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Eclipse viewing party at Batavia Downs includes live music, snacks, and more

By Press Release

Press Release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced details for their Eclipse Party, scheduled from 1 - 4 p.m. on Monday, April 8 during the Total Solar Eclipse happening that day.

Tickets are just $20 and attendees receive back $10 in Free Play. Attendees will receive ISO-certified Eclipse Viewing Glasses, Snacks, and Beverage Sampling courtesy of Tops Markets, Starry, Sunkist, Blue Moon, Heron Hill, and the Totality Black Lager from Rohrbach, Strangebird, and Three Heads Brewing.

There will be Live Music courtesy of Nerds Gone Wild, WNY’s Premier ’80s Party Band from 1 - 3 p.m. Attendees will have access to the track apron for Eclipse Viewing for the 3-minute, 43-second Eclipse.

The gaming floor will have promotions and giveaways prior to the party as well.

“We are excited to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime event with the people of Western New York and beyond, “said Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO for Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel. “We look forward to entertaining all those coming to the area and are keeping our fingers crossed for clear weather.”

Tickets are available now on bataviaconcerts.com.

Hotel Packages for this event for out-of-towners, or locals wishing to take a staycation, can be booked by calling Sara at (585) 344-6155. Hotel packages include 2 nights of accommodations (Sunday and Monday) alongside a free blanket and complimentary welcome dinner on Sunday night.

Other events scheduled on Eclipse weekend include the Experience Psychic Fair April 5 - 7.

Derby Gala, Tacos and Tequila, and more return to Batavia Downs

By Press Release
derby gala batavia downs 2018
Derby Gala at Batavia Downs, 2018.
File photo by Howard Owens.

Press Release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced the lineup for events taking place onsite alongside the 3 Triple Crown Races this spring as well as newly announced vendor shows and fundraisers.

The Derby Gala returns on the first Saturday in May - May 4. Cost is $139 per person and includes Buffet Dinner, Open Bar, a $20 Wager on the Derby, Derby Glass, a Derby T-shirt, $60 in Free Play, and bourbon sampling from Woodford Reserve, the official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby.

A limited number of hotel specials are available on that day - The special is $449 and includes 2 entries to the party and a hotel room that evening.

On that same day, the Park Place Room will be host to the Superfecta Special - which includes a $25 Free Play, $5 Wager on the Derby, Derby Program, and a Lunch. The cost is $30 per person and attendees can pay at the door.

On Preakness Stakes Day - Saturday, May 18, the 3rd Annual Tacos and Tequila event takes place inside the Park Place Room. The cost is $35 and includes Tequila Sampling from multiple vendors, a Taco Bar, $20 in Free Play, a $5 wager on the Preakness Stakes, and a Taco Holder to take home. Early Bird Tickets will be available for $30.

The hotel special for this event is $229 and includes 2 entries to the event and a hotel room that evening.

The final jewel of the Triple Crown is the Belmont Stakes, this year in Saratoga, on Saturday, June 8. That same day inside Park Place is the Bourbon and Whiskey Fest. The cost is $35 and includes Bourbon and Whiskey Sampling, Grazing Stations, $20 in Free Play, and a $5 wager on the Belmont Stakes. Early Bird Tickets will be available for $30.

The hotel special for this event is $299 and includes 2 entries to the event and a hotel room that evening.

Tickets to the Derby Gala, Tacos & Tequila, and Bourbon and Whiskey Fest can all be purchased at BataviaConcerts.com.

Those wishing to book the hotel specials can find direct links to do so on the hotel deals page on the Batavia Downs website at https://www.bataviadownsgaming.com/hotel-deals/.

“Last year our Triple Crown events had record attendance,” said Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel. “Our events calendar is more packed than ever to keep guests coming back for outstanding, unique experiences onsite.”

Prior to the Triple Crown, other Spring events announced by Batavia Downs and available on BataviaConcerts.com include:

The Batavia Downs Record Riot Vendor Show is Sunday, March 24 - attendees will be able to browse multiple vendor tables to discover a wide selection of vinyl records including rare finds, all while connecting with fellow music lovers.  Tickets and details are available at https://www.eventbrite.com/o/record-riots-17875655772.

The Batavia Downs Silent Disco returns on Saturday, March 30 - Tickets are $20 and include $10 in Free Play.  Attendees can listen to 3 different channels of music on headphones and dance the night away.

The 2nd Annual Fur Ball Gala Animal Fundraiser on April 13 - Tickets are at $75 and monies raised go to the Whispering River Animal Rescue & Begin Again Horse Rescue.

Nickel City Wrestling’s return to Batavia Downs is on Sunday, April 14 - tickets are available at https://ncwrestling.booktix.net/.

Tickets are also on sale on BataviaConcerts.com for Music of the Stars, Prince Tribute Show, and the entire Rockin’ The Downs Summer Concert Series.

Sponsored Post: Tapas & Tastings at Batavia Downs tonight

By Sponsored Post
batavia downs tapas tastings

By James Fink.

 In keeping with his promise to promote local and regionally grown and produced food products, Batavia Downs Executive Chef Daniel Fernandes has created a special event highlighting not only regional foods and ingredients but also a prominent Italian-based wine that Victor-based Constellation Brands Inc. owns.

The culinary event, called Tapas & Tastings, is set for Feb. 29 at Batavia Downs and will showcase a specially created menu by Fernandes that is paired with various Ruffino wines, which have been owned since late 2011 by Constellation Brands.

The event is the latest in a series of culinary-based promotions that Fernandes is creating as part of his plan to showcase and highlight regionally grown and produced food items.

"In this case, we are using food as a bridge to the wine," Fernandes said. "This is all part of our plan to showcase our region's cultural heritage."

The final menu includes:

Insalata Tropicale di Langostino is a fresh lobster salad of green mango, pineapple papaya, and petite basil delicately tossed in a tangerine and cardamom vinaigrette.     

Quatro Formaggio Tortaloni Bolognese - Tortelloni Filled with A Blend of Parmigiano Reggiano, Grano Padano, Impastata Ricotta And Fiore Sardo Tossed In A Classic Lamb Bolognese Sauce.  

Guancia Di Vitello Brasata Con Risotto Ai Funghi Selvatici - Brunello braised Beef Short Ribs cheek served atop creamy wild mushroom risotto, infused with the rich and intense flavors of Tuscany.    

La Tavola Rustica di Salumi e Formaggi - A tantalizing flight of local and Italian cured meats & artisanal cheeses.

Sicilian Ricotta Cheese Cake - Sicilian souffle’d ricotta cake made with organic free-range eggs, baked at high heat to form a caramelized exterior, forming a natural crust and creamy interior and finished with vibrant strawberry coulis.  

Each course will tie in with the appropriate Ruffino wine.

"Every ingredient, every food item, is being given special consideration," Fernandes said.

Tapas & Tastings is the first of several culinary-related special events Fernandes will create this year at Batavia Downs.

"Why not?" Fernandes said. "We have some incredible local products that we can showcase."

Tickets can be purchased at Bataviaconcerts.com for $60 and include the tasting plus $30 in Free Play. 

James Fink writes on behalf of Batavia Downs.

Kash was king at Batavia Monday

By Tim Bojarski
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Photo of Ball Diamond courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

The horses lined up for the final time this winter at Batavia Downs on Monday (Feb. 26) and the card featured a $12,000 conditioned pace that was won by Ball Diamond (Keith Kash Jr.), who claimed her second win of the year.

Ball Diamond got away in the pocket behind Lanas Desire (Dave McNeight III) who paced to the half in :58.1. There, All About Lynx (James McNeight Jr.) was rolling on the outside and eventually drew even with the leader around the last turn, just before heading into the stretch. But both horses were soon to be passed by the tripped-out Ball Diamond, who found clear sailing by the pylons and bolted to the line, ahead by one-half length in 1:56.2.

Ball Diamond ($8.90) is owned by Bruce Soulsby and Dannie Hostetler and is trained by his driver Kash.  

Kash accounted for three driving wins on Monday after also winning with So So Incredible (1:56.1, $5.40) and Long Legged John (1:57.3, $11.60), who he also owns and trains.

Monday's card concluded the 2024 winter racing meet at Batavia Downs. Live harness racing will resume at The Downs on Saturday (July 27) when the summer/fall meet kicks off.

LoVeSeXy pays tribute to the music and artistry of Prince on March 9 at Batavia Downs

By Howard B. Owens
Remote video URL
lovesexy prince tribute
Giovanni Morant, lead singer of LoVeSeXy, a Tribute to Prince. Submitted photo.

Prince is a rare form of rock star, according to Chris Botelho, drummer and leader of the LoVeSeXy, which plays at Batavia Downs on March 9.

He was admired by peers and fans alike in his lifetime, and his legend has only grown since his untimely death at 57 in 2016.

LoVeSexy was formed in 2008 as a Tribute to Prince, who is ranked #27 on Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Artists of All-Time, and Botelho has seen firsthand how Prince continues to attract new fans and old fans who hunger to hear his music performed live.

"He's pretty much a real rock star when there's not a lot of those types of people around any more," Botelho said. "He was someone who was real special, like just the type of person who would walk in the room and everyone would just stop and be quiet and kind of like be like, 'Can I talk and I say hello.’ Like they would be that afraid to even speak. You don't get that from other people, even other stars. And that was with everyone, not just regular people but movie stars and top musicians."

There are several quality Prince tribute acts, Botelho noted, a level of reference that is seemingly missing from the legacy of other dead megastars of the era, such as David Bowie and Michael Jackson.

"Michael Jackson, I would think, would have big tributes, and there are some tribute shows, but there's really not as much talk about him as much as you would think. It's weird. But Prince, if you go online and search 'Prince,' there are fan sites, Facebook pages, and media coverage like this. There are so many fans all over the world, so many people still, every day, posting and talking and sharing his music. It's kind of amazing."

Prince was born Prince Rogers Nelson, the son of a father who was a jazz pianist and composer and a mother who was a jazz singer. He grew up in Minneapolis, Minn., and never did forsake his hometown, maintaining Minneapolis as his base and where he recorded most of his music until he died of an accidental fentanyl overdose.  

Signed by Warner Brothers when he was only 19, Prince released 40 studio albums during his life -- playing all of the instruments on some -- covering a range of musical genres, from funk, R&B, new wave, soul, jazz, blues, and hip hop. He sold more than 100 million records. His biggest hit singles included “When Doves Cry,” “Let's Go Crazy,” “Purple Rain,” “Raspberry Beret,” “Little Red Corvette,” and “Kiss,” among his 19 Top 10 hits.

For a time, Prince was known by a symbol, or The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, or just The Artist (because of a contract dispute with Warner Brothers), and it is said that he has enough unreleased material in his vault that his estate could continue releasing new albums of new material for the next 100 years.

That means there's a lot of material for a Prince tribute act to pick from, and for the 90-minute set at Batavia Downs, LoVeSeXy will concentrate on the hits, but if needed, LoVeSeXy can dig deep into the Prince catalog -- deep enough to cover two 90-minutes sets if needed, Botelho said.

"We've played shows that are, you know, entirely Purple Rain (the album) or 1999, but there's so much more to him in just that era that we feel like people already know what is there, so we like pushing out other stuff to them that maybe they've never heard before," Botelho said. "It's kind of bring the music of Prince for Prince. It's one little thing to kind of keep his memory and music alive."

And the music is the thing to LoVeSeXy, Botelho said. There are a lot of Prince tributes that concentrate on the showmanship and the craft of creating a Prince concert. For LoVeSexy, the goal is to bring the music alive. The entire six-piece band is comprised of top-tier musicians, Botelho said, and they all get their moment in the spotlight.

"It's a team sort of situation," Botelho said. "It's not about just the lead singer and a bunch of players behind. It's like the six of us together, creating and making the sound of the band. We have four lead singers in the band, so the vocals are extremely strong."

It's not that showmanship isn't there -- the primary lead singer does look like Prince, after all -- but Botelho said the band really wants to put on a show that lives up to Prince's musical legacy (if you haven't seen it, check Prince's lead guitar on this performance of While My Guitar Gently Weeps (at about 3:30 into the song.)

"His live shows, I think, was a big part of why a lot of people really feel that he was above the rest as far as a performer," Bothelo said.

The LoVeSeXy lineup is:

  • Giovanni Morant, Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keys & Trumpet
  • Anthony C. Grant, Sax, Keyboards, Flute, Vocals & Percussion
  • Jodee Frawlee,  Lead Guitar & Vocals
  • Brian Eggleston, Keyboards & Vocals
  • Jeffrey Gilman, Bass & Vocals
  • Chris Botelho, Drums & Samples

It's amazing, Botelho said, to see how much love the world had for Prince when he died and how that love and appreciation has just continued to grow.

"It is a testament to how strong it was around the world when he passed," Botelho said. "All the celebrations, the purple lights that were put on all the buildings around the world. It was kind of unbelievable, really, after all these years since 2016 that now the audiences are getting bigger and bigger for all of the Prince tributes."

LoVeSeXy performs at Batavia Downs on March 9. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.  Showtime is 7:30 p.m.  For more information and tickets, click here.

Flyhawk El Fuerte wins $20,000 final at Batavia Downs

By Tim Bojarski
Flyhawk El Fuerte
Photo of Flyhawk El Fuerte courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

The finals of the Western New York Trackmaster Series for trotters were held at Batavia Downs on Thursday (Feb. 22) and in the main event, Flyhawk El Fuerte pulled off the upset in the $20,000 TM79 division.

P C Foreign Affair (Jim Morrill Jr.) grabbed the lead from post eight and maintained a gapped advantage through quarters of :28.4, :58.4 and 1:28.4 while Flyhawk El Fuerte (John Cummings Jr.) kept close in the pocket. With no serious threat coming from behind, the top two trotters traversed the last turn, where Cummings tipped Flyhawk El Fuerte and went on the attack. As they entered the stretch, Flyhawk El Fuerte had a full head of steam and blew past P C Foreign Affair to win by 2-½ lengths in a season's best 1:58.3.

Flyhawk El Fuerte ($12.20) is owned by Kathleen Pratt and Andrea Lehmann and is trained by Joe Skowyra, who sent two winners postward on Thursday.

There were also two division finals for the TM74 class.

The $15,000 group was bested by Classic Sunny (2:00.1, $3.70), who was one of two winning drives for Kevin Cummings. Classic Sunny is owned by Anthony Alessi and Fred Yellen and trained Scott Bompczyk.

The $8,000 split was won by Finnick Odair (2:01.4, $3.70) who was driven by Brett Beckwith for owner/trainer Rose Russo.

There was also a trio of Open events on Thursday’s card that highlighted the best horses on the grounds.

In the $15,000 Handicap for fillies and mares, Shecouldbegood N (Kyle Swift) made a first over move at three-quarters trying to reel in the frontrunning Ball Diamond (Keith Kash Jr.). Still trailing by 1-½ lengths at the head of the stretch, Shecouldbegood N paced furiously to the wire and won by one-quarter length in 1:56.3.

It was the 40th career win for Shecouldbegood N ($9.60) who is owned by Michael Milazzo and trained by Candace Bandstatter, who also had two winners on Thursday.

The $14,000 Handicap for male pacers went to Primo Uomo (Brett Beckwith) who led at every station before holding off a late-closing Optical Illusion N (Jim McNeight Jr.) to win by one-half length in 1:54.2, which was a new seasonal mark.

The heavily backed Primo Uomo ($2.60) is owned by Chris and Dale Lawton and trained by David Dewhurst.

Beckwith had a driving hat trick during the card.

Finally in the $15,000 Handicap trot, E Street (Jim Morrill Jr.) was never challenged as he led from gate to wire to score an easy 1-¼ length upset victory in 1:58, which was also a new seasonal mark.

It was the second straight win for E Street ($20.80) and owner Elite Harness Racing. Rachelle Mungillo trains the winner.

Morrill ended the day with two driving wins.

Driver Dave McNeight III tied Beckwith with three wins on the day, however all three of his provided huge payoffs. “Triple Sticks” won with Magical Mistress (1:55.4, $24.40), Mayweather Hanover (1:56.2, $37.40) and VJ Panderosa (1:56.4, $47.60).

There was also an instant jackpot in the day’s final event when the 1-2-9-3-4 pentafecta combination returned $5,524.10 for a 20-cent wager.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Monday (Feb. 26), which is the last day of live racing for the winter meet. Post time will be at 3 p.m.

Free full past performance programs for every live card of 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 for free at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page.

iGaming, EZ Bet expansion into Erie County on list of WROTB's lobbying efforts: Wojtaszek

By Mike Pettinella

The president and chief executive officer of Western Region Off-Track Betting Corp. said he is “paying close attention” to potential legislation that would permit online wagering in New York State.

Speaking by telephone this morning, Henry Wojtaszek also said leadership of the public benefit company is making its collective voice heard to loosen the restrictions on placement of EZ Bet locations in Erie County – a topic that was reported by The Batavian last September.

Concerning online wagering, known as iGaming, Wojtaszek said that he and Board Chair Dennis Bassett traveled to Albany for a “lobby day” a couple weeks ago to speak with lawmakers and their staff.

“We’re paying close attention to the legislation, and we will make sure that we attempt to be included in the bill as being eligible for iGaming,” he said. “It remains to be seen whether or not there's enough support to pass it this year. We made our position known to them that we were unified with other OTBs that we wish to be included in that legislation.”

Asked whether WROTB was in favor of iGaming, which opponents contend would hurt brick-and-mortar facilities such as Batavia Downs Gaming, Wojtaszek was noncommittal.

“At this point, we're open to seeing what the numbers are, what the study shows,” he responded. “I don't think we have enough data yet to determine how it'll affect our industry. I guess the bottom line is if it’s going to come to New York, we want to be part of the process.”

Last month, state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, who represents Queens, reintroduced legislation to permit remote bets such as blackjack, poker and craps. Addabbo said iGaming, along with iLottery, could generate around $1 billion per year.

His action prompted casino workers in Queens to send a draft a letter stating that Addabbo is trying to undermine their ability to make a living. Addabbo is the chair of the Senate committee on racing, gaming and wagering.

According to reporting by the New York Post earlier this week, the letter was sent by the Hotel & Gaming Trades Council union on behalf of employees at Resorts World casino at Aqueduct.

WROTB Seeks More EZ Bets in Erie County

Several months ago, Wojtaszek said WROTB “could easily get between five and 15” more EZ Bet locations in Erie County if a state law giving Hamburg Gaming (Buffalo Raceway) veto power over EZ Bet placement was changed or eliminated.

Today, he said the corporation has a new board member, Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney, who says she would like to see more Erie County businesses have the opportunity to set aside a portion of their venues for those wishing to place remote bets.

The law on the books currently states that Hamburg Gaming can prevent any EZ Bet locations within a 30-mile radius of its facility. WROTB has 28 EZ Bet locations, but only one in Erie County, that being The Cove on Transit Road in Depew.

EZ Bet (standalone terminals without employees) is a money-maker for the corporation as it generated $428,000 in profit last year and is projected to increase the bottom line by $492,000 in 2024. EZ Bet wagering also makes money for the businesses, which split the proceeds with WROTB.

Wojtaszek said Rodriguez-Dabney approached him and wanted to know why the corporation wasn’t able to locate more EZ Bets in Erie County and the City of Buffalo.

“When I explained to her the statute, she said then we need to look at having this revised to accommodate some of the businesses that want to have them,” he said. “And I agree with her.”

Wojtaszek also said WROTB had been open to a revenue-sharing agreement with Hamburg Gaming, adding that several businesses have approached him about become EZ Bet sites only to get turned down by Hamburg Gaming.

He said lobbyists will continue to push for a change to this law until the end of the current legislative session, which ends in June.

“We’ll keep up our lobbying efforts because it affects other OTBs across the state as well,” he said. “Again, we went there with a unified voice two weeks ago to bring that up as part of what we’re looking for.”

Sponsored Post: Sports collects event at Batavia Downs promises memories and smiles

By Sponsored Post
batavia downs card show

By James Fink

To Bobby McClaine, it is all about memories and smiles.

McClaine and his two business partners, Brian Burke and Chris Sabatello, are presenting the upcoming "Legends & Stars Batavia Sports Card Expo," set for Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 at Batavia Downs.

The event, which features sports cards and memorabilia vendors and collectors along with a laundry list of former professional sports stars, is designed as a "family-friendly" gathering.

"We want to give everyone the experience of their lifetime," McClaine said.

Some come for the chance to buy sports-related cards and memorabilia. Others come to meet and rub shoulders with sports legends.

"It's all about the experience," McClaine said. "To see the smile on someone's face because they just met one of their sports heroes is priceless."

In addition to the deep pool of vendors, among the sports stars scheduled to appear to include current Buffalo Football Player Rasul Douglas and former National Football League stars as Thurman Thomas (Buffalo), Don Beebe (Buffalo), Lawrence Taylor (New York), Don Majkowski (Green Bay), Keith McKeller (Buffalo), Ron Jaworski (Philadelphia) and from the National Hockey League Dave Andreychuk (Buffalo), Wendel Clark (Toronto), Darryl Sittler (Toronto).

Also scheduled to appear is WWE star Kevin Nash, former Major League Baseball pitcher Jack Morris (Minnesota and Toronto) and actors Joe Pantoliano (The Sopranos, The Matrix, The Fugitive) and D.B. Sweeney (Eight Men Out and Fire in the Sky)

McClaine and his partners have been presenting the Legends card expo since 2018 - usually twice a year at Batavia Downs.

Batavia Downs works for its central location between the Buffalo and Rochester markets, and the event serves as another way for the venue to attract visitors not only to the gaming and entertainment destination but also to Batavia.

"People do come in for these shows," McClaine said. "Especially something like this that is geared and designed as an all-age event." 

The expo is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 24 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 25. 

Admission is $10, with children under 12 years of age admitted for free. Admission includes a $10 "free play" at Batavia Downs.

James Fink writes on behalf of Batavia Downs.

Long Train Runnin wins fifth in Batavia series final

By Tim Bojarski
long-train-runnin-1-1.jpg
Photo of Long Train Runnin courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

Batavia Downs hosted the $93,000 finals of the Western New York Trackmaster Series on Monday (Feb.19) and in the featured TM79 match-up for $20,000, Long Train Runnin ran his win streak to five to claim the winner’s share of the purse.

Proven Desire (John Cummings Jr.) led the field at the quarter, but then watched as stablemate Long Train Runnin (Billy Davis Jr.) breezed by in the second turn to take control of the mile. Once on top, Long Train Runnin backed off the half to a mere :59 before stepping to three-quarters in a slick :28.1. Dogfight (Jim Morrill Jr.) tried to mount a challenge during that third panel but it failed before they hit three-quarters. As they spiralled out of the last turn and headed into the stretch, Proven Desire vacated the pocket and dug in hard, trying to catch the leader. But despite a valiant effort, he came up a neck short as Long Train Runnin finished strong to win again in a season's best tying 1:55.3.

It was the fifth win in only six starts this year for Long Train Runnin and it pushed his 2024 bankroll to $30,250 for owners Paige Usiak and William Emmons. Jim Clouser Jr. trains the winner.

There were two consolations for the TM79 class. The $10,000 leg was won by Silverhill Blaze (1:56.1, $3.90) who was driven by Jim Morrill Jr. for trainer Andy Torre who co-owns with Kristen Torre and the $9,000 leg was won by Henrico (1:56.3, $31.00) who was driven by Billy Daivs Jr. for owner/trainer Courtney Wright.

The $17,000 TM75 final was won by Stonebridge Hypnos (Jim Morrill Jr.) who held pylon position as she sparred with Major Authority (Dan Yetman) through quarters of :27.3 and :56.4 while Thatmomentinlife (Billy Davis Jr.) tracked from the pocket. As the race approached three-quarters, Major Authority faded while Stonebridge Hypnos and Thatmoentinlife pulled away from the field around the final bend. As the pair paced to the wire, Thatmomentinlife pulled and did advance on the leader, but Stonebridge Hypnos was just too good and held on to a one-half length margin of victory in 1:56.2.

It was the third win in a row and fourth of the year for Stonebridge Hypnos ($3.00) who has now earned $23,300 this year for owner Mike Torcello and trainer Sam Smith.

The consolation for the $8,500 TM75 group was won by Harry Hoo N (1:56.3, $11.60) who was driven by Billy Davis Jr. for owner Harry Wortzman. Shawn McDonough trained the winner.

Then in the $14,000 TM71 final, Missplacedrock (Kyle Swift) followed Howmacs Hank (Billy Davis Jr.) to the half in :58.2 when Artistic Spirit (Drew Monti) joined the fray. Artistic Spirit pushed Howmacs Hank to three-quarters and they paced that piece in :28.4. The top two continued to match strides around the last turn while Swift drifted three-wide with Missplacedrock and started to drive him as they headed into the lane. Missplacedrock caught the pair in mid-stretch and eventually slid by to win by one-half length in 1:57.

It was the fourth win of the year for Missplacedrock ($6.10) who increased her 2024 bank to $19,340 for owner Rose Campbell. Greg Johnson was the winning trainer.

There were also two consolations for the TM71 group.

The $7,500 split was won by Beddanburg (1:56.3, $5.40) who was driven by Drew Monti for owner/trainer Chris Petrelli and the $6,500 division was won by Bettor Country (1:58.2, $2.60) who was driven by Billy Davis Jr. for owner Ben Ortiz and trainer Shawn McDonough.

Drivers Billy Davis Jr. and Jim Morrill Jr. both had Grand Slams during the day while trainers Shawn McDonough, Chris Petrelli and Rock Vinci all had two wins apiece.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Thursday (Feb. 22) at 3 p.m. and the card will feature the $43,000 finals of the Western New York Trackmaster Series for trotters. Also, there will be a $3,267 carryover in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta in the 13th race.

There are only two days of live racing left in the 2024 winter meet at Batavia Downs. The final day of action is Monday (Feb. 26).

Free full past performance programs for every live card of 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 for free at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page.

missplacedrock-1.jpg
Photo of Missplacedrock courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.
stonebridge-hypnos-1.jpg
Photo of Stonebridge Hypnos courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

$93,000 WNYTM Series final Monday at Batavia Downs

By Tim Bojarski
dogfight-1.jpg
Photo of Dogfight courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

The Western New York Trackmaster Series finals and consolation races for pacers will be held at Batavia Downs on Monday afternoon (Feb. 19) and $93,000 in total purses will be in play for the participating horses.

The series is broken into three groups: TM 79, TM75 and TM71 and seeding for the finals and consolations were determined by money-earnings from the four preliminary legs.

The TM79 final goes for $20,000 and two undefeated starters will be facing off.

Long Train Runnin (Billy Davis Jr.) comes in on a four race winning streak, all of which came in the TM preliminaries. Proven Desire (John Cummings Jr.) has strung three victories together in this series despite a scratch three weeks ago due to injury. Both horses are from the Jim Clouser Jr. Barn and will go as an entry.

Another high performing duo starting in the final as a Sam Smith stable entry is Dogfight (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Mcdelicacy (Kevin Cummings). Dogfight has two wins and a second in three TM starts while Mcdelicacy has finished second four consecutive times, three of which were to Long Train Runnin. This should be a very competitive event.

There are also two TM79 consolations, one for $10,500 and one for $9,500.

In the $10,500 split, Silverhill Blaze (Jim Morrill Jr.) has been chasing Long Train Runnin and Proven Desire over the last three weeks, finishing second twice and third another time. But he won’t be facing either of them on Monday and looks to make his own mark. In the $9,500 group there is a formidable stable entry of Doyoukissfirstdate (Dave McNeight III) and Star Messenger (Kevin Cummings) from Davis Russo and Marc Shuttleworth’s Clayton’s Bettor N (Jim Morrill Jr.) who put in a huge mile last week before just getting beat at the line.

The $17,000 TM75 final features two more entries.

Sam Smith is starting Authentic Hanover (Drew Monti) and Stonebridge Hypnos (Jim Morrill Jr.), who registered three wins and a second in his four series outings. Shawn McDonough will be starting Thatmomentinlife (Billy Davis Jr.) and Weekend Atnannies (Kevin Cummings), who also has three wins in four series starts while finishing third in the fourth.

The $8,500 consolation for that class features a very wide open betting race as seven of the eight starters have not won a race this year. And the only horse that has notched one victory -- which came in this series -- is Jerry Nugent Jr.’s Dry Ridge Ace (Keith Kash Jr.) who is listed at 25-1 morning line.

Lastly, the TM71 $14,000 final has another dynamic duo from the Sam Smith stable who will line up as an entry as well.

Road Map (Jim Morrill Jr.) who has won three out of four series starts while being narrowly beaten in the fourth and Howmacs Hank (Billy Davis Jr.) who comes in on a two race win streak. But there will be strong opposition from Greg Johnson’s Misplaced Rock (Kyle Swift) and Chris Petrelli’s Artistic Spirit (Drew Monti), who are both two-time winners in the series and are currently at the top of their game.

The TM71 consolations have Shawn McDonough stable entries favored in both events. In the $7,500 leg, Surfers Paradise (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Traffic Citation (Billy Davis Jr.) lead the way while Bettor Country (Billy Davis Jr.) and  Sapphire Love Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.) got the oddsmaker’s nod in the $6,500 split.

There are also a pair of carryovers associated with Monday’s card to make the wagering even more interesting.

The 50-cent Pick-5 that starts in race one and runs through race five has a $891 carryover while the 20-cent Jackpot Super Hi-5 in race 13 features a $2,669 carryover.

Post time for the first race on Monday is 3 p.m.

The WNY Trackmaster trotting finals will be held on Thursday (Feb. 22).

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Photo of Long Train Runnin courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.
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Photo of Proven Desire courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

It was a triple feature at Batavia Downs Thursday

By Tim Bojarski
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Photo of Imprincessgemma A courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

After a lengthy respite, winter returned to western New York as persistent snow and wind kept things challenging for the Thursday afternoon (Feb. 15) card at Batavia Downs. The program featured the three top weekly classes and two big efforts from the meet’s leading drivers.  

The $14,000 Open Handicap pace for fillies and mares was up first and Imprincessgemma A (Brett Beckwith) got her first victory of the year.

Leaving from post five, Imprincessgemma A cut fractions of :28.1, :58.3 and 1:28 while Ball Diamond (Keith Kash Jr.) followed close in the pocket. Ball Diamond pulled to advance at the top of the last turn and almost drew even as they entered the stretch. But Imprincessgemma A held sway and paced away to a 1-¼ length victory under a line drive in 1:57.3.

It was the 43rd career win for Imprincessgemma A ($3.90) and it pushed the 10-year-old’s lifetime earnings to $601,489. Imprincessgemma A is owned by Elite Harness Racing and is trained by Shawn McDonough.

Imprincessgemma A was also one of four driving wins on the card for Brett Beckwith who also won with Stars And Stones (2:00.3, $6.90), Angelo J Fra (1:58.1, $9.20) and Silver Buckeye (2:02, $8.00). Beckwith currently sits second in the driver standings.

Then in the $15,000 Open I Handicap for male pacers, Umberto (Dave McNeight III) got his second win in a row on the strength of an impressive effort.

Umberto also left from mid-pack, post five, and crossed over to the lead in the first turn. After setting up shop on the point, Umberto paced unchallenged through swift quarters of :27.3, :57.2, and 1:25.1. In the last turn, McNeight laid back for the ride home and Umberto strode to the line by 2-¼ lengths and won in 1:54.

Umberto ($7.40) is owned by El Dorado Stables and is trained by Dave McNeight Jr.

Finally in the $15,000 Open I Handicap trot, E Street (Jim Morrill Jr.) drew a rare inside post and tripped-out to an upset feature win.

Big Box Hanover (Larry Stalbaum) took the lead before the quarter as E Street sat behind him in the cozy pocket. After hitting the quarter in :29, positions remained unchanged to the half and up the backstretch. It was there that Special Prosecutor (Drew Monti) made a first-over push and joined the fray at three-quarters in 1:30 flat. Big Box Hanover responded to the challenge and pulled away by a length as they hit the straight. But at the same time, E Street dipped into the passing lane and within the length of three pylons, had the lead and bolted home by a length in 1:59.3.

E Street ($16,60) is owned by Elite Harness Racing and trained by Rachelle Mungillo.

E Street capped off a driving grand slam for Morrill as well after he had already won with P C Foreign Affair (2:02, $10.40), Just A Wrangler (1:55.4, $6.50) and Mayweather Hanover (1:59.1, $5.30).

Trainers Taylor Fritz and Andy Torre both had conditioning doubles on Thursday.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Monday (Feb. 15) at 3 p.m. and the card will feature the $100,000 finals of the Western New York Trackmaster Series for pacers. Also, there will be a $2,669 carryover in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta in the 13th race.

Free full past performance programs for every live card of 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 for free at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page.

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Photo of Umberto courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.
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Photo of E Street courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

Change of residency prompts dismissal of Nolan's false claims' suit against WROTB in federal court

By Mike Pettinella

An attorney representing Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. Wednesday called it “a wise decision” by lawyers representing a former chief operating officer at WROTB to seek dismissal of a false claims' lawsuit against current and former directors and senior management.

“That was a wise decision for them to withdraw the lawsuit … because it would have been without merit, and what have faced immediate dismissal motion,” said Aaron Saykin of Hodgson Russ LLP of Buffalo, speaking of a legal action filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York by Michael Nolan.

In July 2021, Nolan filed a false claims act lawsuit against the corporation, naming current and former board members (including Richard Siebert, Genesee County) and senior leaders – claiming WROTB improperly spent public funds on directors’ health insurance, sporting and concert tickets and other management perks.

On Jan. 4 of this year, Western District Court Judge William M. Skretny ruled that a dismissal was in order due to the fact that the court lacks diversity jurisdiction over the claims since Nolan is no longer a resident of Florida. Reportedly, Nolan has moved back to New York.

An affidavit from Nolan’s attorney, Edward Yankelunas of Tiveron Law of Amherst, dated Jan. 3, indicated that “although (Nolan) is not proceeding with the state qui tam action in federal court for the reason stated above (change of residence) and seeks to voluntarily dismiss this action, the plaintiff respectfully reserves the right to (a) proceed with state qui tam action New York State Supreme Court and (b) proceed with the plaintiff’s individual action against WROTB and the other named defendants, which is pending in this court.”

A call to Yankelunas was not returned at the time of the posting of this story.

Saykin said that former State Sen. George Maziarz filed a similar lawsuit in 2022 in Erie County Supreme Court.

“Maziarz’s suit had extremely similar allegations and we moved to dismiss that,” he said. “Before the judge even decided it, the other side withdrew it quickly because we pointed out that it was completely meritless under the False Claims Act.”

Saykin said cases involving the False Claims Act normally are “sued on behalf of the government, and that the Office of the State Attorney General declined to intervene and take the (Nolan) case.”

The court issued a summons to nearly two dozen defendants in May 2023, but those people were not served summonses because, according to Yankelunas’ filing, Nolan’s citizenship changed from Florida to New York, “thereby apparently eliminating diversity jurisdiction.”

Saykin said he views it differently.

“They waited on it for months and months and months and didn’t do anything. I think that tells you everything you need to know about how strongly they felt about it,” he surmised, adding that if Nolan refiles in state court, WROTB will move to dismiss it.

WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek said the lawsuit was “frivolous and we’re glad it was dismissed.”

Nolan previously filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer following his firing in December 2020. He is claiming he was let go for sharing information about the company’s policies with federal and state authorities.

He is seeking $14.5 million in compensatory damages plus reinstatement to his former COO position, reinstatement of full fringe benefits and seniority rights, damages sustained due to the violation including, without limitation, the compensation for lost wages, benefits and other remuneration, and payment of all reasonable costs, disbursements, and attorney's fees.

Sponsored Post: Touch of fate led OTB's longest-tenured employee to Batavia Downs

By Sponsored Post

By James Fink on behalf of Batavia Downs

pauline andrews

Pauline Andrews considers it "almost fate" that she ended up working for Western Regional Off-Track Betting and Batavia Downs.

 It falls back to her youth when her father, the late Charles Augello - a muck farmer from Elba - owned and raced harness horses at Batavia Downs, through his Little Five Stables.

On Labor Day, the Augello family would sit in a grandstand box and watch horses from Little Five Stables race.

And, during family dinners, her father would play tape recordings of Little Five horses winning races at Batavia Downs.

Andrews, 54, is currently the longest-tenured WROTB/Batavia Downs employee as she heads into her 36th year with the organization.

After having a series of jobs, Andrews is currently executive secretary to WROTB President/CEO Henry Wojtaszek and other top officials as well as the agency's board of directors.

"It's like I grew up here," Andrews said. "I feel very fortunate to have worked here for so long”.

In 1988 Andrews went to work for Batavia Downs not long after graduating from Elba Central High School she said in the organization's "Dial-A-Bet" offices on Ellicott Street in Batavia taking telephone bets.

Andrews was promoted to receptionist at the Ellicott Street offices and later worked in the organization's accounting and payroll departments before being named executive secretary in 2014.

"I view my role as making Henry's and the board and executive staff as easy as possible," Andrews said.

Andrews has institutional and historical knowledge that is viewed as priceless within the WROTB/Batavia Downs network.  Yet, she downplays that role.

"It's just because I've been here for over 35 years," Andrews said.

The loyalty to her job serves as a snapshot of the large number of long-term employees at WROTB and Batavia Downs.

"Why would I leave?" Andrews asked. "I've worked with so many people here for so many years, They are like family to me."

If you are interested in employment opportunities at Batavia Downs, be sure to check out Batavia Downs’ employment page at: https://www.bataviadownsgaming.com/gaming/employment/

James Fink writes on behalf of Batavia Downs.  Sponsored Post paid for by Batavia Downs.

Long Train Runnin, Proven Desire win big at Batavia Downs

By Tim Bojarski
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Photo of Long Train Runnin courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

The fourth and final leg of the Western New York Trasckmaster Series for pacers was held at Batavia Downs on Monday afternoon (Feb. 12) and after the dust had settled, both Long Train Runnin and Proven Desire will enter the Trackmaster 79 division finals unbeaten.  

In his $9,000 division, Long Train Runnin (Dave McNeight III) led the field off the gate but yielded the top to Dogfight (Kevin Cummings) at the 27.4 quarter. However that change was short-lived as McNeight sent the Train back down the tracks immediately to regain the lead. Now firmly back in control, Long Train Runnin backed off the half to 58 and met no opposition in doing so. With the group still in single file, the leader marched to three-quarters in 1:26.4 with only a mild bid from Huntsville Place (Kyle Swift) at that station. Long Train Runnin rounded the last bend and paced into the lane with a 1-½ length lead while the pocket-sitting Dogfight tried to make up ground. But Long Train Runnin made it to the station first and on time in 1:55.3.

It was the fourth straight win for Long Train Runnin ($3.40) who is owned by Paige Usiak and William Emmons. Jim Clouser Jr. trains the winner.

Clouser and Emmons are also the connections of Proven Desire, who won his $9,000 division and extended his winning streak to three.

John Cummings Jr. flew to the front with Proven Desire and opened up a two-length advantage in 28.2. While P L Notorious (Kevin Cummings) tracked from second, Proven Desire took his gapped advantage to the half in 58 and three-quarters in 1:27. As they entered the last turn, Cummings threw the lines at the leader and Proven Desire took off. He opened up 1-½ lengths at the top of the stretch and extended that lead to two as he cruised to the line in 1:55.4.

Proven Desire returned $3.20.

Clouser and Emmons also won with Lanas Desire (1:56.1, $2.50) in another $9,000 division giving that connection a hat trick for the second week in a row as they advanced all three of their horses to the final.

The 10-year-old pacer Sir Pugsley hit a career milestone in the 12th race after going gate to wire in 1:56.2. It was the 40th career win for the son of American Ideal and Q and A who has now bankrolled $453,798 as a result of his success. Taylor Fritz both owns and trains Sir Pugsley.

Driver Dave McNeight III scored a natural hat trick in races seven, eight and nine and his win total was matched by Kevin Cummings, who was also victorious in three races on Monday. Trainer Sam Smith matched Jim Clouser Jr.’s three win total as well, to finish as co-conditioning leader for the afternoon.

The WNY Trackmaster Series pacing finals will be held next Monday afternoon (Feb. 19) at 3 p.m. The TM79 division will have a $20,000 final and two consolations worth $10,500 and $9,000. The TM75 division will have a $17,000 final and two consolations worth $8,500 and $7,500. And the TM71 group features a $14,000 final and two consolations worth $7,500 and $6,500. The top eight money earners in each group make the final and the second consolation must realize seven entries to be a go.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Thursday (Feb. 15) at 3 p.m. and that card will feature the fourth and final round of the Western New York Trackmaster Series for trotters. Also there will be a $2,273 carryover in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta in the 13th race.

Free full past performance programs for every live card of 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 for free at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page.

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Photo of Proven Desire courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.


 

Photos: Beatlemania Magic at Batavia Downs

By Howard B. Owens
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It was a full house on Friday in Park Place at Batavia Downs for the Beatles' tribute band, Beatlemania Magic.

Photos by Mike Pettinella.

beatlemania magic

Convincing winners take co-features at Batavia Downs

By Tim Bojarski
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Photo of City Of Hope courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

The weekly $15,000 top-class events for both gaits were carded on Thursday afternoon (Feb. 8) at Batavia Downs and the winner of both races claimed their first victory of the year in impressive fashion.

The Open Handicap trot was won by City Of Hope (Kevin Cummngs) who turned a three-wide move into a 1-¼ length victory.

City Of Hope got away fifth as J-s Swanman (Dave McNeight III) took the lead and forced fellow leaver Big Box Hanover (Larry Stalbaum) into the two-hole on the strength of a 28.3 quarter. Positions remained unchanged to the half where Ricky B Sharp (Mike Baumeister) and City Of Hope initiated an outer flow that would eventually initiate two lead changes. First, Ricky B Sharp cleared J-s Swanman before three-quarters and crossed over as City Of Hope dropped into the pocket. These two stayed in line around the last turn and to the top of the stretch where Cummings tipped City Of Hope and trotted right by Ricky B Sharp under a line drive to win in 1:57.2.

A 14-time winner in 2023 who earned $149,382, City Of Hope ($8.10) got his first win of the new year for owners Philip Hale and David Dewhurst, who also trains the winner.

Then in the Open Handicap pace, Umberto (Dave McNeight III) capitalized from a perfect trip to win in a romp.

Umberto eased into the garden spot as Avion Seelster (John Cummings Jr.) flew to the front. After getting to the half in :57.1 with no challenges, Ideal Artillery (Drew Monti) and Alta Engen A (Kevin Cummings) tried to push the issue heading into the second circuit. However Cummings Jr. hit the gas with Avion Seelster and a :28 flat third quarter squelched those attempts from the rear, leaving only the pocket-sitting Umberto with a legitimate shot. McNeight pulled Umberto in the final turn and rocked him to the lead around the fading leader. Then Umberto opened up a three length margin in deep stretch and was a wrapped-up winner in 1:53.4.

It was the first win of the year for Umberto ($15.80), but also the first win for his new connections, El Dorado Stables, who claimed him two weeks ago for trainer Dave McNeight Jr.

Drivers Mike Baumeister, John Cummings Jr., Kevin Cummings, Dave McNeight III, Jim McNeight Jr. and Jim Morrill Jr. all had two wins apiece while 13 different trainers each won one race on Thursday.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Monday (Feb. 12) at 3 p.m. and the card will feature the fourth round of the Western New York Trackmaster Series for pacers. There will also be a $1,852 carryover in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta in the 14th race.

Free full past performance programs for every live card of 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 for free at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page.

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Photo of Umberto courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

Batavia Downs sets records with weekend of events and gaming

By Press Release
Batavia Downs 2022
File photo

Press release:

Batavia Downs gaming operations had a record-setting weekend from February 2-4, with more than $14 million in credits played at its gaming facility, according to Dennis Bassett, Chairman of the Board of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. and Henry Wojtaszek, President & CEO of the organization.

“In a highly competitive market for not only gaming dollars but overall entertainment spending, consumers are time and again choosing Batavia Downs,” said Bassett.  “It is clear our marketing efforts that show our venue as the best value and best gaming experience in the region have been successful.  The numbers don’t lie.”

The facility reported $14,048,499 of "coin in" or credits played on its gaming floor. That was nearly 5 percent more than $13.379 million the facility took in during the 2023 New Year’s Eve weekend.

Wojtaszek pointed to several factors, including the facility hosting back-to-back sold-out BBQ and Bourbon events on Feb. 2 and Feb. 3, which drew over 240 people inside its events center.  Local Band Highway 31 played to a packed 34 Rush Sports Bar on Saturday night.  Sunday’s Cookware giveaway promotion saw more than 775 guests claim the item. The 84-room hotel was sold out all weekend, while good weather and no football playoff games gave plenty of opportunity to those seeking some fun over the weekend.

"As I walked our gaming floor this weekend, it was clear that a lot of the turnout was from word of mouth, as many patrons told me they had heard great things about Batavia Downs and had been wanting to check it out,” said Wojtaszek.  “That type of grassroots publicity is invaluable in raising the recognition of our brand.”

The busy weekend stands as a snapshot of how Batavia Downs has become a major regional draw and destination, not only creating a business within the venue but also a spin-off business for the Batavia economy.

Other weekend highlights include:

  • Attendance of nearly 11,000
  • Net Win was $1,023,184.21
  • The New York State Education Fund, via the State Gaming Commission, received $501,360, which is 49% of the Net Win.
  • The  "Purse Fund" that supports on site racing operations received $102,381.  Batavia’s Winter Racing meet has set several records in handle this year already.

“Over the last five years, we have been on a path of significant, consistent growth,” said Bassett.  “When we make strategic decisions, like buying the hotel or launching a concert series, we do so with future growth in mind. You are seeing the tremendous results from that long-term planning. I think this tells everyone we are doing things the right way.  As the weather clears and our events schedule picks up, we look forward to generating more revenues for our member municipalities and the state’s education fund.”

Long Train Runnin, Kevin Cummings shine at Batavia Downs

By Tim Bojarski
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Photo of Long Train Runnin courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

The third leg of the Western New York Trackmaster series for pacers was featured at Batavia Downs on Monday afternoon (Feb. 5) and going in, there were three horses still undefeated in that competition. However by the end of the day, only one stayed perfect and that was Long Train Runnin, who won his third straight $9,000 Trackmaster 79 division.

Former Western New York regular and Batavia Downs 2019 driving leader, Billy Davis Jr., made a visit to his old haunts to drive Long Train Runnin and got away fourth as Oreo Dream Xtreme (Jim Morrill Jr.) led to the half in 1:00.1. As the group rolled past that station, Davis pulled Long Train Runnin first-up in the breeze and advanced to the lead at three-quarters in 1:28.3. From there, Long Train Runnin opened up a 2-¾ length lead in the turn before bolting home under Davis wraps in 1:57.3.

Long Train Runnin ($3.30) is owned by Paige Usiak and William Emmons and is trained by Jim Clouser Jr.

Clouser and Emmons also teamed up to win with Proven Desire (1:57.1, $7.80) and Lanas Desire (1:56, $5.50), giving that connection a hat trick on Monday.

There was a two-for-one special in the day’s fifth race when Weekend Atnannies and Dry Ridge Ace finished in a dead heat.

Weekend Atnannies (Billy Davis Jr.) got away second behind Dancethebigdance N (John Cummings Jr.) who set a hot pace of :57.4 to the half. Anurka (Kevin Cummings) moved first-over from fifth and was followed by Dry Ridge Ace (Kyle Cummings) as they moved up the backstretch. Anurka took the lead with Dry Ridge Ace pacing right with him, while Weekend Atnannies was getting the shuffle in the last turn. At the top of the stretch, Anurka and Dry Ridge Ace were joined by Weekend Atnannies, who finally found racing room and was full of pace. The three drew closer to each other as they approached the wire that they eventually hit simultaneously. When the photo came back, Dry Ridge Ace and Weekend Atnannies could not be separated and finished in a dead heat while Anurka was only a neck behind.

Weekend Atnannies ($3.20) is owned by Benjamin Ortiz and trained by Joe Skowyra while Dry Ridge Ace ($15.80) is owned by Rock 01 Stable and is trained by Jerry Nugent Jr.

Despite the dead heat, the pick five combination of 3/7/7/3/1,4 still returned a healthy $1,019 for a 50-cent wager.  

The other big winner on Monday was driver Kevin Cummings, who piloted five winners to lead all other reinsmen. Cummings scored with Treasurethosechips (1:58.3, $31.60), All About Lynx (1:57.4, $5.90), Gallery Opening (1:59.3, $9.30), Howmacs Hank (1:58, $4.50) and Dogfight (1:56.2, $5.80). With those victories, Cummings jumped into third place in the dash win competition for the meet with 16 wins and now sits behind Jim Morrill Jr. (22) and Brett Beckwith (17).

There was a plethora of plump payoffs during Monday’s card, led by Beddanburg (Drew Monti) who turned a three-wide move from seventh at three-quarters into a three-quarter length win in 1:58.2. Beddanburg was sent off at 43-1 and returned $89.50 for the win. Also producing large returns was Denmark Seelster (1:57.3, $55.50), the aforementioned Treasurethosechips (1:58.3, $31.60), Fade To Gold (1:59.2, $25.20) and A Game Changer (1:56.2, $16.80).

Trainer Sam Smith matched Clouser’s three training wins to finish the day as the conditioning co-leader.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Thursday (Feb. 8) at 3 p.m. and the card will feature the third round of the Western New York Trackmaster series for trotters. Also, there will be a $949 carryover in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta in the 13th race.

Free full past performance programs for every live card of 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 for free at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page.

Primo Uomo and Credit List upset in Batavia features

By Tim Bojarski
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Photo of Primo Uomo courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

Steady rain and an off-track threw a curveball at bettors at Batavia Downs on Thursday (Feb. 1) as many favorites failed to fire allowing some bountiful payoffs to prevail. That included both featured races, where photos were needed to decide the winners.

In the $15,000 Open I Handicap pace, despite having post seven, Primo Uomo (Jim McNeight Jr.) went gate to wire to win after an exciting stretch drive.

Primo Uomo was sent to the front and paced unchallenged through quarters of :27.2, :57 and 1:25.4. Halfway through the last turn, the tripped-out The Bird Dance N (Brett Beckwith) pulled to advance and that left Ideal Artillery (Drew Monti) a path to dip into the passing lane. As the horses headed for home, Primo Uomo paced down the center of the lane, flanked by Ideal Artillery and The Bird Dance N, and held both off all the way to the wire to win by a head in 1:55.2.

Overlooked at 7-1, Primo Uomo returned $17.60 for owners Chris Lawton and Dale Lawton. David Dewhurst trains the winner.

Then in the $15,000 Open I Handicap trot, Credit List (Kyle Cummings) was similarly released at 9-1 and paid a premium for those who backed him.

Credit List got away third and watched as E Street (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Big Box Hanover (Larry Stalbaum) engaged in a slugfest. After leaving side by side, E Street took the lead, but Big Box Hanover settled in the breeze and matched strides through fractions of :28.1, :58 and 1:28.3. As the pair passed that last station, Big Box Hanover folded as Special Prosecutor (Kevin Cummings) and I Got The Looks (Dan Yetman) tipped three-wide around him. In the final bend and under siege again by Special Prosecutor, E Street continued his valiant grind and took his lead into the stretch. When they straightened out, Credit List found room in the passing lane while I Got The Looks was flying on the outside. All three had a shot coming to the wire, but Credit List took the shortest route and won by a mere nose in 1:59.4.

Credit List ($21.80) is owned by Linda Dellheim and trained by Kevin Reynolds Jr.

Brett Beckwith, Jim Morrill Jr., and Kyle Cummings all had three driving wins while Shawn McDonough and David Russo both scored two training victories.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Monday (Feb. 5) at 3 p.m. and the card will feature the third round of the Western New York Trackmaster Series for pacers. Also, there will be a $526 carryover in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta in the 15th race.

Free full past performance programs for every live card of 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 for free at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page.

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Photo of Credit List courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

Batavia hits new handle heights as longshots rule Monday

By Tim Bojarski
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Photo of Dogfight courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

For the fourth time in only six days of live racing in 2024, Batavia Downs set a new one-day, all-source record handle while under the ownership of Western Regional Off-Track Betting on Monday (Jan. 29). Bettors pushed $515,078 through the windows to top the short-lived old record of $509,180 which was set only one week ago.

The handle reflects that Batavia’s loyal wagering patrons turned out in force again to bet the second round of the Western New York Trackmaster Series that had evenly matched fields and yielded outcomes many didn’t anticipate, with price horses giving chalk bettors agita while sending speculators home with a jovial disposition.

The top class, $9,000 Trackmaster 79 division produced two large payouts after come-from-behind efforts were put in by both.  

First, Dogfight (Kevin Cummings) got away sixth at 25-1 and remained there to the half that was cut by Remember The Beach (Jim Morrill Jr.). At that station, Cummings pulled Dogfight third-over with cover and then swung three-deep into the last turn. At the top of the stretch, Lana’s Desire (Dave McNeight III) took the lead from Remember The Beach, but Dogfight quickly supplanted Lana’s Desire in deep stretch to win by 1-¼ lengths in 1:57.1.

It was the first win of the year for Dogfight ($52.00) who is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Sam Smith.

Then later, I’ll Take The Bet (Drew Monti) also got away sixth as Sleeping Single (Jim McNeight Jr.) and Carrythetorchman (Dave McNeight III) traded blows and leads from the half to the top of the stretch. It was there that Monti steered I’ll Take The Bet into the passing lane, found clear road and bolted to the line to win by a neck in 1:57.4.

Similarly, it was the first win of the year as well for I’ll Take The Bet ($38.80) and owner Justina Ohol. Mike Ohol conditions the winner.

Other upsets on the card included Rockn’ With T (1:59.1, $49.90), Always A Fiji (2:00.1, $31.40), Odds On Cheddar (1:58.1, $25.00) and Jimmy CR (1:59.1, $18.40).

Nine of the night’s participating horsemen scored doubles during the proceedings. Drivers Brett Beckwith, Drew Monti, Jim Morrill Jr., Kevin Cummings, and Kyle Cummings joined trainers Sam Smith, Jim Rothfuss, Shawn McDonough and Chris Petrelli in claiming two wins each on Monday.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Thursday (Feb. 1) at 3 p.m. and will feature the second round of the Western New York Trackmaster Series for trotters along with a $15,000 Open I for both gaits.

Free full past performance programs for every live card of 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 for free at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page.

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Photo of I’ll Take The Bet courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

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