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Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Oakfield resident Jack Flanigen vies for milestone win Wednesday night at the Downs

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

Press release:

The “Jack Flanigen Milestone Watch” has officially begun. When racing resumes on Wednesday night at Batavia Downs Casino, all eyes will be on Flanigen, who is closing in on 4,000 lifetime wins in the sulky.

The veteran driver, a lifelong resident of Western New York currently sits at 3,992. The 46-year-old Flanigen is a native of the Buffalo suburb of Hamburg and now lives a little more than five miles from the Batavia track, in Oakfield. In two-plus decades of driving he has become Western New York's winningest driver, and now he's closing in on another milestone.

He reached 3,000 victories on Oct. 20, 2007. There are other drivers from the Batavia-Buffalo Raceway circuit -- past and present -- who have won more races. Jeff Gregory of nearby Churchville is the current leader with 6,583 lifetime wins. Jim Morrill Jr., is at 5,432; Hall of Famer Buddy Gilmour 5,381; Ken Holliday 5,092; Ben Webster 4,378; and John Stark Jr. 4,119.

But most of their wins came at other racetracks. For Flanigen it’s been all about Western New York. Well, at least after the very beginning. His first career drive (and win) didn’t come on his hometown circuit but rather at Lake Shore Meadows, in Erie, Pa. He sat behind a horse named Mighty Mite for trainer Jim Crossan. By 1990 Jack was one of the most sought-after drivers on the Western New York harness racing circuit.

During the '90s he drove in 11,899 races and won 2,279 times. His best year was 1996, when he brought home 271 winners. During his career the horses he has driven have earned more than $11 million. His 3,992 wins best WNY legends, Ed McNeight Jr. (3,456), Jim McNeight (3,089) Gaston Guindon (3,080), Dave Vance (2,894) and Gerry Sarama (2,630).

Flanigen was the Downs dash leading reinsman in 2011. He missed the entire 2008 Downs season with concussion suffered on closing night at Buffalo Raceway. This season, during the 2012 summer-fall meet, he is currently fourth in the driver standings with 74 wins.

And to think it wasn't all that long ago that he actually pulled back on his driving career. In 2001, Flanigen began a second career, taking a full-time job with the New York State Department of Transportation as a truck driver.

“I wasn’t sure which way the business was headed; Batavia was closed and Buffalo was racing reduced dates,” Flanigen said. “So I decided I needed to get a job with benefits just in case.”

When purses climbed at Batavia and Buffalo Flanigen gave up driving trucks for the DOT in 2009 to go back driving horses full-time. He also added training to his resume again, something he hasn’t done since 1994.

“I was just looking for another way to supplement my income so I went back training," he said. "I currently have six in my barn.”
 
Looking back Flanigen said his career has been a bit of a surprise.

“I never dreamt sitting on driver/trainer Franny Bond‘s lap when I was 10-years-old, while he was out jogging horses, that I would have ever come close to his accomplishment."

Monday, October 22, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Hail to the 'King' at Batavia Downs

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

Press release:

King Otra ($3.60), getting a crafty drive from veteran reinsman Tony Morgan, made every pole a winning one, taking his first $9,000 Open Pace of the season on Saturday night (Oct.20) at Batavia Downs Casino

Leaving from the rail King Otra got plenty of respect from the other six rivals strolling to the first quarter in :28.3, as the field lined up in post-position order. A 30-second, second quarter breather gave the 5-year-old altered son of Western Ideal a big advantage on the top end as field reached the half.

Down the backside the “King” began to lengthen his stride pacing a :28.3 third quarter. A :28.1 final stanza sealed the deal with King Otra going on to a 1-3/4th length score over Cole Hard Cash (Dan Noble) and the pocket sitter, Spender Hanover (Jack Flanigen).

King Otra was claimed for $10,000 back on July 14 at Buffalo Raceway by current owner and now trainer Linda Magnusson. Since the claim he has won eight times and is Western New York’s winningest pacer with 13 victories in 2012. He raised his seasonal earnings to $58,413.

Jacqueline Ball, of Batavia, corrected selected all nine winners in the final free handicapping contest of the season at Batavia Downs and takes home the top prize of $500. A total of 268 patrons participated in the handicapping contest.

The Pick-6 carryover pool continues to build and starts out at $1,860 when racing resumes on Tuesday night, the final Tuesday program of the season. Post time is 6:25 p.m.

Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm

You're Too Funny rallies for win in Batavia Downs' feature

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

Press release:

There's no doubt who the sharpest race mare in Western New York is these days, it's definitely You're Too Funny. She overcame the eight-hole Wednesday night (Oct. 18), to score her third straight victory in the $9,000 Fillies and Mares Open Pace at Batavia Downs.

Driven by Jack Flanigen, You're Too Funny ($5.80) has now won four times and finished second four times in her last eight starts in the weekly Wednesday feature, giving her great credentials for "Horse of the Year" honors.

Sitting dead last at the half, You're Too Funny slowly started her winning rally. The field became double-decked down the backstretch and You're Too Funny was still seventh at the three-quarter pole, fourth over. Flanigen then guided her out four-wide down the stretch, unleashing a wicked stretch drive and beat another fast closer, Miss Two Punch (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) by a neck and Romania Hanover (Shawn Gray) in 1:55.2 over the fast track. Romania Hanover may be one to watch for next week as she was parked out for almost three-quarters of a mile.

Owned by Greg Capell, of Batavia, and trained by Chris Naedele, You're Too Funny now has 11 wins in 25 starts and increased her bankroll to $55,034 in 2012.

The horses return to the track on Friday night at Batavia Downs with the $9,000 Open Trot scheduled as the feature in the seventh race. Big Baller, after a week off, returns and will open as the 8-5 morning line favorite with Dan Noble in the sulky.

To get the latest news and information on Batavia Downs or to watch streaming video of the races, go to www.batavia-downs.com

Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 1:36 pm

You're Too Funny captures field in Batavia Downs feature

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

You're Too Funny, after three consecutive second places in the $9,000 Fillies and Mares Open Pace at Batavia Downs, took a brief respite from the harness racing battles. But after a week of freshening, You're Too Funny ($15) returned to the war Wednesday night (Oct. 3) and conquered the field of six by scoring a half-length victory over the heavy 1-9 favorite It's De Lovely in 1:55.1 over the fast track.

It's De Lovely (Dave McNeight III) cut the fractions of :27.4, :57.3 and 1:26.4 and seemed in control around the final turn. But the three-length lead evaporated quickly as the fast pace turned out to be too much to handle.

You're Too Funny and driver Jack Flanigen used a steady and methodical stretch run beginning just past the three-quarters pole, grinding into the lead with every stride down the stretch, eventually collaring the pace setter. Evil Eva (Shawn Gray) was up for third.

Owned by Greg Capell, of Batavia, and trained by Chris Naedele, You're Too Funny has now bankrolled $46,030 on the season. It was the ninth win of the season as well for the four-year-old American Ideal mare.

The Dan Noble watch continues as he inches closer to 3,000 lifetime wins. The 29-year-old Ohio native drive home a pair of winners on Wednesday night and sits at 2,995 career tallies. A great weekend of harness racing kicks off on Friday night at Batavia Downs when a 12-race program gets underway at 6:25 p.m. The Pick-3 returns with a 50-cent minimum wager and a $1.00 minimum bet, starting in race 10.
 
On Saturday night, a super 13-race card is set highlighted by the 10th Annual $50,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace along with the $12,500 Brian Schroeder Memorial Trot, the usual $10,000 Open Pace and a strong undercard.
 
The night will also feature $1 Sahlen's hot dogs, draft beer and soda and a Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace T-shirt giveaway.
 
Then on Monday, Columbus Day, a special matinee is on tap with post time slated for 1:15 p.m.
 
For all the information on the holiday weekend action or to view live streaming video of all the action, go to "http://www.batavia-downs.com/">

Sunday, September 16, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Notre Dame student wins Batavia Downs scholarship race

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, Notre Dame

Press release:

In the third $7,500 "Dash for Cash," Lindsay Hilburger -- representing Notre Dame of Batavia High School with professional driver Dave McNeight III alongside -- led all the way to take the first-place scholarship check of $3,000.

The one-mile harness race for area high school seniors racing for college scholarship funds took place Saturday night (Sept 15.), at Batavia Downs Racetrack & Casino.

Sonia Nevinger (Alexander) took second place and a $2,000 scholarship check; Leanne King (Pembroke) was third and earned a $1,200 scholarship; Jessica Levins (Batavia High School) took the fourth-place spot and $800 in scholarship funds, while Jamie Marshall (Elba) was fifth and received a $500 check.

The final time of 2:08.2 was by far the fastest running time of any of the scholarship races.

“It was nice to see such a large turnout,” said Todd Haight, general manager of Live Racing.

The track apron was packed with fans of all ages as they came out to cheer on their classmates and favorite schools.

The scholarship race is a partnership of the New York Sire Stakes, the Harness Horse Breeders of New York, the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association, Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs.

Photo: Jamie Marshall, Jessica Levins, Leanne King, Sonia Nevinger, Lindsay Hilburger (courtesy of Paul White).

Sunday, August 26, 2012 at 11:20 pm

'Gordon' earns title of fastest wiener dog in Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, Wiener Dog Race

Press release:

For the second year in a row, Lindsay Ryan’s “Gordon” proved he’s still the fastest dachshund in Western New York, when he won Sunday’s Petco Wiener Dog Races at Batavia Downs.

In front of the largest crowd ever to witness the annual event, 75 dogs squared off in 10 elimination heats with each elimination heat winner returning for the championship final.

The fastest 10 dogs left their handlers and roared by the historic half-mile tracks home stretch and after videotape review it was determined that “Gordon” had indeed narrowly crossed the finish line first.

Tom Grimm’s “Isabella” was a very close second while Christopher Cummings “Max” finished right there in third.

“Gordon’s” accomplishments earned her owner $200 in casino free play. Second and third place was worth $100 and $50 in casino play for their respective owners.   

The wiener dog races are the final event of Family Fun Day at the races held each year on the last Sunday afternoon in August.

If you're unable to view the slide show below, click here. To purchase prints of these photos, click here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 11:48 am

Batavia Downs offering pieces of old neon sign to public

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, business

Press release:

With the construction of Batavia Downs Casino’s new LED sign, pieces of the old neon sign are now available to interested parties. Batavia Downs Casino has already given two letters to representatives of the Holland Land Office Museum of Batavia, but other letters still remain.

Interested persons should contact Tom Balk, director of Building and Grounds for information on obtaining remaining pieces. It should be noted that the letters are over 7 feet tall and in various states of disrepair having been on the roof for so long. Mr. Balk can be reached at (585) 343-3750, ext. 312.

Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Batavia Downs is going "Crazy Cheap" for Old Fashioned Night

post by Howard B. Owens in announcements, Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

Press Release:

Batavia, NY – Old Fashioned Night returns to Batavia Downs Casino and Racetrack this Saturday night (August 11) for the first time during the 2012 racing season, but with a twist.

Historically, Old Fashion night prices include 50-cent Sahlen’s hot dogs, sodas and racing programs, however this year the nation’s oldest lighted half-mile harness racetrack is going "Crazy Cheap."

Thanks to sponsorship of the evening by Crazy Cheap Cars of Oakfield, Sahlen’s hot dogs will be just 3 for $1 in the paddock room beginning at 5pm. First race post time is 6:25 p.m.  Guests wanting to take advantage of the reduced price simply need to ask for the “Crazy Cheap Price.”

“We’re proud to be working with the folks at Batavia Downs on the Crazy Cheap night promotion,” Mike Ognibene, owner of Crazy Cheap Cars of Oakfield said. “We’re looking forward to a great evening at the track.”

“The first Old Fashioned night of the season is usually our biggest night of the year,” said Batavia Downs General Manager Todd Haight.  “Not only does it bring out a great crowd which enhances the on-track excitement but it creates larger betting pools for our racing customers. We want to thank Mike for partnering with us on this promotion.”

One day later another top promotion takes place at the Genesee County oval, Super Seniors Day.  Beginning at 12-noon in the clubhouse and running until 2:30 p.m., all seniors 55 or older that purchase the Sunday lunch buffet at the regular price of $8.95 will receive a racing program and $10 in casino free play. It's like dining for free. Sunday reservations are strongly recommended. To make a clubhouse reservations, please call 585-343-3750.

“It’s a great way to thank all our seniors for their many years of supporting Batavia Downs,” Haight added.

A complete list of all the 2012 racing promotions can be found at www.bataviadownscasino.com 
 

Friday, August 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Sunday afternoon racing returns to Batavia Downs

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

Beginning Aug. 5, racing at the nation’s oldest lighted harness track moves to a schedule of Sunday afternoons, and Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Sunday's program features 13 exciting races, including the $9,000 featured Open Trot and $7,600 Open II Trot. Sundays with Ashley Parade Marshal and outrider Ashley Holliday will be available for pictures every Sunday trackside in Downs Winner Circle from 12 to 12:45 p.m. Don’t forget to bring your camera for family photos with Ashley and her horse “Jake.”

The matinee post time is 1:15 p.m. Sunday food and drink specials include $1 Sahlen's hot dogs, sodas and draft beer served from 12 to 4 p.m. in the Paddock Room.

On Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights, post time is 6:25.

In addition simulcast wagering will be available from some of North America’s top tracks including Saratoga racecourse. Admission and parking is always free. For more information please visit http://www.bataviadownscasino.com

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Freshman pacers in NYSS action on Wednesday at Batavia Downs

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

Press release:

Possible stars of the future -- 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers -- converge on Batavia Downs Casino when New York Sire Stakes action continues on Wednesday night (Aug. 1).

Wednesday's 13-race program, which gets under way at 6:25 p.m., features three NYSS legs worth more than $36,000 each and five divisions of the Excelsior series worth more than $12,000 each.

Flipper J’s freshman 1:54.4 track record set in 2010 and tied by Forever Just in 2011, both with Jason Bartlett in the bike, could be in jeopardy. Cowgirl Hall lowered the benchmark for 3-year-old trotting fillies (1:57.2) when the New York Sire Stakes made its first local start of the season here this past Saturday night.

The NYSS kicks off in race two when a short but select field of New York breds square off for purse money of $36,900. Drawing post five is the Artiscape-Lo Gophobia colt, Framed Art. He comes off a 1:53.4 track record performance at Saratoga Raceway with Mark MacDonald at the controls. Trainer Andrew Stafford gives MacDonald the return call.

Installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite is the Art Major-Classical Yankee colt, Doctor Butch. He comes in off a 1:54 score at Saratoga with Tim Tetrick in the sulky. Doctor Butch briefly held the record at Saratoga until it was broken later on the program by Framed Art. Trainer Linda Toscano hands over the lines to Jim Morrill Jr.

Goshen track record holder (1:56.3), Thirty Two Red, was a prohibitive favorite in his Saratoga leg but he made a costly break at the start and was eliminated. That was the son of Bettor’s Delight-Sakura Hanover’s first defeat after NYSS wins at Monticello and Buffalo. Ray Schnittker is the trainer/driver.

The field also includes Dealmaker, second to Framed Art at Saratoga, and the Ron Burke trainee Royce Blue Chip.

NYSS action continues in race five, when a field of six will line-up for $37,600 in purse money. The Bettor’s Delight-Flibbertigibbet colt, Swift As A Shadow, who drew the rail, starts out as the 5-2 favorite. Once again trainer Linda Toscano will call on the services of Jim Morrill Jr. Swift As A Shadow’s lone career win came at Monticello when he paced his back half in :56.1, to score in 1:56.4, in his first New York Sire Stakes engagement.

Three colts and three geldings do battle in the third and final $37,600 NYSS division, carded as race seven. This could be a race handicappers may be shopping for some value. I’m Banksy (Art Major-Delightfully Yours) begins as the 2-1 favorite. He ships in off a 1:53.4 score at Pocono but has never raced on a half-mile racetrack. Jim Morrill Jr. drives for trainer Fred Grant. Trainer/driver Patrick Lachance sends out a very dangerous colt in Sir Cary’s Z Tam.

The son of Bettor’s Delight -Yankee Celebration had the misfortune of coming first over against the talented Doctor Butch at Saratoga and before that, finished behind the same rival and another top colt, Thirty Two Red, at Monticello.

The five Excelsior races go off as races one, three, eight, 10 and 12. Racing fans unable to attend the races can watch all the action from Batavia Downs via streaming video at www.bataviadownscasino.com <http://www.bataviadownscasino.com/> . Simply click on the “Live Racing” section and then on the “Video” link.

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