Day At The Track
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Batavia, NY --- With the final weekend of harness racing at hand, the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (UNY USHWA) has announced the horses of the meet for 2019. Pacer of the Meet-Back Is Black (Western Terror-Magic Moments) 1:52.1 ($242,850) Black Is Back started his year with a tag and ended up a top-class pacer. After being claimed for $20,000 at Saratoga Raceway back in May, Black Is Back found his way into the barn of trainer Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr. through a private purchase by his current owners Curtis Edholm and Mihajlo Zdjelar Sr. He made his first start at Batavia Downs in July, soon won the $12,500 Open I pace and then never looked back. For the season at Batavia, Black Is Back made 13 starts with five wins, two seconds and three thirds, all in Open I company and did not miss a single check the entire meet earning him $44,565 in the process. He finished in the money 77% of the time and his best win time at the Downs was 1:53.1. For the entire year Black Is Back has made 26 starts with 10 wins, four seconds and four thirds for $79,765 in purses with a mark of 1:52.2. Trotter of the Meet-Lougazi (Lou's Legacy-Winning Blade) 1:56.1 ($198,483) Lougazi made an encore performance this year as he was the 2018 Batavia Downs Trotter of the Meet. During the 2019 season in Genesee County, Lougazi made 16 starts with five wins, four seconds and three thirds and much like his side-wheeling counterpart Black Is Back, Lougazi made all his starts in Open I company as well. Lougazi had a very high 75% in the money average too and his $50,500 in purses was the highest amount earned by any overnight Standardbred competing at the meet this year. His career best year also included a new lifetime mark of 1:56.1 taken at Batavia in September. Overall in 2019 Lougazi has made 34 starts with nine wins, 10 seconds and five thirds with $94,000 in earnings. Mary Warriner owns Lougazi who is trained by Ryan Swift. Mare of the Meet-HP Sissy (Up The Credit-Monica Blue Chip) 1:52.1 ($367,629) HP Sissy was purchased privately in January by John and Sally Finnocchario and became the star of the Finnocchario's Dream Stable. She went on to win 13 races out of 37 starts and made $116,493 racing at tracks across New York State. In July HP Sissy made her first of 13 starts at Batavia Downs and ended up winning four Open I paces for fillies and mares, besides finishing second three times and third four more and made $41,375 in purses along the way. She wound up in the money 85% of the time which was the highest percentage of hitting the board of any horse racing at the meet. Her fastest win time at the Downs was also her seasonal mark; 1:53.3. Mike Ohol is the trainer of HP Sissy. All the connections of Black Is Back, Lougazi and HP Sissy will receive their awards in the Purple Haze Winner's Circle at Batavia Downs between races on Saturday (Dec. 14) during the UNY USHWA Night of Distinction. Post time for the first race is 6 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for UNY USHWA

Batavia, NY --- In an era where mainstream media habitually overlooks harness racing in their day to day publications, two news outlets in New York State routinely include harness racing news in their sports pages and continue to promote the sport despite their counterparts failure to do so. And the coverage given to the action at the track by the Batavia Daily News and The Batavian is why the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) will be presenting them with the 2019 President's Award. The Batavia Daily News is a print newspaper that was founded in 1878 and has been in operation ever since. Their circulation goes well beyond the confines of the City of Batavia and Genesee County, into several surrounding counties and also include Buffalo and Rochester. Additionally the paper has a strong online presence (thedailynewsonline.com) to go along with it's daily print publication and both cover Batavia and Genesee County in depth. The Batavian (thebatavian.com) is an online news outlet that was launched in 2008. It is the first local, online-only news source for the City of Batavia and Genesee County and has become one of Genesee County's most popular internet news sites and provide local residents with news and information based mainly around Genesee County. This outlet has a reputation of showing up at every major event in the city and posting timely first-hand reports and videos. "Both of these outlets have provided outstanding coverage to harness racing at Batavia Downs over the years but in 2019, gave unprecedented week-long coverage to the $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions that were held at Batavia Downs and produced record numbers for the track as well as noticeably increased revenue for the city itself that weekend by visiting participants," said Tim Bojarski, president of UNY USHWA. "They both do an outstanding job for the community in general and the sport in particular. The coverage provided to harness racing by these fine news sources sets a standard that outlets in other cities should well take note of." The Batavia Daily News and The Batavian will be presented their awards in the Purple Haze Winner's Circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Dec. 14). Post time for the first race is 6 p.m. From the Upstate NY Chapter of USHWA

Batavia, NY --- James Carll Caradori has been in the harness racing business since 1968 and during his 51-years of participation has been very successful as an owner. However beyond that, he has always been an ambassador for the sport and his decades of dedication are the reason the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) are honoring him with the 2019 Good Guy award during the Night of Distinction at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Dec. 14). Caradori raced horses in the 1970's and 80's under the stable name Jamison Acres and had a slew of local champions that included the great Free Chase, Delmer Wynwood, Prince Rapide N, Gi Gi Lamour, Pamela Wynwood and Count Adios A. Fast forward to the modern era and Caradori has more recently campaigned horses like Rockstar Temper, Inthenameofjames and the 2017 Batavia Downs Pacer of the Meet, Focus Power. He is currently racing a stable of four at the Downs and is as active a participant as in any point of his career. But to Caradori it's more than just racing horses. He has always made it a practice of getting people involved in the sport by bringing friends and groups the the track, hosting family functions in the clubhouse, inviting people to come out for win pictures with his horses (even if he just met them) and is always ready to help with fund raisers and activities that are held at the track. Caradori is not only a good guy, he is a true friend of the sport. James Caradori will receive his award in the Purple Haze Winner's Circle at Batavia Downs between races on Saturday (Dec. 14). Post time for the first race is 6 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for UNY USHWA

Batavia, NY --- Maryann Sarama-Luce was a pioneer in harness racing in western New York as one of only a handful of female drivers who raced full time at Batavia Downs. And despite beating the odds more than just in a race, she not only met the challenges she faced in her role, she exceeded them and excelled in the sport for decades. As a result of her place in the history of harness racing, the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) will posthumously present her with their Lifetime Achievement Award on Saturday (Dec. 14) at Batavia Downs during the Night of Distinction awards ceremony. Maryann Sarama-Luce passed away in July of 2011 at 73 years of age after a long battle with leukemia. She was introduced to the business when she met Danny Sarama in the late 1960's and from that point on, the two formed the successful Mardan Stable. Their most memorable performer was the pacer You Devil You, who won 10 races in a row in 1976 while rising from a lowly claimer to an Open class pacer. In the early 1980s after separating from Danny, she continued on her own as both a trainer and a driver and had her best year in the bike in 1983 when she won 21 races. She ended her driving career in 1990 with 109 wins and $201,435 in earnings, but at that point she started training full time and continued to do so until her passing. As a conditioner she sent 107 horses to the winner's circle and their efforts produced $334,835 in earnings. Some of the best horses she trained included Gold Bandit N, Top Dog Alex, Top Dog Nicholas, Easy L Bar and Guy Lee Debbie. After her passing, her son Carl and husband Richard have carried on with her stable. "Harness racing was her number one priority and passion" her daughter Lynette McGiveron said. "Her horses were the driving force behind her battle to recover. Even in her final days she worried more about her horses than herself." McGiveron continued "A passion of Maryann's was to have her mares bred and to raise the foals to race. She named them after her kids and grandchildren and had planned on doing so until every child and grandchild was named. The last foal to be born on her farm was "Top Dog Morgan" named after her grandson. Unfortunately Maryann never got to see it in person. He was born the night she went into the hospital for her final stay." Maryann Sarama-Luce will join previous Lifetime Achievement award recipients Gaston Guindon, Fred Haslip, Ken Ball and Gerry Sarama in this honor. The family of Maryann Sarama-Luce will be presented the award in the Purple Haze Winner's Circle at Batavia Downs between races on Saturday evening (Dec. 14). Post time for the first race is 6 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Akron, NY --- She was born to harness racing and hit the ground running this, her first year of training. And hard work and perseverance has paid instant dividends for Riley Asher-Stalbaum and that is why she was named the 2018 Rising Star at Batavia Downs by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA). Asher-Stalbaum was brought up in the business, the daughter of accomplished trainer Kim Asher and longtime driver Larry Stalbaum. And having them first as parents and then as tutors have helped her to become very successful in life as a young lady and also in harness racing in her first venture as a full-time conditioner. This year, Asher-Stalbaum has raced a small but powerful stable that featured win-machines Quicksilvercandy A, Kaitlyn Rae and Empire Earl N who combined have a total of 38 victories and $231,488 in purses earned in 2018. At Batavia Downs her numbers showed 124 starts with 17 wins, 15 seconds and 17 thirds and $133,409 in earnings. All those statistics are very impressive for a first year trainer only 11 days removed from her 19th birthday. Asher-Stalbaum aspires to make a living doing what she loves and follow in the footsteps of her parents. And if the results of her first year are any indication, the business better take notice of the girl in the red and white silks in the coming years. Riley Asher-Stalbaum will receive her trophy in the Purple Haze Winner's Circle during the Night of Distinction at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Dec. 14). by Tim Bojarski, for UNY USHWA Chapter    

Akron, NY --- The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) has announced that Steve Pratt will receive their Lifetime Achievement Award during the Night of Distinction at Batavia Downs on Friday (Dec. 14). Pratt first got his grooms license in 1970 and from there has been involved in harness racing ever since. He has been training and racing horses in western New York since the late seventies when the star of his barn was an Open trotter named Willow Hill Boy who under the reinsmanship of the legendary Gaston Guindon, won 42 races in only five years against the best horses on the grounds at the time. Pratt moved on from racing overnights to concentrate on breaking and developing young horses. He became a presence on the New York county fair circuit but made the move to the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) in the mid-nineties. There he found early success with horses like Sal The Barber (1:58.2, $114,887) and Choyote's Miss (1:59.1, $121,785). But he really got on a successful roll in the NYSS starting in 2012. For the last seven years Pratt has been a trotting force in the state-bred series with a string of "Barn" named horses that have competed in the NYSS, the Excel series and also at the county fairs. The parade of his champions is led most prominently by Barn Doll (1:52.1, $874,083), Barn Bella (1:51.3, $742,350), Barn Girl (1:52.3, $734,668), Barn Babe (1:54.2, $350,463) and Barn Winner (1:56, $165,273). During those seven years Pratt-trained horses have earned over $2 million in only 227 starts, winning 97 races which gave him a phenomenal 42% win percentage. Pratt's Universal Trainer Rating (UTR) for that same period is a stellar .558 and all this was accomplished racing primarily in stake competition. Steve Pratt will receive his trophy in the Purple Haze Winner's Circle between races during the live card. By Tim Bojarski, president, Upstate New York USHWA

Batavia, NY---Robert J. Kane was the chairman of the board of Western Regional Off Track Betting (WROTB) for 26 years, but he was also a huge fan of harness racing. When a longtime local racetrack went out of business in Batavia, it looked like an economic blow to many horsemen as well as the community it resided in. But Kane didn't see a failed busoness, he saw an opportunity for a rebirth. After Batavia Downs became insolvent in the late 1990's, New York State pulled their racing license from its former owners and the one time giant of the sport was relegated to an abandoned relic of the past. In 1998, Kane saw the opportunity for WROTB to keep harness racing alive in Western New York and convinced his group to purchase the shuttered track. But reopening it was going to take a lot more than just writing the check. WROTB is a public benefit corporation and the state had never granted a pari-mutual license to such an owner before. In order to have legislation changed to facilitate getting this done, Kane worked diligently for four years to obtain a racing license from New York State in order to reopen the track in 2002. When video gaming machines were legalized and came online at race tracks throughout New York State, purse accounts swelled and more racing opportunities were presented through additional race dates and Batavia Downs was a big part of that renaissance. And since that time, a sport that was once on shaky ground in this area has now been solidly anchored at this track. Had Kane not pushed to rebuild the track and position it for the future, Batavia Downs would now more than likely be a parking lot for the shopping corridor that borders it to the north. In a sad twist of fate, Robert J. Kane died two weeks before the first live race was scheduled to be held at the newly opened track in 2002, so he never got to see the fruits of his labor. But in the years since, the improvement of the live racing product and the multiple expansions of the gaming floor turned what was once was an empty building into the preeminent attraction in all of Genesee County. That has secured harness racing in this area for the foreseeable future and that is due to the vision of Robert J. Kane. This award will be presented posthumously in the winner's circle at Batavia Downs during Upstate New York USHWA's night of Distinction on Saturday, December 6. By Tim Bojarski, for Upstate New York USHWA

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