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Saturday, July 26, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Top trainers, big stakes at Batavia Downs on Sunday

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

Press release:

The first of eight visits by the lucrative New York Sire Stakes takes place Sunday afternoon, July 27, at Batavia Downs and for the local fans it’s a chance to see some of the biggest names in harness racing.

Post time for the first race is 1:15.

The 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers will be on hand and that means some very exciting action.

There will be three legs of the NYSS and two of the Excelsior series and the entrants will be competing for combined purses in excess of $140,000.

The first division goes for $39,200 and looks to be the main event as it is loaded with talent and speed.

Perennial training leader Ron Burke will start 3-5 morning line favorite All Bets Off, who ships in with some impressive credentials. He won the $300,000 Art Rooney pace at Yonkers Raceway in May and after winning his elimination heat in 1:48.3, finished third in the $500,000 Hempt final at Pocono Downs behind McWicked last month. In that race, McWicked set a new world record for 3-year-old colts on a five-eighths mile track (1:47.3).

This will be the third start in the NYSS for All Bets Off this year who won at Vernon Downs in 1:50.2 and just 10 days ago finished second at Yonkers in 1:52.4 to Capital Account, who looks to be his toughest competition in today’s race. He has earnings of $291,575 already this year.

All Bets Off, who starts from post five and will be driven by Matt Kakaley, is part of an entry that includes stablemate Keystone Honor.

Capital Account has competed in some high-profile stakes already but without positive results. He drew post eight in both the $69,000 Somebeachsomewhere and $45,500 North America Cup elimination at Mohawk and finished well beaten in both. But even though he does not sport the gaudy numbers of the morning line favorite, he certainly has beaten him.

In his last start at Yonkers in NYSS action, Capital Account was pulled third over up the backside before tipping four-deep around the leader All Bets Off at the top of the stretch. He then outpaced the 1-5 favorite to the wire to win by a half-length. The 16-1 shot was overlooked last week but certainly won’t be in here.

Capital Account is trained by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter and will start from post three for leading NYSS driver Jim Morrill Jr.

The second $39,200 division is headed by Canadian conditioner Cassie Coleman’s Twin B Tenacious. After getting 2014 off to an inauspicious start, Twin B Tenacious has now strung together four straight wins (the last a NYSS event at Yonkers) and registered a 1:50.3 lifetime mark at the Meadowlands in the process. Steve Smith, who has been at the helm for all four victories, will once again be in the bike and start from post four.

Forty Five Red, who is another entry from the powerful Burke stable, comes in off two consecutive wins at Yonkers Raceway which includes his seasonal mark of 1:52.3 in his last outing. Although he hasn’t missed a check all year, his most recent outings have probably been his best to date and indicate he will be a legitimate threat to the favorite.

The third division is worth $38,500 and looks to be a wide-open affair.

Stay Up Late has been made the morning line favorite but has yet to win in stake action at three. He has gone off the favorite in his last three starts but his sole victory this year came in an overnight event at Yonkers Raceway on July 8 in 1:53.3. He gets Jim Morrill Jr. up for the first time this year and starts from post four.

Neat draws the rail for trainer Erv Miller and is coming in off three very impressive starts. After just getting beat in 1:53.4 in a NYSS race at Buffalo on June 27, Neat finished second in an overnight at Pocono Downs in 1:50.1 over a sloppy track the following week. He was then back in Sire Stake action at Yonkers his last start where he got away sixth and chased a :56 flat last half parked out to finish third in 1:52.3.

Neat is rated at 5-2 for driver Brent Holland.

3-1 third choice Sir Sam’s Z Tam has the fastest seasonal mark and the most money earned of any other horse in this race, but also has the only NYSS victory this year. After hitting the board four consecutive times, he found himself parked out in a fast last half at Yonkers before finishing fifth.

Sam’s Z Tam will start from post three for trainer/driver the Pat Lachance.

The undercard features two divisions of the Excelsior series and they are slated to go as race seven and 10.

The first split goes for $12,600 and has two horses that have dominated the class; Cabbie’s Delight and Murder He Wrote.

8-5 favorite Cabbie’s Delight has not been worse than second in six Excelsior starts. In fact he is the point’s leader to date in the series. He won four straight out of the gate before finishing two close seconds in his most recent starts.

Trainer Sam Serianni has Jason Bartlett in the bike this week as he looks to get back in the winner’s circle.

9-5 co-favorite Murder He Wrote has won his last two starts, including a NYSS event at Buffalo Raceway where he blew up the tote board at 45-1. The roan gelding drew immediate respect after that when he went off the prohibitive favorite the following week at Yonkers where he won wire to wire in 1:54.1.

Jim Morrill Jr. will drive Murder He Wrote and starts from post five for conditioner Linda Toscano.

The final $12,600 Excelsior contest is headlined by 2-1 choice Believeinthespirit. After having negligible success in four straight NYSS races, trainer Ed Lohmeyer reclassified his charge to the Excelsior and the change has proven fruitful. Believeinthespirit has won his last two starts in convincing fashion and looks to continue the streak from post two.

5-2 second choice Archetto Hanover is the second highest point getter in the Excelsior series behind Cabbie’s Delight and has three wins and two seconds to show for his efforts. Trainer Erv Miller has Brent Holland up for this trip and will depart from post five.

For more racing information or to watch race replays as soon as they are declared official, logon to www.bataviadonwsgaming.com <http://www.bataviadonwsgaming.com/> .  Or if you would like to bet online and watch live streaming coverage of the races as they occur, logon to www.bataviabets.com <http://www.bataviabets.com/>  and open an account.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 8:35 am

Live harness racing returns to Batavia Downs in new season

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

Press release:

An enthusiastic crowd lined the fence to welcome back live harness racing at the oldest lighted harness track in North America and their zeal was rewarded with a great slate of exciting contests on a warm summer night.

The feature race was the $9,500 Mares Open Pace where newcomer Bazooka Terror established her status the first start out of the box as she soundly defeated her competition in 1:55.4.

Bazooka Terror is owned by her trainer, Leonard Segall of Clearwater, Fla. This was her sixth win of the year and it pushed her bankroll to $43,904 for 2014. She returned $6.20 for the win.

In the co-featured $7,500 Open Mares Trot, Love Me Do took a huge step in class and thought nothing of it as she cruised to a five-length victory in a seasonal best time of 1:59.

Love Me Do was claimed last week for $8,000 after winning that race from post seven in 2:00.1. Apparently liking what he bought, trainer Alex Giuliani wasted no time in promoting her to the top level for her sex and gait this week and the move paid off.

Love Me Do left and tucked third as 3-2 favorite Fiorentina (John Cummings Jr.) took the front and began to cut the mile. After a 29 second quarter and 59 second half, Love Me Do tipped at the five-eighths and took the lead past the three-quarters in 1:28.4. When she got the lead she got away from the pack and scored an easy five-length victory, her sixth of the year.

The time of 1:59 was a seasonal mark for Love Me Do and the winners share raised the annual earnings to $31,397. She paid $10.20 to win.

Love Me Do is owned by Mark Jakubik of West Seneca.

Reinsman Kevin Cummings carried his hot hand over from the recently concluded Buffalo meet winning four times on opening night while 2013 Batavia leading dash driver Shawn Mcdonough notched a triple.

Batavia Downs returns live this Friday night (July 25) with 12 races on the card. For more racing information, a list of racing promotions, or to watch race replays as soon as they are declared official, log on to www.bataviadonwsgaming.com. Or if you would like to bet online and watch live streaming coverage of the races as they occur, log on to www.bataviabets.com and open an account.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm

NY Sire Stakes to be held in Genesee County for the first time tomorrow night at Batavia Downs

post by Billie Owens in

Press release:

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.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 7:42 am

Photos: 67th season of racing opens at Batavia Downs

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

The 67th year of racing at Batavia Downs Race Track and Casino kicked off Batavia Downs on Monday evening and in a season when some of the dominant drivers of recent years are out for one reason or another, the competition for top driver in 2013 is wide open.

Especially after an opening night that saw eight different drivers trot into the winners circle.

Track announcer Joe Zambito.

To purchase prints of these photos, click here.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 7:28 am

Eight different drivers notch wins on first night at Batavia Downs

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

Press release:

If the opening night of action is any indication about the 2013 driver's race at Batavia Downs, things probably will be up in the air until the final night.

The 72-day meet at Batavia Downs, now in its 67th season, started Monday evening and after the nine-race card was completed, eight different drivers found their way to the winner's circle.

But someone managed to take the lead after the first night and that was 18-year-old provisional driver Drew Monti who managed to post a pair of victories. He scored with Carscot Review ($5.90) in the second race and Special News ($2.60) in the seventh to take the spotlight.

Batavia Downs Live Racing General Manager Todd Haight said of the first night, "We had a great crowd tonight. We distributed a large amount of free programs and our handle was about what we expected.  Overall, considering all we've had to deal with to get the property ready for racing I'm extremely pleased." Racing fans wishing to view replays of the races can do so at bataviadownscasino.com. Simply click on 'Live Racing' tab then on date and race number.    

Racing action returns on Wednesday night with a 6:30 p.m. start. The feature will go off in the seventh race as the fillies and mares do battle in the Open for $8,500. The 2-1 morning line favorite is Keep It Fair who captured the Fillies and Mares Open last week at Buffalo Raceway by going wire-to-wire in 1:55.3 for driver Aaron Byron. Greg Merton, however, will be take the reins this time around and score Keep It Fair from the two post.

Wednesday night also marks the return of 'Batavia Downs Live' on Time-Warner Cable in Rochester and surrounding areas on digital channel 98. Track announcer Joe Zambito and Ashley Holliday will co-host the 12-race card from start to finish.

Friday, July 19, 2013 at 10:33 am

The 67th season of racing opens at Batavia Downs on Monday

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

Press release:

Excitement. Anticipation. Optimism. Those three words are probably the best to describe the upcoming 2013 harness racing season at Batavia Downs, beginning on Monday (July 22) with a 6:30 p.m. post.

The 72-day harness schedule will be highlighted once again by popular promotions, a new addition in the betting format and some new faces in the trainer and driver colony.

And that's just on the racing side.              

The much anticipated opening of the new video lottery terminal area in the old Paddock Room is expected Aug. 30 and it will bring an added electric atmosphere to the half-mile oval throughout the summer and fall months.

"It might be a little tough at first but the end product will look great," said Todd Haight, general manager of Live Racing, when speaking about the renovations going on at Batavia Downs Gaming and Race Track. "We've lost some space on the racing side. But we are really excited about it all and what the end result will be. With the new gaming floor, new concession stand, sports bar and restaurant, we are very optimistic for the future."

At the start of the season, fans wanting to get to the apron of the track will enter the gate by the paddock (left-hand side of the facility) while those wanting to go to the video lottery terminal area, the clubhouse or enclosed grandstand will still enter where they normally would at the main entrance. Haight noted that one can reach the rail on the apron by walking down the stairs in the grandstands.

Haight is extremely pleased that "Batavia Downs Live" will return to Time-Warner Cable, digital channel 98, which serves Rochester and surrounding counties.

"This could be huge for us. We did not have a consistent schedule in the past but now we do. We will be on cable TV Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights through at least the end of October."

Besides using Western Regional Off-Track Betting’s Dial-A-Bet system, racing fans will be able to watch and wager on the races via Batavia Bets, WROTB’s online wagering platform.

"Batavia Bets offers an easy rewards program for wagers made on us," Haight said. "The online site is user friendly and you don't have to wait for an operator to take your call. We thought it made sense to bring back the TV show now that we offer online wagering.”

Ashley Holliday will serve as a co-host along with track announcer Joe Zambito.

"Ashley is very knowledgeable and has basically done it all in the horse business,” Haight said. "She will give her insight and perspective on the races. She'll also explain to fans about different pieces of equipment. I think our fans will find it very interesting.”

While there are several ways to wager without going to the track, Haight says getting people out to the Downs is imperative.

"We showed huge growth on our export handle last season, but we must continue to do our best to get people to come out to the racetrack. Like in previous seasons we've got a lot of good promotions that hopefully will do just that.”

Some of this year’s promotions include several dollar days (or nights), two free handicapping contests, the wiener dogs races that began in 2005 and remain more popular than ever, the driver's bike races that began in the early 1980s and the season ending Pick-6 contest.

A kickoff booklet will be distributed on Saturday night (July 27), which features free wagers for Pick-4s, daily doubles and racing programs. All live racing programs will contain a $5 free play coupon for the video games.

Haight stated that the driver's bike race, normally held on Labor Day, will be held on Columbus Day instead.

"With the New York Sires Stakes here on Labor Day we decided to move the bike race to Columbus Day.”

The very popular all-you-can-eat shrimp, prime rib and crab leg buffet will return every Friday and Saturday night in the clubhouse. New this year, Player's Extra members are entitled to receive $3 off their buffet.

Another added feature this season in the clubhouse is mutuel clerks that will be taking bets tableside.

“Customers won't have to leave their table to make a wager," Haight said. "This isn’t really new, but it’s new to us. Many customers had a hard time going up and down the stairs to make a wager. I’m confident our clubhouse patrons will really enjoy this feature.”

The annual college scholarship race is slated for Saturday (Sept. 14). Five more high school seniors will compete for their share of $7,500 in college scholarship money.

The 11th annual $50,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace is scheduled for Saturday (Oct. 5). This race usually attracts some top, hard-hitting pacers from all over the country. Previous winners include Foiled Again, the richest pacer in harness racing history.

Exciting New York Sires Stakes action begins on Aug. 16. The Caledonia Fair races have been rescheduled to be held at the Downs on Aug. 1. Also this season, the Downs will host the New York County Fair finals on Aug. 28.

New trainer/drivers in town include Jacques Beaudoin, Gaston Lareau, Mario Dessureault and former Downs regular Fred Cohen, the last three making the move up from Pompano Park in Florida.

Speaking of drivers, the track will also print in the nightly program the driver's choice in a race.

"When a driver is initially listed to drive several horses in a race, he gets to choose who he wants to drive," Haight said. "We will now print their choices in the bottom of each program page. It could be a great handicapping tool."

As far as the wagering format goes, Batavia Downs has added a second Pick-3 to its menu along with a new Pick-5 ($2 minimum). The Pick-5 replaces the Pick-6. To win the Pick-5, the customer must select all five winners in the Pick-5 sequence or the entire pool carries over.

Batavia Downs will also be part of the USTA Strategic Wagering Program, beginning Aug. 7, when the Pick-4 pool will be guaranteed at $3,000.

Racing will be held Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights in July with a 6:30 p.m. post time. Then in August, racing switches to a Sunday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday format with posts remaining at 6:30 p.m., with the exception of Sundays, which get under way at 1:15 p.m. The season ends on Saturday (Dec. 7).

Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Changes ahead at Batavia Downs as contruction project proceeds and new racing season approaches

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

Press release:

Racing fans will notice some changes when the 2013 live racing season gets under way at America’s oldest lighted harness track, Batavia Downs. The 67th season July 22, with a new post time of 6:30 p.m.

The historic track is in the midst of a $27 million construction project to move and expand the gaming floor to the ground level. The projected opening is Aug. 30.

Racing fans wishing to enjoy the races on the track apron or in the paddock room must enter through the north gate, located where a new cross walk has been installed. Racing fans wishing to dine in the clubhouse or view the races from the enclosed grandstand can continue to enter through the main entrance.

“We’re excited about nearing the completion of phase one of the expansion project,” said William White, vice president of Administration. “We have been working closely with Todd (Haight, GM of Live Racing) to put this facility back together in time for racing.

"I’m confident both our racing and gaming customers will enjoy the benefits from having both venues on the same level.”

Among the improvements on the racing side are a new paved track apron, redesigned paddock room mutuel betting windows and walk about tellers in the clubhouse.

Monday, June 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm

'Batavia Downs Live' TV broadcast returns July 24

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

Press release:

"Batavia Downs Live,” the popular three-and-a-half hour television broadcast of the harness races from Batavia Downs, returns on July 24, the second racing night of the 2013 season, at the historic track located in Genesee County.

A total of 20 race cards will be televised in the Time-Warner Rochester region on digital cable Channel 98. The coverage area includes Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming, Monroe, Livingston, Wayne, Ontario, and Seneca counties.

The broadcast beings at 6:30 p.m. and will conclude at 10 p.m.

Ashley Holliday, who currently serves as the Downs parade marshal, will now double as TV host and racing analyst on all Time Warner broadcasts, while continuing her duties as parade marshal on other race nights. She’ll co-host the broadcast with longtime track announcer Joe Zambito.

“Bringing Ashley aboard will add another dimension to our broadcast,” said Todd Haight, general manager of live racing. “Throughout the years she's gained a tremendous knowledge of harness racing and will do a great job of conveying that to our viewers.

"It only made sense to bring back the TV broadcast now that OTB offers online wagering at Bataviabets.com. I expect some real growth once the season begins.”

Western Regional Off-Track Betting, the owner of Batavia Downs, also provides telephone betting through its Dial-A-Bet service. Patrons may phone 1.800.724.4000 to establish an account or for more information on how to open a Batavia Bets account.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 3:00 pm

World Harness Handicapping Championship qualifier is March 22 at Batavia Downs

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

Western Regional Off-Track Betting and Batavia Downs Casino are pleased to announce they will be hosting a World Harness Handicapping Championship qualifier at the historic harness track on Friday night, March 22.

Entry fee is $10 and two entries are permitted. The initial entry fee includes $5 returned in Casino slot play. The contest is limited to 150 entries.

The qualifier will consist of races 1 – 10 at Buffalo Raceway and races 1 – 8 at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

Contestants are required to make a total of nine mythical win-place wagers on the 18 designated contest races of which at least five contest wagers must be made on Buffalo Raceway. The remaining four wagers can be made on either Buffalo Raceway or the Meadowlands. Only one mythical wager is allowed per designated contest race.

Each contest wager will consist of a mythical $10 win-place wager. No best bet selection is required.

The “Win” mutuel will be capped at $40. The “Place” mutuel will be capped at $20 Therefore, the most a contestant can win in any given contest race is $300.

The Grand prize is a trip to compete in the $100,000 World Harness Handicapping Championship to be held on April 13 at the Meadowlands Racetrack. The winner will also receive hotel accommodations for two nights and $500 in expense money. The package is valued at $1,750. The top 10 finishers receive prize money.

Advance payments are being accepted by mailing a check or mail order to Batavia Downs Casino, 8315 Park Road, Batavia NY 14020, Attn: Todd H.

Walk-ups the night of the contest can also enter with the amount of open seats available determined by the number of advance entries.

Friday, December 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Tonight is Customer Appreciation Night at the Downs, season closes Saturday

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

Tonight is Customer Appreciation Night at Batavia Downs. After the fourth race in the enclosed grandstand, Subway subs and cake and coffee will be served while supplies last. Racing programs will be $1; coffee in the paddock room will be just 50 cents beginning at 5 p.m.

The free Pick-6 contest continues. Another $500 will be up for grabs for anyone that can pick all six winners on contest races four-nine. Sign up to play begins at 5 p.m. at Players Club and all Pick-6 forms must be returned to Players Club by the start of the fourth race. In the event there is more than one winner, the prize money is divided equally.

Then on Saturday night, the 2012 season comes to a close. Members of the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association will be trackside as part of the fifth annual “Night of Distinction” awards presentation.

Also on Saturday there will be a mandatory pay-out in the free Pick-6 contest. Either $500 or $1,000 will be paid out. If the Pick-6 contest is not won on Friday (Dec. 7), then the pool increases to $1,000 on Saturday night. If won on Friday, then the Saturday contest pool will be $500. Since it's closing night all monies must be paid out to whoever picks the most winners. In the event of a tie, all prize money will be divided equally. Contest races are four-nine. Sign up to play begins at 5 p.m. at Players Club and all Pick-6 forms must be returned to Players Club by the start of the fourth race. No purchase is necessary, must be a Batavia Players Club member to participate.

The Pick-6 contest is sponsored by the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association.

Simulcast wagering returns back to a seven day a week schedule beginning Dec. 9 at both the Downs and ITW simulcast center located across the street.

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