On Thursday, July 10, Batavia Downs will become the newest stop on the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) fair circuit when the Genesee County leg of that series convenes for the first time.
It's been a long and circuitious route for this to occur.
The Genesee County Agricultural Society has held an annual fair in Batavia, NY, since 1839. And from 1890 through 1946 they called the current site of Batavia Downs their home. The track was known as Exposition Park and every year harness racing was one of the most anticipated events on the fair schedule.
But in 1947 when Batavia Downs founder Pat Provenzano bought the property he had originally leased from the society to expand his growing pari-mutuel empire, the fair relocated to another site and fair racing in Genesee County ceased.
Since the inception of the New York Sire Stake in 1961, there has never been a fair date contest in Genesee County until now and the addition became a reality because of a natural disaster that occurred last year.
Todd Haight, Batavia Downs director/general manager of live racing said “Last year we held the Caledonia Fair races at Batavia Downs when their track in Livingston County was washed out by heavy rain. And it was a great success. We had a large crowd here and the racing was great. So we thought, why not host fair racing here every year?”
Haight contacted the NYSS and the Genesee County Agricultural Society and the groups came together with a plan. The result of that collaboration is the return of fair racing to the track they left seven decades ago.
“We’re happy to be partnering with the Genesee County Fair folks on hosting the races and all the activities that go along with them. I see no reason why the fair races couldn’t become an annual event here at Batavia Downs,” Haight concluded.
Nick O'Geen, Genesee County Agricultural Society Board member said “This is a unique opportunity for the Genesee County Fair to partner with Batavia Downs to bring harness racing to back the fair.”
Post time for the first race is 1:15 p.m.
In addition to the races, there will be events for the whole family on the track apron including carnival games, a bounce house, a juggler and a balloon artist. Also available will be a $3 lunch special for kids 12 and younger as well as $1 ice cream cones, snow cones and cotton candy. Fair events at Batavia Downs run from 11 until 4.
Batavia Downs will also be offering discounted advance sale tickets for other fair events and with the purchase of any ticket, will provide a $10 free-play voucher redeemable on their gaming floor.