Batavia Season Wraps Up

America’s oldest lighted harness racetrack, Batavia Downs, concluded its 66th year of racing on Saturday night.

Billed as the “Night of Distinction,” awards were presented in several categories including Upstate New York Horse of the Year, by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United Stated Harness Writers Association.

Local trotting sensation Archangel, who earlier this year was named USTA District 8 top three-year-old trotter and Horse of the Year, received similar recognition in a unanimous vote.

Archangel earned $771,386 in his sophomore season for owners Alan Hainsworth, Peter Arrigenna and Clare Semer. Arrigenna, who also trained the colt, had previously announced that the son of Credit Winner has been retired and will begin the next phase of his career, stud duty.

The final program of the season also featured a $7,400 Winners Over Pace.

Winner Most Happy Rider was just yearning for some post relief after three consecutive starts out of the seven post. So after drawing the three post and the scratch of Fantasypan out of the two hole, Most Happy Rider ($24) raced in the garden spot and took advantage of it by scoring an upset victory.

Le Reina Road (Dave McNeight III), the heavy 1-2 favourite off the rail, set soft fractions of :29, 1:00.1 and 1:28.2 over the 'good' track with Most Happy Rider drafting right behind. As the field of six turned for home, Most Happy Rider scooted down into the passing lane by driver John Cummings Jr. and easily went past Le Reina Road to win by one length in 1:58.1.

Le Reina Road was disqualified for interference down the stretch and was placed fourth. Cam Patch (Ray Fisher Jr.), originally the third place finisher, was moved up to second and Cheyenne Cam (Dan Noble) went to the show spot.

The win was the eighth in 48 starts for Most Happy Rider and moved his seasonal earnings to $63,211 for owner Sidney Easton of Belmont, New York. Anthony Cummings trains the seven-year-old Sealed N Delivered gelding.

With the end of the racing season, simulcast wagering will now be offered daily and the Casino floor, featuring over 600 slot machines, is open from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. Admission and parking are free.

Pending New York State Racing and Wagering Board approval the 2013 season will commence on July 22.

(With files from Batavia Downs)