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October 27, 2022 - 10:40pm

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Press release:

Western Regional Off Track Betting (WROTB) President and CEO Henry Wojtaszek presented representatives from the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester (BCCR) with a check for $23,605.70 to help those who have been affected by breast or gynecologic cancer.

On September 16th, a dinner fundraiser with raffles to benefit the BCCR was held inside the Clubhouse in conjunction with a night of racing.   Businesses and donors located in Western NY sponsored several races that night.  Some monies came from the local harness racing community as some owners, trainers and drivers donated all or a portion of their earnings from the night to the BCCR.  Through the dinner, donations, raffles and auctions for items, the event raised $23,605.70.

“We are privileged to have hosted this event for the BCCR,” Wojtaszek said. “The BCCR is dedicated to eradicating breast cancer through research and advocacy.  The amount of community outreach that they do is inspiring, holding educational and support events so that members of Western and Central New York can come together to learn and receive assistance.   As in years past, the event here was an overwhelming success.  With the hard work of their staff and ours we are pleased to have raised the highest amount ever for this event.”

“On behalf of the Breast Cancer Coalition, I am astounded by this tremendous support, which will help us empower survivors in the nine-county region of Western New York, including Genesee County, “ said Holly Anderson, President and Executive Director of the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester.  “Though October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, we feel the support from the Batavia Downs community all year long. They entrust their friends and family members to us, assist us in making important connections within their community, and stay in touch with us on an ongoing basis. Breast cancer takes much more than "awareness". It needs ACTION throughout the year. Our friends and Batavia Downs walk the talk."

Previously: Batavia Downs hosts fundraiser for Breast Cancer Coalition

Photos by Howard Owens.

October 26, 2022 - 11:07pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

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Kyle Cummings has been on a bit of a tear recently at Batavia Downs but really put up some serious numbers on Wednesday night (Oct. 26) after he won six of the 10 races he drove on the card including natural hat tricks in races five, six and seven and races 11, 12 and 13.

Cummings won with Rockin N Kissin (1:59.2, $2.10), How About Murph (1:58.2, $7.80), Im Chiara (1:59.3, $6.20), Muscle High (2:01.3, $11.20), Lucky King (1:57.4, $6.80) and Candy’s Desire (1:58.2, $5.40). Cumming's outstanding driving also gave him a lofty UDR of .600 for the night. 

With his performance on Wednesday, Kyle Cummings moved into third place for driving wins at the current Batavia meet, now boasting 47 wins. He passed Dave McNeight III who now sits in fourth, but is still behind the leaders, Kevin Cummings (102) and Jim Morrill Jr. (93). 

The 22-year-old Cummings has only been driving for four years, yet he already surpassed $2 million in earnings on October 15 and is in the midst of a career year for wins (105), earnings ($860,464) and UDR (.270) with two months left to go. 

Rockin N Kissin, Muscle High, Lucky King and Candy’s Desire are all trained by Kyle’s mother, Tammy Cummings, who got the grand slam for her efforts and led all other conditioners for wins on Wednesday. 

The one race either Cummings didn’t win was the $14,000 Open Handicap pace for fillies and mares where Saulsbrook Olympia got back on track after having only one board hit in her last five outings. 

Dave Mcneight III left with Saulsbrook Olympia from post one and seated Somebeachsomefra (Jim Morrill Jr.) in the process. Saulsbrook Olympia then proceeded to take the single file field to the quarter in :28.4, the half in :59.4 and then halfway up the backstretch before anyone made a move. That one was Shecouldbegood N (Kevin Cummings) who moved from third on the pegs to second in the breeze by three-quarters. In the turn, Saulsbrook Olympia responded to that challenge and then under minimal urging paced home on top by 1-½ lengths in 1:57.

Continuing a great year, Saulsbrook Olympia ($2.70) claimed her ninth win of 2022 and pushed her earnings to $73,266 for owners William McNeil and Edward Gorc. Jeniffer Giuliani trains the winner. 

Two milestones were reached by a pair of veteran horses on Wednesday. The aforementioned 11-year-old pacer Lucky King and the 13-year-old trotter Osprey Vision both scored their 50th career wins. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Oct. 29) at 6 p.m. and there is another carryover available. The Jackpot Hi-5 Pentafecta in the 13th race will start with $1,387 in the pool. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab and then you watch all the races live on the Batavia Downs YouTube channel.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

October 19, 2022 - 10:32pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, Sports, harness racing.

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It was a dark and stormy night at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 19) with a steady rain, brisk wind and sloppy track for all to deal with. But much like the postman, it didn’t deter the Downs’ leading driver Kevin Cummings from completing his appointed rounds as he successfully delivered five horses to the Purple Haze Winner’s enclosure despite the elements. 

Cummings struck early and often, winning with Rip It Up (2:00.2, $4.40), Gimme The Pacifics (1:59.1, $10.80) and Everdeen (1:59, $3.60) in races two, three and four for the natural hat trick. He then completed his count with JB’s Star Dancer (1:58, $4.20) and Ruthmae Hanover (1:59, $3.00). 

The five Wednesday wins give Cummings 98 for the current Batavia meet, putting him 12 ahead of Jim Morrill Jr. (86) and 55 ahead of Dave McNeight III (43).   

The one race Cummings didn’t win was the featured $14,000 fillies and mares Open I Handicap pace where John Macdonlad piloted Protect Blue Chip from the pocket to procure the purse.

Ready Set Rock (Denny Bucerri) was sent down the road from her pylon position start, put Protect Blue Chip in the garden spot and had things under control until My Standards (Drew Monti) came calling from fourth at the half in a soggy :59. My Standards forced Ready Set Rock to pick up the pace as she strode alongside in a 1:28 three-quarters, where Tres Chic Bluechip (Kevin Cummings) joined the party with a three-deep move.

As the group entered the stretch, the two outside attackers' bid failed, allowing room for Protect Blue Chip to vacate the pocket and challenge for the win. While Ready Set Rock was under heavy urging, Macdonald simply tapped the wheel disk once and Protect Blue Chip passed the leader and held off the late closing So Admirable (Shawn McDonough) at the line to win by a neck in 1:58.1. 

It was the sixth win of the year for Protect Blue Chip ($9.40) who is owned by Vogel & Wags Nags and Team Rice Racing. Maria Rice was the winning trainer. 

In what was clearly a very even playing field, 13 different trainers claimed one race each on Wednesday. 

A $1,662 carryover and $5,000 guaranteed Pick-5 pool in race one on Wednesday generated a handle of $7,718 for that bet and produced a $6,204.25 payout for the winning combination of 2-1-8-5-1 for the 50-cent wager. 

Batavia Downs honored local driving and training legend Gerry Sarama Wednesday on the occasion of his 80th birthday. Sarama started his racing career in western New York in 1966 and hit the heights at Roosevelt Raceway in the 1980’s where he competed against some of the greatest horsemen of all time. During his driving career, Sarama won 2,630 races and over $11 million earned in purses. Last year he reached the 1,000 win plateau for training and has earned another $6.5 million as a conditioner. All the horsemen and horsewomen as well as all the management and staff of Batavia Downs, wish "The Man With the Hands", Gerry Sarama the very best on this special day. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Oct. 22) at 6 p.m. and there is another carryover available. The Jackpot Hi-5 Pentafecta in the 13th race will start with $823.54 in the pool. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab and then you watch all the races live on the Batavia Downs YouTube channel.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery.
October 17, 2022 - 7:30am
posted by Press Release in Wiener Dog Races, Batavia Downs, news.

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Louie, #3, above, wins the annual wiener dog race Sunday at Batavia Downs. Below are Louie and his worthy contenders during the run on the gaming facility's outdoor track. Bottom photo shows the mighty racer with a bag full of goodies for his efforts.

Press Release

Louie bested 47 other dogs in a tightly contested competition on Sunday afternoon.  Following 2 hours of family related activities like face painting, balloon art, pumpkin decorating, carriage rides, and pony rides the assembled crowd of over 2,000 watched 6 heats of 8 dogs.

Louie and his owners received a Hotel and Restaurant Stay and Play at Batavia Downs along with a gift basket from Genesee Feeds.  Second place Piper and Third Place Ted also received a Hotel and Restaurant Stay and Play.  Each “heat” winner received a Free Play prize.

A video of the final race can be seen on the Batavia Downs Racetrack Facebook page.

 Photos by Steve Ognibene

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October 15, 2022 - 1:32am
posted by Press Release in Wiener Dog Races, Batavia Downs, news.

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Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel will host Family Fun Day and their famous wiener dog races on Sunday, Oct. 16.

Family-related activities will also take place including on-site entertainers, a kettle corn stand, pumpkin decorating for kids 15 and under, carriage rides, pony rides and $1 hot dogs and sodas will take place from 12 til 2 p.m. with the wiener dog races commencing at 2 p.m. 

The time was moved up to accommodate guests who want to ensure they don’t miss the Buffalo Bills football game at 4:25 p.m.

Sixty-four dachshunds will be racing for the crown of fastest wiener dog in Western New York.  Each “heat” winner will receive a prize and the top 3 finishers in the championship race will receive free play, food vouchers and a free hotel stay.

Admission and Parking are free.

Photo: File photo by Howard Owens from 2011 race.

October 9, 2022 - 1:37pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

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Bouncing back from his outstanding debut at Batavia Downs last week, Rebellious was strong on the point to take his second straight win in Genesee County and fourth consecutive win overall winning the $15,000 Open I Handicap pacing feature on Saturday night (Oct. 8). 

Jim Morrill Jr. got caught three-wide with Rebellious rushing for the front but finally got the lead from Ideal Artillery (Jim McNeight Jr.) past the :26.4 quarter. The odd-man out in that early dust-up was Issac (Kyle Cummings) who got caught parked from there until he faded at the five-eighths pole. It was also there that Rebellious and Ideal Artillery broke away from the field by three lengths heading towards three-quarters. Positions remained the same around the last turn until Ideal Artillery tipped at the head of the lane. Racing under heavy urging, Ideal Artillery gained some ground on the leader but Rebellious was just too good and would not be denied as he won by one-half length in 1:53.3.

With his 11th win of the year, Rebellious ($4.40) pushed his earnings to $94,058 for owners Joel Warner and Mike Deters, who also trains the winner. 

Morrill ended the night with two wins in the bike. 

The $14,000 Open II Handicap pace was an equally exciting event where Stranger Things dropped out of the top class to score a decisive four length victory.  

Brave World (Dave McNeight III) called the shots early but got pressure before the half from Sanatana Beach (Keith Kash) who pulled first up and had Stranger Things (Kevin Cummings) following him -- one out and one back. Santana Beach reached his limit halfway up the backside and that's where Cummings went three-deep with Stranger Things, and he exploded during the move. Stranger Things crossed over before the turn, opened up 2-¾ lengths while in it and then ran off the screen in the stretch, winning in 1:55 flat. 

Stranger Things ($2.60) got his ninth win of 2022 and went over $200,000 lifetime as a result, now showing $206,626 on his card. Virginia Schoeffel, Kathy Schoeffle and James Reuther own the Angello Nappo-trained gelding.  

Kyle Cummings was the leading driver on Saturday, scoring a natural hat trick in races one, three and four (he did not drive in race two). And for the second straight night, 10 different trainers won one race apiece. 

When live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 12) there will be two carryovers and one guaranteed pool. The first $1,392 carryover will be in the first race for the Pick-5 wager and the pool will be guaranteed at $5,000 through the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program. Free program pages for races one through five on Wednesday will be available at ustrotting.com starting Sunday (Oct. 9). The second $184 carryover will be in race 13 for the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta wager. 

Post time for the first race is at 6 p.m.

Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab and then you watch all the races live on the Batavia Downs YouTube channel.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

October 6, 2022 - 12:36am
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

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Batavia Downs featured two Open paces for fillies and mares on Wednesday night (Oct. 5) and both top distaff classes were won by New Zealand-bred mares who showed their mettle in victory. 

The $15,000 Open I Handicap went to Pocono Downs shipper The Stunning Nun N who made her Batavia debut memorable. 

The Stunning Nun N (Jim Morrill Jr.) got away third as Ready Set Rock (Kevin Cummings) claimed the front, but Morrill couldn’t wait and came early to take the top at the quarter. From there he settled his mare in and dictated the rest of the mile. Saulsbrook Olympia (Dave McNeight III) was the first one to challenge as they headed onto the second circuit and drew alongside The Stunning Nun N approaching three-quarters and from there the race was on. The Stunning Nun N first pushed away and got a one-length advantage heading into the stretch. But Saulsbrook Olympia fought back heading to the wire and crept back up on the leader. She got to within one-half length but The Stunning Nun N refused to lose and hit the line first in 1:55.2. 

It was the fifth win of the year for The Stunning Nun N ($3.00) who is trained and owned by Mike Deters, in partnership with Joel Warner, John Manning and Barbara Jensen. 

Morrill ended up winning a total of four races on Wednesday as he also scored with Jeremes General (1:56. $6.20), Embrace The Rust (1:58.3, $5.40) and BJ Lorado (1:59.3, $2.40). 

In the co-featured $14,000 fillies and mares Open II Handicap, Misty Memory N (Dave McNeight III) got away fifth watching Ideally Sweet (Jim Morrill Jr.) lead the field to the half. It was there that McNeight came first over with Misty Memory N and started the slow grind in the breeze towards the leader. When they got to three-quarters, Ideally Sweet was still two lengths ahead of the parked-third Misty Memory N, but this game mare just kept digging. She made up the incremental ground around the last turn and never drew even with the leader until halfway down the stretch. But Misty Memory N eventually got the lead and held off the tripping My Standards (Kevin Cummings) who made a late dash, to win by one-half length in 1:55.3. 

Misty Memory N ($6.90) is owned by Mark Toth and Paul Lang and is trained by Jeniffer Giuliani. 

Besides Morrill, other participants with multiple wins on Wednesday include drivers John Macdonald with three and Drew Monti with two and trainers Angelo Nappo and Maria Rice also with two wins each. 

The Jackpot Super Hi-5 in the 12th race that had a carryover of $829 on Wednesday night was hit and the 2-4-3-5-1 combination returned $1,428.20 for the 20-cent wager. . 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Oct. 7) at 6 p.m. This is the final Friday night of racing for 2022. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab and then you watch all the races live on the Batavia Downs YouTube channel.

Photos by Wendy J. Lowery

October 5, 2022 - 10:43pm

Management of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., in an effort to provide transparency in the wake of challenges to its policies and procedures, presided over a three-hour session with chief financial officers from seven of its 17 member municipalities this afternoon at the Park Road facility’s board room.

The public benefit company has been hounded in recent months by an audit from the New York State Comptroller’s Office, by charges of fiscal irresponsibility by a disgraced former state senator and, most recently, by a series of letters sent by Erie County Comptroller Kevin Hardwick seeking answers to questions concerning the following issues:

  • The sale of the Hotel at Batavia Downs (dated July 15);
  • Benefits (specifically ‘gold-plated’ health insurance) received by board members (July 18);
  • The use of external legal counsel (Aug. 1);
  • The retention of outside lobbyists (Aug. 8);
  • The possible misuse of promotional and marketing materials (Aug. 24).

WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek, speaking by telephone this evening, said he “appreciated that Hardwick was trying to get information” and added that the meeting ultimately will strengthen the corporation’s relationship with the municipalities.

“Overall, I think the meeting went extremely well and was productive for all involved,” Wojtaszek said. “Our goal is to be transparent, so we were happy to provide them with good, positive economic news that is resulting in record revenues to various counties this year.”

Corporation officials who made presentations at the session, along with Wojtaszek, were Chief Financial Officer Jacquelyne Leach, Compliance Consultant Paul Moskal, Marketing Director Ryan Hasenauer and David Hart of Hart Hotels, which operates the hotel.

Genesee County Treasurer Scott German said he attended the meeting to learn more about WROTB’s methods.

“They started off by essentially going over the financials – the financials of horse racing and then the casino,” German said. “Then they gave each individual county that showed up our own sheet based on our financial information (such as revenues and surcharge issued to the municipalities).”

German said WROTB officials addressed the health insurance for directors, use of promotional tickets and use of company vehicles – “stuff that has been rehashed on TV for a couple of years now.”

“From what I heard, and this is coming from the side of OTB, their explanations were adequate, I guess. They made sense,” he said. “They explained how and why they give out tickets. For example, when they gave away tickets to see Garth Brooks in concert, they said they saw a dramatic increase in bets and profitability on those two particular days. It brought people in.”

German said that most of the questions came from Hardwick and Erie County Deputy Comptroller Timothy Callan with a few posed by Oswego County Treasurer Kevin Gardner.

Wojtaszek said Hart explained that the $7.5 million paid by WROTB to purchase the hotel from its original investors (ADK Hospitality) was warranted. 

“David showed them that the price paid was fair based on the appraisal that was done and the numbers that we have been able to sustain at the hotel,” Wojtaszek said. “And revenues continue to increase.”

On the health insurance subject, Wojtaszek said the board of directors will be addressing that issue in the coming weeks with the goal of establishing “a comprehensive way to provide coverage for all of our employees.”

He also said that Moskal conducted an audit on the corporation's practices, made suggestions "and we are following those suggestions."

Wojtaszek noted that he will be continuing the dialogue with Hardwick’s office and will provide additional documents that Hardwick requested. He said that all 15 member counties plus the cities of Rochester and Buffalo were invited to today's meeting.

The letters sent by Hardwick to WROTB can be viewed by going to the Erie County Comptroller’s Office website – www4.erie.gov/comptroller/.

October 2, 2022 - 2:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in harness racing, Sports, Batavia Downs.

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Following his stellar outing of Friday (Sept. 30) at Batavia Downs, driver Jim Morrill Jr. bounced back with another unbelievable performance on Saturday (Oct. 1) as he won five more races including the top two paces.

The $15,000 Open I Handicap went to Morrill and Rebellious, who got away fourth as Just Plain Loco (Dave McNeight III) took the field to the half in :55.4. There, Morrill made a second-over move following Surfer Beach (Greg Merton) who got it in gear heading into turn three. Surfer Beach cleared at three-quarters and Rebellious then followed him again to the top of the stretch. Heading down the lane Rebellious tipped out and got rowdy. He paced right by Surfer Beach and got home on top by 2-¾ lengths in 1:53.2.

It was the third win in a row, tenth win of the year and 65th-lifetime victory for the half-million dollar earner Rebellious ($4.40) who is owned by his trainer Mike Deters in partnership with Joel Warner. 

Then in the $14,000 Open II Handicap Morrill took the garden spot with Mississippi Rabbit behind American Trademark (Keith Kash) to the half in a very tepid :59.2. The slow-going forced Stop Action (Shawn McDonough) to brush and crush to the lead up the backstretch and open up a three-length lead heading into the stretch. But Morrill rousted Mississippi Rabbit and high lined him all the way home to a one-length win in 1:55.2. 

It was also the third win in a row for Mississippi Rabbit ($4.70) who is owned by Rocco Stebbins and trained by Joe Skowyra.  

Morrill also won with Dewar N Jack (1:56.1, $9.30), Century Grizzly (1:54.2, $3.30) and  Major Asset (1:54.2, $4.00). Morrill drove in 11 races Saturday night and aside from the wins, never missed the board. He finished second four times and third twice giving him an unheard-of UDR of .717 for the night. 

At the start of this racing week, Morrill was 12 races behind Kevin Cummings for the dash lead at this meet. Now after only three days of racing he has closed that gap to three. Cummings currently sits with 78 wins and after Saturday’s action, Morrill now has 75. 

Morrill wasn’t the only one winning races. Drivers Drew Monti, Dave McNeight III and Greg Merton each had two wins on the card as did trainers Chris Naedele and Maria Rice. 

The $1,960 carryover and $5,000 guaranteed pool on the Pick-5 wager in race one brought $5,328 in new money and provided a winning payout of $595.50 for a 50-cent wager on the combination of 2-2-3-2-2,3. However, the Jackpot Super Hi-5 in the last race was not hit and that carryover has grown to $829 for that wager in the the12th race on Wednesday night. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 5) at 6 p.m. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab and then you watch all the races live on the Batavia Downs YouTube channel.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery.

September 30, 2022 - 11:25pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, Sports, harness racing.

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Driver Jim Morrill Jr. continued his hot streak Friday night (Sept. 30) after he registered another grand slam in the bike at Batavia Downs and it was highlighted by winning the $15,000 Open Handicap trot with the 11-1 shot, Batting Stats. 

Assigned post one, Batting Stats was sent right to the front of the short six-horse field and held the lead at every station. After passing three-quarters in 1:27.2 while rebuffing a challenge from Night Flyer K (Greg Merton), Morrill and Batting Stats had two lengths at the top of the stretch and held off a late charge from Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) to win by 1-¾ lengths in a season’s best 1:57 flat. 

Batting Stats ($25.80) is owned by Mike Ohol Jr. and trained by Mike Ohol. 

Morrill also scored with the 13-year-old Osprey Vision ($9.30) who got his 49th-lifetime win, Batavia’s 2021 Claimer of the Meet Raksmach N ($1:57.1, $3.80) and Tioga Downs invader Defcon Seelster ($1:58, $4.00). 

In the co-featured $14,000 Open II Handicap trot, Lightfooted Legend overcame early adversity to taste late success. Off the gate, Franks Watching (Ray Fisher Jr.) and Gemini Eddie (Kevin Cummings) both made breaks as Lightfooted Legend (Shawn McDonough) darted for the lead. But at the eighth pole, Lightfooted Legend also jumped, along with the three-wide Pilgrim Caviar (Dave McNeight III), allowing the only horse who didn’t break in the race, Lunar Credit (Jim McNeight Jr.), finally reach the front. McDonough regrouped Lightfooted Legend and put him on the leader’s back and the pair then trotted in line to three-quarters where Lightfooted Legend tipped out and went right after Lunar Credit. The trotters matched strides around the last turn and into the stretch Lightfooted Legend rallied late to win by 1-¼ lengths in 1:57.2.

The Dale Gilmour-trained Lightfooted Legend ($6.40) is owned by David Linker.

Lightfooted Legend was one of two driving wins for McDonough who also registered one training victory on Friday. Driver Ray Fisher Jr. and trainer Ryan Swift teamed up to get two winners across as well. 

When live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 31) there will be two carryovers and one guaranteed pool. The Pick-5 wager in races one through five has a carryover of $1,960 and the wager will have a guaranteed $5,000 pool through the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering program. Free race pages for those races will be available at ustrotting.com tomorrow morning. Then in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 in race 12, there is a $647 carryover as well. Post time for race one on Saturday is at 6 p.m. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

September 30, 2022 - 2:54pm

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Developing an effective promotion and marketing strategy at Batavia Downs Gaming sounds like a challenging assignment. Marketing Director Ryan Hasenauer and his staff, however, have been equal to the task as revenues for the gaming/harness horse racing facility and hotel on Park Road continue to surge.

The Batavian sat down with Hasenauer (photo at top, pointing to "wall of fame" at the Batavia Downs clubhouse) to talk about his team’s efforts to increase the customer base at the entertainment venue operated by Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., a public benefit company that distributes a portion of earnings plus surcharge to its 17 member municipalities.

Hasenauer, 41, is a Rochester native who earned his bachelor’s degree in Sports Management and Master of Business Administration from Medaille College (now University) in Buffalo before taking marketing positions with a software company and tanning salon chain.

He joined the marketing department at Batavia Downs in 2007, serving as director of marketing since October 2010. He and his wife, Elise, and their 7-year-old son, Theo, live in Hamburg.

Q. What is the overarching strategy when it comes to promotions? Your board of directors just authorized an expenditure of $600,000 for promotional items for the year – that’s a huge amount of money.

A. You’ve got to spend money to make money – that’s like one of the oldest adages in the book. What we do here at Batavia Downs is we implement two types of strategy – whether it’s horse racing, gaming, for the restaurants, the hotel. All those things basically work together as amenities for each other to basically accomplish two goals. One, attract new people to the facility and two, retain the people that we already have that enjoy coming here. And of course, if you're new, then you become an existing person. So, now I'm working hard to maintain your loyalty.

Q. It seems as though it is a very competitive industry?

A. The gaming landscape in Western New York is quite saturated. You've got one just south of Rochester, you've got one between Rochester and Syracuse, you've got several pinpointed around the Syracuse area and towards Utica, you've got one in Buffalo, we've got one in the Falls, you got one down to Alleghany and even got a few across the way just across the border into Canada now that Canada's opened up again. So, we have to be smart about our strategies because we are one of the smallest gaming facilities in New York State.

Echoing what Henry (Wojtaszek, WROTB president) has said many times, we try to see ourselves as the “Cheers” of casinos – we know your name. You can be a big fish in a small pond here. When you go to some of these other larger facilities, you're just a number to them. To reap some of the things you might want to get from a gaming facility, you have to be a very, very big player in those places to be even considered to get invites for a dinner tickets to a show on site or to a game, like the Buffalo Bills or whatever. Whereas here, we feel like we have a better relationship with our players. We know their names, we know their likes, their dislikes and you can still have access to some of those great things.

Q. What are some of the promotions that Batavia Downs offers?

A. If you're in the email club, for some of the concerts, you got an email for free tickets to our shows outside for our drawings on Wednesday nights. And on Friday nights. And coming in October, it'll be Tuesdays and Thursday nights. You can win tickets, whether you're a great player or not a great player. You can win tickets to see the Buffalo hockey team to see the Buffalo football team or the Rochester hockey team. The other places aren't doing drawings with their tickets; they're holding them back and only giving them to certain people. And while we do honor and give some of our higher-end players tickets, everyone has a chance with these drawings.

One of the other great things about doing that is that it drives traffic to the facility. It makes the facility busy because you’re here trying to win tickets to this real big country show that's coming to the facility. You know, when we gave away Garth Brooks tickets, this place was nuts. We gave away two pairs of Garth Brooks tickets on the floor. It was crazy here that night; people were excited to win those tickets. And they went to players that randomly were chosen in the game, which is exciting.

Q. Are you also in charge of lining up events such as dinners, fundraisers or weddings?

A. We have an amazing event staff headed up by Tory (Thompson) and we work together so much it’s like the other side of my brain. And Tory feels the same way about marketing here. People wanting an event here such as a fundraiser or big dinner are going to deal with Tory and she’s going to do right by you.

And we will work with you to help promote your event. I don't know many places that will literally say we will help you promote the event on our Facebook page, with ads in the local media. We take an extra step in making sure that if your event is a public event, we want you to succeed because what do we want? We want people here. It’s only smart for us to that.

Q. What about the concerts in the summer? Who coordinates that?

A. Things like the Vodka (& Gin) Fest, the Polka Fest, the Kentucky Derby party, all the concerts – those are things that the marketing team handles. The concerts are a total team effort, including the officers, where we get together to decide who's coming and what's going to go on, and what dates are they going to select?

That’s another thing that helps not only drive traffic to the facility, but provides entertainment for the people in Batavia and the surrounding areas. I remember, we had Three Dog Night come here and there was probably 6,000 to 7,000 people …singing along to all those old favorites.

Q. You’ve done a lot of renovation to the (racing) clubhouse.  What has been done there and how are you utilizing it?

A. So, the interesting thing about the clubhouse is that this place was built in 1940s; we opened on Sept. 20, 1940.  At that time, the clubhouse was like the crown jewel of this place, and over the years, it was a great place for people to come and watch the races.

There’s no mistake about it that horse racing is not as popular as it once was. We all get that; we understand that. There are not a lot of places across Western New York, first of all, but certainly across the United States that are actively trying to put money into horse racing spaces where people can enjoy watching horse racing. We put in money into that clubhouse. We put the “wall of fame” up there -- our history, from the 1940s all the way through present day and you could walk up and see it anytime you want.

We raised up the bar from the ground floor to beyond that level and made it so was a more welcoming experience for those who have movement disabilities. That was one thing that many people like to mention was that the buffet was on the top and you had to traverse those stairs. Now the buffet’s on the ground level. And if you have mobility issues, you don't have to worry about the stairs anymore. You go right to the buffet and find a seat where there's no going upstairs and you still have a seat on the window. You still have a great seat to see the horse racing.

Q. Judging by recent events in the clubhouse not related to horse racing, that must be a new wrinkle to your marketing strategy?

A. Because that clubhouse is only open, let's say between 50 and 70 days a year for horse racing, what are we going to do the other 300 days plus? While we do comedy shows there, we also utilize that space for nonpublic events. If somebody needs to utilize that space for a meeting, it’s available. We had Chamber (of Commerce) After Dark and the Zonta Club’s basket raffle. So again, utilizing the spaces that we have here to allow people to have meetings. We had a large meeting inside Park Place and events are scheduled throughout the week, not just on weekends.

Q. On the subject of horse racing, how much has that industry declined since its heyday? And how do you accommodate patrons that follow and wager on horse racing? Are they getting the short end of the stick, so to speak?

A. On the first question, I would have to take a look at the numbers to give you an accurate number. I know that during COVID, horse racing was one of the only things going on. We had that kind of artificial spike that happened in 2020 and in parts of 2021 where it was like, “Well, I can't go anywhere, but they're doing virtual horse racing someplace, I can make a wager on Batavia bets and I can do those things.”

I think what we are doing here at Batavia Downs to make sure that the horse players know that they're not forgotten about is making sure that they still have spaces to conduct that type of entertainment. Putting money in the clubhouse, making sure that that the ITW (Intertrack Wagering) is upstairs across the clubhouse on the second floor here at Batavia Downs. That space was put in when the gaming floor went downstairs, That's a very nice place for people to watch. There's nice chairs, there's ample space, there's vending machines nearby or if you want to go eat, you just go down the elevator, and there’s Fortune’s Restaurant.

(Hasenauer said Homestretch Grill, a smaller sandwich/pizza shop on the first floor is being remodeled and not open yet).

Q. So do you have any specials for the horse players because they're maybe not spending a lot of money on the gaming floor?

A. We’ve come to an agreement with the horsemen’s association to add 15 racing dates in January and February of next year, with racing on Wednesdays and Saturdays and some select Fridays thrown in there as well. We’re going to work to make sure the Homestretch Grill is open to satisfy those patrons and making sure they’re in a clean, comfortable environment.

Promotions include our magnet schedules, T-shirt toss after each race where the winning driver throws T-shirts onto the track apron for those in attendance. Free parking and admission, blanket giveaways. And we’re working with Don (Hoover, director of live racing) on things to make sure that people understand we’re not forgetting about horse racing. A lot of other casinos with racetracks have forgotten about horse racing.

You come here and buy a program, and if you go and earn a point on the gaming floor, we'll give you $5 on the gaming floor. And the program costs two bucks. So, if you're going to gamble anyway on the gaming floor, come and buy a program, earn your point, and then you've got a little bit of money for the gaming floor, too. We're doing things that are tying our racing and our gaming together. That's not something you're seeing at a lot of other places.

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The renovated bar at the Batavia Downs Gaming clubhouse. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

September 29, 2022 - 12:40pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in harness racing, Batavia Downs, Sports.

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It’s not too often a 3-year-old pacing filly can knock off a field of top-class older mares, but it happened on Wednesday night (Sept. 28) at Batavia Downs when Tres Chic Bluechip carried the mail all the way to the wire in the $15,000 Open I Handicap Distaff pacing feature. 

Last week’s winner Pretty Blue Angel (Keith Kash) battled So Admirable (Jim Morrill Jr.) for the lead and got it after a :28.1 quarter. With a two length lead, Pretty Blue Angel proceeded to the half and headed into the third turn where a lot then happened. Tres Chic Bluechip (Kevin Cummings) was approaching the leader from third while Farmerwhosemydaddy (Kyle Cummings) and post-time favorite Saulsbrook Olympia (Dave McNeight III) hooked wheels and effectively took themselves out of the race. 

Tres Chic Bluechip drew alongside Pretty Blue Angel on the backstretch and took a short lead in the breeze at three-quarters. The pair paced almost even around the far turn and took the issue into the homestretch. After a solid attempt by Pretty Blue Angel to come back, Tres Chic Bluechip was just too much and paced away by 3-¼ lengths to win in 1:56.2. 

It was the ninth win of the year for Tres Chic Bluechip ($9.90) and pushed her earnings to $57,185 this year for owner John Sixt. Judy Blaun trains the filly. 

There were also a pair of $11,000 upper-level condition races for female pacers on Wednesday. 

In the first, Faithful Desire (Jim Morrill Jr.) took the lead while Dontustopbelieven N (Kevin Cummings followed her through fractions of :29, :58.1 and 1:26.2. At the top of the stretch Dontustopbelieven N popped the pocket and made up some ground heading home. But it wasn’t enough as Faithful Desire hung on by one-half length in 1:55.2. 

Faithful Desire ($12.80) got her third win in her last four starts for the Crazy Parrot Farm and trainer Shawn McDonough. 

Then in the second, Ready Set Rock (Kevin Cummings) left the gate and was never headed from there. With Misty Memory N (Dave McNeight III) tracking from second, Ready Set Rock went :27.3, :57.1 and 1:25.3 before turning for home and keeping the field at bay in a 1:55 victory. 

A recent Maine import, Ready Set Rock ($11.60) got his seventh win of the year for current owner Mike Torcello. Sammy Smith is the trainer. 

Ready Set Rock was the fourth hit in Kevin Cummings grand slam on Wednesday after he had already scored with the aforementioned Tres Chic Bluechip, Parkhill Horton (1:58.3, $12.40) and Tucson Breeze (1:58.2, $3.30). 

Trainer Shawn McDonough led all trainers on the card with a hat trick of his own. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Sept. 30) at 6 p.m., one of only two Fridays left on the live racing schedule this year. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

September 25, 2022 - 4:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in harness racing, Sports, Batavia Downs.

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The Riddler and Vanna White would have been proud of the betting public after they figured out Puzzling should be the favorite in the $15,000 Open I Handicap on Saturday night (Sept. 24) at Batavia Downs and then collected their money after he dominated the locals with his season’s best effort. 

Jim Morrill Jr. picked up the drive on the shipper Puzzling who was making his first ever start at the Downs. He wrangled the lead away from Stop Action (Kevin Cummings) at the :27 quarter and then laid the lumber on his foes from there. Morrill had the grippers on Puzzling to the half in a slow :29.1 and then rebuffed a challenge from Ideal Artillery (Jim McNeight Jr.) through the third quarter in a stepped-up :27.4. As the pocket-sitting Stop Action started to lose touch around the last turn, Puzzling took a two length lead into the stretch and cruised home to a 2-¼ length victory over Stratosphere (Drew Monti) in 1:52.3. 

A 10-time winner in 2021, this was the second win and fastest time of this year for Puzzling ($6.70) who is owned by Rocco Stebbins. This was one of two wins on Saturday for trainer Joe Skowyra who also sent the Stebbins’ owned Mississippi Rabbit (1:54.1, $3.20) to the winner's circle. Morrill ended the night with three winners. 

The undercard $14,000 Open II Handicap saw Blue Spanx (Keith Kash) set the pace to the half where Stranger Things (Kevin Cummings) pulled first-over with a rush. It took Stranger Things a quarter to draw even with Blue Spanx but when he did, it was a real race to the wire. The two pacers matched strides all the way down the stretch in close quarters and under heavy urging. When they hit the light Blue Spanx had the win by three-quarters of a length in 1:55.3. However, shortly after the race ended, the judges posted an inquiry and eventually placed Blue Spanx second for interfering with Stranger Things in the stretch, and declared Stranger Things the winner. 

As a result, Stranger Things ($5.90) got his third win in his last four starts and eighth win of the year for owners Virginia Schoeffel, Kathy Schoeffel and James Reuther. Angelo Nappo was the winning conditioner. Cummings had the hat trick in the bike by the evenings end. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 24) at 6 p.m. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

September 24, 2022 - 8:05pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

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The top local trotting talent was on full display at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 23) and the co-featured Opens both produced come from behind victories. 

In the $15,000 Open I Handicap, C R Blazin Beauty (Dave McNeight III) led off the gate and halfway up the backstretch before Night Flyer K (Jim Morrill Jr.) grabbed the front approaching the :28.2 quarter. From there no one made a move until the five-eighths where Jumpinthejailhouse (Kevin Cummings) pulled and tried to advance on Night Flyer K, but was only able to get as far as second as they headed around the last turn. When the race proceeded into the stretch, Jumpinthejailhouse faded allowing the pocket-sitting C R Blazin Beauty the out, and she came with a flurry. C R Blazin Beauty trotted up a storm in deep stretch and blew by Night Flyer K while holding off the late closing Credit List (Kyle Cummings) to win by 1-½ lengths in 1:57. 

The Marissa Russo-owned and Dave Russo-trained C R Blazin Beauty ($15.60) captured her 47th-lifetime win and advanced her career earnings to $398,022 as a result. Dave Russo ended the night with two winners to top all trainers on Friday. 

Earlier in the $14,000 Open II Handicap trot, Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) overcame the assigned outside post to nab his sixth win of the year. Sanchez Rocks (Drew Monti) led the field for three-quarters of the mile while Lunar Credit (Jim McNeight Jr.) escorted him on the outside from the half. Lougazi was third-over during that time and drafted there until the last turn when he went three deep and out-trotted everyone to the line and won by 1-¼ lengths in 1:59.1. 

Lougazi ($3.60) pushed his bank to $76,810 this year for owner Mary Warriner on the strength of that victory. Ryan Swift trains the trotter. 

Kyle Cummings was the leading driver on Friday recording three wins during the proceedings.

When live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Sept. 24) at 6 p.m. there will be two carryovers to note for that card. The first is a sizable $1,478 in the Pick-5 in the first race and the second comes in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 in race 11 and that is worth $190. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

September 22, 2022 - 1:59pm

Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. directors this morning approved the creation of a director of Information Technology position at the Park Road entertainment venue.

The board, at its monthly meeting, passed a pair of resolutions concerning IT – the first to establish the department and a director and the second to appoint Jeff Magee of Rochester to the director post.

Magee, who has served as an IT consultant for the corporation, will receive an annual salary of $99,000.

“Jeff’s actually been affiliated with this company for about 30 years,” said WROTB President and CEO Henry Wojtaszek. “So, he is someone who we utilized on an outside basis to consult with and he’s a specialist in the area.”

Wojtaszek said the board decided to replace an IT employee who left the company with Magee, making him a full-time department head.

“It’s almost a neutral budget item because what we're paying Jeff equals what we were already paying him previously as a consultant together with the salary of the gentleman who we're not replacing,” he explained.

Magee may have to fulfill his duties in a makeshift work area for a little while due to the fact that a pipe burst on Sept. 12 and caused serious flooding to the upstairs administration area and also to the gaming floor downstairs.

The board grant permission for Wojtaszek and his staff to make necessary repairs to the damaged floors and furnishings under an “emergency declaration” – without passing a formal resolution at this time.

“We’ll address this and then we’ll bring all the things together (to the board) and they’ll approve everything,” Wojtaszek said, adding that all work will be done “in accordance with our bidding procedures.”

In another personnel matter, the board voted to discontinue providing cell phones to employees, opting instead to authorize a monthly stipend to those employees needing to use a cell phone for business purposes.

September 22, 2022 - 1:00pm

The Park Road Reconstruction Project has entered the homestretch and Batavia Downs Gaming officials couldn’t be more pleased.

That’s the word from Henry Wojtaszek, president and chief executive officer of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., and the public benefit company’s board at their meeting this morning.

“It's probably 80 percent complete,” Wojtaszek said. “We expect substantial completion by October 17th and hopefully we will have two-way traffic on the street (again) in just two to three weeks.”

Edward Morgan, chair of the Batavia Downs Operations Committee, reported that Nov. 30 is the “targeted” completion date.

He said that trees purchased by WROTB are scheduled to be delivered tomorrow – and will take a week to install – and light poles (also purchased by WROTB) will be delivered next week and installed during the week of Oct. 3.

Morgan also said that the facility will feature two valet parking sites – the current one at the south end and a new one at the main entrance “to accommodate those (customers) staying at the Hotel (at Batavia Downs).

Wojtaszek said installation of the trees and streetlights will be handled by CATCO, the project’s primary contractor, and subcontractors.

“We're excited about the possibility of the completion by the second week in October and we look forward to a completed, beautiful project,” he said.

When asked by The Batavian about parking at the lot of the former Kmart building across the street, he said WROTB’s lease with Benderson Development, owner of the property, has expired and that anyone parking there is doing so “at their own risk.”

However, he did say that there is adequate parking for the events at Batavia Downs, and that he could foresee another lease agreement with Benderson should the need arise for concerts next summer.

On another front, the board extended its suite license with Pegula Sports & Entertainment for the 2022-23 Buffalo Bills football season at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, and a similar agreement with Rochester Arena LLC for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 Rochester Americans hockey seasons at the Blue Cross Arena.

Both contracts were paused in 2020-21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting the passage of a pair of resolutions to extend them. The cost with Pegula Sports is $103,200 and the cost with Rochester Arena is $37,150 for this season and $38,250 for 2023-24.

Wojtaszek said ticket distribution for the suites are handled through the WROTB marketing department “in a very professional, promotional way.”

“It'll be a combination of tickets being given away in a drawing on the (gaming) floor, which improves the attendance on our floor and improves foot traffic throughout the building, and then through the host department,” he said. “They’ll find good players and make sure that they offer them to come in and enjoy the experience at a Bills’ game (or Amerks’ game).”

In a related move, the board approved an annual expenditure of up to $610,000 for various promotional items from Mark-It-Smart, Inc., based in Santa Ana, Calif. Items are purchased on a per-event basis as part of a “continuity program,” Wojtaszek said, and include luggage, cookware, purses, barbecue items, camping equipment, glassware and small appliances.

In other action, the board approved the following resolutions:

  • Contracts with three Batavia-based companies for a telescopic boom lift, marketing mailers and electrical parts and supplies.

Directors authorized payment of $147,000 to Skyworks, the lowest bidder, for a telescopic boom lift, ending the recent practice of leasing the equipment.

“Now’s the time to take that extra step and purchase it and make it cost-effective for the company,” Wojtaszek said. “It's a safety issue. We have a lot of decent sized projects here, including window washing and construction. It was put into the capital plan, and it was in the budget for this year. The board thought it was prudent to go ahead and purchase it, and I agree.”

The board accepted a bid of $115,000 from Applied Business Systems to send out marketing mailers to patrons and potential patrons over the next year, with an option for WROTB to extend the pact for an additional year.

An agreement to spend up to $25,000 with Falcone Electric for electrical parts and supplies was approved through the end of the year.

  • A five-year extension of a contract with IK Systems, Inc., of Victor, at a cost not to exceed $68,444 to provide maintenance and testing services for the facility’s surveillance system.

Wojtaszek said he has been “impressed” with IK’s performance.

“I actually supervise the surveillance department here on site and I interact with them (IK Systems) very often. They are very timely and they're very efficient, So, that’s a five-year contract, sort of at a reduced price because we did it for an extended period of time.”

  • Electric and natural gas contracts with Marathon Power LLC and NOCO Gas & Electric, respectively, through Oct. 31, 2024. Both companies submitted low bids, with Marathon agreeing to supply electric at .0645 per kilowatt hour and NOCO agreeing to supply natural gas at 0.675 per centum cubic feet.
September 22, 2022 - 12:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Pink Hatters & Friends, Batavia Downs, batavia, news.

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The Pink Hatters and Friends return to Batavia Downs on Oct. 27 to celebrate cancer survivors in our community.

Tickets are $30 and include a $10 free play in the casino.

Doors open at 4 p.m. with dinner at 6 p.m. and a program to begin at 7 p.m.

There is a basket raffle, entertainment, and a keynote speaker, plus a "best hat" award.

Tickets are available at Healthy Living, 164 Washington Ave., Batavia, or by calling (585) 344-5331.  

Photo: File photo from the 2018 event

September 19, 2022 - 3:22pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

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After winning four races on Friday night (Sept. 16) at Batavia Downs, the track’s leading driver, Kevin Cummings took it up a notch and won five more on Saturday (Sept. 17). Cummings took the early double with Luis Alberto N (1:56.3, $2.20) and Oreo Dream Xtreme (1:53.3, $4.30) and then reeled in Street Beats (1:56.3, $5.00), Stop Action (1:54.1, $2.90) and Brave World (1:55.4, $3.30).  Cummings also had four second place finishes giving him a .657 UDR for the evening. 

Two races that Cummings didn’t win were the feature races that for the second straight night were won by Jim Morrill Jr.

First Morrill scored with Surfer Beach in the $15,000 Open pace and did it in impressive fashion. Maintaining a gapped advantage from the time he left, Surfer Beach ticked off splits of :27.4, :56.3 and 1:24.1 before rounding the last turn on top by two lengths. He then sped home in another :27.4 sprint to the wire where he won in an impressive 1:52.

It was the fifth win of the year for Surfer Beach ($4.90) and owners Vogel & Wags Nags and Team Rice Racing. Maria Rice was the winning trainer. 

Then Morrill took the $14,000 Open II pace with Out On Bail, who settled on the lead by the :28 quarter after a give-and-go with Stranger Things (Kevin Cummings) who was content with the garden spot. Positions remained unchanged from there as Out On Bail hit the half in :57.2 and three-quarters in 1:25.1. At the top of the stretch Stranger Things tipped to attack, but by the time he got in the two path, Out On Bail had fled the scene. Morrill slung low in the seat and Out On Bail crossed the line up by two in 1:53.1.

Out On Bail ($3.50) is having a career year, now with eight wins and $74,491 earned for owner Mike Torcello. This was one of three wins for Sammy Smith on the card who also scored with the aforementioned Street Beats and Brave World. Morrill ended the night with a triple. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 21) with post time at 6 p.m. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

September 17, 2022 - 5:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, news.

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The Grandstands at Batavia Downs was a sellout Friday night in support of the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester with officials expecting the event to raise a record $20,000.

Melisande Bianchi, a board member with the coalition, said the coalition funds research, offers seminars, and offers services to breast cancer patients such as book clubs, yoga, and meditation.

"We just serve our community," Bianchi said.

Photos by Howard Owens.

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September 17, 2022 - 2:56pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

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Jim Morrill Jr. was on fire Friday night (Sept.16) at Batavia Downs, winning five out of the 10 races on the card including both feature races.

In the $15,000 Open I Handicap trot, Morrill left with Credit List and took no prisoners in the process. He parked Frank’s Watching (Ray FIsher Jr.) who eventually ducked in second and Jumpinthejailhouse (Kevin Cummings) who could not find a seat and was destined for a long evening. Credit List went through quarters of :28.2 and :57.1 while Jumpinthejailhouse drafted in the breeze. As they motored up the backstretch, Jumpinthejailhouse was fading and Golden Kronos (Drew Monti) was winging three-deep around him on his advance towards the leader. Golden Kronos got to within one length of Credit List but that was it as Morrill shook him loose down the lane and won by two lengths in 1:57. 

It was the fifth win of the year for Credit List ($4.60) who is owned by Room4040 LLC Stables and trained by Kevin Reynolds Jr. 

In the $14,000 Open II Handicap, Morrill also left with Night Flyer K from his pylon position start and led at every station as well. After splits of :28.4, :57.4 and 1:27.1, Morrill asked for more and got it as Night Flyer K swelled up in the lane and kicked away by 3-¾ lengths to win in 1:56.2, which was the fastest win time ever by the mare over a half mile track and only one-fifth of a second off the Batavia Downs track record for aged trotting mares that coincidentally is co-owned by the second place finisher C R Blazin Beauty (2019), along with Chelsea’s Chance (2018). 

Fresh in from Yonkers, Night Flyer K ($4.00) was victorious in her first start for her new connections Vogel & Wags Nags and Team Rice Racing. Maria Rice is the winning conditioner. 

Morrill completed his quintet conquest with Osprey Vision (1:59.1, $5.10), Joey Pro (1:58.1, $2.10) and Always A Force (1:54.2, $4.40). Four of Morrill’s five wins came in grand slam fashion in races five, six, seven and eight. 

Morrill is currently in second place for dash wins at the Batavia meet and one might think that Friday’s performance would bring him that much closer to the top. However the current leader is Kevin Cummings and not to be outdone by Morrill, he had four wins of his own during the card so Morrill only closed the gap by one. After Friday’s action Cummings now has 65 wins and Morrill has 53.  

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Sept. 17) with post time at 6 p.m. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

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