Drivers racing for bigger purses at Batavia Downs

Jul 27, 2017

Batavia Downs opened its 71st season Wednesday night with a big crowd and record purses for drivers.

Todd Haight, director of living racing, said the Downs has been able to boost the purses because increased revenue from the gaming floor and the concert series this summer helped bring more people to Batavia Downs, and also generated revenue that could add to the purse pool.

The bigger purses mean more big name drivers. This season, Ake Svanstedt, from Sweden, and Jason Bartlett joined the field.

The track also moved up start times this season. Haight said the new start time is closer to the final race time for the thoroughbreds at other tracks, so OTB betters around the state are more likely to stick around for harness racing. That means bigger prize pools for wagers, Haight said.

This is also the first full season the Batavia Downs Hotel has been open, and on opening night for the race season, all the rooms were booked, Haight said.

He also highlighted the food service at the gaming facility and the special promotions that will be taking place throughout the year.

“We really think it’s going to be another good year,” Haight said.

Ake Svanstedt won the fourth race driving Natalie Hanover.

2017 Opening Race at Batavia Downs Track
Photo Credit: Howard B. Owens

By Howard B. Owens, The Batavian