Lifetime Achievement Award For Ball

Published: December 9, 2015 10:51 am EST

Scores of horsemen and women have come and gone over the years at Batavia Downs, but the ever-changing look of the local driving colony has had a single, steady constant in its midst that still sends horses postward after 49 years in the business. His name is Ken Ball.

Ball got started in harness racing in 1966 as a second trainer for Eldon Harner, but it wasn’t long before he departed to start his own stable.

The first and probably best owners he ever had were Morris and Betty Miller. They bred and raced a string of horses that bore the ‘Whiz’ name. These horses were stalwarts of his stable for thirty years.

During his time in the business, his most successful horse was Missile T (1:57.2 $313,644). The Master of Style colt was one of the best two and three-year-old male trotters in New York State in 2006 and 2007. The largest purse Ball ever won was the $100,000 Elitist Cup at the Syracuse Mile with Brass Target Sam ($1:56.2 $74,793) in 1990. And the fastest race he ever drove was a 1:56.2 mile with his good Open trotter, Derby Tex Whiz (1:56.2 $125,941), also at the Syracuse Mile.

But the hits didn’t stop there. Ball was also responsible for the careers of Major T Collins (1:59.2 $221,804), PJ Whiz (2:00.2 $161,696), Super Whiz (1:59.4 $142,879), Crescent T Collins (2:02.2 $94,178), Gantry T (1:57.2 $69,923), Tempest Lobell (2:03.2 $63,411), BJ Grattan (2:02.4 $60,035), Chip Rebel (2:02.3 $58,474) and of course, the local legend Mr. Tizwhiz (1:59.3 $48,633).

For his career, Ball drove 1,143 winners that accounted for $3.1 million in purses. On the training side, Ball started 2,337 horses and posted 263 wins, 311 seconds and 324 thirds (40 per cent in the money) and earned another $1.1 million for those starts.

Ball is still actively training today, but limits his driving to county fairs and an occasional qualifying race. He defers the pari-mutuel lines to his son, Keith, who is continuing the family tradition. Keith is also a Monroe County Sheriff.

Ken still lives in Batavia with his longtime companion, Patricia Arnold, but he’s more likely to be found shipping his horses to the track or a fair than at his house – but that’s the only way one could ever put together such an impressive body of work.

Ken Ball will receive his award in the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday (December 12) during UNY-USHWA’s Night of Distinction.