UNY-USHWA, Batavia Downs honoring 14-year-olds

Akron, NY –— The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association and Batavia Downs will honor three 14-year-old veteran harness racing horses who will officially retire on January 1, 2023.

These horses have competed at the Downs this season and will be presented with a trophy commemorating their outstanding careers in the winner’s circle between races during “The Day of Distinction” that will be held on Saturday, December 17.  Post time for the first race is 3 p.m.

Two pacers and one trotter have finished their careers at Batavia and will hang up their harness for the final time.

Freaky Flyer (Dontgetinmyway-The Nanny) 458-63-68-66 – 1:53.2 – $374,773

Freaky Flyer (Wendy J Lowery Photo)

Although Freaky Flyer has been a fixture at Batavia Downs for the last nine years, he has raced his heart out at tracks from New York to Florida ever since his 2-year-old campaign without ever missing a year of action. “The Freak” as he is known, averaged 35 starts per year his entire career and had his best season since 2018 this year, winning a total of 10 races, four of which were at Batavia.

After registering his fourth highest annual earnings total in 2022 ($40,418), he has left the building and entered his “forever home” with his new owners in Avon, New York where he’s being spoiled with his favorite treat: bananas. Trainer Rose Russo owned and raced Freaky Flyer prior to his retirement.

Bettor’s Reward (Bettors Delight-Romancing The Sea) 267-43-30-32 – 1:51.3 – $453,380

Bettor’s Reward (Wendy J Lowery Photo)

Bettor’s Reward made his very first pari-mutuel start at Batavia Downs on September 28, 2010 and got his first lifetime pari-mutuel victory there two weeks later, winning a maiden race in 2:03.1. After having success in the New York Sire Stakes at three, Bettor’s Reward went on to become a hard-knocking Open class aged pacer in Canada and on the New York/New Jersey circuit.

For two years he faced Golden Receiver, Escape The News, Up The Credit, Statesman N, Hypnotic Blue Chip, Aracache Hanover and Western Shore. Unfortunately, he suffered from soundness issues from 2014 to 2018 and only made 14 starts during that time. But he came back strong in 2019 and raced 147 starts his final four years and closed out his career with six wins in 2022, his last coming at Batavia on October 8. Bettor’s Reward is owned by Fortunate One LLC.

Parkhill Horton (Oaklea Julian-Guardian Image) 321-36-40-54 – 1:54.2 – $198,454

Parkhill Horton (Wendy J Lowery Photo)

He was never a star or stakes winner, but Parkhill Horton came to work every week for 13 years and earned his way to a well-deserved retirement. He’s a horse that liked to leave and often found himself on the front, trotting his best with the lead. His lifetime mark of 1:54.2 was taken at Vernon Downs in 2016, but his win in 1:58 at Batavia this year was his fastest since 2017. And his $27,508 in earnings this year was also his second best one year bank deposit of his life. His final start at Batavia will be on Wednesday (Dec. 14). Parkhill Horton is owned and trained by Rachelle Mungillo.

Post Time for the final card of racing on Saturday (Dec.17) was moved from 6 p.m. to 3 p.m. to accommodate fans of both harness racing and the Buffalo Bills after the game between them and the Miami Dolphins was flexed to Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. The clubhouse will open their doors at 2:30 p.m. and will offer a prime rib and shrimp buffet that will be served from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Railbar will be open from 2:30 p.m. until the end of the last race, which will be approximately 7 p.m., however it will not remain open for the Bills game.

by Tim Bojarski, for UNY-USHWA

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