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SCHENECTADY, N.Y. - The New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) and USTA District 8 will be hosting a virtual awards banquet, streamed live on Facebook on Nov. 8. The program will begin at 7 p.m. and will be approximately one hour in duration. Kelly Young, executive director of the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund, will serve as emcee, and Todd Haight, District 8 Chairman, will unveil the Horse of the Year. The program can be accessed through the NYSS Facebook page. The evening will honor champion horses, trainers, drivers, owners and breeders of the NYSS, Excelsior Series and the New York County Fair Series. USTA District 8 Awards for Horse of the Year, Trainer of the Year and Drivers of the Year will be announced live as part of the broadcast. Horses voted for year-end honors by USTA District 8 will also be recognized. "While we can't all be together and celebrate the season in the usual manner, we do not want to miss the opportunity to honor and recognize our champion horses and horsepeople who make our program so competitive," said Young. "We are excited to offer this format and hope our racing community will collectively gather around their screens on this night to celebrate the outstanding performances of this unique year." "On behalf the USTA Directors of District 8, I am pleased to partner again with the New York Sire Stakes to offer a joint celebration of Empire State people and horses," said Haight. "It has been a year of tremendous challenges, but we are resolute in not allowing that to overshadow the outstanding performers of this season. I hope many of the members of USTA District 8 will join us for the live event to cheer on our colleagues and remember how much we have overcome in 2020." Giveaways will also be presented to two lucky winners throughout the night during the Facebook live event. Tune in during the program to see how you can win. Awards for horses and people will be mailed to all 2020 winners following the program. Questions about the banquet can be directed to Kelly Young at or call the NYSS office at 518-388-0178. From the New York Sire Stakes

Batavia, NY --- Todd Haight, who is the Director and General Manager of Live Harness Racing at Batavia Downs, was named the interim Chairman of United States Trotting Association District 8 region on Friday (Apr. 17). Haight will replace long time District 8 chairman Michael Kane, who resigned earlier this year. Haight was elected by his peers to his first term as a director during voting held back in January of this year and was assigned to the Communications/Marketing, Pari-Mutuel and Regulatory committees. He was again voted by his peers to the chairman position last week. District 8 covers all of New York State as far south as Orange County. The roster of current directors include Kim Crawford, Mark Ford, John Matarazzo, Ray Schnittker, Mike Torcello and Scott Warren. "I want to thank Mike Kane for the outstanding job he did during his tenure as chair. Having worked with Mike for many years, I feel the transition to his position should be seamless. I'm honored to take over and look forward to working with USTA President Russell Williams, Chairman Joe Faraldo, Vice-chair Mark Loewe and all the USTA directors," said Haight. "Despite the unprecedented times we are all currently working through, I feel that harness racing will return to the sports scene very soon and regain its popularity once again. And in my new role I plan on doing whatever I can to be a part of that resurgence in New York and across North America." Kelly Young is the Executive Director at Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund and oversees the operations of the New York Sire Stakes. She works closely with the chairman of District 8 during the stakes year as well as running the awards banquet in the fall. Young has worked with Haight for many years and looks forward to further concerted state racing promotional efforts with him in his new role. "I have been pleased to work with Todd for nearly two decades at Batavia Downs and am excited to welcome him to, and work with him in this new role leading Upstate New York. I would also like to thank outgoing chairman Mike Kane for his collaboration and leadership over the years," said Young. Haight started his career with Western Regional OTB in 1998 when they became the new owners of Batavia Downs. He then served in various positions at the track before taking over as the director and general manager of racing in May of 2011. - Tim Bojarski 716-572-1801 COB - United States Harness Writers Association Hoof Beats Magazine Columnist Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts Publicist Plainridge Park Publicist Batavia Downs Publicist and Track Handicapper     "Show class, have pride and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself" -Paul "Bear" Bryant    

BATAVIA — With the virtual shutdown of the entire State of New York, everything has taken a major hit; from schools and athletics to businesses and every day lives, things won’t be the same again for quite some time, if ever. That, obviously, also has applied to one of the oldest and most cherished sports in the world — the sport of horse racing. More specifically, harness racing. While every track in New York has been shut down, including the thoroughbred venues, there have been a small number of tracks that have remained open throughout the country, though none of those include harness tracks, like the oldest lighted harness track in the country at Batavia Downs. “All New York state racetracks are currently shut down until further notice and are anxiously awaiting word when they can reopen,” said Todd Haight, the Director/General Manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs.”Before the New York State racetracks ceased racing operations, they were racing with no patrons in attendance. That could be a way of getting these racetracks open sooner rather than later.” Yet as of March 16, tracks across the state have been temporarily closed to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Buffalo Raceway, which was midway through its current season. However, though there will not be any live racing any time soon, the state mandates have not shuttered all aspects of the sport down completely. “The racetracks that were open before the shut down remain open for training purposes,” Haight said. “Equines must be allowed to get out of their stalls for exercise and receive their proper care. The only real change there is training hours have been reduced. Racetracks that were scheduled to open in April and early May have all delayed their openings; in fact, Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs have delayed opening up their barn areas until further notice.” With the majority of racing shut down, three “major” thoroughbred tracks have remained open, which includes Oaklawn Park, Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park. Oaklawn Park is in Arizona, while the remaining two are in Florida, with Gulfstream having hosted the 2020 Florida Derby just over a week ago, with Tiz the Law winning easily in front of zero spectators. Is that something that is capable of being maintained? “Of the three it appears in the short term they will be allowed to complete their season,” Haight said. “That said, Oaklawn Park is scheduled to close for the season on May 2 and Tampa Bay Downs May 3. Of the major tracks that would leave just Gulfstream Park — located in South Florida — racing although officials at Santa Anita in California are feverishly trying to that track reopened.” With the lack of any major sport taking place during the spread of coronavirus, increased majoring on horse racing has followed suit. Though Haight isn’t 100 percent sure that has to do with there being no baseball, basketball, hockey, etc... “I’m not sure I can attribute the increased handle numbers to the lack of sporting events. Rather I think the lack of competition from many or any racetracks running at the same time,’ he said. “I can tell you at Batavia Downs Racetrack our biggest total handle of the week is Wednesday night, which I’m sure surprises many people. Yes, on Saturday night we by far draw our biggest crowds but due to so many other tracks racing we don’t see the big off-track wagering numbers that we see on Wednesdays. In fact, it can be as high as 50 percent greater than the other race nights and this is all due to the lack of competition.” However, there may still be a correlation nonetheless between the lack of gambling options and the increased interest in horse racing betting. “Yes racetracks have reported increases in handle due to the lack of competition. Gulfstream Park saw an all-sources handle for the Florida Derby card, March 28, a record $53,555,529, eclipsing the previous mark of $49,909,070 handled in 2018,” Haight said. “And remember this number was attained with not one person wagering in the grandstands as the races were closed to the public. That’s truly remarkable.” There have also been other tracks across the country that have reported huge increases, including Fonner Park in Nebraska and Will Rogers Downs in Oklahoma, with the former still up and running without spectators. Will Rogers Downs saw a 657.5% increase in the March 2020 handle over March 2019 with betting up nearly $13.7 million from the same period last year, according to Haight, while Fonner Park, saw a 272.7% increase in March handle, up more than $8.4 million. Specifically with Batavia Downs, they have also seen an up-tick in wagering in the recent weeks, for whatever the reason may be. In 2014 the Downs introduced Batavia Bets, an online wagering platform that has continued to be highly success, while Haight says it took in nearly $200,000 in wagers last week alone. Haight has also seen a small increase in the number of signups for Batavia Bets since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, with horse racing being virtually the only sport still running that people can gamble on. Moreover, cable networks such as Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports have continued to show live racing on television, including the Florida Derby in late March. “And keep in mind that’s with many of our customers most popular racetracks current closed,” Haight said in the increased wagering at Batavia Downs. “When you take Aqueduct, Meadowlands and Buffalo Raceway off the board it is going to have an effect on wagering numbers. We’re very pleased with the success of Batavia Bets.” For Haight and the rest of the world of racing — and life in general — everything at the moment is simply a waiting game. And the effects of the last month are something that the world will likely never fully get over. “COVID-19 has changed the landscape of horse racing - that’s for sure. We are living in unprecedented times and the safety of our patrons, employees, and horsemen remain a top priority,” Haight said. It remains to be seen how long it will take to get back to normal and what the new normal will indeed be. “The effects of this pandemic have been felt worldwide and in all sports,” he added. “We’ll continue to monitor the situation and provide updates on our website, social media and via press releases in regards to our live racing product which is scheduled to begin on July 22. We’ll be working very closely with the New York State Gaming Commission and the Western New York Harness Horseman Association on this process.” Here’s to hoping at least part, if not all, of the upcoming Downs season will go on as usual. By Nate Rider Reprinted with permission of The Daily News Online

Batavia, NY --- Although the final day of harness racing was canceled on Saturday (Dec. 14) due to bad weather conditions, the clubhouse that night was still sold out and the 400 or so patrons enjoyed Christmas music instead of race calls. But that was the norm at Batavia Downs in 2019; happy customers having fun at the races. Indicators for every aspect of the racing product pointed toward positive territory and in several areas showed record breaking performances. Betting-wise the on track handle was up 12.2%, driven by a 5% increase in attendance, the export signal was up 24% and Western Regional Off Track Betting (WROTB) revenue was up 5.3%. All tolled, wagering from all sources was up a combined 19.9% and provided the highest total handle at the track and the top three highest single night handles since WROTB reopened the Downs in 2002. The total handle was also $1.4 million higher than last year and all of this was accomplished with three fewer race days on the schedule. "Our customers came out in force, both live and at simulcast to support us all year and we couldn't be more grateful to them," said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. "We gave them some of the best racing in the state this year and they validated it by betting us the whole season." There were several reasons for the increases and they were all primarily driven by the eight legs of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) culminating in the $1.8 million Night of Champions (NOC) finals in September. Along with the highest overnight purses ever offered at the track, Batavia Downs dolled out over $8.1 million in total purses this year and that drew top horses and horsemen from across North America all year, providing great betting opportunities for the customers. The Downs also took full advantage of the Strategic Wagering Pool sponsored by the United States Trotting Association (USTA) and offered enhanced funds for exotic wagers that also provided free program pages for half the card on those nights. Aside from the NYSS NOC which was the highest handle in the tracks history under WROTB ownership, the track saw its highest total nightly handles on cards where the Strategic Wagering Pools were offered. "We had 14 Strategic Wagering opportunities during the course of the season and every one paid off. Many thanks to USTA Director Chris Schick and Social Media Director Michael Carter for their assistance with these wagers," said Haight. Two other factors for the increase include the simulcast department doing a great job marketing the live signal from Batavia and picking up many new customers this year which drove the export numbers and the track's group sales department who brought in 31% more parties and events to the clubhouse than ever before and enhanced the live handle. "A lot of the people we see during live racing were introduced to the sport by attending our live concert series over the summer. They actually walk across the track and ask questions about horse racing and then come back when the meet starts to see it," said Haight. "It's really been a good selling point for us and we've made many new customers as a result." On the track, Billy Davis Jr. won his first driving title at Batavia Downs in 2019 by averaging two wins a night for the entire meet. His 131 wins, 102 seconds and 83 thirds out of 629 starts earned him a Universal Driver Rating (UDR) of .342 for the meet and $861,336 in purses. Jim Morrill Jr. was second with 79 wins, 56 seconds and 37 thirds with $921,527 in earnings and Dave McNeight III was third with 78 wins, 61 seconds and 70 thirds with $543,064 in purses. On the training side, Jim Clouser Jr. also won his first Batavia Downs training title after scoring 51 wins, 29 seconds and 39 thirds out of 219 starts for a UTR of .366 and $361,413 in earnings. His stable members finished in the money 54% of the time. Finishing second in the trainer race was Maria Rice who scored 43 wins, 31 seconds and 21 thirds out of 190 starts and earned $358,234 in purses with the legendary Gerry Sarama finishing third while making 246 starts with 32 wins, 40 seconds and 32 thirds with $256,619 in earnings. Live racing returns to the oldest lighted harness racing track in America on July 22, 2020 pending approval from the New York State Gaming Commission. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY --- The severe winter storm that hit western New York over the last two days caused many cancellations in the area due to bad driving conditions. Even though we are one day removed from the brunt of the disturbance it's impact left the track at Batavia Downs unsafe to race over and as a result, management decided to cancel live racing for Wednesday (Nov. 13). "Our first and foremost consideration at Batavia Downs is the safety of our horses, horsemen and horsewomen and after speaking with our drivers and trainers, it was a unanimous decision to cancel tonight's card," said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. Batavia Downs had a guaranteed pool of $6,000 in the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday and it was announced that the same guaranteed pool will be moved to Friday's card (Nov. 15) when live racing resumes. The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association's (USTA) Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages will be available courtesy of Trackmaster on the USTA's website starting tomorrow morning. The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren't selected, the carryover amount will move to the Saturday (Nov. 16) program. Post time on Friday (Nov. 15) is at 6 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY --- Saturday (Sept. 28) marked the halfway point of the 2019 Batavia Downs harness racing season and all indicators are showing so far, it has been one of the best in the track's history. The on-track handle is up 15.1%, the export handle is up 26.1%, OTB handle is up 8.7% and total betting from all sources associated with Western Regional OTB is up 20.5% or $820,609. "The numbers are very impressive, but the product has been as well," said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. "Our overnight racing has been very competitive and we've had many guaranteed pools in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program which draw bettors from all over to follow our track. And our New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) Night of Champions was the jewel of the season and it has exposed many new local people to our sport as a result." Many horses have set seasonal or lifetime marks at Batavia since the meet started plus seven new track records have already been set since July. Trotters Hypnotic Am, Quincy Blue Chip, Third Shift and CR Blazin Beauty along with pacers Hickfromfrenchlick, American Mercury and Cigars And Port account for those new track standards. There were also two stake records broken by Hypnotic Am and Third Shift during the NYSS Night of Champions. At this point of the season Billy Davis Jr. is the leading driver with 63 wins, Jim Morrill Jr. Is second with 58 and Dave McNeight III is third with 46. On the training side, James Clouser Jr. is on top with 37 wins, Maria Rice is second with 20 and David Russo sits third with 17. There is a tie for the winningest horse between Blue Bell Bonny and Tullow N who each have visited Purple Haze Winner's Circle five times. The Batavia Downs meet will continue on Wednesday (Oct. 2) with post time at 5 p.m. and runs through Saturday (Dec. 15) with a Wednesday, Friday, Saturday schedule. Post time for Wednesday's is at 5 p.m. and Friday and Saturday is at 6 p.m. There is one remaining Monday which is Columbus Day (Oct. 14) with an early post of 1:15 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY --- The numbers are in and they're impressive to say the least. After completing two weeks of the 2019 live harness racing meet, Batavia Downs has reported unprecedented increases in handle from every source of wagering. Western Regional Off Track Betting (WROTB) operates Batavia Downs and released the following numbers after the first nine cards of racing. Export betting was up 36%, on-track betting was up 20% and WROTB betting from all outlets was up 10%. Total betting is up 30% or a total of $291,351 with an average increase of $32,372 per night. "On Monday (Aug. 5) the track handle was up 90% while the total handle was up 127% from the same Monday last year. It was the fifth largest of all time since WROTB reopened the track in 2002," said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Batavia Downs. "We were hoping to see increases as a result of our stakes programs this year, but we are ecstatic to be seeing it on our overnight product as well." The centerpiece of the 2019 meet is the $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions that will be held at the Downs on Saturday (Sept. 14) along with the track's signature stake, the $50,000 Kane Memorial Invitational pace. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs this week on Saturday (Aug. 10) with post time at 6 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY --- Batavia Downs is pleased to announce they are partnering with the Daily Racing Form (DRF) to enhance and expand their coverage of the $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) Night of Champions (NOC) that will be held at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Sept. 14). "We are very excited to be working with DRF on this biggest night of racing in the state," said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. "I think this is a great opportunity for our track to partner with a world class name in horse racing and given the extent of their outreach and fan base, will be beneficial for Batavia Downs beyond the NOC." DRF will broadcast the entire night of racing live on their website, provide video analysis of races prior to the night and also provide content in their newsletters and on their website. "I think it's really important to provide the live video of the races for owners and breeders that can't get out to Batavia that night to see their horses in person. Some might not have an ADW or subscribe to some kind of service and this will give them the chance to watch all the action live," said Derick Giwner of DRF. "We will be producing a video analysis of some of the featured betting races or guaranteed pools, depending on what the card offers that night. The video will be available on the DRF Harness website starting the Thursday afternoon before the big night." DRF will also provide a Spotlight Newsletter that will be sent out to all their core subscribers, be promoting the NOC on their website, social media and in their newsletters, provide a dedicated landing page at on both the Thoroughbred and Harness sites, free downloadable Past Performances for the night and will also be tweeting out comments and results live the entire night of the races. "The idea is to get more eyes on these races. The people in the industry know when the NYSS NOC is and that it's at Batavia, but the general gambler out there who might never play Batavia may have no idea. We want to drive this traffic to Batavia that night," said Giwner. "The New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions is the pinnacle of racing in New York each year and DRF is excited to work together with Batavia Downs to make it a success." Haight had similar views on the importance of a quality, information-filled program that night. "We always have the desire to draw new customers to Batavia's racing product and everything DRF brings to the table in this partnership is going to help accomplish that. And the ability to get free past performances in the hands of the vast base of subscribers that DRF has could be potentially a big handle driver for us," Haight said. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY --- The first week of live racing at Batavia Downs produced some very impressive numbers for betting and attendance, showing a dramatic spike over last year. After the last race on Sunday was over the track had realized a 27% increase of on-track handle, a 6.8% increase on export betting, WROTB handle up a total of 12%, total betting up 11% and attendance up 16%.. "Where we are very pleased with all of our handle numbers, the most impressive stat might be the attendance," said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. "Our opening night crowd was unbelievable and that carried over into the weekend. We had the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) and some really nice weather which helped, but there is a definite buzz about our championship meet in the area this year." The Batavia Downs summer/fall meet continues on Wednesday (July. 31) with post time at 5 p.m. The highlight of this year's racing session is the $1.8 million NYSS Night of Champions that will be held at the Downs on Saturday (Sept. 14). By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY --- Batavia Downs has announced today that starting on Wednesday (Oct. 3) and continuing through the end of the meet, all purses will be raised by 10 percent across the board. The increase is due to a combination of two factors: there has been a significant rise in handle realized by the track so far this season plus there were 43 less races run than last year. "Our on-track betting is up 4.9 percent and our export handle is up 15.3 percent after the first 26 cards of racing," said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. "By raising purses starting next month it will put approximately $204,000 back into local horsemen's pockets and that in turn can help bring new and better racing stock to western New York. We're pleased the numbers are heading in the right direction." The increase would take the current low to high purse structure from $2,750- $10,500 to $3,025-$11,550. The racing has been very aggressive this year, providing a better product to wager on and one of the reasons for that was the removal of the passing lane that had been in place since 1988. "There is no question that removing the passing lane has led to more competitive racing and both on and off track patrons have responded in a positive manner to that change. We've gotten feedback from our customers since the start of the meet and now they've also made a statement through the betting windows," Haight concluded. The Batavia Downs live meet continues through Saturday (Dec. 15) with a Wednesday, Friday, Saturday schedule. Post time remains 5 p.m. mid-week and 6 p.m. on the weekends. There is a special Columbus Day matinee on Monday (Oct. 8) that starts at 1:15 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs      

Batavia, NY --- Western New York harness racing horseman Allan McCarty, 67, died Oct. 16, 2017. He was known for his quick wit, amazing sense of humor, generosity, and ability to train Standardbred racehorses. His biggest success on the racetrack came with New York Sire Stakes champion Hitwiththeladies, who earned $435,877 during his 36-race career. He also developed invitational trotters Prime Interest, an earner of $659,141, My Attorney Bernie ($258,363) and Manfromnantucket ($152,857), just to name a few.  He also bred 13 racehorses. Family and friends are invited to a wake service at the James W. Cannan Funeral Home Inc. (Southtowns Chapel) 3155 Orchard Park Road, Saturday (Oct. 21) from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. where a funeral service will follow at 12 p.m. Todd Haight

PAVILION — Duke Dranichak, age 74, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on April 10, 2017. Duke was the son of the late George and Rose (Mikitka) Dranichak. He is survived by his loving wife, M. Christine (Bass) Dranichak; his children, George Dranichak Jr. of Macedon and Melissa (Kevin) Mayeu of Wake Forest, N.C.; brother of Edward (Sue) Dranichak and of the late Gregory Dranichak. Known as “Gumpa” to his grandchildren, he was a generous and loving grandfather to George III and Tyler. Duke was born and raised in Binghamton and lived most of his life in Pavilion. He graduated from Niagara University in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business. After college, he became a member of the Horseman’s Association, where he raced harness horses professionally. After which he became a judge. Duke retired from the NYS Racing and Wagering Board which he served on as the Director of Racing Officials for all of harness and thoroughbred racetracks in the State of New York. Duke’s family will receive friends from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Falcone Family Funeral & Cremation Service Inc., 8700 Lake Rd. (Rt 19), Le Roy. His Celebration of Life Service will be held at the Holy Spirit Church in Binghamton, at a later date. Your memories and condolences may be shared with the Dranichak family at Todd haight

Batavia, NY --- The youngest ambassador in the sport of harness racing will be the guest of honor at Batavia Downs on Sunday August 23, during Family Fun Day. 15-year-old Sydney Weaver, known to everyone in North American harness racing, and her parents Lisa and Don Weaver are driving down from their home in Ontario to Batavia Downs for their first ever visit to America's oldest lighted harness track. Sydney is a phenomenal young woman who just graduated from eighth grade as an honor roll student. She got her groom's license at age 10, authors a column for the racing site "Harnesslink", has won major youth writing awards for her stories about harness racing and is the youngest member to ever join the United States Harness Writers Association. She owns a horse that is coincidentally named Sydney Seelster (Aka "Pinky" because she was always harnessed in pink; Sydney's favorite color). The Weaver's campaigned the mare at tracks in Ontario for the past several years before retiring her to the breeding shed where she is currently in foal. Regardless of the season or weather, Sydney is always at the races watching from her favorite spot at the rail. She roots for the horses, cheers for and congratulates the horsemen and documents all the action on her Facebook page every day. This type of schedule would be taxing for any young lady, but it is just another day for this dynamic individual. And throughout it all, Sydney battles with Cerebral Palsy and is usually confined to her wheelchair. But that never has nor ever will stop her from achieving her goals. She still jogs horses on the racetrack and is working towards getting her trainers license. Todd Haight, General Manager/Director of Live Racing at Batavia Downs said "Sydney is an inspiration to everyone, not just those in harness racing. The energy and passion for horses she puts forth is exemplary as is her love of the sport. She is what we all hope for in the next generation of racing fans and participants." Batavia Downs is rolling out the red carpet in honor of Sydney's visit with a race named in honor of Sydney's visit this afternoon. When asked about her trip Sydney Weaver said, "I cannot wait to go to Batavia Downs; I love the thrill and anticipation of visiting a track I have never been to before. It is always an adventure, and I always meet so many wonderful people." Tim Bojarski Batavia Downs Media Relations

Batavia, NY---Batavia Downs is pleased to announce that popular local harness racing reinsman, "Driving" Drew Monti, will be featured as a bobble head to be given away on Saturday (Sept. 5). "When we first started discussing this project last year, we spoke with our customers to see who they would like to see used as the focus of this promotion and the overwhelming response was "Driving Drew" said Todd Haight, General Manager/Director of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. "He started driving here at 18 just a few years ago but his career has taken off and he has obviously become a fan favorite. And as popular as bobble heads are in the sport right now, we are very excited for this promotion." The 20-year-old Monti came on the driving scene in 2013, scoring his first pari-mutuel win in April of that year. He was the top first-year provisional driver in North America in 2013 and he has progressed at a torrid pace ever since. Last year Monti won 170 races, $886,461 in purses and hit the board over 40% of the time. So far in 2015, he is on pace for career high numbers all around as he already has 146 wins and $753,078 in purses through Wednesday (July 29). During his short three-year career, Monti has amassed 393 wins and $2 million in earnings with a combined year-to-year UDR of .252. He is definitely poised to make a run at the driving title at Batavia Downs this meet. One of the more popular young drivers in social media and chat in the Harness Racing Fan Zone, Monti is an example of what the next generation of horseman is all about. While balancing his racing career and education at the same time, Monti will be entering his fourth year at Canisius College this fall as he pursues his BA in business. The "Driving" Drew Monti bobble heads are sponsored by TAG Jewelers ( ) of 936 Dick Road in Cheektowaga, NY. TAG Jewelers has been Western New York's most trusted fine metals broker since 1977. Tony Gruppo is the owner of TAG Jewelers and has been and owner and strong supporter of harness racing in the Western New York region for decades. "I can remember coming to Batavia Downs with my friends on the weekend's while attending nearby Brockport State College over forty years ago" said Gruppo. "The track has always been a part of my life, so when Todd (Haight) approached me about this promotion it was a natural fit for me. Drew Monti is a rising star and a fine young man. I think you will be seeing more of him on a bigger stage in the near future." Distribution of the "Driving" Drew Monti bobble heads will begin immediately after the seventh race on Saturday (Sept. 5) in the Paddock Room. There is a limit of one per person and are available while supplies last. You must be a Players Club member to receive this premium. Fans wishing to get their bobble heads signed by Monti are urged to bring them back to the track the following day during the Labor Day matinee. Driving Drew will be trackside for an hour before the first race to greet his fans and sign the statuettes. This is the third bobble head issued by Batavia Downs. Previously, perennial New York Sire Stakes leading driver Jim Morrill Jr. was honored as was NFL Hall of Famer and Buffalo Bills great, Thurman Thomas. Thomas is featured in Batavia Downs "34 Rush" sports bar, which is located on the gaming floor. By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations  

 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

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

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