Joseph C. Sarago, 80, dies

Batavia, NY — Joseph C. Sarago, 80, of Cheektowaga, N.Y., died Oct. 27, 2022.

Mr. Sarago was a life-long fixture in harness racing at Batavia Downs and in western New York, having first becoming involved in the sport with a Standardbred named Choicey Williams that he owned through his aunt and uncle who raced back in the 1960s.

After first getting licensed in 1966, Mr. Sarago went on to both train and drive and over the years, honing his skills and abilities through relationships with top reinsmen Gerry Sarama and Mike Gagliardi. Mr. Sarago drove mostly in the 1970s and ’80s and scaled back that part of his career in the 1990s in lieu of expanding his training time.

Mr. Sarago had a long list of top performers including arguably his best pacer ever, the 74-time winner Cambiance (1:55.1, $235,460), Crash Helmet (1:55.2, $160,123), Niatrator (1:55.4, $106,518), Woodhill Flash (2:01.1h, $73,488) and Magnolia Queen (1:59.4h, $56,405).

Through his career, Mr. Sarago had 245 driving wins that earned $571,077 and 136 training wins that banked another $361,676 for his connections.

He stepped away from full time participation in the barn in the late 1990s but stayed close to the sport by driving the starting car at Tioga Downs from 2006 until 2020.

Mr. Sarago was universally liked and respected within the harness racing community and will be deeply missed by all that knew him throughout his career.

Mr. Sarago was the beloved son of the late Anthony and Clara (nee Wentzel); dearest brother of Mary Ellen (Michael) DiVincenzo; dear uncle of Michael III (Lynn) and Anthony (Ken McGee) DiVincenzo.

Family will be present to receive relatives and friends Tuesday (Nov. 1) from 3-7 p.m. at the Melvin J. Sliwinski Funeral Home, 5090 Transit Road (south of Como Park Blvd.), Depew, N.Y., where services will be held at 6:30 p.m.

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