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Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Photos: Genesee Cancer Assistance Dinner at Batavia Downs

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, Genesee Cancer Assistance


Genesee Cancer Assistance held one of its biggest annual fundraisers this evening at Batavia Downs. It featured a full buffet-style dinner, hosted bar, basket raffles, auction and music from The Trolls.



Above, John Gerace, his wife Rhonda and children Taylor, 16, and Jackson, 13. John, a member of Rotary, is the son of Joe Gerace, one of the founders Genesee Cancer Assistance and also a member of Rotary. Rhonda, too, is a member of Rotary (There, that should be worth some fines.)

Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 1:02 pm

58th Annual Home, Garden & Trade Show

post by Melissa George in batavia, Batavia Downs, Home Show, jaycees
The Batavia Area Jaycees 58th Annual Home, Garden & Trade Show will be taking place on March 19th and 20th at the Batavia Downs. $4 weekend pass. Hours of operation are: Saturday 10am - 7pm and Sunday 11am - 5pm. Vendor space is available. Email Cathy Colby at bajhomeshow@yahoo.com for all the details.

Event Date and Time

March 19, 2011 - 10:00am - March 20, 2011 - 5:00pm
Monday, November 29, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Fred Haslip to receive lifetime achievement award at Batavia Downs

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

This information comes from a news release written by Tim Bojarski, for the Western New York Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers' Association.

The Upstate New York Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers’ Association has announced that longtime trainer-driver Fred Haslip will receive its 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award.

It will be presented to him in the Winner’s Circle during the Upstate Harness Writers' Association's “Night of Distinction,” which will be held at Batavia Downs Casino on Saturday, Dec. 4.

Haslip was one of the most sought after catch-drivers in Western New York during the 1970s and '80s, and was responsible for teaming some of the best horses to race on that circuit during that time.

The lifelong resident of Basom started driving at fairs in 1959 and scored his first pari-mutuel win in 1960.

During his 51-year career he posted 2,585 lifetime driving wins and banked $6 million dollars in purse money -- doing it the hard way, mostly in overnight events in an era where purses were not what they are today.

The list of horses that Haslip has teamed over the years is long and includes names such as: Diamond Sparkler, p, 9, Q1:56.3 ($328,737); Happy Sparkler, p, 9, 1:58.2h ($156,756); Handsome Boy, 5, 2:00.2h ($142,048); Keystone Astro, p, 7, 2:01.1h ($136,204); and Kay El, Jack the Baron, Coaltown Smoke, Flawless Sparkler, Little Commish, Princess Dee Dee, Tarvon, Red Almond, BBQ, Paige Man and Cheryl Grattan.

But Haslip is probably most noted for developing the former double-gaited record holder, Excalibur.

Excalibur, who was purchased as a 4-year-old for the paltry sum of $3,500, in 1972, would go on to bank just under $200,000 in his career. In 1977, Excalibur set the North American record for a double-gaited gelding when he trotted a mile in 2:03.3. That time equaled his pacing record, set in 1974, and those times combined were 4:07.1, which broke a record set in 1939.

Excalibur raced until he was 14, retiring in 1982. In 169 lifetime starts, on both gaits combined, he posted 50 wins -- 12 on the trot and 38 on the pace. The horse was such a versatile athlete that from 1975 to 1977 Haslip raced him on both gaits, switching him back and forth during the year.

The 68-year-old Haslip cut back on his drives substantially in the mid 1990s and for the last 10 years has started less than 50 times a year. He still trains a four-horse stable of his own on his farm, but elects to appoint catch-drivers to do the teaming.

Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Holliday Barn takes five at Batavia Downs

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

News release from Batavia Downs:

The dynamic duo of  driver Ken and trainer Sherri Holliday had a huge Saturday night at Batavia Downs Casino when they made five winner circle appearances, including winning the featured $9,000 Open with the rages to riches pacer Sand Forever.
Just a $2500 claimer at Running Aces Park earlier this season, Sand Forever  made the transition to the Open ranks a winning one when he flew down the stretch to nail the front running Most Happy Rider (Kevin Cummings) by a head in 1:57.3 in the weekly pacing feature. Zackor (Ron Beback, Jr.) checked in third.
The win was Sand Forever’s 15th of the 2010 campaign and 25th of his career in 80 lifetime starts. He’s a 5-year-old Stand Forever gelding. He returned $5.80 win, being sent off as the lukewarm favorite.
The Holliday’s other winners were Scudder ($10.00), Bruener ($5.50 - - now three for three in Western New York), Masteroftheclass ($2.60) and Nifty Prescott ($18.60).   
Last year’s Downs leading conditioner Sherri Holliday began the evening in a tie with Ron Beback, Jr. in the race for top trainer honors. With only two more nights left in the 2010 season her five win lead would now seem insurmountable.
Dave McNeight III, a 20-year-old provisional reinsman, had a night he soon won’t forget when he scored the first hat trick of his career. In 24 lifetime drives he’s won six of them and definitely looks like a young man with a bright future.  
Another provisional reinsman, Denny Bucceri, had a big weekend going two for two. He’s now won five times in 29 starts this year.
Kevin Cummings heads into closing weekend with a five win cushion over Jack Flanigen in his bid to defend his dash driving title. Both were winless on the Saturday program.
Racing fans are reminded there will be no live racing next Wednesday; the final two nights of the 2010 season will be Friday and Saturday.  Post time is 6:40 pm.


Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Old-timer Fifty Two Finn trots to another win

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

News release from Batavia Downs:

Owner-trainer Ronald Stebbins Fifty Two Finn solidified his stock for being named Batavia Downs Casino trotter of the year when he went wire-to wire to notch his 6th win of the summer-fall meet, in the featured $8,880 Open trot, on Friday night (Nov.26).
John Cummings, Jr., who had four wins on the program, guided the classy 10-year-old Movie Mogul gelding to his 46th lifetime win, holding off a closing Justine Colleen (Jack Flanigen) by a head in 2:00.4, over a racetrack covered in snow.
Fifty Two Finn, who made his most recent start at Vernon Downs, was claimed for $15,000 back on September 10 at Tioga Downs. He’s over $60,000 in seasonal earnings and his lifetime bankroll is more than $440,000. He returned $4.90 to win going off as the public choice.
Artistry in Rhythm wins Mare Open
Betty Taubers Artistry in Rhythm ($6.40) held off The Grey Filly (Ron Beback, Jr.) in deep stretch to win the co-featured $8,500 Filly and Mares Open pace by a neck in 1:59.2.
The 8-year-old Real Desire mare won for the 11th time this season and raised her 2010 earnings to more than $82,000. Ken Holliday was in the bike for his wife Sherri.
Trainer Title to Close to Call
After 69 racing programs the battle for the 2010 Downs training title couldn’t be any closer. Sherri Holliday, last years Downs leading conditioner, doubled up on the Friday evening program to tie Ron Beback, Jr. with 57 wins each. In fact there win percentages are identical at 23%.
With only three more racing night left in the 2010 campaign, Kevin Cummings maintains a five win lead over Jack Flanigen in the race for dash driving honors. Cummings last years Downs top driver and Flanigen, recently named Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association Western New York Driver of the Year, each drove a pair of winners on Friday program.


Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Batavia Downs hosts Winter Wonderland of Arts, Crafts & Gifts

post by Daniel Crofts in Batavia Downs, Craft Show, Holidays, photos

Alicia Lurye of AK Entertainment is happy to be hosting the "Winter Wonderland of Arts, Crafts & Gifts" this weekend at Batavia Downs Casino. She said this is the first Christmas show at the Downs for many years.

"They just haven't found anyone willing to do it," she said. "And look at the turnout."

A lot of people came to browse and buy what 40 crafters and vendors had to offer:

Tami Burbules of East Pembroke offered free samples of her bread dips. She is selling them in addition to desserts, veggie dips and other treats from Gourmet Creations.

Monday, October 11, 2010 at 6:39 pm

Two Twentytwo notched fifth win Saturday at Batavia Downs

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

The "Comeback Kid," Two Twentytwo, prepping for next week’s $40,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace, once again made it look easy when he notched his fifth win of the summer-fall meet in the $9,000 Preferred Handicap, Saturday night (Oct.9), at Batavia Downs Casino.

Sent off as the prohibitive 1-4 betting favorite, reinsman Jack Flanigen (recovered from his recent tumble) fired the 6-year-old Blissful Hall gelding right to the top and they made every pole a winning one cruising to an underwraps 1:54.2 score. Track announcer Joe Zambito called it a “jogburger.”
Compass Connection (Jim McNeight) finished 1-1/2 lengths behind in second, while Oh Gee Whiz (Ray Fisher Jr.) forced to go wide for the second week in a row behind stalled cover wound up third.
“He raced really well,” Downs dashing leading driver Jack Flanigen said. “It was a pretty easy win, our game plan was to try and save as much as we could for next week's Kane, and we definitely did that.”
“He’s the favorite for Horse of the Year, no doubt about that,” said Mike Kane, vice president of Live Racing. “We wish him well next week.”
Two Twentytwo ($2.70) is owned by Dominic Colarusso Jr. and trained by Richie Mays. Saturday night's win was his ninth of season in only 15 starts; he’s earned more than $225,000 lifetime.
Two Twentytwo was one of the top-rated 3-year-old pacers before an injury sidelined him for more than a year.
Rockin Ronny was Rockin
Two Twentytwo wasn’t the only one that had a big Saturday night. Veteran reinsman Ron Beback Jr. was red-hot, guiding home five winners on the 12-program including four from his own barn. Beback is currently second in the trainer standings before Sherri Holliday.
Kevin Cummings well on his way to 3,000 career wins scored a hat trick while Ray Fisher Jr. notched a double. Trainer Jim Graham conditioned a pair of winners.
Bring on the Cannolis
A Columbus Day tradition returned to Batavia Downs on Monday afternoon, the annual Italian/American drivers' race. The Downs regularly raced on Columbus Day but Monday will be the first Columbus Day program held since Western OTB purchased the historic track in 1998.
Carded as race seven, Tom Agosti drove favored Encil from the rail; however, Mike Caprio, a three-time winner of his event, was one to watch.

Friday, October 8, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Batavia Downs live racing simulcasts cancelled in Buffalo viewing area

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

The in-house simulcast of race cards for the remainder of the 2010 Batavia Downs Casino harness meet in the Buffalo viewing area have been canceled.

The announcement was made Tuesday by Michael D. Kane, vice president, Operations and Live Racing.

“Due to unforeseen contractual obligations, WGRZ/Universal Sports/Buffalo was unable to carry the required number of Batavia Downs Casino live racing simulcasts," Kane said in a news release.

"We have, therefore, canceled our agreement with WGRZ in the Buffalo viewing area for the balance of the 2010 harness racing schedule. Live racing from Batavia will continue in the Rochester market."

The Batavia races will continue to be featured on Channel 98 on Time-Warner’s basic digital package in the Rochester market. The coverage area includes all or parts of Genesee, Orleans, Monroe, Livingston, Wayne, Ontario, Seneca, Yates and Steuben counties.

In the Buffalo area, the races had been carried on Channel 114 on Time-Warner (Channel 111 in Olean), WGRZ Digital Channel 2-2 and Verizon Fios Channel 460. The coverage area included all or parts of Erie, Niagara, Genesee, Wyoming, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.

Kane reminds harness fans that race replays are available on the OTB website (www.westernotb.com <http://www.westernotb.com>) and OTB provides telephone betting through its Dial-A-Bet service. Patrons may phone 1-800-724-4000 to establish an account.

Batavia Downs Casino is owned and operated by Western Regional Off-Track Betting, a public benefit corporation. In addition to being America’s oldest lighted harness track, the facility at 8315 Park Road is home to over 600 of the most popular slots and Grandstands Bar & Grille.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Monroe County accused of trying to force OTB to accept new executive

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, Western Regional OTB

An attempt to fill a long-vacant executive position at Western Regional OTB with a Monroe County politician with some baggage is meeting resistance locally.

Genesee County's representative on the OTB board, Richard Siebert, told the Democrat & Chronicle that Monroe County officials are trying to make the appointment without going through proper procedures.

James Smith is a former deputy executive for Monroe County who was charged -- and later acquitted -- of misdemeanors related to alleged misuse of county workers for non-county work.

Smith's nomination is supported by Dennis Bassett, who is Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy’s appointee to the board.

According to Siebert, there's been no interview process and no other candidates considered.

One subcommittee vote was a tie, effectively killing Smith's application.

However, Bassett is now reportedly trying to bring a vote on Smith to the entire board.

A meeting with this single item on the agenda is scheduled for Oct. 11.

From the D&C:

Siebert said Smith supporters are trying to push the appointment through without advertising the job. Smith lacks gaming experience and, while Smith was acquitted of criminal charges, the accusations against him did raise questions about his managerial work, Siebert said.

“They’re ramming it down our throats,” Siebert said.

Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 11:08 am

Driver suffers concussion in race at Batavia Downs

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

mug-jack_flannigan.jpgA popular Batavia Downs driver is expected to return to action in about a week after getting thrown from his seat in the clubhouse turn during a race last night and suffering a concussion.

Veteran Jack Flanigen, who missed the entire 2008 season because of an injury, came into the season with 188 career wins.

Driving Anabelle Jo, the 44-year-old reinsman said he wasn't really sure what happened.

“I sent her out of there and she just collapsed and we went down.”

Flanigen was transported to United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia where he received stitches for a facial cut.

Full press release after the jump:

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