Batavia Downs Casino will continue to enhance education, both of the sport of harness racing as well as classroom academics, by continuing its scholarship program for its third consecutive year.
The $7,500 one mile Dash for the Cash will be held on Saturday night, Sept. 15.
Five area high school seniors from the graduating class of 2013 will participate. The schools can use any criteria they wish to pick their students. This year’s participating high schools are Batavia, Notre Dame of Batavia, Elba, Pembroke and Alexander.
Kaley Falkowski of Batavia High School with professional Jim Mulcahy alongside won the inaugural event. Last year Elizabeth Shuknecht representing Elba High School with professional Jim Graham took top honors.
Beginning in August, the five participating students will attend at least five training sessions at the track with their professional to learn the safety and skills needed to drive a racehorse. Then between the fourth and fifth live harness races on Sept. 15, they will line up behind the starting gate and compete for scholarships checks of $3,000, $2,000, $1,200, $800 and $500.
“The enthusiasm in the crowd leading up to the race is amazing and it brings an entirely different demographic to the racetrack,” said Todd Haight, general manager of live racing. “These kids train very hard and definitely come away with a better understanding of our sport.”
Again the scholarship event is co-sponsored by the horsemen, breeders and owners of Western New York through the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State, the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association, Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs Casino.
Batavia Downs Casino, America's oldest lighted harness track, opens for its 66th racing season on Monday, July 23, for 72 racing dates with a new post time of 6:25 p.m. Racing will be conducted on a Sunday afternoon, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night basis in August. For more information, visit www.bataviadowns.com.