By Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway
HAMBURG, N.Y. --- When the starting gate swings open for the first time for 2023 live harness racing season at Buffalo Raceway on Saturday, March 4, there will be plenty of optimism in the air.
Live racing returns on Saturday, March 4th
"We have many exciting promotions throughout the season planned," Buffalo Raceway Marketing Coordinator Paige Usiak said. "Just about every Saturday during the season, we'll have something going on. Our goal is promoting the sport and we are going to be cooking. We expect the clubhouse to be filled every Saturday."
Racing in March will consist of Wednesday and Saturday night cards commencing at 6 p.m. then when the calendar flips to April, action will be held on Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays beginning at 2:30 p.m. Each live program during the 57-day meet will have purses that average $100,000.
Opening night on Saturday (March 4) kicks off a series of promotions with the return of the always popular Lucky Exacta contest. Patrons will receive a Buffalo Raceway baseball cap and will also get an 'lucky exacta' combination good for select races on the program. Should the exacta come in, you'll spin the wheel for free wagers from $10 up to $100 on the last race. Fans can win more than once.
There will also be free Buffalo Raceway programs on track for opening night.
March Mayhem returns once again with fans drawing teams for the NCAA Basketball Tournament. On March 1, 8 and 11, patrons will randomly select a team to see who wins the "Big Dance'. Should your team take the title, you'll spin the wheel for up to $100 in wagers on the eighth race at Buffalo on April 8. If your team makes the finals, but loses, you'll take a shot at the wheel where you could win up to $50 in free wagers. Fans will also get a $10 match play coupon at Hamburg Gaming just for entering the contest.
The Battle Of The Best, a handicapping contest, comes back once again and will be featured on the last Saturday of each month. The handicappers will battle in both thoroughbred and harness racing challenges. Rules and regulations can be found at the newly redesigned Buffalo Raceway website at www.buffaloraceway.com
The Kentucky Dine & Derby event is back for another season and it promises to be the best in Western New York with a live band, catered buffet along with giveaways throughout the day. Reservations will be accepted starting on April 1.
There will be a food truck on the grounds every other Saturday beginning on May 13. Some of the trucks rolling in for 2023 will include Fat Bob's and Buffalo Burger Bros.
There will be several chicken barbecues during the season with Carrubba's Chicken Pit doing the honors. They'll be on the grounds on select Saturdays including Preakness Day, and closing day on Saturday, July 22. The Father's Day Celebration on Saturday, June 17 will feature Weidner's chicken.
Cramer said the bar area will be 'stepping it up" this season with at least two rotating local craft beers on the menu along with updated cocktails. "We are also going to have local craft beer tastings throughout the year," he said.
The clubhouse will be accepting group reservations during the campaign. Usiak stated, "We have five different packages we will be offering starting at $18.50 a person. There's a price range for everyone. We can customize your group package to fit your needs."
On the track, Race Secretary Tom Agosti has put together a Jump Start Series, a TrackMaster Series for 70 (F&M 71.5) or less with a $20,000 finale and a 73.5 (F&M 75) or less with the final having a purse of $25,000 and a 77 (F&M 78.5) or less with a $30,000 championship race.
To be eligible, a horse must have a minimum of two starts at Buffalo Raceway in March.
Usiak also noted that she'll be doing backstretch interviews several times a month, allowing fans to get to know the local drivers, trainers and owners. "We want people to see the ins and outs of what it is like behind the scenes on the backside of the track," she stated,
Cramer said, "We are extremely excited about this season. We have an eager, young, energetic marketing person in Paige Usiak who has been working hard the entire offseason. She has taken the reins and has run with it." He added, "Buffalo Raceway has a long history and we want this to be a place people want to come to for many years to come."
For more information including the latest news, replays, entries, results and upcoming promotions, go to www.buffaloraceway.com