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Batavia, NY---Batavia Downs is pleased to announce that popular local harness racing reinsman, "Driving" Drew Monti, will be featured as a bobble head to be given away on Saturday (Sept. 5). "When we first started discussing this project last year, we spoke with our customers to see who they would like to see used as the focus of this promotion and the overwhelming response was "Driving Drew" said Todd Haight, General Manager/Director of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. "He started driving here at 18 just a few years ago but his career has taken off and he has obviously become a fan favorite. And as popular as bobble heads are in the sport right now, we are very excited for this promotion." The 20-year-old Monti came on the driving scene in 2013, scoring his first pari-mutuel win in April of that year. He was the top first-year provisional driver in North America in 2013 and he has progressed at a torrid pace ever since. Last year Monti won 170 races, $886,461 in purses and hit the board over 40% of the time. So far in 2015, he is on pace for career high numbers all around as he already has 146 wins and $753,078 in purses through Wednesday (July 29). During his short three-year career, Monti has amassed 393 wins and $2 million in earnings with a combined year-to-year UDR of .252. He is definitely poised to make a run at the driving title at Batavia Downs this meet. One of the more popular young drivers in social media and chat in the Harness Racing Fan Zone, Monti is an example of what the next generation of horseman is all about. While balancing his racing career and education at the same time, Monti will be entering his fourth year at Canisius College this fall as he pursues his BA in business. The "Driving" Drew Monti bobble heads are sponsored by TAG Jewelers (www.tagjewelers.com ) of 936 Dick Road in Cheektowaga, NY. TAG Jewelers has been Western New York's most trusted fine metals broker since 1977. Tony Gruppo is the owner of TAG Jewelers and has been and owner and strong supporter of harness racing in the Western New York region for decades. "I can remember coming to Batavia Downs with my friends on the weekend's while attending nearby Brockport State College over forty years ago" said Gruppo. "The track has always been a part of my life, so when Todd (Haight) approached me about this promotion it was a natural fit for me. Drew Monti is a rising star and a fine young man. I think you will be seeing more of him on a bigger stage in the near future." Distribution of the "Driving" Drew Monti bobble heads will begin immediately after the seventh race on Saturday (Sept. 5) in the Paddock Room. There is a limit of one per person and are available while supplies last. You must be a Players Club member to receive this premium. Fans wishing to get their bobble heads signed by Monti are urged to bring them back to the track the following day during the Labor Day matinee. Driving Drew will be trackside for an hour before the first race to greet his fans and sign the statuettes. This is the third bobble head issued by Batavia Downs. Previously, perennial New York Sire Stakes leading driver Jim Morrill Jr. was honored as was NFL Hall of Famer and Buffalo Bills great, Thurman Thomas. Thomas is featured in Batavia Downs "34 Rush" sports bar, which is located on the gaming floor. By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations  

It seemed like a stroll in the park on an 86 degree summer night for Kellys Cross as she totally overpowered a solid field of Open II pacing mares in Wednesday night's (July 29) feature at the harness racing meeting at Batavia Downs. As the wings closed, the speedy Voltina (Jack Flanigen) bolted to the lead, but not before getting rimmed to the quarter by rail-rider Real Joy (Drew Monti) in 27.4. After she took, Real Joy came right back at her and the two continued to argue to the half. At that point, Downs defending driving champion, Kevin Cummings pulled Kellys Cross from third and circled the dispute as the girls passed the three-quarters. From there the pair opened up a six-length advantage and coasted home in 29.1 with the victory never in doubt. Kellys Cross tripped the timer in 1:55.1 and paid $11.40 to her backers. It was the fastest win time ever over a half-mile track for the 4-year-old Royal Mattjesty progeny. It was also the fifth win of the year for the mare that competes under the guidance of trainer John Mungillo for owner Frank Spagnolo. Drivers scoring doubles on the card included Jim McNeight (who registered the natural daily double in races one and two), Kevin Cummings, John Cummings Jr. and Dave McNeight III. Batavia Downs also hosted its annual Breast Cancer Awareness Night in conjunction with the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, NY (bccr.org ). Each of the eleven races was sponsored by groups who made donations to the fund and presented blankets to the winners after each race. There was also a silent auction and raffle that was held during the night, with winners announced before the last race. The effort raised $5,200 that will go to BCCR to help find a cure and eradicate this scourge to women everywhere. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (July 31) night at 6:35 p.m. Tim Bojarski

Batavia, NY---As the western New York harness racing scene switches back to the oldest lighted harness track in America on Monday (July 27), Batavia Downs wasted no time welcoming back the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) to its schedule. The series makes the first of eight stops at the Genesee County oval with a group of lightly-raced state bred 2-year-old trotting fillies who will compete in four divisions, vying for purses totaling $109,500. The first leg is led by Dolly Drama PV (Lucky Chucky-Massive Drama) from the Mark Harder stable. This filly has made two starts this year, finishing third and first respectively while banking $16,241. Last week at Buffalo Raceway, she left sharply to gain early position and then trotted home in a snappy 29.4 to win by two-lengths in a lifetime best 2:03.4. Dolly Drama PV is 5-2, leaves from post two and will be driven by local favorite Jeff Gregory. The royally bred Pampered Winner (Credit Winner-Pampered Princess) ships in from the Meadowlands to make her first NYSS start for Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter. After qualifying three times at the iconic New Jersey track, she made her first lifetime start there in a juvenile overnight event where she finished five and one-half lengths off the pace in 1:59.3. Pampered Winner is the track handicapper's selection at 2-1. The second split features Goosebump Hanover (RC Royalty-Good Common Cents) who won the fastest (2:01.4) of four divisions at Buffalo last week for the top money-earning trainer in North America, Ron Burke. After getting away second, she went to the front past the quarter and then led the rest of the way for an easy one and one-half length victory. Jim Morrill Jr. picks up the lines for this week's outing. Steel Wheels (Lucky Chucky-Some Girls) made an unfortunate break at the start of her race last week that took her completely out of contention. That, after posting a win through disqualification at Monticello Raceway in an Excelsior A level race the week before. Steel Wheels, who is trained and driven by Gates Brunet, is coupled as a betting interest with Goosebump Hanover and they go postward as the morning line favorites at 2-1. Royal Encore (RC Royalty-Spin The Planet) sat out last week after posting a solid second-place finish at Monticello on July 3. Now ready to make her second lifetime start, Royal Encore looks to improve for trainer-driver Trond Smedshammer. They leave from post four and are listed at 5-2. Ron Burke's Winning Princess (Credit Winner-Cabaret Princess) is the 2-1 early choice in the third division and looks to get back to her winning ways. She made a break at Buffalo last week that she couldn't overcome after posting two convincing wins prior. In those starts she was victorious in 2:00.2 and 2:00.3 by a combined 10 lengths. Jim Morrill Jr. is back in the bike for the third consecutive time. Winning Princess starts from post 2, and is coupled as a betting interest with Starlingmoon (Prayer I Am-Meadow Dion) who leaves from post 7 with Brett Miller aboard. Posterity (Lucky Chucky-Vintage Chip) looks to pose the greatest threat to the favorite after having scored a first and second place finish in NYSS action this year. Charlie Norris both trains and drives Posterity who leaves from post three as the 5-2 second choice. In the final leg, Lindylicious (Credit Winner-Scrumptious) is moving up from Excelsior A action after two solid wins over that group to take on the top level trotters here. Her 2:01.2 win at Buffalo last week was actually faster than the fastest NYSS leg which was won by Goosebump Hanover (2:01.4). She has proven to be a versatile performer; racing both on top and from off the pace, and her gate speed will suit her well this week as she leaves from post six. George Ducharme, who won the 2013 Hambletonian with Royalty For Life, conditions Lindylicious and her regular driver Chris Lems is back up for the ride. They are rated as a 5-1 shot to win. Dizzy Broad (Broad Bahn-Portia) is coming off a NYSS win in her first lifetime start at Buffalo last week. It was a convincing victory, but also the slowest of the quartet that day (2:05.1). Western New York's leading driver, Kevin Cummings, will be aboard the 5-2 handicapper's choice for the second time. Love Crazy Love (Crazed-Love U Overandover) drew the rail for the second straight week and has one win in NYSS action this year for trainer-driver Gates Brunet. She is a solid competitor that is listed at 3-1 morning line. There are also two divisions of Excelsior A action that offer $30,000 in purses and two divisions of Excelsior B horses that will go after their share of $13,500. Post time for the first race is 6:35 p.m. Opening night at Batavia Downs also features free programs and free magnetic schedules to all fans attending the races live. (While supplies last) For more information on all the events at Batavia Downs this year, log on to www.bataviadownsgaming.com . There you can get full race schedules, entries, results as well as watch all the race replays immediately after each race is declared official. Live streaming video of all the races is available by becoming a member of Bataviabets.com . By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations  

Batavia, NY---The 69th season of live racing at America's oldest lighted harness track gets underway on Monday (7-27) with post time set for 6:35 p.m. That is the first of 70 live racing dates to be contested during the Batavia Downs summer-fall session that runs through December 12. The racing schedule begins with a Sunday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday rotation for the month of August and switches to a Wednesday, Friday, Saturday slate for the remainder of the meet. For the first time in track history, there are eight matinee cards to be held during the year. Besides the five Sundays in August, afternoon starts are also set for Labor Day (9-7), Columbus Day (10-12) and Breeder's Cup day (10-31). And two twilight Tuesdays have been penciled in for September 15 and 22. Post time for Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are 6:35 p.m. until October 21 when it gets pushed up to 6:15 p.m. for the remainder of the meet. All matinees start at 1:15 p.m. and the two Tuesday cards start at 4:30 p.m. Todd Haight, General Manager/Director of Live Racing at Batavia Downs, is both busy and optimistic this week leading up to opening night as he handles many of the last minute details needed to make the meet successful. "A new era of racing begins at Batavia Downs this year as we have inaugurated changes that will take racing here well into the future. Between the construction of the new trackside hotel, paddock changes, increased purses and our goal to present our live patrons with little down time between races with all our special events, the 2015 meet should be one to be remembered" said Haight. The changes Haight spoke about will be evident to both fan and horseman alike upon entering the Batavia campus, most noticeably the construction of a new four-story hotel at the top of the stretch that will overlook the track. Slated to open on New Year's Eve, the property will be going up as the meet goes on. In order to facilitate that project, the existing paddock alignment has changed. It is now a four-race enclosure with 16 new wash stalls just adjacent in Barn 1. Horsemen are advised to become familiar with the new paddock schedule, which is available on the Batavia Downs website. Purses have increased for many classes due to the increased handle on the gaming floor. To start the meet, the Open trot and pace will each go for $10,000. Some of the best racing in the sport will be contested at the Genesee county oval this year, headed by a full complement of New York Sire Stake (NYSS) events. The best juveniles from the Empire State will compete here on July 27, August 2-5-9-22 -30 and September 4 and 16. Then on Saturday (Oct. 3), the Downs will host the second richest night of racing ever (behind the Breeders Crown in 1988) when the $50,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Invitational Pace and four $50,000 NYSS consolation events will headline the program. Horsemen will be competing for purses totaling almost $300,000. Race Secretary Joe Zambito has put together another solid condition sheet and is anxious to get the meet underway. "It's a very exciting time at Batavia Downs with so many positive changes taking place. Our defending driving champion and seventh highest percentage driver in North America, Kevin Cummings, is back to protect his title along with our other veterans including Jim McNeight" said Zambito. "Our young guns are led by "Driving Drew" Monti, Shawn McDonough and Dave McNeight III. And this year we welcome Craig Gilmour, who is shipping in with a 25 horse stable." Fans attending the live races will also notice some changes along with one of the most aggressive promotion line-ups available at any race track. This year there is no quinella wager, superfecta minimums have gone from .10 to .20 and the track introduces their new "Early Bird Daily Double", available only in the Paddock Room to patrons attending the races live. Bettors who wager a total of $10 or more on daily double wagers will receive $10 in free-play for the Batavia Downs gaming floor. 23 of the 70 racing dates feature promotions and giveaways that offer something for everybody. On opening night there will be free racing programs and magnetic racing schedules (while supplies last) and that will be followed by Dollar Friday's ($1 hot dogs, soda and beer) all during August. But the most anticipated events come after that. August 23 is Family Fun Day and features the ever popular Dachshund or "wiener dog" races. A day-long schedule of special events designed especially for children will start at 2 p.m. and run through the afternoon. The 80 dog field starts their heats after the last live harness race. All events are sponsored by Genesee Feeds of Batavia. September 5 is a special driver bobble-head giveaway sponsored by TAG Jewelers. More information on this (including the driver featured) will be released shortly. September 7 is the annual Labor Day matinee featuring the driver's bike race, which got its start back in the 1970's. Eight of the Downs favorite reinsmen turn in their sulkies for ten-speeds to see who can peddle their way to victory. The eight bicycles used in the race will be randomly given away after the race to the fans who select the winning driver. For more information on all the events at Batavia Downs this year, logon to www.bataviadownsgaming.com . There you can get full race schedules, entries, results and you can watch all the race replays immediately after each race has been declared official. Live streaming video of all the races is available by becoming a member of Bataviabets.com. By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations  

Batavia, NY --- Registration begins today (July 22) for one of the most popular promotions of the season at Batavia Downs Gaming. The annual Dachshund or "wiener dog" races will be held on Sunday, August 23. The 2015 live harness racing season gets underway on Monday July 27. Sponsored by Genesee Feeds of Batavia, a total of 10 heats will be contested with eight wiener dogs competing in each. The first race will begin after the last live harness race of the day, which will be approximately 4:20 p.m. The wiener dog races are the final feature of Family Fun Day at the races. Last year, Kristy Drabek's 2-year-old dachshund named Brinkley, stormed down the stretch of America's oldest lighted harness racetrack to win the championship final after competing for the first time ever. The official margin of victory was a half (dog) length. 6-year-old Pablo Penders, owned by Adrienne Penders, surged at the wire to nip 5-year-old early leader, Ruby, owned by Sarah Farley for second. The first 80 dogs entered will receive a canine gift bag courtesy of Genesee Feeds of Batavia. But the dogs won't be the only winners here; their human counterparts are in line for a nice payoff as well. Each "puprietor" will be eligible to receive some nice prizes if their pet pooch proves prolific. The owners of each heat winner (10 in all) will receive $25 in gaming free-play. And the winning, second and third place owner in the championship final will receive $100, $75 and $50 in gaming free-play respectively along with two complimentary clubhouse buffets each as well. To register or for more information, all owners should call Arna Tygart at 585-343-3750 ext 437, during regular business hours. Batavia Downs Media Relations  

Batavia, NY --- The first condition sheet of the season at Batavia Downs is now available at the track’s web site here.   Simply click "Live Racing” Tab and then on "Horsemen" tab. The condition sheet is also available at www.ustrotting.com. The 2015 season gets underway on Monday (July 27). Horses may begin arriving on July 21. Tack is allowed on the grounds beginning July 19. The first draw of the season will take place on Friday (July 24). Opening night features New York Sire Stakes action. The draw for Wednesday’s races (July 29), will occur on Saturday (July 25). The entry box closes at 9 a.m. After that the draw moves to its regular Tuesday through Friday schedule for the remainder of the season. The 69th season at America’s oldest lighted harness track features 70 race dates, including eight matinees. The meet kicks off with a 6:35 p.m. evening first race post while matinees tip off at 1:15 p.m. After Labor Day, Tuesday evening post time will be 4:30 p.m. For more information please contact the race office at 585.344.6161. Batavia Downs Media Relations

Batavia Downs Gaming is pleased to announce that Brittney Ohol will go to post as the new parade marshal for the upcoming harness racing summer-fall meet. Ohol grew up around harness racing while being raised by her grandparents (Mike and Brenda Ohol) who both competed on the western New York circuit for over 30 years. The 21-year-old Lockport (NY) High School graduate attended Medaille College for vet tech before deciding to return to harness racing as a full-time career. After getting her trainer's and qualifying driver's licenses, Ohol started her own stable and now owns and races three horses. Besides conventional competition, she has also been involved with racing under saddle (RUS) in New York State. Ohol started to learn the art of outriding from Wendy Ross at Tioga Downs in 2011 and has now worked with her on and off for over four years. In 2014, Ohol took the position full time at Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland. But after the meet ended there, she returned home because it was too far away from family. When the job at Batavia Downs came available this year, the call went out to Brittney Ohol because she was a natural fit and the timing was right for her as well. "I love having the opportunity to take this position at Batavia Downs. It's close to my family and my home base where I know everybody so it makes it so much easier. I want to remain in the business as long as harness racing is around" said Ohol. "I have two good horses named Paco and Cody and they allow me to do my job as well as I can. I am really looking forward to the upcoming meet to get started." "Brittney Ohol has a harness racing pedigree and has been a part of the racing community here at the Downs since she was a child" said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. "Her abilities as a horsewoman combined with her passion for the sport makes her the perfect fit for this job and ensures high-quality assistance to all the horsemen who race here every night. We are very happy to have her on board." The 69th season of live harness racing at America's oldest lighted harness track begins on Monday, July 27 with a 6:35 post time. By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Batavia, NY -- Horsemen should be advised that stall applications for the 69th season of live harness racing at Batavia Downs Gaming are now available at the track's website here or can be picked up in person at the second floor reception desk inside America's oldest lighted harness track. For the convenience of western New York horsemen who are currently racing at Buffalo Raceway, these applications are also available at the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association office located on the backstretch of that track. The 2015 Batavia Downs season features 70 race dates and includes eight matinee cards. The annual summer-fall meet commences on Monday, July 27 and concludes on Saturday, December 12. Live racing will be presented on a Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night basis except for Saturday October 31 (Breeders Cup day) when racing will be conducted at 1:15 p.m. Aside from that three-day rotation, five Sunday afternoon programs will be held beginning on August 2 and continuing through the end of the month. Monday racing includes opening night and holiday programs on Labor Day and Columbus Day. Tuesday racing begins September 15. The season begins with evening post times of 6:35 p.m. and matinee post times of 1:15 p.m. New this year, Tuesday post time moves to 4:30 p.m. while beginning on October 21 all evening programs for the remainder of the season go off at 6:15 p.m., with an anticipated extra race each night being carded. Stall applications can be mailed to the race office at 8315 Park Road, Batavia, NY 14020, Attn: Joe Zambito or faxed to 585-343-2451. All stall requests must be received by July 10. The backstretch opens for tack on July 19. Horses may begin arriving in the barn area on July 21. For more information please contact Director/GM of Racing Todd Haight at 585-343-3750 ext. 322 Tim Bojarski

Batavia, NY --- Anthony Michael Strollo, 76, a longtime resident of Batavia, N.Y., died April 26, 2015, after a long battle with Parkinson's disease at the home of his daughter, son-in-law, and grandson in Manahawkin, N.J. Mr. Strollo was a retired Standardbred trainer and driver at Batavia Downs, Buffalo Raceway, Yonkers Raceway, The Meadowlands and Garden State Park. He campaigned the stakes filly The High Life p,3,1:52.3 ($148,808) and in Western New York conditioned Open trotter Barney Brookwood. His last drive came at the Meadowlands in 1996 and his last training start came at Batavia Downs in 2003. "Tony was one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet around a racetrack," said Todd Haight, Director/GM of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. "One of few just left handed drivers on the Western New York circuit; he was notorious for bringing home some long priced winners." He was a graduate of Notre Dame High School in Batavia, was a U.S. Army veteran and a member of the former St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Parish in Batavia. He was the son of the late Michael and Ann (Torcello) of Batavia. Mr. Strollo is survived by his daughters, Christine (James) Kearns and Andrea (Jason) Stanaway; grandsons, Vincent, Michael Stanaway, Christopher Stanaway, Anthony Stanaway and Joseph Stanaway; sister, Ann Marie (Dr. Paul) Caste; aunts and uncles, Ralph Torcello, Patricia Torcello, Rose, Albert and Anthony (Jean); and several cousins. Visitation will be held from 9:30-10:30 a.m. on Thursday (April 30) at the Dangler Funeral Home of West Orange, 340 Main St., West Orange. Then to Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 1 Eagle Rock Ave., West Orange, for the Funeral Mass at 11 a.m. Cremation will be private. Letters of condolence may be posted at www.danglerfuneralhome.com.   Normand Fluet Sr., 59, dies Normand Richard (Norm) Fluet Sr., 59, of Aberdeen, N.C., died April 24, 2015. Mr. Fluet died in his home, surrounded by family, while fighting a terminal illness. He was born in Sherbrooke, Canada on April 14, 1956, to Yolande Perreault of Boucherville, Canada and the late Jean-Noel Fluet. He had lived and raised his family in the United States for the past 45 years. Mr. Fluet discovered his passion for the horses at an early age through his father who enjoyed Standardbred racing. His love for Standardbreds found him establishing his own stable where he trained, drove and owned many horses over the years. He had a natural gift when working with trotters and breaking babies in preparation for handling and racing. In 2007 Mr. Fluet stopped driving as he passed the reins to his son, Phillip, who was beginning his career in the business. Norm, Phillip and Lori worked closely together preparing yearlings down south and racing them in the northeast. Although horse racing is competitive, many who knew Mr. Fluet would agree that he was always willing to give a helping hand to his opponents. He notched 913 wins as a driver with earnings of $4.4 million. As a conditioner he won 280 races with purse earnings of $2.3 million. Bruce Tubin, president of the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association, said, "Normand began working for me when he was 21 years old. He was as dedicated, hard working, knowledgeable, and trustworthy a person as you could ever find. He loved working with our young horses and was fabulous at getting them to the races. He eventually established a stable of his own as he was way too talented to remain a second trainer. We had many great years together that I will never forget." He was a devoted horseman known for his honesty, integrity and consideration of others. He was a proud member of the United States Trotting Association, the Southern Tier Harness Horsemen's Association, the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association, the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey, the Standardbred Owners Association of New York and the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association. Mr. Fluet is survived by his wife of 30 years, Lori Ann (Finch) Fluet; children, Normand Jr., Phillip (fiance, Abbey Westbrook), Alan, Julie (Michael) Kukenberger, Shane and Kasey; mother, Yolande Perreault; grandchildren, Kalie, Chantelle, Lily, Jamison, Ava and Sophie; brother, Serge; father-in-law and mother-in-law, Andrew and Gloria Finch; and several nieces and nephews. Per his wishes cremation took place on April 27, 2015, in North Carolina and will be followed by a mid-June memorial service in Batavia, where family and friends will gather to celebrate his life. Any and all who knew Norm will miss him dearly and forever keep him in their hearts. Batavia Downs Media Relations  

Batavia, NY --- For the second year in a row, Batavia Downs will be conducting the Genesee County fair races, which feature the New York Sire Stakes fair series. This special day of harness racing is slated for July 16 with post time for the first race set at 1:15 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 July 13 at 10 a.m. but entries can be made in advance of that date. The 2015 live meet at the oldest lighted harness track in America kicks off on Monday, July 27 and will continue through Saturday, December 12. 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. Tim Bojarski

YONKERS, NY, Monday, March 16, 2015—The respective harness racing ADW platforms of Yonkers Raceway (Empire City Bets), Batavia Downs (Batavia Bets) and Saratoga Raceway (SaratogaBets) have combined to created “SHOWtime”. It’s a free-to-play, weekly contest beginning this Friday, March 20, open to all ADW members of the participating tracks who have actively wagered on the day(s) of the contest. All current EmpireCityBets.com are asked to choose an entry that they feel shall finish in the money in six (6) corresponding Friday races from Yonkers, Buffalo (the currently-racing western New York harness track) and Saratoga Raceways. Players who choose a successful show finisher(s) in all six races then qualify for a share of the 1st place ($400), 2nd place ($250) or 3rd place ($100) prize purse. The top cumulative show pricing decides the winners. If no player select all six “show finishers”, that week’s prizes are carried over to the next week’s contest for a doubled ($1,500) pool, with prize breakdowns of $800/$500/$200. For further information, as well as complete rules and regulations, please visit www.EmpireCityBets.com. Customers for SaratogaBets and BataviaBets should visit those sites. Frank Drucker

Harness racing driver Kevin Cummings enjoyed a career year in 2014 and shows no signs of slowing down this season as he approaches a milestone win total. The 44-year-old Cummings set lifetime bests with 334 wins and $1.55 million in purses last year and won the driving titles at both Batavia Downs and Buffalo Raceway. He has won multiple driving championships at each track, but 2014 marked the first time he captured both titles in the same year. So far this year, Cummings has 23 wins in 75 starts and leads the Buffalo Raceway standings by two victories over Billy Dobson. Cummings needs only seven victories to reach 3,000 for his career. A lifelong resident of Hamburg, N.Y., Cummings races exclusively at his hometown Buffalo Raceway and nearby Batavia Downs. He followed his father, trainer John Cummings Sr., into harness racing, as did his brothers John Jr., Anthony and Todd. Cummings recently took time to talk with Harness Racing Communications’ Ken Weingartner about his career, future and culinary talents. KW: Congratulations on all your success last year.  KC: Thank you. KW: What was the key to having such a big year? KC: I think driving live horses. I got off to a good start, and when you start out hot, people start putting you down (to drive). And it just stayed that way. I’ve never had a year like that. Three-hundred and 34 wins was a lot for as many drives as I had. I had a great year. KW: You race exclusively at Batavia and Buffalo. Have you considered going anywhere else? KC: I haven’t. I own a bunch of horses and I help train them. I have a family here (wife Rhonda and daughters Kristy, Kara, Kandice and Kali) and it’s hectic enough even with just these two places. I just don’t want to take that time away from family. For me, it just doesn’t seem like it’s worth it. If you go somewhere else, you have to break in. It would be harder for me to do that, I think. I don’t want to take that time away to try to establish something that I can’t really stay with anyway. KW: You’re seven wins from 3,000. What does that milestone mean to you? KC: It’s nice. I come from a family of drivers. My three brothers drove; two of them are still driving and the other one (Anthony) is just training. Me being the youngest and having the most wins, I kind of like that. It kind of gives me bragging rights at Thanksgiving and Christmas. KW: Do you make sure to bring it up? KC: Oh, yeah, absolutely. They don’t want to hear it, but I’m going to bring it up anyway. (Laughs.) When I was younger, they always brought stuff up to me, but now they don’t want to hear it. KW: Is driving something you always wanted to do? KC: Yeah. My dad got us all into it. It’s definitely what I wanted to do. I was probably 8 or 9 when I jogged a horse. I remember the first time I trained a horse to the bike I was 10. I went a mile in 2:09. I trained with my brother Todd, he’s a year older than I am, so it was pretty fun. KW: Do you remember your first win? KC: Yeah, it was with Orlando Otto in 1989. I had two (horses) in. My brother Anthony trained and drove those horses, but he put me on them. He was out of town. The one had the eight-hole and was like 80-1 and I finished second with him. He paid $77.20 to place; I remember that. The other one won and paid like $10 to win. Those were my second and third drives of my life. The first one I didn’t do any good with. KW: What do you most enjoy about driving? What keeps you going? KC: It’s still fun for me, even though I’ve been doing it for so long. I like the competition. I like the time with my dad, we talk about racing afterwards. It’s just in me. KW: Did you play other sports when you were growing up? KC: Baseball. I was a pretty good baseball player. I was a pretty good hitter. I played in high school and on rec teams. I’ve always been competitive. KW: You and your brothers opened a restaurant years ago. Do you still have it? KC: John and Tony originally opened it, then me and Tony owned it, then I owned it myself, and now Tony owns it with someone else. I had brought in a partner because I started getting back into the horses when the slots came into town and made the money better. I ended up selling the half that I owned back to Tony. KW: What type of restaurant is it? KC: Pizzeria. KW: Which is harder, working in the restaurant or working with horses? KC: Well, I like working with horses. I worked (at the restaurant) and I didn’t mind it. It wasn’t that bad. Obviously the restaurant is always nicer in the winter where I am. But in the summer you can’t beat jogging horses and racing horses. That’s ideal. KW: Are you a good cook? KC: I can cook a pizza for sure. KW: I think two of the most difficult things you can do are run a restaurant and run a stable, and you’ve done both. KC: They’re both time consuming. And it’s nonstop. The pizzeria closes only two or three days a year. Other than that, you’re married to it. When the opportunity came up to get back into the horses I jumped at it because my dad was still doing it. He was getting older and I wanted to help him. They say 10 years is about the limit for a guy in a pizzeria, and I was there 11 or 12 years. I was ready to move on. KW: What’s been the highlight of your career so far? KC: I would have to say, a few years back me and my dad owned an open horse together (named Arm And A Leg). For like three years he was like the best horse at the track. We had a lot of good memories from that horse. When I look back, I think of him. Also maybe the night I won the (2006) Kane Memorial with Michael Scores. He was a really good horse. KW: What do you see for the future? KC: I don’t plan on going anywhere. I don’t think the driving can get much better because I’m doing well right now. I’m happy with that because I know the business is up and down. It’s tough. You will have your downside so you’ve got to enjoy it while you’re there. The only thing that could get better is my stable of (eight) horses, but I had a decent year with them. You just have to take it all in stride. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

Batavia, NY---The live racing season at Batavia Downs ended on Saturday (Dec. 6) in front of a completely sold out clubhouse and robust grandstand crowd. This was more the rule than the exception this year at the oldest lighted harness track in North America and was due to a great live product on the track and one of the most aggressive slates of promotions ever presented in western New York. On the racing side, Kevin Cummings was a runaway winner of the dash driving title registering 163 wins, $718,148 in purses and a UDR of .385. Cummings 163 wins was the second highest win total ever recorded for a meet at Batavia Downs behind Jim Morrill Jr.'s 177 victories set back in 2006. Drew Monti finished second with 83 wins and Shawn McDonough was third with 76 victories. Jim Morrill Jr. led all drivers in UDR with a phenomenal .479, hitting the board 123 times in 192 starts. He amassed $485,172 in winnings along the way. Morrill also posted a six-win night on Oct. 24 while along with Kevin Cummings and Drew Monti, also had multiple five-win nights throughout the meet. Trainer J.D. Perrin led all local conditioners with 48 wins, $221,599 in purses and a UTR of .353, which was also the highest UTR of all trainers with at least 100 starts at the meet. Local legend Gerry Sarama was second with 41 tallies and Alex Giuliani finished the meet very strong to be third with 39 first place finishes. The horses provided great races to watch and wager on all year and produced some memorable moments that included five new track records. The first of three track records that occurred in New York Sire Stake action happened on Jul. 28 when All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) lowered the standard for 3-year-old pacing colts when he scored an eight length victory in 1:51.2. That time was only one-fifth of a second shy of the all-time track record set by Aracache Hanover in 2011. Then on Aug. 20, Buen Camino (Trond Smedshammer) set a new mark for 2-year-old trotting geldings when he toured the facility in 1:58 flat in an unchallenged romp. The final was registered on Aug. 27 when Sassa Hanover (Jim Morrill Jr.) rewrote the 2-year-old filly pacer mark with a 1:54.2 victory in a more than convincing style. In the aged horse category, Lutetium (Jul. 27) and Second Hand News (Aug. 10) both broke the mark for older gelding trotters when they each stopped the timer in 1:56 in their respective races. The $50,000 Robert J. Kane Pace, Batavia Downs signature stake, was held on Oct. 18 and it provided one of the most exciting finishes of the year. After current track record holder Aracache Hanover (Kevin Cummings) went to the front and tried to best his own mark, eventual winner Bolt The Duer and local driving favorite John Cummings Jr. saved ground at the rail to the top of the stretch when he came up the inside in a four-horse scramble down the lane to win in 1:53.4. BZ Glide was named Trotter of the Meet, Fireyourguns was named Pacer of the Meet and Bazooka Terror was named the Pacing Mare of the Meet. Inclement weather hindered the proceedings five times this year at the Downs when everything from wind to rain to snow caused one cancellation in August and four in November. That was the largest number of cancelled racing dates in one year in the history of the track. At the windows, the Downs held their own and saw a slight increase in handle. The on-track was virtually unchanged from last year, actually ending up $7 a night. And after back to back years of significant growth in the export handle, this year saw an increase of 6%. The total handle was up 1.1%. Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing said "The meet had its ups and downs but for the most part the season went well. We regretted the five cancellations but circumstances dictated they were necessary and we did end up recouping some of those dates." "We will go back to drawing board now to look at what worked and what could be improved and try to please the fans with new promotions. Next year we will be adding some more afternoon programs including Halloween, which is also Breeder's Cup day. And we are also evaluating our post times and may make some adjustments there as well." Haight concluded "I would like to thank all our horsemen for all their hard work and effort and our fans who came out in solid numbers all year. " Pending approval from the New York State Gaming Commission, Batavia Downs will resume live racing on July 27 and will run through December 12. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---With the horses that finished 1-2 in last week's top pace going off co-favorites, newcomer No Real Surprise (who won the Open II last week in a faster mile) was overlooked. But when he came away with the victory in the $11,000 Open pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Dec. 6), it was no real surprise to his connections. The gate released a cavalry charge as Just Frank (Rock C. Vinci) parked out Union Man Hanover (Kevin Cummings) and Youwillwishyouhad (John Cummings Jr.) who was bound and determined to take the front. As the three-pack hit the quarter in :27.1, Cummings Jr. got his way and drifted down to the pylons to lead the field. However no sooner did that occur that the eventual winner, No Real Surprise (Shawn McDonough), came first over and refused to give Youwillwishyouhad a breather. When the pair drew even at the three-quarters in 1:26.2, they paced in tandem from there in what simply became a match race. With whips and lines raised, Cummings Jr. and McDonough's charges went stride for stride around the far turn and halfway down the stretch. At that point No Real Surprise got a slight advantage that he held to the wire, winning by a half length in 1:58. Youwillwishyouhad gallantly hung on for second and What The Sheik (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) was much the best of the rest. It was the eleventh win in 31 starts for No Real Surprise ($12.80) who was a recent acquisition from Yonkers Raceway for owners Vogel and Wags Nags Stable. The winner's share of the purse raised his 2014 earnings to $69,509. No Real Surprise is trainer by Ron Van Wagoner. Driver John Cummings Jr. had the hot hand winning three races on the night with Drew Monti and Ronnie Wrenn Jr. both registered driving doubles. With the conclusion of Saturday night's card, the Batavia Downs summer-fall meet came to a close. Live racing will resume at the track on July 14, 2015, pending date approval from the New York Gaming Commission. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---After taking the top mares trot just seven days ago, Fiorentina came right back and forced her hand again while winning the $9,000 Batavia Downs harness racing feature on Friday night (Dec. 5). At the start of the race as Fiorentina (Kevin Cummings) was going to the front, Iza Bella (Shawn McDonough) made a break and scattered the field. So when Fiorentina hit the quarter in :28.4, the five horses behind her were spread out 12 lengths apart. As the race progressed with Fiorentina calling the shots, the group tightened up behind her and by the three-quarter pole, the five were double-decked and within three lengths of each other. But they were arguing for minor spoils as Fiorentina was trotting with desire and was not about to be denied. The 5-year-old Angus Hall mare won in 1:59.3 by two and one-half lengths. Dayplanner (Dave McNeight III) was second and Iza Bella recovered from her break to finish third. It was the seventh win in 22 starts this year for Fiorentina ($5.30) and it raised her earnings total to $49,380 for owners Frank Lamacchia and Guy Polillo. John Mungillo trains the winner. Drivers Kevin Cummings, Drew Monti and Dave McNeight III all scored driving doubles on the night. The 2014 Batavia Downs meet has come down to its final 24 races and the action begins on Saturday (Dec. 6) at 12:15 when the first half of a closing day double-header kicks off. The nightcap begins at 6:35 and both cards feature 12 races. The Pick-6 carryover in $9,034 and it will be paid out tomorrow.   Tim Bojarski

 Batavia, NY --- The curtain comes down on another racing season at Batavia Downs Saturday night (Dec. 6), but the three remaining cards truly offer something for everyone. Friday night (Dec. 5) features the biggest Pick-6 carryover of the season, $6,640, and there is also a free $1,000 Pick-6 contest that night as well. In order to be eligible for the contest you must sign-up at the Players Club before 5:00 when the contest begins. The contest Pick-6 begins on race four; the wagering Pick-6 begins on race seven. Also on Friday night, it's Customer Appreciation Night. $1 racing programs begin at 5:00 at the program stand and Subway sampler subs along with cake and coffee will be served in the enclosed Grandstand after the fourth race. Patrons dining in the Clubhouse will receive $10 back in gaming free-play when purchasing the prime rib, shrimp and crab leg buffet. A reservation is reccomended as we are expecting to sell out. Then Saturday afternoon features another 12 race program with Post time set at 12:15. Saturday afternoon features an amazing clubhouse buffet deal; when you purchase the buffet for $10.95, you get $10 back in gaming free play after earning one point on the gaming floor. That's lunch for less than a buck and free money for the gaming floor. This offer is available from noon until 3 only. Saturday evening is closing night and features our popular Quinella match play promotion, the final $1,000 Pick-6 contest ($500 if won on Friday night) in which players only have to pick the most winners to win. And it's also the Upstate New York Chapter of USHWA's annual Night of Distinction where awards will be distributed to both human and equine performance leaders throughout the evening. Post time is 6:35. The Paddock room will remain open for simulcast wagering from 11:30 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. on Saturday. "I think we're going out with a bang," Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing said. "With all the activities going on, I'm confident we will draw nice crowds to end the meet. I would also like to thanks everyone for their support this racing season." By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

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