by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway
HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Buffalo Raceway begins its 75th anniversary harness racing season on Wednesday, January 11 and will celebrate in various ways throughout the 90-day meet until closing day on Sunday, July 23.
The new season will bring some changes both on and off the track at the Hamburg half-mile oval which is located on the Erie County Fairgrounds.
"We are looking forward to the upcoming season and creating more winners," Buffalo Raceway Director of Operations Jon Cramer said as the track preps for the 75th season.
Buffalo Raceway will have a post of 5 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday evenings while Saturday's program will get underway at 6 p.m. Matinee racing will begin June 18 with a 12:30 p.m. start. There's a special 7 p.m. post when thoroughbred's Triple Crown races are contested.
Racing fans can expect four new barns to make their debut this season with George Anthrop, Kim Asher, Joe Skowyra and Bo Sowers all coming in during the campaign.
They can expect to tussle with JD Perrin who remains at the top of the list for local conditioners. He posted his third consecutive training title at Buffalo Raceway last season, rolling up 106 victories. Perrin has won six straight crowns on the Western New York circuit between the Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs.
There is one new driver confirmed for 2017 and that is Larry Stalbaum who joined the Western New York driving colony at Batavia Downs mid-season.
Stalbaum finished with 32 victories in 175 starts at Batavia Downs but will have to deal with the likes of defending Buffalo Raceway champion Jim Morrill Jr., reigning Batavia Downs leader Drew Monti and the always dangerous Kevin Cummings.
Monti has been competing at the Meadowlands during the hiatus in Western New York and is looking forward to the upcoming campaign.
"It's been unbelievable racing at the Meadowlands," a confident Monti said. "I'm looking for another good year in 2017 and hopefully the momentum I had at Batavia and the Meadowlands will carry over to Buffalo Raceway. I started slow last season at Buffalo so hopefully I will get off to a better start."
Off the track, Buffalo Raceway patrons will notice a updated look in the clubhouse with new table and chairs, the addition of several 50-inch televisions and other cosmetic changes.
Cramer said, "I think patrons will enjoy the updated clubhouse and it will make their evening pleasant."
Wayne Teaven will be handling the race calling duties full-time for the 2017 season after announcing part of 2016.
"This is definitely a dream of mine," Teaven said about getting the full-time position. "Buffalo Raceway has a lot of rich history and I am glad to be a part of the 75th anniversary season. I am definitely looking forward to it."
The wagering menu has some slight modifications this season as Buffalo Raceway will offer a Pick-5, Pick-4, a pair of Pick-3s, three daily doubles along with the standard win, place, show, exacta, trifecta and superfecta bets.
Opening week will be busy with a free magnetic schedule giveaway on Wednesday night, the 2016 Awards presentation along with the always popular fish fry dinner on Friday while Saturday evening, a commemorative 75th Anniversary Lucky Exacta Coin will be handed out.
On the back of the coin will be two numbers representing an exacta for races 2 through 10. If your coin has the winning exacta number, you'll spin the Wheel of Cash to determine how much in free wagers you will be given to bet on in the 12th race, the 75th Anniversary Year Pace.
If the 7-5 exacta comes in on any race, the lucky holders will spin the wheel for double the amount. You can win on multiple races plus all fans receive $10 in free play at Hamburg Gaming.
Starting on Saturday, January 21 and continuing every Saturday throughout the meet is the Winter Winner's Circle Contest. Fill out an entry and drop it into the box of the horse you think will win the ninth race. A slip will be drawn from the winning horse's entry box with $50 in Buffalo Raceway wagers going to the lucky fan. They'll also be eligible for the March 25th final with a chance to collect $250 in wagers.
All entrants will also receive $5 in free play at Hamburg Gaming.
For more information on Buffalo Raceway including the latest news, race replays, results and upcoming promotions, go to www.buffaloraceway.com