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Sunday, September 14, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Batavia Downs Open to Best Ears

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

Best Ears (#3) with driver Jack Flanigen.

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

After a perfect trip in a short field, Best Ears scored his second Open pace victory in the last three weeks, capturing the featured race in 1:54.4.

Favored Western Alumni (Jim McNeight) took early command and led an unfettered life through a causal :57 half. With no other takers, driver Jack Flanigen pulled Best Ears and came first over to pressure the leader and that’s when it got interesting. McNeight stepped up the pace with a :28.3 third panel to try and put some distance between his horse and the approaching conqueror but they couldn't stem the tide. Best Ears roared alongside and the two paced as a pair to the top of the lane. Halfway down the stretch, Best Ears got the advantage and took the lead and held off a late charging What The Sheik (Dave McNeight III) in the process. What The Sheik finished second and Western Alumni hung on for third.

It was the seventh win in 31 starts for Best Ears and increased his 2014 earnings to $49,017 for owners Joseph Amico Jr. and Joseph Amico. The winner returned $5.90.

Driver Shawn McDonough scored a driving triple on the night with Kevin Cummings and Jack Flanigen both bagging doubles.

Racing resumes on Tuesday at Batavia Downs with post time set for 6:35.

Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Batavia Downs Open trot to BZ Glide again

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

BZ Glide with driver Mike Caprio.

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

For the second straight week and three out of his last four, BZ Glide came from well off the lead via a furious stretch drive to capture the $9,500 top trotting feature at Batavia Downs on Friday (Sept. 12).

Heavy post-time favorite Lutetium (Kevin Cummings) sprang off the gate, circled around co-leaver Sack Full Of Gold (Drew Monti) and made his way to the lead immediately after the third race started. He pulled the field along to a :59.4 half before coming under attack from Justgottogetthere (Jim McNeight) who was motoring up the outside.

While the top two were slugging it out past the five-eighths, BZ Glide (Mike Caprio) was seven lengths off, sitting seventh on the rail before Caprio got his steer in gear. By the time the trotters hit the top of the lane, BZ Glide was on Justgottogetthere’s back and in full flight tipping three-deep. As Lutetium was fading back to the pack, BZ Glide was circling the stagnant Justgottogetthere to take the lead, the race and the winner’s share of the purse. The 5-year-old Yankee Glide gelding tripped the timer in 1:58 and paid $12.20 for the win.

BZ Glide is owned by his driver, Mike Caprio, and is trained by Alana Caprio. It was the sixth win in 17 starts and his effort increased his annual income to $47,355.

Reinsmen Kevin Cummings and Shawn McDonough both scored driving hat tricks and Dave McNeight III posted a double.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs today (Sept.13) with post time set for 6:35.

Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 6:26 am

It’s A Miracle powers to Batavia mares Open win

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

It's A Miracle out front with driver Drew Monti.

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

In what has become a fairly regular event, a ship-in mare circled the locals in the top distaff race at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 10) night. It’s A Miracle ($3.40) with Drew Monti aboard, proved to be the best mare on the grounds this week despite having to take the overland route in a pelting rain.

As the starter released the girls for the seventh race feature, last week’s winner She’s A Maniac (Jim McNeight) flew to the front and led the field in post-position order behind her to the quarter in :28.1. Halfway through the turn, Monti pulled It’s A Miracle and flushed Dontch Remember (Shawn McDonough) for live cover as they motored to the half in :57.4.

The field got small as they were three in and three out at the three-quarters in 1:26.2 when Monti yanked the right line and tipped the 4-year-old Always A Virgin mare three-high. Around the last turn it was She’s A Maniac at the pylons with Dontch Remember outside of her and It’s A Miracle outside of her. When they straightened out, Kevin Cummings swung notorious closer Bazooka Terror four-deep around the pack and chased It’s A Miracle all the way down the stretch. But their effort was to no avail as Monti basically line-drove his mare to the wire, victorious in 1:55.3.

Bazooka Terror was second and Dontch Remember was third.

This was the fifth win in 28 starts for It’s A Miracle, boosting her annual earnings to $94,450 for owners Blindswitch Racing Stable, Santo Farina, David Sebolsky and Stanley Yaskowitz. It’s A miracle is trained by Jose Godinez.

The Monti/Godinez team also captured the co-featured mares Open II with Cooking The Books ($7.10) in a similar off-the-pace fashion, winning by two lengths in 1:55.

Downs driving domineer Kevin Cummings scored another grand slam on Wednesday night, giving him 68 wins for the meet and 242 for the year. Cummings is the 10th leading UDR driver in North America with a .355 mark.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Sept. 12) with post time set for 6:35.

Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 11:13 am

Betting Exchange and Berkley win in NYSS at Batavia Downs

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

Betting Exchange and Berkley were on the outside looking in at the $1.8 million Night of Champions at Yonkers coming into last night’s final leg of the New York Sire Stakes 2-year-old pacing colt and gelding division. But winning heals all and that’s exactly what they both did to advance to the final next Saturday.

In the first $54,500 contest, Betting Exchange (Bettor’s Delight-Cheeky Hanover) scored his second win in a row to move from ninth to sixth overall in the standings and lock up a spot in the $225,000 final.

Betting Exchange came off the wings for driver Jim Morrill Jr. and went right to the front to cut the mile. After briefly settling in fourth, Americanprimetime and Mark MacDonald pulled and came up to challenge the leader. That move found the colt getting parked through fractions of :27.3, :56 and 1:25.2 before packing it in around the last turn. From that point on Betting Exchange ran away and hid, winning the race by three lengths in 1:55.1. The winner paid $5.70.

Betting Exchange with driver Jim Morrill Jr.

Play The Field (Kevin Cummings) was second and K Ryan Bluechip (Joe Pavia Jr.) was third.

It was the second win in five starts for Betting Exchange and boosted his earnings to $66,125 for owners Howard Taylor, Susan Kajfasz and Tom Fanning, who also trains the horse.

After the race Morrill said “I didn’t really want to get into a speed duel but he felt real good tonight so I let him roll. After he fought off Americanprimetime he paced very strong to the wire.”

In the second $54,500 split, Berkley (Art Major-Monterey) caught his competitors and the betting public asleep as he upset both with a strong stretch-drive victory at 17-1. The win boosted him from tenth to seventh in the standings and also qualified him for the lucrative NYSS final.

Mark MacDonald sent Bet You out like a rocket and paced strongly on the lead to an uncontested :58.1 half when Southwind Masimo and Mike LaChance came first-over to challenge. That encounter was short lived when the pack straightened out up the backside and Bet You shifted gears to hold the group at bay. To this point, Joe Pavia Jr. had Berkley sitting comfortably in the pocket behind the leader, just waiting to take his best shot at the head of the lane. Bet You opened up a two length lead coming for home but the fresh-legged Berkley rolled off the pylons and right by the leader with a furious brush to pull the upset in 1:55.3. The winner returned $36.

Berkley with driver Joe Pavia Jr.

Bet You hung on to be second and Southwind Masimo was third.

This was the first win in nine starts this year for Berkley and raised his bank to $58,620 for owners Randy Bendis, Reed Broadway and Thomas Pollack. Berkley is trained by Ed Hart.

Pavia had a glowing review saying “I was really impressed how good Ed (trainer Hart) had him tonight. He was much improved and raced super. He got a real good trip and we took advantage of it.”

There were also three divisions of the Excelsior A series on the card, each going for $12,600.

The first division was won by Heaven Rocks (Rock N Roll Heaven-Cheerful Outlook) who was driven by Brent Holland in 1:56.1 and returned $4.70. He is owned by Paymag Racing, Greg Gillis, Mystical Marker Farms LLC and Louis Willinger and trained by Erv Miller.

The second leg was won by Soto (Rock n Roll Heaven-Incredible Beauty) who was driven by Mark MacDonald in 1:55.2 to pay $4.90. He is owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding, R A W Equine, Inc., and Jim Fielding and is trained by Jimmy Takter.

The final split was won by Mystical Pacer (Bettor’s Delight-Take My Pulse) who was driven by Brent Holland in 1:56.4 and paid $6.10. He is owned by Mystical Marker Farms, Paymag Racing and Ron Michelon and is trained by Erv Miller.

Driver Jim Morrill Jr. scored a driving grand slam while Mark MacDonald and Brent Holland both registered doubles on the night.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Tuesday evening with a 6:35 post time.

Saturday, September 6, 2014 at 1:01 pm

An easy ride for BZ Glide in Batavia feature trot

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

BZ Glide pulls ahead to victory with driver Mike Caprio.

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

Sometimes victory is hard fought and other times it comes without effort. This week, BZ Glide cruised from second last to the winners circle in the $9,000 Open trot at Batavia Downs with nary a nudge from driver Mike Caprio.

At the start of the race, Armed Dangerously (Shawn McDonough) made a break almost immediately as the rest of the field pulled away in post-position order. Dartmouth Hall (Kevin Cummings) then led the troops through a pedestrian :29.1 quarter and 1:00.1 half, where Caprio pulled BZ Glide just before that station.

The 5-year-old son of Yankee Glide slowly and methodically gained ground on the leader without much urgency displayed from his driver. As the bunch hit the three-quarter pole in 1:29, BZ Glide had pulled even with Dartmouth Hall and then forged ahead from that point forward. Caprio hand-drove the gelding from there winning by a widening two-length margin in 1:58.2. The 1-2 favorite paid $3 to win.

Sack Full of Gold (Jim McNeight) who had followed the winner second over was second and Serious George (Jack Flanigen) snuck up the rail to be third.

This was the fifth win in 16 starts for BZ Glide and raised his yearly earnings to $42,605 for his owner Mike Caprio and trainer Alana Caprio.

Reinsmen Ron Beback Jr., Jack Flanigen, Shawn McDonough, Jim McNeight and Drew Monti all scored driving doubles on the card.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 5) and features the $109,000 New York Sire Stakes for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings. Post time is 6:35.

Friday, September 5, 2014 at 3:12 pm

NYSS 2-year-old pacing colts at Batavia Downs Saturday

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

The last chance to see the best bred standardbreds in the Empire State race at Batavia Downs this year occurs on Saturday night (Sept. 6) when the New York Sire Stakes makes its last stop at the Genesee County oval for 2014. The 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings are featured as the stars of tomorrow and will compete for $109,000 in purses.

The first $54,500 NYSS division goes as the fifth race and features seven pacers going postward.

Americanprimetime (American Ideal-Prime Example A) is currently ranked second in points for the Night of Champions finals for his sex and gait and boasts a 1:52.4 lifetime mark at Tioga Downs this year. This Rick Dane Jr. trained colt likes to be on the front end and will get his chance here scoring from post three. He has made two breaks in his six starts but when he is on his game he’s hard to beat. Brent Holland will sit behind Americanprimetime for the first time in this race.

Betting Exchange (Bettor’s Delight-Cheeky Hanover) beat Americanprimetime last week at Vernon Downs en route to taking his lifetime mark of 1:51.1. He has been lightly raced due to an injury in July and has only four starts this year. But he’s made the most of the opportunities he has had and appears to be improving with every start. Betting Exchange needs points to move up in the standing in order to make the final and this will be his last chance to do it. Top NYSS reinsman Jim Morrill Jr. is aboard for trainer Tom Fanning.

Azorean Art (Art Major-Dancin Barefoot) is trained by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter and looks to be coming into this race sharp as a tack. Also coming off a lifetime mark of 1:52.3 at Vernon last week, Azorean Art overcame road trouble the entire race and still found a way to win. Driver Mark MacDonald drove him for the first time in that victory and is back in the sulky here. Azorean Art is currently fifth in the standings but could move up substantially with a win.

The second $54,500 NYSS division goes as race nine and has the top horse in the series competing in it.

Southwind Masimo (Bettor’s Delight-Max’s Leading Lady) is a perfect four-for-four this year and all in NYSS action. He has won both on the front and from behind, and on both small and large tracks. The Pat LaChance trained colt took his lifetime mark of 1:54 at Tioga Downs, but he actually paced faster last quarters in his two starts at Yonkers. However Southwind Masimo is coming into this race off a scratch at Vernon last week when he reported sick, so the colt has not raced in 18 days. Whether or not this will affect his performance remains to be seen, but having Hall of Fame driver Mike LaChance on board will certainly help his cause.

Cartoon Daddy (Art Major-Ask Alice) has four wins in seven starts this year and oddly enough, all four wins were on half-mile tracks. He has a sparkling lifetime mark of 1:53.4 at Yonkers Raceway which is considerably faster than any other horse in this race has paced over a half-mile track. He is currently third in points and could vault to number one with a victory. Cartoon Daddy hails from the powerful Ron Burke stable and will be driven by Jim Morrill Jr.

Bet You (Bettor’s Delight-Armbro Amoretto) has two wins and three seconds in six starts this year and the only time he finished off the board was due to an interference break. Also a Takter trainee, Bet You has displayed racing versatility on the track and seems to be brave on the front end. His mark is 1:55.1 at Yonkers but he paced considerably faster in a just-beaten mile at Tioga Downs in 1:52.4. Bet You is right behind Cartoon Daddy in the points standing and could also take the top spot with a win. Mark MacDonald gets his second straight ride behind him in here.

There are also three divisions of the Excelsior series to be contested in races one, two and seven going for a total of $37,800. Post time for the first race is 6:35.

One other highlight for the night is the return of popular and second leading driver Shawn McDonough who was injured in a spill at Batavia Downs during a race on Labor Day. Only three days removed from the incident, McDonough will be back in the sulky on Friday night and is slated to drive the full card on Saturday.

McDonough said "I'm doing pretty good. My ankle is still sore but not too bad, and I have been taking it easy the last few days. But now I'm ready to come back."

Friday, September 5, 2014 at 11:38 am

Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, four Sopranos cast members among the guests at Expo at Batavia Downs

post by Billie Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, sports

Great athletes and "4 actors from The Sopranos" will be at the Western New York Sports Card Expo at Batavia Downs on Sept. 20-21.

In addition to the unspecified cast members of The Sopranos, the event will feature: Dave Bing, Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Lou Piniella, Jose Canseco, Gayle Sayers, and Ric Flair.

The Expo runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Parking is free. Admission is $5 and includes $5 in free play for those 18 and older. Children under 8 get in free.

Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 12:02 pm

She’s A Maniac is top mare at Batavia Down

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

She's A Maniac with driver Jim McNeight.

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

After three-straight starts from post two in the $9,250 mares Open pace at Batavia Downs without a win, the fourth time was the charm for She’s A Maniac on Wednesday (Sept. 3) as the 7-year-old bay went wire-to-wire for driver Jim McNeight.

She’s A Maniac circled Real Joy (Drew Monti) out of the gate and took a comfortable one and one-half length lead to the quarter in :27.4. With the rest of the field in post position order behind her, the outer flow started toward her at the half in :57.1.

McNeight stepped up the pace to escape the pursuers with a :28.1 third panel as closer and mares Open winner for the last two weeks, Bazooka Terror, was being wound up by Kevin Cummings to take her best shot of the night. But fast and furious came up a bit short this week as the race-long leader completed the circuit in front with a 1:54.4 clocking. She's A Maniac returned $15.60 to her supporters.

Bazooka Terror was second and favored Little Santamonica (Truman Gale) was third.

This was the ninth win in 28 starts for She’s A Maniac bringing her seasonal earnings up to $72,965 for owner North Creek Racing LLC and trainer Jerry Nugent Jr.

Leading dash driver Kevin Cummings scored another grand slam on Wednesday night, finishing first with Lucky Style ($5.40), Peaceful Prince ($5.40), Fiftyonefifty ($4.40) and Helena’s Hope ($9.10).

Racing resumes Friday at Batavia Downs with a 6:35 post.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 at 11:23 am

Drew Monti wins annual Batavia Downs bike race

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, bike race, sports

Drew Monti edges out the competition at annual driver's bike race at Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

What has been the tradition on Labor Day at Batavia Downs since 1979, a renewal of the annual driver’s bike race took place on Monday (Sept. 1) with a full field of eight local reinsmen lining up to compete.

Among the contestants were two-time winner Denny Bucceri and last year’s winner Mickey Holliday. But it was newcomer Drew Monti who got the job done at the wire.

The starting car picked up the field at the top of the far turn and let them go at the head of the stretch for the one-eighth mile dash. As the pack got away from the gate, the bunched group began to break apart and Holliday found himself in a familiar spot; in front. But Monti was gaining momentum from sixth on the far outside. As they approached the wire, Holliday had a two-length open lead but Monti was flying down the track. Just before the finish, Holliday appeared to lose his rhythm and slowed just enough for the now motoring Monti to fly by him to win the race by a head.

After the race, the bikes were given away via random drawing to eight lucky fans from all who correctly selected Monti to win before the event.

Also on Monday afternoon, driver Kevin Cummings had a hot hand, winning five races on the card. He piloted Cheshire Cat ($4.60), Tsunami Dream ($6.20), Union Man Hanover ($2.70), Mr. Casual ($6.70) and The Manipulator ($14.40) to the winners circle. Dave McNeight III was right behind him with a driving triple steering Jon Win ($4.40), Kisses N Kicks ($3.30) and Tip N Go ($3.90) to victory.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 11:38 am

Two drivers injured in Batavia Downs accident

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

Press release:

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

An unfortunate chain-reaction mishap occurred at the start of the third race at Batavia Downs on Monday (Sept.1) that sent two drivers to the hospital.

When the gate pulled away at the start of the race, driver Chris Long tried to go to the front with pacer Shakin In My Shoes from post five when the horse took a bad step and fell, throwing Long to the track. Following behind him was Shawn McDonough driving Police Car, who then appeared to run over Long, dumping McDonough out of his bike and to the track. Then while on the track, McDonough appeared to be run over by the sulky wheel of another trailing horse, Flight Crew driven by Jim McNeight.

At this point there were two drivers on the track, one horse down and another horse (McDonough’s) running loose without a driver. As horsemen and medical personnel ran to the aid of the fallen, the other drivers pulled out wide on the second lap to avoid the incident at the rail. However the loose horse did not follow suit and instead skirted the pylons, then jumped over the still down McDonough. The jump then caused that horse to fall himself.

The race was declared a “no contest” by the judges at the three-quarter pole and broadcast as such over the public address system by track announcer Joe Zambito who then immediately instructed the remaining drivers to pull up their horses before they finished the race. All wagers made on the race were refunded.

Shawn McDonough was transported to the Erie County Medical Center where he was examined and determined to have a slight concussion but no broken bones. Chris Long was taken to United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia where he was found to have a collapsed lung and possible fractures to the ribs and hip. Both drivers remained in the hospital pending further examination.

Shakin In My Shoes and Police Car, the two horses that went down, both came out of the incident with only a couple minor abrasions.

McDonough is 23 years old and is a regular at Batavia Downs. He is one of the up and coming young drivers in the sport and in his short career has steered 395 winners that have earned over $2 million in purses. He was the leading dash driver at the Downs last year and is currently second for this meet.

Long is 46 and has been driving at Saratoga Raceway and Plainridge Racecourse in Massachusetts. He just started driving at Batavia Downs last week. During his career he has teamed 3,198 winners and amassed purses totaling over $9 million.

Any further updates will be released as they become available.

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