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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 ( ) 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 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. ( ) 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  

Batavia, NY---This was the fourth straight week that Mach This Way (Ron Beback Jr.) and Memumsnotnice (Ray Fisher Jr.) locked horns with "Mach" having a 2-1 advantage over "Mum" to date. After a hard fought harness racing battle, Mach This Way reigned victorious again in the $9,500 distaff pacing feature at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Dec. 9). Memumsnotnice left sharply and paced on the front uncontested to the half in :57.2. Mach This Way had pulled at three-eighths and drew alongside the leading mare as they hit the clubhouse turn. From that point on it was basically a match race. Mach This Way and Memumsnotnice paced in tandem past three-quarters in 1:25.3, around the far turn and half-way down the lane. It was then the Mach This Way got a slight advantage and pulled away to a length victory in 1:55.2. The Filly Princess (Truman Gale) closed strong to be second and Memumsnotnice faded to third, in a dead-heat with Kisses N Kicks (Dave McNeight III). It was the eighth win of the season for the daughter of Mach Three ($4.20) and pushed her earnings to $59,880 for owner William Emmons. Batavia Downs Rising Star Award winner James Clouser Jr. trains Mach This Way. In the $7,700 Mares Open II co-feature, Heavenly Place (Dave McNeight III) went gate-to-wire in 1:57.1 to notch her 13th win of 2015. She had won in this class two weeks ago and found herself back at home after stepping down from Open I competition last week. Heavenly Place is owned by Courtney McNeight and is trained by Dave McNeight Jr. Horsemen scoring multiple wins included drivers Kevin Cummings with three and Shawn Mcdonough, Ron Beback Jr. and Ray Fisher Jr. each with two. Trainers James Clouser Jr. and Chris Naedele each sent two winners to post. Only two days of live racing remain at Batavia Downs for the 2015 season and Friday (Dec. 11) is the first of the pair, with post time set at 6:15. By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations  

Akron, NY---Scores of harness racing horsemen and women have come and gone over the years at Batavia Downs, but the ever changing look of the local driving colony has had a single, steady constant in its midst that still sends horses postward after 49 years in the business. His name is Ken Ball. Ball got started in harness racing in 1966 as a second trainer for Eldon Harner. But it wasn't long before he departed to start his own stable. The first and probably best owners he ever had were Morris and Betty Miller. They bred and raced a string of horses that bore the "Whiz" name. These horses were stalwarts of his stable for thirty years. During his time in the business, his most successful horse was Missile T (1:57.2 $313,644). The Master of Style colt was one of the best 2 and 3-year-old male trotters in New York State in 2006 and 2007. The largest purse Ball ever won was the $100,000 Elitist Cup at the Syracuse Mile with Brass Target Sam ($1:56.2 $74,793) in 1990. And the fastest race he ever drove was a 1:56.2 mile with his good Open trotter, Derby Tex Whiz (1:56.2 $125,941), also at the Syracuse Mile. But the hits didn't stop there. Ball was also responsible for the careers of Major T Collins (1:59.2 $221,804), PJ Whiz (2:00.2 $161,696), Super Whiz (1:59.4 $142,879), Crescent T Collins (2:02.2 $94,178), Gantry T (1:57.2 $69,923), Tempest Lobell (2:03.2 $63,411), BJ Grattan (2:02.4 $60,035), Chip Rebel (2:02.3 $58,474) and of course, the local legend Mr. Tizwhiz (1:59.3 $48,633). For his career, Ken Ball drove 1,143 winners that accounted for $3.1 million in purses. On the training side, Ball started 2,337 horses posting 263 wins, 311 seconds and 324 thirds (40% in the money) and earned another $1.1 million for those starts. Ball is still actively training today, but limits his driving to county fairs and an occasional qualifying race. He defers the pari-mutuel lines to his son, Keith, who is continuing the family tradition. Keith Ball is also a Monroe County Sheriff. Ken Ball still lives in Batavia with his longtime companion Patricia Arnold. But he's more likely to be found shipping his horses to the track or a fair than at his house. But that's the only way one could ever put together such an impressive body of work. Ken Ball will receive his award in the Purple Haze Winner's Circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 12) during UNY-USHWA's Night of Distinction. By Tim Bojarski, President, UNY-USHWA

The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has named their choices for the best performing horses at the 2015 Batavia Downs harness racing meet. Pacer of the Meet: Cobble Beach (Artiscape-Mirmattculous 1:51.2 $176,867) Cobble Beach faced the best Open pacers at the Downs week in and week out and never seemed to fail to give his best effort. In 17 starts at Batavia, Cobble Beach won six, finished second four times and third three more. His efforts earned him $42,270 and a seasonal mark of 1:52.4. Cobble Beach is owned by Leonard Segall and trained by James Clouser Jr. Trotter of the Meet: Lutetium (Credit Winner-Luby 1:52.4 $356,617) This year at Batavia, Lutetium has the most wins of any trotter competing in Open company. In nine starts he won six and finished second the other three. And in those three seconds he was only beaten a length, a neck and a nose. In those nine starts he amassed $37,750 in purses and set a new track record of 1:55.2 for aged trotting geldings at Batavia Downs. Lutetium is owned by Colleen Girdlestone and trained by Mark Laidlaw Mare of the Meet: Memumsnotnice (Jereme's Jet-Bunny Town 1:51.4 $308,343) After not winning a race since February 4, Memumsnotnice hit her stride at Batavia Downs, winning four Open's, finishing second four times and third five more. She earned $32,942 and took a seasonal mark of 1:55, which was also the fastest Memumsnotnice ever paced over a half mile track. Memumsnotnice is owned by Thatsideofthefence LLC and John Mungillo, who also trains her. The Heart of the Standardbred award is given to a horse that displays the will to overcome all odds in pursuit of becoming a race horse. This year, that award goes to Red Clay (American Mike-Ersa Kash 1:57.4 $21,964) Red Clay was turned out, green and unraced at two when Pat and Carmen Cappotelli acquired him. Far behind the curve, he was only raced three times at fairs at age three. Then after showing much promise in qualifiers after a very late start at age four, Red Clay experienced more issues that limited that season to only three starts as well. 2015 saw the continuation of Red Clay's penchant for breaking but it was matched by Carmen Cappotelli's patience with trotters and that patience was rewarded with an eye-opening qualifying win at Batavia on August 26. And from there, Red Clay beat the odds. Red Clay won his next seven out of nine starts and finished second two more times besides that. The seven victories made him the winningest trotter of the meet as well. He was so good in his class he was sent off as the favorite seven times during that nine-race stretch. He took a lifetime mark of 1:57.4 on September 26, a time that at one point seemed unattainable by many, but not by Red Clay. The connections of all four horses will receive their awards in the Purple Haze Winner's Circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 12) during UNY-USHWA's Night of Distinction.   By Tim Bojarski, President, UNY-USHWA

Akron, NY---The Batavia Downs meet isn't over, but the competition for the winningest harness racing driver and trainer certainly is. Kevin Cummings and JD Perrin are the leading dash driver and trainer for the 2015 season, repeating their dominance from last year and they will be honored by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness writers Association (UNY-USHWA). Cummings currently has 131 victories during the meet, which total 49 more than his nearest competitor. And his $683,838 in purses won is at least a quarter-million dollars more than anyone else. For the year, Cummings has already posted career numbers with 334 wins, $1.77 million in earnings and a UDR of .367. That UDR ranks him tenth in North America among all drivers. Cummings seasonal totals only pile onto his career statics that include 3,304 wins and $13.7 million in earnings. Perrin posted 56 wins for the meet and his horses earned $236,822 for his efforts. He is also firing at a lofty .376 UTR. As far as the entire year is concerned, Perrin has 125 wins, $633,747 in earnings and a UTR of .353. That UTR ranks him tenth as well among all trainers in North America to this point in 2015. Perrin's career numbers include 569 wins and $2.4 million in purses. UNY-USHWA has also named James Clouser Jr. their recipient of the 2015 Rising Star Award. Since relocating his base of operations to Upstate New York early last summer, James Clouser Jr. has been on a tear. After only making minimal starts as a conditioner from 2008 until 2013, Clouser made some noise in 2014 winning 42 races from 191 outings and banked $229,887 in earnings. But this year he's more than doubled all those numbers. With only days of live racing left this year, Clouser has won 86 races and earned $454,359 in prizes on the strength of 286 starts. He is also boasting a gaudy .439 UTR. The 86 wins make him the top dash winning trainer in North America for conditioners with fewer than 300 starts. For the current Batavia Downs meet, Clouser is the second leading trainer (behind JD Perrin) with 42 wins from 140 starts, $207,894 in earnings and a .431 UTR. Kevin Cummings, JD Perrin and James Clouser Jr. will receive their awards in the Purple Haze Winner's Circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 12) during UNY-USHWA's Night of Distinction. By Tim Bojarski, President, UNY USHWA

Batavia, NY---Lucky Nadotremblay was pushed every step of the way Saturday night (Dec. 5), but the harness racing  performance of a lifetime got him across first in the $10,000 Open pacing feature at Batavia Downs. Leaving from post one, Lucky Nadotremblay (Shawn McDonough) was immediately greeted by Adversary Seelster (Ron Beback Jr.) and Jokerman (Jim McNeight) as the race rounded the first turn. The treble cavalry charge ferociously continued up the backside and to the quarter in :27.1 before Jokerman pulled off from three-high and dropped in second-over behind Adversary Seelster. Adversary Seelster continued to pace side by side with Lucky Nadotremblay past the half in :56 but started to do the backstroke by the three-quarters in 1:24.4. At that station Cobble Beach (Dave McNeight III) who had been tracking from fifth, tipped three-wide around the fading competition to move alongside Lucky Nadotremblay which started a two-horse competition that pulled away from the field. Cobble Beach inched closer and closer but Lucky Nadotremblay refused to lose and hung on to win by a neck in 1:53.4, which was a new lifetime mark for the victor. It was the eighth win of the year for Lucky Nadotremblay ($7.20) and it boosted his 2015 earnings to $65,320 for owners Paul Viele and Ronald Louis Viele. Alex Giuliani trains the 5-year-old son of Blissful Hall. Veteran reinsman Jack Flanigen put on a show, winning five races on the card that included the first four straight events. He scored with Big Dutch ($2.60), Bondy N ($2.10), Boots N Bourbon ($4.90), China Dream ($7.00) and Keystone Dalton ($2.50). Dave McNeight III won three and Ron Beback Jr. scored a double. James Clouser Jr. had a training hat-trick while Jim Graham and Maria Rice conditioned two winners each. The final week of racing kicks off on Wednesday night (Dec. 9) with post time set for 6:15 p.m. The meet is down to the final three nights of live racing for 2015. By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations  

Batavia, NY---It's not too often a horse gets passed at the head of the lane and comes back on to win, but that is exactly what Justgottogetthere did in Friday night's (Dec. 4) $9,500 trotting feature at Batavia Downs. Leaving from post four, Justgottogetthere (Ron Beback Jr.) left quickly to take the lead and provide pylon-starter Leave Your Mark (Kevin Cummings) with a perfect trip. The rest of the field struggled to keep up as the leading pair went to the half in :59.3. After that second station, it became two separate races; Justgottogetthere and Leave Your Mark broke away from the pack by four lengths. Cummings pulled Leave Your Mark at the three-quarter pole and drew alongside of Justgottogetthere before taking a length lead at the top of the stretch. Looking well on his way to victory, Leave Your Mark was quickly rebuffed when Beback urged Justgottogetthere on and the game trotter responded; retaking the lead and eventually winning the race by a length in 1:58.3. The win was the tenth of the year for Justgottogetthere ($7.50), but the first since August 28. The winner's share of the purse pushed his 2015 earnings to $63,402 for owners Antonietta Landi and North Creek Racing LLC. Jerry Nugent Jr. trains the 6-year-old gelded son of Valley Victor. Shawn McDonough had the hot hands on Friday, winning four races driving as well as one as trainer. Drew Monti was right behind with a hat-trick and Ron Beback Jr. doubled up. Trainers Russell Bratt and Alex Giuliani both sent two winners to get their pictures taken. Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Dec. 5) at 6:15 p.m. There are only 4 cards of racing left in the 2015 meet. By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations  

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