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Four divisions of New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) 2-year-old trotting fillies went postward on opening night (7-27) at the harness racing meeting at Batavia Downs and as a result the first record of the season just missed being broken. The track proved lightning fast as three of the four divisions set lifetime marks. Posterity (Lucky Chucky-Vintage Ship) took full advantage of an early break by favored Winning Princess (Jim Morrill Jr.) to wire the field and post a 1:59.1 victory, which was only one-fifth of a second off the track record set by Dreamy Dawn in 2010. Charlie Norris, who both trains and drives the filly, left sharp and set even fractions en route to an easy three and one-half length decision. The winning time was a new lifetime mark and the second win in three starts this year for Posterity, who paid $7.00. Posterity is owned by Carrie Norris, Janine Zito and Jerry Buck Sprinkle. In the first division, Lima Playtime (Credit Winner-Pacific Legacy) was an easy coast to coast winner who led the field by open lengths the whole race. Driver Rick Zeron seemed to have a gas pedal at his disposal after they passed three-quarters in 1:32.1; that's when the mare sped away from the group to come home in an impressive 28.3 and take a new lifetime mark of 2:00.4. The even-money favorite returned $4.20. Zeron trains and co-owns Lima Playtime with Millar Farms, James Walker and Paul Fisher. The second division saw a dominant winner displaced due to interference by her coupled entry. Goosebump Hanover (RC Royalty-Good Common Cents) and Jim Morrill Jr. wasted no time getting the lead before setting speedy fractions of 28.4, 58.4 and 1:29.4 into the far turn. The entry on the ticket, Steel Wheels (Lucky Chucky-Some Girls) and Gates Brunet pulled off the rail from third to take a shot at the leader. But shortly after that move, she made a break and interfered with trailing horses. After the heavily favored Goosebump Hanover pulled away to an easy five-length victory, the inquiry sign went up, and the winner came down due to the interference by the coupled horse. Second place finisher, Credit To Thelimit (Credit Winner-Prize Angie) and driver Sam Schillaci were then declared the winner ($23.80). Credit To Thelimit is also trained by Schillaci for owners Matthew Bencic, Peter Barbato, Sam Bova and Jodi Schillaci. In the final split, Dizzy Broad (Broad Bahn-Portia) proved last week's win was no fluke as she set a new lifetime mark of 2:00.4 while registering a four-length decision over her six competitors. Lindylicious (Credit Winner-Scrumptious Lindy) flew off the wings for Chris Lems and went right to the front before leading for almost three-quarters of the race. But when the field was headed up the backside, driver Kevin Cummings pulled Dizzy Broad from third and appeared to fly past Lindylicious to take the lead. From that point on the only thing in question was how much the filly would win by. Dizzy Broad, who is owned and trained by Noel Daley, returned $9.10 to her backers. There were also two divisions of the NYSS Excelsior A series on the card and the both also proved to be career best efforts for the winners. Take The Cash (Cash Hall-Take The Lid Off) driven by Jim Morrill Jr. scored her first career victory in 2:01.4 and returned $4.60. Take The Cash is trained by Perry Simser, who co- owns the filly with Clifford Morcom, Richard Kaplan and Salvatore Corcione. In the second leg, Barn Diva (Conway Hall-Misty Ridge) captured her second straight career win while also stopping the timer in 2:01.4. The winner, who returned $4.30, is trained and co-owned by Steve Pratt with Nancy Pratt and the Purple Haze Stable. Racing resumes Wednesday night (7-29) at Batavia Downs with the first post set for 6:35 p.m. Tim Bojarski

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

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

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

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

Akron, NY--- The official harness racing program from the 2015 Dan Patch Awards Banquet, which was held in Orlando, Florida on February 22, is now viewable online. The complete 144 page volume is available for download and contains an advertiser's index so you can find any ad in short order. The book also contains many pages of full color photography of all the award winners and honorees along with a plethora of factual information, both current and historical. Simply go to www.ushwa.org and click the link on the homepage. Tim Bojarski "There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is try to do as much as you can in the time that you have."

Batavia, NY --- For the second year in a row, Batavia Downs will be conducting the Genesee County fair races, which feature the New York Sire Stakes fair series. This special day of harness racing is slated for July 16 with post time for the first race set at 1:15 p.m. The race secretary for this event is Donna Kerr and she can be reached via phone at 716-338-5387. The entry box closes July 13 at 10 a.m. but entries can be made in advance of that date. The 2015 live meet at the oldest lighted harness track in America kicks off on Monday, July 27 and will continue through Saturday, December 12. Questions concerning any event of the upcoming racing season should be directed to Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing, at 585-343-3750. Tim Bojarski

Akron, NY--- Fan voting for the harness racing Railbird Recognition Awards concluded this past New Year's Eve and each categorical winner was realized in different ways; one in a photo and one by a landslide. Verlin Yoder, who drove Natural Herbie to an upset victory in the International Trot at Yonkers, was voted as the Horseperson of the Year for 2015. That decision came with the closest margin ever in the five-year history of this award; one vote. On the other end of the spectrum, Sebastian K was the landslide winner of Racing Moment of the Year for setting the new world record trotting mark of 1:49 at Pocono Downs on June 28, 2014. He took 34% of the ballots which more than doubled his nearest competitor for support. Yoder is a 42-year-old horseman from Indiana who has posted very respectable numbers during his training and driving career, but not quite near the top reinsman on the Grand Circuit. However that didn't dissuade him from taking on the big-boys and carrying out one of the best David and Goliath stories in racing this year. After a stellar spring and early summer campaign at Hoosier Park, Natural Herbie was entered in the Vincennes Stake on Hambletonian Day in August. Yoder sent "Herbie" to the front and after getting parked to the quarter, was never headed the rest of the way. In September he won the Sam Noble Memorial Trot at Scioto Downs, after being parked-out virtually the whole mile. Then after two Indiana Sire-Stake victories, the pair stepped into the eye of the storm. Natural Herbie was entered in the $250,000 International Trot at Yonkers against a field that many felt was far his superior. But in the end the consensus was wrong and the pride of the Kokomo steered his charge to victory over the likes of Sebastian K, Commander Crowe and Bee A Magician to score an incredible win and complete what could only be described as a Cinderella season. Sebastian K shipped in from Europe early in 2014 and immediately caught the eye of the racing faithful when he won three consecutive starts in 1:50 and change at the Meadowlands. But it was the fourth start at Pocono Downs that will forever be remembered. That night in the $100,000 Sun Invitational, driver Aka Svanstedt sent Sebastian K off the wings of the gate and straight into the record books. After easily getting the lead and pulling away to a seven-length romp, Sebastian K put the exclamation mark on that race by tripping the timer in 1:49 to set the new standard that all trotters will be measured against for the foreseeable future. Sebastian K went on to win a total of eight races in 2014 and earned $663,853 in purses in North America. But he will always be remembered for the overpowering way he made history. The Railbird Recognition Awards are a joint venture between the United States Harness Writers Association and the United States Trotting Association and is the only fan voted award in the industry. Verlin Yoder and the connections of Sebastian K will receive their awards, along with the Dan Patch Horse of the Year and additional human award trophies, on Sunday (February 22) in Orlando, Fla. Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are now available and can be reserved via telephone or e-mail by contacting Judy Davis-Wilson at 302.359.3630 or e-mail zoe8874@aol.com or Steve Wolf at 954.654.3757 or e-mail stevenwolf1956@gmail.com. Substantial savings on hotel rooms can be attained for this event, which is being held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld. A special rate of $115 can be reserved by calling 407.352.1100 before Jan. 25, 2015, and mentioning code: Dan Patch or by clicking this link. The deadline for the Dan Patch Awards journal is Monday (Jan. 26). To advertise in the souvenir journal, please contact Chris Tully by calling 845.807.7538 or e-mail tullytrot@yahoo.com. All of this information and applicable advertising forms can be accessed via internet link www.USHWA.org.   Tim Bojarski Hoof Beats Magazine Columnist

Akron, NY---The Railbird Recognition voting for Racing Moment of the Year will conclude tonight (Wednesday, Dec. 31) at midnight, so this is your last opportunity to cast your ballot to express your opinion as to your choice for the most memorable racing moment of 2014. Voting takes place on the USTA homepage. With voting for the Horseperson of the Year having already concluded on Dec. 19, both categories will have now been completed. The results of the fan voting will be announced on Thursday (Jan. 8) and both awards will be presented to their respective winners during the Dan Patch Awards Banquet in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday (Feb. 22). The Railbird Recognition Awards were created for the fans to have a way to express their opinions about who they think are the best the sport has to offer and are the only fan driven award in the industry. The voting is run by the United States Harness Writers Association in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association. By Tim Bojarski for USHWA

Akron, NY---The Railbird Recognition voting for Horseperson of the Year will conclude Friday (Dec. 19) at midnight. The polls will then be reloaded and switched to take your input on the Racing Moment of the Year. The Railbird Awards were created for the fans to have a way to express their opinions about who they think are the best the sport has to offer and are the only fan driven award in the industry. The voting is run by the United States Harness Writers Association in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association and the actual voting is conducted on the USTA website. Voting for Horseperson of the Year ran from Monday (Dec. 8) and will end on Friday (Dec. 19) at midnight, while the balloting for the best Racing Moment of the Year will begin on Saturday (Dec. 20) and conclude on Wednesday (Dec. 31) at midnight. A list of nominees for each award has been compiled by members of USHWA, based on what they believe were the most impactful people and moments in the sport during 2014. Those have been placed on the ballots where the fans can then make their selections from. Fans can only vote once per category. The winners will be announced on Thursday (Jan. 8) and will be presented with their awards during the Dan Patch Awards Banquet in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday (Feb. 22). By Tim Bojarski for USHWA

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

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

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

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

Akron, NY---The United States Harness Writers Association, in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association, are looking for fans of harness racing to express their opinions by voting for their favorite horseperson and racing moment of the year in the sixth annual Railbird Recognition Awards. The Railbird Awards were created so the fans could have a voice to express their opinions about who they think are the best the sport has to offer and are the only fan driven award in the industry. The actual voting will be conducted on the USTA homepage as in the past, but this year the Harness Racing Fan Zone will also play a big part in the promotion. Voting for "Horseperson of the Year" will run from Monday, Dec. 8 through Friday, Dec. 19, while the balloting for the best "Racing Moment of the Year" will begin on Saturday, Dec. 20 and conclude on Wednesday, Dec. 31 at midnight. Fans may only vote once per category. A list of nominees for each award has been compiled by members of USHWA, based on what they believe were the most impactful people and moments in the sport during 2014. Those have been placed on the ballots where the fans can then make their selections from. You can only vote for one choice in each category. The winners will be announced on Thursday, Jan. 8, and those winners will be presented with their awards during the Dan Patch Awards Banquet in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, February 22, 2015. By Tim Bojarski, for USHWA

With the final three cards of racing being held Friday (Dec. 5) and Saturday (Dec. 6), the top horsemen of the meet have been named by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association. Kevin Cummings was named the driver of the meet, J.D. Perrin was the trainer of the meet and Mike Caprio was awarded as the Comeback Driver of the Year. Kevin Cummings has simply owned the 2014 Batavia meet. He currently has 158 wins (almost twice as many as his nearest competitor), $693,013 in purses earned and a UDR of .390 for the session. Cummings is having a career year overall for wins (329), earnings ($1.53M) and UDR (.362), his highest for any year he had at least 500 starts. That UDR also places him eleventh in North America among all drivers. Cummings has finished in the money 54% of the time all year. J.D. Perrin has followed up a career year with an almost mirror image. He currently has 43 conditioning wins for the Batavia meet and that puts him on top of his peers by four. His horses have winnings in excess of $200,000 and those performances have also earned Perrin a UTR of .346. His 12 month body of work has yielded 120 victories, $550,188 earned and a UTR of .362. Like Cummings, his horses have also finished in the money 54% of the time all year. Mike Caprio has bounced back in a big way on the local scene in 2014 as he had his best year at the lines since 2006. The 35 year veteran's totals for starts (157), wins (23) and earnings ($144,000) were his best in eight years after racing on a part-time basis during that time. For his career, Caprio has won 1,885 races and over $4 million in purses. This year he had the distinction of being the regular driver of both Batavia Downs Trotter of the Year (BZ Glide) and Pacer of the Year (Fireyourguns). Kevin Cummings, J.D. Perrin and Mike Caprio will receive their awards in the Purple Haze winner's circle on Saturday night (Dec. 6) during UNY-USHWA's Night of Distinction. By Tim Bojarski, for UNY-USHWA

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