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Batavia, NY---The 2016 live harness racing season at Batavia Downs starts on Monday evening (July 25) and will do so in style as some of the biggest names in harness racing will be on hand to take part in three divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for 2-year-old trotting fillies, vying for $111,801. John Campbell and Ron Burke are the all-time leading money earning driver and trainer (respectively) in the history of the sport and they will be racing some of the finest freshman fillies New York State has to offer this year. Campbell has competed at Batavia Downs a couple times over the past decade and while his appearances are infrequent, they are highly anticipated by the fans. Campbell has lifetime earnings of $297 million and a passion for young trotters. This past Friday night (July 22) at the Meadowlands in their Kindergarten series for 2-year-old trotters, Campbell had mounts in two of the divisions and pulled off major upsets in both. "I particularly follow the 2-year-old trotting fillies and colts and in New York, it was Batavia's turn. It was good the way the schedule worked out and I was able to get up here to drive" said Campbell. "I like to stay on the same schedule they're on because I have some decent rides with the colts. I may be back here again for the trotting colt divisions if there are no other conflicts at the time." Whereas many times young horses train and race over mile tracks early in their careers, competing over a half can be challenging for these inexperienced starters. But Campbell treats it like a learning curve rather than an impediment. "Well certainly Batavia is a half mile track and it's an adjustment for these trotting fillies. But Batavia is a little easier track to get around than Buffalo and these trotting fillies have already been to Buffalo and been to Monticello, so it gave them some experience and it makes it a little easier when it's the third track in the order" Campbell concluded. Campbell will be driving a total of six on the card, three of which were tabbed as morning line favorites. Ron Burke is the all-time training leader including 7,133 wins and over $157 million in purse money. He will send forth three members of "The Burke Brigade" on Monday, all to be driven by Matt Kakaley. The first division has Mighty Surf (Prayer I Am-Big Surfer) installed as the prohibitive 2-1 morning line favorite after her overpowering win at Monticello Raceway last week. After sitting chilly in the two-hole to the half, driver Bruce Aldrich Jr. pulled and left the field in his dust as the filly trotted to a 10-length victory timed in 2:01.1, which was a lifetime best. Mighty Surf is a perfect two-for-two coming in for trainer Dennis Laterza and local driving favorite Kevin Cummings picks up the lines for this outing from post one. Cummings drove Mighty Surf to victory last month at Buffalo Raceway. Royal Pinot (RC Royalty-Graduation Party) is the Burke Stable representative and finished second and third in two NYSS starts this year. Last week she made a break just past the quarter but Kakaley was able to regain quick composure and maintain position to take place money, only beaten a length and a half. Kakaley is back up behind the 5-2 second choice and departs from post two. Cherry Royal Ruby (RC Royalty-Nowerland Kristen) won her first start of the year at Buffalo by six lengths in a very respectable 2:02.1 clocking. Last week she finished third after taking an early lead before yielding to Scarey Karie and Maewegonow who battled to the wire. Trainer/driver Dan Daley will guide Cherry Royal Ruby from post five at 7-2. In the second division, Maewegonow (Deweycheatumnhowe-Mauresmo) fell just short last week, finishing second at Monticello. The filly pulled first-over past the half and cleared, but was immediately pressured for the rest of the mile by Scary Karie, who trotted the back half in :59.4 and won by a half-length. Charlie Norris who trains, is again in charge of the lines as the 5-2 favorite from post 3. Heels On Wheels (Conway Hall-Go Go Dancer) puts her two-race winning streak on the line from post seven. Last week off the pylons, the filly got away third and stayed there until Kakaley pulled first at the five-eighths pole and put on a measured drive that garnered a length victory in 2:01. The Burke trained Heels On Wheels will have Matt Kakaley in tow once again at 3-1 from post seven. Flyhawk Charm (Deweycheatumnhowe-Final Time) won her first lifetime start in NYSS action last week but was aided by the entire field breaking by the quarter pole. The filly trotted on as the group trailed behind her, and registered a conservative 2:03 win. Chris Lems is once again up from post two, listed at 4-1 for trainer Joe Flynn. In the final split, Mamora Bay (Chapter Seven-Giulie Bi) is coming off her first lifetime win at Monticello last week and the 2:00.1 clocking just happened to be the fastest of all the heats. Moving from third towards three quarters, Mamora Bay out-trotted race leader Hotel Royale to the wire to win by a length. Former Batavia regular Sam Schillaci both trains and drives the 5-2 morning line choice and leaves from post two. Scarey Karie (Conway Hall-Alabama Hotel) has won two straight NYSS events, the last in 2:01 flat at Monticello. The filly has shown the ability to leave as well as come from behind, and she also possesses excellent closing speed. Phil Fluet both trains and drives and will begin from post eight at 7-2. There are also three divisions of the Excelsior Series that go for $15,000 each and two divisions of Excelsior B events that offer $6,600 respectively. Post time for the first race is 6:15 p.m. Tim Bojarski

Batavia, NY--- A new era gets underway at America's oldest lighted harness track on Monday (July 25) when Batavia Downs raises the curtain on its 70th season of live harness racing action. Opening night features the $100,000 New York Sires Stakes division for 2-year-old trotting fillies along with free racing programs and magnetic racing schedules for the fans on track. Post time is set for 6:15 p.m. The 2016 season (that runs through December 10) features 70 race dates and includes seven matinees and three twilight programs. Live racing will be presented on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights to begin the season with a new post time of 6:15 p.m. Sunday afternoon will replace Monday night beginning on July 31. Holiday matinees include Labor Day (Sept. 5) and Columbus Day (Oct. 10). All matinee post times are 1:15 p.m. A special Breeders Cup program on Saturday (Nov. 5) begins at 3:30 p.m. The renaissance begins with the new "Hotel at Batavia Downs, which is located trackside between the grandstand and the paddock. Racing fans can check into this fantastic 82-room facility and access the track and the gaming floor for the duration of their stay without ever having to leave the premises. Half of the rooms in the hotel overlook the home stretch of the track and members of bataviabets.com can watch and wager from their room. There are even four balcony suites facing the track. The hotel is slated to open in September. Fans will see the best racing possible after the Downs invested $125,000 in racetrack improvements under the guidance of new track superintendent, Peter Arrigenna. Arrigenna designed and directed the re-banking of the turns, leveling of the straightaways and then topping it off with 5,000 tons of new surface material to provide the fastest and safest racing strip possible. Once the track sets up, the competition should produce record speeds all year. "These are very exciting times for Batavia Downs" said Todd Haight, Director/GM of Live Racing. "There has been a lot of money invested in the racing side of this facility this year between the new hotel and track improvements and the entire management and staff cannot wait for our customers to come out and enjoy them." Over $1,000,000 in purse money will be up for grabs in stake races during the meet and that will draw some of the top horses and drivers in North America to the Genesee County oval. Eight divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) each going for an estimated $100,000, will highlight the best youthful performers in the Empire State this year and that should provide competition for the fans that is both exciting to watch and profitable to wager on. NYSS divisions by age, sex and gait will be at Batavia on Monday (July 25, opening night), August 7, 13, 20 and 31, and September 3, 10 and 14. And eight New York County Fair finals, each vying for $10,000, will be contested on Wednesday (Sept. 7). Batavia Downs signature stake, the $50,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace, will be held on Saturday (Oct. 8) and will draw some of the top older Open pacers from the northeast. This race has become a highly anticipated event by the fans as it presents an opportunity to break the all-age track record each year. During the 70 cards of racing there will be 25 major promotions scattered throughout the year. Highlights of these special events include Sunday Dollar Days in August, the very popular wiener dog races and Family Fun Day, the first ever Racing Under Saddle (RUS) non-wagering exhibition at Batavia Downs (pending NYS Gaming approval), the Labor Day driver's bike race, a Columbus Day Chicken BBQ and another "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" promotion, when the racetrack will be giving away a pair of diamond earrings valued at $4,000. There are buffet specials in the clubhouse every racing night all year, and the chef will once again be serving up his famous prime rib, crab leg, and shrimp buffet every Saturday night for the entire meet. All clubhouse buffet specials include gaming free play offers. "We have put together the most aggressive entertainment package possible and believe we offer something for every member of the family all year" Haight continued. "Between the caliber of horses that will compete over the new surface and the new amenities our customers will enjoy, we are looking for our seventieth year of racing to be the most memorable one yet." For more information and updates as they happen, log onto the track's website at www.bataviadownsgaming.com and click on "Live Racing" and follow us on Facebook as well. Tim Bojarski

Batavia, NY--- The 2016 live harness racing meet at Batavia Downs gets underway on Monday (July 25) at 6:15 p.m. and the draw for that initial card will be held this Thursday (July 21). Opening night will feature the $100,000 New York Sire Stakes for 2-year-old trotting fillies and those horses will also need to be declared that day. Entries can be made by calling Race Secretary Joe Zambito directly at 585-344-6161 or online through the USTA entry service. The box closes at 9 a.m. Condition sheets for the entire first week of racing are now available at www.bataviadownsgaming.com by selecting "Live Racing" and then "Horsemen". A total of 70 live racing cards will be held during the 2016 meet, which will run through Saturday (Dec. 10). Tim Bojarski  

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Veteran Western New York driver and trainer Charles Bacon passed away recently at the age of 80. He was a regular on the Buffalo Raceway-Batavia Downs circuit for nearly 40 years.   Bacon, who was a resident of Batavia, N.Y., began his driving career in 1978 and remained in the sulky until 2015. He had 7,132 starts with 710 victories, 830 second place finishes and 840 thirds with over $1.4 million in earnings.   He began his training career in 1991 and finished with 2,289 starts including 262 wins and $552,098 in purses. He conditioned six winners in 29 tries in 2015.   His last career start in the bike was his only one in 2015 and it was a victory aboard the aptly named Charlie's Last on August 8 at the Chemung County Fair in Elmira, N.Y.   Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association President Bruce Tubin said, "I knew Charlie since 1977 and he was a member of our Association for over 40 years. He was always a professional and just a wonderful person to be around.   "He was ill for several years and fought hard but he kept coming to the track," Tubin added.   Bacon is survived by his wife Ada and several children.   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

Batavia, NY --- Batavia Downs will once again be conducting the Genesee County Fair races which feature the New York Sire Stakes Fair Series. This special day of racing is slated for Monday (July 18) with post time for the first race set at 2:00 p.m. The race secretary for this event is Donna Kerr and she can be reached via phone at 716-338-5387. The entry box closes Thursday (July 14) at 10 a.m., but entries can be made in advance of that date. The 2016 live meet at America's oldest lighted harness track features a Claiming Championship Series this year and kicks off on Monday (July 25) with the New York Sire Stakes for 2-year-old trotting fillies. Live racing will continue through Saturday (Dec. 10). Questions concerning any event of the upcoming racing season should be directed to Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing, at 585-343-3750 or racing secretary Joe Zambito at 585-344-6161. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The 2016 Batavia Downs season will feature a new earning incentive for horsemen when the Claiming Championship Series will make its debut in July. The point-based competition will be broken down by gait and claiming price and the accrual of points will be on a monthly basis. There is no nomination or entry fee to participate and the event will be conducted under the rules and regulations of the New York State Gaming Commission, the USTA and Batavia Downs. Divisions will include $4,000, $5,000-$6,000 and $8,000-$10,000 claimers on the pace and $4,000-$5,000 and $7,500-$10,000 claimers on the trot. Points will be awarded to the top-five finishers of each race. The top eight horses from each class category making the final will be comprised of the top three pointe earners in August, (July 25 - August 31) and September, (September 1- 30) and the top two point earners in October, (October 1- 31). They will advance to the Claiming Championship Finals on November 12. Once a new month starts, all the points earned will revert back to zero (with the exception of July, which will carry over into August). The $4,000 and $4,000-$5,000 categories will compete for $15,000 in the final and all other categories will vie for $20,000. As is the case with all horses racing at Batavia Downs, horses entered in these races must have a current negative Coggins test, current proof of a rabies vaccination and a current health certificate. All owners, trainers and drivers must also have a current membership with the USTA. Click here (http://www.bataviadownsgaming.com/live-racing/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/LRW-ClaimChampSeries-Fullpg-16-0778.pdf) for complete rules or log onto www.bataviadownsgaming.com and click the "Live Racing" tab and then the "Horsemen" tab. By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---Stall applications for the 70th season of live harness racing at Batavia Downs Gaming are now available on the track's website . Simply click on 'Live Racing' and then the 'Horsemen' tab. Stall applications are also available at the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association website (www.wnyhha.net ) or in person at the Buffalo Raceway race office. Stall applications must be received by Friday (July 8) according to Racing Secretary Joe Zambito. The 2016 season at America's oldest lighted harness track features 70 race dates and includes six matinees and three twilight programs. The meet opens on Monday (July 25) and concludes on Saturday (Dec. 10). Live racing will be presented on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights to begin the season with a new post time of 6:15 p.m. Sunday afternoon will replace Monday night beginning on July 31. Holiday matinees include Labor Day (Sept. 5) and Columbus Day (Oct. 10). All matinee post times are 1:15 p.m. A special Breeders Cup program on Saturday (Nov. 5) begins at 3:30 p.m. The backstretch opens for tack on Sunday (July 17) at 8 a.m. Horses may begin arriving on Tuesday (July 19) also at 8 a.m. The draw for opening night, which features New York Sires Stake action, takes place on Thursday (July 21). Batavia Downs will also be featuring a claiming series this year which will begin in August. More details on that will be available when the meet begins. Anyone with questions should contact Todd Haight, Director/GM of Live Racing at 585-343-3750; extension 6322. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Peter Arrigenna, a long time harness racing horseman who also serves as a trustee of the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund and a Director of the Horse Harness Breeders of New York State, has been named the new track superintendent at Batavia Downs. Arrigenna will replace Ralph Horton, who has retired after working at the Downs for 14 years. Besides running a successful stable that produced 2012 Yonkers Trot champion, Archangel (Credit Winner-Michelle's Angel 1:50 $1,140,972), Arrigenna also runs his own construction company. And it's the combined experience from both fields that has provided him the insight and knowledge to design, construct and maintain very fast race tracks. Arrigenna has built many farm tracks from scratch, but he also resurfaced Buffalo Raceway in 2014 to the rave reviews of the horsemen and was hired this year as a consultant at Harrah's Philadelphia. Although the meet doesn't begin for another two months, Arrigenna's duties will start immediately as his first order of business will be to rebuild the track. "We will be leveling and filling the existing track to the grade indicated from a survey done in 2009. It will entail filling the ditches where it washed out, banking the turns better and putting it back to the original grade" said Arrigenna. "Once that is complete, we will be putting a new surface on top of that which should make it much better for the horses competing there." This will be the first time the track at Batavia has been resurfaced since 2010 and the $125,000 project will see the turns banked up to eight percent and over 5,000 tons of new material (a mixture of washed screenings and washed crushed stone) added to the surface. The project is scheduled to begin on Monday (June 6) and be completed by Friday (July 1), well in advance of opening night of live racing, which is Monday (July 25). "I look forward to starting at Batavia because it's close to home and it's a project I like to do" Said Arrigenna. Todd Haight is the Director/General Manager of live racing at the Downs and he has high praise for Arrigenna's abilities. "We're thrilled to have Peter as our Track superintendent" said Haight. "He knows what it takes to make a race track fair, but also safe, because he is a horseman as well as a contractor. His knowledge and experience will serve him well in his new position." "I would also like to thank Ralph Horton for his many years of service to the track and wish him the best in his retirement" added Haight. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Live harness racing doesn't return to Batavia Downs until Monday (July 25), but the grandstand will be filled of race fans this Saturday (May 7) as the track will host its annual Kentucky Derby bash in the Paddock Room from 11:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. The $10 "Kentucky Derby Meal Deal" deal includes your choice of five entrees, a $2.00 Kentucky Derby wager and $5.00 in free play on the gaming floor. Programs, live tellers and plenty of big screen TV's will be available throughout the facility. In Thurman Thomas's 34 Rush Sports Bar, drink specials include $6 mint juleps served in the official Kentucky Derby commemorative glass along with $2 drafts. Both will be available from 11:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. "The Derby party has really developed since 2005 and we are expecting in excess of 400 people to attend this year" Said Todd Haight, General Manager/Director of Racing at Batavia Downs. "It's amazing how popular it has become and how much it has grown". All the Western Regional OTB branches in Western New York will open at 10 a.m. Friday (Kentucky Oaks day) for advance wagering on the Derby and again at 10 a.m. on Derby day. Last year, WROTB had its second best handle ever and paid out more than it took in for the first time, dating back to 1974. Tim Bojarski

Michael P. McDonald of Batavia, NY, died peacefully Friday morning (Mar. 4) at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY after a lengthy illness. Mr. McDonald was born October 28, 1964 in Rochester, NY; son of the late Paul McDonald and the late Barbara (Provenzano) Samberg. Mr. McDonald graduated from the Aquinas Institute in 1982 and moved quickly into the family business. In 1984, he took over as the publicity director of Batavia Downs Racetrack, which was then owned by his mother Barbara Samberg (who was the first female Director of the USTA) and his Aunt Donna Warner, after the passing of their father Pat Provenzano, who founded the track in 1940. For fourteen years, Mr. McDonald publicized and organized the activities of the top names in the industry and managed many high level racing events held at Batavia Downs that included Grand Circuit races, New York Sire Stakes and a Breeders Crown in 1988. When the track was eventually sold to Western Regional Off Track Betting (WROTB) in 1998, Mr. McDonald stayed on staff and became the facilities operations manager and inter-track wagering (ITW) manager and served in both capacities until 2006. A member of Resurrection Parish in Batavia, Mr. McDonald was an avid sports fan (in particular of the Minnesota Vikings) and was very active in local youth sports. He was also very involved with his two sons and their activities. He enjoyed playing golf and participated in the local men's hockey league. He was a youth football coach, little league baseball coach and a volunteer for Notre Dame High School football. Mr. McDonald is survived by his step-father Jim Samberg of Webster; his pride and joy, sons Cam and Aaron McDonald both of Batavia; loving sisters, Martha Smith of Rochester, Margo Conheady of Rochester, Meghan (Scott Boone) McDonald of Scottsville and dear brother, Mark (Jacquie) McDonald of Atlanta, GA; his former wife, Kelly McDonald and many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. The McDonald family will be present from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday (Mar. 9) at the Michael S. Tomaszewski Funeral & Cremation Chapel located at 4120 West Main Street Road Batavia, New York. Prayers will be recited at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday (Mar. 10) followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. celebrated by the Rev. Bill Donnelly at Resurrection Parish (St. Joseph's Site). Memorials can be made in his honor to Notre Dame High School, 73 Union Street Batavia, New York 14020. Please share your words of comfort with Mike's family at www.tomaszewskifh.com or for more information please call (585)343-7500. By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

Carmelo J. Sabatino, a retired senior executive with Delaware North Co. and former general manager of Batavia Downs, died Sunday (Jan. 10) in Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He was 95. Born in Buffalo, he was a graduate of Kenmore High School and the University of Buffalo, where he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration. Mr. Sabatino served in the Army during World War II and was stationed in the South Pacific. Upon returning home, he married the former Josephine Marino in 1946. That same year, he joined the Delaware North Co., which he helped to build under the direction of L.M. Jacobs. Following his retirement from the company in 1976, Mr. Sabatino joined the management staff at Batavia Downs, where he continued to work until 1999. Sabatino held a number of positions during his tenure at Batavia Downs including general manager in the early 1980's, and then a variety of executive capacities after that. Near the end of his career there, he was in charge of mostly special projects. He traveled extensively during his term with both Delaware North and Batavia Downs and met several celebrities. Even after his last retirement, Mr. Sabatino continued to help manage a private family business. Todd Haight, GM/Director of Live Racing at Batavia Downs said "Mr. Sabatino was always a well-dressed and reserved man, yet certainly was capable of getting the job done. He was at Batavia Downs for two of the tracks biggest races, 1980 Niatross and 1988 Breeders Crown Armbro Flori and helped to insure those marquee nights went off without a hitch. He was all business, all the time and garnered the respect of everyone who worked with and for him". Sabatino is survived by a daughter, Carolyn Sabatino Liarakos; two sons, Thomas C. and David G. and three grandchildren. Mr. Sabatino was predeceased by his wife, who died in February 2007. By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations  

Louisville, KY --- Most people would attribute Red Clay’s astonishing development to co-owner/trainer Carmen Cappotelli’s patience and perseverance, but his wife (and the horse's co-owner) Pat offered another explanation for the 5-year-old trotting gelding’s award winning harness racing season. “I have a Saint Therese medal I carry in my pocket when he races,” she said. “Every time I had it he won and then I couldn’t find it for the two starts he was second in. I found it and had it with me for his last race and he won again. I know some people would find it silly, but I like to think it provides him protection every time he’s out on the track. I just want him to come back safe and sound every time he goes out there.” Red Clay, a flashy chestnut son of American Mike and the El Paso Kash mare Ersa Kash, is Batavia Down’s winningest trotter of the meet and was the recipient of the Heart of the Standardbred award from the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association for defying all odds to become a racehorse. “We are in our early seventies and the last award we ever won was in 1984 and 1985 with my mom’s horse who was the state fair champion,” Pat said. “We were so excited when Todd Haight (General Manager/Director of Live Racing of Batavia Downs) came to us in the paddock and told us he was going to be tied or win the most trotting races for the meet. It was very kind of him to be so nice to us and he always took an interest in this horse.” The gelding certainly satisfied, if not exceeded, the criteria of the award and merited Haight’s attention. He was unraced at 2 and only started on six occasions prior to 2015. He never visited the winner’s circle, as he only placed twice and earned just over $2,000. This year, however, it was quite the reversal of fortune as the gelding went to the post 16 times, amassed a record of 8-2-0 and collected $23,745. The only time he earned a check at a facility other than Batavia Downs was at Vernon Downs on April 24 when he finished third but was placed fourth. After arriving at Batavia Downs, Red Clay, who was piloted primarily by Shawn McDonough, captured seven of his first nine starts and was the favorite seven times. He established his lifetime mark of 1:57.4 on Sept. 26 and hit the wire in front by 6-1/2 lengths in his last start of the season on Dec. 11. “There were so many times I would look at all the big, beautiful horses he was racing against and wonder how my little red horse was going to beat them,” Pat said. “But a friend of mine kept coming to the winner’s circle with us every time and said every time I would have my doubts, “Of course he’s going to win. He’s the little red engine that could.’” But for two years the Cappotellis wondered if Red Clay was the little red engine that couldn’t. Carmen received the horse as a birthday gift from the couple’s close friends Clint and Barbara Galbraith. The Cappotellis had owned the gelding’s older half-sister Easy Hit (Giant Hit, $19,844), but right when they first met him, they wondered if Red Clay would suit them. “When Carmen went in his stall he backed right up in the corner and started roaring at him,” Pat said. “He had just been turned out his whole life and it was now March of his 3-year-old season. The only human contact he really had was when Barb would feed him. Carmen was not too sure he wanted to take him if he couldn’t get along with him. But Barb came over and got him better adjusted. “After that we had him sent to an Amish boy in Pennsylvania to break him. We started him in three fair races that year, but he broke in his last start. Carmen decided to just stop with him as he gained some racing experience and we were a little worried he hurt himself on that break. Everything was fine though.” At age 4 it was more of the same as Red Clay made three starts at Batavia Downs, but struggled with sickness and staying flat. The first half of this year the gelding continued to make costly breaks but in his Aug. 26 qualifying contest it was as if he decided to put everything behind him for a fresh start. “He always had a pattern of qualifying well and then the next time out would break,” Pat said. “We never really knew why he would do it and never wanted him to hurt himself. We were actually wondering what we were going to do with him for the rest of the year if that qualifier had not went so well. “I was nervous because it was like I told everyone, ‘I think they only give you three chances and this is his last one.’ He went out there and was great with Jim McNeight driving him. Jim couldn’t drive him in his first race at Batavia because he had a horse of his own in there and we wanted someone familiar with him. Shawn had driven him before and was available so he has been with him ever since. “He loves this horse and really fits him well. He said the only time he has to grab a hold of him is at the gate and then you can do whatever you want with him. He also said he’s never really asked him. He does it all on his own.” Red Clay is now preparing for his winter sojourn before he resumes training for his 2016 campaign. The Cappotellis are looking forward to how he performs next year. “I just love this horse,” Pat said. “To think how far he has come. He is so mild-mannered and gentle. It’s hard to believe he roared at Carmen like that. You can do anything with him and he never kicks or nips at you. He is the perfect gentleman in all ways. I grab him to nuzzle him and kiss on him all the time and he never moves a muscle. He is my sweet boy.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

The 69th live racing season at Batavia Downs wrapped up last Saturday (Dec. 12) much the same way it kicked off back in July; with a packed house of harness racing fans watching the best racing in Upstate New York. The stellar calendar of stake races provided those in attendance a great opportunity to see some of the best horses in New York State and a fair number of Grand Circuit players as well. The New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) produced three record performances. The first was on Sunday (Aug. 30) when 3-year-old pacing colt Betting Exchange (Bettor's Delight-Cheeky Hanover) tied the track record of 1:51.2 for sex and gait in winning his division of the $120,400 NYSS event. This was the fastest pacing mile of the meet. Then on Wednesday (Sept. 16), Dime A Dance (Roll With Joe-Hat Dance Hanover) took advantage of a lightning-fast track and 80 degree temperatures to set a new world's record of 1:52.4 for 2-year-old pacing fillies in winning her division of the $109,000 NYSS race. It (obviously) was also a new track record for Batavia Downs, smashing the old standard of 1:54.2. The 13th renewal of Batavia Downs signature event, the $50,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace, took place on Saturday (Oct. 3) and one of the winningest horses in North America added his name to the roster of champions of that race. 17 time winner in 2015, Atta Boy Dan (Western Terror-Dropitlikeitshot), paced his last quarter in :27.4 and pulled away to an easy win in 1:52.1. The all-time pacing track record of 1:51.1 was not broken in that race, however track trotting history was made instead in the $12,500 Brian Schroeder Memorial the same night. Top local trotting star Lutetium destroyed the field, at one point opening up a gap of as much as 15 lengths, before scooting home to a six-length victory in 1:55.2. The winning time broke the existing track record of 1:56 for aged trotting geldings set in 2014. This race was also the fastest trotting mile of the meet. Kevin Cummings easily defended his driving title at the Downs by winning 134 times during the meet, far ahead of the rest of his competition. Those rounding oIut the top five included Dave McNeight III with 89 wins, Shawn McDonough with 82 wins, Jack Flanigen with 81 wins and Drew Monti with 73 wins. JD Perrin also defended his training title by sending 57 horses to the Purple Haze Winner's Circle. The competition behind him was decidedly closer and included James Clouser Jr. with 45 wins, Dave McNeight Jr. with 41 wins, Maria Rice with 34 wins and Kirk Desmond with 32 wins. Cobble Beach (Artiscape-Mirmattculous 1:51.2 $176,867) was named pacer of the meet with six Open wins, $42,270 in earnings and a seasonal mark of 1:52.4. Lutetium (Credit Winner-Luby 1:52.4 $356,617) was the trotter of the meet with six Open wins, $37,750 in earnings and a new track record of 1:55.2. Memumsnotnice (Jereme's Jet-Bunny Town 1:51.4 $308,343) was named distaff performer of the meet with four Mares Open wins, $32,942 in earnings and a personal season's mark of 1:55. The top three winningest post positions for the meet were post 1 with 230 wins, post 2 with 131 wins and post four with 129 wins. In 2015, the on-track handle took a dip of 5.4%, or $1263 a night. But the export handle was up a substantial 21.2%, or $13,220 per night. Combined, the total handle was up a healthy 9.6 %, or $10,250 per night. Batavia Downs paid out $5,438,400 in purses this year, up $208,400 over 2014. There was no shortage of promotions for Batavia Downs customers this year as something special was going on during 31 nights of the season. Giveaways, contests and food specials dotted the schedule but the year featured four major happenings. In August the Downs hosted the annual wiener dog races, to the delight of thousands who gathered at the rail to see them. September included the Drew Monti bobblehead night, the annual Labor Day driver's bike race and a special fund raiser for the family of Brad Hanners. Then on Sunday (Nov. 15), Batavia Downs hosted the USTA District 8 membership meeting, Director election and New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) year-end awards banquet, sponsored by the New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund. "We couldn't be happier with the way things went this year" said Todd Haight, GM/Director of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. "We had outstanding weather the whole year; not one flake of snow. That facilitated many opportunities for our live crowd to come out and that they did." "The product on the track was as good as it's ever been and the export numbers confirm that. A lot of people were betting the action at Batavia Downs at all the simulcast facilities that took our signal. The meet ended very strong." Haight concluded. To watch video highlights of the 2015 racing season, click on this link. (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B54kiFXcdsHxM0kxcmQ1dVNxbGM/view?pli=1 ) Live racing will resume at Batavia Downs in July of 2016; dates pending approval of the New York State Gaming Commision. By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations  

Batavia, NY---On the final night of harness racing for 2015, Yonkers invader Major Trick (Drew Monti) took an early overland route to victory in the $10,000 Open pacing feature at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 12). Post time favorite Lucky Nadotremblay (Shawn McDonough) shot right to the lead with the rest of the field following in post-position order to the quarter in :28.4. But complicity to the pacesetter ended past three-eighths when Major Trick pulled and started an outer flow that included Cobble Beach (Dave McNeight III) and Jokerman (Jim McNeight). The race continued in two rows from there on, with Major Trick and Lucky Nadotremblay duking it out to the half in :58.4 and three-quarters in 1:26.4. Around the far turn, Major Trick was gaining momentum and down the lane he was gaining ground, eventually pulling ahead to win by a half-length in 1:55.3. It was the eighth win of the year for Major Trick ($8.10) and it raised his purse earnings to $68,387 for 2015. The 4-year-old son of Art Major is owned by Anthony Nicometo, John Mariano and Stuart Oppenheimer and is trained by David Russo. In the co-featured $8,400 Open II pace, Mr. Perseverance (Ron Beback Jr.) put on quite a show while taking his fourth straight win. The 7-year-old Real Artist gelding won by five open lengths in 1:54 and returned $5.30 for owner William Emmons. James Clouser Jr. trains Mr. Perseverance. Drew Monti led all drivers Saturday night scoring three wins while Jack Flanigen, Dave McNeight III and Ray Fisher Jr. all doubled up. Trainer Gerry Sarama also sent two winners to post. With the meet coming to a close, the management of Batavia Downs would like to wish everybody a very Happy Holiday season and is looking forward to the return of live harness racing to the oldest lighted harness track in America in July of 2016. By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations  

Batavia, NY---After not having much success after jumping up from the claiming ranks, the 8-1 Bellagio Hanover and harness racing driver Jim McNeight had a reversal of fortunes in winning the $10,000 Open trotting feature at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Dec. 11). Leaving from post one, Bellagio Hanover briefly yielded the front to Leave Your Mark (Truman Gale) but retook the lead before hitting the quarter in a comfortable :29.2. But shortly after that station, Write That Down (Shawn McDonough) pulled first-up and drew next to the leader; a position he would maintain for nearly a half mile. The pair dueled past the half in :59 and three-quarters in 1:28 flat before Bellagio Hanover finally put away the challenge of Write That Down around the last turn. From there he trotted clear of the field and won handily by a long length in 1:58.2. It was the seventh win of the year for the lightly regarded Bellagio Hanover ($19.00), six of which were for owners Jack and Maria Rice who claimed the horse at Tioga Downs on July 11 for $5,000. Maria Rice trains the winner. In the co-feature $7,700 Open II trot, Red Clay (Shawn McDonough) notched his eighth win of the Batavia Downs meet, making him the winningest trotter of the 2015 session. Red Clay was sitting fourth when he pulled past the stands for the first time, took the lead and trotted his back half in :58.4 to win by six open lengths in 1:59.4. Red Clay ($3.10) is owned by Patricia and Carmen Cappotelli and is trained by Carmen Cappotelli. Shawn McDonough had a driving triple on the card while Jim McNeight and Jack Flanigen both chimed in with doubles. Trainer Maria Rice conditioned two winners as well. The meet comes to a close at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Dec. 12) with a 12-race card on tap. There is a $396 carry over pool for the Pick-5 wager and it carries a mandatory payout. Post time for the first race is 6:15 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations    

Batavia, NY -- The curtain comes down on another racing season at Batavia Downs this Saturday night (Dec. 12), but the remaining two harness racing cards for 2015 truly offer something for everyone. Friday night (Dec. 11) features a free $500 Pick-6 contest. Patrons can register to play at the Players Club beginning at 5 p.m. and straight through until the contest begins with race four. All six winners must be selected to win this free contest. The $2 Pick-6 wager (which is separate from the free contest) starts with a carryover pool of $248 and the entire pool will be paid out Friday. The mandatory Pick-6 payout begins with race seven. Also on Friday is Customer Appreciation Night. There will be $1 racing programs beginning at 4:45 p.m. at the program stand. Subway sampler subs along with cake and coffee will be served to the fans in the enclosed Grandstand after the fourth race and while supplies last. Patrons dining in the Clubhouse will receive $10 back in gaming free-play when purchasing the buffet. A reservation is recommended as a sellout is expected. Saturday evening is closing night and once again features the free to play $500 Pick-6 contest. This final contest will be paid out to the player(s) that pick the most winners, if no one selects all six winners. And it's also the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association's annual "Night of Distinction" where awards will be distributed to both human and equine performance leaders throughout the evening in the Purple Haze Winner's Circle. Post time is 6:15 p.m. "It's been an outstanding year and we're capping it off with one more action-packed weekend of promotions and giveaways" said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing. "With the unseasonably warm weather and excellent racing conditions, I'm confident we will see healthy crowds on both nights." "I would also like to thank all the horsemen, fans, Downs employees and off-track locations for their support this entire racing season." By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations  

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