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Batavia Downs

May 12, 2020 - 5:43pm

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

Bernie E. Hanley, age 84, of Batavia, NY, died peacefully on Thursday (May 7, 2020) at the home of his daughter while under the care of Hospice and his loving family. 

Mr. Hanley was born on Feb. 9, 1936, in Fulton, NY, a son of the late Laurence and Mary (Welch) Hanley. After graduating from Batavia High School, he went on to honorably serve his country in the Army during the Korean War. 

Upon returning stateside, Mr. Hanley got involved in harness racing in the 1960s and bought his first horse to compete at Batavia Downs, a pacer named Chief Maynard (2:00.3, $138,342). He was one of the best top-class pacers in Western New York at the time and found the winner’s circle many times. He also raced Mac’s Miss Mary (1:55.3, $150,794), Irish Dancer A (1:59, $117,693), Overnight Guy (2:01.3, $64,985) and several others during his career. 

Although Mr. Hanley was well known on the local harness racing circuit as an owner/trainer for many years, most would remember him (and his wife Mary Ann) as the owner of Hanley’s Restaurant, which was conveniently located directly across the street from Batavia Downs. Hanley’s was the “horseman’s hangout” after the races for decades where wins were celebrated, races were relived and many longtime friendships were formed.

Upon retirement, the Hanley’s moved South to Florida and enjoyed the sun for close to 30 years. While there, was Mr. Hanley was a member of the Deland Amvets Post 13 and the Deland Elks Lodge 1463. He was also a member of the Glenn S. Loomis American Legion Post 332 in Batavia. 

Mr. Hanley had many friends both in and out of harness racing and will be remembered by all as a hard-working man who loved his family deeply.

Mr. Hanley is survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Mary Ann (Musshafen) Hanley of Batavia; children, Patrick (Carol) Hanley of Alabama, Elsie (Greg) Lee of Batavia and Dr. Greg (Angela) Hanley of Tennessee; brother, Larry (Mary) Hanley of Akron; 10 cherished grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren along with many nieces and nephews.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, Mr. Hanley’s Mass of Christian Burial will take place at a later date. 

Memorial contributions in his memory can be made to: HomeCare & Hospice, 26 Liberty St., Batavia, NY 14020 or at http://www.homecare-hospice.org.

You can share your words of comfort with Mr. Hanley’s family at www.tomaszewskifh.com.

For his full obituary, click here.

May 4, 2020 - 4:48pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, James P. Samberg.

Former Vice President of Operations at Batavia Downs, James P. Samberg, passed away on Wednesday (Apr. 29) at the age of 85.  

Samberg was born in 1935 in Detroit, Mich., where he attended Precious Blood Catholic School and Catholic Central High School. He went on to graduate from St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto with a degree in Theology and Writing. He taught English and history for a year at his alma mater, Catholic Central HS and then at Aquinas Institute. 

In 1983, Samberg transitioned careers and came to Batavia Downs as their Director of Publicity. His leadership in the organization eventually moved him to overseeing the entire plant as vice-president of operations, a position he held until the tracks initial closure in 1997. In 1998 Samberg reached out to Western Regional Off Track Betting (WROTB) with a proposal to sell the track to them and was eventually able to consummate a deal that year. The track reopened under its new ownership in 2002.

It was the efforts of Samberg to move Batavia Downs forward that gave the shuttered track a new life under the guidance of the WROTB and that interaction eventually turned out to be financially beneficial to the residents of 15 Western New York counties (that include the cities of Buffalo and Rochester) by returning more than $220 million in revenues generated by the now modern and thriving racing and gaming venue to the taxpayers of those municipalities over the last 18 years.

Samberg was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend who loved life and everyone he knew. He was well respected by all the horsemen who raced at Batavia Downs during his tenure and will be missed by everyone who knew him.

Samberg was predeceased by his parents, Louis and Martha Samberg; loving wife, Barbara P. Samberg; son, Michael P. McDonald. He is survived by his children, Martha Smith, Mark (Jacqueline) McDonald, Margo McDonald and Meghan McDonald (Scott Boone); 11 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; brother, Carl L. Samberg; sister, Suzanne (Ronald) Marmol; sister-in-law, Donna Warner; several nieces and nephews; and special friend of the family, Bonnie Jones.

A Memorial Mass at St. Ann's Home will be scheduled at a later date due to the current situation. Interment at Holy Sepulchre was held privately. Memorials may be made to the American Kidney Foundation or to the Sisters of Mercy. To share a memory of James please visit www.giltnerfuneralhomes.com.

-- By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

May 1, 2020 - 5:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, news, covid-19, coronavirus, notify.

Press release:

Officials at Western Regional Off-Track Betting / Batavia Downs Gaming (WROTB/BDG) today announced they have received funds via the Paycheck Protection Program which will provide critical financial relief for costs including payroll, health benefits, rent, and other expenses related to job retention.

The funds will cover the next two months of expenses and were awarded April 30.

“When PPP funding was announced last month, the Board of Directors and I made the decision almost immediately to apply for relief,” said Henry Wojtaszek, president and CEO of WROTB/BDG. “What was most important was continuing to financially support our staff and their families during these uncertain times.”

The gaming facility was closed on March 16th and employees were paid their full wages for a period of one month. On April 16th they were furloughed for a period of two weeks. Once the PPP loan was secured, employees were recalled to begin work again on the next pay week.

Throughout the temporary closure, there have been employees working onsite including security and surveillance. Others are working from home. As a potential reopening date comes closer there will be new health, safety, and security protocols put into place.

Employees will be trained and made aware of whatever new safety regulations are implemented well in advance of opening in order to provide a safe environment for employees and guests.

“Once we reopen, we will look to continue to deliver revenue to our partners in local government," Wojtaszek said. “Once given the go-ahead by state officials we hope that through the gaming floor, our concerts, and events we can provide much-needed monies to local governments in order to fund critical services from first responders to food banks. We know it will take a lot of preparation on our end to meet those standards, but our dedicated staff will ready to take on the task.”

Western Regional OTB and Batavia Downs employs more than 450 hardworking Western New Yorkers.

April 22, 2020 - 12:53pm

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced that out of an abundance of caution surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the first two “Rockin the Downs” concerts scheduled for this June have been rescheduled to late August.

The Vince Neil concert scheduled for Friday, June 19th, 2020 will take place on Friday, Aug. 21st.

The Steve Augeri concert scheduled for Friday, June 26th, 2020 will take place on Friday, Aug. 28th.

So now the 2020 “Rockin the Downs” concert series will kick off with the regularly scheduled July 10th performance by Molly Hatchet.

Please note that all tickets already sold for these concerts will be honored on the new dates.

“We felt it was necessary to reschedule the start of the series,” said Henry Wojtaszek, CEO/president of Batavia Downs Gaming. “We are still looking forward to seeing everyone this summer, at time when local and state officials have determined it is safe to do so.”

Tickets to all concerts are available at BataviaConcerts.com

April 20, 2020 - 8:52am
posted by Mike Pettinella in sports, Batavia Downs, United States Trotting Association.

Submitted photo and press release:

Todd Haight, director and general manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs, was named the interim chairman of United States Trotting Association District 8 region on Friday.

Haight will replace longtime District 8 chairman Michael Kane, who resigned earlier this year.

Haight was elected by his peers to his first term as a director during voting in January of this year and was assigned to the Communications/Marketing, Pari-Mutuel and Regulatory committees. He was again voted by his peers to the chairman position last week.

District 8 covers all of New York State as far south as Orange County. The roster of current directors include Kim Crawford, Mark Ford, John Matarazzo, Ray Schnittker, Mike Torcello and Scott Warren.

“I want to thank Mike Kane for the outstanding job he did during his tenure as chair," Haight said. "Having worked with Mike for many years, I feel the transition to his position should be seamless. I’m honored to take over and look forward to working with USTA President Russell Williams, Chairman Joe Faraldo, Vice-chair Mark Loewe and all the USTA directors.

“Despite the unprecedented times we are all currently working through, I feel that harness racing will return to the sports scene very soon and regain its popularity once again. And in my new role I plan on doing whatever I can to be a part of that resurgence in New York and across North America.”

Kelly Young is the Executive Director at Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund and oversees the operations of the New York Sire Stakes.

She works closely with the chairman of District 8 during the stakes year as well as running the awards banquet in the fall. Young has worked with Haight for many years and looks forward to further concerted state racing promotional efforts with him in his new role.

“I have been pleased to work with Todd for nearly two decades at Batavia Downs and am excited to welcome him to, and work with him in this new role leading Upstate New York," Young said. "I would also like to thank outgoing chairman Mike Kane for his collaboration and leadership over the years."

Haight started his career with Western Regional OTB in 1998 when they became the new owners of Batavia Downs. He then served in various positions at the track before taking over as the director and general manager of racing in May of 2011.

March 16, 2020 - 4:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, OTB, news, batavia, coronavirus, covid-19.

Press release:

In accordance with a directive given by Governor Cuomo, Batavia Downs Gaming and all off-track betting branches will be closed for business as of 8 o'clock tonight, Monday, March 16th.

The health and wellness of our guests and staff is our top priority and has been throughout this entire process as we have continued to work alongside our State and local governments as well as the New York Gaming Commission.

We will provide an update when the gaming floor and branches will reopen, taking into account guidance from the State’s public health authorities as soon as it is received.

Guests can continue to monitor our website and Facebook for any questions they may have.

We ask that you please follow the directives given by the government to help prevent the spread of the virus. We wish you and your family our best at this time.

March 14, 2020 - 6:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, news, notify, covid-19, coronavirus.


Batavia Downs, like other public facilities across the state in the wake of COVID-19, is complying with new state directives on reduced capacity and social distancing, Western OTB CEO Henry Wojtaszek said this evening.

The Batavian contacted Wojtaszek in part because several people over the past day have expressed concern to us that Batavia Downs was exempt from the new rules.

The directive from the NYS Department of Health requires bars and restaurants to restrict occupancy to 50 percent of normal capacity (PDF).

The directive specifically mentions gaming facilities and Wojtaszek said Western OTB has also received guidance from the state's gaming commission.

"We're operating in accordance with state guidance," Wojtaszek said. "We're trying to create a safe environment, keep a safe social distance between customers, and keep everybody as safe as possible."

Each room of the facility will maintain an occupancy rate of no more than 50 percent of capacity, with security guards at the entrance of each, maintaining a count, Wojtaszek said. That applies to each restaurant inside Batavia Downs as well as each bar and the gaming rooms. 

Batavia Downs will also be limited to no more than 500 customers inside the entire facility at any one time, he said, though occupants of the hotel will not count against that number.

Chairs have been removed between every other VTL (slot) machine to provide extra distance between customers.

The new state rules requiring facilities to operate at 50 percent of capacity also prohibits gatherings of 500 people or more and planned gatherings of fewer people, organizers must reduce the size of the crowd.

The new directive applies to:

  • Auditoriums,
  • Concerts,
  • Conferences,
  • Sporting events,
  • Restaurants,
  • Gaming establishments,
  • Physical fitness centers,
  • Theaters.

Businesses and facilities that can maintain safe social distancing can apply for an exemption to the 50-percent capacity rule.

Signs must also be posted directing anybody who is sick or becomes sick to either not enter or leave. Staff must be alerted and trained to spot people displaying symptoms of coronavirus.

"Like everybody else, we're concerned with public safety and we think it's a fair assessment to follow the guidance given to us by the state and the gaming commission," Wojtaszek said. "Certainly, we'll have fewer people at our facility but in the scheme of things, it's the right thing to do for public health and we're happy to comply."

Photo: File photo.

March 10, 2020 - 3:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, GLOW Wedding Expo, news.


Batavia Downs hosted its fourth GLOW Wedding Expo on Saturday, with more than two dozen vendors, food, music, and a wedding gown fashion show.




February 27, 2020 - 12:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, news, off-track betting.

Press release:

Officials from Batavia Downs Gaming and Western OTB formally closed the books on a record-breaking 2019. Revenues distributed to member municipalities totaled $3,628,250, a new high.

Distributions were given in the fourth quarter for the first time since 1999. Batavia Downs Gaming contributed $31,315,212.38 to State Education via the New York State Lottery in 2019. This was also a record, beating 2018’s number by $1.6 million.

Distributions to each municipality were as follows, first listed is in 2019, then since OTB’s inception:

City of Buffalo -- $341,896  /  $27,338,900

Cattaraugus County – $114,116  /  $5,098,921

Cayuga County -- $107,047  /  $5,291,686

Chautauqua County -- $187,170  /  $9,481,076

Erie County -- $860,687   /   $61,410,960

Genesee County -- $83,483  /  $12,556,944

Livingston County -- $89,637  /  $3,381,747

Monroe County -- $683,647  /  $40,091,743

Niagara County -- $278,003  /  $20,466,264

Orleans County -- $60,923  /  $2,529,226

Oswego County -- $115,898  /  $9,502,653

City of Rochester -- $269,704  /  $20,396,738

Seneca County -- $47,635  /  $2,994,175

Steuben County -- $136,002  /  $6,692,909

Schuyler County -- $26,509  /  $1,055,437

Wayne County -- $128,282  /  $5,076,503

Wyoming County -- $57,612  /  $1,875,587

“With the close of 2019, we’re able to really see what we’ve accomplished,” said Jacquelyne Leach, chief financial officer for WesternOTB/Batavia Downs. “Our total distributions to municipalities were $3,628,250, bringing our total since our inception to $235,241,469.

"We haven’t had distributions to municipalities in the fourth quarter since 1999 but with 6.85 percent growth in 2019’s fourth quarter, we were able to distribute $417,540 for the quarter to the counties and cities whom we serve.

"At a tax rate of 49 percent almost half of the money generated at Batavia Downs goes to NYS to help fund the State Education Budget. We’re proud to have given the highest amount we’ve ever had back to the citizens of New York.”

Henry Wojtaszek, president, and CEO of Batavia Downs, said: “These numbers are a testament to the hard work put in by our entire staff. By adding more events and promotions, we’ve continued the growth into 2020 with back to back record weeks in February and overall growth of 13 percent through the 24th of February this year.

"With a highly anticipated Summer Concert Series, Racing Dates and promotions we’re looking forward to contributing more to our member municipalities and the State Education Fund.”

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 17 branches, online Wagering site Bataviabets.com as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standardbred racetrack and gaming facility. Since its inception, Western Region OTB has generated over $235 million in operating and surcharge revenues to the taxpayers of those participating municipalities.


February 7, 2020 - 10:48am
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, business, Recycling.

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming is expanding, and with it are their internal initiatives to “go green.” A new comprehensive, company-wide recycling program called the “Green Initiative” is now being implemented at Batavia Downs.

With additional seating areas added to the Fortune’s and 34 Rush restaurants an increase in waste is expected. To ensure that as much is recycled as possible, Batavia Downs has established a “Green Team” to carry out the many proactive steps that are required for the program to thrive.

These staff members have gathered various perspectives on what a successful recycling program should look like for the company and will now be looking to implement those at the restaurants and office areas within the building.

“Green Team” members will be setting up recycling stations for waste, gather input from departments, work on signage to encourage participation and assist with collections.

“We as a company have a huge opportunity to make a significant impact on the amount of waste we produce annually,” said Henry Wojtaszek, president and CEO of Batavia Downs. “I want to compliment all the staff who will be overseeing the green initiatives as they come to fruition.

"Batavia Downs is looking forward to becoming more environmentally friendly and creating a more eco-conscious work environment.”

January 23, 2020 - 9:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, VTL Impact Aid, batavia, news, notify.

Another proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to shift local revenue to the state coffers has come to light: Cuomo is proposing eliminating the local share of video terminal lottery money from facilities such as Batavia Downs. 

That would mean a $440,000 loss in revenue for the City of Batavia, $200,000 for Genesee County and $160,000 for the Town of Batavia.

Local officials are not pleased.

County Manager Jay Gsell has a laundry list of complaints about new mandated expenses in funding. This is just an extra burden for the county to shoulder.

Gsell said what he called a "bait and switch" on Aid to Municipalities funding where county sales tax proceeds will replace direct state aid, cuts in community college aid, and no reimbursement for early voting expenses.

"NYS counties will be gathering in Albany next Monday through Wednesday to gain more insight and develop resolution and position papers for the upcoming 2020 NYS legislative session," Gsell said. "The sentiment so far coming from the executive branch is disheartening and discouraging and fraught with peril from my perspective only three weeks into the new Genesee County budget year."

City Manager Marty Moore said the news of the VLT cuts comes at a bad time -- just as the city is wrapping up its own budget process.

"The loss of the VLT money is tough considering we balance the general fund to the penny," Moore said.  "Our feeling is obvious -- please put it back."

He called on state officials to enter into some dialogue and communication with local governments and listen to the impact the cuts will have locally.  

Since Batavia Downs doesn't pay any local property tax, the VLT money helps offset the expense of hosting the facility in the county, the town, and the city.  The facility needs support for crowd control at major events, police protection, fire protection, health and safety support, along with the roads that get people to and from the gaming casino.

"I do think it's important that our operations are supported by the money that comes along with it to help pay for some of the expense," Moore said.

In a budget statement, the governor's office justifies the cuts by the suggestion that local municipalities receive more in "VTL Impact Aid" (the formal name of the program) than it costs to host the facility.

This category of State aid was created to support assumed local service needs associated with hosting VLT facilities, but the revenue benefits of hosting a facility outweigh any associated costs. Further, not all municipalities that currently host VLT facilities receive aid through this program and the State does not provide additional "impact-type" aid for other types of facilities which may have similar local public service impacts as VLT facilities, including community colleges, SUNY campuses, and State office buildings. Accordingly, the Executive Budget eliminates VLT Aid outside of Yonkers, which is the only municipality receiving this aid to direct the funds to educational purposes.

It's been a point of pride for Western OTB officials for years that the facility supports the counties that oversee the facility with VTL money. 

Henry Wojtaszek, Western OTB CEO, said he will be closely monitoring the proposal.

"We work well with local governments and understand that these VLT aid monies substantially help them," Wojtaszek said. "We hope that local elected representatives will listen to the concerns of our host municipalities and work towards the best possible outcome."

Both State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer said they will work to protect the local share of VTL funds.

"This cut in aid is unacceptable," Ranzenhofer said. "At a time when the governor is proposing more unfunded mandates on our local governments, these reductions will have devastating impacts on our local taxpayers.  The governor is attempting to fill the budget deficit, that he created by overspending, through cutting crucial funding to Genesee County communities."

Hawley said, "The Governor needs to look toward actually cutting spending (that’s what real families and businesses do). We have a self-inflicted $6.2 Billion deficit (we spent that more than we took in). Why in the world would he look to take money that is shared with our local communities (which helps keep our local taxes lower than they would be without this money)? He’ll be hurting our local communities."

Keep the Local News flowing. Support The Batavian.

January 16, 2020 - 10:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, music, arts, entertainment, news.


Press release:

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

Kicking off the series on Friday, June 19th is Vince Neil, the legendary voice of Mötley Crüe. An accomplished businessman and heartfelt philanthropist, his unmistakable voice leads some of the greatest rock songs of a generation including “Wild Side,” “Shout at the Devil,” “Home Sweet Home,” “Girls, Girls, Girls,” “Dr. Feelgood,” “Kickstart My Heart,” “Same Ol’ Situation,” and many others.

Next up, on Friday, June 26th, is former Journey frontman, Steve Augeri, who returns after playing one of the most enjoyable concerts from last year’s series. The lead vocalist for the rock group from 1998-2006, Augeri headlined an eight-year tenure that included three albums and will perform hits such as "Don’t Stop Believin’, " "Separate Ways," "Wheel in the Sky," "Faithfully," and "Anyway You Want It."

After a one-week hiatus for the Fourth of July holiday, the concert series returns on Friday, July 10th with Southern rock legend Molly Hatchet. Originating in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1978, the band has gone on to release 14 studio albums. They’ll be performing hits such as "Flirtin’ with Disaster," "Dreams I’ll Never See" and "Whiskey Man," among others.

Rocking the stage on Friday, July 17th is the heavy-metal rock group Skid Row. After forming in New Jersey in 1986, the band has performed all over the world with hard guitars and a unique songwriting style. They’ll be performing their hits "In a Darkened Room," "We Are the Damned," "Youth Gone Wild" and "18 and Life" and many more.

Jonny Lang performs on Friday, July 24th. Hailing from Fargo, N.D., the blues, gospel, and rock singer has had five albums chart in the Billboard 200. The Grammy Award-winning artist will perform hits such as "Still Rainin’," "Bring Me Back Home," "Breakin’ Me" and "Lie to Me."

Friday, July 31st will see Don Felder, formerly of The Eagles, perform at the Downs. As a renowned former lead guitarist of The Eagles, one of the most popular and influential rock groups of our time, Felder has helped write and perform many iconic classics. His 2008 memoir was a New York Times bestseller. Felder will perform solo and Eagles’ hits during his set including "Heavy Metal (Takin’ a Ride)," "Hotel California," "Life in the Fast Lane," "The Long Run" and "Tequila Sunrise."

America’s top Pink Floyd tribute show, The Machine, hits the stage on Friday, Aug. 7th. Over the course of 30 years they have extended the legacy of Pink Floyd while creating another legacy all their own. Along the way, The Machine has touched the hearts and souls of many with their stellar musicianship, dramatic lighting, and video performances. Two other tribute rock acts celebrating the music of The Who and Queen will also grace the stage that evening for what will be a memorable musical journey back in time.

Closing out the series on Friday, Aug. 14th is American alternative rock band, Puddle of Mudd. The post-grunge band from Kansas City, Mo., has sold more than seven million albums. One of the most well-attended concerts of 2018’s summer concert series, Puddle of Mudd concertgoers will be sure to hear hits such as "She Hates Me," "Blurry" and "Control."

Tickets for all eight concerts will be available at www.BataviaConcerts.com beginning at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Jan. 17th.

Individual presale tickets to each concert will remain at $10 for General Admission, while VIP tickets will again be $25. Concertgoers will be able to purchase tickets in the Premium Section directly in front of the stage. Premium tickets are $50 and will be very limited for each concert.

General Admission tickets are $15 if purchased on the day of the concert.

Tickets can also be purchased at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel at the Lucky Treasures Gift Shop located in the lobby.

As of noon today (Jan. 16th) special VIP packages --for the Don Felder Concert only -- will be available on BataviaConcerts.com

Concertgoers will once again have the option of purchasing a “Season Pass,”, which includes admission to all eight concerts at a discounted rate. The season pass for 2020 is $60 for General Admission and $150 for VIP.

New this year will be a chair rental option for lawn seats. While patrons are allowed to bring their own chairs, there will be 500 chairs available for rental for $5 each. A portion of proceeds for chair rental will benefit Make a Wish Western New York. Staff from Make a Wish will also be selling drink koozies.

“It’s incredible to think we are in our fourth year of the concert series,” said Henry Wojtaszek, CEO/president of Batavia Downs Gaming. “We’re excited to continue to bring musical icons to Batavia Downs and provide great entertainment at an affordable price.

"We’re looking forward to partnering again with Western New York Make A Wish to help raise funds to help them transform lives. We hope to see the community come together again this summer.”

Hotel room/ticket packages will be available for each concert. The purchase of a hotel room on the night of a concert using the code includes two VIP tickets to the show while supplies last.

Each concert ticket is also redeemable once at Player’s Club in the three days following the concert for $10 Free Play to be used on one of Batavia Downs Gaming’s 800+ gaming machines.

Concerts are held rain or shine. Additional information may be found at www.BataviaDownsGaming.com.

Photo: Henry Wojtaszek at today's press conference. Photo by Howard Owens.

December 30, 2019 - 11:40am
posted by Howard B. Owens in advertisement, batavia's best businesses, video, Batavia Downs.

Today we're pleased to release Episode 4 of our series of Batavia's Best Businesses, featuring Batavia Downs.

In this episode, Nici Johnson and Macy Paradise decide it's time for a staycation at Batavia Downs.

Batavia's Best Businesses is a joint promotional production for Genesee County businesses by The Batavian and WBTA. To find out how to promote your business in this web video series, contact Lorne or Jim at WBTA.

December 29, 2019 - 3:00pm

Ring in 2020 with Batavia Downs Gaming!

The Coupe De' Villes will be providing the live music at "The Roaring '20s Party" from 6:30 p.m. to midnight. Band begins at 8:30pm.

Price is $125 per person and includes an open bar, buffet dinner, free play and more! Get more details here. Limited hotel rooms available.

Call 585-343-3750, ext. 6439, to make reservations.

December 19, 2019 - 12:30pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Although the final day of racing was canceled on Saturday (Dec. 14) due to bad weather conditions, the clubhouse that night was still sold out and the 400 or so patrons enjoyed Christmas music instead of race calls. But that was the norm at Batavia Downs in 2019; happy customers having fun at the races. 

Indicators for every aspect of the racing product pointed toward positive territory and in several areas showed record breaking performances. 

Betting-wise the on track handle was up 12.2 percent, driven by a 5-percent increase in attendance, the export signal was up 24 percent and Western Regional Off Track Betting (WROTB) revenue was up 5.3 percent. All tolled, wagering from all sources was up a combined 19.9 percent and provided the highest total handle at the track and the top three highest single night handles since WROTB reopened the Downs in 2002. 

The total handle was also $1.4 million higher than last year and all of this was accomplished with three fewer race days on the schedule. 

“Our customers came out in force, both live and at simulcast to support us all year and we couldn’t be more grateful to them,” said Todd Haight, director/general manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. “We gave them some of the best racing in the state this year and they validated it by betting us the whole season.”

There were several reasons for the increases and they were all primarily driven by the eight legs of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) culminating in the $1.8 million Night of Champions (NOC) finals in September. Along with the highest overnight purses ever offered at the track, Batavia Downs dolled out more than $8.1 million in total purses this year and that drew top horses and horsemen from across North America all year, providing great betting opportunities for the customers. 

The Downs also took full advantage of the Strategic Wagering Pool sponsored by the United States Trotting Association (USTA) and offered enhanced funds for exotic wagers that also provided free program pages for half the card on those nights. Aside from the NYSS NOC which was the highest handle in the tracks history under WROTB ownership, the track saw its highest total nightly handles on cards where the Strategic Wagering Pools were offered. 

“We had 14 Strategic Wagering opportunities during the course of the season and every one paid off," Haight said. "Many thanks to USTA Director Chris Schick and Social Media Director Michael Carter for their assistance with these wagers."

Two other factors for the increase include the simulcast department doing a great job marketing the live signal from Batavia and picking up many new customers this year which drove the export numbers and the track’s group sales department who brought in 31 percent more parties and events to the clubhouse than ever before and enhanced the live handle. 

“A lot of the people we see during live racing were introduced to the sport by attending our live concert series over the summer," Haight said. "They actually walk across the track and ask questions about horse racing and then come back when the meet starts to see it. It’s really been a good selling point for us and we’ve made many new customers as a result.”  

On the track, Billy Davis Jr. won his first driving title at Batavia Downs in 2019 by averaging two wins a night for the entire meet. His 131 wins, 102 seconds and 83 thirds out of 629 starts earned him a Universal Driver Rating (UDR) of .342 for the meet and $861,336 in purses.

Jim Morrill Jr. was second with 79 wins, 56 seconds and 37 thirds with $921,527 in earnings and Dave McNeight III was third with 78 wins, 61 seconds and 70 thirds with $543,064 in purses.

On the training side, Jim Clouser Jr. also won his first Batavia Downs training title after scoring 51 wins, 29 seconds and 39 thirds out of 219 starts for a UTR of .366 and $361,413 in earnings. His stable members finished in the money 54 percent of the time. 

Finishing second in the trainer race was Maria Rice who scored 43 wins, 31 seconds and 21 thirds out of 190 starts and earned $358,234 in purses with the legendary Gerry Sarama finishing third while making 246 starts with 32 wins, 40 seconds and 32 thirds with $256,619 in earnings. 

Live racing returns to the oldest lighted harness racing track in America on July 22, pending approval from the New York State Gaming Commission.

December 14, 2019 - 5:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, batavia, sports, harness racing.

Press release:

The Saturday night (Dec. 14) live card of racing at Batavia Downs has been cancelled due to heavy snow and inclement weather. This ends the 2019 racing season in Western New York as this was the last day of the meet. 

Live harness racing will return to the oldest lighted harness track in America in July.

Western Regional Off Track Betting would like to thank all the horsemen, horsewomen, fans and staff for the record season Batavia Downs had this year and wishes everyone a very Happy Holiday Season.

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