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With Restless Yankee and MacKenzie's Bliss tussling early, Kelly Hope's Stonebridge Master ($5.10) had a fast pace to close into, looping the field in the final quarter mile for a 1:51.2 triumph in the featured $8,000 Miracle Mile 2 Pace at Vernon Downs on Saturday (April 12) evening.   The eight-year-old Artsplace gelding was in no hurry early on, sitting well off a pressured :26.4 first quarter, and even having a 12-length deficit at race's midpoint, where JK Panache (Truman Gale) pushed past Restless Yankee (Chris Lems) to force a :55.2 half mile. Midway around the far turn,   Aaron Byron angled Stonebridge Master off the pegs, and the Jordan Hope trainee's response was instant. Moving three-wide at the top of the stretch, Stonebridge Master gobbled up ground at will, taking over the lead in upper stretch, drawing clear to win by 3-1/4 lengths, and posting a solid :26.3 last quarter en route. Unicorn Hanover (Shawn McDonough) closed from far back to take second, while Moonlight Ransom (Jimmy Whittemore) rallied from last to finish third.   by James Witherite, for Vernon Downs

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Running Book is currently like a fine wine...he's getting better with age. The 10-year-old Running Book proved he's still got plenty left in the tank as he buried seven harness racing rivals in the $10,500 Open Pace at Buffalo Raceway Saturday night (March 8).   With driver Ronnie Wrenn Jr. in the sulky, Running Book ($4.30) blasted off the starting gate and never looked back in posting an impressive 6-1/4 length win over Naked News (Jim McNeight) in a seasonal-best of 1:54.4 over the fast track. Salazar (Shawn McDonough) picked up the show dough.   After a rather routine opening half mile of 58.0, Running Book and Wrenn Jr. bottomed out the field with a 56.4 last half. It proved more than enough as the pair looked around for oncoming competition in the stretch but found no takers.   Trained by Buffalo Raceway's leading conditioner JD Perrin, Running Book has now scored three wins in eight starts this season for owner Tessa Roland. He's earned $16,775 in 2014 and has 35 career victories and $652,825 lifetime winnings.   The racing action resumes at Buffalo Raceway on Wednesday night with a 12-race card slated to begin at 5 p.m.   For more information including the latest news, results, replays and upcoming promotions, go to   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway      

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Charles Stewart and his stable were looking for a place to settle down for the winter months with Hoosier Park closed during that time. His choice? Buffalo Raceway. It's a selection that has proved to be the right and a profitable one thus far. "I looked around and I thought the horses I had would fit very well into the conditions at Buffalo Raceway," Stewart said. "Hoosier Park is a 7/8-mile track but I have some horses with experience on a half-mile track like Buffalo so I figured it would be a good place to go. The purses are equal too, if not better, than at home (in Indiana). Remember driver Shawn Gray when he arrived from Maine a few years back? It took several weeks before harness racing fans locally began to sit up and take notice of Gray, North America's leading UDRS driver in 2011. A relative unknown in Western New York at first but winning races will make make you dig into his past credentials. The same could said about the 27-year-old Stewart. He's got a trainer's title under his belt already in Indiana and posted 365 career wins and $2.57 million in earnings through Sunday. An unknown in Western New York but now one to look for. As far as winning a trainer's title, "I don't really look at the awards but it's nice to have on the resume." He arrived in Western New York at Batavia Downs in mid-November and showed the move was the right one. At Batavia Downs, he started 31 horses with nine wins, five second place finishes and four shows for a 29 percent win average, a UTRS of .323 and $31,232 in earnings. When the racing switched to Buffalo Raceway, Stewart is a win behind current leader JD Perrin by one victory. Stewart, a trainer since 2006, had sent out 35 horses this far with 13 winners, seven second place finishers and three who took the show spot. That's a gaudy .511 UDRS and a 37 percent win average and $56,189 in earnings. Stewart has been helped by having Peter Wrenn come in and drive many of his horses."He's been driving probably 90 percent of my horses for the last four or five years. Pete told me just about everyone of my horses would fit in well here." Wrenn is benefiting from Stewart's success as he sits in second place in the driver's standings with 19 victories, 11 behind runaway leader Billy Dobson who has 30. But Wrenn isn't staying around all season like Stewart is. "He has a small stable he'll go back to in Indiana and I'll probably use Drew Monti and Shawn McDonough when Pete does leave. Drew and Shawn drove for me at Batavia." Stewart added, "I love the Buffalo Raceway paddock. It's head and shoulders above most others. The heated paddock is huge and it's really user-friendly. You need probably just two people to paddock probably five horses. It's a big plus." Right now, Stewart has 21 stabled at Buffalo Raceway and is always on the lookout for more. "I did get a horse from a local owner and would be willing to take on more." In the near future, he'll be losing five out of the barn with two going back to Indiana and three going to the Delaware Sales. About his stable, Stewart said, "I am set up for claimers. I seem to make more money with get the money while you can." The frigid weather has made things a bit more difficult for Stewart but one the's handled as things came along. "You just don't keep them on the track as long and you try to keep them as healthy as possible. I went into the barn and there was three-to-four inches of ice in the water buckets so that takes some extra time to change that. And I've been warned to keep the horses' shoes sharpened keep them really corked." He added of his training routine, "I just blow them out and let them gallop. I think it's easier on their joints and you are using less equipment. I usually do one trip two or three days before a race." Will we ever see Stewart in the sulky during a race? Probably now. "I may only drive if a need to fix a problem with a horse, but otherwise, no." He then added with a laugh, "I am in this to make money and if I was driving I probably wouldn't make much...I'm not very good at it." As for the rest of the year, Stewart plans to stay at Buffalo until the end of the meet, journey back to Indiana, then come back for the 2015 meet at Buffalo. "That's the plan right now," he said. And Stewart goes by the motto many in the horse racing industry go by..."People don't like you when you are doing well and you are well liked when you aren't going well." It's not in a mean-spirited way though. It's almost like a superstitious routine. "I love that so I keep hoping people don't like me because that means I am doing well," he added jokingly. But thus far, Stewart and driver Wrenn have brought in some good horses that have made many people take notice of them and of Buffalo Raceway itself. by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway  

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Dont Say Goodby said 'hello' to the winner's circle once again after registering a three-quarters of a length victory over Stonebridge Rocket in the $10,500 Open Pace at a blustery Buffalo Raceway Saturday night (Jan. 25) in 1:59.1 over the good track.   The victory was the fourth straight in Open competition in Western New York for Dont Say Goodby ($3.30) since arriving from Indiana in late November.   The start was delayed by nearly 45 minutes after a power failure occurred during the stretch run of the seventh race. The wait didn't have any affect on Dont Say Goodby (Peter Wrenn) as he had plenty of energy in the passing lane to run down Stonebridge Rocket (Shawn McDonough).   Sand Summerfield (Dan Rawlings), who went on a brief break around the opening turn, regrouped and had the lead at one point, but had to settle for third place.   The win was the second in as many starts in 2014 for the 6-year-old Dont Say Goodby (Dontgetinmyway-Good By Albatross). It was his 15th career win and jacked his career earnings to $172,077.   Saturday night's card completed a stellar week in the handle department at Buffalo Raceway. The track took in well over $900,000 during the four-day race week.   Chief Operating Officer Jim Mango said, "We haven't seen a handle like this week in Western New York in over 10 years. There were three reasons for the big handles I believe. There were some cancellations during the week at other tracks, we have some good drivers here competing and we've had some well-balanced and wide open fields which leads to increased handles."   Buffalo Raceway will continue racing on Wednesday night with a 12-race program set to get underway at 5 p.m.   For more information including the latest news, promotions, race replays and statistics, go to   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway  

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Since arriving in Western New York at the end of October, Artsy Princess has been knocking at the door for a victory with four second place finishes in her six local appearances.   But on a frigid Wednesday evening (Jan. 22) in the $10,500 Fillies and Mares Open Pace at Buffalo Raceway, Artsy Princess was no longer camera shy as she scored a half-length victory over You're Too Funny in 2:00.4 over the good track.   Driven by Shawn McDonough, Artsy Princess ($13.00) went three-wide down the home stretch and used a 29.1 final quarter to collar You're Too Funny (Jack Flanigen) while Ahlbback Yankee (Mike Micallef) held on for third place.   High Speed Life (Ray Fisher Jr.) had set the fractions of 30.4, 1:00.3 and 1:31 after starting from the outside but called it a night as the field turned for home.   Artsy Princess was helped out in the field of seven as Right On Ram and Red Star Fiona both broke stride before the mares hit the backstretch for the first time.   Owned by the Empowered Racing Stable and trained by Carl Smith, it was the 12th career victory for Artsy Princess (Western Hanover-Clouding Over) and moved the 6-year-old mare's career earnings to $251,749.   Racing will continue on Thursday night at 5 p.m. with a 10-race card on tap.   For more information including statistics, race replays, results and news, go to   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway  

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Fiorentina ($7.00) fired out of the starting gate and never looked back in easily winning the $10,500 Open Trot at Buffalo Raceway in a sparkling 1:58.3 over the fast track on a brisk Friday night. With most of the field of eight coming in from other tracks, the stay-at-home Fiorentina (Aaron Byron) set sail from the four post and put up fractions of 30.3, 1:01 and 1:30. A 57.3 second half mile including a blistering 28.3 final panel spelled doom for the rest of the field. Zorgwijk Heavenly (Ray Fisher Jr.) rallied for second while even money favorite Ellisarro Hanover (Shawn McDonough) took third as both failed to come up with an answer to catch the winner in the stretch. Owned by Frank Lamacchia and Guy Polillo, Fiorentina (Angus Hall-Red Hot And Blue) is a 5-year-old mare trained by John Mungillo. It was her 15th victory of her career and moved her lifetime earnings to $134,325. Racing resumes on Saturday night with a 13-race program on tap beginning at 6:40 p.m. The feature is the eighth race where a field of seven will go to the post in the $10,500 Open Pace. Buffalo Raceway schedule shifts to Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights next week. by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway    

BATAVIA, NY --- Considering the magnitude of the highlights from the 2013 racing season, what exactly does Batavia Downs Gaming do for an encore in 2014?  Meet the challenge, says Todd Haight, Batavia Downs’ General Manager of Live Racing. But for now, in the wake of closing night 2013, they’ll savor the triumphs of the recently concluded live season at America’s oldest lighted harness track: ** The world’s richest pacer, Foiled Again, paid a visit on Oct. 5 and won the 11th annual Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace. Two weeks later, Foiled Again won the Breeders’ Crown Open Pace at Pocono Downs. This year’s Kane night handle was the largest since 2005. ** Export handle took another big jump. ** A state-of-the-art gaming floor opened in October. ** Five new track records were established while two others were tied. ** Shawn McDonough became the first provisional driver ever to win a track driving championship, and he did it in style, outdistancing Ray Fisher Jr. 103-88. The final total mutuel handle on Batavia races increased again, climbing by over $660,000, or 9% over last year. Export handle, coming off a 50 percent increase in 2012, was up another 19 percent this season, though the on-track handle dipped 15 percent. "We knew it was going to be a tough year on-track with construction of the new gaming floor taking place as our live season was starting,” Haight said. “In fact, we had two days in early October that we raced with no on-track wagering at all. The on-track numbers improved significantly once the gaming floor moved downstairs on October 4.” “So we’re extremely pleased that we continue to grow our export business and I'm confident we can turn around our on-track numbers next season.”      Haight noted that the ITW (Inter-Track Wagering facility) will be moving back to the racetrack before the live season gets underway, so the Downs will once again be able to conduct some of their most popular promotions that they weren't able to do this year. There were many highlights away from the betting windows, too: The Western New York harness racing community showed it is truly caring as $12,885 was raised for the “Stay Strong Anthony Coletta” fund in early December. Coletta was seriously injured in a racing mishap in mid-November at Harrah's Philadelphia, so Batavia Downs drivers, owners, trainers, staff and fans donated to help out the 31-year-old driver in his recovery. Of the new records, two were set by pacers. Xenia Hanover posted a 1:53 time to set the aged mares record and Barefoot Beauty went 1:54.4 to set the 2-year-old filly pacing mark, while 2-year-old colt sensation He's Watching went 1:54.2 to tie the record. Fireyourguns was named the Pacer of the Year. Mystical Escapade, the Batavia Downs' Trotter of the Year, set the aged mare mark with a 1:56.3, while Lutetium set the aged gelding mark with a 1:56.3. JS Trotting Bob, a 2-year-old colt, got his name into the record book with a 1:58.2 clocking and Bouncing Bax tied the 3-year-old filly trotting time with a 1:57.2. While McDonough won the driver’s title, Ron Beback Jr. was victorious 84 times and won the comeback award. John Mungillo, the Western New York Trainer of the Year, won his first Downs training title. He totaled 66 victories, nine more than J.D. Perrin. Carl Smith finished third with 37 wins. Extreme Balance, with driver Jack Flanigen, pulled one of the biggest upsets in Batavia history when he scored at odds 168-1. The Jim Graham trainee returned $338 to win. Post-time favorites won at a 40 percent clip. The 2014 racing season is tentatively scheduled to being on Wednesday, July 23, pending approval of the New York Gaming Commission. by Brian J. Mazurek, for Batavia Downs  

In harness racing, provisional drivers aren't supposed to get first call to drive the best horses on the grounds. Provisional drivers don't repeatedly drive horses to track records and absolutely under no circumstance do they ever win more often than their peers. But all of that changed Saturday at Batavia Downs where 23-year-old provisional driver Shawn McDonough concluded the meet at the Western New York track by becoming the first "P" driver in harness racing history to win a track's dash title. And in the end, it wasn't even close. McDonough took the lead atop the driver standings over the summer and entered the final week of the meet holding a 93 to 84 win advantage over the next closest driver, Ray Fisher. In the final three days of the meet, McDonough won three races Wednesday, another three on Friday, and for just good measure scored a grand slam on the meet's final night putting him over the 100 win mark. A strong Buffalo meet in the first half of the year that saw McDonough win 71 times from 591 starts gave the young driver a wave of momentum heading into the new meet at Batavia. There, a number of factors played a role in McDonough's record breaking success. McDonough said, "John Cummings left here and that opened spots up. A couple drivers got hurt (Ray Fisher and Jack Flanigen nearing the end of at Buffalo), and that opened up opportunities. I did well for a number of the trainers and they kept with me." McDonough credits the Empowered Racing Stable and Resilient Racing Stable as a large part of his success at Batavia. I was working for Empowered Racing Stable with Carl Smith and they put me on the right foot with some power to drive. My own owners, the Resilient Stable, they gave me a great opportunity to train horses and I've done well. In regards to Empowered, "You know, they have great horses and spend a lot of money on horses and bring them to these tracks. I broke the track trotting record this year with their mare Mystical Escapade," said McDonough. In addition to the smashing record setting performance by Mystical Escapade who would go onto be named Trotter of the Year at Batavia, McDonough also broke a track record with the pacing mare Xenia Hanover by virtue of a blowout eight length win in 1:53. Other horses of note from McDonough are Cactus Jack and Resilient Stable's millionaire trotter, Self Professed. McDonough said that his best of claim of the year was Debs Girloffortune. "I claimed her for $4,000 and she made almost $16,000 just at Batavia for me. I think she missed one check in about twenty starts." Even with the breakout success at Buffalo, it was hard for McDonough to envision just how much of that would carry over into the Batavia season. "Heading into the meet someone had asked me how many wins I'd get, and I thought maybe 75 or so. I can't explain it but for some reason every year I have better luck at Batavia than I do at Buffalo. Being a provisional driver I didn't know what the opportunities would be like, but a lot of my buddies are good trainers and they all helped to put me on the map pretty good." McDonough continued, "I never thought realistically I would hit the 100 mark; it was just a great year. I'm thankful for my owners, all my family and friends. I've got a good helper too with my girlfriend Ashley Holiday who helps out a lot. We've got a really great team here and everything clicked." In becoming the first provisional driver to ever win a track dash title, it does beg the question: Why is McDonough still a provisional driver in the first place? By the very definition of what a provisional license essentially is, it's almost inexplicable that McDonough remains under that classification. Ultimately, it is only the state appointed judges presiding at Buffalo/Batavia that can grant McDonough to a full "A" driver status. But despite the subjective nature at which that determination is made, McDonough has laughably outpaced what the standard minimum requirements are, pursuant to the United States Trotting Association 2014 Bylaws. There are a number of different ways that minimum requirements can be met, but generally speaking what's required while holding a 'P' license is one year driving experience, plus 25 satisfactory pari-mutuel starts and a win requirement of 5 wins. McDonough has held a 'P' license now for 4 years and in just this single year alone, he has won 174 times with earnings in excess of $900,000. Searching for an answer, McDonough said "I asked at the beginning of the Batavia meet why I can't yet have an 'A' license and didn't really get an answer, so I told myself that I'm going to have to go out there and try to win a title to show the judges. I'm not sure how it makes them look having a 'P' driver go out there and win a title, but you can't argue with them." He continued, "They're actually the ones that told me towards the end of the meet that I was going to be the first 'P' driver to win a dash title and break history, I didn't even know that." McDonough added, "I had an opportunity to go to the Meadowlands and drive for Empowered Racing. They asked me to go with them but I wasn't able to (because of the 'P' status). All I can do is be patient and keep it going. Just this year I've had close to 180 wins; I'm not dangerous and haven't caused any accidents - nothing." The next time we'll see McDonough in action is when Buffalo starts their new season on January 8. Until then, he's giving his horses time off for a little break. As for plans later down the road McDonough says "I'm just being patient. If I have a good year again maybe we'll look at trying Pocono. If I get a couple of my guys to go and get owners like Empowered and Resilient to move their stock we'll see what happens." In the meanwhile, McDonough will enter 2014 seeking his second consecutive track title in Western New York. Unheard of for a 'provisional' driver. by, Brett Sturman for The Racing Beard

BATAVIA, NY --- America's oldest lighted harness track, Batavia Downs Gaming, concluded its 67th season of live harness racing on Saturday night (Dec.7) with a 13-race program, billed as the Night of Distinction. Awards were presented in several categories by the President of Upstate NY Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association, Tim Bojarski. Also trackside was delegate Sam Pendolino. Closing night featured a must pay out Pick-6 contest that over 300 racing fans participated in. Steven Bennett of Rochester and Daniel Coughlin of nearby Oakfield, picked the most winners and took home $500 each. For the second consecutive week, Dont Say Goodby ($16.60) used a strong drive in the lane to rally from far back and capture the featured $8,500 Open Pace in 1:54.4 over the fast track. OK Braveheart (Ken Holliday) sent the fractions of 27.1, 56.2 and 1:25.3 but called it a night just past the three-quarter marker. But it was a wake-up call for Dont Say Goodby there as driver Drew Monti sent him four-wide around the final turn and was by far the strongest in the race to the wire. He finished a length in front of Unicorn Hanover (Jim McNeight) while JS Tango (Ray Fisher Jr.) finished in third. "He's a really good horse," Rising Star Award recipient Drew Monti said. You just have to point him, he was loaded (with pace) at the wire. Trained by Charles Stewart and owned by Derek Menchhofer, Dont Say Goodby has now won seven times and has earned $67,827 this season and $165,487 lifetime. The meets dash leading reinsman, Shawn McDonough, ended the Western New York racing season with a driving four-bagger. John Mungillo was the Downs top conditioner. Live racing is tentatively scheduled to resume at Batavia Downs on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, pending New York Gaming Commission approval. Effective Sunday, December 8, simulcasting wagering is offered on a daily basis. by Brian J. Mazurek, for Batavia Downs

Akron, NY--The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has announced the award winners for top performing horsemen for 2013 as well as the Batavia Downs meet. Ray Fisher Jr. has been named the western New York driver of the year. 2013 was an enigma for Ray Fisher because a mid-year accident that could have just as easily killed him ultimately drove him to produce one of the best years of his career. On July 12 at the Buffalo Raceway meet he was the leading reinsman at; Fisher went down in a horrific accident involving half the field and suffered a fractured pelvis and two broken vertebrae. Despite the dire diagnosis, Fisher was seen at his barn the following morning and returned to driving only 20 days later. Without missing a beat, the 45 year-old Geauga, Ohio native righted the ship and went back on a driving tear that hasn't slowed up since. For the year, Fisher has scored 233 wins, 190 seconds and 182 thirds from 1,349 starts. His $1,198,955 in purses is a career best and his .296 UDR was his second best ever. Those numbers push his career totals to 3,537 wins and $14,183,533 in earnings. Fisher was the leading dash driver at the completed Buffalo meet and is currently second at Batavia with only two nights of racing left. The western New York trainer of the year is John Mungillo. To say that John Mungillo had a career year would be an understatement. His 775 starts, 154 wins and $675,746 in earnings were all lifetime bests for him by a good margin. And his .309 UTR was not far off his previous best effort. Those numbers bring his career stats to 731 wins and $2,820,586 in the bank. Mungillo will also be recognized as the trainer of the meet for the current Batavia Downs session. His 65 wins, 38 seconds and 37 thirds earned his owners $252,134 and solidified his spot as the top conditioner at the Genesee County oval. The Batavia Downs driver of the meet is Shawn McDonough. 23 year-old Shawn McDonough has accomplished quite a bit in 2013. Finding himself a commodity among trainers this year, he parlayed that in-demand status into some pretty impressive numbers. He found the winners circle at the Downs 94 times and has a legitimate shot to break the century mark by Saturday night. And checks amounting to $452,740 have been distributed to his respective owners as a result of his performances. For the year McDonough has 173 wins, 176 seconds and 193 thirds from 1,252 starts and has pocketed $896,204 in spoils. Those are all career-best totals by far. Shawn McDonough is a fourth-year provisional driver and is a rarity to be a "P" and a dash winning champion for a meet. Ray Fisher Jr., John Mungillo and Shawn McDonough will be presented their awards during the UNY-USHWA "Night of Distinction" this Saturday night (Dec. 7) in the winner's circle at Batavia Downs. Here is a complete list of award winners that will be honored: WNY Driver of the Year- Ray Fisher Jr. WNY Trainer of the Year- John Mungillo Batavia Downs Driver of the Meet- Shawn McDonough Batavia Downs Trainer of the Meet-John Mungillo WNY Comeback Driver of the Year-Ron Beback Jr. WNY Rising Star-Drew Monti Good Guy Award- Paul White WNY Horse of the Year- Naked News Batavia Downs Trotter of the Meet-Mystical Escapade Batavia Downs Pacer of the Meet- Fireyourguns   Tim Bojarski Hoof Beats Magazine Columnist United States Harness Writers Assn. National VP-USHWA President-Upstate NY Chapter  

BATAVIA, N.Y. --- 'Blondes' do have more fun, at least they did at Batavia Downs Wednesday night (Dec. 4).   Regally Blonde ($34.80), the co-longest shot on the board, used a strong drive in the stretch and won the $8,500 Fillies and Mares Open in 1:57.1 over a fast track. She took the 'crown' by beating the front-running Red Star Fiona (Ray Fisher Jr.) by two lengths while Athleticlyinclined (Jack Flanigen) took third.   Sitting sixth on the inside at the half, Batavia Downs' leading driver Shawn McDonough managed to shake free with Regally Blonde at the three-quarter pole and fanned out three-wide down the stretch to overtake Red Star Fiona. She put up a 29-second last quarter to surge to the victory.   Trained by Jim Graham, the 4-year-old mare Regally Blonde (Stonebridge Regal-Highly Charged) has now won five times this season in 26 starts, improving her bankroll to $23,081 and $97,192 lifetime.   Wednesday night also saw a $5,000 donation from Todd and Lon Frocione and a $3,500 donation from Michael and Howard Ouriel to the 'Stay Strong Anthony Coletta' fund which pushed the total to $12,885 from the Batavia Downs' staff, employees, trainers, owners, drivers and fans.   The final weekend of action kicks off on Friday night with a 12-race program. The highlight of the card will be the $8,500 Open Trot where Lutetium will score from the four post as the 5-2 morning line favorite. Jack Flanigen is scheduled to drive.   For more information on the final weekend activities including promotions, race replays and the latest news, go to   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Batavia Downs    

BATAVIA, N.Y. --- It looked like things weren't going to go well for Dont Say Goodby at the top of the stretch, but by the time he reached the wire, he was saying "hello there" in posting a surprising $29.00 victory.   Dont Say Goodby (Shawn McDonough) rallied from fifth place in the passing lane and stunned the pace-setting OK Braveheart by three-quarters of a length in the $8,500 Open Pace at Batavia Downs Saturday night (Nov. 30).   Ok Braveheart (Kevin Cummings) as expected set the fractions with times of 29.1, 57.3, 1:25.4. It appeared that OK Braveheart was ready for a battle with a stubborn Unicorn Hanover down the stretch for the victory. But sitting fifth and 4-1/4 lengths off the lead, Dont Say Goodby found plenty of room in the passing lane and roared past the front runners to notch the upset win in 1:55.3.   OK Braveheart finished second while Unicorn Hanover (Ron Beback Jr.) finished in third.   It was the sixth win of the season for Dont Say Goodby (Dontgetinmyway-Good By Albatross) who is owned by Derek Menchhofer and trained by Charles Stewart. The 5-year-old gelding has now earned $62,577 in 2013 and $161,137 lifetime.   Reinsman Shawn McDonough and Ray Fisher Jr. had triples on the night while Ron Beback Jr. scored a double.   The final week of racing for 2013 starts on Wednesday night with a 12-race card beginning at 6:30 p.m. The feature is the seventh race with the $8,500 Fillies and Mares Open Pace to take center stage.   For more information including upcoming promotions, latest news, statistics and race replays, go to   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Batavia Downs    

BATAVIA, NY --- The Western New York Harness horseman raced around the Batavia Downs oval on Wednesday night with one thing on their mind, helping out fellow horseman, Anthony Coletta. And did they ever, horse owners, trainers, and drivers donated in most cases all of their Wednesday night earnings to "Stay Strong A. Coletta" fund. Coletta was badly injured in a racing accident on Nov. 17 at Harrah's Philadelphia. The official amount raised won't be known for a few days but with so many helping out the total will exceed $2500. V'La Faire scores in Mares Open It's a good thing that races at Batavia Downs are a mile in length as V'La Faire ($3.30) needed every inch of it to post a victory in the $8,500 Fillies and Mares Open Pace on Wednesday night (Nov. 27). V'La Faire (Shawn McDonough) sat the garden spot, dropped into the passing lane, and nudged out Artsy Princess (Kevin Cummings) by a neck in the shadow of the wire in 1:58 over the good track. Red Star Fiona, a winner of three straight races, set the tempo by posting fractions of 29.4, 1:00.2, 1:29.0 but had to settle for third for driver Ray Fisher Jr. It was the sixth win of the season for V'La Faire (Village Jove-Trade Fair). The 6-year-old mare is owned by Oakhurst Farms and trained by Richard Tomaszewski. She has now earned $54,180 in 2013 and $184,306 lifetime. Racing continues on Friday night with a 12-race program scheduled. The feature is the $8,500 Open Trot with the red-hot Lutetium (Kevin Cummings) the 3-1 morning line choice despite being assigned the eight post. There are just five race nights left in the 2013 Batavia Downs' season. For more information including race replays, statistics, news and upcoming promotions, click here:  by Brian J. Mazurek, for Batavia Downs    

Batavia, NY --- Thanksgiving is set for Thursday but Wednesday night (Nov. 27) at Batavia Downs, the true meaning and spirit of the holiday season will be front and center as many in the driver's colony, along with trainers and owners, will be donating their earnings from the 12-race program in support of Harrah's Philadelphia driver Anthony Coletta who was seriously injured in an on-track accident last Sunday (Nov. 17). The Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association will be making a donation on behalf of all the local horsemen to the Anthony Coletta Fund. But drivers John Cummings, Jr., Ken Holliday, Shawn McDonough, Ray Fisher, Jr., David McNeight III, Drew Monti, Jim McNeight, Kevin Cummings, Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. and Denny Bucceri, along with trainers Ryan Swift and David McNeight, Jr., are taking it a step further. They are giving their entire night's earnings to the "Stay Strong Anthony Coletta" fund. Shawn McDonough, Batavia Downs' current leading driver, was the first to commit for the Coletta cause. He said, "I've never met him but I just want to support another driver and his family. It's Thanksgiving time and it just seemed like the right thing to do." The owners of Puff Mommy, My Red Hot Momma, Artsy Princess and Self Professed will contribute 10 percent of their earnings on Wednesday night to the cause. Batavia Downs' effort is being spearheaded by assistant parade marshall Jami Chatt, whose grandfather is former Western New York driving great Fred Haslip and mother is Cherie Chatt, who also was a driver. Chatt, who has never met Anthony Coletta, said, "Sometimes people tend to forget the dangers these drivers put themselves in so we can make a living or find enjoyment in the sport. I just want to help make the financial stress easier on Anthony's family." Besides the Batavia Downs drivers, trainers and owners giving their purse winnings on Wednesday, donations will be accepted at the track for those fans wanting to contribute to the "Stay Strong Anthony Coletta" fund. Fans will also be able to bid on a Batavia Downs Gaming package valued at $250, courtesy of the WNYHHA. The package includes one night hotel accommodations at the Clarion Hotel in Batavia, $50 in food and $100 in gaming free play for Batavia Downs Gaming. The silent auction begins at 5 p.m. in the Paddock Room. Todd Haight, Batavia Downs' General Manager of Live Racing, said, "I've always said the Western New York horsemen are extremely generous people. Wednesday should be a very special night around here. Now, hopefully the weather will cooperate." Batavia Downs is one of many tracks and organizations throughout North America that have stepped up and started fundraising campaigns for Coletta. It is hopeful that wristbands will arrive in time for Wednesday's card that fan can purchase in support of Coletta. For those not attending the races but who want to help out, a fund has been set up. You can make a contribution to the "Stay Strong Anthony Coletta" Fund, c/o TD Bank, 2653 South 5th St., Philadelphia, PA 19148. by Brian J. Mazurek, for Batavia Downs  

Lutetium Rolls To Easy Score In Batavia Downs Open Trot BATAVIA, N.Y. --- The cold, rainy weather at Batavia Downs Friday night (Nov. 22) didn't dampen the spirits of Lutetium ($5.80) as he made it two straight victories in the $8,500 Open Trot with a 1:59.1 time over a sloppy track. Last week, Lutetium scored a front-running two-length victory but Friday he had the field waving the white flag at the top of the stretch, drawing away to a seven-length win. Lutetium went gate-to-wire and the race was never in doubt, especially after the pocket-sitter R A's Shakenbake broke stride midway around the final turn. The 6-year-old Lutetium (Credit Winner-Luby) was put on the lead from the start by driver Kevin Cummings and registered times of 29.0, 59.0, 1:28.3 in posting his 10th win of the season. Haste (Jim McNeight) finished a distant second and Heartsaregonnaroll (Shawn McDonough) picked up the show spot. Owned by Colleen Girdlestone and trained by Mark Laidlaw, Lutetium pushed his seasonal bankroll to $51,759 and $179,331 lifetime. Kevin Cummings continued his hot hand on Friday night driving home three more winners while John Cummings Jr. and Ray Fisher Jr. had doubles. A 12-race program is scheduled for Saturday night with post time at 6:30 p.m. The $8,500 Open Pace is the feature and is set to go as the seventh race. Unicorn Hanover is the 5-2 morning line choice and will score from the five post with Greg Merton in the sulky. There are just seven days of racing left on the 2013 Batavia Downs' season. For more information including schedule, upcoming promotions, race replays and news, go to by Brian J. Mazurek, for Batavia Downs  

BATAVIA, N.Y. --- Red Star Fiona was the 'shining star' once again Wednesday night (Nov. 20) as she won her second consecutive $8,500 Fillies and Mares Open Pace at Batavia Downs, easily topping V'La Faire by 2-1/2 lengths.   Leaving from post two, Red Star Fiona (Ray Fisher Jr.) had no trouble in reaching the top as Missmaximus (Ron Beback Jr.), scoring from the rail, missed the starting gate. That left Red Star Fiona on an uncontested lead and the 6-year-old mare never looked back.   She posted fractions of 29.0, 58.1, 1:26.2 in registering a winning time of 1:55.2 over the fast track on the crisp fall night. Last week, the JD Perrin-trained Red Star Fiona went gate-to-wire in 1:57.2.  V'La Faire (Shawn McDonough) and Hugs Again (Drew Monti) never threatened in the lane and finished second and third respectively.   It was the 13th victory in 38 appearances this season for Red Star Fiona (Island Fantasy-Red Star Tipper). She has now earned $38,684 for owner Justin Anderson in 2013.   Ronnie Wrenn Jr. led all reinsman with a driving triple while Ron Beback Jr., Ray Fisher Jr. and Jim McNeight all had doubles.   The harness racing action resumes on Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. with a 12-race program scheduled. The seventh race is the featured $8,500 Open Trot where Lutetium is the 3-1 morning line choice with Kevin Cummings in the bike. There are only 8 more racing nights left in the 2013 season.   For news, upcoming promotions, statistics, race replays and more, go to   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Batavia Downs    

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