at Yonkers and most of the races before that, he will be a major player in this race. Trainer Chris Oakes has Tyler Buter up and they are rated as 3-1 morning line. 

Mach N Cheese (Betterthancheddar-Mach You And Me) was a winner in his Batavia outing, taking a 1:53.4 lifetime mark in the process. Jersey Jim (Artiscape-Jersey Pearl) scratched from that Batavia Start but has since finished third at Saratoga in an overnight in 1:51.3 and Cheese Melt (Betterthancheddar-B So Lucky) comes in off a tightener at Harrah’s Philly where he ran away in 1:51.1, which was a new lifetime mark. 

The early Pick-5 wager (which runs from race one through race five) includes four of the NYSS consolation events and has a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for Friday. It is part of the USTA Strategic Wagering pool and race pages can be downloaded for free from Trackmaster and the USTA through this link. (http://handicapping.ustrotting.com)
 
The Batavia Downs early Pick-5 on Friday is also the USTA Play of the Day on the Harness Racing Fan Zone.
September 20, 2018 - 1:14pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo of Foiled Again, courtesy of Paul White. The horse will be driven by Jim Morrill Jr. on Friday at Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The richest standardbred in the history of the sport of harness racing, the $7.59 million winner Foiled Again will be competing at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 21) as part of his farewell tour as he heads toward retirement at the end of the year. 

Foiled Again has won a remarkable 103 races lifetime and comes into Batavia on a three-race win streak. He most recently won at the Greenville Fair in Ohio, the Windsor Fair in Maine and at Freehold Raceway in New Jersey. This past week he made an appearance at the Little Brown Jug in Delaware, Ohio, where he trained a mile in front of the crowd on Jugette Day in preparation for his race at Batavia. 

The 14-year-old Foiled Again will compete in race eight at Batavia Downs which is an Open II event going for $10,000. The estimated post time for that race is 9 p.m. He is owned by Burke Racing, the Weaver Bruscemi partnership, and JJK Stables, is trained by Ron Burke and will be driven on Friday by Jim Morrill Jr. 

Foiled Again has raced at Batavia Downs six times since 2009, winning five and finishing second once. His last appearance at Batavia was in October of last year when he won in 1:52.2 by two lengths. 

Foiled Again is one of only two horses in history to receive three consecutive USHWA Dan Patch Awards for best older male pacer. In 2011 at the age of 7, Foiled Again was named Pacer of the Year and is the oldest horse ever to receive that honor.

In 2013, at the age of 9, he won the Breeders Crown Open Pace to become the oldest horse to win a Breeders Crown event. In addition to that victory, Foiled Again was the also the winner of innumerable stakes, including the Canadian Pacing Derby, Ben Franklin Pace, TVG Free For All Series Championship, George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series, Bobby Quillen Memorial, and Molson Pace.

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