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February 3, 2023 - 3:42pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

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Kevin Cummings, who was Batavia Downs’ leading driver of 2022, moved back into first place for dash victories in 2023 after winning six of the 11 races programmed on Thursday afternoon (Feb.2), including winning five in a row from race three to race seven.

Cummings won with Outkast Blue Chip (1:59.1, $6.50), Finkle Is Einhorn (2:00.3, $4.90), Explosive Leggs (2:03, $4.90), JK Lady Star (1:58.4, $5.80), American Delight N (1:58.3, $3.60) and Coco Hall (2:00.4, $2.80).

Cummings now has 21 wins for the meet and moved past Jim Morrill Jr. (20) back into the top spot.

A pair of $9,500 mid-level conditioned races were featured on Thursday’s card with one written for each gait.

In the pace, All About Lynx (Christian Meyers) followed Feelin American (Lee Morris) from the start until the seven-eighths pole where he tipped and brushed to the wire as a one-half length victor in 1:57.1.

After three straight second-place finishes at Batavia, All About Lynx ($18.80) got his first victory of 2023 for owner Dale Wareham and trainer Kris Rickert. It was also the first win of the year at Batavia for the 20-year-old Meyers.

Then in the trot, Buzz (Mike Baumeister) cut the mile while setting fractions of :29, 1:00 and 1:29.3 with no real threat from behind. Down the lane, the pocket-sitting Mystical Sarabi (Dan Yetman) tried to catch him but came up three-quarters of a length short as Buzz won in 1:59.3.

It was the second win in a row for Buzz ($7.70) and owner/trainer Ron Baumeister.

Another young horseman getting his first-ever driving and training win at Batavia Downs was 19-year-old Winter Asher-Stalbaum who led at every station with Lord Willoughby A. After getting the lead past the eighth pole, Lord Willoughby A was on top by as many as nine lengths and cruised home to victory in front by seven in 1:56.2. Asher-Stalbaum also owns Lord Willoughby A ($4.30).

The Jackpot Super Hi-5 in race 11 was finally hit and the sizable $2,582 carryover definitely helped the payout. The combination of 1-9-5-7-4 returned $3,711.10 for a 20-cent wager.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Monday (Feb. 6) at 3 p.m. Free full card past performance programs for the entire card of live racing at Batavia can always be downloaded at the Downs’ website (bataviadownsgaming.com) under the “Live Racing” tab. And all the racing action can be viewed as it happens at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page. 

Photo by Aurora Wzientek.

January 31, 2023 - 12:01am
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

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It was a historic day for the oldest lighted harness track in North America on Monday (Jan. 30) after the bettors came out in force and pumped $340,602 through the windows (from all sources) on 13 races to set a new all-time single card betting mark at Batavia Downs. That total is the highest handle since Western Regional Off Track Betting reopened the Downs in 2002 and surpassed the old total of $339,000, which was realized over 14 races during the 2019 New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions finals.

“I’m very happy with today’s record handle, it was truly a team effort by the staff and horsemen and women here at Batavia Downs. Full, competitive fields and a cozy Monday afternoon off-track wagering slot were instrumental in these results,” said Don Hoover, Director of Live Racing and Race Secretary at Batavia Downs.

One of Monday’s driving factors was the $10,000 guaranteed pool in the Pick-5 race that kicked the day off in race one. There was $21,202 new money added to the $4,741 carryover and that spearheaded a total pool of $61,292 for that race alone. The winning combination of 3-5-3-3-1,2 returned $290.50 for the 50-cent wager.

The competitive races were a direct result of the resumption of the Western New York Trackmaster Pop-Up Series. There were 12 legs in this second round ranging in value from $6,000 to $9,000 each (depending on TM rating) and those races were very well matched.

In the $9,000 Trackmaster 78 for pacers, Faithful Desire (Kevin Cummings) followed the cover of Pocket Watch N (Ray Fisher Jr.) past the half, in pursuit of the front-running Sportskeeper (Jim Morrill Jr.). Faithful Desire remained third until the top of the stretch when Cummings tipped three-wide and then drove hard to the line to win by a neck in 1:56 flat in the fastest race of the day.

Faithful Desire ($8.90) is owned by Eva Saintcross and is trained by Shawn McDonough.

Cummings ended the day as the top reinsman with a total of four driving wins while McDonough would add a second winner later in the card.

In the other $9,000 Trackmaster 78, 33-1 shot Reggiano (Dave McNeight III) moved first-over from fourth after a very quick half set by Delightful Summer (Kevin Cummings) and made a three-wide move at three-quarters before clearing and pulling away to a two length victory in 1:57.

Reggiano ($68.00) is owned and trained by Marc Shuttleworth.

Later in the $9,000 Trackmaster 77 for trotters, Sanchez Rocks (Kyle Cummings) made it two straight in the series after he sat in the garden spot behind Good Boy (Ray Fisher Jr.) until the three-quarters, where he popped the deuce and went on the attack. Sanchez Rocks ran down Good Boy in deep stretch and then trotted clear by 2-1/4 lengths to win in 2:01.

Sanchez Rocks ($2.70) is owned by Marie Houghtaling and is trained by Ron Houghtaling.

There are two more weeks of preliminary action before the finals of the Pop-Up series which will be held on Monday (Feb. 20) and offer purses ranging from $12,000 to $18,000. Consolation races will also be offered and go for $7,000 to $10,000 each. Spots in both will be secured by the top money earners in each Trackmaster category.

Other participants registering multiple wins on the card included drivers Drew Monti and Kyle Cummings who each had a hat trick and trainers Tammy Cummings and Dave Russo who both had two winners.

When live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Thursday (Feb. 2) at 3 p.m. there will be a $2,582 carryover in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta which will be available in race 11.

Free full card past performance forms for the entire card of live racing at Batavia can always be downloaded at the Downs’ website (bataviadownsgaming.com) under the “Live Racing” tab and all the racing action can be viewed as it happens at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page. 

Photo courtesy of Batavia Downs

January 24, 2023 - 2:51pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in harness racing, Sports, Batavia Downs.

Press release:

On Monday (Jan. 23), Batavia Downs began a four-week Pop-Up Racing Series for Western New York-based Trackmaster pacers and trotters with preliminary leg classes going for between $6,000 and $9,000 each (depending on class). Monday saw 10 series races go postward and these events provided some very competitive racing.

The best pacing effort of the day was turned in by Sportskeeper (Jim Morrill Jr.) who went gate to wire in the $9,000 Trackmaster 78 class.

Morrill left from post five with Sportskeeper and grabbed the lead before the :27.4 quarter. Then once he settled on the point, the pair dominated the field. Operating with a gapped advantage, Sportskeeper went :56.2 to the half and 1:25.1 to three-quarters with only Pet Sur-rock (Kyle Cummings) staying remotely close. When he turned for home, Sportskeeper was clear, under a line drive from Morrill and willingly paced away to a 2-1/2 length decision in 1:55.2.

It was the second straight win for Sportskeeper ($3.70) at Batavia and the purse pushed his lifetime earnings over the $600,000 mark, as he now boasts $603,847 in bank. The classy 11-year-old gelded son of Sportswriter-Keeper Flying is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Sammy Smith.

The top trot came in the $9,000 Trackmaster 77 leg where Sanchez Rocks (Kyle Cummings) made a move past the half pay off with an impressive victory.

Pilgrim Caviar (Shawn Gray) led early and tripped the timer in a quick :28.4 before heading into turn two. But at the same time, Good Boy (Ray Fisher Jr.) brushed and crushed to the front and completed the first circuit in :59.4. It was at that point that Sanchez Rocks vacated the pylons from fourth and started trotting up a storm. Sanchez Rocks drew even with Good Boy on the backside, cleared at three-quarters and then extended his lead with every stride from there. By the top of the stretch, he was long gone and trotted home under no urging at all to win by 2-3/4 lengths in 2:00.2.

Sanchez Rocks ($5.80) is owned by Marie Houghtaling and trained by Ron Houghtaling.

The finals for the Pop-Up series races will be held on Monday (Feb. 20) and offer purses ranging from $12,000 to $18,000. Consolation races will also be offered and will go for $7,000 to $10,000 each. Spots in both will be secured by the top money earners in each Trackmaster category.

Jim Morrill Jr. and Keith Kash Jr. both had driving hat tricks on Monday, while trainers Joe Skowyra and Andy Torre scored two wins apiece.

Morrill is now only four wins away from 8,000 career victories, a number he should hit within the next week at Batavia. 

There will be two carryovers and a guaranteed pool when live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Thursday (Jan. 26) at 3 p.m. First, there is a $4,741 carryover in the Pick-5 (which starts in race one), and Batavia Downs has announced that pool will have a $10,000 guarantee through the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program. Complete program pages for those five races will be available on the USTA’s website under the “Handicapping” tab. Then later in the card there is a growing carryover of $1,322 in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta, which will be available in the 11th race.

Free full card past performance forms for the entire card of live racing at Batavia can always be downloaded at the Downs’ website (bataviadownsgaming.com) under the “Live Racing'' tab and all the racing action can be viewed as it happens at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page. 

January 16, 2023 - 10:43pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, Sports, harness racing.

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A pair of $13,000 Open I Handicaps -- one on the pace and one on the trot -- topped a solid and bettable card at Batavia Downs on Monday afternoon (Jan. 16) and those races produced another stout handle as a result.

The pacing feature came first with JM’s Delight putting in another solid effort to remain unbeaten at the Downs in 2023.

Kevin Cummings stayed back fifth off the gate while longshots lunged for the lead. The 21-1 Walk It Talk It (Jim McNeight Jr.) parked the 20-1 Tap Tap Tap (Christian Meyers) while Daylight Rush (Dave McNeight III) got caught in the breeze second over. After hitting the quarter in :27.3 and neither looking to relent, Jim Morrill Jr. tipped Decoy three-deep at the top of the stretch and was followed by JM’s Delight from fifth. However not to be outdone, Larry Stalbaum flashed Rocknroll Runa A four-wide to grab the front past the half and took the group into the second circuit.

Moving by the five-eighths, JM’s Delight was forced to go three-deep around Decoy before drawing alongside Rocknroll Runa A halfway up the backside. With Cummings and Stalbaum both rocking hard in their bikes, JM’s Delight cleared at three-quarters before heading into the turn and opening up a 3-1/2 length advantage at the top of the stretch. From there,  JM’s Delight ran away with the race by 5-1/2 lengths at the line where he stopped the clock in 1:54.4.

Peerless at the meet to this point, JM’s Delight ($3.10) is now two for two for owner Greg Merton and trainer Shawn McDonough.

Cummings and McDonough also teamed up earlier in the card to win with I’m Thinking (2:01.1, $10.60), giving each a double for the day.

The top trot came next and Stalbaum got redemption after receiving a wholesale effort from Big Box Hanover who claimed a narrow victory at the wire.

Big Box Hanover led the field past the eighth pole where Credit List (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Dewey Arnold (Kevin Cummings) blasted two and three deep by the swift :27.4 quarter before they both dropped in around the turn. With Dewey Arnold now commander of fractions, the field hit the half in :57.2 while staying in single file until the five-eighths. That’s where Big Box Hanover came off the pegs from third and started his advance.

It took most of the backstretch, but Big Box Hanover finally caught Dewey Arnold at three-quarters and the two trotters then matched strides around the last turn. As they headed into the stretch, Credit List joined the fray in the passing lane and they battled three across the track to the wire. It took the entire lane but Big Box Hanover toughed it out and was able to get the advantage and win by a quarter length over Credit List in 1:56.4.

It was the first win of the year for Big Box Hanover ($5.40) who is both owned and trained by his driver.

Stalbaum had another stellar outing at Batavia, posting both a training and driving hat trick.

Despite not winning either feature, Morrill still was the leading driver of the day after notching a natural hat trick in races five, six and seven with Comeonover Hanover (2:00, $3.00), Mississippi Rabbit (1:58.2, $3.30) and Sportskeeper (1:56.2, $4.30) and then grabbing win number four with It’s Just Too Much (1:56.1, $5.40) in race nine.

Betting was brisk at Batavia once again on Monday as the 13-race card produced a hefty $234,671 handle, which came in just under the $257,510 realized on opening day.

There is a carryover of $618 in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta which will be available in the 13th race on Thursday (Jan. 19) when live racing resumes at Batavia Downs at 3 p.m. Free full card past performance forms can be downloaded at the Batavia Downs website and all the racing action can be viewed free as it happens at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page. 

Photo by McKenna Dziemian

January 10, 2023 - 1:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

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It was a good day for harness racing at Batavia Downs on Monday. It was cold.  But it was good.

Don Hoover, director of live racing, said that while patrons mostly huddled inside during the races, the turnout for the first night of winter racing at the Downs, in many decades, was strong.

"If you compare this to like Wednesday nights during the season, or regular racing, we have more people here than a typical Wednesday and people seem to be enjoying it," Hoover said.

And they were betting.

"We're only through eight races (at the time of the interview with The Batavian), but the handle looks good," Hoover said. "I'm being optimistic right now because we still have races to go, but our total handle today could surpass any day of last year. It's possible, but it'll definitely be in the top five."

Hoover's prediction proved correct. Total wagers on for the evening were $257,510. That total was over $20,000 higher than any race card of 2022 and the best overall handle at Batavia Downs since 2019 when betting topped $339,000 during the New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions.

The winter meet came about, he said, because the Western New York Harness Horseman's Association came to Batavia Downs and said the Buffalo Raceway said it wasn't going to hold winter meets any longer. 

"They had a raft of cancellations (due to weather) last year," Hoover said.

After some negotiations, Batavia Downs agreed to host two race events each week in January and February. Assuming drivers and trainers can get to the track on a winter's day, Hoover said he thinks Batavia Downs is well-positioned to host the planned events.

"We have a great track crew," Hoover said."We bought some new equipment. We have a different starting gate if needed. So we're hoping that the preventative measures we've taken will overcome the weather unless, you know, if we have blizzard conditions, nothing can overcome a blizzard."

While Batavia has a bit of an advantage over Buffalo in terms of storm impacts, being further from Lake Erie, many of the race participants have to travel from or through the area to get to Batavia.  That could have an impact on races.

"The first time we canceled in November, we were fine here, but the problem was there was a travel ban," Hoover said. "Many of the horsemen come from the Hamburg area, and there would have been no way for them to get here. Kevin Cummings, Jim Morrill, other drivers are coming from that area, so they couldn't get here. So even though we're not Buffalo, and we think the track will be in better shape, because we won't have as extreme weather, we also have to factor in, 'can the participants get here safely?'"

The 15-day session will run through Feb. 27 and operate on a Monday and Thursday schedule. Post time for each race day is set at 3 p.m. 

Hoover is optimistic this winter meet won't be a one-and-done experiment.

"We have to see how it goes and see if it's worthwhile doing it again," Hoover said. "I mean, we're committed for this year, and then we'll, at the end of February, we'll take a look at it and see how it worked out. But if you were going to ask me today how it's working out, I'd say it's working out great."

See also: Stalbaum steals the show in Batavia Downs winter opener

Photos by Howard Owens. 

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Bad to the Bone, winner in the eighth.

January 10, 2023 - 1:16pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, Sports, harness racing.

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Former Batavia Downs driving regular Larry Stalbaum has only been racing at the Downs as a part-time ship-in in recent years as his base of operations has moved away from Western New York. But after spending more time in Genesee County this past year, Stalbaum was a force to be reckoned with on the opening day of the first winter meet in over 20 years as he trained and drove five winners on the 13-race card that produced the highest betting handle since 2019.

“The Bomber” won with Malibu Kid (2:00.2, $2.70), Black Hawk Joe A (1:57, $2.20), Inquiring Mind (2:00.3, $20.00), La Puddie A (1:56.1, $14.20) and American Zest A (1:56.3, $3.30). He also had two thirds from his eight starts giving him a .764 UDR and UTR. Stalbaum was the leading dash driver at Batavia Downs in 2017 when he posted 134 wins that earned $743,422 for his connections.

Downs regular Jim Morrill Jr. also had a big day in the bike winning four races of his own that included a natural hat trick in races eight, nine and 10. The ninth was the co-featured $13,000 Open I trot that he scored with Credit List in a close finish.

Dewey Arnold (Kevin Cummings) went to the front and led the single file field to the half in a swift :56.4 while Morrill sat fifth with Credit List. It wasn’t until the five-eighths that an outer flow formed, led by Share The Wealth (Drew Monti) who was followed by Hobbs (Cory Kreiser). As the top two trotted past three-quarters in 1:26.2, Credit List was locked in fifth and was losing ground. Halfway through the turn, Share The Wealth made a break and at the top of the stretch, Big Box Hanover (Larry Stalbaum) came off the pegs for the drive. This provided Credit List a clear path to the wire that he took to a neck victory in 1:56.4.

It was the fourth win in the last five starts (going back to last year) for Credit List ($11.80), his owner Room4040 LLC Stables and trainer Kevin Reynolds Jr.

Morrill added three seconds and two thirds to his 13 drive tally to end the day with a .513 UDR.

The featured $13,000 Open I pace was won by Monticello Raceway shipper JM’s Delight, who was driven to an eye-popping victory by the Downs 2022 driver of the meet, Kevin Cummings.

Cummings put JM’s Delight right on the point and never looked back from there. After pacing fractions of :27.3 and :57 to the half, JM’s Delight had opened up a two length advantage at that station. But TJ’s Indy Pacer (Drew Monti) pulled first-over into turn three, drew alongside the leader up the backside and forced a slick :27.3 thrid panel. But under heavy urging from Cummings, JM’s Delight turned back that challenge and again opened up by 1-1/2 lengths on the field at the top of the stretch. Heading down the lane, JM’s Delight just kept on going and stretched out to a 2-3/4 length victory in 1:52.4.

JM’s Delight is owned by Greg Merton and trained by Shawn McDonough.

Cummings ended the day with a total of three winners.

The bettors seemed to like the opening day card and early 3 p.m. post as they pumped $257,510 through the windows. That total was over $20,000 higher than any race card of 2022 and the best overall handle at Batavia Downs since 2019, when punters wagered over $339,000 during the New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions. The $10,733 carryover and $17,500 guaranteed pool for the “must-pay” Jackpot Super Hi-5 wager in race 13 drew $41,724 in new money and pushed that race’s total handle to $67,058. The 4-1-5-3-2 combination returned $97.70 for the 20-cent wager.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Thursday (Jan. 12) with post time at 3 p.m. Free full card past performance forms can be downloaded at the Batavia downs website and all the racing action can be viewed live at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page.

Photo courtesy Batavia Downs.

January 6, 2023 - 11:32pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, Sports, harness racing.

It has been decades since Batavia Downs hosted a winter race meet at the oldest lighted harness track in North America, but that all changes on Monday when the 2023 harness racing season gets underway in Western New York. The 15-day session will run through Monday (Feb. 27) and operate on a Monday-Thursday schedule. Post time for each race day is set at 3 p.m. 

All the Downs favorite local drivers and trainers will be back in action along with a host of ship-in talent, who already have a strong presence on day one. The wagering menu remains the same and will feature (on a 13-race card) five Doubles, 13 Exactas, 13 Trifectas, 12 Superfectas, two Pick-3s, two Pick-4, one Pick-5 and one Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta. 

“I am happy to have Batavia Downs host a live winter racing meet for the first time in over 20 years. And I was also very pleased with the trainer’s response to the first draw, with 127 horses entered for our opening day program. That card will feature two divisions of Open pacers and two divisions of Open trotters,” said Don Hoover, General Manager and Race Secretary at Batavia Downs. 

“The 13th and final race of the day is a very competitive upper-level conditioned trot featuring a nine-horse field. It also has a $17,500 guaranteed pool in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta with a 20-cent minimum wager.”

That Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta had a carryover of $10,733 going into the final night of the 2022 season and was required to be paid out as it was the last card of the year. But when racing was canceled due to weather prior to that race, the carryover was moved to opening night of 2023 (Monday, January 9) and will again be offered as a "must pay". But the pool has also been guaranteed at $17,500 through the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, a free program page for that race can be downloaded at the USTA website under the “Handicapping” tab. 

Full card past performance forms for all live race nights at Batavia Downs can always be downloaded for free from the track’s website at bataviadownsgaming.com under “Live Racing”. You can also stream all the live action as it happens for free on the Batavia Downs YouTube page.

December 28, 2022 - 6:01pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

The 2022 racing season came to a close at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 17) and although some declines in handle were realized, the track performed better than many national trends.

The track recorded its fourth-highest total on-track handle for Batavia live racing since Western Regional OTB reopened the track in 2002, finishing only $33,599 behind the 2021 totals while racing the same number of days (55). However, the total handle (from all sources) for Batavia live racing was down 6.4% from last year, and that may have been a direct result of more competition for the expendable gaming dollar.

Don Hoover, General Manager of Live Racing and Race Secretary at Batavia Downs said, “Keeping these numbers in context, total wagering on harness racing in the United States this year is down 8.4% over 2021, which puts Batavia ahead of the national average. The introduction of online sports wagering in New York State in January of 2022 had a definite impact on the betting dollar at every race track and the months of road work on the new Park Road extension put a definite crimp on our in-house business during our prime summer dates.”

The good news was that local horsemen and women were beneficiaries of some of the best purses in the state during the meet, and those numbers drew more horses that stiffened the competition on the track.

Total purses (including stakes) at Batavia Downs were up 31% from 2021. Overnight purses alone increased by 29%, due in part to holding 88 more races this year. That latter increase was distributed to local racing participants and the agricultural infrastructure in the area will benefit directly from that money as it goes back into the local economies of Western New York and the Southern Tier, supporting the farmers, blacksmiths, veterinarians and others businesses that directly service the racing industry.

Bigger purses brought more horses and that added competition produced better payouts. Batavia Downs registered 45.8% winning favorites and that was the lowest among competing tracks at Buffalo, Monticello, Northfield, Saratoga and Yonkers who averaged between 46.8% and 48.3%.

“In sum, despite slight declines in overall wagering, I am happy with the robust growth shown in racing, with increases in average field size, overnight purses distributed, and the total number of horses competing at Batavia Downs in 2022,” said Hoover.  

Probably the single greatest racing moment of the meet was when American Dealer N (Joe Bongiorno) scored a 2-1/2 length victory in the 17th edition of the $75,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Invitational Pace which was held on Friday (Aug. 26) at Batavia Downs, setting a new all-time track record of 1:50.2. The lightning-fast speed strip also produced two other track records along with a list of new lifetime marks for competing horses.  

Local driving favorite Kevin Cummings captured the dash title at the recently concluded session by winning 150 races, 14 more than the second place Jim Morrill Jr. However, Morrill and Cummings both made history by being the first drivers to ever surpass $1 million in earnings in the history of Batavia Downs (Morrill-$1,115,951, Cummings-$1,032,364). Shawn McDonough won his first-ever training title at the Downs finishing with 52 wins, only two more then the second place Jennifer Giuliani (50).

The completion of the 2022 meet does not mean that Batavia Downs will be dark for long. For the first time in over 20 years, winter racing will be back and begin at the Genesee County oval on Monday (Jan. 9) and continue through Monday (Feb. 27). The eight-week meet will be conducted on a Monday-Thursday schedule with post-time at 3 p.m. for all race days. Opening day will feature a $17,500 guaranteed pool that also has a mandatory payout on the Jackpot Super Hi-5 in the day’s last race. 

Tom Bojarski is the publicist for Batavia Downs.

December 16, 2022 - 1:51pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has announced the horses who will be honored for their performances at Batavia Downs during the 2022 racing season. These horses who have competed at the Downs all season, will each be honored with a trophy in the winner’s circle between races during “The Day of Distinction” that will be held on Saturday, December 17.  Post time for the first race is 3 p.m.

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Pacer of the Meet: Stranger Things (Western Terror-Southwind Prairie) 18-8-3-2 - $71,300 - 1:53.2 at Batavia Downs
Owner: Virginia Schoeffel, Kathy Schoeffel and James Reuther
Trainer: Angelo Nappo

Stranger Things was the winningest horse of the meet and top money earner-- regardless of age, gait or gender --- amassing a total of eight victories and $71,300 in purses while facing Open class company each week. Overall in 2022, Stranger Things has had 31 starts with 12 wins, six seconds and two thirds with $103,945 in earnings and put an exclamation mark on his career year with a new lifetime mark of 1:53.2 at Batavia on October 22.  

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Trotter of the Meet: C R Blazin Beauty (Crazed-Melrose Abbey) 18-6-2-2 - $51,880 - 1:57 at Batavia Downs
Owner: Marissa Russo
Trainer: David Russo

CR Blazin Beauty is another horse boasting a career year and who was also the winningest trotter of the meet, scoring six wins including four in the Open and this was no small task being a mare racing against the boys every week. The 8-year-old also scored a landmark win at Batavia on December 3 when she achieved the 50th victory of her career. For the year, CR Blazin Beauty has 37 starts with 10 wins, nine seconds and four thirds with $105,384 in the bank.

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Mare of the Meet: Saulsbrook Olympia (Big Jim-Racino Star) 16-5-2-2 - $50,530 - 1:53.4 at Batavia Downs
Owner: William McNeil and Edward Gorc
Trainer: Jennifer Giuliani

For the first year competing as an aged mare, Saulsbrook Olympia excelled in her new classification. The 4-year-old took an impressive 1:50.3 lifetime mark at Woodbine Mohawk Park prior to arriving at Batavia. Since the start of the Batavia meet, Saulsbrook Olympia garnered five wins and the highest earnings by a pacing mare ($50,530) while facing the best resident and best ship-in talent from all over the state. Her overall numbers for 2022 show 33 starts, 10 wins, two seconds and six thirds with $85,226 in purses earned.

Please note that post time for Saturday was moved to 3 p.m. to avoid conflict with the flexed Buffalo Bills versus Miami Dolphins game later that night. The clubhouse will open their doors at 2:30 p.m. and will offer a prime rib and shrimp buffet that will be served from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Railbar will be open from 2:30 p.m. until the end of the last race, which will be approximately 7 p.m., however it will not remain open for the Bills game.

There may be an early Christmas present for some lucky player at Batavia Saturday. A Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta carryover that has been growing for weeks has reached $10,733.58 and with the meet ending, a mandatory payout will happen Saturday. So Batavia Downs has guaranteed the pool at $15,000 through the United States Trotting Association Strategic Wagering Program for that pentafecta wager in race 13. 
Free program pages are available on the USTA website for that race under the “Handicapping” tab and free full past performance race programs for the entire card can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab. If you can’t attend the races live, you can still watch all the action on the Batavia Downs YouTube channel.

December 15, 2022 - 1:33pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

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There were six mares in the $14,000 Distaff Open I Handicap at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Dec. 14) but it turned into a match race that saw Shallow out-duel Demeter N to claim her 12th win of the year. 

Jim Morrill Jr. put Shallow on the lead but Larry Stalbaum had Demeter N revved up in the breeze and they drew alongside the leader at the quarter in :28.4 and from there, the pair that had been splitting starts between Saratoga and Batavia got into it. With no hole to be had and the front unattainable, Demeter N continued to dig on the rim past the half in :57.3, around turn three and then up the backstretch to three-quarters in 1:27.2. 

Shallow was under urging from Morrill and Stalbaum was rocking in Demeter N’s bike as they rounded the last bend only one-half length apart. Heading into the lane there was no quit in Demeter N, who continued to gain ground on Shallow who started to look vulnerable. As the gap shortened along with the stretch, it appeared Demeter N could reach. But Shallow had enough left to close out the deal and won by a neck in 1:57 in a real thriller. 

With the win, Shallow ($3.40) eclipsed the century mark in earnings, now boasting $104,236 for owner Room4040 LLC Stables and trainer Andy Gardiner. 

In the $10,000 conditioned event for fillies and mares, Candy’s Desire (Kyle Cummings) caught a perfect trip behind Saulsbrook Olympia (Dave McNeight III) into the stretch and then shook loose to catch Lyons Anita (Kevin Cummings) at the light to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:57. Owned by her driver Kyle Cumming along with Alyssa Cummings, the Tammy Cummings trained Candy’s Desire returned $6.40. 

Kevin Cummings and Jim Morrill Jr. each had driving hat tricks as trainer Shawn McDonough also won three on the conditioning side.

Batavia Downs wraps up the 2022 meet on Saturday (Dec. 17) at 3 p.m. and there is another carryover available. The Jackpot Hi-5 Pentafecta in the 13th race will start with $10,733 in the pool and as it is the last night of racing for 2022, there will be a force out and the pool has been guaranteed at $15,000 through the USTA Strategic Wagering Program.

The clubhouse will open the doors at 2:30 p.m. and will offer a prime rib and shrimp buffet that will be served from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Railbar will be open at 2:30 p.m. until the end of the last race, which will be approximately 7 p.m., however it will not remain open for the Bills game.

The final day of racing will also host the “Day of Distinction” year-end awards, which will be presented by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association and Batavia Downs to honor all the human and equine stars of the 2022 meeting.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery.

December 15, 2022 - 1:29pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, Sports, harness racing.

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With the 2022 meet coming to a close, the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association and Batavia Downs will honor the top performing driver and trainer in the winner’s circle on closing day, Saturday, December 17. However, this year is a little different because accolades will be going to two drivers for their achievements, where the training title has yet to be decided.

After a ferocious meet-long “two-horse race" between Kevin Cummings and Jim Morrill Jr. that saw the third-place driver end up over 75 wins behind both, the dash driving title and trophy goes to Kevin Cummings, who at the end of Wednesday night’s card had 149 wins to Morrill’s 136.

To date, Cummings’ numbers for the meet show 526 starts with 146 wins, 104 seconds and 72 thirds with earnings of $1,024,864 and a UDR. of .439. Cummings has won the dash title at Batavia four times before and finished second to Morrill last year.

Cummings' body of work for all of 2022 saw him start 943 times with 217 wins, 175 seconds and 129 thirds with $1,670,595 in earnings and a UDR of .379. Those overall numbers reflect his second-highest one-year earnings total, his most wins since 2015 and his highest UDR since 2003.

Morrill’s numbers are just as gaudy. At Batavia, he had 455 starts with 136 wins, 100 seconds and 62 thirds with $1,115,951 in purses and a UDR of .466. Morrill has won this title the last two years and four times overall.

Altogether this year, Morrill had 916 starts with 246 wins, 199 seconds and 126 thirds with $2,412,882 in earnings and a UDR of .435. That UDR rating has him sitting in second place among all drivers in North America for percentage performance.

Another defining accomplishment that Cummings and Morrill had in common this year is that they both went over the $1 million mark in earnings at Batavia Downs and that’s the first time that any driver has surpassed that milestone since the track opened in 1940. As a result, a special plaque presentation commemorating that historic event will be made to both.

The training title is still up for grabs between Jennifer Giuliani and Shawn McDonough and will go down to the final night of action.  After Wednesday’s card McDonough has 52 wins and Giuliani has 50. And both have a busy day on Saturday with Giuliani entering seven horses and McDonough starting five, so the winner will be determined at some point during that card.

So far, McDonough’s Batavia tally shows 271 starts with 52 wins, 39 seconds and 40 thirds that banked $383,444 and provided him a UTR of .321. His 2022 overall totals for 2022 showed 108 wins and $819,482 earned, both of which were career highs for McDonough by a wide margin. McDonough won the driving title at Batavia in 2013 but has never won a training title, although he did finish second at Batavia in 2020.

To this point in the meet Giuliani has 247 starts with 50 wins, 49 seconds and 30 thirds with earnings of $416,298 and a UTR of .353. For the year she has 86 wins and $701,122 in purses, both of which are career highs for the fourth-year conditioner. Giuliani won her first training title at Batavia last year.

Please note that post time for Saturday was moved to 3 p.m. to avoid conflict with the flexed Buffalo Bills versus Miami Dolphins game later that night.

There may be an early Christmas present for some lucky player at Batavia Saturday. A Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta carryover that has been growing for weeks has reached $10,733.58 and with the meet ending, a mandatory payout will happen Saturday. So Batavia Downs has guaranteed the pool at $15,000 through the United States Trotting Association Strategic Wagering Program for that pentafecta wager in race 13.

Free program pages will be available on the USTA website for that race and free full past performance race programs for the entire card can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab. If you can’t attend the races live, you can still watch all the action on the Batavia Downs YouTube channel.

The clubhouse will open their doors at 2:30 p.m. and will offer a prime rib and shrimp buffet that will be served from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Railbar will be open from 2:30 p.m. until the end of the last race, which will be approximately 7 p.m., however it will not remain open for the Bills game.

Photos by Wendy Lowery. Top photo, Kevin Cummings. Bottom photo, Jim Morrill.

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December 15, 2022 - 1:19pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Closing day at Batavia Downs is this Saturday (Dec. 17) and an early Christmas present may be waiting there for some lucky player. A Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta carryover that has been growing for weeks has reached $10,733.58 and with the meet coming to a close, a mandatory payout will happen Saturday. So Batavia Downs will be offering a guaranteed $15,000 pool through the United States Trotting Association Strategic Wagering Program for that pentafecta wager in race 13. 

Please note that post time for Saturday was moved to 3 p.m. to avoid conflict with the flexed Buffalo Bills versus Miami Dolphins game later that night.  

Free program pages will be available on the USTA website for that race and free full past performance race programs for the entire card can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab. If you can’t attend the races live, you can still watch all the action on the Batavia Downs YouTube channel.

The clubhouse will open its doors at 2:30 p.m. and will offer a prime rib and shrimp buffet that will be served from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Railbar will be open at 2:30 p.m. until the end of the last race, which will be approximately 7 p.m. however it will not remain open for the Bills game.

The final day of racing will also host the “Day of Distinction” year-end awards, which will be presented by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association and Batavia Downs to honor all the human and equine stars of the 2022 meeting.

December 14, 2022 - 3:11pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association and Batavia Downs will honor three 14-year-old veteran race horses who will officially retire on January 1, 2023. These horses have competed at the Downs this season and will be presented with a trophy commemorating their outstanding careers in the winner’s circle between races during “The Day of Distinction” that will be held on Saturday, December 17.  Post time for the first race is 3 p.m.

Two pacers and one trotter have finished their careers at Batavia and will hang up their harness for the final time.

Freaky Flyer (Dontgetinmyway-The Nanny) 458-63-68-66 - 1:53.2 - $374,773

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Although Freaky Flyer has been a fixture at Batavia Downs for the last nine years, he has raced his heart out at tracks from New York to Florida ever since his 2-year-old campaign without ever missing a year of action. “The Freak” as he is known, averaged 35 starts per year his entire career and had his best season since 2018 this year, winning a total of 10 races, four of which were at Batavia. After registering his fourth highest annual earnings total in 2022 ($40,418), he has left the building and entered his “forever home” with his new owners in Avon, New York where he’s being spoiled with his favorite treat: bananas. Trainer Rose Russo owned and raced Freaky Flyer prior to his retirement.

Bettor’s Reward (Bettors Delight-Romancing The Sea) 267-43-30-32 - 1:51.3 - $453,380

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Bettor’s Reward made his very first pari-mutuel start at Batavia Downs on September 28, 2010 and got his first lifetime pari-mutuel victory there two weeks later, winning a maiden race in 2:03.1. After having success in the New York Sire Stakes at three, Bettor’s Reward went on to become a hard-knocking Open class aged pacer in Canada and on the New York/New Jersey circuit. For two years he faced the likes of Golden Receiver, Escape The News, Up The Credit, Statesman N, Hypnotic Blue Chip, Aracache Hanover and Western Shore. Unfortunately he suffered from soundness issues from 2014 to 2018 and only made 14 starts during that time. But he came back strong in 2019 and raced 147 starts his final four years and closed out his career with six wins in 2022, his last coming at Batavia on October 8. Bettor’s Reward is owned by Fortunate One LLC.

Parkhill Horton (Oaklea Julian-Guardian Image) 321-36-40-54 - 1:54.2 - $198,454

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He was never a star or stakes winner, but Parkhill Horton came to work every week for 13 years and earned his way to a well deserved retirement. He’s a horse that liked to leave and often found himself on the front, trotting his best with the lead. His lifetime mark of 1:54.2 was taken at Vernon Downs in 2016, but his win in 1:58 at Batavia this year was his fastest since 2017. And his $27,508 in earnings this year was also his second best one year bank deposit of his life. His final start at Batavia will be on Wednesday (Dec. 14). Parkhill Horton is owned and trained by Rachelle Mungillo. 

Post Time for the final card of racing on Saturday (Dec.17) was moved from 6 p.m. to 3 p.m. to accommodate fans of both harness racing and the Buffalo Bills after the game between them and the Miami Dolphins was flexed to Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. The clubhouse will open their doors at 2:30 p.m. and will offer a prime rib and shrimp buffet that will be served from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Railbar will be open from 2:30 p.m. until the end of the last race, which will be approximately 7 p.m., however it will not remain open for the Bills game. 

December 13, 2022 - 6:41pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

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Ron Beback Jr. will be presented with the Good Samaritan Award by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association and Batavia Downs for his heroic actions to save an overturned kayaker from drowning this past summer. The ceremony will take place in the winner’s circle between races during “The Day of Distinction” that will be held on Saturday, December 17.  Post time for the first race is 3 p.m.

The incident occurred when Beback was out fishing on August 31 at Horseshoe Lake at the De Witt Recreation area in Batavia, New York. As he was taking his fishing gear to the water, he was approached by a man who was yelling, “She fell out of the kayak!” The man’s friend was an older woman who was unfamiliar with the currents in the lake on a windy day, tipped over and was unable to get back upright.

Beback dashed to his truck to get his kayak, paddled out to the middle of the lake and was able to get the woman back in her kayak before dragging her to the center island where they waited for authorities to come in a boat and get her back to shore. The event was well documented in the local news and Beback was greeted as a hero when he arrived to race at Batavia Downs that night.

Ever humble, Beback didn’t want any notoriety for his heroics and simply said in an interview, “I’m just glad I ended up there that day and was able to help.”

Beback’s actions were representative of the caring and helpful nature harness racing horsemen and women are known for and as such, not only helped bring someone in dire straits to safety, but also put the sport in a very positive light nationally. And UNY-USHWA and Batavia Downs are pleased to present him with this award.

Post Time for the final card of racing on Saturday (Dec.17) was moved from 6 p.m. to 3 p.m. to accommodate fans of both harness racing and the Buffalo Bills after the game between them and the Miami Dolphins was flexed to Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. The clubhouse will open their doors at 2:30 p.m. and will offer a prime rib and shrimp buffet that will be served from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Railbar will be open from 2:30 p.m. until the end of the last race, which will be approximately 7 p.m., however it will not remain open for the Bills game.

December 11, 2022 - 4:23pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

A clear night and a very fast racing surface produced outstanding miles and some huge payoffs at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Dec. 10) and those performances were led by CR Blazin Beauty (Kevin Cummings) who tracked fast fractions early and went from worst to first while capturing the $14,000 Open I Handicap trotting co-feature at 25-1 in a real thriller. 

Buzz (Mike Baumeister) took the field to the quarter in :28.2 while Wilberforce (Christian Myers) sat outside of Captain Krupnick (Jim McNeight Jr.) as the pair chased the leader to the half in :57.4. Just past that station the field was four in and four out, with CR Blazin Beauty still sitting last on the pylons. 

As Wilberforce faded up the backstretch, Con Air Hall (Dave McNeight III) moved three-wide into contention heading through the last turn while Cummings found room at the pegs and advanced CR Blazin Beauty into fifth by the head of the stretch. As they barreled into the straight, Con Air Hall was even with Sass, CR Blazin Beauty found the middle of the track and continued to gain ground while Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) came out of nowhere and was flying home four wide. In deep stretch four trotters fanned even across the track, but CR Blazin Beauty broke through from the rest and grabbed a neck advantage at the light and won in 1:58. 

It was the tenth win of the year and 51st lifetime for CR Blazin Beauty, ($52.50) and it pushed her bankroll to $105,384 this year for owner Marissa Russo. David Russo trains the winner. 

Cummings' win with CR Blazin Beauty was only one of five he scored on the card. He also visited the Purple Haze winners enclosure with American General (1:57.4, $16.80), Thor De Vie (1:55.4, $6.80), Gemini Eddie (1:58, $3.00) and Paprike Blue Chip (1:56.3, $7.20). Cummings is now 13 wins ahead of Jim Morrill Jr. for the dash driving title for this meet with only two days of racing left. 

The $14,000 Open I Handicap pace wasn’t nearly as action-packed as the trot, but Stranger Things (Jim Morrill Jr.) put on quite a show of his own en route to his 12th win of 2022.

After the heavy post-time favorite The Longest Yard (Kevin Cummings) made a break in the first turn, Morrill tucked second with with Stranger Things behind Pocket Watch N (Ray Fisher Jr.) but once settled, came back out and took the lead at the quarter in :28 and from there never looked back. He got to the half in :57.4 and three-quarters in 1:26.4 with a comfortable 1-½ length lead and no one close enough to challenge. By the time he hit the top of the stretch he extended that gap to five lengths and just cruised home to win in 1:55.2 while Morrill sat chilly. 

It was the second win in a row for Stranger Things ($7.60) who also cracked the “hundred-grand” mark, now boasting $103,945 in earnings for owners Virginia Schoeffel, Kathy Schoeffel and James Reuther. It was one of two winners for conditioner Angelo Nappo on Saturday. 
With only two days left in the meet, live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Dec. 14) at 6 p.m. and there is another carryover available. The Jackpot Hi-5 Pentafecta in the 11th race will start with $8,306 in the pool. 

Also please note that post time for the final night of racing, Saturday, Dec. 17, has been changed from 6 p.m. to 3 p.m. This was done after the National Football League “flexed” the Week 15 game between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins to 8:15 p.m. that same day.

The clubhouse will open the doors at 2:30 p.m. and will offer a prime rib and shrimp buffet that will be served from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Railbar will be open at 2:30 p.m. until the end of the last race, which will be approximately 7 p.m., however it will not remain open for the Bills game.

The final day of racing will also host the “Night of Distinction” year-end awards, which will be presented by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association and Batavia Downs to honor all the human and equine stars of the 2022 meeting.

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 can watch all the races live on the Batavia Downs YouTube channel.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery.

December 7, 2022 - 11:54pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

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Press release:

New Zealand ex-pat Demeter N made her second start at Batavia Downs a winning one after upsetting in the $14,000 Open I Handicap for pacing fillies and mares on Wednesday night (Dec. 7). 

Demeter N (Larry Stalbaum) got away last as Shallow (Ray Fisher Jr.) fought hard off the gate with So Amazing (Kevin Cummings) before claiming the lead at the quarter in :28.1. But as soon as she cleared, Cummings came right back with So Amazing to retake and led the field from there. As the group passed three-eighths, Demeter N was out and rolling with Stalbaum, bouncing in the bike with every stride. 

Demeter N drew near So Amazing at three-quarters, but So Amazing responded and held Demeter N at bay around the final turn. When they straightened out for home, Cummings and Stalbaum were both rocking and knocking as the mares paced dead even all the way down the lane. Three pylons from the line, Demeter N got a slight advantage and ended up winning by a one-quarter length in 1:56.3. 

Demeter N ($17.40) reached $131,499 in earnings this year on the strength of her seven wins for owner Shark Racing and trainer Larry Stalbaum. 

In the secondary featured $10,000 conditioned distaff pace, Faithful Desire (Jim Morrill Jr.) scored her third consecutive victory in a gate-to-wire romp timed in 1:56.1. Faithful Desire returned $2.90 for owner Eva Saintcross and trainer Shawn McDonough. 

The Downs leading dash driver Kevin Cummings continued to add to his numbers after he won five more races on Wednesday. He scored with Amora Beach (1:57.3, $2.60), Sudden Change N (1:59, $7.00), Lyons Anita (1:55.4, $5.40), Delightful Summer (1:57, $5.30) and Ellieonthemove (1:58, $7.90). Cummings extended the gap between himself and second-place Jim Morrill Jr. to nine wins (141-132) as Morrill had a hat trick himself this night. 

McDonough also had a big outing at the track as he scored a training grand slam on the card. McDonough trainees getting their pictures taken included the aforementioned Faithful Desire, Amora Beach and Delightful Summer, along with Lucky Town (1:57, $6.30). McDonough also added one catch-driving win behind Bacardi (1:59.2, $23.00) to give him five total wins during the night. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 10) at 6 p.m., and there is another carryover available. The Jackpot Hi-5 Pentafecta in the 13th race will start with $7,351 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

December 7, 2022 - 6:28pm
posted by Press Release in buffalo bills, Batavia Downs, Sports, harness racing.

Press release:

The management of Batavia Downs announced today that post time for the final card of racing for 2022 scheduled for Saturday (Dec. 17) has been changed from 6 p.m. to 3 p.m. This was done after the week 15 game between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins was flexed to 8:15 p.m. by the National Football League.

Don Hoover, General Manager of Live Racing and Race Secretary at Batavia Downs, said: “After the NFL announced that the Bills/Dolphins game had been flexed to Saturday night, it was decided to move our post time to 3 p.m. to accommodate the fans of both live harness racing and the Buffalo Bills.”

With that change in place, several other times have changed as well.

Horsemen should be advised that the track will close for training at noon on Dec. 17 to prepare it for the night’s races.

The clubhouse will open its doors at 2:30 p.m. and will offer a prime rib and shrimp buffet that will be served from 3:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Railbar will be open from 2:30 p.m. until the end of the last race, which will be approximately 7:00 p.m. However it will not remain open for the Bills Game.

The final day of racing will also host the “Night of Distinction” year-end awards, which will be presented by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association and Batavia Downs to honor all the human and equine stars of the 2022 meeting. 

December 4, 2022 - 5:01pm
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, Sports, harness racing.

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Kevin Cummings has been Batavia Downs leading dash driver for most of the meet and his piloting prowess was on full display Saturday night (Dec. 3) when he won seven of the 13 races on the program, including both co-featured races. 

In the $14,000 Open I trot Cummings sat second with CR Blazin Beauty behind Captain Krupnik (Jim Morrill Jr.) from the start until the top of the stretch as Con Air Hall (Dave McNeight III) applied pressure to the leader for the last half of the mile. Then in the straight, CR Blazin Beauty shook loose and took the lead before holding off a late rush from Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) at the wire to win by one-quarter length in 1:58.1.

It was the 50th career win for CR Blazin Beauty ($8.40) who is owned by Marissa Russo and trained by Dave Russo. 

The following race was the $14,000 Open I Handicap pace and Cummings went the distance with Stranger Things. 

It took a little effort to get there, but after being parked to the quarter in :27.4, Stranger Things grabbed the lead from Mississippi Rabbit (Jim Morrill Jr.) and settled in for the ride. He hit the half in :57.2 and passed three-quarters in 1:25.4 on top by 2-½ lengths. Then coming into the stretch, Mississippi Rabbit came off the pegs and roared towards the leader. He made up ground but not enough as Stranger Things hung tough and won by a length in 1:55. 

Stranger Things ($8.80) collected his 11th win of the year for owners Virginia Schoeffel, Kathy Schoeffel and James Reuther. Angelo Nappo trains the winner. 

Cummings completed his lucky seven with wins behind Raylen Givens (1:59.3, $2.90), Cellular (2:01.4, $5.70), Thor De Vie (1:59, $6.20), The Longest Yard (1:54.1, $2.20) and Beachboydesire (1:58.2, $3.70). He also had two seconds and a third from his 13 drives that gave him a sparkling .650 UDR for the night.

Cummings also put some space between himself and Jim Morrill Jr. who sat second behind him in the standings at the start of the night by only two wins. Now Cummings has extended his lead to seven over Morrill (136 to 129) who had two wins of his own on Saturday. 

Trainer Jim Rothfuss scored a double to lead all conditioners for the night. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Dec. 7) at 6 p.m. and there is another carryover available. The Jackpot Hi-5 Pentafecta in the 13th race will start with $6,473 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.

November 27, 2022 - 3:59pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, Sports.

Press release:

A pair of $14,000 Open I Handicap races were up for grabs on Saturday night (Nov. 26) at Batavia Downs and Jim Morrill Jr. was more than happy to take the top prize in each after he airmailed both of his mounts to impressive victories. 

In the trotting feature, Morrill launched Credit List from post eight and battled on the outside with Jumpinthejailhouse (Kevin Cummings) to the quarter in :28.3 before crossing over to the pylons at the three-eighths pole. Morrill then slowed the tempo to three-quarters forcing Captain Krupnik (Drew Monti) to come first over from third and get to within a length of the leader heading into the last turn. Credit List and Captain Krupnik broke away from the field and faced off heading for home. Captain Krupnik closed with every stride but couldn’t get to Credit List, who hung on to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:58.4.

It was the third straight win for Credit List ($8.00) and eighth of the year, pushing his earnings to $80,471 in 2022 for Room4040 LLC Stable and trainer Kevin Reynolds Jr. 

Then in the next race, Morrill shooed home Prairie Panther in the top pacing event after being parked out every step of the mile. Prairie Panther made his way to second on the outside of Brave World (Denny Bucceri) at the :28 quarter but Brave World would not let Prairie Panther take the front. The two 8-year-old geldings then went toe-to-toe to the half in :57 and three-quarters in 1:25.3 before heading into the last turn, still in the heat of battle.

Stranger Things (Kevin Cummings) was now on Prairie Panther’s back and he was poised to pounce in the lane. When they hit the top of the stretch, Prairie Panther put away Brave World but Stranger Things was now outside of him and coming hard. But somehow, some way, Prairie Panther dug deep and had something left in the tank to hold off Stranger Things at the line to win by a neck in 1:55.3. 

It was the 15th win of the year and 62nd of his career for Prairie Panther ($2.50) who is owned by his trainer Michael Deters, in partnership with Joel Warner.

Morrill ended the night with three wins.  

Driver Drew Monti had a huge night at Batavia on Saturday, winning five races during the card including scoring a natural hat trick in races 11, 12 and 13. He won with Make Some Waves (1:56, $7.40), A Game Changer (1:56.2, $22.40), Johnny Chip (1:56.2, $23.80), Ey Cowboy (1:57.1, $5.00) and Windemere Ryan (1:57.4, $4.10). He also had two seconds and two thirds that when combined, gave him a .521 UDR for the evening. Three of Monti’s five wins (Make Some Waves, Ey Cowboy and Windemere Ryan) were trained by Joe Skowyra. 

Two other horsemen who teamed up for a natural hat trick were driver Kevin Cummings and trainer Sammy Smith who combined to win the third, fourth and fifth races with Speed It (1:59, $6.10), Gemini Eddie (2:00.1, $19.40) and The Longest Yard (1:54.3, $2.40).

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Nov. 30) at 6 p.m. and there is another carryover available. The Jackpot Hi-5 Pentafecta in the 13th race will start with $5,262 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.

November 19, 2022 - 2:46pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in harness racing, Batavia Downs, Sports.

Western New York has been pummeled by lake-effect snow for the past two days and extreme winter conditions are expected to continue through Sunday. With over six feet of snow already accumulated in some areas, an array of driving bans and road closures in place along with white-out conditions throughout the area, travel has been, in some cases, next to impossible.

As a result of the current weather combined with the forecast for later today, Batavia Downs has canceled live racing for Saturday night (Nov. 19) out of an abundance of caution for the safety of all our participating horsemen and women and their horses, our loyal trackside customers and the track's employees who make the live card happen.

Live racing will resume at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Nov. 23) at 6 p.m. 

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