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Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Bolt The Duer locks up Kane victory at Batavia Downs

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

Bolt The Duer with driver John Cummings Jr.

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

It was the biggest night of the year at Batavia Downs Saturday (Oct. 18) as the track presented the 12th edition of the $50,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Invitational pace. One of the largest live crowds was on hand to see the action and after the most anticipated race of the season hit the wire, world champion Bolt The Duer bested a stellar field of top Open pacers to take the trophy.

When the car pulled away, the Ron Burke stablemates Aracache Hanover (Kevin Cummings) and Easy Again (Aaron Merriman) found themselves sitting one-two at a :26.3 quarter with Bolt The Duer (John Cummings Jr.) tracking a close third. The positions remained unchanged to the half when Apprentice Hanover (Anthony MacDonald) pulled first over and led Aslan (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) and Wazzup Wazzup (Drew Monti) in the outer flow.

Apprentice Hanover cleared and took the lead at the three-quarters in 1:24.1 when Aslan and Wazzup Wazzup fanned three-wide to take their shots around the turn. But Bolt The Duer, who had been riding the pylons waiting for his chance, got it at the top of the stretch when the passing lane opened up and Cummings Jr. shot him through the gap and outpaced a game Aslan to the wire to win in 1:53.4. Aslan finished second and Wazzup Wazzup finished third.

It was the fourth win in 18 starts this year for Bolt The Duer ($11) and pushed his career earnings to over $1.82 million for owners All Star Racing, Inc. The 5-year-old son of Ponder is trained by Peter Foley.

After the race driver John Cummings Jr. said “I was hoping to be on the lead or have the two-hole but I got away third. But we were following the two best horses in the race and we were lucky to slide out up the backside and get back to the rail at the head of the lane and then he did the rest. There is no question this is the best horse I’ve ever driven and I would like to thank Pete (Foley) for giving me the drive.”

You can watch the replay of the race by clicking here. Insert this link http://youtu.be/i2GjbuZY3hk

BZ Glide with driver Mike Caprio

The co-feature of the night was the $12,500 Brian Schroeder Memorial trot that was won by local star BZ Glide. After the heavy favorite Money On My Mind (Aaron Merriman) made a break, Sailer Eddie (Jack Flanigen) took the lead and dictated the race until BZ Glide (Mike Caprio) pulled at the half and started his trek on the outside. He overtook the lead at the three-quarters and trotted away to an easy three-length victory in 1:58.2.

It was the eighth win in 20 starts for BZ Glide ($5.90) and inflated his bankroll to $60,667 for the trainer/driver team of Alana and Mike Caprio, who owns the horse.

It was an emotional winners circle after the race as Caprio, who was a friend of the late Schroeder, commented “It was an honor for me to win this race because Brian (Schroeder) was a good friend of mine. He helped me straighten out some horses years ago and was always willing to help anyone out.”

In the overnight feature $10,000 horse and gelding Open pace, Caprio doubled his pleasure by winning with Fireyourguns in 1:55. After getting away fifth, Fireyourguns waited until the top of the far turn to pull and swing wide before unleashing his patented pacing flurry down the lane. After making up about five lengths while streaking down the center of the track, Fireyourguns beat Best Ears (Jack Flanigen) who was on the rail, by a nose. There were four horses across the track at the wire and a mere neck separated first through fourth place.

It was the 13th victory of the year for Fireyourguns raising his earning total to $90,335 for owners Jennifer and Robert Lowe and Terrence McClory, who also trains him.

Aaron Merriman, who is currently the leading dash winning driver in North America, made a rare western New York appearance and put on a driving clinic for the fans. He registered a grand slam winning with Set Me Up ($4.40), Whata Donato ($3.10), Cheyenne Cam ($19.40) and Mondatta ($13).

And not to be outdone by the National season’s leader, local driving favorite Drew Monti also scored a four-bagger with Rock To Glory ($5.90), Deuces And Jacks ($16.20), Machman ($5.50) and Bandicoot (6.50).

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 22) with post time set for 6:35.

Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Kane Memorial tonight at Batavia Downs features Aracache Hanover, Easy Again

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

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

The 12th annual $50,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Invitational pace will be held tonight (Oct. 18) and the star-studded group of Open class performers competing is led by Ron Burke stablemates $1.7 million winner Aracahe Hanover and Easy Again.

The race is named in honor of the former chairman of the Western Regional Off Track Betting Corporation (WROTB) and his vision for a defunct racetrack. In 1998 Robert Kane saw the opportunity for WROTB to keep harness racing alive in Western New York and convinced the group to purchase the shuttered Batavia Downs. He then worked diligently for four years to obtain a racing license from the State of New York in order to reopen the track in 2002.

With the improvement of the live racing product and the multiple expansions of the gaming floor in the years since the acquisition, what once was an empty building is now the preeminent attraction in all of Genesee County and that is due to the vision of Robert J. Kane.

The race has played host to many great horses over the years including the six-million-dollar man, Foiled Again, who won it twice. But it was also won by one of this year’s entrants and he set the all-time track record for pacers there when he did it.

Aracache Hanover (Dragon Again-Armbro Cachet 1:48.1 = $1,726,616) was a multiple stakes winner at two and three, including the $525,000 Confederation Cup. As an aged horse, he has been one of the most consistent free-for-all pacers in North America. He comes into this race off two consecutive wins at Yonkers Raceway and looks to be the one to beat. Although he is owned locally in Clarence Center by Bill Switala and James Martin, he has only ever raced at Batavia Downs once before. That was in when he won the 2011 Kane Memorial and set the all-time track record of 1:51.1. Aracache Hanover is 3-1 morning line and will be driven by leading Downs driver, Kevin Cummings.

Easy Again (Dragon Again-Kuklapanandollie 1:50.1 = $712,381) came into the Burke stable 10 months ago and immediately turned into a win machine. Since that time he has 11 victories in 26 starts and posted a lifetime mark of 1:50.1 at Scioto Downs while banking $264,360 in purse money. He currently has four wins out of his last seven starts, although he finished eighth last week. That was because he got parked the entire mile at Yonkers in Open handicap company. North American leading dash-winning driver Aaron Merriman makes the trip to the oldest lighted harness track in America to team Easy Again who was made the morning line favorite at 5-2.

Also in the race is $1.8 million winner Bolt The Duer (Ponder-Wonderbolt 1:47.4 = $1,801,995) Bolt The Duer won the $500,000 Adios and the $415,000 Messenger Stake at three and has faced the toughest older pacers each week ever since. This year he has battled Sweet Lou, Foiled Again and Captaintreacherous just to name a few. Last week at Pocono Downs he drew the rail after six consecutive outside posts, only to get locked in behind a stalled horse while the eventual winner was pacing away. He brings ability and back class to the table here and will be heard from for sure. John Cummings Jr. and his aggressive driving style will be in the bike for trainer Peter Foley.

Scoring from the outside is Aslan (Mach Three-Skyview 1:49.2 = $207,377). He does not have the lofty stakes resume or million dollar earnings of some in this field because he was lightly raced at two and three. But he does have a lot of speed and it would appear that he comes into this race in his best condition ever based on his performance at Pocono Downs on Sept. 20. He just got beat a neck in 1:47.3 and that clocking is two seconds faster than his lifetime mark taken in 2013. Plus this horse is handy; he can leave or he can come from behind. Ronnie Wrenn Jr. who is currently second in North America in dash-winning drives is at the lines for trainer Tony O’Sullivan.

Here is a look at the entire field:

1)              Wazzup Wazzup                   Drew Monti                        9-2-8      8-1

2)              Easy Again                            Aaron Merriman                8-1-4

3)              Bolt The Duer                       John Cummings Jr.           4-6-2      4-1

4)              Aracache Hanover                Kevin Cummings              1-1-2      3-1

5)              Apprentice Hanover              Anthony McDonald           1-6-3      7-2

6)              WhatTheSheik                    Dave McNeight III             3-1-3      12-1

7)              Aslan                                     Ronnie Wrenn Jr.              1-2-1      6-1

The Kane Memorial Pace is carded as the seventh race of the night. The program also includes the $12,500 Brian Schroeder Memorial Trot, a $10,000 horses and geldings Open pace and a $10,000 mares Open pace. Post time for the evening is 6:35.

Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Batavia Downs to remember two ladies of the sport

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

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

On Friday, Oct. 17, Batavia Downs will look back and honor the careers of two longtime female trainers who plied their trade on the Western New York circuit for many years. Mary Ann Sarama-Luce and Brenda Ohol will have races named in their honor and presentations made with their families in the winner’s circle as the local horsemen pay their respects and remember their careers at Batavia Downs.

Mary Ann Sarama-Luce passed away in July of 2011 at 73 years of age after a long battle with leukemia. She ended her driving career in 1990 with 109 wins and $201,435 in earnings. At that point she started training full time and continued to do so until her passing. As a conditioner she sent 107 horses to the winner’s circle whose efforts earned $334,835. Some of the top horses Sarama-Luce trained included Gold Bandit N, Top Dog Alex, Top Dog Nicholas, Easy L Bar and Guy Lee Debbie.

After her passing, her son Carl and husband Richard have carried on with her stable.

“Harness racing was her number-one priority and passion” her daughter Lynette McGiveron said. “Her horses were the driving force behind her battle to recover. Even in her final days she worried more about her horses than herself.”

McGiveron continued “A passion of Mary Ann's was to have her mares bred and to raise the foals to race. She named them after her kids and grandchildren and had planned on doing so until every child and grandchild was named. The last foal to be born on her farm was "Top Dog Morgan" named after her grandson. Unfortunately Mary Ann never got to see it in person. He was born the night she went into the hospital for her final stay.”

Bruce Tubin, president of the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association, described Mary Ann as “A fierce competitor both as a trainer and a driver.”

After the fifth race, named the Mary Ann Sarama-Luce Memorial Trot, we will remember a great mother, person, horseman and friend to so many in Western New York.

Brenda Ohol died in August of 2013 after a long battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

She was born in Batavia and raised in Akron, New York, and was around horses her entire life. She was always in the barn with her father Ron Lederhouse who campaigned his own stable for many years and then as an adult, married Mike Ohol who was an established trainer/driver on the Western New York circuit.

During her 22-year training career she sent 691 winners to post and amassed earnings of $2.85 million. Her most prolific year came in 2009 when she had 1,018 starters with 79 winners, 91 seconds and 122 thirds along with $396,953 in monies won. Some of her best known horses included Little Man Cam, Adelia’s Prince, Honeybee Hershey, Fundy Breeze, Collier St. Bobby and Sunray Kash.

She left a legacy of women in racing behind as her daughter Courtney and granddaughter Brittney are now currently active full time trainers at Batavia. Ohol’s sister Lisa Lederhouse is an accomplished trainer as well.

Bruce Tubin, president of the western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association, said “Brenda was a hands-on, hardworking trainer who left us way too soon.”

Jim Mulcahy, treasurer of the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association said “Brenda always had a nice stable of horses that were always competitive. She was one of the top female conditioners on this circuit.”

After the seventh race, named the Brenda Ohol Memorial Pace, we will remember our other great mother, person, horseman and friend to everyone who raced on this circuit.

Post time for the first race is 6:35 p.m.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 9:02 am

Lucky Charm wins mares Open Trot, Kevin Cummings bags five at Batavia Downs

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

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

It was ability more than chance that saw Lucky Charm go gate to wire in the $7,500 mares Open trot at Batavia Downs on a special Monday afternoon (Oct. 13) Columbus Day matinee card at the Genesee County oval.

Kevin Cummings shook-up Lucky Charm off the gate and took an effortless lead around the first turn. From there the 8-year-old Malabar Man mare towed the field through a pedestrian half before picking up the tempo from there. After a :29.1 third quarter that saw Highway Cash (Doug Ackley) and Day Planner (Ray Fisher Jr.) advance into contention, Lucky Charm came home in :28.4 to fend off the three wide attack from her competition and win in 1:58.3. Day Planner was second and Highway Cash finished third.

It was the fourth win in 21 starts for Lucky Charm and brought her 2014 earnings up to $23,800 for owners Finish Line Investors and Johnny Yoder. Lucky Charm is trained by John Mungillo.

Driver Kevin Cummings was on fire Monday, with five wins, three seconds and a third out of the 11 races he was in. He scored with Love Me Do ($5), Donegal Jim ($2.10), Lucky Charm ($5.60), Emmys Junior Grin ($7) and Serendipitious ($2.50).

The “Race for the Cannoli’s,” which is held annually on Columbus Day at Batavia Downs and pits drivers of Italian-American descent against each other, was won by Rock C. Vinci aboard Windsong Destroyer in 1:58.2. The 10-year-old won by a length over Evening Shadows (Mike Caprio) after getting a perfect two-hole trip.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Oct. 15) with post time set for 6:35.

Sunday, October 12, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Western Alumni posts seasonal mark winning Downs feature

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

Western Alumni with driver Jim McNeight

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

After being victorious in the first Open pace of the season at Batavia Downs on July 26, Western Alumni hasn't visited the winners circle since. But that drought came to an end on Saturday night (Oct. 11) when he put on a powerful performance in winning the $9,250 pacing feature at the Downs.

Western Alumni (Jim McNeight) left sharp and took the lead before Best Ears (Jack Flanigen) brushed by to unseat him at the quarter. The rest of the field stayed single file to the half before Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio) came off the wood and started motoring.

As the group went up the backside, Peenie (Mickey Holliday) pulled underneath Fireyourguns and went backward, causing Fireyourguns to tip three-deep. Then around the far turn the top two broke away from the field and it appeared obvious the race was going to one of them. Western Alumni tipped and out-dueled Best Ears to the wire, winning in a sparkling 1:53.2. The time was a seasonal mark for Western Alumni. Best Ears hung on for second and What The Sheik brushed home to be third.

It was the seventh win in 30 starts for Western Alumni ($13.80) and pushed his 2014 earnings to $61,517 for owner North Creek Racing, LLC. The 6-year-old son of Western Hanover is trained by Jerry Nugent Jr.

Drew Monti, Shawn McDonough and Jim McNeight all scored driving doubles on the night.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs with a special Columbus Day matinee card on Monday (Oct. 13) with a 1:15 post time.

Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Two straight for Justgottogetthere in Batavia feature

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

Justgottogetthere with driver Jim McNeight

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

It was déjà vu all over again in the $9,250 Open trotting feature at Batavia Downs on Friday (Oct. 10) when Justgottogetthere ($8) scored his second consecutive top-class triumph in convincing style.

Justgottogetthere (Jim McNeight) left quickly to take the lead before yielding to Armed Dangerously (Jim Morrill Jr.) at the quarter. The rest of the field watched in post-position order as these two stood pat to the three-quarters in 1:27.2. At that point Justgottogetthere pulled the pocket to challenge the leader and the duel began. The pair trotted as one around the far turn before Justgottogetthere gained the advantage and opened a little space before holding off a late charge from BZ Glide (Mike Caprio) to win in 1:56.4. That was a new seasonal mark for Justgottogetthere. BZ Glide was second and Armed Dangerously hung on for third.

It was the second straight Open class victory for Justgottogetthere and the third win in 12 starts for the year. The purse pushed his 2014 earnings to $25,440 for owners Antonietta Landi and North Creek Racing, LLC. The 5-year-old son of Valley Victor is trained by Jerry Nugent Jr.

The co-feature Open II trot went even faster than the headliner when Second Hand News (Kevin Cummings) led wire to wire to win by four lengths in 1:56 flat. Second Hand News ninth win of the year tied his seasonal mark and inflated his bank account to $52,455 for owners Vogel & Wags Nags Stable and Kent Conshafter. Second Hand News is trained by Ron Van Wagoner.

Jim Morrill Jr. and Jim McNeight both scored driving triples while leading driver Kevin Cummings had a double.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on tonight (Oct. 11) with 12 events starting at 6:35.

Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Batavia Downs holds special Columbus Day matinee, honors Italian-American of the Year

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

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

A special matinee card of harness racing will be held on Columbus Day (Monday, Oct. 13) at Batavia Downs and the afternoon will do more than offer the finest racing in Western New York. A complete slate of activities to honor the Italian-American heritage that is so prevalent in Batavia starts at noon and runs through the last race.

When the 12-race card kicks off at 1:15, there are two special races to watch for that will honor some very special people.

The sixth race is the Italian-American driver’s race which is also known as “the dash for the cannolis.” All eight drivers in the race are of Italian descent and will vie for bragging rights for the coming year. Rock Vinci, Denny Bucceri, Andy Torre, Rich Mays, Mike Caprio, Paul Zambito Jr., John Mungillo and Drew Monti will go postward to vie for the coveted Italian pastry prize (as well as the purse money).

Then after the seventh race, Batavia Downs Gaming will honor their 2014 Italian-American of the Year, Laurie Napoleone. An instructor at the Health Careers Academy of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, Napoleone (along with her husband Mark) founded the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation in honor of their 8-year-old son who died of Burkitt’s lymphoma. The foundation is designed to help families facing the challenges of pediatric cancer and to assist youth sports and activities in the community.

For racing fans who attend the live card, there are plenty of food and beverage specials throughout the facility.

The clubhouse will feature their famous $9.95 chicken barbeque. And for every dinner purchased you will receive a voucher back for $5 of free-play in the casino. So it’s like getting your dinner for $4.95. This offer is good from noon to 3 p.m. and reservations are strongly recommended.

On the track apron you will find $1 draft beer, $1 Sahlen’s hot dogs and $1 sodas. All will be available from noon through the last race.

If you want to get your weekend started early, Batavia Downs Gaming is giving away a free trip to Las Vegas on tonight (Oct. 11) sponsored by Trade Winds Travel. That’s all you have to do is swipe your Player’s Club card once when you get there and you are automatically eligible to win. That's all you need to do to have a chance at this $950 vacation.

Another great deal being offered this evening is the “Match Play” quinella wager in the sixth race. For every two $5 quinella bets you make you will receive $10 worth of free-play on the gaming floor. So it’s like getting a free $10 wager.

The Columbus Day matinee will be the last afternoon card of racing for 2014. Our racing schedule for the remainder of the meet will be Wednesday, Friday and Saturday with post time at 6:35.

Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 11:47 am

Bazooka Terror shoots down foes in Batavia Downs feature

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

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

Employing her patented late brush after tracking an early speed duel, Bazooka Terror ($4) dismantled a field of top distaff pacers in the $8,500 mares Open at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 8) night.

Fiftyonefifty (John Cummings Jr.) and Soaring Honey (Dave McNeight III) battled each other hard for half a mile, each taking a lead through fractions of :27.1 and 56. By the time those two decided to play nice, last week’s winner Infrontigo Hanover (Jim McNeight) came first over with Dontch Remember (Shawn McDonough) and Bazooka Terror (Kevin Cummings) in tow. Just as Infrontigo Hanover took the lead halfway up the backside, Cummings tipped Bazooka Terror three-deep and paced around the field like they were tied to a post. Once the mare cleared, Cummings put the whip on his shoulder and let his charge close out the race. Bazooka Terror paced away to a devastating six-length wrapped-up victory in 1:53.4.

Dontch Remember was second and Mondatta (Mike Caprio) was third.

It was the ninth win in 35 starts for Bazooka Terror and pushed her 2014 earnings to $71,307 for owner Leonard Segall. Although the clocking was not a lifetime mark for the 5-year-old daughter of Western Terror, it was the fastest she had ever paced over a half-mile track. Bazooka Terror is trained by James Clouser Jr.

Kevin Cummings, John Cummings Jr., Ron Beback Jr. and Shawn McDonough all scored driving doubles on the night.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Oct. 10) at 6:35.

Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 11:20 am

Batavia Downs accepting entries for the $50,000 Kane Memorial Pace

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

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

Each year Batavia Downs signature event is the $50,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial invitational pace. The race has played host to some of the biggest names in harness racing. It is named for the former chairman of the board of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation, owner of Batavia Downs Gaming.

The six-million-dollar man, Foiled Again, won the race twice in 2009 and 2013 and Aracache Hanover set the all-time track record of 1:51.1 with his victory in 2011.

This year’s edition will be held on Saturday, Oct. 18, and the condition sheet has already been released so that any interested horsemen can enter their horses as early as today.

Besides the $50,000 Kane Memorial Pace, there are many other premium racing opportunities that night, including the $12,500 Brian Schroeder Open trot, $10,000 horses and geldings Open pace, $10,000 filly and mares Open pace and $7,500 mares Open trot. The box for all races for that night closes at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct.15.

Entries can be made and inquiries can be placed by calling Race Secretary Joe Zambito at 585-344-6161.

Sunday, October 5, 2014 at 2:12 pm

What The Sheik, Fireyourguns dead heat in Batavia Downs feature

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

Fireyourguns and What The Shiek tie for win, just ahead of Western Alumni.

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

The Saturday night (Oct. 4) Open pace at Batavia Downs provided one of the most exciting finishes racing fans have seen at the oldest lighted harness track in North America this year. The top three horses finished a neck apart and when the photo was examined, What The Sheik and Fireyourguns tripped the light at the exact same time.

When the race got under way, Western Alumni (Jim McNeight) took an early lead as What The Sheik (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio) got away fourth and sixth, respectively. The order stayed unchanged to the half when Fireyourguns pulled from the rear and flushed What The Sheik for live cover. That outer flow made minimal progress pacing toward the three-quarters as Western Alumni was sitting on a two-length lead. At the top of the lane it appeared as if the leader was home free, but when Fireyourguns tipped three-wide he prompted What The Sheik to pace on and the pair hit the wire in tandem just a head in front of Western Alumni, who hung on for third. The mile was timed in 1:56.1.

It was the sixth win of the year for What The Sheik ($2.90) who is trained by Gerry Sarama for owner Mike Torcello and the 12th win of the year for Fireyourguns ($2.50) who is trained by Terence McClory who owns the horse with Jennifer and Robert Lowe.

A pair of drivers accounted for seven of the 12 winners during the night. Jim McNeight recorded a grand slam with Maradona ($9.50), Hopskipanajump ($8.70), The Maniac ($4.20) and Flight Crew ($19.40) and Jim Morrill Jr. had a three-bagger with Unicorn Hanover ($20.00), What The Sheik ($2.90) and Muncie ($4.30). It was a natural hat trick that occurred in races six, seven and eight for driver Morrill, trainer Gerry Sarama and owner Mike Torcello.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Oct. 8) at 6:35 and kicks off the Downs new racing schedule of Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights, all with a 6:35 post time.

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