HAMBURG, N.Y. (WKBW) — The track is ready, over 200 horses are ready and it's time to race. The 66-day season at Buffalo Raceway is set to begin its 80th annual season at the Fairgrounds in Hamburg.
"It's special...during the pandemic, we were able to come to work every day, to work with the horses kept us normal," said Maria Rice, a horse trainer at the Raceway.
She’s getting all of the horses ready to race for the first time in months, including China Dream.
“China gives it 110% every time, he’s always ready to race and he tries hard. He’s 10 years old, we purchased him privately when he was 4 and he’s been racing at Buffalo Raceway ever since,” said Rice.
Opening night is scheduled for Wednesday, January 27 with a 5 p.m. post slated for the 11-event program.
Things are different this year, of course. With Covid-19 protocols still in place, fans will not be allowed at the facility located at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg.
RACE DAY:— Taylor Epps WKBW (@taylor_epps_) January 27, 2021
This is Party Boy Hanover AKA Tony.
We’re best friends.
We’re here because today is the first day of the 80th season here at @BuffaloRaceway and he’s set to hit the track tonight! More on @WKBW. pic.twitter.com/FzwIyAiIIT
"Following 2020 and the way 2021 has started, we can't wait to get the racing season started. We hope to have spectators sometime during the season but until then, we will put out a good product for the bettors to play along at home," said Director of Operations Jon Cramer.
Owners who have horses entered will be able watch live at the track but they must call the race office in advance of the race.
"You hear the crowd...and they cheer and it’s exciting to hear people cheer for your horse so that part I miss,” said Rice.
But you can still watch and wager on races. A few OTB's and Simulcast locations are open or place your bets through any of the Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) websites including TVG, NYRAbets and TwinSpires among others.
Buffalo Raceway's wagering menu for the horse players includes three daily doubles (Races 1-2, 5-6 and the last two on the program), a Pick 5 (races 2-6), a Pick 4 (races 7-10) and a Pick 3 (the last three races) along with win, place, show, exacta, trifecta and superfecta bets.
Opening Night of racing is here! With COVID protocols, no fans allowed but you can still watch and bet with your ADW.— Buffalo Raceway (@BuffaloRaceway) January 27, 2021
$3,000 guaranteed Pick 5 pool with free program pages at https://t.co/JZOFMnwpLh
📄 Entries https://t.co/JMym0HGDnh
✏️ Tip Sheet https://t.co/5z5Vgo7vxQ pic.twitter.com/9nQS6zipRP
On the track, driver Billy Davis Jr., the 2020 Buffalo Raceway driving champion, is returning to defend his title. Davis Jr. won 71 races last season and collected more than $376,000 in purse earnings in the abbreviated season. He'll be busy on Wednesday as he is scheduled to drive in all 11 races.
Rice, who captured her first ever training title, will try and make it two straight crowns after notching 39 victories at Buffalo Raceway in 2020, winning more than $242,000 in purses. She'll send eight to the gate on opening night.
Starting on April 2, Friday nights will be added to the slate with a start time of 5 p.m. The Saturday programs will then be moving to 6 p.m. There will be three special 7:15 p.m. posts set for Saturday, May 1, Saturday, May 15 and Saturday June 5 to accommodate thoroughbred Triple Crown events.
The Buffalo Raceway 2021 racing dates were recently approved by the NYSGC. The 66 day schedule starts Wednesday January 27 and concludes July 17. At this time no spectators will be allowed to watch the races at the track. pic.twitter.com/PSaB8v6RtH— Buffalo Raceway (@BuffaloRaceway) December 17, 2020
There are two Sunday afternoon cards on tap, June 20 and June 27 with each having a 12:30 p.m. post. The track will be dark on Friday June 18 and June 25.
The season will conclude on Saturday, July 17.
For more information including the latest news, schedule. entries, race replays, results, visit the Buffalo Raceway website.