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October 29, 2020 - 2:20pm
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs.

Photo: Tellawoman with driver Jim Morrill Jr. 

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

On a damp Wednesday evening (Oct. 28) at Batavia Downs, a pair of $8,500 Opens produced runaway winners while the meet’s third winningest driver inched closer toward the leaders. 

The night opened up with the fillies and mares Open I Handicap where Tellawoman (Jim Morrill Jr.) left with the gate and led at every point of the mile. After escorting the short field of five to the half in :58, Morrill stepped on the gas and Tellawoman sped away in a :28.1 third panel, stretching out to a 3-1/2 length lead at the point. As they rounded the last turn Tellawoman kept on going and kicked-away to a 5-3/4 length advantage at the wire in 1:56.1. 

It was the third win in the last four starts for Tellawoman ($8.00) who is owned by Rose Campbell and trained by Russell Bratt.

Later in the program, Morrill also won the co-featured Open I Handicap trot with Il Mago (Jim Morrill Jr.) who was utterly peerless this night. Il Mago left and established a six length lead at the quarter in :27.2. He extended that to 12 lengths at the half in :56 and 15-lengths by three-quarters in 1:25.2. Morrill had Il Mago wrapped up at that point and he just sauntered across the wire by 6-3/4 lengths in 1:57.4. 

It was the sixth win of the year for Il Mago ($4.20) and owner Mike Torcello. Gerry Sarama trains the venerable 11-year-old who has now won 52 races lifetime. 

Driver Drew Monti won five races on the card including a natural hat trick in races five through seven. Monti scored with Lucky Guess (2:01.2, $5), Keystone Keen (1:57.2, $4.70), Barn Beast (1:59, $11), Mean Pauline (1:58.1, $5.40) and Carly Girl (1:57, $5). Monti currently has 57 wins and sits in third place behind the leading Jim Morrill Jr. who has 70 wins and Billy Davis Jr. who is second with 61 wins after tonight. 

Kevin Cummings led all trainers on Wednesday winning three races during the proceedings. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Oct. 31) with a special Halloween matinee post time of 1:15 p.m.

October 25, 2020 - 1:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

"Dave McNeight III pushed the car away with Black Is Back."

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Heavily backed at the windows, Black Is Back delivered for his supporters after going gate to wire in the $8,500 Open I Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Oct. 24). 

The red-hot Dave McNeight III pushed the car away with Black Is Back and took the point passing the quarter in :28 and led a single file field to the half from there. Rounding turn two, McSpidey (Denny Bucceri) and Cultural Paradise (Kyle Cummings) pulled into the breeze and prompted the third quarter to a snappy 1:25.2. 

Rounding the last turn, Cultural Paradise tipped three deep, Percy’s Z Tam (Jim Morrill Jr.) went four wide around him and McSpidey shook loose from the pylons and all five horses were charging down the lane. With a highly animated group of drivers doing their best to get there first, McNeight and Black Is Back refused to lose and hung on by ½ length in 1:54.4.

It was the seventh win of the year for Black Is Back ($2.80) who is owned by Curtis Edholm and Mihajlo Zedjelar Sr. Mihajlo Zedjelar Jr. trains the winner.

(Photo: Machlicious with reinsman Drew Monti.)

The $7,500 Open II Handicap pace went to Machlicious (Drew Monti) who got away fourth before pulling first-over at the half, taking the lead at the three-quarters and then maintaining a 1-½ length lead to the wire where he won in 1:55.2.

Machlicious ($5.10) captured his third win in his last four starts for owner Jim Caradori and trainer Darrin Monti. 

Dave McNeight III led all drivers on Saturday with driving Grand Slam but Ron Beback Jr. had a big night as well, winning three races as both a driver and a trainer. 

There was a $5,000 guaranteed Pick-5 pool at Batavia Downs on Saturday that paid out big. The winning combination of 6-3-5-5-4 returned $6,065 for a $1 wager. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 28) at 5 p.m. There will be another guaranteed Pick-5 pool of $3,000 on Wednesday and it will again be part of the USTA’s Strategic Wagering Program with free program pages available on both USTA and Batavia Downs websites starting early next week.

October 24, 2020 - 1:54pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

With no winner in the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday (Oct. 21) there is a $2,152 carry-over pool today (Oct.24) and there will also be a guaranteed pool of $5,000 for the Pick-5 wage.

The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages will be available courtesy of Trackmaster on the Batavia Downs and USTA websites or by clicking here

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on the Wednesday (Oct. 28) program.

Post time for today's first race is 5 p.m.

October 22, 2020 - 5:08pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Western New York racing legend and former Grand Circuit driving star Gerry Sarama reached another career milestone after getting his 1,000th training victory with Ohio Prince in the 12th race at Batavia Downs on Wednesday. 

Sarama has been around the sport his entire life as his father owned and raced horses. He started driving at an early age and quickly found himself at the top of the driver colony in Western New York and won many driving titles at Batavia Downs. 

Sarama made a move to Roosevelt Raceway in the late 1970s and successfully competed with the best in the nation on the biggest stage at the time, racing side by side with the likes of Carmine Abbatiello, Herve Filion, Billy Haughton and all the other great New York City reinsmen of that era.

But he eventually found his way back to his roots and continued to be at the top of his game ever since. The one constant of Sarama’s career regardless of what track he was competing at, he was always a highly sought after catch driver.   

During his driving career, the now 78-year-old Sarama amassed 2630 wins and bankrolled $11.5 million dollars. But he curtailed that activity in 2007 and turned his attention to training full time. Since doing so Sarama has found as much success in the jog cart as he did in the sulky. He currently oversees about 14 horses and since taking over conditioning duties full time, his stable has won in excess of $5.6 million. During his entire training career Sarama has made 6,153 starts with 1,000 wins, 931 seconds and 843 thirds giving him a .292 UTR. 

The entire staff at Batavia Downs as well as all our horsemen would like to congratulate “The man with the hands” Mr. Gerry Sarama on this accomplishment.

Photo courtesy of Tim Bojarski.

October 22, 2020 - 5:04pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Before I Die in the forefront with driver Jim McNeight Jr.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

A rain-soaked track greeted horsemen for the night’s proceedings at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 21) but stellar performances were still on display, especially by top class winners Before I Die and Tellawoman. 

A scratch-shortened field of six horses went to post in the $8,500 Open I Handicap trot and the race turned into a tale of two races. Chapter one was Il Mago (Jim Morrill Jr.) who screamed off the gate and sped away to an eight-length lead at the half in :58 and looked like a walk-over tonight. At that same station, Before I Die (Jim McNeight Jr.) was sitting fourth and 11 lengths in arrears. 

Chapter two was when McNeight pulled Before I Die at the five-eighths and started making tracks toward the leader and doing it in a timely fashion. At the three-quarters Il Mago’s lead was down to four and diminishing with every stride while Before I Die was in full gear. When they hit the top of the lane Il Mago was digging in and determined to win, but Before I Die wrote his own ending by a head; winning in 1:58.2. 

It was the second top class victory this year at Batavia Downs for Before I Die ($8.70) and his owners Caren and Jamie Dubay, the latter who also trains the winner.

Above, driver Jim Morrill Jr. with Tellawoman in the lead.

Then in the $8,500 Open I Handicap for for pacing fillies and mares, HP Sissy (Denny Bucceri) led the field to the half in :27.4 but when Bucceri tapped the brakes in a :30.1 second panel, Morrill pulled Tellawoman and took control by the five-eight’s pole. As soon as he did, Bucceri came right back out with HP Sissy and rode alongside the leader with Yankee Secret (Dave McNeight III) now traveling three deep. 

Heading into the stretch HP Sissy faded and Carly Girl (Drew Monti) was trying to get out between her and Tellawoman while Lady Dudette (Kyle Cummings) was also now flying down the stretch. When they hit the wire four horses were only a length apart in very close quarters and after an objection and two inquiries (none of which were allowed) Tellawoman won in 1:57, only 1/2 length ahead of Lady Dudette and HP Sissy who dead-heated for second. 

It was the second win in the last three starts for Tellawoman ($7.10) and owner Rose Campbell. Russell Bratt trains the winner. 

Jim Morrill Jr. and Drew Monti topped all drivers with three winners each on the night while trainers Sabrina Shaw, Kevin Cummings and Gerry Sarama tied for top conditioning honors with two apiece. 

With no winner in the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday there is a $2,152 carry-over pool that will move to Saturday (Oct.24) and it has been announced that there will be a guaranteed pool of $5,000 for the Pick-5 wager that day. The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages will be available courtesy of Trackmaster on the Batavia Downs and USTA websites.

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on the following Wednesday (Oct. 28) program.

Post time for the first race Saturday is 5 p.m.

October 20, 2020 - 1:20pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs has announced there will be a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday (Oct. 21). The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages are available courtesy of Trackmaster on the Batavia Downs and USTA websites or by clicking here

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on the Saturday (Oct. 24) program.

Post time for the first race Wednesday is 5 p.m.

Also, there will be two matinee cards coming up soon at the Downs. The first will be on Saturday (Oct. 31) which is Halloween and the second is Saturday (Nov. 7), which is Breeders Cup Day. Post time for both matinees will be at 1:15 p.m.

And Batavia Downs has been advised by the New York State Gaming Commission that the track will be racing spectator-free for the remainder of the 2020 season.

Owners listed in the program will continue to be allowed to attend the races, which has been the norm since opening day.

October 18, 2020 - 2:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo: Cultural Paradise with driver Kyle Cummings.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Although it was a short field after the scratch of Mr. Euroman, Cultural Paradise was grossly overlooked and ended up putting regret in the wallets of those who ignored him after he handily won the $8,500 Open I Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Oct. 17). 

As Stratosphere (Drew Monti) and Manceiver (Denny Bucceri) traded leads going to the half, Cultural Paradise (Kyle Cummings) stayed third on the pylons, chasing the pace. Positions remained unchanged in the abbreviated five-horse group by the half and to the three-quarters where Cultural Paradise tipped out and started to move towards the front. Halfway through the last turn, Cultural Paradise cleared Manceiver and opened up by 1-3/4 lengths down the lane and hit the light first in 1:54.1 at 19-1. 

For Cultural Paradise ($36) it was the fifth win of the year, all taken in his last seven starts. Don Rothfuss trains for owner Howard Ouriel. 

In the $7,500 Open II pace, Beachy Dream (Jim Morrill Jr.) followed PC’s Expresso (Dave McNeight III) for 7/8th’s of a mile before pulling the pocket at the top of the stretch and out-sprinting him to the line for a one-length victory in 1:55. The ultra-consistent Beachy Dream ($2.60) is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama. 

Shawn McDonough had a busy combined night, winning two races as a driver and three races as a trainer. Individually, Kyle Cummings had a driving hat trick with Jim Morrill Jr. scoring two wins and trainer Jim Clouser Jr. had two wins as well.  

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 21) at 5 p.m. when there will be a guaranteed $3,000 Pick-5 pool in race one. As part of the USTA Strategic Wagering program there will be free program pages for races one through five available early next week at the Batavia Downs and USTA websites.

October 15, 2020 - 3:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo: HP Sissy with driver Denny Bucceri.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The top class for both pacing mares and trotters were featured on the Wednesday (Oct. 14) card of racing at Batavia Downs and the public’s choice came through in both events. 

In the $8,500 Open I Handicap distaff pace, HP Sissy (Denny Bucceri) got away fifth while Protect Blue Chip (Billy Davis Jr.) paced on the lead through five-eighths of the mile. That is where HP Sissy came calling first-up on the rim, drawing close to the leader at the three-quarters. Protect Blue Chip and HP Sissy then strode neck-and-neck around the far turn and into the stretch where HP Sissy started to inch away, clear and then hold off a late closing Lady Dudette (Kyle Cummings) to win in 1:55.

HP Sissy ($5.40) scored her sixth win of the year for owner Finocchario’s Dream Stable and trainer Mike Ohol.

 

Above, CR Blazin Beauty with driver Ray Fisher Jr.

Then in the $8,500 Open I Handicap trot, CR Blazin Beauty (Ray Fisher Jr.) took a similar path to victory, getting away third behind Majestic Kat (Billy Davis Jr.) before tipping at the half and trotting unhurriedly outside the leader for the next three-eighths of a mile. At the head of the lane, CR Blazing Beauty just switched gears and sped away to a two-length advantage by mid-stretch and then just jogged home a winner in 1:57.2, which was a new seasonal mark. 

CR Blazin Beauty ($6.30) is owned by Marissa Russo and is trained by David Russo. 

Drivers Dave McNeight III and Drew Monti both scored Hat Tricks on Wednesday while trainer Rose Russo did so as well on the conditioning side. Triple Sticks and Drivin’ Drew are the two hottest drivers at the Downs over the last five days, winning 14 and 13 races respectively. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Oct. 17) at 5 p.m.

October 14, 2020 - 3:30pm
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs has announced there will be a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager today (Oct. 14).

The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages are available courtesy of Trackmaster on the Batavia Downs and USTA websites or by clicking here

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on the Saturday (Oct. 17) program.

Post time for the first race today is 5 p.m.

October 11, 2020 - 12:38pm
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, Batavia Downs, sports.

Black Is Back with driver Dave McNeight III.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

After just missing the win in this same race just last week, Black Is Back got the job done on Saturday night (Oct. 10) in the $8,500 Open pacing feature at Batavia Downs.

Taking full advantage of the pylon position start, Black Is Back (Dave McNeight III) grabbed the lead by the quarter and took the field to the half in :57.3. By that time Stratosphere (Drew Monti) was rolling up the rim and moving towards the front. Black Is Back and Stratosphere battled up the backside, around the far turn and into the lane where Black Is Back put away the challenge and then held off a late charge by Mr. Euroman (BIlly Davis Jr.) to win by ¼ length in 1:54.3.

It was the fourth win of the Batavia meet and sixth win overall this year for Black Is Back ($3.30) who is owned by Curtis Edhholm and Mihajlo Zdjelar Sr. Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr. trains the winner. 

In the $7,500 Open II pace, Manciever (Drew Monti) pulled first-over at the 3/8th’s and took the lead from Santana Beach (Billy Davis Jr.) by the half and then kicked away to a 4-¾ length win in 1:54.1. Owned by Jeffrey Savidge and trained by Jennifer Giuliani, Manciever ($5) took a new seasonal mark in his third win of the year. 

Drew Monti had the hot hand in the sulky on Saturday winning five races on the card. He won with the aforementioned Manciever, Machlicious (1:54, $3.60), The Lunch Pail (1:55.2, $2.10), Thedoginthefight (1:57.4, $3.70) and Gallant Major (1:57.3, $7.20).  

Trainer Don Rothfuss led all conditioners with two wins on the night.  

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 14) and it was announced that there will be a guaranteed $3,000 pool in the Pick-5 wager that day.

It will be part of the USTA Strategic Wagering Program and as such, there will be free program pages for the first five races on Wednesday available on the Batavia Downs website and the USTA website starting on Monday.

Post time for the first race will be 5 p.m.

October 10, 2020 - 12:23pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

With no winner in the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday (Oct. 7) at Batavia Downs, there is a $1,462 carry-over pool today (Oct.10) and there will be a guaranteed pool of $4,000 for the Pick-5 wager.

The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages are available courtesy of Trackmaster on the Batavia Downs website, the USTA’s website or by clicking here.

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on the Wednesday (Oct. 14) program.

Post time for today's first race is 5 p.m.

October 8, 2020 - 3:35pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Lady Dudette with driver Kyle Cummings.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

A pair of $8,500 Open events topped the card at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 7) and connoisseurs of the longshot were very happy with the outcome of both events. 

In the Open I Handicap pace for fillies and mares, Lady Dudette took the overland route to victory in a short but select field.  

HP Sissy (Denny Bucceri) grabbed the lead and paced uncontested to the half in :57.1. Past the five-eighths, Lady Dudette (Kyle Cummings) pulled first-over from fifth and motored up towards the leader. The two mares were closely engaged by the three-quarters and around the last turn with neither giving way. At the top of the stretch Cummings asked for more and Lady Dudette came through. She paced away from HP Sissy and held off a late charging Protect Blue Chip (Billy Davis Jr.) to win by 3/4’s of a length in 1:56.3.

It was the seventh win of the year for Lady Dudette ($12) and her owner, driver Kyle Cummings. Tammy Cummings trains the winner.

 

(Above, Il Mago with driver Jim Morrill Jr.)

Then in the Open I trot, the tough-as-nails Il Mago looked his old self in a gate to wire win producing his second fastest clocking of the year. 

Il Mago (Jim Morrill Jr.) took early control and put the field to bed. After clipping quarters of :28.3 and :57.3, Il Mago opened up a three length lead trotting up the backside and extended it to five by the time he hit the top of the lane. From there he got home by 3/4’s of a length over a fast closing Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) and won in 1:56.4. 

It was the 51st lifetime win for Il Mago ($26.40) and it pushed his lifetime bankroll to a very impressive $880,638. The classy 11-year-old son of Kadabra-Northern Style is owned by Mike Torcello and is trained by Gerry Sarama. 

Jim Morrill Jr. pulled off a not often seen feat at Batavia Wednesday when he won four consecutive races. Starting in race seven, he won with Southern Palms (1:59, $7.10), Il Mago, Tellawoman (1.56, $5.60) and Sentimental Lady (1:57.1, $7). Races seven to 10 just happened to be the Pick-4 wager and the all-Morrill Pick-4 returned $930.00. 

Besides Morrill’s four wins, Dave McNeight III had three wins while Billy Davis Jr. and Shawn McDonough each had two. 

McDonough also led all trainers on Wednesday with three wins while Russell Bratt, Rich Mays and Gerry Sarama all won two each. Sarama’s pair brought his lifetime training win total up to 996, now just four shy of the 1,000 win plateau.

There were no winners in the Pick-5 on Wednesday so the $1,462 carry-over pool will move to Saturday (Oct. 10) and Batavia Downs will be offering a $4,000 guaranteed pool through the USTA’s Strategic Wagering program for that wager. Free program pages will be available for the first five races on Saturday at both the Batavia Downs and USTA websites starting on Thursday (Oct. 8).

Post time for live racing on Saturday is 5 p.m.

October 7, 2020 - 3:23pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs has announced that there will be a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager today (Oct. 7).

The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages are available courtesy of Trackmaster on the USTA’s website or by clicking here. (https://legacy.trackmaster.com/usta/btv1007x.pdf

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on the Saturday (Oct. 10) program.

Post time for the first race today is 5 p.m.

October 4, 2020 - 1:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Mr. Euroman with driver Billy Davis Jr.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The best male pacers in western New York were on display at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Oct. 3) and the top two races produced some impressive efforts by the respective winners.

In the featured $8,500 Open I Handicap pace, Mr. Euroman turned a first-over move into his fourth win of the year after a hard fought stretch drive. 

Black Is Back (Dave McNeight III) went to the front quickly and led the single-file field to the half in a meek :57.4. The order stayed that way until Mr. Euroman (Billy Davis Jr.) pulled first-over past the five-eighths and motored toward the leader up the backstretch. Mr. Euroman drew even with Black Is Back at the three-quarters and they paced side by side around the last turn and down the stretch. The two did not separate until four pylons from the light when Mr. Euroman started to pull away under heavy urging from Davis to win by a length in 1:54.3. 

Mr. Euroman ($11) is owned by Vogel and Wags Nags Stable, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock. Maria Rice is the trainer.

Above photo Cultural Paradise with driver Drew Monti.

Then in the $7,250 Open II-III Handicap pace, Cultural Paradise turned in the fastest mile of the night after not getting a breather the entire mile. 

Pick Six (Denny Bucceri) played hardball off the gate and parked Cultural Paradise (Drew Monti) to the quarter in a quick :27 flat. When he cleared, Santana Beach (Billy Davis Jr.) was still on the rim and now on the attack for the lead. Moving past the half Santana Beach got a length in front of Cultural Paradise but was not able to cross over, leaving him parked for a third consecutive turn. As they paced up the backstretch, Cultural Paradise began to pull away and opened up a three length lead by the top of the stretch. He turned for home and cruised under a line drive to win by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:53.4, which was a new seasonal mark. 

It was the fourth win in the last five starts and third win in a row for Cultural Paradise ($7.40) and owner Howard Ouriel. Don Rothfuss trains the winner. 

Only three drivers accounted for 11 of the 13 races won on Saturday. Drew Monti and Dave McNeight III each scored four wins while Billy Davis Jr. registered three. Trainers Don Rothfuss, Rose Russo and Maria Rice all had two wins apiece. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 7) with post time at 5 p.m. Once again there will be a guaranteed $3,000 pool in the Pick-5 wager in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering program. Free program pages of races one through five will be available for download starting on Monday.

October 1, 2020 - 3:29pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Lunar Credit with driver Jim McNeight Jr., winning the featured $8,500 Open I trot at Batavia Downs Wednesday.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Heavy rain, strong winds and sloppy goings were not the best conditions for racing on Wednesday night (Sept. 30), but they were no match for the storm Billy Davis Jr. kicked up on the track while winning six of the 13 races at Batavia Downs.

Davis came out of the gate strong, winning both ends of the double with Surfers Paradise (1:57.3, $3.10) and The Land Shark (2:01.2, $14.80) and followed that up with victories with Wonderful World (1:56.1, $5.90), Pembroke Bada Bing (2:02, $22.20), Rockn Legend (2:00.3, $7.40) and Electric Chapel N (2:00.2, $4.30).

Davis, who is the defending dash driving champion at the Downs, started Wednesday in second place and 10 wins behind the current leader Jim Morrill Jr. But with Morrill drawing a blank during the card, Davis is now only four wins away from moving into a first place tie. 

Davis is also currently the tenth leading percentage driver in North America with a .342 Universal Driver Rating. Morrill is fifth in that category with a .377. 

The one race Davis did not win was the featured $8,500 Open I trot. That race went to Lunar Credit and Jim McNeight Jr. who lurked second behind the front running Il Mago (Jim Morrill Jr.) all the way to the top of the stretch where the one-path opened up. Lunar Credit shot the gap to catch the leader and fend off the fast closing Daylon Phantom (Drew Monti) and Before I Die (Dave McNeight III) to win by 1/2 length in 1:58.4. 

Lunar Credit ($10.40) scored his fourth win for his owner/driver McNeight Jr. The winner is trained by Jim McNeight.  

Jim McNeight Jr. also had a big night in the bike winning two more races to score the hat trick. 

Trainers Jim McNeight, Andy Torre, Don Niles and Sabrina Shaw all registered two wins on Wednesday. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Oct. 3) with post time at 6 p.m. 

September 30, 2020 - 1:30pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs has announced that there will be a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday (Sept. 30).

The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages are available courtesy of Trackmaster on the USTA’s website or by clicking here.  

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on the Saturday (Oct. 3) program.

Post time for the first race Wednesday is 5 p.m.

September 27, 2020 - 12:01pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Percy’s Z Tam in the lead with driver Jim Morrill Jr.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The last time Percy’s Z Tam drew post one was March 14th and he took full advantage of his starting position as he won the featured $8,500 Open I pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday evening (Sept. 26). 

Long Train Runnin (Denny Bucceri) bolted the wings and overtook the point by the quarter in :27.2. With Percy’s Z Tam (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Mr. Euroman (Billy Davis Jr.) following closely in line, Long Train Runnin paced unimpeded to the half in :56.4 and would not feel the heat until midway up the backstretch. That’s where Morrill pulled Percy’s Z Tam and took the lead at the three quarters, rounded the last turn and took a two-length advantage into the stretch. He then paced sharply to the wire, holding off a late rush from Mr. Euroman to win by ½ length in 1:53.3, which was a new seasonal mark. 

It was the sixth win of the year for Percy’s Z Tam ($5.30) who is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama. 

In the $7,500 Open II pace, Harry Hoo N (Shawn McDonough) followed Under Paid (Ray Fisher Jr.) all the way to the top of the stretch where he tipped, took the lead and held it to the wire where he won by ½ length in 1:54.2, which was his best effort this year. 

Harry Hoo N ($11.60) scored his second win in the last three starts and the fourth win of the year for owner Harry Wortzman. McDonough also trains the winner. 

Drew Monti was the leading reinsman on Saturday winning three races on the card. Billy Davis Jr., Dave Mcneight III, Jim Morrill Jr. and Shawn McDonough all visited the Purple Haze winner’s circle twice. McDonough also registered two wins on the training side as well.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

September 24, 2020 - 5:25pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Western Regional OTB, Batavia Downs.
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Despite attendance limits at Batavia Downs Gaming and fewer dates on the horse racing schedule, wagering through services provided by the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation is way up.

And officials of the public benefit company say they are amazed.

“In gaming, we’re at 25-percent occupancy rate (due to COVID-19 restrictions imposed by New York State) and we’re achieving 90 percent of last year’s numbers,” Chief Financial Officer Jacquelyne Leach said following this morning’s WROTB board of directors meeting at the Park Road facility. “This is much better than expected.”

Leach reported a “net win” of $2.2 million since the gaming site reopened on Sept. 9.

“Forty-nine percent of that goes to the state and the rest stays here,” she said, also reporting that the Downs distributed $91,604 in surcharges to municipalities for the month of August.

Wagering has hit remarkable levels at the Batavia Downs harness track and at the corporation’s Off-Track Betting branches as well.

Todd Haight, director/general manager of live racing, said that after 19 of the 42 racing dates, the handle is up more than 57 percent from last year.

“The betting is just off the charts this year; I really never saw this coming,” he said. “Despite having 11 less race cards, the OTBs, which include Batavia Bets, are up over $6,300 in handle, which is amazing.”

Haight said the corporation’s other simulcast sites -- excluding OTBs and EZ-Bets (terminals placed at bars and restaurants) and online betting -- is up 36 percent and total betting, despite a lack of spectators, is up 18 percent.

He said that on Kentucky Derby day, the handle was the second-largest ever at the Downs since OTB purchased the track in 1998.

“It was a pleasant surprise, for sure, but we want to get our spectators back and fill that clubhouse to 100-percent capacity,” he said. “But for now, we’re really excited about the season.”

Sean Schiano, director of branch operations, reported that the Kentucky Derby handle through Batavia Bets, the corporation’s interactive online and telephone wagering platform, was up $53,000 from last year, and that the August handle of $2.2 million was up $755,000 or 53 percent.

Through Sept. 20, Batavia Bets has handled almost $1.4 million, up $757,000 or 119 percent from last year, and year-to-date, the service’s wagering is up almost $2.8 million or 29 percent, Schiano said.

“That’s pretty amazing considering that we were closed for almost two months,” he said. “There were no tracks running anywhere, and when tracks finally starting running, it just picked up. With the closing of the casinos, people have money.”

Schiano said the numbers make him think of how things were several decades ago.

“If horse racing was the only game in town like it was 40 years ago when OTBs were thriving, people will go and bet the horses,” he said. “I wish it would last; I’d love it if the gaming facility and the horse racing was great, but right now, people have the money and they want to bet.”

He mentioned the Kentucky Derby success and predicted similar big numbers for the Preakness on Oct. 3 and the Breeders Cup in November.

“Everyone wants to get through this pandemic, but they still love to bet horses. Sadly, NYS needs to help us out a bit with all the regulations in place really hurt us. But, it’s very nice to see the handle go up,” he said.

In other developments, the board:

  • Voted to raise health insurance co-pays for all employees from $15 to $25 and employees’ contribution to their plan to 5 percent. WROTB CEO Henry Wojtaszek said the co-pay change will enable the corporation to get better rates on their plans.
  • Established a new position on the gaming floor – cage operations supervisor.
  • Approved a contract extension with Upstate Strategic Advisors LLC of Buffalo, a lobbying firm, through Dec. 31, at a rate of $3,500 per month.
  • Authorized a five-year contract with the Bonadio Group, a certified public accounting business based in Buffalo, for professional outside auditing services.
  • Approved closing the Newark OTB parlor at the end of October due to low betting handle numbers.
September 24, 2020 - 3:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Majestic Kat takes the lead with driver Billy Davis Jr. at the reins.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

A pair of $8,500 Open I Handicap races topped the card at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 23) -- one for trotters and one for pacing mares -- and both produced gate to wire winners. 

Majestic Kat moved up to the Open I trot after a 4-1/2 length, 1:57.2 seasonal best win in the Open III last week and despite the jump in class, went almost the exact same mile. Billy Davis Jr. left with Majestic Kat and cut quarters of :28.3, :58.4 and 1:27.1 before Before I Die (Dave McNeight III) trotted alongside him in the last turn and then matched strides all the way down the lane. With less than a half-length between them for the last 1/16th of the mile, Majestic Kat managed to hold her ground and beat Before I Die at the light by a 1/2 length in 1:57.1, which was another new seasonal mark. 

Majestic Kat ($7.90) is owned by Vogel and Wags Nags Stable, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock and is trained by Maria Rice.  

Billy Davis Jr. added two more wins during the proceedings, walking away with a driving hat trick.

Above, HP Sissy and driver Denny Bucceri.

One race later in the top distaff pace, HP Sissy rebounded from two consecutive eight hole draws and went right to the front where she does some of her best work. Denny Bucceri sped to the quarter in :27.1 before grabbing leather in a :30 flat second panel, where the race was really decided. Blacknsweet Adda A (Jim Morrill Jr.) pulled on the second circuit with Protect Blue Chip (Billy Davis Jr.) on her back, but HP Sissy was up to the task. She hit the three-quarters in 1:25.4, rounded the far turn and opened up a two-length advantage while pacing sharply to the wire in 1:54.4. 

It was the fifth win of the year for HP Sissy ($7.10) who is owned by Finnocchario’s Dream Stable and trained by Mike Ohol. 

Finnocchario, Ohol and Bucceri doubled their pleasure Wednesday as they also won with Mach’s Echo who blew up the tote board with a $39.60 payoff. 

Jim Morrill Jr. had a big night in the bike, winning four races on the card. He scored with Sentimental Lady (1:57.1, $5.30), Il Mago (1:57, $4.40), Odyssey Blue Chip (1:58.1, $2.50) and You Mach Me Crazy (1:56.4, $2.30). 

Gerry Sarama trained the last three Morrill winners, giving him a training triple that was matched by fellow conditioner Sabrina Shaw. 

Drew Monti was the final multi-win horseman teaming two winners on the card. 

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

September 21, 2020 - 2:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs has announced a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 23). The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages are available courtesy of Trackmaster on the USTA’s website or by direct download clicking here

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, a carryover pool will move to the Saturday (Sept. 26) program.

Post time for the first race Wednesday is 5 p.m.

 

 

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