Akron, NY --- On Saturday (Sept. 7) four of the most prominent drivers from the golden era of racing in western New York donned their silks one more time and competed against each other for the first time since 1978 in the inaugural Batavia Downs Legends Pace.
Gaston Guindon, Fred Haslip, Gerry Sarama and Dick Welch are immortal names when discussing the racing scene in that part of the state as this famous-foursome earned the respect of their fans by scoring a combined 9,218 wins during their careers. As time passed, they stepped aside from active driving and the new generation of fans could only be told about races between "The Gasser,” “Steady Freddy,” “The Man with the Hands” and “The Dazzler.”
But on a rainy night in Batavia, the past came to life as the gate swung open and the veteran reinsmen guided their horses (who were “stage-named” after some of their most prolific performers) around the track they know so well to once again treat the fans to a thrilling stretch drive and photo finish.
Sarama still trains a public stable full time at Batavia with one of the more successful outfits on the grounds and Haslip maintains a stable of his own as well. However, like Guindon and Welch, neither has driven full time in a while so the local racing enthusiasts had the opportunity to see some of the best ever back in action.
The current driver colony at the Downs enjoyed spending time with them in the paddock and reminisced about watching them back in the day, and the fans engulfed the winner's circle to cheer them on at the wire and applauded when they came back for a presentation.
When it was all said and done, Fred Haslip with “Diamond Sparkler” beat Gaston Guindon and “Lake Shore Dolly” by a nose for the win. Dick Welch steering “Pine Hill Time” was third and Gerry Sarama was fourth with “Cambiance.”
You can watch the whole race by clicking here. The video is provided courtesy of Batavia Downs Gaming.