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Carl Arnett of Medina, New York passed away on Saturday, April 3, 2021 at his home surrounded by his wife and two children. Mr. Arnett was born on July 26, 1951 in Medina, a son of the late Charles and Jean (Kepner) Arnett. He graduated from Medina High School in 1970, the same year he met his wife, Marge Stawicki. They were married in 1971 and made their home in Medina. Mr. Arnett worked for Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York for 34 years, retiring at the age of 62. Mr. Arnett and his Jeremy bought a race horse named Give Me Credit and did very well with him at Batavia Downs and Buffalo Raceway, winning many races. Survivors include his wife, Marge Arnett; daughter, Jenni Arnett; son, Jeremy Arnett; three brothers; two sisters; and several nieces and nephews. Services will be privately held at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to PAWS Animal Shelter, 3371 Gaines Basin Rd., Albion, New York 14411 or to the Orleans County Animal Shelter, 4125 Oak Orchard Rd., Albion, New York 14411. Arrangements are in the care of Cooper Funeral Home, 215 W. Center St., Medina, New York. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

YONKERS, N.Y. – Harness racing owner Tim Bojarski has participated in just about every aspect of the Standardbred racing business throughout his life: as a groom, a trainer, a driver, a writer, handicapper, and as the National President of the U.S. Harness Writers Association and the President of USHWA’s Upstate New York Chapter. He’s also owned horses in partnership with Tony Gruppo since the early 1980s. While the pair has achieved success at the open level, competing on the Grand Circuit has remained a dream. Friday night at Yonkers, Dbldelitebrigade N will change that as she makes her stakes debut in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series first leg Friday night (March 12). “I’ve owned horses basically my whole life,” Bojarski said. “We been racing at Batavia most of our lives. There are some really good horses racing at Plainridge the last couple years, Paternity Suit A is one of my other horses we race in the open there. Still, it’s not the Grand Circuit. To be able to participate at that level is something we’ve always wanted to do and feel fortunate that we are able to do it now.” Bojarski and Gruppo began importing horses from Australia to upgrade their racing stock. After two previous successful Down Under buys, agent Frank Rinaldi presented them with Dbldelitebrigade N, a consistent Bettor’s Delight daughter out of the Smooth Fella mare Smithie’s Delight.  “We were interested in getting a higher-end mare to race in the open at Plainridge, mostly. When Frank came across her, he got in touch with me right away. He told me he felt this mare is something really special. He gave me her information and I went online and watched all of her replays,” Bojarski recalled. “Her races in Australia are really something to see,” he continued. “Almost every one of them, she’s parked out almost the whole mile. Her last several starts there, she was racing the higher-end male open horses and beating them; I mean really beating them.” Specifically, Bojarski cites Dbldelitebrigade N’s effort in the free for all pace at Albion Park Aug. 22, 2020 as a key race in his decision to purchase the mare. Trainer and driver Grant Dixon sent Dbldelitebrigade N from post seven, but was stuck three-wide around the first turn on the five-eights-mile oval. Dixon put his foot down through the stretch the first time. On loose lines and with the whip on her tail, Dbldelitebrigade cleared parked out rival Bee Gees Bandit to sit on the rim off pacesetter Mafuta Vautin’s flank.  Turning for home, Dbldelitebrigade N took the lead and braced for the challenge of Sir Julian, who circled up four wide from the backfield. Dixon called out to Dbldelitebrigade N, high-lined her, and gave three quick snaps of the whip. In the final few meters, he dropped his hands confidently as Dbldelitebrigade N cruised through the wire a length clear of Sir Julian. “Where you would normally think she was going to pack it in and back through the field, she found another gear. It was a phenomenal race,” Bojarski said. Dbldelitebrigade N shipped to Tom Fanning’s stable at Gaitway Farm Nov. 2, 2020. Fanning took it slow, letting the mare acclimate to her new surroundings. However, she soon showed she was ready to get serious with her training. “The acclimation is the whole thing and having gone through it with the other two, we know to take it slow, let them tell you when to take it to the next level,” Bojarski said. “Tom did a great job with her. He turned her out a couple days, got her on the track just jogging a mile or two and basically let her tell him when to go. Knock on wood, she never got sick, never lost her appetite, never lost weight. She’s got a great personality, does everything right, is very professional about her work, and Tom says she’s a joy to have in the barn.” Dbldelitebrigade N qualified at the Meadowlands Dec. 26. In four starts at the Swamp between Jan. 2, 2021 and Feb. 5, DbldelitebrigadeN  earned a 1:51.4 victory in a $15,500 overnight, two thirds, and a fourth. She then moved to the $30,000 Yonkers distaff opens. Dbldelitebrigade N was beaten a nose by Seaswift Joy in her first local start Feb. 11 and was third by a neck while pacing 1:53.4 with a :27.3 final quarter two back Feb. 25. In her last start here March 4, Jason Bartlett sent Dbldelitebrigade to the lead, but she faded in the final quarter to finish fourth in a blanket photo. “I like what I’ve seen. Her last start, we put her on the front end and it probably wasn’t a good night to do that because it was pretty cold and very windy. It got to her a little bit at the end,” Bojarski said. “She finished fourth, but only lost out on second by about a head. Prior to that, when she raced out of a hole, she paced in 1:53.4 and this mare had never really raced on a half, even in Australia. I think she’s made the switch pretty well. She’s a good-size mare, she isn’t small and our drivers have told me she’s pretty handy getting around the half.” Dbldelitebrigade N drew into the first of three divisions of the Matchmaker first leg, carded as the second race on Friday’s program. She drew post four and with Bartlett down to drive again, is 7-1 on the morning line. Her rivals include 9-5 favorite My Ruebe Star from post one and 2-1 second choice Bettors Heart from post five. Caviart Cherie, Machnhope, and Ali Nui complete the sixpack of pacing mares. Every horse in the field can win that race. I feel all three divisions any horse can win because of the short fields and you never know how it’s going to go,” Bojarski said. “I like our chances. We’re in the middle of the pack. There’s a lot of speed in there and we’ve got a mare who can track speed. We’ll see how the race goes, but we’ve got Jason Bartlett up, who knows that track as well as anyone, and he’s driven this mare. I feel very confident going into the race. “I don’t think we really know what she is yet,” Bojarski continued. “I think there’s more of the story to be written. I feel that she’s probably a little bit better than we’ve seen so far. For right now, I’m looking forward to this race and I can’t thank Tom Fanning enough for the work he’s done getting her ready for this and I feel very confident going in. I look forward to the whole series. Let the games begin.” Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday through Friday with a first post time of 7:15 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

Middletown, NY --- Goshen Standardbred Horse Sales has announced that their 2021 harness racing yearling sale will be held on Monday (Sept. 13) at 12 noon at the Mark Ford Training Center in Middletown, NY. That is the Monday after the New York Sire Stake finals which will be held at Yonkers Raceway on Friday (Sept. 10). The deadline for all consignments is Monday (June 15). "Given our close proximity to Yonkers, we felt this sale date worked best for owners and trainers competing there to easily attend, as many will be in the area that weekend," said Mark Ford. "We look forward to a more normal sale this year, but are ready to deal with any situation." The 2020 sale had to operate under the constraints of a global pandemic, but with many on-site enhancements and new remote bidding options, still experienced a very successful session. The difficult set of circumstances last year actually produced systems that will better suit GYS's customers for years to come. "We partnered with Cattle In Motion for the first time last year for online bidding and video services and that couldn't have gone better. They were very efficient, very professional and they made the entire sale better than it has ever been. I believe this was the first Standardbred sale to take online bids and I felt it went very smoothly considering it's never been done before," said Ford. "And it was also the first year for the Flippingbook version of our catalog which is particularly formatted for cell phone and tablet use. We received a lot of positive feedback about both of these improvements after last year's sale and look forward to bringing them both back in 2021." This promises to be a deep and quality sale, anchored by a tremendous consignment from sale regulars Cameo Hills Farm, Winbak Farm, Blue Chip Farm, Vieux Carre Farm and the Silver Tradition Stable, who will be bringing an enhanced consignment this year. GYS is also welcoming a consignment from Millstream Farm, who will be joining the sale this year. "With the improving Covid climate across the state, our hope is to operate as normally as possible this year. However we are ready to make accommodations for anything that may arise and will ensure a healthy and safe environment in which to purchase your next stake winner," Ford concluded. Since 2015, the Goshen Yearling Sale has brought quality New York-bred stock to the sales arena from the industry's top breeders and have seen a host high speed, quality stake winners hit the track as a result. The sale has grown exponentially in both size and popularity each year and has become a favorite yearling venue for both the buyer and consignor. The sales facility is located at 90 Slaughter Road, Middletown, NY, which is within a ninety-minute drive of many major race tracks and training centers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, making it a very convenient location. And it's also only three miles away from the Harness Racing Museum and the Goshen Historic Track. For any other inquiries please contact Mark Ford directly at 973-568-3253 (cell) or by email at fordstable@frontiernet.net . By Tim Bojarski, for Goshen Standardbred Horse Sales

Batavia, NY --- Patricia Ellen (James) Waddell-Snodgrass, age 77, a resident of Philippi, New York passed away Thursday December 30, 2020 in the United Hospital Center. Patricia was born February 13, 1943 in Toronto Ontario Canada, a daughter of the late Lewis and Bernice (Hodgins) James. Patricia was united in marriage on August 22, 1985 to Dr. Ralph R. Snodgrass Jr. who preceded her in death on September 13, 2012. Patricia had a love and passion for horses. She was a member of the United States Trotting Association and was pivotal in publicity for the Canadian Trotting Association. She trained a small stable of horses in western New York including Stonegate Payoff, Gails Rusty, VV Dexter and Patrick Will. She was always highly regarded in the Standardbred community as well as the West Virginia Miniature Horse Club. Pat loved everyone she came into contact with. Patricia is survived by daughter Karen F. Waddell-Wellman, grandson David Waddell, step daughter Wendi Chapman and husband Randall, grandchildren Eric Allan Wellman and companion Ashley Mullen, Patric Christopher Wellman, Lauren and Daniel Yung, great-grandchildren, Islas Yung, Adalynn and Levi Wellman. Donations can be sent to the Standardbred Retirement Foundation in her name. In honor of Patricia's request, cremation will be honored and a celebration of life service will be held at a later date. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY --- Despite the many challenges faced in every aspect of the business from day one right through the final race due to the global pandemic, Batavia Downs was able to race safely throughout the duration of its dates and just completed one of its most successful harness racing meets with regards to nightly handle. "The 2020 season was a rousing success because all parties involved in the racing product worked together to insure the health and safety of everyone on the grounds at all times," said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live racing at Batavia Downs. "With the help and cooperation of the New York State Gaming Commission and the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association headed by Bruce Tubin, we were able to formulate a safety plan that got us through the entire meet without incident. That in turn allowed us to engage our customers with quality racing all year and put up record breaking betting numbers despite the absence of a live crowd. That is an accomplishment that all of our racing participants should be proud of." Henry F. Wojtaszek, President and CEO of Batavia Downs added "I am very pleased with another flawless race season at the Downs as everyone pulled together to ensure the facility was safe for our horsemen and horse women, staff and customers. Safety during COVID was our number one goal while still offering a fun, family-oriented and exciting harness racing atmosphere." Despite racing 21 less dates than 2019, bataviabets.com, the online betting arm of Western Regional Off Track Betting (WROTB), saw a huge 67% increase in total handle on Batavia Downs and the nightly handle average saw a spectacular 151% increase during the 42-night schedule. The increase exhibited the strong following the track has via its export signal customers and their taking advantage of the generous monthly rewards of up to 8% on their wagers through the bataviabets.com wagering platform. Another contributing factor was the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program that Batavia frequently utilized during the meet. It helped expose the product to a greater audience through free program pages and enhanced betting pools and the track saw major handle increases on nights where the Strategic Wagers were offered. The OTB handle which includes Batavia bets and our EZ-Bets rose by 52%, the track's export handle grew by 35% and the total betting that included only very limited on-track betting in the clubhouse rose by 21%. Scott P. Kiedrowski, Vice-President of Operations said "We are thrilled with our numbers for the 2020 meet here at Batavia Downs. All of our staff did exceptional work under the most difficult circumstances." Haight added it was a record total betting number since WROTB reopened the track in 2002. The dash winning driver of the meet was Jim Morrill Jr. who notched his third driving title at the Downs. In 408 starts Morrill won 102 races with 72 seconds and 53 thirds for a .391 UDR and winnings of $507,686 for the meet. Morrill also scored his 7,500th career victory at the Downs this past November. Finishing second was Billy Davis Jr. who had 486 starts with 91 wins, 87 seconds and 54 thirds and $422,477 in purses and Drew Monti who had 404 starts with 75 wins, 71 seconds and 62 thirds with $374,608 in earnings rounded out the top three. The dash winning trainer of the meet was Gerry Sarama who captured his first conditioning title at Batavia. Not only did he win 64 races, finish second 36 times and third 28 more for winnings of $286,068, Sarama also registered career training win 1,000 at Batavia this year. Shawn McDonough was second with 31 wins, 24 seconds and 39 thirds out of 214 starts with $138,544 in purses and Maria Rice was third with 30 wins, 30 seconds and 20 thirds from 174 starts and $184,833 in winnings. Upon approval from the New York State Gaming Commission, live racing will resume at Batavia Downs on Wednesday, July 21, 2021.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs    

Batavia, NY --- The curtain came down on the 2020 harness racing meet at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 12) but not before Stratosphere captured the final $9,600 Open pace featured race on a mild December night. Driver Drew Monti sent Stratosphere off the wings and took a lead he would not relinquish. With the field in single file fashion, Stratosphere went to the quarter in :28.1 and then backed the half down to :58.2. That prompted Santana Beach (Ron Beback Jr.) to pull first over to try and mount a challenge. When the race rounded the third turn Stratosphere raised the stakes, pacing the third quarter in :28.1 and opening up a two length lead at three-quarters. From there Stratosphere made his way around the final bend and paced away to a wrapped-up three-length romp in 1:55.1. It was the seventh win of the year for Stratosphere ($7.60) who has now earned $54,241 for owner Drew Monti. Darrin Monti trains the winner. In the $7,800 undercard pace, Allstar Energy (Ron Beback Jr.) pulled from fifth at the half and made a brush-and-crush move at the five-eighths to take the lead from Beachy Dream (Jim Morrill Jr.) while pacing a very fast :27.2 third quarter. Once in front, Allstar Energy maintained his advantage to the wire where he won by a length in 1:56. It was the eighth win of the year for Allstar Energy ($11.60) who is owned by Sandra Beback and James Kustra. Ron Beback also trains the winner. Drew Monti scored a driving Grand Slam to lead all drivers on Saturday. Besides winning with Stratosphere, Monti also scored with Big Pocket Teen (1:56.2, $15.80), Mateo (1:56.4, $4.30) and Love The Dragon (1:57.4, $3.30). Darrin Monti and Gerry Sarama were the top trainers with two wins each on the card. The Pick-5 on Saturday had a guaranteed pool of $3,000 and that stoked a new money input of $5,499 into the wager. The combination of 4-4-1,4-5-2 returned a healthy $687 for a $1 bet. Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (July 21) when the 2021 season begins. The management and staff of Batavia Downs would like to wish all their horsemen and customers a very Happy Holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Akron, NY --- As the 2020 Batavia Downs meet draws to a close on Saturday (Dec. 12), the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has announced the top human and equine performers for this past harness racing season. These awards would normally be presented in the winner’s circle on the final night of racing during the annual UNY-USHWA Night of Distinction. However due to state restrictions with regard to the ongoing global pandemic, that will not be the case this year. The award winners will be given gift certificates in the paddock in lieu of the usual trackside ceremony because no one is allowed on the apron. This will be the first time the Night of Distinction has not been held since its inception in 2008. The following were the best on the track from the 2020 Batavia Downs season.   Driver of the Meet-Jim Morrill Jr. A two-time dash title winner at Batavia Downs already, Jim Morrill Jr. notched his third after winning 101 races, finishing 11 wins ahead of the second place Billy Davis Jr. who won this award last year. In 401 starts at Batavia Morrill also had 70 seconds and 51 thirds for a .391 UDR and winnings of $500,000 for the meet. Morrill, who scored his 7,500th career victory at the Downs this past November, currently sits 13th in North America for UDR among all drivers with 500 or more starts and his overall mark of .383 for the year is the highest he’s had since the 2016 season. Jim Morrill Jr                                --Paul White photo For all of 2020 Morrill has 742 starts, 180 wins, 133 seconds and 92 thirds and $1,267,773 in earnings.     Trainer of the Meet-Gerry Sarama Not only did Gerry Sarama register career training win 1,000 at Batavia this year, he also won 62 races, finishing 31 ahead of his nearest competitor to claim his first training title at the Downs. Sarama also had 34 seconds and 26 thirds during the meet with total earnings of $275,112. Gerry Sarama                       --Paul White photo Sarama has had one of his best overall years training in 2020 with 87 wins, 60 seconds and 55 thirds out of 426 starts while posting a UTR of .326 and earnings of $475,635. That UTR is the highest Sarama has had in 22 years as a conditioner. Sarama also trained two of the meet’s three equine award winners.   Pacer of the Meet-Black Is Back (Western Terror-Magic Moments) 1:52.1, $288,875 Black Is Back made 16 starts at the Downs and won six Open I Handicap paces while finishing second and third twice each, banking purses of $33,645 in the process. He registered his season’s best time on August 29 when he toured the facility at Batavia in a sharp 1:53.4.   This is the second consecutive year Black Is Back has been named Horse of the Meet at Batavia Downs. Black Is Back is owned by Curtis Edholm and Mihajlo Zdjelar Sr. and is trained by Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr.   Trotter of the Meet-Il Mago (Kadabra-Northern Style) 1:52.3, $899,763 Il Mago came to western New York through a private purchase back in July and won his first two races upon arrival. Since the Batavia meet began, he has been in the Open I Handicap trot every week and has dominated that class all meet. In 14 starts Il Mago has won seven, was second twice and third once more and earned $35,390 during that time. His best win time at the Downs was 1:56.4, a mark he hit twice during the meet. The classy 11-year-old has 55 lifetime wins and is currently just $237 short of $900,000 lifetime and has a legitimate chance to cross the $1 million dollar threshold before he retires. Il Mago is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama.   Claimer of the Meet-Sir Richie N Sir Richie N started the year racing at the Meadowlands and found his way to western New York through a private sale in January. Although he had moderate success earlier in the year, it was nothing like he would see when he got to Batavia. Sir Richie N raced in claimers ranging from $4,000 to $10,000 during his 18 starts and he won 10 of those along with three seconds. His fastest win came on October 3 when he paced the Genesee County oval in 1:55. His efforts earned him $30,630 in purses and a very strong following at the windows. Sir Richie N is owned by Mike Torcello and is trained by Gerry Sarama. Also, Batavia Downs has announced that the track will offer a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager on Saturday (Dec. 12) with a mandatory payout as this is the final card of the meet. The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages are available courtesy of Trackmaster on the Batavia Downs and USTA websites or by clicking here.  The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, the closest combination(s) will be paid out on Saturday. Post time for the first race is 5 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, president, UNY-USHWA

Batavia, NY --- Despite wintry conditions and a sloppy track, driver Ray Fisher Jr. was on top of his game and delivered five horses to the harness racing winner's circle at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Dec. 9) including three straight winners in races two through four for the natural hat trick. Fisher's top score was in the $10,200 Open I Handicap trot with CR Blazin Beauty, who bolted right to the front and called all the shots. With the two post time favorites making breaks before the quarter, CR Blazin Beauty went unchallenged through fractions of :28.2, :59 and 1:27.4 and then turned for home with a four-length lead. From there she trotted to the wire under wraps to win in 1:59.1. The victory pushed CR Blazin Beauty ($8.70) to $41,275 in earnings for the year for owner Marissa Russo. David Russo trains. Fisher also won with Lady Justice (2:02.4, $19.20) and Mr. Quaker (2:01.2, $6.90), both of whom are trained by his wife Ryan Swift, and Wonderful World (1:58.2, $5.00) and Awake My Soul (2:00.1, $2.50) who were both trained by Sabrina Shaw. Fisher wasn't the only hot driver on the cold night as Jim Morrill Jr. also had a grand slam on Wednesday. Morrill took the co-featured $10,200 Open I Handicap pace for fillies and mares with Blue Bell Bonnie who also went coast to coast. Blue Bell Bonnie tucked third off the gate but Morrill made an early power play pulling past the eighth to take the lead from Lady London (Ray Fisher Jr.) at the quarter. Once there, the pair led to the half in :58.1 and three-quarters in 1:27.1. Coming off the last turn Lady London pulled to take a shot at the leader but Blue Bell Bonnie would have none of that. She switched gears and paced away to an easy length win in 1:57.3. Blue Bell Bonnie It was the sixth win of the year for Blue Bell Bonnie ($4.30) who is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama. Morrill filled out his card winning with Le Millienaire (2:02.3, $5.40), Southern Palms (2:00.3, $4.10) and Simonthediamond (2:03.2, $5.40). Live racing at Batavia Downs will resume one more time in 2020 as the meet comes to a close on Saturday (Dec. 9) and the Downs has announced there will be a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager that night. The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages will be available courtesy of Trackmaster on the Batavia Downs and USTA websites on Thursday (Dec. 10). Post time for the first race Saturday is 5 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY --- Driver Jim Morrill Jr., trainer Jim Clouser Jr. and owner William Emmons teamed up to win both harness racing feature paces at Batavia Downs on a snowy and sloppy Saturday night (Dec. 5). In the $8,500 Open I Handicap pace, McSpidey coasted behind Tullow N (Dave McNeight III) through quarters of :28.4, :58.4 and 1:27.2 before leaving the pocket off the last turn and outpacing him to the wire in a quick :28.4 last quarter to win by 3/4 of a length in 1:56.2. It was the third straight win for McSpidey ($3.20) and his first Open I victory at Batavia Downs this year. Then in the $7,500 Open II Handicap pace, Long Train Runnin left, took command and never looked back. After getting to the half in a tepid :58.2, Morrill hit the gas and opened up a three-length lead at three-quarters and extended it to five at the top of the stretch. From there he was wrapped up heading for home the easiest of winners in an identical time of 1:56.2.  It was the second win in the last three starts and sixth win of the year for Long Train Runnin ($2.50) who has only missed one check in his last 10 starts. Morrill also won two more races on the card giving him a Grand Slam for the evening. Morrill is the meet’s leading dash win driver, currently with 97 wins. Another Grand Slam winner was trainer Gerry Sarama who scored four with Big Pocket Teen 1:59.1, $89.50), (Beachy Dream (1:58, $3.90), Sir Richie N (1:58.1, $3.00) and Love The Dragon (1:58.1, $5.60). Sarama has 60 wins this meet to lead all other trainers by a minimum of 30 wins. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Dec. 9) and will kick off the final week of the meet. Wednesday will feature a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager. The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages will be available courtesy of Trackmaster on the Batavia Downs and USTA websites on Monday. The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on the Saturday (Dec. 12) program. Post time for the first race Wednesday is 5 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY --- A field of Open trotters and Open filly and mare pacers went postward, each for $8,500 on Wednesday evening (Dec. 2) at Batavia Downs and two local harness racing favorites notched additional wins to their already impressive resumes. On the trot, Il Mago (Billy Davis Jr.) continued to dominate the diagonal-gaited gang after grabbing a quick lead and opening up a 2-1/2 length lead going to the quarter in :28.3. He then extended that lead to four lengths at the half and five at three-quarters. Turning for home, Il Mago was already wrapped-up and trotted unabated with 6-1/4 in hand stopping the clock in 1:56.4, which was only one-fifth of a second off his seasonal mark. It was the 55th career win, ninth win of the season and fourth win in a row for Il Mago ($4.60) who is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama. The top distaff pacers saw the return of HP Sissy (Jim McNeight Jr.) after a seven week sabbatical and “Sissy” came to play on Wednesday. After taking command right off the gate, she tripped the timer in :28.1, :58.4 and 1:27.1 before a credible threat presented itself in the name of Lady Dudette (Kyle Cummings), who got close to the leader heading into the last turn. But close would be as far as it went as HP Sissy turned for home and held sway to the line where she won by 1/2 length in 1:56.3. HP Sissy It was the seventh win of the year for HP Sissy ($6.50) and owner Finocchario’s Dream Stable. Jim McNeight trains the winner.   Bill Davis Jr. and Ray Fisher Jr. both had driving hat tricks on Wednesday while trainers Ryan Swift and Sabrina Shaw each registered two wins. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 5) with post time at 5 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY --- Batavia Downs has announced that it will be increasing all purses by 20% for the final week of harness racing of the 2020 meet. That would raise the top purse for all Opens from $8,500 to $10,200 all the way down to the bottom purse from $3,200 to $3,800. "It has been a very difficult season for everyone in this business and we are pleased to be raising the purses during the final days of racing to help the horsemen get a jump on their expenses heading into the downtime between meets." said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing. "Despite all the challenges this year, we have been able to complete our meet without interruption and that is do to everyone involved working safely and carrying out all our safety guidelines. Hopefully the increased purses will help make the holidays a little better for all." The final week of racing consists of Wednesday (Dec. 9) and Saturday (Dec. 12) with post time for both days at 5 p.m.   Guaranteed $3,000 Pick-5 pool Wednesday at Batavia Batavia, NY --- Batavia Downs has announced there will be a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday (Dec. 2). The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages for races one through five are available courtesy of Trackmaster on the Batavia Downs and USTA websites or by clicking here. (https://www.trackmaster.com/freeContent/usta/freeContentFiles/hpl/btv1202x.pdf) The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on the Saturday (Dec. 5) program. Post time for the first race Wednesday is 5 p.m.    By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY --- Horsemen and horsewomen racing at Batavia Downs should note that the final day of qualifying for the 2020 meet will be held on Wednesday (Dec. 2) at 4 p.m. before the regular card of harness racing begins. Entries must be made by Tuesday (Dec. 1) no later than 10 a.m. by calling the race office at 585.344.6161.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs​  

Plainville, MA --- The 2020 Plainridge Park meet concluded on Friday (Nov. 27) and despite starting over two months late due to the global pandemic, the harness racing track enjoyed a successful and productive year. With stringent safety protocols in place and the strict adherence to them by all racing personnel from day one of live racing, the meet was run in its entirety without any Covid-related incidents. That is a reflection of the hard work put in by the track's staff and all of the horsemen and horsewomen to ensure the safety of everyone and protect their livelihoods as all worked through difficult times. "We are happy with the meet we had given the circumstances we had to deal with. But the only way we were able to operate successfully centered around my incredible staff. Each and every one of them went above and beyond their responsibilities, doing whatever it took to get thru the toughest season we have ever faced in regards to operations,"said Steve O'Toole, Director of Racing at Plainridge Park. "We tried to accommodate the horsemen as best we could, especially the regulars and those local. The $7 million in purses distributed in the shortened season should give them stability until we start next year." On the track, Shawn Gray was the top dash driver with 111 wins, $1,081,476 in earnings and a UDR of .436 followed by Drew Monti in second with 94 wins, $899,901 in earnings and a UDR of .302 and Bruce Ranger a very close third with 93 wins, $907,748 in earnings and a UDR of .300. Shawn Gray (Tim Bojarski Photo) Melissa Beckwith was the winningest trainer with 39 victories in only 89 starts which gave her a win percentage of 44% and a UTR of .541. She also bankrolled $249,700 in earnings. Jimmy Nickerson was right behind her in second with 32 wins, $323,515 in earnings and a UTR of .401. Best Honey Hanover was the most productive horse, visiting the winner's circle eight times during the meet and earning $48,300 while splitting time between barns through claims. There were eight track records broken and one tied during the year. Two of those occurred on Spirit of Massachusetts Trot day in July when Manchego scorched The Ridge in 1:49.3 to set the all-time trotting mark and Shartin N paced in 1:48.1 to break the all-time pacing mark she set just one year ago. Manchego scorched The Ridge in 1:49.3 Shartin N paced in 1:48.1 to break the all-time pacing mark The Massachusetts Sire Stakes held at Plainridge in October also showed how far the state-bred Standardbreds have come as seven stake records were broken and another tied during the four week run of that series. Plainridge Park will kick off their 2021 on April 12 and feature 110 days of love racing. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Batavia, NY --- After two consecutive third place finishes, Black Is Back returned to the winner's circle after taking the harness racing $8,500 Open I Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday evening (Nov. 28). Tullow N (Ray Fisher Jr.) took command of the field and led them to the half in a pedestrian :58.1. Black Is Back (Dave McNeight III) came rolling up first-over from third in front of the stands and started a slow grind towards the leader. It took until the three-quarters to get near Tullow N but Black Is Back was now in full gear and wearing him down. At the top of the stretch Black Is Back swelled up, took the lead and kicked away to a 2-3/4 length victory in 1:55.4. It was the eighth win of the year for Black Is Back ($3.70) and it pushed his earnings to $46,025 for owners Curtis Edholm and Mihajlo Zdjelar Sr. Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr. trains the winner. In the $7,500 Open II Handicap pace, McSpidey (Jim Morrill Jr.) destroyed the filed by leading by as much as three lengths while cutting fractions of :27.4, :57.1 and 1:25.3 before turning for home and pacing away to an impressive 1-3/4 length win in 1:54.4. It was the second consecutive win in identical time for McSpidey ($3.80) and owner William Emmons. Jim Clouser Jr. is the trainer. McSpidey Jim Morrill Jr. led all drivers with three wins on Saturday while trainers Gerry Sarama, Jim McNeight and Tammy Cummings all registered two wins apiece. There was a guaranteed $7,500 Pick-5 pool in the first race on Saturday that ended up at $12,783 and there was a winning combination on the wager. 8-1-4-1-1 returned $1,018.50 for a 50-cent bet. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Dec. 2) and there will be another guaranteed Pick-5 pool of $3,000 in the first race that day. The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages for the first five races will be available on the Batavia Downs and USTA websites Monday, courtesy of Trackmaster. The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren't selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on the Saturday (Dec. 5) program. Post time for the first race Wednesday is 5 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY --- With no winner in the harness racing Pick-5 wager on Wednesday (Nov. 25) at Batavia Downs, there is a $2,392 carry-over that will move to Saturday (Nov.28) and there is a guaranteed pool of $7,500 for the Pick-5 wager that day.  The pool, which is the largest guarantee of the meet, is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages are available courtesy of Trackmaster on the USTA’s website or by clicking here. (https://legacy.trackmaster.com/usta/btv1128x.pdf) The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on next Wednesday’s (Dec. 2) program.  Post time for the first race Saturday is 5 p.m.  Below is an analysis of the Pick-5 races by Batavia Down's resident handicapper, "Hot Picks".  Race 1: You may be able to escape by just using two horses, No. 4 Journeyman and No. 8 Rainbow Romance N. Billy Davis chose to drive Journeyman over No. 5 Gimme The Pacifics, a horse he has been driving, so I’ll let his choice do my handicapping. The horse has simply faced better, so you could get brave and single Journeyman, since Rainbow Romance has post 8 and hasn’t hit the board this year, despite being in top barns (Scott DiDomenico and Gerry Sarama).   Race 2: Up until this last race, newcomer No. 2 Random Task A may have been a single. He’s still a must- use since Torcello-Sarama-Morrill have teamed up countless times to win with this type of shipper. No. 5 Mateo steps up off a terrific mile and is a big closing threat, even though he does lose regular pilot Drew Monti. If you can spread, maybe include No. 3 Sure Please and No. 4 Raylan Givens.   Race 3: Three to use here, No. 4 Ideal Chance (the Cummings barn has continuously won with newcomers from The Meadows), No. 6 Xenia’s Chip and No. 7 Love The Dragon. Since the No. 3 Pure Image is an unknown factor, a big budget could include, even if the TrackMaster rating numbers say he’s a tick below. And No. 2 Calvery Hill was facing infinitely better in the summer but hasn’t raced in three months. If you’re brave, single No. 4, whose TrackMaster ratings are superior.   Race 4: A narrow budget can maybe survive with just No. 4 Kings Treasure (the speed) and No. 3 Terror O (the closer). No. 1 Jude Hall rarely wins (1-for-23) but he was victorious the last time he drew the cones (albeit in a lower class on Halloween).   Race 5: There’s nothing worse than being alive to the final leg and getting knocked out. It’s conceivable to foresee a few different scenarios on how this race will be run, so several could be in play to win. Thus, spread if you can. No. 1 Carlos Danger and No. 6 Bugatti getting Billy Davis are obvious must-use types, No. 4 Jimmy C R has speed and is dropping and No. 7 Big Pocket Teen has Jim Morrill Jr. but a bad post.   Tim Bojarski

Plainville, MA --- A pair of District 9 events named "The Glenn" for resident harness racing pacers of Plainridge Park were held on closing day Friday (Nov. 27) with big performances put in by both winners. In the $25,000 main event, Rock Diamonds N (Ron Cushing) turned a second-over trip into a five length victory at the wire. Quick Shot (Bruce Ranger) out-left Avatartist (Nick Graffam) and skated to the quarter in :26 flat. Just past the three-eighths Paternity Suit A (Drew Monti) pulled first over, followed by Rock Diamonds N as they hit the half. Paternity Suit A Drew alongside Quick Shot up the backstretch and crossed over for the lead by three-quarters in 1:21.4. But Rock Diamonds N was next to be heard from and he took the lead at the head of the stretch. From there he opened up a five length advantage as he paced to the wire wrapped-up in 1:50.2. It was the fifth win of the year for Rock Diamonds N ($10.60) and it pushed his seasonal bankroll to $73,425 for owners Kevin Sywyk, Ron Cushing and Frank Ranaldi. Heidi Gibbs does the training. Rock Diamonds N Then in the $20,000 undercard, Cherokee Hiflyzane (Mitchell Cushing) mounted a late rush to claim victory in the shadow of the wire. Cherokee Hiflyzane got away third while Rockin Cougar (Nick Graffam) took the field to the quarter in :26.3 and the half in :55.1. Just past that station, Waves (Drew Monti) came first up with Mach Doro A (Ron Cushing) right on his back. Positions remained the same until Mach Doro A tipped three deep and drew alongside Rockin Cougar at the three quarters in 1:23 and it looked like a two horse race. But at the 7/8th's pole, Cherokee Hiflyzane found room to get off the pylons from fifth and started to pace furiously. He made up the 3-1/2 lengths he was behind at the top of the lane and caught Rockin Cougar at the line by a ¼ length in 1:51.3. It was the fourth win of the year for Cherokee Hiflyzane ($7.00) who is owned and trained by Roger Farrar. Cherokee Hiflyzane Plainridge Park had a $47,420 carry over for the Wicked Hi-5 wager in the sixth race on Friday with a guaranteed $75,000 pool through the USTA Strategic Wagering Program along with a mandatory payout. There was $99,571 new money wagered for a total pool of $146,991 which was the largest ever bet at Plainridge Park. The combination of 9-3-8-5-4 returned $244.98 for a 20-cent bet. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

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