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May 13, 2019 - 4:01pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

Longtime Western New York harness horseman John P. Cummings Sr. passed away on Saturday (May 11) after a lengthy illness. 

Mr. Cummings first got involved in harness racing in 1968 at the age of 22 through his brother-in-law Steve Flanigen. While working full time at both Trico Products and Bethlehem Steel (where he was a tradesman bricklayer) he started jogging and training horses with Flanigen and found what would soon become a lifelong vocation. 

He started out with a couple homebreds named Clippers Classic and Windjammer Munk and soon added overnighters like Don J and Jack Flood to build his stable. Then through his 42-year career he went on to train horse that included Pembroke Primo (1:55.4, $341,026), Mr. Casanova (1:53.2, $274,073), Cambestion (1:52.4, $184,892), Good Evening Smile (1:57.3, $89,219), Solitaire Hanover (1:53.2, $63,953), Pitch The Prez (1:54.4, $89,396) and New York Sire Stake winner Pass Now (1:55.2, $81,918). 

Mr. Cummings most notable horse was Arm And A Leg (1:54, $320,791) who in 2009 won 13 out of 39 starts and $86,000 to be named the Western New York Horse of the Year in a ceremony held at Batavia Downs. 

Over the years Mr. Cummings amassed 3,779 training starts with 731 wins, 574 seconds and 466 thirds and earnings in excess of $1.8 million. 

Although he did also drive, it wasn’t too often. Early on he used Flanigen who had more experience in the bike, and then later he had several more viable options that provided him the luxury of staying solely in the jog cart. You see Mr. Cummings is not only known as a trainer at the track, he also has the distinction of being the patriarch of one of the largest family of drivers in New York State. Four of his five children were boys who were brought up in the business since they could walk. 

John Cummings Jr., Tony Cummings, Todd Cummings and Kevin Cummings were taught the ropes by their father and have all been training and driving since they were old enough to get their licenses. And now Todd’s son Kyle Cummings has made his grandfather proud by breaking out on the racing scene earlier this year with his first driving win.

All told, Mr. Cummings impact on harness racing through himself and his family has been 54,387 starts with 8,272 wins and over $38 million in earnings. That is a family tradition. 

Although his wife, children and horses were his primary passion, when Mr. Cummings had any free time he enjoyed playing cards and was also an avid bowler. He did roll a 300 game and proudly wore the ring he received indicating that milestone everyday. 

"Harry", as he was affectionately known by everyone, had an affable personality and the ability to make people laugh in any situation throughout his entire life and his presence will be sorely missed by all that knew him. 

John Cummings Sr. was the beloved husband of Lallah (nee Flanigen) Cummings; devoted father of John Jr. (Megan Wilson), Anthony (Barbara), Colleen (Tim) Gallagher, Todd (Tammy), and Kevin (Rhonda) Cummings; son of the late Edward and Dorothy (nee Pike) Cummings; loving brother of Edward (late Clara), Frank, late Dorothy "Snookie" and late Peter Cummings; cherished grandfather of 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren; also survived by many nieces and nephews. 

Friends will be received on Tuesday (May 14) from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home, 4199 Lake Shore Road (corner of Camp Road and Route 5) Hamburg, NY. A mass of Christian burial will be held Wednesday (May 15) at noon at Saint John Paul II Parish 2052 Lakeview Road, Lakeview, NY.  

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the American Diabetes Association. Donations and condolences may be left online at www.lakesidefuneralhome.com.

April 8, 2019 - 1:35pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, news, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Even though live racing at Batavia Downs doesn’t begin for another three months, track officials have announced that when the summer/fall meet begins on Wednesday (July 24) it will be the most lucrative session of Standardbred competition ever offered in Western New York.  

With the equine competition once again highlighted by eight legs of the lucrative New York Sire Stakes (NYSS), this year Batavia Downs will also be host to the $1.8 million NYSS Night of Champions finals and $50,000 Kane Memorial Pace that will both be held on Saturday (Sept. 14). 

And where the stake action garners most of the attention, the overnight races make up the bulk of the meet. And that is where good news for horsemen choosing to race at Batavia Downs this year comes in. 

Track officials have announced that purses will be raised 10 percent across the board on opening night and remain that way for the duration of the meet. 

With the increases in place, the Open I events on both gaits (with a minimum of six starters) will compete for $12,500, Open II for $11,000 and Open III for $10,000. Claiming races will be positively affected as well and at all levels. For example, a $25,000 claimer will go for a $10,500 purse, a $10,000 claimer will go for $8,500 and a $5,000 claimer will go for $5,700. 

As a result, Batavia Downs will pay out over $8 million in prize money during the 65-night meeting. 

“This is big news, make no mistake about it. Racing in Western New York has never been better and this will be the year to compete at Batavia” said Todd Haight, director/general manager of Racing at Batavia Downs. “We are already making preparations to get the meet underway and are looking forward to having the best horses in the state competing here all year.”

Haight explained the bigger purses are a result of fewer races last year and a robust gaming floor feeding the purse account. 

“We simply weren’t able to card as many races as we had hoped in 2018 and as a result, all the money sitting in the purse account was not paid out," Haight said. "Plus the Batavia Downs Gaming floor has been registering record numbers all winter and is coming off the best month we have ever had. That translates to a very healthy purse account that we will be distributing to everyone participating at the meet this year."

This is the second purse increase at Batavia Downs since October of 2018 when they were also raised by 10 percent. 

There are several things to note for horsemen who plan to race at Batavia this year.

Management has hired track consultant Kim Crawford to oversee a complete resurfacing of the Batavia oval, including freshly banking the turns. This will ensure a fast and safe racing surface that will provide more competitive races and much sounder horses.

As a result of polling local horsemen, the track will once again offer a traditional condition sheet and will not utilize the ABC System. Trainers will enter their horses by earnings or for a claiming price, and will be classified as such. 

The track has also announced there will be another claiming series this year with several legs for both gaits and a final for the top finishers. More details about this will be available closer to the meet. 

Batavia Downs will also switch to the USTA Electronic Draw System to determine post position this year. 

“The 2019 championship meet at Batavia Downs is a great opportunity for overnight horsemen to join the racing colony here and take advantage of everything we have to offer," Haight concluded. "Stall applications will be available on the Batavia Downs website on Saturday (June 1) and we would love to see new stables ship in for the meet.” 

For more information about racing at Batavia Downs in 2019, log onto www.bataviadownsgaming.com and access the live racing link.

December 20, 2018 - 1:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing, news.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The 67-night session of harness racing at Batavia Downs for 2018 wrapped up on Saturday (Dec. 15) with both highs and lows being noted. 

Whereas many competitive races were witnessed over the oldest lighted harness track in America, fewer races overall affected the Downs handle for the meet. The main reason for fewer races was a lack of available horses to race. 

In 2018 only 672 races were filled compared to 806 in 2017 and due to 134 less races (a 16-percent reduction) the handle also finished down 11.2 percent. 

“The reduction of races was due to the decreased amount of horses in the area," said Todd Haight, director/manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs.  "And we had a number of short fields trying to fill out race cards besides. Both of these factors played havoc with our numbers.” 

“However I also feel the numbers are a bit skewed since we were coming off a record season last year. That said, we are excited about the 2019 meet.”

There were three cards cancelled during the meet: two for lack of entries and one for weather-related issues. 

Although fewer races were held, the ones that went on provided excellent competition on the track and wagering opportunities for Downs' customers. 

Eight visits by the New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) during the summer months and a visit by the great Foiled Again were highlights of the meet and drew large crowds trackside. 

On the track Drew Monti took the driving title, garnering 122 wins for the meet and earning $724,847 in purses. This was Monti’s second driving title in the last three years at Batavia. 

Kevin Cummings finished second with 102 wins and Billy Davis Jr. was third with 99.

JD Perrin grabbed his fourth training trophy as a result of sending out 61 winners who earned $333,348. Perrin finished ahead of James Clouser Jr. who had 43 wins and Shawn McDonough who registered 29. 

Five track records were broken over the six-month run. 

Standards for 2-year-old pacing colt (Melodies Major, 1:54.1), 3-year-old trotting gelding and all-aged trotting (Winning Shadow, 1:53.4), aged trotting mare (Chelsea’s Chance, 1:56.1) and trotting under saddle (No Recess, 2:02.1) were all rewritten at the Genesee County oval. 

And possibly the biggest news of the meet was the announcement that Batavia Downs was named the host track for the NYSS Night of Champions that will be held on Saturday, Sept. 14. That night also marks the return of the Downs' signature race, the $50,000 Kane Memorial Pace, making it the richest night of harness racing ever offered in Western New York. 

The 65-card meet will kick off on Wednesday (July 24) pending state approval of the dates.

December 16, 2018 - 1:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo of Cheyenne Louie with driver Drew Monti.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

On a night when Drew Monti was to be honored as the top driver of the 2018 Batavia Downs meet, he put on a clinic and showed why he toted home the hardware again as he won seven races on Saturday night (Dec. 15).

Also it was no surprise that trainer JD Perrin, who Monti regularly drives for and was also honored as the top conditioner of the session, sent out six winners of his own.

Those winning connections put the exclamation point on their stellar season as they watched Cheyenne Louie cruise to the easiest of victories in the $20,000 Dash for the Holiday Cash late closer final, which was the feature race of the night.

Cheyenne Louie (Drew Monti) left strong and grabbed the lead past the eighth pole and from there the race was history. Cruising along in level fractions of :28.2, :58.2 and 1:27.4, Monti had the field stacked up behind as he sat chilly in the bike. At the top of the stretch several horses fanned wide to try and close the gap but Cheyenne Louie was four-lengths gone and under wraps when he hit the wire first in 1:57.

It was the seventh win of the year for Cheyenne Louie ($3.20) whose share of the purse pushed him to $26,983 for 2018. Cheryle Perrin owns the winner that is trained by JD Perrin.

Then the same driver/trainer pair hooked up to win the $11,000 overnight featured Open Handicap pace with Lucky McTrucky.

Getting away fifth in the short field of five, Lucky McTrucky tracked the early pace before pulling past the half, tipping three deep at three-quarters and clearing the front at the top of the lane to win by three in 1:55.2.

It was the 56th career win and 14th tally of the year for Lucky McTrucky ($5.70) who is now only $1,095 shy of $100,000 in earnings for 2018. Tessa Roland owns the 9-year-old McCardle gelding.

Other winners Monti steered besides the aforementioned Cheyenne Louie and Lucky McTrucky were with Cobble Beach (1:57.2, $4.70), Rock To Glory (1:56.4, $3.10), RM Hawk (1:55.3, $4.10), Heaven Rocks (1:56.3, $3.70) and OK Galahad (1:57, $4.10).

Perrin's training double Hat Trick consisted of five that Monti drove (Cheyenne Louie, Lucky McTrucky, Rock To Glory, RM Hawk and Heaven Rocks) along with Foreign Officer (1:56.4, $7.70) who was driven by Ray Fisher Jr.

After the 11th race this dynamic duo was named top driver and trainer of the Batavia Downs meet by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA).

 

This is the second driving title for Drew Monti (in photo above with trophy) at Batavia Downs and third overall of his career. The 24-year-old Monti put together another stellar year in the bike; to date starting 572 times, winning 122 races, finishing second 90 times and third 72 times. Those starts earned his connections $724,805 in purses and earned himself a Universal Driver Rating (UDR) of .337.

JD Perrin (above, center) won the training title at the Downs three straight years from 2014-2016 making this his fourth title at the track. With 208 starts, Perrin trainees have won 61 times with 31 seconds and 19 thirds giving him a Universal Trainer Rating (UTR) of .409. His stable banked $333,648 for the session.

Batavia Downs will resume live racing in 2019 on Wednesday (July 24) and is the host track of the New York SIre Stakes (NYSS) Night of Champions which will be held on Saturday (Sept. 14).

December 13, 2018 - 2:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, president, UNY USHWA

The final weekend of racing at Batavia Downs kicks off on Friday (Dec. 14) and although 26 more races are yet to be contested, there are two that have already been settled. 

The dash winning driver and trainer for the 2018 meet are Drew Monti and JD Perrin.

This is the second driving title for Drew Monti (inset photo, right) at Batavia Downs and third overall of his career.

The 24-year-old Monti put together another stellar year in the bike; to date starting 560 times, winning 115 races, finishing second 89 times and third 72 times.

Those starts earned his connections $686,305 in purses and earned himself a Universal Driver Rating (UDR) of .337. 

Those numbers were solid additions to Monti’s overall figures for the year where he has 252 wins, 194 seconds and 174 thirds out of 1,260 starts with more than $1.52 million in earnings and a UDR of .332. 

JD Perrin (inset photo, below left) won the training title at the Downs three straight years from 2014-2016 making this his fourth title at the track.

With 192 starts, Perrin trainees have won 55 times with 31 seconds and 19 thirds giving him a Universal Trainer Rating (UTR) of .409.

His stable banked $298,248 for the session. 

Perrin’s annual numbers show 442 starts yielding 126 wins, 68 seconds and 51 thirds earning his group $633,623.

Also, Perrin currently ranks fourth in North America for UTR among trainers with less than 500 starts this year. 

Drew Monti and JD Perrin will receive their trophies in the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle at Batavia Downs after the 12th race on Saturday night (Dec. 15).

Please note that post time for Saturday’s card is early at 4:45 p.m.

Also on Saturday night, there are many opportunities for the fans to take advantage of before the lights go off for the last time this year. 

The $20,000 final of the Dash for the Holiday Cash series is the feature event and goes as the sixth race. 

There is a free Pick-6 contest with a mandatory payoff of $1,000.

The Pick-6 starts in race four and runs through race nine.

Entry blanks can be picked up at Players Club and can be deposited with your selections prior to the start of the fourth race.

Entries are limited to one per person. 

The Pick-6 is cosponsored by the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association. 

Then there will be a random drawing from all the Pick-6 entries to win 10 “Driver of the Meet” Drew Monti bobble heads and 10 official Dan Patch Awards baseball caps.

Ten winners will be drawn and each will receive both prizes. 

The bobble head and baseball cap give away is sponsored by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) and TAG Jewelers. 

Friday night (Dec. 14) is the UNY USHWA Night of Distinction awards presentations at Batavia Downs that will take place in the winner's circle between races. Post time on Friday is 6 p.m.

December 12, 2018 - 1:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs, horses of the meet.

By Tim Bojarski, president, UNY USHWA

Akron, NY --- With the Batavia Downs meet coming to a close this Saturday (Dec. 15) the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) has announced their horses of the meet.

Horse of the Meet -- In Runaway Bay N

In Runaway Bay N (Mach Three-Pullover Brown) raced in the top pacing class at Batavia Downs 13 times in 2018, more than any other horse at the meet. From 17 total starts he won five, finished second twice and third five more times and earned $39,455.

That total surpassed any other male pacer this season. He also defeated the legendary Foiled Again on Saturday (Sept. 21) in that great horse's last career appearance at the Downs. 

In Runaway Bay N is owned by Mark Jakubik, trained by Angelo Nappo and driven primarily by Kevin Cummings. 

Mare of the Meet -- Sportsmuffler

Sportsmuffler (Sportsmaster-Whatifthere’smore) competed in 14 Mares Open paces at Batavia Downs this year and won six of them. And when she won she did it with an exclamation point. In her 16 total starts this meet she also had three seconds and three thirds giving her an earnings total of $42,363 collected at the Downs. 

Sportsmuffler is owned by Rose Campbell, trained by Steve Kiblin and driven primarily by Billy Davis Jr.

Trotter of the Meet -- Lougazi

Lougazi (Lou’s Legacy-Winning Blade) had a rough start to the meet, making breaks with frequency. But in mid-September everything seemed to click and he turned into a monster. Making his way up through the classes, he hit the Open I and looked unbeatable there for a month.

He won three in a row and four out of six and took a lifetime mark of 1:56.3 in the process. When the dust settled he had 14 starts with six wins, three seconds and one third and earned $38,231.

Lougazi is owned by Mary Warriner, trained by Ryan Swift and driven by Ray Fisher Jr. 

Iron Horse of the Meet -- Empire Earl N

Empire Earl N (Earl-Santa Nita) is a 10-year-old trotter who came to North America from the New Zealand in 2016. In the little over two years he’s been racing here he has more than doubled his previous lifetime bank and almost tripled his wins as well.

His steady work continued at Batavia Downs this meet where he raced 19 times, won four times, finished second six times and third four more. These efforts earned him $43,736 in purses. 

Empire Earl N is owned by Kim Asher, trained by the 2018 Rising Star Award winner Riley Asher-Stalbaum and driven primarily by Drew Monti. 

The connections of all four horses will receive their trophies in the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle during the Night of Distinction at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Dec. 14).

December 11, 2018 - 1:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, president, UNY USHWA.

She was born to race and hit the ground running this, her first year of training. And hard work and perseverance has paid instant dividends for Riley Asher-Stalbaum and that is why she was named the 2018 Rising Star at Batavia Downs by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA). 

Asher-Stalbaum was brought up in the business, the daughter of accomplished trainer Kim Asher and longtime driver Larry Stalbaum. And having them first as parents and then as tutors have helped her to become very successful in life as a young lady and also in harness racing in her first venture as a full-time conditioner. 

This year, Asher-Stalbaum has raced a small but powerful stable that featured win-machines Quicksilvercandy A, Kaitlyn Rae and Empire Earl N who combined have a total of 38 victories and $231,488 in purses earned in 2018. 

At Batavia Downs her numbers showed 124 starts with 17 wins, 15 seconds and 17 thirds and $133,409 in earnings. 

All those statistics are very impressive for a first-year trainer only 11 days removed from her 19th birthday. 

Asher-Stalbaum aspires to make a living doing what she loves and follow in the footsteps of her parents. And if the results of her first year are any indication, the business better take notice of the girl in the red and white silks in the coming years. 

Riley Asher-Stalbaum will receive her trophy in the Purple Haze Winner's Circle during the Night of Distinction at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Dec. 14).

Submitted photo from Riley Asher-Stalbaum on social media.

December 10, 2018 - 5:18pm

Press release:

The Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund has announced that the 2019 New York Sire Stakes Finals will be hosted on Saturday, Sept. 14 at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel.

The richest night of racing in New York, the “Night of Champions” will hand out $1.8 million in purse money to the top state-bred 2 and 3-year-old Standardbred horses.

The Fund’s Board of Trustees previously selected Batavia based on its impressive proposal to host the event and offer an exciting fan experience. This will be Batavia Downs’ first time hosting the event.

The New York Sire Stakes program promotes the breeding, buying, and racing of Standardbred horses in New York State, and is administered by the Fund. It was the first program of is kind, featuring 2 and 3-year old colts and fillies, and has become the model for state-bred racing programs in North America.

About the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund

The Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund is a public benefit corporation established in 1965 by the Laverne Law (Laws of New York, Chapter 567 of the Laws of 1965).

The mission of the fund is to promote agriculture through the breeding of Standardbred horses and the conduct of equine research within the state. To carry out its legislative mission, the Fund administers the New York Sire Stakes races, Excelsior/State Fair Series races, and County Fair Races.

Additionally, the Fund provides assistance to county agriculture societies and contributes to the statewide 4-H program and to the Harry M. Zweig Fund for Equine Research.

December 10, 2018 - 12:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs, USHWA, steve pratt.

By Tim Bojarski, president, Upstate New York USHWA

The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) has announced that Steve Pratt (inset photo) will receive their Lifetime Achievement Award during the Night of Distinction at Batavia Downs on Friday (Dec. 14).  

Pratt first got his grooms license in 1970 and from there has been involved in harness racing ever since. He has been training and racing horses in Western New York since the late seventies when the star of his barn was an Open trotter named Willow Hill Boy who under the reinsmanship of the legendary Gaston Guindon, won 42 races in only five years against the best horses on the grounds at the time. 

Pratt moved on from racing overnights to concentrate on breaking and developing young horses. He became a presence on the New York county fair circuit but made the move to the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) in the mid-'90s. There he found early success with horses like Sal The Barber (1:58.2, $114,887) and Choyote’s Miss (1:59.1, $121,785). But he really got on a successful roll in the NYSS starting in 2012. 

For the last seven years Pratt has been a trotting force in the state-bred series with a string of “Barn” named horses that have competed in the NYSS, the Excel series and also at the county fairs. The parade of his champions is led most prominently by Barn Doll (1:52.1, $874,083), Barn Bella (1:51.3, $742,350), Barn Girl (1:52.3, $734,668), Barn Babe (1:54.2, $350,463) and Barn Winner (1:56, $165,273).   

During those seven years Pratt-trained horses have earned more than $2 million in only 227 starts, winning 97 races which gave him a phenomenal 42-percent win percentage. Pratt’s Universal Trainer Rating (UTR) for that same period is a stellar .558 and all this was accomplished racing primarily in stake competition. 

Steve Pratt will receive his trophy in the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle between races during the live card. 

December 10, 2018 - 12:27pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo of driver Kevin Cummings courtesy of Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

After being involved in an accident at Batavia Downs late last week, perennial Western New York driving leader Kevin Cummings will not return to action until next year. 

While driving in the first race on Friday night (Dec. 7) Cummings horse made a break causing the horse directly behind to collide into him, hitting Cummings on the left-side back at full speed. The two horses became entangled but were brought to a stop in the clubhouse turn just past the half. 

Cummings and the driver of the other horse, Mike Caprio (who also became unseated), were evaluated on site immediately after the track was cleared. Caprio returned to drive the remainder of the night however Cummings was sent for further medical evaluation. 

After being examined in the hospital it was determined that Cummings had three broken ribs, torn cartilage and internal bleeding. He was sent home and is in the process of healing under the care of his personal physician. 

Given the severity of his injuries, Cummings estimated his time away from the sulky to be two to three months. 

“I always wear my safety vest under my colors. It’s paid off in the past and it certainly paid of Friday. If I didn’t have that thing on I would have crushed my entire rib cage and had extensive organ damage,” Cummings said.

“I always tell the young guys to make sure they use theirs because you never know when you are going down.” 

Cummings, who is a four-time dash champion at Batavia Downs, is currently second in the standings this year with 102 wins and had a legitimate shot at taking a fifth title. This season saw him earn more than $1.2 million in purses, which is the 10th straight year he has gone over the million-dollar mark. 

For his career Cummings has won 3,820 races and over $17 million in earnings.

December 9, 2018 - 2:24pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Lucky McTrucky with driver Drew Monti.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Lucky McTrucky got back to his winning ways taking the $11,500 Open Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Dec. 8).

The feature field got away in post position order leaving Cultural Paradise (Jim McNeight Jr.) on top calling the shots and with no pressure to the half, it was a soft fraction of :58 flat. However that would soon change when In Runaway Bay N (Truman Gale) came calling first-up on the outside where the race began to get interesting.

In Runaway Bay N paced along with Cultural Paradise up the backstretch in a quick :28.3 third panel and while that was going on, Lucky McTrucky (Drew Monti) joined the party late but came with lots of pace. Halfway through the turn Monti tipped Lucky McTrucky three-deep and caught the leaders by the top of the stretch and then went right by in the lane to win by two-lengths in 1:55.4.

It was the 55th lifetime win and 13th of the season for Lucky McTrucky ($10.60) who now has earned $93,405 in 2018 for owner Tessa Roland. JD Perrin trains the winner.

The $9,900 Open II pace saw Western Rockstar A (Shawn McDonough) close sharply after chasing an early speed battle between Linkjack Hanover (Bob Verney) and Littlebitofabrat (Ray Fisher Jr.) to pull the upset in 1:56.2. Western Rockstar A ($24) captured his fifth win of the year for owner Super Mile LLC. Angelo Nappo is the trainer.

Three drivers won 10 of the 12 races on Saturday evening. Drew Monti was the big dog copping a Grand Slam of wins. Then Shawn McDonough and Denny Bucceri were right behind, each having a triple on the card.

Next week is the final week of racing at Batavia Downs and it starts on Friday night (Dec. 14) with post time set at 6 o'clock. There is no racing on Wednesday (Dec. 12).

December 8, 2018 - 1:53pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo of Empire Earl N with drive Drew Monti.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

After going winless since Sept. 7 when he trotted a season’s best 1:56.3, Empire Earl N has regained early season form winning two consecutive top-class races at Batavia Downs. The second score came on Friday night (Dec.7) when he captured the $11,000 Open Handicap trot.  

Empire Earl N (Drew Monti) got away third as Crystal Sphere (Billy Davis Jr.) made a beeline for the lead and when he got there, backed off the proceedings. After a leisurely stroll to the half in 1:01.2, Davis hit the gas, opened up a five-length advantage and tried to put the swoop to the group. Motoring along well on the point, Crystal Sphere looked very much the best, however there was a lot of race left.  

As the group moved from the five-eighths to the three-quarters, Monti tipped Empire Earl N and started chipping away at Crystal Sphere’s lead. Around the last turn he was on his back and at the head of the stretch he drew even on the outside and from there, Empire Earl N got stout and trotted away under mild urging from Monti to win by a length in 1:59.3.

Empire Earl N ($4.70) reached double-digit wins for 2018, scoring his 10th of the year for owner Kim Asher. He has also earned $90,354 this year which has been his career best under the tutelage of trainer Riley Asher-Stalbaum.

In the $8,800 Open II trot Labatt Hanover (Shawn McDonough) made easy work of five foes, posting even fractions en route to a three-length victory in 1:59.3. Labatt Hanover ($8.70) scored his sixth victory of 2018 for owners Gary and Cynthia Saj. His driver McDonough also does the conditioning.

Aside from capturing the feature race, driver Drew Monti also had two other wins giving him a Hat Trick on the night. Billy Davis Jr. and Mike Caprio also had driving doubles during the nine-race card.

There was no winner of the early Pick-5 on Friday and as a result, there is a $534 carry-over and a guaranteed pool of $1,500 for the early Pick-5 when racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday. Post time for the first race at 6 p.m.

December 8, 2018 - 1:45pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Horsemen racing at Batavia Downs should take note of the draw schedule for the final week of racing for 2018. 

There will be a double draw held on Tuesday (Dec. 11) for Friday (Dec. 14) and Saturday (Dec. 15) with the box closing at 9 a.m. After the draw, the judges will also close both programs on Tuesday (Dec. 11). 

Also please note that post time for Friday (Dec. 14) is 6 p.m. while post time for Saturday (Dec. 15) is early at 4:45 p.m.  

For any inquiries about conditions or to call your entries in, please contact Race Secretary Joe Zambito at 585-344-6304.

The complete condition sheet for racing at Batavia Downs is available on the Batavia Downs website (www.bataviadownsgaming.com) under Live Racing>Horsemen>Condition Sheet and also on the USTA website (www.ustrotting.com) by clicking Horsemen>Condition Sheets.

December 6, 2018 - 3:53pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo of driver Billy Davis Jr. with Sportsmuffler.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs​

As the weather gets colder, she keeps getting bolder. Sportsmuffler continued to dominate the local distaff colony by winning the $10,400 fillies and mares Open handicap pace with little effort on a cold night at Batavia Downs on Monday (Dec. 5). 

Driver Billy Davis Jr. left three-wide with the 1-5 Sportsmuffler and out-dueled Kaitlyn Rae (Mike Caprio) to the catbird seat from where she dictated the rest of the race this night. With no challengers for three-quarters of the mile, Sportsmuffler got to that station in 1:26.4 when Caprio pulled the pocket-sitting Kaitlyn Rae to take their best shot. But try as they might, their best was no match for the streaking Sportsmuffler who after a tap and a swish from Davis, paced away to a two-length victory in 1:55.4. 

Sportsmuffler ($2.40) has now won five out of the last eight top class mares races in as many starts at Batavia. She has also matched her 2017 career-best total of wins, scoring her 11th this year and has reached a new single-season high for earnings of $74,506 for owner Rose Campbell. Steve Kiblin is the trainer of the Sportsmaster progeny. 

Davis had a stellar night in the bike besides winning the feature. He also won two other races on the card of eight giving him a Hat Trick for the evening. 

Davis has been on a roll the past couple of weeks and as such, is now in the conversation for leading dash driver of the meet. With Wednesday’s three wins Davis now has 97 for the session, only 10 behind the leading Drew Monti (107) and five behind second place Kevin Cummings (102). With four nights left in the meet, Davis has a legitimate shot of making up the shortfall and taking the 2018 driver race to a photo finish. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Dec. 7) with post time set for 6 p.m.  

December 2, 2018 - 1:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo of Runaway Bay N with driver Kevin Cummings.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

As the rain came down, In Runaway Bay N splashed through it in a convincing gate to wire triumph in the $11,500 Open Handicap pace on Saturday night (Dec. 1) at Batavia Downs.

In Runaway Bay N (Kevin Cummings) took early command from post two and set down even early fractions; reaching the half in :58.3. As they rounded the second turn and headed up the backstretch Upfront Countryboy (Billy Davis Jr.) came first-over with Iyq Yqr (Denny Bucceri) on his back and both tried to push the issue from there.

Moving to the three-quarters Upfront Countryboy’s bid stalled, forcing Iyq Yqr to go three-wide. When In Runaway Bay N tripped the timer there in 1:27.1 he seemed to be pacing stronger as the outside bid from both horses failed. The only challenge left would be from Dark Horse (Shawn McDonough) who had been sitting the pocket trip and was game to take his best shot. But as the race headed down the stretch In Runaway Bay N opened up two-lengths on everyone and paced home sharply to win in 1:55.2.

In Runaway Bay N ($6.90) is owned by Mark Jakubik and trained by Angelo Nappo. The 8-year-old altered son of Mach Three has had a stellar year scoring eight wins and earning $66,125 in purses to date,

Golden Gun (Josh Kinney) came from well off the pace in the $9,900 Open II undercard and out-muscled Western Rockstar A (Shawn McDonough) and Sunset Sid (Denny Bucceri) at the wire to win in 1:57.2. Owned by the Whiz Kids Stable, the Jeff Sorenson trained Golden Gun ($4.80) scored his eighth win of the year and raised his earnings total to $38,550 for 2018.

Kevin Cummings scored a driving Hat Trick on Saturday leading all drivers on the card.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday with post time for the first race at 5 p.m.

December 1, 2018 - 2:18pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo of Empire Earl N with driver Drew Monti.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Another sloppy track greeted participants for Friday night’s (Nov. 30) card but it was no impediment for Empire Earl N who double-moved to victory in the $11,500 Open handicap trot at Batavia Downs.

Leaving from post four, Empire Earl N (Drew Monti) tucked second behind Crystal Sphere (Billy Davis Jr.) who led the field to the half in :59.1. At that station the outside train came with Labatt Hanover (Shawn McDonough) on the engine and post time favorite Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) third-over in the caboose,

As the group motored up the backside Fisher grew impatient and pulled Lougazi three-wide to try and sweep the field. But several steps into that move Lougazi made a break and the whole raced changed right there. Empire Earl N now had room to come off the pylons and Monti got him rolling around the last turn. After drawing next to Crystal Sphere, Empire Earl N continued right on by and under mild urging, opened up a length lead to win in 1:58.3.

Now boasting $84,854 in earnings on the strength of nine wins this year, the 10-year-old Empire Earl N ($12.40) is having a career year for wins, earnings and mark for owner Kim Asher and trainer Riley Asher-Stalbaum.

In the $8,800 Open II trot, Are You In (Kevin Cummings) turned a second-over trip past the half into a winning three-wide move at the top of the stretch where he passed Barn Winner (Ray Fisher Jr.) down the lane to win his fourth race of the year, timed in 2:00. Are You In ($5.40) is owned by Anthony Alessi and is trained by his driver, Kevin Cummings.  

Shawn McDonough had a huge driving triple on Friday, lighting up the board with two of the wins. He scored with Heza Swan ($60), Raylan Givens ($6.50) and Back To Motown ($26.80).

With no winning ticket on the early Pick-5 on Friday, there is a carry-over of $570 and a guaranteed pool of $1,500 for the early Pick-5 this evening (Dec.1) when racing resumes at Batavia Downs. Post time for the first race at 6 p.m.

November 30, 2018 - 2:55pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs has announced today that a new late-closer series for horses that have raced at the track this year will be offered in December. 

“The Dash for Holiday Cash” is for horses that are non-winners of $20,000 in 2018 as of Tuesday (Nov. 27) with at least 10 starts at Batavia Downs and five of those starts must have been for a purse of $5,200 or less since Wednesday (July 25). There is no entry fee for this series.  

Eliminations will be held on Saturday (Dec. 8) for a purse of $6,000. The final will be on Saturday (Dec. 15) and will offer a purse of $20,000. There will also be a consolation on Saturday (Dec. 15) and they will vie for $8,000. 

The eliminations will go with six or more horses with no more than two horses per owner or trainer. The finals will go with eight horses with no more than two horses per owner or trainer.

There will be one also-eligible drawn for the final. 

Horses will advance from the eliminations to the finals based on the horses placement in the eliminations, fastest time in the eliminations and most money made in 2018. 

The series will be on the regular condition sheet for the respective Saturdays and regular entry rules will apply.  

For any inquiries about this series please contact Race Secretary Joe Zambito at 585-344-6304. 

November 29, 2018 - 12:45pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Sportsmuffler silences rivals in Batavia distaff feature

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

(Photo courtesy of Paul White)

Photo of driver Billy Davis Jr. and Sportsmuffler.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Trounced would be kind; annihilated would be accurate. Sportsmuffler took the best local mares to task at Batavia Downs on Wednesday evening (Nov. 28) and taught school after winning by open-lengths going away in the $10,400 Open Handicap fillies and mares pace. 

Billy Davis Jr. wasted no time getting the lead off the gate and started a gapped journey immediately. After getting to the half in :58.1 over the sloppy track in a snow-globe, Sportsmuffler strode-away to a three-length lead when she hit three-quarters in 1:27. And then after rounding the far turn, she was gone. 

As she spiraled out the final bend and hit the straight Sportsmuffler was in a race against time alone as no one was even near her. With Davis a mere passenger, Sportsmuffler continued to widen her advantage, eventually stretching it to eight at the wire where she was the easiest of winners in 1:56.1. 

It was the 10th victory of the year for Sportsmuffler ($2.80) who has now earned $69,306 for owner Rose Campbell. Steve Kiblin does the training. 

In the $8,800 fillies and mares Open II, Susie’s Delight (Ray Fisher Jr.) led from gate to wire, taking advantage of pedestrian fractions to the three-quarters to close out the contest with a one-length victory in 1:59.4. Ryan Swift trains the winner for the Swift Racing Stable.

Billy Davis Jr. also won two other races on the card Wednesday giving him the Hat Trick to lead all drivers. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday evening (Nov. 30) with post time set for 6 o'clock.

November 25, 2018 - 3:21pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Iyq Yqr with reinsman Denny Bucceri wins Saturday night's Open Handicap pace at Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

After finishing fourth last week while being parked out the whole mile, Iyq Yqr rebounded Saturday night (Nov. 24) with a come-from-behind effort to win the $11,500 Open Handicap pace at Batavia Downs.

There were no leavers this week when the gate released the group, leaving In Runaway Bay (Kevin Cummings) in charge of the fractions and as such, they went to the quarter in :29.2 and the half in :58.4. Cummings breather ended there though as Iyq Yqr (Denny Bucceri) was out and rolling at that point and was looking for revenge.

Iyq Yqr moved forward methodically and drew near In Runaway Bay by the three-quarter pole. These two hooked up around the last turn, matching strides and pacing in unison. At the head of the stretch Iyq Yqr got the lead and drew clear to a length advantage that he held to the wire where he won in 1:56.2.

It was the eighth win of the year for Iyq Yqr ($8.30) who has now earned $34,451 this year for owners Blindswitch Racing Stable, Anthony Nicometo, Good Friends Racing Stable and Santo Farina. Jeff Amann trains the winner.  

In the $9,900 Open II pace Dark Horse (Shawn McDonough) made a three-wide move from fourth at the three-quarters to draw alongside of the leading Sunset Sid (Denny Bucceri) around the last turn before going right on by in mid-stretch to win by a length in 1:57.1. Having a career year, Dark Horse ($9.40) now has six wins and $54,696 earned for owner VHF Racing and trainer Sabrina Clevenger.

Drew Monti and Denny Bucceri led all drivers on Saturday scoring three wins each on the 13-race card.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 28) with post time at 5 o'clock.

November 24, 2018 - 2:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Southern Palms with driver Kevin Cummings scores an upset in Batavia feature.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Southern Palms has been knocking on the door the past two weeks in Batavia Downs top trot, but Friday night (Nov. 23) he kicked that door down and dethroned Lougazi in winning the $11,500 Open Handicap trot.

Crystal Sphere (Billy Davis Jr.) and Southern Palms (Kevin Cummings) both left from mid-pack and settled on the front in that same order. After doing one lap in :58.1 the outer flow came at them with last week’s winner Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) sitting third in the three-horse outside assault.

As the two-tiers past the five-eighths, Crystal Sphere and Southern Palms had separated from the field and Fisher tipped three-deep around the stalled outer advance, but he was still six-lengths from the front at the three-quarters in 1:27.4.

Heading into the lane Cummings pulled Southern Palms and took dead-aim at Crystal Sphere, passing that one halfway down the stretch. But he still had to deal with Lougazi who was flying down the middle of the track and looked like he might reach. But Southern Palms got to the wire first and won by a head in 1:57.

It was the eighth win of the year for Southern Palms ($15.60) who has now banked $66,441 in earnings this year for owner Mike Torcello. Western New York racing legend Gerry Sarama trains the winner.  

The $8,800 Open II trot was won by Barn Winner (Ray Fisher Jr.) who tracked the front-running Lenny Mac (Billy Davis Jr.) from the garden spot the entire mile before pulling at the head of the lane and out-trotting her to the wire to win by a head in 1:58.1. It was the fourth win of the year for Barn Winner ($5.90) who is trained by Ryan Swift for owners Tanah Merah Farm and the Swift Racing Stable.  

Drew Monti and Billy Davis Jr. led all drivers on Friday with two wins each on the card.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday evening (Nov. 24) with post time at 6 o'clock.

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