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Stephen A. Flanigen Jr., 75, longtime owner, trainer and driver in western New York, died on November 19, 2014 of natural causes. Steve Flanigen got his start in harness racing after getting interested in the sport through his uncle (Charles Flanigen). He got his license in 1962 at the age of 23 and cut his teeth at the track while working full time on the railroad. After racing one or two of his own horses and picking up a catch drive every now and then, Mr. Flanigen's public stable took off in the early 1980's. Through sharp claims and private purchases, he put together a powerful string of race horses that filled the top classes at both Batavia Downs and Buffalo Raceway for many years. Dorado Drummond, Citronnelle, Rascal Lew J, Danny Fo, Hurry Murray and Avon Sandy are just a few of the horses that pushed Mr. Flanigen to the top of the trainer and driver standings in western New York from 1982 to 1986. He also campaigned successfully at Vernon Downs, the Meadows, Lake Shore Meadows and Rosecroft Raceway during that time. Steve Flanigen drove his last race in 1992 and turned the lines over to his son, Jack, while he continued to train full time. During his career he drove 256 winners that earned $624,552.00 in purse money. As a conditioner, Mr. Flanigen sent another 456 winners to post that brought home $844,515.00 in proceeds. Steve Flanigen was one of the most-liked horsemen on the local circuit and was always happy to help out his fellow horsemen. Whereas he was quite adept at racing pacers, he was particularly skilled at hanging up a trotter and his successes with students of that gait was a trademark throughout his career. When not in the paddock, Mr. Flanigen enjoyed playing cards and bowling and was quite accomplished at both. Mr. Flanigen was the beloved husband of Mary (Murphy); devoted father of Jack (Diane), David (Rachelle) and Shannon (Craig) Whylly; loving grandfather of five; dear brother of Florence, Lallah (John) Cummings and the late Edwin, Sally and Mary; son of the late Stephen and Emma (Lore) Flanigen; brother-In-Law of Jack Murphy. Friends may call Tuesday (Nov. 25) from 2-4 and 7-9 PM at the James W. Cannan Funeral Home (Southtowns Chapel), 3155 Orchard Park Rd. The funeral will be held on Wednesday (Nov. 26) at 9:30 at Our Mother of Good Council Church,3688 South Park Ave, Blasdell, NY. By Tim Bojarski, president, UNY USHWA

Batavia, NY---The New York State Gaming Commission approved two Saturday afternoon cards of racing that were applied for by Batavia Downs to make up for the cancellation of last Friday (Nov. 21) and Saturday (Nov. 22) night's races due to the adverse weather conditions that plagued western New York last week. With much of the area buried in up to eight feet of snow, The Downs was forced to cancel three nights of live racing. So in an effort to allow the local horsemen to compete for those scheduled purses heading into the winter break, the track asked the state to allow them to run two double-headers on the last two Saturdays of the meet. With that permission granted, November 29 and December 6 will now have two complete cards of racing with post times set at 12:15 and 6:35. A special dining deal has been added for the fans attending the Saturday matinees cards. If you purchase the lunch buffet in the clubhouse for $10.95, you will get $10 back in free play for the gaming floor. So you get lunch for less than a buck! (Must earn one point to redeem this offer) This special is good only for the November 29 and December 6 Saturday afternoon cards of racing. For the horsemen, in addition to the extra race dates, a 20% across-the-board purse increase will also go into effect immediately for the last six racing dates. With the new racing opportunities in place, please note the new draw schedule. The Friday and Saturday afternoon cards will be drawn on Tuesday. The Saturday night cards will be drawn on Wednesday. And the final Wednesday of the meet will be drawn on Friday, as always. The box will close at 9 a.m. If you have any questions please contact Race Secretary Joe Zambito at 585-344-6161. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

As a direct result of the relentless snowstorms that has crippled most of western New York, Batavia Downs has announced that it will forgo live racing for the remainder of the week. The programs that were originally scheduled for Friday (Nov. 21) and Saturday (Nov. 22) have been cancelled. The decision was made jointly this morning by Batavia Downs management and the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association (WNYHHA) and both parties agreed it was the only thing to do. Bruce Tubin, president of the WNYHHA said "In view of the devastating storm that has kept our horses from their daily exercise routine, our trainers from leaving their homes, and our blacksmiths and veterinarians from attending to our horses, I have mutually agreed with Batavia Downs management to cancel our Friday and Saturday race cards. There was physically no way for us to properly prepare our horses to race this weekend." Todd Haight, Director/GM of live racing at Batavia Downs added "It would have been impossible for the equine athletes to compete at the highest level when most haven't been able to leave the barn for days. The decision to cancel this early takes the pressure off all parties involved. Our main goal now is get the barn area cleared of snow and the racetrack in the best possible condition for next Wednesday. We regret having to cancel but it was the right thing to do to make sure we didn't experience any injuries on or off the track." Further concerns sighted were about horsemen who ship in from areas that have been devastated by the snow and the changing conditions forecast over the next two days taking the weather from cold and snowy to a rapid meltdown and flooding by the weekend. In light of these cancellations, pending approval from the New York State Gaming Commission, there will be two double-headers carded on the last two Saturdays of the meet. November 29 and December 6 will now offer two complete cards of racing at 12:15 and 6:35. Live racing at the Downs is scheduled to resume on Wednesday, November 26. That leaves eight cards of live racing over six days. Please note the new draw schedule. The Friday and Saturday afternoon cards will be drawn on Tuesday. The Saturday night cards will be drawn on Wednesday. And the final two Wednesday's will be drawn on Friday, as always. The box will close at 9 a.m. If you have any questions please contact Race Secretary Joe Zambito at 585-344-6161. Haight also noted that starting Wednesday, November 26, the purses will increase by 20% in an effort to help the horsemen through the cancellations and as they come to the five week winter break at the end of this meet. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---As a result of the massive lake effect snowstorm that has dumped as much as six feet of snow over much of western New York, Batavia Downs has been forced to cancel its live racing card for Wednesday (Nov. 19) along with the qualifying races which had already been cancelled. Batavia has received almost two feet of snow through this morning and squalls are forecast to continue throughout today. As a result, the task of removing the tons of snow off the track and from around the barn area has become daunting. The logistics of that operation along with concern for the horsemen who ship in to race from the hardest hit areas has forced the cancellation. Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs said "We regret that we were forced to cancel the card, especially since there are only nine racing nights left. But the situation is such that we had no choice. You can't fight Mother Nature. I will be seeking approval from the New York State Gaming Commission for an additional date in December to make up for this loss so our horsemen have the opportunity to race for the scheduled purse monies before we shut down for the year." Any additional date that may be granted by the state will be released as soon as the track gets confirmation. The qualifying races that were also cancelled for Wednesday will be rescheduled for next Wednesday (Nov. 26). Live racing is scheduled to resume on Friday (Nov. 21). However the National Weather Service has already posted another lake effect snow warning for the area starting later today and running until Friday morning and is forecasting up to two more feet of snow could fall by then. In the event the predicted weather materializes, the track will release any further changes to the racing schedule as soon as possible. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---Western Alumni ($11.40) took full advantage of a perfect pocket trip to score in the featured $9,000 Open pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Nov. 15). Driver Jim McNeight left hard from post seven with Western Alumni and took the lead from rail-rider American Bull (Kevin Cummings) by the eighth pole. But as soon as they crossed over to the pylons, American Bull completed the give-and-go by regaining the lead at the quarter in :28.4. After a more than pedestrian :59.3 half, the outer flow came fast led by Burton Blue Chip (Lee Dahn) first up, but not as fast as American Bull who upped the tempo with a :28.1 third panel. At that point the leader looked solid. But at the head of the stretch when the passing lane opened up, Western Alumni ducked inside and responded to McNeight's highly animated urging to gain a head victory over a game American Bull in 1:56.3. Just Frank (Rock C Vinci) bested the rest for third. It was the eighth win of the year for the 6-year-old Western Hanover gelding and the purse raised his 2014 earnings to $67,739 for owners North Creek Racing LLC. Western Alumni is trained by Jerry Nugent Jr. The Downs leading driver, Kevin Cummings, followed up his five-win Friday night with a four-win effort on Saturday. He tallied with Tymal Torch ($29.00) and Union Man Hanover ($7.00) (to complete the $242.50 early double) as well as Flashy Trick ($4.80) and Fast Fool ($8.40). Drew Monti, Jim McNeight and Jack Flanigen all registered driving doubles. Live racing reconvenes on Wednesday night (Nov. 19) with a 6:35 post time. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---Second Hand News has turned out to be one of the winningest horses of the 2014 meet at Batavia Downs and on Friday night (Nov. 14) he added to that total with a victory in the $7,500 Open II trotting feature at the Genesee County oval. Second Hand News (Kevin Cummings) flew off the gate to take an early lead, but I'm The Cash Man (Drew Monti) also left and forced his way to the top by the quarter in :27.2. Rounding the turn, Cummings pulled to retake the front and this time it was for good. Second Hand News took the group to the half in :57.1 and the three-quarters in 1:27.2 before turning on the jets and coasting to a four-length victory in 1:57.2. Keystone Bernard (Dave McNeight III) stayed on task to be second and newcomer Jeanie Marie (Jimmy Whittemore) finished third. It was the 11th win of the year for the 12-year-old Pathway To Victory gelding and sixth for trainer Ron Van Wagoner at Batavia since he claimed the horse for owners Vogel and Wags Nags Stable and Kent Conshafter. The former Yonkers Raceway regular now has $59,955 on his card to show for his 2014 efforts. Dominating Downs driver Kevin Cummings executed another five-win night and pushed his dash win total for the Batavia meet to 142 (313 for the year) . He scored with Joltfromtheblue ($13.40), Precise Accusation ($3.40), Second Hand News ($3.00), McCardle Direct ($13.40) and Bet On Me Hanover ($10.60). Dave McNeight III also had a big night, visiting the winners circle four times and Ron Beback Jr. chimed in with a driving double. Live racing resumes on Saturday night (Nov.15) with post time at 6:35. There are only 10 nights of racing left in the 2014 season which concludes on Saturday, December 6. The schedule remains on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights, all with a 6:35 post time. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---V'la Faire ($10.80) took the overland route to score a mild upset victory in the distaff Open pace at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Nov. 12). Sent off as the lukewarm second choice to the heavily favored Itstimeformetofly, V'la Faire and driver Ray Fisher Jr. tucked in fourth early as the leader Memumsnotnice (Mickey Holliday) took the field through fractions of :28.1 to the quarter and :58.2 to the half. It was just before that station that Fisher pulled his mare and started the march up the outside. After drawing almost even with the pace setter at the three-quarter pole, V'la Faire seemed to stall at the head of the lane leaving backers of Memumsnotnice feeling confident. But the 7-year-old daughter of Village Jove kicked it out in the stretch and pulled away to a two length victory in 1:56.1. That time matched her seasonal mark . Memumsnotnice held on for second and Mondatta (Dave McNeight III) rallied for third. It was the third win in 25 starts for V'la Faire and bumped her 2014 earnings to $32,350 for owners Oakhurst Farm. V'la Faire is trained by Richard Tomaszewski. Driver Dave McNeight III scored a driving triple on the night, winning with Beachfront ($14.40), Koekemoer ($3.90) and Kisses N Kicks ($48.40). Ron Beback Jr. and Drew Monti both registered doubles. One of Monti's horses (Smashy Cerise) returned $32.80 and sparked a $1,945 trifecta instant jackpot payout. Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Nov. 14) with post time at 6:35. ByTim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

After fading last week from an outside post and a three-deep rimming to the quarter, Lutetium rebounded from post four with a much easier trip to take the $9,500 Open trot at Batavia Downs Friday night (Nov. 7).   Over an off track on a chilly night, Downs leading driver Kevin Cummings rushed Lutetium off the gate to take their familiar front end posture before the field rounded the first turn.   After tripping the first split in :28.3, the pair leveled the pace the rest of the way and effectively put the competition to sleep. They hit the half in :58.3 and the three-quarters in 1:28 flat before turning back any late challenges and closing out the race in 1:58.3. Absolutely Certain (Ron Beback Jr.) rushed up to be second and while Justgottogetthere (Jim McNeight) hung on for third after a pocket trip.   It was Lutetium's ($5.60) fifteenth win of the year and the effort fattened his 2014 wallet to $84,690 for owner Colleen Girdlestone. The 7-year-old Credit Winner gelding is trained by Mike Laidlaw.   Lutetium was only one of four wins on the night for driver Kevin Cummings, who scored another grand slam Friday. Not to be outdone, Jim Morrill Jr. also notched a four-bagger and Drew Monti registered a double.   Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Nov. 8) with post time at 6:35.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY--- Bazooka Terror is known for her explosive come-from-behind finishes and there is nothing that makes her driver Kevin Cummings happier than to see a speed duel in front of him early. That's exactly what happened in the $9,500 Open mares pacing feature at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Nov. 5) and it provided the classy 5-year-old the perfect recipe for success en route to scoring her tenth victory of the year.   As the race unfolded, Mondatta (Dave McNeight III) and Itstimeformetofly (Drew Monti) refused to play nice on the front end. Mondatta would not let Itstimeformetofly go and Itstimeformetofly would not take a seat behind Mondatta. As a result, the two battled through fractions of :26.4 and :55.4 before Itstimeformetofly finally took the front and crossed over to the pylons. Heading up the backside it became apparent that the early pace was taking its toll and Cummings didn't waste any time pulling the trigger. He tipped the big mare three-deep from sixth and circled the entire field past the three-quarter pole. From there Bazooka Terror just paced away to score a decisive six-length victory in 1:55. Mondatta came back on to be second and Itstimeformetofly hung in for third.    Besides pushing Bazooka Terror's win total to double digits, the victory also boosted her annual earnings to $79,269 for owner Leonard Segall. Bazooka Terror is trained by James Clouser Jr.    The eighth race was marred by an unfortunate accident when the leader Call Her Quick (Jack Flanigen) made a break that caused Vital Speed (Jake Baumeister) and Justrollwithit (Truman Gale) to pile into her as she altered her speed. This sent both trailing drivers to the track. Fortunately when it happened, the two were at the back of the pack and there were no other horses behind them. Driver Truman Gale was alright and got right up. Jake Baumeister was assisted up and taken to the hospital for treatment of a possible head injury. The downed horse got up, the loose horse was caught and both suffered only minor abrasions.   Driver Drew Monti scored a driving triple with Donegal Jim ($2.80), Feets of Magic ($3.90) and Rashabec ($10.80) while the meet's leading driver Kevin Cummings steered home two winners.    Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Nov. 7) with a 6:35 post time.    By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

An enthusiastic group of the top breeders and horsemen from the Empire state assembled at the Vernon Downs Hotel and Casino on Sunday, October 26 for the USTA District 8 meeting and annual presentation of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) awards banquet. As the human and equine honors were distributed, anticipation grew for the horse of the year announcement for 2014. Gural Hanover (Crazed-Givemearing) was named the NYSS 3-year-old male trotter of the year, USTA District 8 3-year-old male trotter of the year and the overall District 8 horse of the year. Gural Hanover was bred by Hanover Shoe Farms and was a $17,000 yearling purchase at the 2012 Harrisburg sale. After having only one start as a 2-year-old, he kicked off his 3-year-old campaign with an overnight win and a third in a NYSS event at Tioga on May 23. It was then the horse caught the eye of trainer Ron Burke who put together a group of notable stables to purchase the horse. A week later the gelding was under the ownership of the Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Little E LLC and The Panhellenic Stable Corporation and from there with the guidance of Burke's training, the horse simply took off. He finished the year undefeated for his new owners in NYSS action, winning the seven remaining events as well as the $225,000 final at Yonkers Raceway. With Jim Morrill Jr. aboard as his regular driver in the series, he set new track records at Buffalo Raceway (1:56.1) and Monticello Raceway (1:55.2) and took a lifetime mark of 1:53.3 at Vernon Downs. His gaudy NYSS earnings total of $378,788 boosted his lifetime assets to $423,763. Other divisional winners included last year's District 8 horse of the year that was named this year's 3-year-old filly trotter of the year. Market Rally (Cash Hall-Supreme Dish) who was bred by Winbak Farm, is another member of the Ron Burke stable. Originally a $7,500 yearling purchase, the filly was privately acquired by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Our Horse Sense Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and The Panhellenic Stable Corporation after finishing third in the 2013 Breeders Crown last fall. This year with Jim Morrill Jr. up, she won six of the eight NYSS legs and the $225,000 final. Those victories accounted for $375,400 in earnings which in turn boosted her lifetime take to $663,445. She set a track record at Saratoga Raceway (1:55.4) and lowered her own personal best to 1:54.4 at Tioga Downs. The best of the freshman class was Mosquito Blue Chip who took 2-year-old filly pacer of the year honors. Bred by Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. and AV and Son Bloodstock LLC, Mosquito Blue Chip (Bettor's Delight-Sandfly Hanover) is owned by Our Three Sons Stable LLC, Donato Falcicchio and Paul Jessop, who also trains her. Although racing well throughout the year, the filly didn't find the winners circle until August 14 at Yonkers. But she hit her stride when it mattered and strung together four consecutive wins to close out the year, culminating in a victory in the $225,000 NYSS final with John Campbell aboard. The highlight of her year was setting a new track record at Tioga Downs (1:52.1) on September 4, which was also a new lifetime mark. Her NYSS earnings of $240,551 accounted for her entire year's income. On the diagonal gait, Barn Doll was named 2-year-old filly trotter of the year. Bred by Little E LLC, Barn Doll (Conway Hall-Headintheclouds) is owned by Steve and Nancy Pratt and The Purple Haze Stable LLC. She posted seven wins in nine lifetime starts, with six of those wins coming in NYSS events. After winning six of her last seven starts of the year, Barn Doll was scratched sick in the last event at Monticello. But despite the 19 day layoff, the filly came back sharp to take the $225,000 NYSS final by five lengths. She took a lifetime mark of 1:58.4 at Yonkers Raceway and earned $205,688 for her efforts during the year. Barn Doll is trained by Steve Pratt and was driven to all her series victories by Jeff Gregory. Driver of the year honors went to Jim Morrill Jr. who dominated the NYSS circuit all season long. Morrill had 48 wins out of 154 starts giving him a NYSS UDR of .441. His $2 million in earnings more than doubled his nearest competitor. Morrill is currently the third leading driver in North America for UDR with a .402 and has banked $4.2 million in purses for the year. Trainer of the year accolades were presented to Ron Burke. Burke's pupils won 44 races from 126 starts giving him a NYSS UTR of .459. Their combined NYSS earnings of over $2 million almost quadrupled that of the next highest earner. Nationally, Burke is setting unbelievable records for the second consecutive year with 970 wins, $24.5 million in earnings and a UTR of .356. Hanover Shoe Farm was the breeder of the state's top money earners. They saw 17 of their production make 89 starts and win 24 of their NYSS events. The combined purse total of their efforts was just under $1.2 million. That is an average earnings of $13,483 per start. Here is a complete list of all the NYSS Champions for 2014: 2-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROT - Barn Doll Conway Hall - Headintheclouds Owners: Steve Pratt, Nancy Pratt & Purple Haze Stables LLC Breeder: Little E LLC Trainer: Steve Pratt Driver: Jeff Gregory NYSS Earnings: $205,688 2-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACE - Mosquito Blue Chip Bettor's Delight - Sandfly Hanover Owners: Our Three Sons Stable LLC, Donato Falcicchio & Paul Jessop Breeders: Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc & AV & Son Bloodstock LLC Trainer: Paul Jessop  Driver: John Campbell  NYSS Earnings: $240,553 3-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROT - Market Rally Cash Hall - Supreme Dish Owners: Burke Racing Stable LLC, Our Horse Cents Stables, Weaver Bruscemi LLC & The Panhellenic Stb Corp Breeder: Winbak Farm Trainer: Ron Burke Driver: Jim Morrill Jr  NYSS Earnings: $375,400 3-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACE - It Was Fascination American Ideal - On The Catwalk Owners: Riverview Racing LLC, Alagna Racing LLC & The Bay's Stable LLC Breeders: Riverview Farms, Steve Stewart & Michael Sofer Trainer: Tony Alagna Driver: Brett Miller  NYSS Earnings: $198,400 2-YEAR-OLD COLT TROT - Crazy Wow Crazed - No Pan No Gain Owner: Joseph Hess  Breeder: Peter Pan Stables Inc Trainer: Dan O'Mara  Driver: Dan Rawlings  NYSS Earnings: $170,170 2-YEAR-OLD COLT PACE - Cartoon Daddy Art Major - Ask Alice Owners: Burke Racing Stable LLC & Joseph DiScala Jr Breeder: Robert Newman Trainer: Ron Burke Driver: Matt Kakaley NYSS Earnings: $195,443 3-YEAR-OLD COLT TROT - Gural Hanover  Crazed - Givemearing Owners: Burke Racing Stb LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Little E LLC & The Panhellenic Stb Corp Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms Inc Trainer: Ron Burke Driver: Jim Morrill Jr  NYSS Earnings: $378,788 3-YEAR-OLD COLT PACE  - All Bets Off Bettor's Delight - Armbro Penelope Owners: Burke Racing Stable LLC, Frank Baldachino, The Panhellenic Stb Corp & Rosemary Shelswell Breeders: Robrt Tucker & Greg Tucker Trainer: Ron Burke Driver: Matt Kakaley NYSS Earnings: $190,175 By Tim Bojarski, for the Harness Horse Breeders of NY

Batavia, NY---An electrical transformer that supplies power to the track lighting system blew prior to the start of the first race Saturday night (Nov. 1) at Batavia Downs causing the cancellation of the entire live card of racing. With none of the lights that illuminate the far turn operational, it was impossible to conduct racing with any semblance of safety. Todd Haight, Director/GM of live racing at the Downs said "We regret the inconvenience for our horsemen and patrons but there was no way we could have conducted the races. Our electrician told us it would have been hours before the proper conditions alone could have been achieved before the repair itself could have begun. Given those parameters our only option was to cancel." "We will make the necessary repairs to the problem and be ready to hold our next scheduled live card this Wednesday night (Nov. 5)" Haight concluded. The outage did not affect any of the lights in the grandstand, clubhouse or casino areas and the property remained open for simulcasting and gaming as scheduled. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---For the seventh time of the meet, BZ Glide came from the back of the pack Friday night (Oct. 31) to collar the best diagonal-gaiters on the grounds in the Open trot feature at Batavia Downs. As last week's winner Lutetium (Kevin Cummings) assumed his regular position on the front end off the gate, driver Mike Caprio did the same at the rear with BZ Glide. Lutetium took the field to a :58.1 half when Justgottogetthere (Jim McNeight) pulled to push the issue with Serious George (Jack Flanigen) following suit. BZ Glide pursued them all from third-over in the outer flow. After the pack passed the three-quarters in 1:28.1, the flow fanned out as Lutetium began to falter. Studio City (Ron Beback Jr.) snuck into the passing lane, Serious George went four-deep around Justgottogetthere and BZ Glide went five-wide around everybody. As the cavalry charge blasted down the lane, BZ Glide displayed his dominance once again and scored a length victory in 1:58.1. Justgottogetthere was second and Serious George was third. It was the ninth win of 2014 for BZ Glide and raised his earnings total to $66,557 for his driver Mike Caprio, who also owns him. The 5-year-old gelded son of Yankee Glide is trained by Alana Caprio. The driving stars of the night included Jim Morrill Jr. who scored a hat trick and Kevin Cummings, John Cummings Jr. and Shawn McDonough who all posted doubles. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Nov. 1) with post time set for 6:35. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---For the fourth time this meet, Batavia Downs leading driver Kevin Cummings won five races on one card Wednesday night (Oct. 29) to extend his insurmountable lead there in the dash category. His pentamerous outing included visits to the Purple Haze winners circle with Western Heart ($2.90), Serendipitous ($4.80), Outoftexas ($4.70), Aberarder Smitty ($11.40) and Tymal torch ($6.10). For the current Batavia Downs meet, Cummings has 122 wins, almost double his nearest competitor, along with a gaudy UDR of .386. . For the year he has 298 wins and is currently twelfth in North America for UDR with a .360. His current win total, UDR and just under $1.4 million in earnings are all career bests. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---One of the finer harness racing fields of top class trotters was assembled on Friday night (Oct. 24) at Batavia Downs and although the race had the look of a competitive contest, Lutetium proved once again he's one tough trotter to beat as he won the $9,500 Open feature. Driver Jim Morrill, Jr. had the hot hands with six winners on the card. After returning to the track from a five-week layoff, Lutetium (Kevin Cummings) found himself with a rare inside post (2) and even rarer 7-2 price. He also found himself in a familiar spot; on top of the field before they hit the eighth pole. After seating his peers with a :28.1 quarter, Lutetium strolled to the half in :58.4. When the outer flow got rolling, Second Hand News (John Cummings Jr.) was first up and got closest as the leader turned up the heat with a :29 third panel. It was then Second Hand News faded and Lutetium extended his lead to two open lengths. Down the lane, Serious George (Jack Flanigen), who got the pocket trip the whole race, made a game rush to the wire but Lutetium held strong and coasted to a half-length victory in 1:57.4. It was the 14th win in 27 starts for Lutetium ($9.50) and it raised his 2014 earnings to $79,940 for owner Colleen Girdlestone. The 7-year-old son of Credit Winner is trained by Mark Laidlaw. In the night's co-feature, Escrow Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.) went gate to wire to take the win as well as a new season mark of 1:58.3. It was the second win in 29 starts for the 7-year-old Classic Photo mare and boosted her bank account to $25,040 for owner Vallelunga Z L. Escrow Blue Chip returned $6.20 for the win. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. strutted his stuff Friday while winning six races and taking five third-place finishes on the night. He only missed the board one time in his twelve drives. His winners included Landfair Nipper ($4.90), Escrow Blue Chip ($6.20), The Bronx Bumper ($2.60), Force Nine ($7.60), Dontch Remember ($17.60) and Outoftexas ($6.60). Racing resume on Saturday night (Oct. 25) at Batavia Downs with the first post slated for 6:35. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Latham, NY---The Harness Horse Breeders of New York State (HHBNYS) has announced with great pride that longtime horseman and journalist John Manzi will be the recipient of the 2014 Bruce Hamilton Memorial Medal. This eighth annual award recognizes an individual who has shown outstanding integrity in the sport of harness racing and has also taken the time to give back to both the sport and their community in the State of New York. John Manzi has been doing exactly that for over 50 years. Manzi has been involved in harness racing his entire life. Coming from a racing family, he started out training and driving at Monticello Raceway in the late 1960's and enjoyed doing it until 1974. That is when he found something he enjoyed doing even more; promoting the sport. He eventually started working on the other side of the fence at the Meadowlands and in 1980 became Monticello Raceway's full time director of publicity and public relations. 44 years later he still holds the same position. A tireless fundraiser on his own time, John Manzi has helped numerous industry organizations offset day to day expenses through his benevolent efforts. He has been the impetus for money raised and donated to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, the Goshen Historic Track, the Saratoga Harness Hall of Fame, the Standardbred Retirement Fund and the Harness Horse Youth Foundation. As a driving force in the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), he runs its annual banquet that honors their local horsemen and then uses the proceeds to fund numerous other worthwhile causes throughout the year. Besides his promotional work of the sport at Monticello, he has done publicity for the New York Sire Stakes and other New York State races and actually worked for Bruce Hamilton when he was the executive director of the HHBNYS. He is also the publicist for the Billings Amateur Driving Series and the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA). Manzi has also served high posts for some very important organizations within the racing industry. He is a former National president of both USHWA and the Harness Publicist Association. John Manzi's efforts have not gone unnoticed through the years as his list of acknowledgments will attest. He is a member of the Communicator's Hall of Fame in Goshen and has received the Proximity Award from USHWA, the Pinnacle Award from the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, the Appreciation Award from Harness Horsemen International, the Laurel Award from New York City USHWA and was named USHWA'n of the Year in 1992. Manzi's other passion is music and he is a longtime collector of "doo-wop" and rock and roll records. In 1983 he was given his own radio show called The Bop Shop on WVOS-FM in Monticello. He is currently celebrating his 31st year in broadcasting and can be heard both on the radio and streaming live on the internet. John Manzi was married to the late Sharon Manzi for almost fifty years and is the loving father of two daughters, Michelle Miller and Tracy Manzi and three granddaughters, Elizabeth, Kim and Fiona McNamara. The presentation of the Bruce Hamilton Memorial Medal will take place at the New York Sire Stakes and USTA District 8 awards dinner at Vernon Downs Hotel and Casino on October 26 at 6:30 p.m. For reservations or more information, contact the Harness Horse Breeders at 518-785-5858 or info@hhbnys.org. By Tim Bojarski, for the Harness Horse Breeders of NYS    

Batavia, NY---It was the biggest night of the year at Batavia Downs Saturday (Oct. 18) as the track presented the 12th edition of the $50,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Invitational pace. One of the largest live crowds was on hand to see the action and after the most anticipated race of the season hit the wire, world champion Bolt The Duer bested a stellar field of top Open pacers to take the trophy. When the car pulled away, the Ron Burke stablemates Aracache Hanover (Kevin Cummings) and Easy Again (Aaron Merriman) found themselves sitting one-two at a :26.3 quarter with Bolt The Duer (John Cummings Jr.) tracking a close third. The positions remained unchanged to the half when Apprentice Hanover (Anthony Macdonald) pulled first over and led Aslan (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) and Wazzup Wazzup (Drew Monti) in the outer flow. Apprentice Hanover cleared and took the lead at the three-quarters in 1:24.1 when Aslan and Wazzup Wazzup fanned three-wide to take their shots around the turn. But Bolt The Duer, who had been riding the pylons waiting for his chance, got it at the top of the stretch when the passing lane opened up and Cummings Jr. shot him through the gap and outpaced a game Aslan to the wire to win in 1:53.4. Aslan finished second and Wazzup Wazzup finished third. It was the fourth win in 18 starts this year for Bolt The Duer ($11.00) and pushed his career earnings to over $1.82 million for owners All Star Racing Inc. The 5-year-old son of Ponder is trained by Peter Foley. After the race driver John Cummings Jr. said "I was hoping to be on the lead or have the two-hole but I got away third. But we were following the two best horses in the race and we were lucky to slide out up the backside and get back to the rail at the head of the lane and then he did the rest. There is no question this is the best horse I've ever driven and I would like to thank Pete (Foley) for giving me the drive." The co-feature of the night was the $12,500 Brian Schroeder Memorial trot that was won by local star BZ Glide. After the heavy favorite Money On My Mind (Aaron Merriman) made a break, Sailer Eddie (Jack Flanigen) took the lead and dictated the race until BZ Glide (Mike Caprio) pulled at the half and started his trek on the outside. He overtook the lead at the three-quarters and trotted away to an easy three-length victory in 1:58.2. It was the eighth win in 20 starts for BZ Glide ($5.90) and inflated his bankroll to $60,667 for the trainer/driver team of Alana and Mike Caprio, who owns the horse. It was an emotional winners circle after the race as Caprio, who was a friend of the late Schroeder, commented "It was an honor for me to win this race because Brian (Schroeder) was a good friend of mine. He helped me straighten out some horses years ago and was always willing to help anyone out." In the overnight feature $10,000 horse and gelding Open pace, Caprio doubled his pleasure by winning with Fireyourguns in 1:55. After getting away fifth, Fireyourguns waited until the top of the far turn to pull and swing wide before unleashing his patented pacing flurry down the lane. After making up about five lengths while streaking down the center of the track, Fireyourguns beat Best Ears (Jack Flanigen) who was on the rail, by a nose. There were four horses across the track at the wire and a mere neck separated first through fourth place. It was the 13th victory of the year for Fireyourguns raising his earning total to $90,335 for owners Jennifer and Robert Lowe and Terrence McClory, who also trains him. Aaron Merriman, who is currently the leading dash winning driver in North America, made a rare western New York appearance and put on a driving clinic for the fans. He registered a grand slam winning with Set Me Up ($4.40), Whata Donato ($3.10), Cheyenne Cam ($19.40) and Mondatta ($13.00). And not to be outdone by the National season's leader, local driving favorite Drew Monti also scored a four-bagger with Rock To Glory ($5.90), Deuces And Jacks ($16.20), Machman ($5.50) and Bandicoot (6.50). Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 22) with post time set for 6:35. by Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

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