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DAYTON, OH. - Kiss Me Onthebeach, enjoying her second straight $100,000-plus earnings season, topped Hollywood Dayton Raceway's finest harness racing distaffers on Friday night (Oct. 20) winning the $18,500 feature race in 1:51.2. The 4-year-old Somebeachsomewhere lass left the gate enthusiastically for driver Chris Page reaching the quarter-mile marker in :27.1. With her eight talented adversaries seated along the pylons most of the second quarter, Kiss Me Onthebeach reached the midway point of the mile in :55.2, then accelerated through the third panel in 1:22.4 before closing with a :28.3 final quarter to close the deal by about two lengths. Jerseylicious attempted a first-over bid to reach Kiss Me Onthebeach's wheel during the middle half, but had too much ground to make up from her assigned outside post position. Town Temptress (Kyle Ater) launched a three-wide attack at the three-quarter station, but could do no better than second at the finish. My Tweed Heart (Josh Sutton) used a ground-saving trip to salvage the show dough. The win was the seventh on the season for Kiss Me Onthebeach, and 12th of her 46-race career. Owned by the Willow Oak Ranch, the Danny Collins trainee has now surpassed $300,000 in lifetime earnings. The victory was the fifth on the night for Page. Gregg Keidel  

DAYTON, OH. - An extremely classy field of eight harness racing open pacers, five with speed badges of 1:49.3 or better, answered the starter's call for Hollywood Dayton's $18,500 feature on Saturday night (Oct. 14). When the dust settled, it was the indefatigable Mykindachip (Jason Brewer) topping Rock N' Roll World (John DeLong), Feelnlikearockstar (Greg Grismore), K Ryan Bluechip (Dan Noble) and Lucky Lime (Shawn Barker II) in 1:51.1 over the five-eighths mile oval. The winning 8-year-old son of Art's Chip left the gate on a mission, refusing to relinquish the lead until a stride short of the first quarter pole, reached in :26.3. At that point eventual runnerup Rock N' Roll World assumed command and lead the field through a pedestrian :55.3 half and a speedy :27.3 third panel. Utilizing his pocket ride to full advantage, Mykindachip pulled outside at the head of the stretch and the battle was on until Brewer was able to urge his charge to the front in deep stretch. It was the eighth seasonal triumph for Mykindachip, who hails from the powerful Ron Burke Stable, and increased his 2017 bounty to $142,690. This was the 48th victory in this stellar performers career and pushed his bankroll to $778,432. Driver Tyler Smith moved into fourth place in the local dash standings by winning 5 of the first 12 races to winning 7 on the night, or half of the 14 races carded on the program. The 24-year-old reinsman trails only Josh Sutton, Dan Noble and Kayne Kauffman after the first 22 days of the 76-day meet. Rounding out the top ten are Kyle Ater, Jason Brewer, Jeremy Smith, Randy Tharps, Chris Page and Brady Galliers. Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - Colorful Sky made a successful debut into harness racing open mares company on Friday night (Oct. 13) at Hollywood Dayton Raceway, winning the featured $18,500 event in a new lifetime best 1:51.4 clocking. Defending national dash champion Aaron Merriman, who recently scored his 800th win for the fourth consecutive season and has announced a goal of 1000 wins in a single season for his first time this year, was the sulky sitter as the 5-year-old daughter of Skydancer Hanover notched her 16th career victory. Colorful Sky also passed the $100,000 earnings plateau with the win. Owner Grant Wilfong has campaigned the winner throughout her career, but recently relegated the training duties to Charles Stewart. In her first start under Stewart's tutelage, Colorful Sky finished second in a top distaff condition event that went in 1:50.4. In this week's clash, Merriman and Colorful Sky yielded briefly to Addys Way (Dan Noble) as they approached the quarter-mile marker in :26.4. Immediately moving back to the lead, Colorful Sky lead the field to the half in :55.3 and the three quarters in 1:23.3, then tacked on a :28.1 final panel to barely hold on over last week's Open winner Town Temptress (Kyle Ater) for the victory. Longshot Make Three Wishes (Josh Sutton) was best of the rest to garner the show dough. Gregg Keidel      

DAYTON, OH. - Penn made it "two straight harness racing wins in the Buckeye state," to quote Hollywood Dayton Raceway announcer Barry Vicroy, closing impressively on Thursday night (Oct. 12) to cop the $18,500 Open Trot in back-to-back weeks. Utilizing a totally different strategy, driver Josh Sutton dropped in third in the early going after realizing a couple others were intent on the front end in a speedy :26.3 opening panel. Last week's gate-to-wire winner then sat patiently along the pylons as Cantab Lindy (Chris Page) sped to the half in :56 and the three-quarter marker in 1:24.2, with Another Breath (Randy Tharps) pressuring the leader on the outside and Banker Volo (Dan Noble) headstrong in the pocket. When second-over Dnieper (Brady Galliers) faded as the horses began rounding the final bend, Sutton got room to angle Penn out and swing three-wide midway through the turn. The 7-year-old Master Glide gelding trotted home in :28 and change to pick off the leaders one at a time before prevailing by half a length in 1:53.2. As co-favorite Penn returned $4.80 to win; coupled with runnerup Another Breath the exacta paid $37.20; and 25-1 longshot show finisher Angels Ransom (Ken Holliday) boosted the $2 trifecta payoff to $333.80. Gregg Keidel

Four-year-old harness racing gelding, On The Rantan N (by Bettor’s Delight-Funontherun-In The Pocket), remained undefeated in the United States this past Saturday night winning the $18,500 Open Handicap for horses and geldings at Hollywood Dayton Raceway. In a driving monsoon, On The Rantan N left the Woebkenberg starting car and settled into fifth behind an eye-opening first quarter in 26.4 set by leader Hickory Icon and driver Jeremy Smith. As they passed the grandstands for the first time, driver Dan Noble pulled his mount, Sports Sinner, first-up and driver Jason Brewer quickly pulled ‘Rantan’ out to follow the live cover. Hickory Icon clocked the half in :56 seconds as the field journeyed toward the rain-driven backstretch. Sports Sinner began to stall on the outside approaching three quarters and Brewer made the call to set sail three wide with On The Rantan N and the gelding responded in a big way, striding up and grabbing the lead and opening up two lengths at the three quarters, clocking in at 1:23.3 (27.3 third quarter). As they hit the stretch, the duo of Brewer and ‘Rantan’ drew off by three lengths before throttling down near the wire to win by 2 in a final time of 1:53.2 (29.1 final quarter). On The Rantan N’s win Saturday marked his sixth consecutive win, in as many starts, since arriving in the U.S. for owners Chris Choros of Calumet City, IL; Eleven Star Stables of Portland, IN; and Jason J Brewer of Moraine, OH. ‘Rantan’ has now accumulated current-year earnings totaling $37,606, of which $35,700 has been earned in the U.S. The gelding has 22 lifetime starts (including 6 domestic) with 10 wins and 1 third and currently has a lifetime mark which he set at The Meadows on August 18th of this year in 1:50.4. Ohio based Jason Brewer and his father, Jeffrey Brewer, have teamed up as the driver/trainer duo to condition On The Rantan N here in the States. After a few phone calls to an agent (who spoke to Rantan’s trainer) in New Zealand and after Jason spoke to his regular driver there, they narrowed their list of several horses down to just one. The Brewers and partners made the choice to bring ‘Rantan’ home. The gelding traveled from New Zealand by boat to Australia, then a plane to Beijing, China. From China, ‘Rantan’ traveled on another plane to Alaska and from there to New York. Following three days of quarantine in New York, he was shipped by truck and trailer to the Brewer Farm in Ohio. He journeyed along with 17 other horses of various breeds to a variety of destinations throughout the world. A groom traveled with ‘Rantan’ who tended to him and made sure nothing happened along the way. Jason said, “You couldn’t ask for a better horse to be around. He is well-mannered in the barn; an easy jogger and he knows when to put his game face on. Everyone we spoke with from New Zealand said they enjoyed being around him. After all of his world travels and experiences, the first thing he did was dive into his grain. He did not act one bit stressed.” On The Rantan N is the first New Zealand horse purchased for the Brew Crew stable. Jason added, “You’re always concerned with how a horse is going to react to something different, but he raced in New Zealand both ways of the track and he also raced from a stand still start, as well as varying distances, including 1 and 11/16s miles and 1 and 3/8s miles in his last few starts there in colt stakes races. He’s just a nice horse and we are grateful to have him in our stable. My dad (Jeff) has done a great job training him down and being patient with him. He has given him the time he needs to become the horse he is today. We are enjoying his success and are looking forward to seeing what he has in store.” The Brewers’ plan is simple, continue racing him and see what he can do. Based on his success so far, there is reason to believe we have not yet seen the best from this young gelding. Stay tuned! By Kenneth W. Terpenning, M.I.S. @HarnessRacingReplays811  

DAYTON, OH. - Harness racing track record holder Penn returned to his winning ways on Thursday night (Oct. 5) winning the $18,500 Open Trot at Hollywood Dayton Raceway in a mild upset. It was two years ago that the now 7-year-old Master Glide gelding established the all-time 1:52.3 standard for squaregaiters, but his 1:55.1 mile on this damp night was good enough for a frontstepping triumph for Penn and leading driver Josh Sutton, who posted fractions of :27.4, :57.3 and 1:25.3 before tackling on the winning :29.3 final panel. 70-1 longshot Really Deep Chip (Scott Cisco) rallied to finish second with Anaffairtoremember (Kayne Kauffman) surviving a first-over journey to grab the show dough. Barkley Counts owns the winner that is trained by Alicia Hanners. Penn returned a $2 mutuel of $7.20; while the exacta paid a whopping $203.40 and the $2 trifecta was good for a $2806 payoff.    

DAYTON, OH. - Mykindachip exploded off the starting car a lot like his harness racing maternal grandpa (Precious Bunny) used to do and proceeded to speed through fractions of :26.2, :54.3, 1:22.3 and 1:50.3 to capture the $18,500 Open Handicap Pace at Hollywood Dayton Raceway on Saturday (Sept. 30). The 8-year-old gelded son of Art's Chip is enjoying another stellar season with seven wins and 20 on-the-board finishes in 29 tries. The Ron Burke trainee's 2017 bankroll has reached $132,940 and his career earnings now stand at $769,232. Driver Jason Brewer guided Mykindachip, who was sent off as the 5-2 second choice by the betting public, in his first Hollywood Dayton start of the year. Slightly-favored Secret Threat (Josh Sutton) provided mild first-over pressure from the half-mile marker to the head of the stretch, but ultimately had to settle for third as Doctor Carter (Mike Micallef) just got up for second-a length behind the winner--after benefitting from a ground-saving journey. In each of the first twelve programs of the current 76-day meet, Hollywood Dayton Raceway has exceeded the total handle of the comparative 2016 day. The Friday night (Sept. 29) handle, buoyed by the Grand Circuit Dayton Trotting and Dayton Pacing Derbies, established a new all-time record at the 4-year-old southwest Ohio track. Dayton races five times a week, featuring matinees on Mondays and Tuesdays at 2:15, and 6:15 evening programs on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - A large and enthusiastic throng turned out Friday night (Sept. 29) for a pair of harness racing Grand Circuit stakes at Hollywood Dayton Raceway. Pasithea Face S, one of just two mares in the eight horse affair, showed her heels to the field in 1:53, a new track record for trotting mares at the four-year-old five-eighths mile oval. Driver Tim Tetrick hustled the daughter of Muscle Hill from the gate, leading pocketsitter JL Cruze (David Miller) and parked out Hannelore Hanover (Matt Kakaley) to the quarter in :27. Hannelore Hanover, the lukewarm favorite and the other female in the contest, inched past JL Cruze while still on the rim at the half in :54.4. The tempo slackened in the third panel due to strong headwinds down the backstretch, but Pasithea Face S continued to front the classy trotters in 1:24.2. Tetrick, who explained "I thought it was her race to win if I could get the lead. I put her in a bad spot two weeks ago in the Maple Leaf Trot, but I knew she'd be good if I got her a clean trip tonight," urged the winner through a :28.3 closing quarter mile to seal the deal. Pasithea Face S, as the third choice at the windows, returned $9 to her backers. Combined with eventual runnerup Crazy Wow (Chris Page) the exacta yielded a $138.20 payoff; while the trifecta with show finisher JL Cruze paid $571. It was the twelfth career win for the lilghtly raced 5-year-old and pushed her lifetime bounty past $560,000. Trotting guru Jimmy Takter trains the Derby champion for Courant Inc. of Delray Beach, Florida. Rockin Ron became the sport's newest millionaire when he brushed home a 1:50.2 winner in the $140,000 Dayton Pacing Derby. Driver Matt Kakaley was content to sit near the back of the nine-horse pack for the first five-eighths of the mile, before taking up fourth-over position down the backside and angling to the outside coming out of the final turn and exploding in the stretch. Luck Be Withyou (Brett Miller) left alertly from the innermost post position to cut early fractions of :26.3 and :54.4 while Easy Lover Hanover (Doug McNair) enjoyed a pocket ride with longshot Boston Red Rocks (Josh Sutton) racing gamely on the outside. Boston Red Rocks actually nudged ahead by a neck at the 1:21.4 third quarter clocking, just before the cavalry charge from the rear commenced. When Boston Red Rocks began to tire, second-over Dealt A Winner (Aaron Merriman) took his best shot, which resulted in a second place finish. Third-over Missile J (Tim Tetrick) also finished strongly to garner the show dough after Rockin Ron swept past both of them during the :28.3 closing panel. Punters who picked Rockin Ron got a nice $12.60 kickback, while the exacta returned $55 and a $2 trifecta was worth $332. The 5-year-old son of Real Desire now owns 27 victories and the winner's share of the purse sent his earnings skyrocketing to $1,056,107. Ron Burke trains Rockin Ron for Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi and the RTC Stable. Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - Hollywood Dayton Raceway will proudly present the fourth annual harness racing Dayton Trotting and Pacing Derbies on Friday night (Sept. 29). The 17 horses entered in the track's signature events have combined earnings of $19,615,182 with 347 wins, including most of the major stakes throughout North America. Hannelore Hanover has been tabbed as the 2-1 morning line favorite in the $167,000 Dayton Trotting Derby, despite drawing the 7-hole for driver Matt Kakaley and trainer Ron Burke. The 5-year-old mare (one of two in the field) has earned over $2 million and recently beat her male counterparts in the Maple Leaf Trot in Toronto. Homocide Hunter (Brett Miller) is the 3-1 second choice, despite being saddled with the outside No. 8 post position, on the merits of a track record 1:51.2 score in the Centaur Trot at Hoosier Park in Indiana last Friday. JL Cruze (David Miller) will open as the third choice in the wagering (9-2 odds) from the coveted No. 1 post position. Completing the talented trotting field will be Musical Rhythm (Jason Brewer), Warrawee Roo (Daniel Dube), Pasithea Face S (Tim Tetrick), Centurion ATM (Aaron Merriman) and Crazy Wow (Chris Page). McWicked (David Miller) has been named the lukewarm favorite in the $140,000 Dayton Pacing Derby. The $2 million winner, conditioned by Casie Coleman, scored an impressive victory in Scioto Downs' Jim Ewart Memorial earlier this month. Rockin Ron (Matt Kakaley) will open at 3-1 as the fastest record horse in the field-a 1:47.2 triumph in an elimination of the Canadian Pacing Derby in late August. Check Six (Chris Page) and Missile J (Tim Tetrick) will also get support at the betting windows, opening at 4-1 and 9-2 respectively. Other competitors in the pacing feature will be Luck Be Withyou (Brett Miller), Easy Lover Hanover (Doug McNair), Dealt A Winner (Aaron Merriman), Boston Red Rocks (Brett Miller also listed) and Mach It So (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) Final driver changes are due by noon on Tuesday (Sept. 26). Post time for the 14 race program on Friday is 6:15 p.m. The Dayton Trotting Derby will be Race 10 with an estimated 9:30 p.m. off time; while the Dayton Pacing Derby will be two races later at approximately 10:15 p.m. Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - Doctor Carter (Mike Micallef) pulled a mild harness racing upset in Hollywood Dayton's featured $18,500 Open Pace on Saturday night (Sept. 23), nipping Secret Threat (Josh Sutton), who was last week's winner, in 1:50.4. The winning 6-year-old son of Total Truth equaled his lifetime best effort capturing his 36th career victory. Owned by Andrea and Tommy Householder and trained by Pat Karcher, Doctor Carter's total bankroll now has reached $420,000. Micallef shot directly to the lead when the starting gate sprung open, then yielded to Let's Drink On It (Travis Seekman) as the pair sped past the opening quarter beam in :26.2. Content to sit the pocket through fractions of :53.4 and 1:22, Doctor Carter and Micallef were patient as Secret Threat pressured Let's Drink On It from just past the half until midstretch. As Let's Drink On It began to yield and Secret Threat finally nosed in front, Doctor Carter found a seam and scooted past the pacesetters in the final strides. Dispatched at 4-1 odds, Doctor Carter returned $10.60 to his faithful. Coupled with Secret Threat, the exacta returned $46.20. Longshot My Hero Ron (Tyler Smith, 25-1) grabbed the show dough which triggered a $269.85 payoff for a 50-cent trifecta ticket. Excitement is building for next Friday night (Sept. 29) when the Grand Circuit stops at Hollywood Dayton Raceway. Top horses and drivers are expected from around North America for the $160,000 (est.) Dayton Trotting Derby and the $150,000 (est.) Dayton Pacing Derby. Trotter Homicide Hunter and pacer All Bets Off, both impressive winners in Grand Circuit stakes at Hoosier Park on Friday (Sept. 22) are likely entrants who will be challenged by the best older harness horses in training. Post time will be 6:15 p.m. Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - Addy's Way garnered her second straight harness racing victory in as many weeks at the recently convened Hollywood Dayton Raceway meet by capturing the $18,500 Mares Open on Friday (Sept. 22) night. The 9-year-old daughter of Camluck again used gate-to-wire tactics for driver-trainer Dan Noble, fronting the field through fractions of :27.2, :56, 1:23.4 and 1:52.1.   It was the fourth seasonal tally for Addys Way, owned by Perkins Racing Stable, and 53rd of a stellar career that has banked $454,750.   Returning dash titlist Josh Sutton also enjoyed a fruitful evening as he visited the winner's circle a half dozen times. The 35-year-old reinsman scored behind GD Rock My World (1:53.3, $5.40 win mutual), McWilliam (1:53, $16.00), Three Card (1:51.4, $5.80), Juslikeaqueen (1:53.1, $5.00), QB Killa (1:50.3, $6.80) and Mr Dennis (1:54, $5.40).   The Grand Circuit comes to town next Friday night (Sept. 29) when Hollywood Gaming will proudly present the $160,000 (est.) Dayton Trotting Derby and the $150,000 (est) Dayton Pacing Derby. The nominee list looks like a "Who's Who in Harness Racing" brochure as a host of the best older horses, as well as many of the sport's most notable drivers are expected for Dayton Raceway's marquee events.   Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - Well traveled Secret Threat scored his most impressive harness racing victory of the year Saturday night (Sept. 16) at Hollywood Dayton Raceway winning the $18,500 Open Pace in 1:51.4. Driver Josh Sutton tucked along the pylons in the early going, allowing five of his foes to battle for position in front of him through a taxing :26.4 first quarter mile. The eventual winner was moved into second-over position in the outer flow by the :54.4 halfway point, then tipped three-wide as the field sped past the 1:23.1 third quarter clocking. Secret Threat collared frontrunning Kolt Power (Chris Page) in deep stretch while 30-1 longshot Nvestment Blue Chip (Jeremy Smith) made a valiant stretch bid that fell just short but yielded a show finish. It was the fifth win of the season for Secret Threat, a 5-year-old son of Palone Ranger owned and trained by Justin Lloyd. He now has 26 career tallies in exactly 100 lifetime starts and passes the $250,000 bankroll plateau with this triumph. A race earlier, Whataboy (Chris Page) and On The Rantan N (Jason Brewer) couldn't be separated by the photo finish camera following a 1:52 mile, producing the fastest dead-heat in the brief four year history of Hollywood Dayton. The $14,000 condition race featured a full field of non-winners of ten races or $75,000 lifetime. Racing resumes next Friday night (Sept. 22) following a brief respite during Little Brown Jug week in Delaware, Ohio. Gregg Keidel  

DAYTON, OH. - Youlookhot took full advantage of some quick early fractions in Hollywood Dayton's $18,500 Mares Open Pace on Friday night to score a 1:52.4 harness racing triumph, her seventh of the year. The four-year-old Kilowatt mare pounced from a rail ride in third over the first seven-eighths of the mile to real in the frontsteppers . Driver Randy Tharps sat patiently behind pacesetter Stirling Euphoria (Dan Noble) and pocket sitter My Tweed Heart (Josh Sutton) threw splits of :26.2, :54.3 and 1:23 before angling out in early stretch to blow by the leaders. The homebred mare, owned by Charles Stovall of Lebanon, Ohio, returned $7.20 to win, $16 coupled with My Tweed Heart in the exacta, and $28.10 for a 50-cent trifecta ticket with Stirling Euphoria in the show spot. Youlookhot, who is trained by Joseph Essig, eclipsed the $90,000 seasonal earnings plateau with the victory, her most productive year to date. Driver Kyle Ater enjoyed a tremendous initial 2017 program at Hollywood Dayton, returning from a short vacation to post five wins, each producing a handsome mutuel payoffs. His successes came behind the trotter Caring Gracee (1:58.2, $14.40), and pacers Legal Brief (1:54.2, $21.60), Capt Serious (1:56.1, $10.00), Shocking Image (1:52.2, $11.00) and Incredible Joey (1:54.3, $7.60).  

DAYTON, OH. - Cantab Lindy pulled a mild harness racing upset in Hollywood Dayton Raceway's initial $18,500 Open Trot of the season on Thursday night (September 14). The nine-year-old son of Cantab Hall was sent hard when the wings folded, clearing to the front midway through the quick opening quarter mile panel in :27.2. Driver Tyler Smith craftily guided the pride and joy of owner-trainer Brent Davis's stable through subsequent fractions of :56.2 and 1:24.3 before stopping the teletimer in 1:54.1. The ultra-consistent aged trotter has now copped eight wins in 2017 and banked an incredible $109,695 during his nine-year-old season. Coupled with three place and five show finishes, Cantab Lindy has hit the board in 16 of his 30 starts, almost exclusively in open class competition. Defending local dash champion Josh Sutton captured five victories on the 12-race program, while Tyler Smith notched three. Hollywood Dayton will race Friday (September 15) and Saturday (September 16) at 6:15 p.m. each evening, then remain dark (in deference to Little Brown Jug Week at the Delaware County Fairgrounds) until Friday (September 22). Thereafter, the regular schedule through December 30 will be Monday and Tuesday matinees and night cards on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - Harness racing driver Dan Noble, whose stellar sulky career was chronicled on Saturday in the Dayton Daily News, was the star of the Opening Day show at Hollywood Dayton Raceway on Monday afternoon. The 34-year-old, a fourth-generation reinsman who hails from nearby Xenia, copped six of the 14 races on the five-eighths mile oval's initial card of the season. Noble's opening six-pack gives him first-call in the early going of the local Dash Derby, but others will try to close the gap on the second session on the Tuesday (Sept. 12) matinee program that begins at 2:15 p.m. Defending champ Josh Sutton fashioned his own hat-trick on Monday, while Tyler Smith scored a driving double. Noble got the first of his half-dozen trips to the winner's circle when he guided Gun Show to a 1:54.4 tally for trainer Dustin Arledge in the second race, returning $4.80 for a $2 win ticket. The popular catch driver's other five scores came from five other different training stables, making the feat even more impressive. His successes included Rocks Noble Artist (1:55.4, trainer B. J. Roberts, $8.60), Showdown At Sun Up (1:54.2, Bill Dailey, $9.60), Karlee Sue (1:54, Clarence Foulk, $5.80), Turbo Mach (1:54.2, Brian Georges, $4.40) and Luvyatothemoon (1:56.3, Timothy Lane, $9.60). Fastest trotter of the day was Rock N Stien, who won a $10,000 conditioned trot in 1:56.2 for driver Peter Wrenn. On-track handle was ten percent higher than Opening Day 2016, while total handle including the export signal was up a whopping 40 percent year-over-year. Gregg Keidel          

The distance between Barn 4 at the Greene County Fairgrounds and the paddock at Hollywood Dayton Raceway is just 15.8 miles. That’s one reason for local harness racing fans to rejoice. It means Dan Noble; one of the best harness drivers in the nation, a guy who has won nearly 4,800 races and $26 million in purses — will be at Dayton Raceway when it begins its fourth season of racing Monday afternoon with a 14-race card that begins at 2:15 p.m. Noble has a real affinity for home and, because of that, the pari-mutuel track that’s closest to it. And as he said Thursday morning as he stood just outside Barn 4: “This is home.” “This goes back to my great granddad (Sam O. Noble), he built this barn. It was the first pole barn out here. And my grandpa (Sam Jr.) raced out of here after him and then my dad (Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Famer Chip Noble) did, too. I’m the fourth generation. So it means a lot. “I actually grew up just two miles down the road and I was in this barn almost every day as a kid. In the beginning I had to clean stalls, do everything the grooms do. My dad called it learning ‘from the ground up.’ “I was probably 8 when I jogged my first horse.” Eight years later — on the dirt oval just beyond Barn 4 — he won his first pari-mutuel race as a 16-year-old driver at the 1999 Greene County Fair. “After school, I’d change clothes and hurry out here,” he said. “I took care of two horses here and I just loved it.” Once he graduated from high school, he went off to college in Nashville. “I lasted about two weeks,” he shrugged. “It just wasn’t for me so I came right back out here to the barn and worked beside my father.” Once he began to stand out — winning driving titles at Scioto and Northfield in 2011, becoming the leading dash driver in all of racing that year with 773 wins and being awarded the Dan Patch Rising Star Award given by the U.S. Harness Writers Association — he drew interest from around the racing world. Some prominent East Coast horsemen tried to convince him to move to New Jersey so he could race regularly at the Meadowlands and other prominent tracks there, but again he said he decided not to leave home: “They asked me numerous times to come out and one year I did go out five weekends in a row to race and I enjoyed it. But then I came back home.” When Dayton Raceway opened in the fall of 2014 — just after Miami Valley Raceway’s debut that spring in Warren County — he said the close proximity of the two tracks made his staying in Xenia that much easier. The biggest reason though, he admitted Thursday, had been the January 2014 death of his 60-year-old dad after a battle with cancer. “Before the passing of my dad, I never really had planned on being a trainer even though I had trained alongside him for 14 years and had enjoyed every minute of it. But I figured staying here was a good way of carrying on the Noble name.” Last month he carried the name to Dublin, Ireland, where he’d been invited to take part in a gala, two-day affair — centered around the running of the Vincent Delaney Memorial Harness Race — at Portmarnock Raceway. He had caught the eye of Irishmen Derek and James Delaney, who put on the racing weekend to honor their late brother. Derek also owns the sire Foreclosure N that stood in Ohio for a year and produced several successful foals, including Drunk On Your Love, a gelded pacer that Dan drives. He accepted their invitation and brought his mom as well as his fiancé, Kristi Pokornowski. It was his first trip overseas and he made quite a splash. “The crowd was amazing,” he said. “The place was completely packed. It kind of looked like the Kentucky Derby with everybody dressed up. The women were in their dresses and big hats. It was like the Little Brown Jug, too. There was that kind of excitement. “I actually got more races than I expected. I drove four the first day and like eight the next. I ended up winning two and then broke the track record for the mile and a quarter. “It seemed like the people really loved me — I kind of wish we had had one more day afterward to see the sights.” Instead, he turned around, flew back home and was at Barn 4 soon after he landed. A family affair On the front of the barn, next to the big doorway, Dan has affixed a large wooden replica of the red and white silks worn by his father. “I hung them up in memory of my dad,” he said. But if the place is a totem to the past, it’s also home to the future. “My son Colton is 13 and he’s starting to get involved,” Dan said. “He started jogging horses two months ago and he keeps asking me when he can start driving. “His mother is in the business as well and until we split up, we kept him in the barn. So I guess he has the fever, too. “But I never thought he’d actually want to do it because he’s into video games and he sits with the Xboxes and PlayStations. But he’s really an intelligent kid and he’s even come up with a design for his own colors.” For the family’s first three generations, the racing colors were always red, white and black. Dan changed that, he said, after he got a dispensation: “I actually went to my grandfather and got permission to change them. He asked what the colors were and I told him purple and gold. He said, ‘OK, you can change to purple. It’s a sign of royalty.’ ” And Grandpa turned out to be prescient. Dan has shown time and again he is race-cart royalty. Last Saturday night, three weeks after his success in Ireland, he was a big winner on the Ohio Super Night card at Scioto Downs. He won a pair of $250,000 races, guiding Bad Girls Rule to victory in the two-year-old filly pace in 1:54.3 and taking the Ohio Sire Stakes with Drunk On Your Love in 1:53. Met in Buffalo Speaking of love, that was one of the topics that came up as I spoke to Dan and Kristi outside Barn 4 Thursday while they took a break from their morning chores with the dozen horses they had stabled inside. Later in the day they’d head to the Hardin County Fair in Kenton where they had two horses on the evening card. And the two nights after that they’d be back in Columbus to close out the meet at Scioto Downs where Dan — even with his break for Ireland — was third in driving wins. Each morning in Xenia, Dan handles the training, the rigging and any dealings with owners. Kristi is in charge of care for the horses, barn management and the paperwork. They make a good team because, like Dan, she’s a fourth-generation horseman. She grew up in Batavia, N.Y., and spent six years at Medaille College and D’Youville College, both in Buffalo, studying biology and veterinary technology. She worked at a veterinary practice two years, then returned to the race track. She met Dan when he drove for a while in Buffalo. “At the beginning of 2018 it will be six years we’ve been together,” teased Kristi. “On my birthday this Halloween, it will be four years since he gave me a ring.” Dan seemed to shuffle around a bit uncomfortably. He knew where this conversation — with some prompting — was headed. He told a story involving one of his buddies: “His fiancé brought up this same thing two nights ago. She said, ‘It’s been eight years and he just gave me a ring. Now it will be another five years!’ ” Kristi started to laugh and Dan squirmed a little more. “Well…uuuuh…we don’t really have that much time,” he mumbled. “Well, we might have time, but…aaahh… we’re not home a lot.” This from the guy who always gravitates to home? Yeah, right. By Tom Archdeacon Reprinted with permission of The My Dayton Daily News  

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