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February 21, 2022 - 10:32am
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

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Press release:

Todd Haight, the long-time general manager and director of live racing at Batavia Downs, has announced that he will retire from that position at Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation effective March 15.

"I would like to thank WROTB Chairman of the Board Richard Bianchi and all the directors for their support over the past 20 years. I would also like to thank my dedicated co-workers who proved to be a great support system for the live racing department, and the members of the Western New York Harness Horseman's Association that I’ve worked in conjunction with for many years," said Haight.

Haight started at WROTB in 1998 as an independent contractor and later became an employee when the historic racetrack re-opened in 2002.

He first co-hosted a nightly live broadcast of races on cable TV with track announcer John Bothe. Then in 2005, he joined the corporation's marketing department, and that allowed him to reinstate all the great promotions that occurred at Batavia before WROTB purchased the Downs.

"I was able to bring back the popular driver's bike race on Labor Day and the old-fashioned hot dog days and our fans responded in big numbers once we did. Another popular promotion we started and grew was the wiener dog races and it’s nice to see so many other race tracks are doing them now," said Haight. 

“I was also able to hit the streets to sell advertising and more importantly, develop great relationships throughout the community. We used those relationships to bring businesses -- many of them for the first time -- to the Downs for a night at the races. Working with Group Sales Manager Mary Bucceri, we routinely sold out the clubhouse. Those groups affected the corporation's bottom line with sales surpassing one million dollars."

Haight explained his most valuable experience during his tenure was to work side-by-side with then WROTB vice-president and general manager of live racing, Mike Kane. He said that although he already knew the racing side of the business, Kane's mentoring on the management aspect made all the difference and was a roadmap to success for him.

In 2011 when the WROTB board of directors promoted Kane to President, Haight was promoted to general manager and he remained in that position through his retirement. 

The racing product grew under Haight's watch and in 2013 betting rose 24%. Incremental year-over-year increases continued until 2019 when the track hosted the prestigious New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions and saw new records set for both total betting handle and nightly betting handle.

"I was very happy with the way the Night of Champions turned out. It was the biggest card of racing here since the 1988 Breeders Crown and it was simply a great night, from the crowd to the racing to the event itself. The entire staff here stepped up and did an incredible job," said Haight.  

"We got through the pandemic relatively unscathed in 2020 and despite not having spectators, nightly betting doubled the levels of 2011 and crushed the records set in 2019. Last year we tried some new things and you could look at the tote-board and clearly see our pools were bigger. We ended the year up to about $3,000 per race, which was another record since WROTB took over the Downs."

Haight is currently a USTA director and the chairman of District 8 and will remain in both of those positions. And regardless of which job he was doing, his hard work promoting the sport of harness racing has not gone unnoticed by his peers. 

"It was my pleasure to work with Todd for the past 10 years. As general manager of racing at Batavia Downs, Todd had an amazing mastery of the many responsibilities his job entailed. I will miss working with him as he was a true professional. I wish him all the best in the years to come," said Bruce Tubin, president of the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association.

"Todd has been a pleasure to work with and he will leave big shoes to fill. His kind are a dying breed in that he cared for racing so much. I wish him the best of luck in retirement," said Kim Crawford, director of USTA District 8.

"I have worked with Todd at Batavia Downs since 2014 and can tell you there is no one in this industry who worked harder to promote harness racing than him. Appeasing an established customer base while trying to draw the next generation to the sport is not easy, but he maintained that delicate balance which in turn drove increased handle and attendance to the track year over year. He will certainly be missed," said Tim Bojarski, racing publicist and president of the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association. 

As far as retirement, Haight isn’t sure about his future and has indicated that he has several options.  

"If it’s playing a lot of golf I’m okay with it. And if it’s remaining in the horse racing industry in some capacity, I’m okay with that too. In any event, the last 20-plus years have been good to me and for that I’m extremely grateful."

Photo: File photo from 2021 by Howard Owens.

November 18, 2021 - 6:51pm
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

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Press release:

Former Tioga Downs regular No Where To Hide has been a formidable foe to the local pacing gals in recent weeks and scored her second win since moving north on Wednesday night (Nov. 17) in the $12,800 distaff Open II Handicap pacing feature at Batavia Downs.

It was a simple game plan for driver Drew Monti and No Where To Hide, who took the front off the gate and dictated the race. With Queen Of Thrones (Kevin Cummings) sitting the pocket, No Where To Hide stepped off quarters of :28.3, :57.3 and 1:26.4 without any serious opposition from the trailing field. When the race spun off the final bend, Cummings pulled Queen Of Thrones and they took their best shot. But after closing some ground in the stretch, Queen Of Thrones still came up 1/2 length short as No Where To Hide was not to be denied, winning a sharp 1:55 mile. 

It was the eighth win of the year for No Where To Hide ($6.50) and it pushed her earnings to $51,552 for owner Rocco Stebbins. Joe Skowyra trains the 4-year-old daughter of Bettor’s Delight and Albany Hanover.

In the co-featured $11,200 Open III pace for fillies and mares, Watchwhatmyfeetdo (Denny Bucceri) followed intently from second behind Faithful Desire (Drew Monti) until the top of the stretch where she tipped and blew right by the leader down the lane to win easily by 2-3/4 lengths in 1:56.1.

It was the first win in three tries at Batavia Downs and the fifth win overall of the year for Watchwhatmyfeetdo ($4.90) who is owned by Jamie Daley and Dale Gilmour, who also trains the winner.

Jim Morrill Jr. led all drivers with three wins on Wednesday while trainer Gerry Sarama finished the night with two.

When live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Nov. 20) the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta carryover pool will be $19,916 after no single unique winning ticket was sold again on Wednesday.

Free full past performance program pages for all live Batavia Downs races can be downloaded at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab in the left hand column where they are always available.

And if you can’t attend the races in person, you can still watch a live stream of the entire night’s action on the Batavia Downs Youtube channel.

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

November 15, 2021 - 9:15am
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

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Press release:

Perennial local driving leader Kevin Cummings had his best one-night performance of the current Batavia Downs meet on Saturday (Nov. 13) after he posted four winners during the card that included victories in both feature races.

In the $13,500 Open I Handicap pace, Cummings won with Our Corelli N on the horse's first trip to western New York.

Mississippi Rabbit (Dave McNeight III) and Art Scene (Jim Morrill Jr.) both left and argued vehemently to the quarter in :27.3 and the half in :55.3 before Art Scene finally took to top heading on to the second circuit. But as soon as he crossed over, McSpidey (Kyle Cummings) and Our Corelli N started on the move in the breeze and continued to pressure Art Scene.

McSpidey couldn’t get by Art Scene so Cummings popped the plugs on Our Corelli N and swung three-deep around both, eventually putting a head in front at three-quarters. Our Corelli N cleared and opened up two lengths at the head of the stretch and under moderate urging, paced away to the line on top by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:55.2.

Our Corelli N ($7.70) was a $40,000 claim at Yonkers Raceway in September by current owner Marissa Russo and this was his first start and win at Batavia Downs for his new connections. David Russo trains the winner.

Later in the $13,500 Open, I Handicap trot Cummings was back behind Barn Hall and made every station a winning one.

Barn Hall left from post six took the lead before the quarter and controlled the race from there. With Saratoga invader Oh So Pine (Larry Stalbaum) following intently from second, Barn Hall clicked off quarters of :28.3, :59.1 and 1:29 with only a mild bid from Mugshots Bro (Shawn McDonough) to contend with at that last station.

As the race rounded the final bend, Barn Hall and Oh So Pine started to separate from the field. When they straightened out for home, Oh So Pine tipped and tried to rush to the front, but Barn Hall would have nothing to do with that and kept his length lead all the way to the light to win in 1:58.4.

Barn Hall ($7.10) now has eight wins and $71,577 on the card in 2021 for owners Steve and Nancy Pratt, Purple Haze Stable and Out In The Country Stable. Steve Pratt trains the 3-year-old colt.

Cummings completed his grand slam with Dontdoubtthelakers (1:59.1, $30.00) and Gallery Opening (1:57.1, $7.90). Cummings also had two seconds and two thirds from his 11 drives, giving him a UDR of .598 for the night. Cummings is currently second for the meet in the dash driving title race with 76 wins behind Jim Morrill Jr. who sits in first with 94 victories. 

The $12,500 Open II Handicap pace saw Surfer Beach (Jim Morrill Jr.) pull the drop-and-pop on the strength of a muscle move off the gate. Surfer Beach left and refused to seat, eventually getting parked past the half by Lord Willoughby A (Larry Stalbaum). But he eventually took control at the five-eighths and after putting away a challenge from Sunfirewindrain (Jim McNeight Jr.) up the backstretch, Surfer Beach caught a wave and hung-ten in the stretch to win by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:54.3.

It was the tenth win this year for Surfer Beach ($4.90) who is owned by Vogel & Wag Nags, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock. Maria Rice trains the winner.

Morrill, Rice, and their ownership group also hooked up with Party Boy Hanover (1:59.4, $3.20) to end the night with two wins across the board.

When live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Nov. 17) one of the largest carryover pools currently being offered at any race track in North America has grown once again and will be offered in race 11. After no single unique winning ticket was sold on the Jackpot Hi-5 pentafecta again on Saturday, the carryover is now set at $18,534 for that wager on Wednesday.

Free full past performance program pages for all live Batavia Downs races can be downloaded at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab in the left hand column where they are always available. 

And if you can’t attend the races in person, you can still watch a live stream of the entire night’s action on the Batavia Downs Youtube channel.

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

November 11, 2021 - 9:03am
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

Press release:

Protect Blue Chip continued to add numbers to her already impressive career year on Wednesday night at Batavia Downs after she won the $12,100 distaff Open II Handicap pacing feature with a thrilling stretch run.

Protect Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.) left from post seven and dropped in third while last week’s winner Queen Of Thrones (Kevin Cummings) out-muscled Pretty Blue Angel (Mike Baumeister) for the lead, taking the field to the quarter in :28 flat. Positions remained unchanged to the half and the top three horses also stayed in place to three-quarters in 1:25.1. At that station Protect Blue Chip tipped, but also stalled around the turn as Queen Of Thrones opened up a two length advantage heading into the stretch. But when they straightened out for home, Morrill got Protect Blue Chip in gear and she paced furiously to track down Queen Of Thrones at the line and win by a nose in 1:55.2.

Protect Blue Chip ($4.70) got her tenth win of the year for owners Vogel & Wags Nags, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock and under the tutelage of Maria Rice, the 6-year-old daughter of American Ideal and Lucky Turn has now amassed $203,707 in lifetime earnings after this win.

Protect Blue Chip was the third win of the night for driver Jim Morrill Jr.

In the co-featured $11,250 fillies and mares Open III, Candy’s Desire (Kyle Cummings) followed Flames Of Fire (Jim McNeight Jr.) to the top of the stretch where she shook loose and paced away to a stout two-length victory in 1:55.4, which tied her seasonal mark. Candy’s Desire ($3.10) got her seventh win for owner/trainer Tammy Cummings.

Trainer Lisa Mariacher had a big night at the Downs as three from her stable won during the night. She scored with JK Kissntell (1:56.3, $17.60), Le Millienaire (1:59.1, $7.10) and Monster Myles (1:59.2, $13.80).

With no single unique winning ticket purchased in the Jackpot Pick-5 on Wednesday night (Nov. 10), there will be a very healthy and continually growing carryover of $17,346 for that bet in race 12 when live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Nov. 13). There is also a carryover of $2,000 in the Jackpot Pick-6 in race six. 

Free full past performance programs for the entire card — that includes all these carryover races — can be downloaded at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab in the left column, where they can be found for every live night of racing at Batavia Downs.

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

November 10, 2021 - 4:15pm
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

Press release:

One of the largest carryover pools currently being offered at any race track in North America is available at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Nov. 10) when $16,246 will seed the proceedings in the Jackpot Hi-5 pentafecta wager in the tenth race. With no unique winning ticket having been purchased on this wager in the past several weeks, the pool has grown to one of the largest the Downs has seen and offers a great mid-week betting opportunity both live and off-track.  

There is another carryover being offered in race five where $1,508 will be available for the Jackpot Pick-6.

Free full past performance program pages for all live Batavia Downs races can be downloaded at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab in the left-hand column where they are always available. 

And if you can’t attend the races in person, you can still watch a live stream of the entire night’s action on the Batavia Downs Youtube channel.

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

November 5, 2021 - 11:58am
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

Press release:

The Purple Haze Standardbred Adoption Program will be holding a fundraiser auction featuring 21 sets of race-used driving colors signed by their respective drivers. The first set will be sold on the opening day of the Harrisburg Sale on Monday (Nov. 8).

Bob “Hollywood” Heyden will get the auction started in the main sales arena at approximately 11:30 a.m. before the first hip number enters the ring. It will be a live auction and the high bidder will get their choice of any one of the 21 sets available. All the signed colors will be on-site for inspection and for the winner to choose from. Payment with cash, check or Paypal will be accepted by PHSAP for the Harrisburg auction.

The remaining 20 sets will be listed at Ongait.com starting on Tuesday (Nov. 9). Each day’s listing will include four different suits to bid on and the auctions will each last two days. A new group of four will go online each day for five days until all are sold. You will need to register with Ongait before bidding and all winners will be directed to PHSAP for payment information. Winning bidders will receive their items through the mail.

The signed colors available for bids include Jason Bartlett, George Brennan, Corey Callahan, Dan Dube, Dexter Dunn, Yannick Gingras, Wally Hennessy, Matt Kakaley, Mark Macdonald, Jim Marohn Jr., Andy McCarthy, Todd McCarthy, Bob McClure, James McDonald, Andy Miller, David Miller, Dave Palone, Brian Sears, Jordan Stratton, Tim Tetrick and Scott Zeron.

All proceeds from the high bids for all 21 sets of colors will go directly to help fund the mission at the Purple Haze Standardbred Adoption Program.

The Purple Haze Standardbred Adoption Program, Inc. is a New York State Not-For-Profit Class "B" Corporation with Federal 501(c)3 tax exempt status and is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. PHSAP has been formed to ensure that retired Standardbred horses find a second calling and profession. Application for accreditation to the Standardbred Transition Alliance has been made and is pending approval.

To learn more please log on to phsap.org.

October 30, 2021 - 12:41pm
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

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Press release:

After a string of second-place finishes, Mugshots Bro finally visited the Purple Haze winner's circle after capturing the $13,500 Open I Handicap trot at Batavia Downs on a Friday night (Oct. 29) that featured wind, rain and sloppy track conditions. 

Mugshots Bro (Shawn McDonough) exchanged leads early with Barn Hall (Kevin Cummings) but found himself on the point at the half and from there, the race was his. Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) moved alongside on the rim and was prompting the pace on the second circuit but only stayed close to the top of the stretch. In the lane Mugshots Bro left the scene, trotting his final quarter in :28.4 and winning by three lengths in 1:56.4. 

Mugshots Bro ($14.40) scored his seventh win of the year and pushed his earnings to $62,288 for owner Herman Niedhammer and Herman Niedhammer Jr. Shawn McDonough also trains the winner. 

McDonough ended the night with two driving and two training wins to lead both categories on Friday. 

The $12,100 Open II Handicap saw Willie B Worthy (Kevin Cummings) come from mid-pack late and catch Noble Legend (Jim Morrill Jr.) in deep stretch to win by 1-½ lengths in 1:58.2. 

It was the sixth win of the year for Willie B Worthy ($15.60) who is owned by William Emmons and trained by Jim Closer Jr. 

When live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Oct. 30) there will be one guaranteed pool and two carryovers on the betting menu. 

With no winner of the Pick-5 on Friday (Oct. 29), there is a carryover of $1,060 and the management of Batavia Downs has announced that the track will offer a $4,000 guaranteed pool for that wager on Saturday (Oct. 30). The guarantee is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages will be available courtesy of Trackmaster on the USTA’s website or at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab on Saturday morning.

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on the next day of racing.

Then there are two carryovers. First in the Jackpot Pick-6 in race four, there is a carryover of $803 and then later in race nine, the Jackpot Super Hi-5 has a carryover of $12,630.

Free full past performance program pages for all live Batavia Downs races can be downloaded at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab where free full card past performance programs are always available for every live racing night at Batavia Downs.

And if you can’t attend the races in person, you can still watch a live stream of the entire night’s action on the Batavia Downs Youtube channel.

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

October 30, 2021 - 12:31pm
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

Press release:

When live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday evening (Oct. 30) there will be one guaranteed pool and two carryovers on the robust betting menu. 

With no winner of the Pick-5 on Friday (Oct. 29), there is a carryover of $1,060 and the management of Batavia Downs has announced that the track will offer a $4,000 guaranteed pool for that wager on Saturday (Oct. 30). The guarantee is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages will be available courtesy of Trackmaster on the USTA’s website or at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab on Saturday morning.

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on the next day of racing.

Then there are two carryovers up for grabs. First in the Jackpot Pick-6 in race four, there is a carryover of $803 and then later in race nine, the Jackpot Super Hi-5 has a carryover of $12,630.

Free full past performance program pages can always be downloaded at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab for every racing card all season long at Batavia Downs.

And if you can’t attend the races in person, you can still watch a live stream of the entire night’s action on the Batavia Downs Youtube channel.

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

October 28, 2021 - 5:03pm
posted by Press Release in harness racing, Batavia Downs, sports.

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Press release:

Vogel & Wags Nags, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock have brought many nice top-end horses to Batavia Downs this year and the acquisition of 5-year-old pacing mare Tuapeka Jessie N fit right into their business model as she remains unbeaten in three starts at the Downs after winning the $13,500 fillies and mares Open I Handicap pace on Wednesday night (Oct. 27).

No Where To Hide (Drew Monti) was first to the front at the quarter in :27.3, but Jim Morrill Jr. had Tuapeka Jessie N out and rolling as well and took control just past that station. With no further confrontations, Morrill backed off the pace to :56.4 and 1:25.4 before Don’t Chip Me (Jim McNeight Jr.) reached third in the breeze on a rush into the last turn. That bid failed and Tuapeka Jessie N had only the pocket-sitting No Where To Hide to beat, who moved outside and was wheeling at the top of the stretch. No Where To Hide tried to find more in the lane, but Tuapeka Jessie N was just too much once again and paced away to a 2-1/2 length victory in 1:54.3 on a chilly night.

Tuapeka Jessie N ($2.40) got her fifth win of the year and is now just short of $40,000 in earnings for the year. The 5-year-old daughter of Bettor’s Delight-Tuapeka Maddy is trained by Maria Rice.

Morrill also won the co-featured $11,250 Open III for distaff pacers with All About Amy ($3.90) who sat second behind Lillian Rose (Dan Yetman) all the way to the top of the stretch where she found room in the passing lane and got up late to win by 1/2 length in 1:56.1.

That was the second win in a row for All About Amy who is owned by Philip Mazzone and trained by Russell Bratt.

Morrill ended the night with three wins on the card as did Kevin Cummings. Gerry Sarama was the leading trainer scoring two wins of his own.

With no single unique winning ticket purchased in the Jackpot Pick-5 on Wednesday night (Oct. 27), there will be a carryover of $12,630 for that bet in race nine when live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Oct. 29). There is also a carryover of $657 in the Jackpot Pick-6 in race four. 

Free full past performance programs for the entire card -- that includes these races -- can also be downloaded at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab, where they can be found for every live night of racing at Batavia Downs.

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

October 23, 2021 - 1:14pm
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

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Press release:

Top trotter Lougazi has been camera shy of late, not winning since September 17. But he smiled pretty for his picture on Friday night (Oct. 22) after capturing the $13,500 Open I Handicap trot at Batavia Downs.

As usual, Ray Fisher Jr. got away last with Lougazi and trailed the leading Barn Hall (Kevin Cummings) by 7-¼ lengths in the :27.1 first quarter. But Fisher was quickly out and moving with Lougazi at the three-eighths and slowly made his way up towards the leader. When the race reached three-quarters in a solid 1:26.4, Lougazi was within reach of Barn Hall and drew dead-even with him at the head of the lane. Heading for home he took the lead from Barn Hall and then held off a late closing Mugshots Bro (Jim Morrill Jr.) to win by ¼ length in 1:56.1. 

The sixth win of the year puts Lougazi ($6.00) over the $50,000 mark for the year for owner Mary Warriner. Ryan Swift trains the winner. 

Jim Morrill Jr. continued his torrid winning streak as he registered another grand slam at Batavia Downs. Two of those four wins just happened to come in the two co-featured trots.

In the $12,100 Open II Handicap, Morrill cleared the lead past the quarter with Party Boy Hanover ($7.70) and then ran off the screen, winning by seven lengths in 1:57.1, which was a new seasonal mark. 

Then later in the $11,250 Open III Handicap, Morrill left again with the veteran Noble Legend ($3.70), led every step of the way and then held off Simonthediamond (Dan Yetman) at the line to win by ¾'s of a length in 1:58.2. 

Both horses are owned by Vogel & Wags Nags, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock and both horses are trained by Maria Rice.

Morrill and Rice hooked up again to win with Americanisation (1:56.2, $17.40) which gave Rice the training hat trick. Morrill then finished off his four-bagger by winning with Graystonefastmyles (1:57.2, $2.40). 

With no single unique winning ticket purchased in the Jackpot Pick-5 on Friday night (Oct. 22), there will be a carryover of $11,214 for that bet in race nine when live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Oct. 23). There is also a small but mentionable carryover of $349 in the Jackpot Pick-6 in race four. 

Free full past performance programs for the entire card -- that includes these races -- can also be downloaded at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab, where they can be found for every live night of racing at Batavia Downs.

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

October 17, 2021 - 9:27am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

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Press release:

After scoring an eye-opening eight-length win last week, Stratosphere bounced right back and won again in the $13,500 Open I Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Oct. 16). 

Drew Monti sent Stratosphere off the car and got parked to the quarter in :26.4 before clearing the front. But after taking the lead, they backed off the half to :56.3 and from there had the upper hand. With McSpidey (Kyle Cummings) breathing down his back and Silver Beast (Jim McNeight Jr.) chasing on the rim, Stratosphere was unfazed while he stuck to his task, rounded the last turn, and cruised home to an easy 1-¼ length win in 1:54.1.

It was the second straight Open I win and fourth win in the last five starts for Stratosphere ($3.40) who now has seven wins and $50,978 in earnings for the year for his driver/owner Drew Monti. Darrin Monti trains the winner. 

Drew Monti also won with Apple Valley Art (1:56.3, $4.20) and Charmbo Orbit (1:55.1, $3.00) to end the night the leading driver with three wins. 

In the $12,100 Open II Handicap, Stranger Things (Shawn McDonough) sat second behind Mississippi Rabbit (Drew Monti) until the head of the lane where he dipped down, snuck up the passing lane, and brushed late to a ¼ length win in 1:54.3. 

Stranger Things ($6.70) is owned by Virginia Schoeffel, Kathy Schoeffel, and James Reuther and is trained by Angelo Nappo. 

McDonough ended the night with two driving wins as well as one training win.

Other horsemen having two wins were driver Kevin Cummings and trainer Jim Clouser Jr.

With no single unique winning ticket purchased in the Jackpot Pick-5 on Saturday night (Oct. 16), there will be a carryover of $9,927 for that bet in race nine when live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 20). 

Free full past performance programs for the entire card -- that includes these races -- can be downloaded at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab, where they can be found for every live night of racing at Batavia Downs.

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

October 14, 2021 - 10:31am
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

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Press  release:

Jim Morrill Jr. remained flaming hot at Batavia Downs after he won four more races at the Genesee County track including both Open paces. Morrill’s torrid pace at the current meet accelerated over the last three days where he won 15 races out of his 26 starts at the Downs. Morrill currently has 80 wins this year at Batavia and just went over the half-million-dollar mark in earnings tonight.

The highlight of his evening came in the $13,500 fillies and mares Open I Handicap pace with Taupeka Jessie N ($3.00) who took the lead past the quarter, established a commanding 1-1/2 length lead by the half and extended that to 2-3/4 at the line where she won in 1:54.

It was the second straight win for Taupeka Jessie N who remains undefeated at Batavia for owners Vogel & Wags Nags, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock and trainer Maria rice.

Then in the $12,200 Open II handicap for distaff side-wheelers, Morrill grabbed the lines behind Vicious Circle ($2.10) for the first time and took full advantage of a class drop to also go gate to wire, heavily regarded at 1-9 and win by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:54.2.  

Vicious Circle is owned by Rick Howles, Geoff Howles and Souren Hovsepian and is trained by John Hallett.

Morrill rounded out his grand slam with Southern Palms (1:58.1, $39.60) and Proudamericangirl (1:58.1, $3.30).

When live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Oct. 15), there will once again be two healthy carryovers available.

With no single unique winning ticket purchased in the Jackpot Pick-5 on Wednesday night (Oct. 13), there is a carryover of $8,212 for that bet in race nine and with the same situation occurring in the Jackpot Pick-6, another carryover of $1,957 will be in place for that wager in race four.

Free full past performance programs for the entire card -- that includes these races -- can also be downloaded at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab, where they can be found for every live night of racing at Batavia Downs.

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

October 10, 2021 - 10:32am
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

Press release:

Fresh back from a six-week respite, Stratosphere made his return felt intermediately after looping the field to win by open lengths at 21-1 in the $12,300 Open I Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Oct. 9).

This race was an example of what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. Foo Fighter N (Kevin Cummings) left and took the lead at the pylons while Surfer Beach (Jim Morrill Jr.) was parked out next to him and Matticulous GB (Larry Stalbaum) was also parked three-deep in line. At this point Stratosphere (Drew Monti) was seated fifth, watching the action. From that point on Foo Fighter N, Surfer Beach and Matticulous GB raced side-by-side -- three-deep -- to the quarter in :27.2, the half in :54.3 and three-quarters in 1:23.4 and neither of them would relent. At that third station, Monti had Stratosphere out and rolling and tipped four-deep into the last turn, circled the group and then ran away with the race. Stratosphere opened up four lengths at the top of the stretch and extended that to eight lengths at the wire where he was a wrapped-up winner in 1:53.

It was the third win in the last four starts and the sixth win overall for Stratosphere ($44.00) who is owned by his driver and trained by Darrin Monti.

Drew Monti added two more wins on Saturday to end the night with three.

In the $11,000 Open II Handicap, Endeavors Pride (Kevin Cummings) took full advantage of pylon position and led at every station before turning for home with a brisk :28.4 clocking to hold of late challenges from Sunfirewindrain (Jim McNeight Jr.) and Toot Toot N (Kyle Cummings) to win by a length in 1:54.4.

The horse that had no wins and a mere $4,047 in earnings last year, Endeavors Pride ($4.00) now has six wins and $49,008 in 2021 for owner Mike Torcello. Gerry Sarama trains the winner.

Jim Morrill Jr. followed up his seven-win effort on Friday at Batavia with three more wins on Saturday.

When live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 13), there will once again be two healthy carryovers available.

With no single unique winning ticket purchased in the Pick-5 on Saturday night (Oct. 9), there is a carryover of $7,668 for that bet in race nine and with the same situation occurring in the Jackpot Pick-6, another carryover of $1,675 will be in place for that wager in race four.

Free full past performance programs for the entire card -- that includes these races -- can also be downloaded at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab, where they can be found for every live night of racing at Batavia Downs.

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

October 7, 2021 - 6:46pm
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

Press release:

For the second time this season, the management of Batavia Downs along with the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association has announced that starting Wednesday (Oct. 13) purses for all races held at the track will be increased by 10%. As was the case earlier this year, the increase is due to the continued success in business the VLT’s have seen on the gaming floor and the brisk action at the windows for the horses as per-race betting is up 18%.

“This is the kind of news we like to announce. Because of our loyal customer base at the track and the unbelievable support our gaming floor gets from all our guests, we are able to raise our purses again so our horsemen can continue to race for some of the best money available in the upstate region all year,” said Todd Haight, General Manager/Director of Live Racing at Batavia Downs.

With the new increased structure in place, the bottom purse at the Downs will be raised from $4,200 to $4,600, a $10,000 claimer will go for $9,800 and the top purse will jump from $12,300 to $13,500. 

October 7, 2021 - 6:45pm
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

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Press release:

With Misty Memory N not entered this week, Protect Blue Chip regained her spot as morning line favorite in the $12,300 fillies and mares Open I Handicap pace and delivered as expected on that forecast after she won the weekly distaff feature at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Oct. 6).

Jim Morrill Jr. put Protect Blue Chip right on the engine and pretty much ran the show. Without any resistance for the first half that went in a respectable :56.2, a minor challenge came from Vicious Circle (Jim McNeight Jr.) on the backstretch to three-quarters that Protect Blue Chip easily turned away.  Protect Blue Chip continued to pace sharply and in the stretch, held off a charge from the pocket-sitting Stay Beautiful (Kevin Cummings) as well as the late closing Gotta Love Cabot (Shawn McDonough) at the line to win by one length in 1:54.3.

It was win number nine for Protect Blue Chip ($4.60) and her owners Vogel & Wags Nags, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock and it pushed her earnings to $64,517 on their behalf. Maria Rice trains the mare.

Protect Blue Chip was only one of three winners Morrill had during the proceedings on Wednesday.

One race earlier in the $11,000 Open II Handicap for female pacers, former Borscht Belt regular Don’t Chip Me shipped in from Monticello Raceway and turned a pretty rough trip into quite a victory.

Drew Monti took Don’t Chip Me off the gate and settled in seventh as a three-wide speed duel was raging in front between Peggy J (Jim Morrill Jr.), Wonderful World (Denny Bucceri), and Cinderella Delight (Kevin Cummings), who grabbed the lead at the quarter but then gave it back to Wonderful World at the half, who was still parked. Moving up the backside Peggy J went three-wide around both to take the lead and at this point, Don’t Chip Me was sixth and three-deep on the move. Monti continued to drive around the last turn and Don’t Chip Me picked up all the pieces down the lane to win by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:55.2.

Don’t Chip Me ($14.20) is now a 13-time winner in 2021 and has solid earnings of $64,087 as a result. The 4-year-old Hypnotic Blue Chip-Don’t Flash Me mare is owned by Rick Howles, Geoff Howles, and John Hallet, who also does the training.

Kevin Cummings and Drew Monti each scored two driving wins during the card.

When live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Oct. 8) there will be two carryovers available.

With no unique single winning ticket purchased in the Pick-5 on Wednesday night (Oct. 6), there is now a carryover of $5,963 for that bet in race nine and with the same situation occurring in the Jackpot Pick-6, another carryover of $1,216 will be in place for that wager in race four.

Free full past performance programs for the entire card -- that includes these races -- can be downloaded at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab, where they are always found for every live night of racing at Batavia Downs.

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

October 3, 2021 - 9:02am
posted by Press Release in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

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Press release:

In his last visit to Batavia Downs, American Zest A demolished a field of Open II pacers as he won in 1:52.3 by open lengths. After a brief stop at Yonkers last week, the Aussie-bred returned to  Genesee County and made quick work of the Open I fellowship to claim the winner’s share of the $12,300 purse in the Saturday night (Oct. 2) Handicap.

Larry Stalbaum took American Zest A off the gate and settled in third as Foo Fighter N (Kevin Cummings) put up torrid numbers of :26.3 and :55.2. Positions remained unchanged until midway up the backstretch when Silver Beast (Jim McNeight Jr.) pulled first-over while American Zest A quickly followed him. It was only a few strides before Stalbaum tipped American Zest A three-deep in the last turn in advance of taking control of the race. American Zest A cleared in the stretch and pulled away to a 2-1/4 length victory in 1:53.3.

It was the seventh win of the year for American Zest A ($3.80) who is both owned and trained by Stalbaum.

In the $11,000 Open II Handicap, Art Scene (Jim Morrill Jr.) made every step a winning one despite some tense moments at the wire. Endeavors Pride (Kevin Cummings) had been sitting in the pocket the entire trip and at the head of the stretch, Cummings tipped him off that cover to make a late rush for the lead. But Art Scene was tough and hung on by a head in 1:54.4. Art Scene ($3.20) is owned by Vogel & Wags Nags, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock and is trained by Maria Rice.

Jim Morrill Jr. topped the driver’s list again, scoring three wins on Saturday night.

There was no winner in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta wager again on Saturday so there will be a carryover of $5,214 for that wager on Wednesday (Oct. 6) when live racing resumes at Batavia Downs. There is also another carryover that has been quietly growing in the Jackpot Pick-6 and it’s now worth $1,006. 

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

September 30, 2021 - 12:21pm
posted by Press Release in harness racing, Batavia Downs, sports.

Press release:

Without question, the best resident mare at Batavia Downs continued to roll as Misty Memory N won the $12,300 fillies and mares Open I Handicap on Wednesday (Sept. 29) to score her fourth win in her last five starts at the Genesee County oval.

Misty Memory N (Denny Bucceri) got away last in the scratch-shortened field of five and watched as Protect Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.) took the field to the half in :57.1. When Kevin Cummings pulled Stay Beautiful at that station, Bucceri followed with Misty Memory N and shadowed her cover until the last turn. That’s where Bucceri tipped three-deep around everybody and let Misty Memory N pace home entirely on her own while opening up a 3-1/2 length lead at the wire where she won in 1:54.4.

Misty Memory N ($4.60) continues to rack up the numbers during this career year for her, now with 10 wins and $78,126 in the bank. Gaston Lareau trains for owner JP Houle Stables.

One race earlier in the $11,000 Open II for female pacers, Canadian transplant Taupeka Jessie N (Jim Morrill Jr.) was bet off the board at 1-9 and made easy work of her seven competitors after taking the front off the gate, leading at every station and pulling away to a 2-1/2 length win in 1:55.3.

Recently purchased by Vogel & Wags Nags, Team Rice Racing, and Adelphi Bloodstock, Taupeka Jessie N ($2.20) scored her third win of the year. Maria Rice is her trainer.

Morrill added wins with Mean Pauline (1:57.1, $4.80), Rocklindarock (1:58.1, $2.60) and Innocent Victim (1:56.1, $2.80) for a grand slam on the night. Kyle Cummings also had a driving hat trick while trainers Tammy Cummings and Gaston Lareau each registered two wins.

There were three carryover pools going into Wednesday night and when the dust had settled, two will still be live when racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Oct. 1).

The $5,000 guaranteed Pick-5 was hit and the combination of 6-6-5-4-5 returned $573.25 for a 50-cent bet. However on Friday in the ninth race the Jackpot Super Hi-5 has a healthy carryover of $4,069 for that bet and another small but mentionable carryover of $589 is available for the Jackpot Pick-6 in race four.

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

September 29, 2021 - 9:16am
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

Press release:

When live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 29) there will be three carryovers and one large guaranteed pool.

With no winner of the Pick-5 on Saturday night (Sept. 25), there is a carryover of $837 and the management of Batavia Downs has announced that the track will offer a $5,000 guaranteed pool for that wager on Wednesday (Sept. 29). The guarantee is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages are available courtesy of Trackmaster on the USTA’s website or by clicking here. (https://www.trackmaster.com/freeContent/usta/freeContentFiles/hpl/btv0929x.pdf)

Free program pages can also be downloaded at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab or on the Batavia Downs Facebook page.

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on the next day of racing.

Then in race 9, the Jackpot Super Hi-5 has another healthy carryover of $3,449 for that bet, and another small but mentionable carryover of $467 is available for the Jackpot Pick-6 in race four.

Free full past performance programs for the entire card -- that includes these races -- can also be downloaded at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab, where they can be found for every live night of racing at Batavia Downs.

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

September 26, 2021 - 12:51pm
posted by Press Release in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs.

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Press release:

Perennial local driving leader Kevin Cummings had a big night at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Sept. 25) after winning both weekly pacing features with Black Is Back and Foo Fighter N and vaulting himself into second place for dash wins at the current meet.

It has been some time since Black Is Back visited the Purple Haze winner’s circle but he definitely earned the right this day as he turned a first-over move into a hard fought victory in the $12,300 Open Handicap pace.

Black Is Back got away third in the short field of six while Raksmach N (Denny Bucceri) took his usual position on the point where he led at the half in :57 flat. Looking solid on the lead, Raksmach N was soon visited by Black Is Back and Crockets Cullen N (Larry Stalbaum) who were rolling up the rim at the five-eighths. Black Is Back took command of the race on the backstretch after Raksmach N succumbed to his challenge and then Crockets Cullen N moved right alongside. and these two tangled all the way to the wire.

After tripping the third-panel timer in 1:25.3, Black Is Back and Crockets Cullen N tangled all the way to the wire. The pacing pair opened up 2-1/2 lengths on the field but couldn’t separate themselves with a sheet of paper. Both Cummings and Stalbaum drove hard down the stretch and to the line and after all their hard work, it took a photo to decide Black Is Back won by a head in a seasonal best 1:54.1

Black Is Back ($13.40) scored his fourth win of the year for owners Curtis Edholm and Mihajlo Zdjelar Sr. The 8-year-old Western Terror gelding is trained by Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr.   

Then Cummings scored with Foo Fighter N in the $11,000 Open II Handicap with the fastest clocking of the night.

Foo Fighter N took the lead off the gate and held a 1-1/2 length advantage to the half with Itsonlyrocknroll A (Larry Stalbaum) tracking intently. Cummings tapped the gas and Foo Fighter N sped to a :28.1 third-quarter and extended his lead to 2-1/2. From there he was a runaway, opening up six lengths by the top of the stretch and then sprinted home in another :28.1 panel to win by eight in 1:53.

Foo Fighter N (7.20) is having a career earnings year with now $62,506 in the bank for owner William Emmons. Jim Clouser Jr. trains the winner.

Cummings is now in second place in the driving derby, tied with Dave McNeight III with 27 wins. However, they are both chasing the leading Jim Morrill Jr. who sits in the throne with 54 wins.  

Other horsemen having multiple wins Saturday include drivers Jim McNeight Jr. and Larry Stalbaum along with trainer Jim McNeight, all tallying two wins for the evening.

When live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 29) there will be a plethora of punting opportunities with major payouts available as “carryovers” is the word of the day.  

First, there is an $837 carryover in the Pick-5 wager in the first race and Todd Haight -- General Manager of Batavia Downs -- has announced there will be a guaranteed $5,000 pool for that wager on Wednesday. The guarantee is in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free past performance pages for races, one through five will be available on the USTA’s website on Monday as well as Batavia Downs website and Facebook page.

Then later in the card, there is a $467 carryover in the Jackpot Pick-6 bet in the fourth race and finally, in race nine, the Jackpot Super Hi-5 features a $3,449 carryover.

Free complete past performance programs are always available for download at bataviadownsgaming.com and the Batavia Downs Facebook page and Wednesday’s (Sept. 29) program with all these excellent betting options will be available tomorrow (Sunday, Sept. 26) so you can get a head start on handicapping.

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

September 25, 2021 - 12:16pm
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

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Three Open trots headlined the Friday night (Sept. 24) card at Batavia Downs and all three winners won in gate to wire fashion. 

In the $12,300 Open I Handicap, Frank's Watching (Ray Fisher Jr.) left from post three and opened up a four length lead by three-quarters. From there he coasted home to a 1:57.3 win by 1-¼ lengths. 

It was the second straight win and eighth of the season for Frank's Watching ($3.10) who is owned by Mary Warriner and trained by Ryan Swift.

Then in the $11,000 Open II Handicap, J-s Swanman (Jim McNeight Jr.) led comfortably to the half in a soft :59 until Willie B Worthy (Kevin Cummings) put the pressure on at three-quarters. But as he drew alongside J-s Swanman, Willie B Worthy made a break at the top of the turn and J-s Swanman was clear. He held off a late challenge from All About Thechase (Mike Caprio) in deep stretch to win by ¼ length in 1:59.

J-s Swanman ($15.80) is owned by Mike Ventura and is trained by Jim McNeight. 

Finally in the $9,000 Open III Handicap, Majestic Kat (Jim Morrill Jr.) pulled a "drop-and-pop" from Open II and registered an easy 3-½ length win without any challenge at all in 1:58.2.

Majestic Kat ($3.80) is owned by Vogel & Wags Nags Stable, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock. Maria Rice trains the winner. 

Morrill ended up the top driver on Friday after scoring a hat trick during the program. 

There was no winner in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta wager again on Friday so there will be a carryover of $2,981 for that wager on Saturday (Sept. 25) when live racing resumes at Batavia Downs. The is also a small carryover of $360 in the Jackpot Pick-6.

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

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