Local Matters

Community Sponsors

harness racing

December 15, 2020 - 12:24pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Despite the many challenges faced in every aspect of the business from day one right through the final race due to the global coronavirus pandemic, Batavia Downs was able to race safely throughout the duration of its dates and just completed one of its most successful meets with regards to nightly handle. 

“The 2020 season was a rousing success because all parties involved in the racing product worked together to insure the health and safety of everyone on the grounds at all times,” said Todd Haight, director/general manager of Live racing at Batavia Downs. “With the help and cooperation of the New York State Gaming Commission and the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association headed by Bruce Tubin, we were able to formulate a safety plan that got us through the entire meet without incident.

"That in turn allowed us to engage our customers with quality racing all year and put up record breaking betting numbers despite the absence of a live crowd. That is an accomplishment that all of our racing participants should be proud of.”

Henry F. Wojtaszek, president and CEO of Batavia Downs added “I am very pleased with another flawless race season at the Downs as everyone pulled together to ensure the facility was safe for our horsemen and horse women, staff and customers. Safety during COVID was our number one goal while still offering a fun, family-oriented and exciting harness racing atmosphere.” 

Despite racing 21 less dates than 2019, bataviabets.com, the online betting arm of Western Regional Off Track Betting (WROTB), saw a huge 67-percent increase in total handle on Batavia Downs and the nightly handle average saw a spectacular 151-percent increase during the 42-night schedule.

The increase exhibited the strong following the track has via its export signal customers and their taking advantage of the generous monthly rewards of up to 8 percent on their wagers through the bataviabets.com wagering platform. 

Another contributing factor was the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program that Batavia frequently utilized during the meet. It helped expose the product to a greater audience through free program pages and enhanced betting pools and the track saw major handle increases on nights where the Strategic Wagers were offered. 

The OTB handle which includes Batavia bets and our EZ-Bets rose by 52 percent, the track’s export handle grew by 35 percent and the total betting that included only very limited on-track betting in the clubhouse rose by 21 percent.

Scott P. Kiedrowski, vice-president of Operations said “We are thrilled with our numbers for the 2020 meet here at Batavia Downs. All of our staff did exceptional work under the most difficult circumstances.”

Haight added it was a record total betting number since WROTB reopened the track in 2002.

The dash winning driver of the meet was Jim Morrill Jr. who notched his third driving title at the Downs. In 408 starts Morrill won 102 races with 72 seconds and 53 thirds for a .391 UDR and winnings of $507,686 for the meet. Morrill also scored his 7,500th career victory at the Downs this past November.

Finishing second was Billy Davis Jr. who had 486 starts with 91 wins, 87 seconds and 54 thirds and $422,477 in purses, and Drew Monti who had 404 starts with 75 wins, 71 seconds and 62 thirds with $374,608 in earnings rounded out the top three.   

The dash winning trainer of the meet was Gerry Sarama who captured his first conditioning title at Batavia. Not only did he win 64 races, finish second 36 times and third 28 more for winnings of $286,068, Sarama also registered career training win 1,000 at Batavia this year. 

Shawn McDonough was second with 31 wins, 24 seconds and 39 thirds out of 214 starts with $138,544 in purses and Maria Rice was third with 30 wins, 30 seconds and 20 thirds from 174 starts and $184,833 in winnings. 

Upon approval from the New York State Gaming Commission, live racing will resume at Batavia Downs on Wednesday, July 21.

December 13, 2020 - 11:54am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo: Stratosphere with driver Drew Monti.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The curtain came down on the 2020 racing meet at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 12) but not before Stratosphere captured the final $9,600 Open pace featured race on a mild December night. 

Driver Drew Monti sent Stratosphere off the wings and took a lead he would not relinquish. With the field in single file fashion, Stratosphere went to the quarter in :28.1 and then backed the half down to :58.2. That prompted Santana Beach (Ron Beback Jr.) to pull first over to try and mount a challenge. 

When the race rounded the third turn Stratosphere raised the stakes, pacing the third quarter in :28.1 and opening up a two length lead at three-quarters. From there Stratosphere made his way around the final bend and paced away to a wrapped-up three-length romp in 1:55.1.

It was the seventh win of the year for Stratosphere ($7.60) who has now earned $54,241 for owner Drew Monti. Darrin Monti trains the winner. 

In the $7,800 undercard pace, Allstar Energy (Ron Beback Jr.) pulled from fifth at the half and made a brush-and-crush move at the five-eighths to take the lead from Beachy Dream (Jim Morrill Jr.) while pacing a very fast :27.2 third quarter. Once in front, Allstar Energy maintained his advantage to the wire where he won by a length in 1:56.

It was the eighth win of the year for Allstar Energy ($11.60) who is owned by Sandra Beback and James Kustra. Ron Beback also trains the winner. 

Drew Monti scored a driving Grand Slam to lead all drivers on Saturday. Besides winning with Stratosphere, Monti also scored with Big Pocket Teen (1:56.2, $15.80), Mateo (1:56.4, $4.30) and Love The Dragon (1:57.4, $3.30).

Darrin Monti and Gerry Sarama were the top trainers with two wins each on the card. 

The Pick-5 on Saturday had a guaranteed pool of $3,000 and that stoked a new money input of $5,499 into the wager. The combination of 4-4-1,4-5-2 returned a healthy $687 for a $1 bet. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (July 21) when the 2021 season begins. The management and staff of Batavia Downs would like to wish all their horsemen and customers a very Happy Holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

December 12, 2020 - 2:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs is featuring a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager today (Dec. 12) with a mandatory payout as this is the final card of the meet.

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

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, the closest combination(s) will be paid out today. 

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

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

By Tim Bojarski, president, UNY-USHWA
 

As the 2020 Batavia Downs meet draws to a close on Saturday (Dec. 12), the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has announced the top human and equine performers for this past season. 

These awards would normally be presented in the winner’s circle on the final night of racing during the annual UNY-USHWA Night of Distinction.

However due to state restrictions with regard to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, that will not be the case this year.

The award winners will be given gift certificates in the paddock in lieu of the usual trackside ceremony because no one is allowed on the apron. 

This will be the first time the Night of Distinction has not been held since its inception in 2008. 

The following were the best on the track from the 2020 Batavia Downs season. 

Driver of the Meet - Jim Morrill Jr.

A two-time dash title winner at Batavia Downs already, Jim Morrill Jr. (top inset photo) notched his third after winning 101 races, finishing 11 wins ahead of the second place Billy Davis Jr. who won this award last year. In 401 starts at Batavia Morrill also had 70 seconds and 51 thirds for a .391 UDR and winnings of $500,000 for the meet. Morrill, who scored his 7,500th career victory at the Downs this past November, currently sits 13th in North America for UDR among all drivers with 500 or more starts and his overall mark of .383 for the year is the highest he’s had since the 2016 season. 

For all of 2020 Morrill has 742 starts, 180 wins, 133 seconds and 92 thirds and $1,267,773 in earnings.

Trainer of the Meet -- Gerry Sarama

 

Not only did Gerry Sarama (inset photo left) register career training win 1,000 at Batavia this year, he also won 62 races, finishing 31 ahead of his nearest competitor to claim his first training title at the Downs. Sarama also had 34 seconds and 26 thirds during the meet with total earnings of $275,112.

Sarama has had one of his best overall years training in 2020 with 87 wins, 60 seconds and 55 thirds out of 426 starts while posting a UTR of .326 and earnings of $475,635. That UTR is the highest Sarama has had in 22 years as a conditioner. Sarama also trained two of the meet’s three equine award winners.

(Above, Black Is Back.)

Pacer of the Meet -- Black Is Back (Western Terror -- Magic Moments) 1:52.1, $288,875

Black Is Back made 16 starts at the Downs and won six Open I Handicap paces while finishing second and third twice each, banking purses of $33,645 in the process. He registered his season’s best time on August 29 when he toured the facility at Batavia in a sharp 1:53.4.  

This is the second consecutive year Black Is Back has been named Horse of the Meet at Batavia Downs. 

Black Is Back is owned by Curtis Edholm and Mihajlo Zdjelar Sr. and is trained by Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr.

(Above, II Mago.)

Trotter of the Meet -- Il Mago (Kadabra-Northern Style) 1:52.3, $899,763

Il Mago came to western New York through a private purchase back in July and won his first two races upon arrival. Since the Batavia meet began, he has been in the Open I Handicap trot every week and has dominated that class all meet. In 14 starts Il Mago has won seven, was second twice and third once more and earned $35,390 during that time. His best win time at the Downs was 1:56.4, a mark he hit twice during the meet. 

The classy 11-year-old has 55 lifetime wins and is currently just $237 short of $900,000 lifetime and has a legitimate chance to cross the $1 million dollar threshold before he retires. 

Il Mago is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama.

(Above, Sir Richie N.)

Claimer of the Meet -- Sir Richie N 

Sir Richie N started the year racing at the Meadowlands and found his way to Western New York through a private sale in January. Although he had moderate success earlier in the year, it was nothing like he would see when he got to Batavia. Sir Richie N raced in claimers ranging from $4,000 to $10,000 during his 18 starts and he won 10 of those along with three seconds. 

His fastest win came on Oct. 3 when he paced the Genesee County oval in 1:55. His efforts earned him $30,630 in purses and a very strong following at the windows. 

Sir Richie N is owned by Mike Torcello and is trained by Gerry Sarama. 

Also, Batavia Downs has announced that the track will offer a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager on Saturday (Dec. 12) with a mandatory payout as this is the final card of the meet.

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

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, the closest combination(s) will be paid out on Saturday. Post time for the first race is 5 p.m.

December 9, 2020 - 10:55pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo: CR Blazin Beauty with driver Ray Fisher Jr. in the lead.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Despite wintry conditions and a sloppy track, driver Ray Fisher Jr. was on top of his game and delivered five horses to the winner’s circle at Batavia Downs on tonight (Dec. 9) including three straight winners in races two through four for the natural hat trick. 

Fisher’s top score was in the $10,200 Open I Handicap trot with CR Blazin Beauty, who bolted right to the front and called all the shots. With the two post time favorites making breaks before the quarter, CR Blazin Beauty went unchallenged through fractions of :28.2, :59 and 1:27.4 and then turned for home with a four-length lead. From there she trotted to the wire under wraps to win in 1:59.1. 

The victory pushed CR Blazin Beauty ($8.70) to $41,275 in earnings for the year for owner Marissa Russo. David Russo trains. 

Fisher also won with Lady Justice (2:02.4, $19.20) and Mr. Quaker (2:01.2, $6.90), both of whom are trained by his wife Ryan Swift, and Wonderful World (1:58.2, $5.00) and Awake My Soul (2:00.1, $2.50) who were both trained by Sabrina Shaw. 

(Above, Blue Bell Bonnie with driver Jim Morrill Jr. in the lead.)

Fisher wasn’t the only hot driver on the cold night as Jim Morrill Jr. also had a grand slam on Wednesday.

Morrill took the co-featured $10,200 Open I Handicap pace for fillies and mares with Blue Bell Bonnie who also went coast to coast. Blue Bell Bonnie tucked third off the gate but Morrill made an early power play pulling past the eighth to take the lead from Lady London (Ray Fisher Jr.) at the quarter. Once there, the pair led to the half in :58.1 and three-quarters in 1:27.1. Coming off the last turn Lady London pulled to take a shot at the leader but Blue Bell Bonnie would have none of that. She switched gears and paced away to an easy length win in 1:57.3. 

It was the sixth win of the year for Blue Bell Bonnie ($4.30) who is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama. 

Morrill filled out his card winning with Le Millienaire (2:02.3, $5.40), Southern Palms (2:00.3, $4.10) and Simonthediamond (2:03.2, $5.40). 

Live racing at Batavia Downs will resume one more time in 2020 as the meet comes to a close on Saturday (Dec. 9) and the Downs has announced there will be a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager that night.

The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages will be available courtesy of Trackmaster on the Batavia Downs and USTA websites on Thursday (Dec. 10). 

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

December 8, 2020 - 1:27pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs has announced there will be a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday (Dec. 9).

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

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on the Saturday (Dec. 12) program.

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

December 6, 2020 - 1:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo: McSpidey with driver Jim Morrill Jr. in the forefront.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Driver Jim Morrill Jr., trainer Jim Clouser Jr. and owner William Emmons teamed up to win both feature paces at Batavia Downs on a snowy and sloppy Saturday night (Dec. 5). 

In the $8,500 Open I Handicap pace, McSpidey coasted behind Tullow N (Dave McNeight III) through quarters of :28.4, :58.4 and 1:27.2 before leaving the pocket off the last turn and outpacing him to the wire in a quick :28.4 last quarter to win by 3/4 of a length in 1:56.2. 

It was the third straight win for McSpidey ($3.20) and his first Open I victory at Batavia Downs this year.

Then in the $7,500 Open II Handicap pace, Long Train Runnin left, took command and never looked back. After getting to the half in a tepid :58.2, Morrill hit the gas and opened up a three-length lead at three-quarters and extended it to five at the top of the stretch. From there he was wrapped up heading for home the easiest of winners in an identical time of 1:56.2. 

It was the second win in the last three starts and sixth win of the year for Long Train Runnin ($2.50) who has only missed one check in his last 10 starts. 

Morrill also won two more races on the card giving him a Grand Slam for the evening. Morrill is the meet’s leading dash win driver, currently with 97 wins. 

Another Grand Slam winner was trainer Gerry Sarama who scored four with Big Pocket Teen 1:59.1, $89.50), (Beachy Dream (1:58, $3.90), Sir Richie N (1:58.1, $3.00) and Love The Dragon (1:58.1, $5.60). Sarama has 60 wins this meet to lead all other trainers by a minimum of 30 wins. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Dec. 9) and will kick off the final week of the meet. Wednesday will feature a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager.

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

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on the Saturday (Dec. 12) program.

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

December 3, 2020 - 12:53pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo: Il Mago with driver Billy Davis Jr.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

A field of Open trotters and Open filly and mare pacers went postward, each for $8,500 on Wednesday evening (Dec. 2) at Batavia Downs and two local favorites notched additional wins to their already impressive resumes. 

On the trot, Il Mago (Billy Davis Jr.) continued to dominate the diagonal-gaited gang after grabbing a quick lead and opening up a 2-1/2 length lead going to the quarter in :28.3. He then extended that lead to four lengths at the half and five at three-quarters. Turning for home, Il Mago was already wrapped-up and trotted unabated with 6-1/4 in hand stopping the clock in 1:56.4, which was only one-fifth of a second off his seasonal mark.

It was the 55th career win, ninth win of the season and fourth win in a row for Il Mago ($4.60) who is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama.

(Above, Il Mago with driver Billy Davis Jr.)

The top distaff pacers saw the return of Il Mago (Billy Davis Jr.) after a seven week sabbatical and “Sissy” came to play on Wednesday. After taking command right off the gate, she tripped the timer in :28.1, :58.4 and 1:27.1 before a credible threat presented itself in the name of Lady Dudette (Kyle Cummings), who got close to the leader heading into the last turn. But close would be as far as it went as HP Sissy turned for home and held sway to the line where she won by 1/2 length in 1:56.3.

It was the seventh win of the year for HP Sissy ($6.50) and owner Finocchario’s Dream Stable. Jim McNeight trains the winner.

Bill Davis Jr. and Ray Fisher Jr. both had driving hat tricks on Wednesday while trainers Ryan Swift and Sabrina Shaw each registered two wins. 

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

December 2, 2020 - 1:24pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs has announced there will be a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager today (Dec. 2).

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

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

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

December 2, 2020 - 1:21pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs has announced that it will be increasing all purses by 20 percent for the final week of racing of the 2020 meet. That would raise the top purse for all Opens from $8,500 to $10,200 all the way down to the bottom purse from $3,200 to $3,800. 

“It has been a very difficult season for everyone in this business and we are pleased to be raising the purses during the final days of racing to help the horsemen get a jump on their expenses heading into the downtime between meets.” said Todd Haight, director/general manager of Live Racing.

“Despite all the challenges this year, we have been able to complete our meet without interruption and that is do to everyone involved working safely and carrying out all our safety guidelines. Hopefully the increased purses will help make the holidays a little better for all.”    

The final week of racing consists of Wednesday (Dec. 9) and Saturday (Dec. 12) with post time for both days at 5 p.m.

November 29, 2020 - 1:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo, Black Is Back with driver Dave McNeight III.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

After two consecutive third place finishes, Black Is Back returned to the winner’s circle after taking the $8,500 Open I Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday evening (Nov. 28). 

Tullow N (Ray Fisher Jr.) took command of the field and led them to the half in a pedestrian :58.1. Black Is Back (Dave McNeight III) came rolling up first-over from third in front of the stands and started a slow grind towards the leader. It took until the three-quarters to get near Tullow N but Black Is Back was now in full gear and wearing him down. At the top of the stretch Black Is Back swelled up, took the lead and kicked away to a 2-3/4 length victory in 1:55.4. 

It was the eighth win of the year for Black Is Back ($3.70) and it pushed his earnings to $46,025 for owners Curtis Edholm and Mihajlo Zdjelar Sr. Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr. trains the winner.

(Above, McSpidey with driver Jim Morrill Jr.)

In the $7,500 Open II Handicap pace, McSpidey (Jim Morrill Jr.) destroyed the filed by leading by as much as three lengths while cutting fractions of :27.4, :57.1 and 1:25.3 before turning for home and pacing away to an impressive 1-3/4 length win in 1:54.4. 

It was the second consecutive win in identical time for McSpidey ($3.80) and owner William Emmons. Jim Clouser Jr. is the trainer. 

Jim Morrill Jr. led all drivers with three wins on Saturday while trainers Gerry Sarama, Jim McNeight and Tammy Cummings all registered two wins apiece. 

There was a guaranteed $7,500 Pick-5 pool in the first race on Saturday that ended up at $12,783 and there was a winning combination on the wager. 8-1-4-1-1 returned $1,018.50 for a 50-cent bet. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Dec. 2) and there will be another guaranteed Pick-5 pool of $3,000 in the first race that day.

The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages for the first five races will be available on the Batavia Downs and USTA websites Monday, courtesy of Trackmaster.

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

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

November 28, 2020 - 12:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

With no winner in the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday (Nov. 25) at Batavia Downs, there is a $2,392 carryover today (Nov. 28) and there is a guaranteed pool of $7,500 for the Pick-5 wager.

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

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on next Wednesday’s (Dec. 2) program. 

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

Below is an analysis of the Pick-5 races by Batavia Down's resident handicapper, "Hot Picks."

Race 1 -- You may be able to escape by just using two horses, No. 4 Journeyman and No. 8 Rainbow Romance N. Billy Davis chose to drive Journeyman over No. 5 Gimme The Pacifics, a horse he has been driving, so I’ll let his choice do my handicapping. The horse has simply faced better, so you could get brave and single Journeyman, since Rainbow Romance has post 8 and hasn’t hit the board this year, despite being in top barns (Scott DiDomenico and Gerry Sarama).

Race 2 -- Up until this last race, newcomer No. 2 Random Task A may have been a single. He’s still a must-use since Torcello-Sarama-Morrill have teamed up countless times to win with this type of shipper. No. 5 Mateo steps up off a terrific mile and is a big closing threat, even though he does lose regular pilot Drew Monti. If you can spread, maybe include No. 3 Sure Please and No. 4 Raylan Givens.

Race 3 -- Three to use here, No. 4 Ideal Chance (the Cummings barn has continuously won with newcomers from The Meadows), No. 6 Xenia’s Chip and No. 7 Love The Dragon. Since the No. 3 Pure Image is an unknown factor, a big budget could include, even if the TrackMaster rating numbers say he’s a tick below. And No. 2 Calvery Hill was facing infinitely better in the summer but hasn’t raced in three months. If you’re brave, single No. 4, whose TrackMaster ratings are superior.

Race 4 -- A narrow budget can maybe survive with just No. 4 Kings Treasure (the speed) and No. 3 Terror O (the closer). No. 1 Jude Hall rarely wins (1-for-23) but he was victorious the last time he drew the cones (albeit in a lower class on Halloween).

Race 5 -- There’s nothing worse than being alive to the final leg and getting knocked out. It’s conceivable to foresee a few different scenarios on how this race will be run, so several could be in play to win. Thus, spread if you can. No. 1 Carlos Danger and No. 6 Bugatti getting Billy Davis are obvious must-use types, No. 4 Jimmy C R has speed and is dropping and No. 7 Big Pocket Teen has Jim Morrill Jr. but a bad post.

November 26, 2020 - 2:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo: Lougazi with driver Ray Fisher Jr.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

They say it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish and Lougazi is the poster boy for that motto. And he proved it true once again on Wednesday night (Nov. 25) as he went from worst to first in the $8,500 Open I Handicap trot at Batavia Downs in a driving rain over a sloppy track.  

Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) got away last by 15-1/2 lengths as Cordoba Hall (Billy Davis Jr.) and CR Blazin Beauty (Dave McNeight III) were in a speed duel on the point, smoking to the quarter in :27.3 and the half in :56.2. But as they headed up the backstretch for the second time, those two hit a wall and Southern Palms (Jim Morrill Jr.) came out of the three hole with Daylon Phantom (Dan Yetman) on his back and Lougazi travelling fast third-over behind him. Southern Palms took the lead but Lougazi was three-deep and flying and he drew alongside Southern Palms in the last turn. The two hit the stretch together but Lougazi said “goodbye” and trotted home in hand by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:58.1. 

It was the second win in the last four starts for Lougazi ($7.50) who is owned by Mary Warriner and trained by Ryan Swift. 

(Above, Lady Dudette with driver Kyle Cumming.)

The cofeatured $8,500 Open I pace for fillies and mares was scratched down to a field of five and Lady Dudette (Kyle Cumming) took no prisoners as she grabbed the lead at the quarter, parked out Tellawoman (Dave McNeight III) to the half and then refused to let anyone else to get close to her as she paced home under a line drive to win by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:56.2. 

Lady Dudette ($11.40) scored her eighth win of the year for owner Kyle Cummings and trainer Tammy Cummings. 

Billy Davis Jr. had the hot hand in the sulky Wednesday, scoring a Grand Slam on the card. He won with SR Radar (2:01, $5.20), Sunset Sid (1:57.3, $19), The Land Shark (2:01.2, $10.40) and Expensive Toy (1:58.3, $6.40). 12 different trainers accounted for the 12 winning horses on Wednesday. 

With no winner in the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday (Nov. 25) at Batavia Downs, there is a $2,392 carryover that will move to Saturday (Nov. 28) and it has been announced that there will be a guaranteed pool of $7,500 for the Pick-5 wager that day.

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

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on next Wednesday’s (Dec. 2) program. 

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

November 25, 2020 - 12:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs has announced there will be a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager today (Nov. 25).

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

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

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

November 23, 2020 - 1:15pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Horsemen racing at Batavia Downs should be aware of the following draw schedule change for the races on Saturday, Nov. 28.

The draw for Saturday (Nov. 28) will take place on Tuesday (Nov. 24) instead of on Wednesday (Nov. 25), with the entry box closing at 9 am. Driver choices and scratches must be received by the judges on Wednesday (Nov. 25) no later than 9:30 a.m.

Programs will be printed on Wednesday (Nov. 25) due to Thursday (Nov. 26) being the Thanksgiving holiday.

The draw schedule for the remaining five race days of 2020 is as follows:

Race Day                           Draw Day

Saturday (Nov. 28)        Tuesday (Nov. 24)

Wednesday (Dec. 2)     Friday (Nov. 27)

Saturday (Dec. 5)         Wednesday (Dec. 2)

Wednesday (Dec. 9)     Friday (Dec. 4)

Saturday (Dec. 12)       Wednesday (Dec. 9)

November 22, 2020 - 2:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo: Long Train Runnin in the forefront, driven by Shawn McDonough.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Long Train Runnin showed a lot of heart and determination as he snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the $8,500 Open I Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Nov. 21). 

Long Train Runnin (Shawn McDonough) got away third as Stratosphere (Drew Monti) took the scratch-shortened, single-file field to the half in :58. As they passed that station, Long Train Runnin was already out first-over and moving fast towards the leader as they proceeded into the clubhouse turn. 

Moving towards three-quarters, Stratosphere and Long Train Runnin were pacing side-by-side and had broken away from the pack by three lengths on the strength of a :27.3 third panel. As they were rounding the final bend, Stratosphere pulled clear and opened up a length advantage heading into the stretch. But the relentless urging of McDonough reinvigorated Long Train Runnin who found another gear and caught Stratosphere at the wire by a head in 1:54.2.

It was the fifth win of the year for Long Train Runnin ($6.10) who has now earned $32,552 this year for owner WIlliam Emmons. Jim Clouser Jr. does the training.

Emmons and Clouser teamed up again in the very next race to capture the $7,500 Open II Handicap with McSpidey (Jim Morrill Jr.) who went wire to wire by 2-¼ lengths in 1:54.4. It was also the fifth win for McSpidey ($2.40) who is now over $343,000 in lifetime bank. 

Shawn McDonough had a huge night at Batavia on Saturday, driving four winners and sending two for pictures that he trained. McDonough steered the aforementioned Long Train Runnin, Are You In (1:58.2, $22.40), Santana Beach (1:56, $25.80) and Nesh Cruiser (1:58.1, $27.40), who he also trained along with PL Lester (1:54.3, $10.20). 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Nov. 25) with post time at 5 p.m. and there will be a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 on Wednesday. The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages for races one through five will be available on the USTA and Batavia Downs websites early next week.

November 22, 2020 - 2:09pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo, Jim Morrill Jr. steers Love The Dragon to victory.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Driver Jim Morrill Jr. hit another milestone in his illustrious career after he steered Love The Dragon ($3) to victory in the third race at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Nov. 21) to reach 7,500 wins lifetime. In his typical style, Morrill went right to the front, rated a perfect mile and was a wrapped-up winner in 1:58.3.

To date, Jim Morrill Jr. now has 40,273 starts with 7,500 wins, 6,220 seconds and 5,152 thirds with $108,289,933 in earnings. Morrill currently sits 13th in North America for UDR with a mark of .380. At the current Batavia Downs meet, Morrill is the leading driver with 86 wins, $426,956 in purse money and a UDR of .381.

Morrill made his first start driving for his father at Foxboro Park in 1984. The family's operation eventually moved to Rosecroft Raceway where Morrill started getting many catch drives and soon found himself in high demand. In 1990 Morrill went to New York and started driving for Ray Schnittker and George Anthony at Yonkers Raceway and with much success achieved there, decided that move would be long term. 

During his time competing at the New York/New Jersey circuit Morrill recalled his most memorable race as being the 2004 Meadowlands Pace where Holborn Hanover was a 58-1 upset winner in 1:49 to equal the stake mark.

After 15 years of driving at the highest level, Morrill left the metropolitan area in 2005 and relocated his family and business to western New York and since arriving has not only been at the very top of the driver colony on that circuit, but also an annual dominant force in the New York Sire Stakes.

In 2006 at Batavia Downs, Morrill set the all-time driving standard for the track with 177 wins and a UDR of .537 for one meet. 

The staff of Batavia Downs along with all the horsemen wish to congratulate Jim Morrill Jr. on this outstanding accomplishment. 

November 19, 2020 - 2:24pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

Photo: Il Mago with driver Jim Morrill Jr. pictured near the pylons.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

It’s the same old story, same old song and dance for Il Mago, who has been seemingly unbeatable of late at Batavia Downs. And there was no page turned as he took yet another $8,500 Open I Handicap trot in Genesee County on Wednesday night (Nov. 18) over an off track that saw snow flurries earlier in the day. 

Jim Morrill Jr. took his usual spot on the point with Il Mago off the gate and cut fractions of :28.2 and :57.2 without any early challenges. But past the half, Cr Blazin Beauty (Dave McNeight III) came calling and would accompany the leader all the way to the wire. 

Cr Blazin Beauty trotted toward Il Mago up the backside and around the final turn and by the top of the stretch, the leader was in her sights. As the finish drew near it was clear Il Mago needed the line as Cr Blazin Beauty had now trotted alongside. But the 11-year-old Il Mago knows how to close the deal and he did once again, winning by a neck in 1:57.3.

It was the third straight win and fifth in the last seven for Il Mago ($5.20) who is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama. 

The Morrill, Torcello and Sarama team collectively had the Hat Trick on Wednesday as Toothofthedragon (1:58, $4.20) and Concertina’s Image (1:58.4, $6.80) also registered wins. 

In the undercard $7,500 Open II pace for fillies and mares, Wonderful World (Billy Davis Jr.) tripped-out behind Yankee Secret (Dave McNeight III) until the stretch where she pulled and paced away to a 1-3/4 length win in 1:56.4. Wonderful World ($11.00) is owned by Mike Carrubba and her trainer, Sabrina Shaw.  

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Nov. 21) with post time at 5 p.m.

 

November 18, 2020 - 1:46pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

With no winner in the Pick-5 wager at Batavia Downs last Saturday (Nov. 14), the track will feature an $1,157 carry over and a guaranteed $5,000 pool in the Pick-5 wager today (Nov. 18).

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

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on Saturday (Nov. 21) program.

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

November 15, 2020 - 12:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, Batavia Downs, sports.

Photo: Percy’s Z Tam with driver Jim Morrill Jr.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Percy’s Z Tam fought off a pair of challenges in the mile en route to winning the $8,500 Open I Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Nov. 14).

When the gate released race, no one left and they headed around the first turn in post position order. Seeing the opportunity, Jim Morrill Jr. tipped Percy’s Z Tam from third and took the front by the quarter in :28 and from there, he controlled the remainder of the contest. After coasting to the half at his own pace, the competition then headed his way as Tullow N (Ray FIsher Jr.) and Stratosphere (Drew Monti) came in the outer flow in the third turn in pursuit of the leader. 

Heading toward three-quarters, Percy’s Z Tam turned back the outside threat but Long Train Runnin (Shawn McDonough) who was tripping out to this point, was poised to take his best shot. That came at the top of the stretch where McDonough pulled Long Train Runnin and started to drive hard. He made up ground all the way to the wire but he could not get by Percy’s Z Tam, who hung on by a neck to win in 1:54.1. 

It was the seventh victory of the year for Percy’s Z Tam ($6.50) and it pushed his earnings to $59,235 for owner Mike Torcello. Gerry Sarama trains the winner. 

In the $7,500 Open II pace, Thor De Vie (Dave McNeight III) grabbed the lead at the quarter, turned back a strong third quarter challenge from Barry Hanover (Kyle Cummings) and then out-paced the pocket sitting McSpidey (Jim Morrill Jr.) down the lane to capture his sixth win of the year in 1:55.2. 

Thor De Vie ($3.10) is owned by his trainer Jim Graham along with Lee Winters, Paul Tandlmayer and Giuseppe Micchia. 

Dave McNeight III had three other winners on the card giving him the driving Grand Slam. Besides Thor De Vie, he also won with Myell’s Rockstar (1:55.3, $10.20), Falcon’s Luke (1:59.3, $12.00) and Charmbo Orbit (1:55.4, $41.20). 

Another winning combination was driver Jim Morrill Jr., trainer Gerry Sarama and owner Mike Torcello who sent three winners to post Saturday night.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Nov. 18) with post time at 5 p.m. And since there was no Pick-5 winner on Saturday, there is a carry over of $1,157 and a guaranteed pool of $5,000 for the Pick-5 on Wednesday.

The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages for races one through five will be available on the USTA and Batavia Downs websites early next week.

 

Subscribe to

Calendar

S M T W T F S
 
 
 
 
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
31
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Upcoming

Copyright © 2008-2020 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button