sports

Horses of the meet announced at Batavia Downs

By Press Release
Dec 10, 2021, 11:45pm

Press Release by Tim Bojarski, president, Upstate New York USHWA

The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has announced the horses of the meet for the 2021 racing season at Batavia Downs.

Pacer of the Meet: Art Scene (American Ideal-Lover Of Art)

Art Scene was a relatively new acquisition for trainer Maria Rice when he came to Batavia, after being claimed at Yonkers Raceway in mid-June for $25,000. But his new home track suited him just fine as he went on to have the winningest year of his career. While racing at Batavia, Art Scene won six Open paces and finished second twice out of his 13 starts in Genesee County and put $43,765 in the bank, making him the richest pacer on the grounds this year. He won his first start at the track and his last before shipping to Pompano for the winter and took his seasonal mark of 1:53.3 at Batavia in between.

Art Scene is owned by Vogel & Wags Nags, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock and is trained by Maria Rice.  

Trotter of the Meet: Barn Hall (Conway Hall-Exotic Form)

It’s not too often a 3-year-old trotter can come in and not only compete with, but beat older Open campaigners, but Barn Hall proved it can be done. After racing successfully on the New York Sire Stake Excel A circuit all summer, Barn Hall settled in at Batavia and became a powerful top class performer for the entire meet. He hit the board 12 out of 14 starts, winning four and earning $42,092 which was the most won by any trotter at the meet this year. Plus he took his lifetime mark of 1:55 at Batavia after winning the Open trot in October.  

Barn Hall is owned by Steve and Nancy Pratt, Wanda Polisseni's Purple Haze Stable and the Out In The Country Stable and is trained by Steve Pratt.

Mare of the Meet: Protect Blue Chip (American Ideal-Lucky Turn)

Protect Blue Chip surpassed all her previous career numbers this year and excelled in her 11 starts at Batavia Downs. She hit the board eight times, winning four Opens while finishing second and third twice each which netted her $35,142 in purses. Her best win time of 2021 was 1:54 taken at the Downs in September and it was also her fastest career win over any half-mile track. Plus this was the third consecutive year she took her seasonal mark at Batavia Downs.  

Protect Blue Chip is owned by Vogel & Wags Nags, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock and is trained by Maria Rice.  

Claimer of the Meet: Raksmach N (Mach Three-Raksplace)

Raksmach N also had the best year of his career in North America since landing here from New Zealand in 2018 and the bulk of his success came at Batavia Downs. During the meet he had six wins in only nine starts and earned $29,150 in purses. But he also paced the fastest mile of his life over a half-mile track on September 18 at the Downs when he scorched the oval in 1:52.3, winning by 5-1/4 lengths for driver Jim Morrill Jr. Five of Raksmach N’s six wins came in claiming races of $15,000 or higher.

Raksmach N is owned by Jeffrey Savidge and trainer Jennifer Giuliani.

The connections of these horses will be presented with their trophies in the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 11) during UNY-USHWA’s Night of Distinction. Saturday is the final night of the meet and post time is at 5 p.m.

Photos by Paul White

Batavia Downs cancels final card Saturday

By Press Release
Dec 10, 2021, 3:35pm

Press Release by Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The management of Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel and the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association have agreed to cancel live racing on Saturday night (Dec. 11), which was the last card of the 2021 season at Batavia Downs. This is because of concern for the safety of all the participating horsemen, horsewomen, horses and patrons due to the impending day-long forecast of near hurricane force winds of between 65 to 70 mph for all of western New York -- including Batavia.

"Over half the card of horses ship in and some from as far as Pennsylvania and Ohio. It's simply unsafe for trailers to be on the road with winds gusting up to 70 mph. And it's doubtful we could get the wings of the starting gates to consistently and safely close at the start of each race in this type of dangerous weather conditions,"said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live racing at Batavia Downs. "

“Therefore after consulting with Bruce Tubin (President of the WNYHHA) on the situation, we decided it was in the collective best interest to err on the side of caution and safety and shut it down for the season. We want to thank our staff, horseman and horsewomen and all of our loyal fans for a tremendous racing season and look forward to reopening on July 20, 2022, pending New York Gaming Commission approval.” 

Morrill and Giuliani take top honors at Batavia Downs

By Press Release
Dec 10, 2021, 3:07pm

Press Release by Tim Bojarski, president, UNY-USHWA

Photos by Paul White

Jim Morrill Jr. and Jennifer Giuliani have been named the top driver and trainer of the 2021 Batavia Downs meet that comes to a close on Saturday (Dec. 11). 

Morrill had this title wrapped up at the halfway mark as he got off to a hot start in July and burned his way through November. Morrill finished the meet with 365 starts, 116 wins, 71 seconds and 46 thirds to post a stellar .468 UDR. Those 64% in-the-money finishes garnered his connections $714,074 in earnings making him the top earner as well. 

Kevin Cummings finished second with 68 wins and $504,137 in purses and the meet's Rising Star Award winner Kyle Cummings was third with 50 wins and $394,862 banked. 

Giuliani was in a tight race all year but came out on top with 41 wins, 24 seconds and 22 thirds out of 146 starts that produced $207,379 in earnings and a UTR of .422. Her horses hit the board 60% of the time and she also trained the Batavia Downs claimer of the meet, Raksmach N. 

Maria Rice finished second with 40 wins and $311,602 in purses (which made her the highest earning stable on the grounds) and Gerry Sarama was third with 36 wins and $234,722 earned. 

Jim Morrill Jr. and Jennifer Giuliani will be presented a trophy from the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association for their achievements but since Morrill has already started his winter break and Giuliani has relocated to Pompano Park for winter racing, these awards will be presented when they return for the 2022 Batavia meet next July.

Saturday is the final night of the meet and post time is at 5 p.m. 

 

Guaranteed pool, mandatory payouts end Batavia Meet

By Press Release
Dec 10, 2021, 3:03pm

Press Release by Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs will close out the 2021 meet on Saturday (Dec. 11) and there is a full night of action, awards and Auld Lang Syne on tap.

First the action. There will be one guaranteed pool and one carryover and both will have mandatory payouts.

There is a $3,500 guaranteed pool in the Pick-5 wager in the first race and it will be part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program. And as a result, free program pages will be available courtesy of TrackMaster on the USTA’s website, the Batavia Downs website and Facebook page or by clicking this link (https://www.trackmaster.com/freeContent/usta/freeContentFiles/hpl/btv1211x.pdf). The Pick-5 is a 50-cent base wager that begins in race one and runs through race five. If all five winners aren’t picked, the most correct winners selected will be paid. 

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Then in race six, there is a carryover of $1,188 in the Jackpot Pick-6. That is a 20-cent base wager and it runs through race nine. And again if all six aren’t picked, the most correct selected will be paid.

And if you are attending live you can play the free Pick-6 contest for a chance to win $2,000. Just go to Players Club and get an entry blank and deposit it with your selections before the start of the fourth race. If you get all six winners correct, you will win $2,000. And since this is the last day of the meet this contest is a must pay as well. If no one picks all six winners, the person with the most winners selected will get $1,000. If there are multiple winners, the $1,000 will be split evenly among all correct contestants. Entry is limited to one per person. 

Saturday is also the United States Harness Writers Association’s awards presentations during the Night of Distinction where all the top horses, horsemen and dignitaries will be honored. Honorees include President’s Award winner New York State Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, Unsung Hero Award winner Jami Chatt, Rising Star Award winner Kyle Cummings and all the top horses of the meet. Awards will start after the fifth race in the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle and run through race 10. These awards will be streamed live on the Batavia Downs YouTube channel. 

Then after the last race the Batavia Downs tradition of closing the meet will continue with the playing of Auld Lang Syne as the lights go out on the track for the last time this year. 

Free full card past performance program pages for Saturday and every live racing night at Batavia can always be downloaded at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab. And if you can’t attend live, you can still watch all the racing action via the Batavia Downs YouTube channel.

Post time for the first race is slated for 5 p.m. 

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Batavia ND rally falls short in 5-3 loss to Portside

By mikepett
Dec 9, 2021, 10:39pm

Batavia Notre Dame United dropped a 5-3 decision tonight to the Portside Royals in Section V hockey action at the Batavia Ice Arena.

BND falls to 2-2 while Portside, a merger of the Brockport and Spencerport programs, improves to 3-1.

The winners scored three goals in the second period to take a 4-1 lead and managed to hold off a spirited comeback by the home team.

Forward Vin DiRisio deflected a shot from the point by defenseman Orion Lama with 12 minutes left in the game, and forward Gavin Schrader buried a backhand shot after he stole the puck deep in the Portside zone three minutes later to pull BND within one at 4-3.

The Royals responded a minute later when United turned the puck over in its own end, leading to a goal by Evan Bovee.

“We just dug too deep of a hole in the second period,” BND Coach Marc Staley said. “We had some great scoring chances that we just did not capitalize on.”

With 2 ½ minutes left, Bovee received a major penalty after a blindside hit on DiRisio, giving United a two-man advantage – following a penalty at the 3:38 mark on Joey Mandel.

BND was unable to generate any offense, however, and Portside was able to clear the puck several times.

The home team opened the scoring at 10:47 of the first period on a slapshot from the right point by Andrew Kasmarek. Portside tied it with 4:55 remaining in the period on a goal by Henry Schulz.

Schultz scored a shorthanded goal a minute into the second period to put Portside up 2-1. He added a power play goal with 5:34 remaining and Sal Balbi scored after taking a pass from Ryan Plouffe with 1:44 to play to make it 4-1.

Courtney Schum stopped 27 of 32 shots while Portside goalie Danny Kucmerowski turned away 35 of 38 shots. Schum has replaced sophomore starter Frank Falleti Jr., who is out indefinitely with a leg injury. .

Schrader now has eight goals and DiRisio has six.

Staley said he saw “a lot of good things” from his team, noting that United outshot the Royals, took only two penalties and gave up just three odd man rushes. He also mentioned that he was surprised by the amount of hard checking.

“The game was much more physical than we’ve seen so far this year. It’s certainly not what we are used to seeing in Section V. I thought the kids did a great job adjusting to that and really coming after them in the third period,” he said.

Senior captain Zack Eschberger returns to the team on Monday after being in quarantine, Staley said.

BND travels to Geneva on Tuesday to take on the WFL Panthers. Game time is 7 p.m.

Delilah De Vie comes back strong in Batavia feature

By Press Release
Dec 8, 2021, 10:24pm

Press Release By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs:

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Cold, flurries and a snow covered track greeted the racing participants on Wednesday night (Dec. 8) at Batavia Downs, but they weren’t the only things Delilah De Vie would have to deal with before she won the $12,100 Open II Handicap for distaff pacers which headlined the night's card. 

As the race swept into the first turn, Queen Of Thrones (Ray Fisher Jr.) crossed over and interfered with Come Get The Cash (Leon Bailey) who then made a break in front of Delilah De Vie (Dave McNeight III) causing her, and others, to break and come to almost a complete stop. Queen Of Thrones then kept going and got to the quarter in :28.4 with No Where To Hide (Kevin Cummings) and Lady London (Drew Monti) in closest pursuit. When the group got to the half, McNeight had gathered Delilah De Vie together and was now on the pylons traveling fourth. 

Queen Of Thrones continued to lead up the backstretch but Delilah De Vie was on the move and gaining ground third on the outside. The top three horses all had a shot as the race headed into the stretch with Queen Of Thrones flanked by No Where To Hide on her left and Delilah De Vie to her right and at the line, Delilah De Vie was strongest of all winning by one length in 1:58.1.
Queen Of Thrones finished second but was disqualified and placed last for the interference she caused at the start of the race. 
It was the sixth win of the year for Delilah De Vie ($18.60) and owner/trainer Brianne Good. 
In the undercard $11,250 fillies and mares Open III pace, the Rosecroft newcomer Triple Dip (Kevin Cumming) made her first Batavia Downs start a winning one after going gate to wire while holding off a stubborn Watchwhatmyfeetdo (Denny Bucceri) by ½ length in 1:57.3. Triple Dip ($8.80) is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama. 
The Cummings-Torcello-Sarama connection also won with Mcdelicacy (1:58.1, $6.90) earlier in the card, giving each two wins for the evening. 

Driver Denny Bucceri also had two wins during the card.

There were winners in the guaranteed $10,000 Pick-5 on Wednesday and the 2-3-5-2-4 combination returned $1,254 for a 50-cent wager. The guarantee was met and the final pool was $10,952. 

Batavia Downs will close out the 2021 meet on Saturday (Dec. 11) and there will be one guaranteed pool and one carryover and both will have mandatory payouts.
To start, there is a $3,500 guaranteed pool in the Pick-5 wager in the first race and it will be part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program. And as a result, free program pages will be available courtesy of TrackMaster on the USTA’s website and the Batavia Downs website and Facebook page. The Pick-5 is a 50-cent base wager that begins in race one and runs through race five.
Then in race six, there is a carryover of $1,188 in the Jackpot Pick-6. That is a 20-cent base wager and it runs through race nine.
And if you are attending live you can play the free Pick-6 contest for a chance to win $2,000. Just go to Players Club and get an entry blank and deposit it with your selections before the start of the fourth race. If you get all six winners correct, you will win $2,000. And since this is the last day of the meet this contest is a must pay as well. If no one picks all six winners, the person with the most winners selected will get $1,000. If there are multiple winners, the $1,000 will be split evenly among the correct contestants. There is only one entry per person. 
Saturday is also the United States Harness Writers Association’s awards presentations during the Night of Distinction where all the top horses, horsemen and dignitaries will be honored. 
Free full card past performance program pages for Saturday and every live racing night at Batavia can always be downloaded at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab. And if you can’t attend live, you can still watch all the racing action via the Batavia Downs YouTube channel.

 

Photo by Paul White

YS Assemblyman Stephen Hawley to receive President’s Award from UNY-USHWA

By Press Release
Dec 8, 2021, 10:15am

Press Release: By Tim Bojarski, president, UNY-USHWA

The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association is pleased to announce that New York State Assemblyman Stephen Hawley is the recipient of their 2021 President’s award for his strong support of the harness racing industry and the agricultural jobs it helps to sustain. 

Hawley is a Batavia, New York native and grew up there before leaving to attend college at the University of Toledo and then serve in the Army National Guard and U. S. Army reserves. When he returned home, he became the owner/operator of Hawley Farms and also owned and managed a property and casualty insurance company for over 35 years. 

Always working for the betterment of the community as a businessman, Hawley wanted to take it one step further and successfully ran for office in the 139th New York Assembly District in 2006 and has been proudly serving his constituents ever since.    

As a businessman, Hawley always had a friendly acquaintance with Batavia Downs and brought friends and customers there for dinner and to see the races and through his visits he grew to understand how integral the sport of harness racing was to the agricultural infrastructure in Genesee and surrounding counties. So as a politician he has been a staunch supporter of the track and its principles ever since he has been in office. 

Over the years Hawley has served on many committees while in office including the racing and wagering committee and currently the agriculture committee and in those positions, always fought hard to protect the people that racing employs both directly and in supporting industries. 

Outside of Albany, Hawley continues to be a friend of the track first hand as over the years he regularly participates in promotions like celebrity races and fundraisers for various worthy causes throughout the year. 

And since 2010 Hawley has sponsored his “Night At The Races” at the Downs and in the 11 years it’s been held, has brought thousands of people who otherwise might not have ever come to the track and introduced them to the sport that has been a mainstay of the economic fabric of Batavia, New York for over eight decades.

“I have known Steve for a long time and have witnessed first hand his passion for this community and his appreciation for the sport of harness racing. He genuinely understands the intricacies of the business and how hard our horsemen and horsewomen work to ensure the well-being of our horses while earning a living in a very difficult industry. He fights to keep the sport healthy so it’s economic impact on agriculture can continue in the area and supports Batavia Downs gaming as its revenue continues to support local communities,” said Tim Bojarski, President of UNY-USHWA. “Our organization is proud to present him with this gesture of our appreciation.”

Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel said “Throughout the years, Steve has been a champion not only of Batavia Downs but of the entire racing and gaming industries. He has introduced many people to our historic race track all while supporting legislation that helps the people of New York who work for the casinos and tracks and it’s through Steve’s hard work that our industry continues to grow and prosper. We congratulate Steve on receiving this well-deserved award.” 

For his outstanding service to the sport of harness racing, Steve Hawley will be presented this award in the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 11) during UNY-USHWA’s Night of Distinction. Saturday is the final night of the meet and post time is at 5 p.m.

Photo Credit - NYS Assembly website

UNY-USHWA Unsung Hero Award to Jami Chatt

By Press Release
Dec 7, 2021, 12:15pm

Press Release by Tim Bojarski, president, Upstate New York USHWA

The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has named Jami Chatt their 2021 Unsung Hero award recipient at Batavia Downs. 

Jami Chatt has been around horses since she could walk and was introduced to the sport of harness racing by her grandfather Fred Haslip, who has been a driving and training legend in western New York since the 1960’s. And although she has groomed, jogged and trained horses all her life and currently owns the pacer Mateo, she also works daily in her full time career as a special education teacher in the Sweet Home (NY) school district. 

Despite all her personal commitments Chatt still finds time to go above and beyond for anything that puts harness racing in a positive light and has been doing so for years, especially when it comes to charitable concerns. 

In 2013 when driver Anthony Coletta went down in a wreck at Harrah’s Philadelphia, Chatt spearheaded the “Stay Strong Anthony Coletta” fund which included wrist-band sales, a silent auction, purse donations from drivers, trainers and owners, along with cash given by attending fans and Batavia Downs staff and raised $12,835, which all went to Coletta and his family to help him recover from his injuries.  

The Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester started to hold one of their annual fundraisers at Batavia Downs in 2010 and over time, it grew into a major event. Several years ago Chatt got involved and really took control of the fund-raising on the horsemen’s side. Now she relentlessly solicits trainers, drivers and owners both at the track and then later, at other tracks, to donate a percentage of their purse from the night of the event to the BCCR. Since Chatt has gotten involved the final donation number has grown exponentially and this year the final total was a record $19,653.  

Chatt also works hard to introduce new fans to the sport. Each year she brings families and friends who are not associated with racing to the track and even holds a “field trip” for her fellow teachers, and then spends her night schooling them on the finer points of handicapping. 

In appreciation for her selfless work, UNY-USHWA will present Jami Chatt with her Unsung Hero Award in the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 11) during UNY-USHWA’s Night of Distinction. Saturday is the final night of the meet and post time is at 5 p.m.

$10,000 Pick-5 guarantee Wednesday at Batavia Downs

By Press Release
Dec 7, 2021, 12:11pm

Press Release by Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Down

There is still time and opportunity to enhance your Christmas shopping buying power when live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Dec. 8) as two carryover pools that include one large guarantee will highlight the card. 

Beginning in the first race, there is a $2,259 carryover in the Pick-5 wager and the management of Batavia Downs has announced that the pool will be guaranteed at $10,000 as part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program. As a result, free program pages will be available courtesy of TrackMaster on the USTA’s website and also on the Batavia Downs website and Facebook page. The Pick-5 is a 50-cent base wager that begins in race one and runs through race five.

Then in race four, there is a carryover of $888 in the Jackpot Pick-6. That is a 20-cent base wager and it runs through race nine.

Free full card past performance program pages for these races on Saturday as well as every live racing night at Batavia can always be downloaded at bataviadownsgaming.com under the live racing tab. And if you can’t attend live, you can still watch all the racing action via the Batavia Downs YouTube channel.

Post time for the first race is 5 p.m.

There are only two race nights left at Batavia this year as the meet ends on Saturday (Dec. 11), and any pools that may carry over to Saturday will be mandatory payouts that night. 

Kyle Cummings named Rising Star by UNY USHWA

By Press Release
Dec 6, 2021, 6:45pm

 

Press Release by Tim Bojarski, president, Upstate New York USHWA

The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has announced that driver Kyle Cummings was named their Rising Star for the 2021 racing season at Batavia Downs. 

It should come as no surprise that Kyle Cummings has been one of the best drivers in western New York this past year despite a very brief career, as he hails from a family deeply rooted in racing. His father Todd Cummings, mother Tammy Cummings, grandfathers John Cummings Sr. and Hugh Stevens, grandmother Cindy Stark-Casale, uncles John Cummings Jr., Tony Cummings, Kevin Cummings, John Stark Jr., Doug Ackley and aunt Laurie Stark have all been successful trainer/drivers spanning the last 45 years. So he had a wealth of knowledge to draw from and clearly he paid attention. 

Cummings got his first pari-mutuel win in April of 2019 with a pacer named Jude Hall and his production at the track took off from there. To say he had a break-out season in 2021 would be an understatement as in only his third year in the bike, the 21-year-old Cummings doubled his win and earnings output posted over the first two years of driving. This year overall he's competed in 721 races with 109 wins, 107 seconds and 101 thirds and has bankrolled $688,417 in purses. But let’s break that down a little further.

At the current Batavia Downs meet, Cummings sits third in dash wins with 50 -- behind his Uncle Kevin -- with earnings of $391,352. Over the summer he was the leading dash driver on the New York Sire Stake fair circuit and was named the NYSS County Fair Driver of the Year at their awards ceremony in November. During that competition he had 50 starts with 26 wins -- that included two finals at Goshen Historic Track -- 19 seconds and one third and earnings of $60,942 while racing across the state. That equates to a phenomenal UDR of .738 for that series. 

For his outstanding performance this year, Kyle Cummings will be presented with the Rising Star award in the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 11) during UNY-USHWA’s Night of Distinction. Saturday is closing night at Batavia Downs and post time for the first race is 5 p.m. 

Photo credit by Paul White

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