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LEBANON, OH. - Sectionline Bigry continued his winning ways Saturday night (April 21) at Miami Valley by capturing the $40,000 James K. Hackett Memorial harness racing championship for sophomore Ohio-sired pacing colts in a quick 1:51.1. The son of Pet Rock has now triumphed in four of his first five seasonal starts following a freshman campaign in which he won just one of ten while earning $41,479. "He had some bad posts, some bad luck and minor sickness problems that plagued him last year," said trainer Steve Bauder. "But he has filled out nicely while turned out and been razor sharp since we brought him back in. There's obviously going to be a lot of real nice Ohio 3-year-olds this year, but he is the sixth good horse his dam (Aquatic Yankee) has produced so he has a pedigree to continue improving." With the win, Sectionline Bigry got an automatic invitation to next Saturday's $50,000 Scarlet & Gray Invitational at Miami Valley, then he plans to return for the first leg of the Ohio Sires Stakes series at MVG on Sunday, May 6. Runnerup Bounding Dragon (Josh Sutton) and show finisher Dragonology (Chris Page) are expected to follow a similar path. Rockathon (Dan Noble), last year's O.S.S. runnerup who made an unfortunate break in stride during his Hackett elimination, recovered nicely on Saturday night as well, winning a conditioned race in 1:51.4 and could be Scarlet & Gray bound. Bauder trains the Hackett champion for his uncle and cousin, Harold Lee and Harold L. Bauder. A $23,000 Open I Pace on the same program produced a major upset when My Buddy Ninkster (Josh Sutton) topped odds-on favorite My Hero Ron (Tyler Smith) in 1:50.2. Bob Phillips, who recorded his 1,000th training win since 1996 (when the USTA began keeping trainer statistics) on Friday at MVG, conditions the 6-year-old son of Dali for John Jr. and Mary Krasnican. Nuclear Dragon (Chris Page) made his first jump into Open company a creditable one with a third place finish. The $20,000 Open II Pace went to Escape The News (Tyler Smith), who topped Totally Kissed (Peter Wrenn) and Dalhousie Dave (Kyle Ater) in 1:50. Tyler George trains the 9-year-old winner for Clifford Grundy. The son of Artiscape is approaching $900,000 in career earnings. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - Miami Valley Raceway's Friday (April 20) night co-features did not disappoint. Up Front Flor Ida (Kayne Kauffman) set a new track record for 3-year-old pacing fillies in the $40,000 James K. Hackett Memorial final; and Zoe Ellasen (Tyler Smith) established a new lifetime mark winning the $25,000 Mares Open Pace. As the winner of one of the two Hackett eliminations a week ago, Up Front Flor Ida entered the championship tilt full of confidence. Rather than coming from way back like she did in the elim, Kauffman sent her sailing from the outset with the big money on the line. Despite heavy pressure from Just Zip It (Keith Crawford) for the first five-eighths of the mile and then runnerup Kay Again (Chris Page) the rest of the way, the winner was able to rebuff all challenges enroute to a 1:52.4 score. It established a new track standard, lowering the previous 1:53 clockings by both Rose Run Skyler and Rosemary Rose in 2017. Up Front Flor Ida has now notched four wins in her first ten lifetime starts, banking $75,901 for owners Kevin McKinney and Virginia McKoy. With the triumph, trainer Tim McKoy's standout filly earned an instant invitation to next Friday night's $50,000 Scarlet & Gray Invitational for sophomore fillies. Runnerup Kay Again and show finisher Big Bad Goldie (Mike Wilder) also earned automatic bids to the next big dance.   Zoe Ellasen, who competed in last September's Jugette at the Delaware (OH) county fairgrounds where her trainer Ron Potter is stabled, won her first open class race in 1:52, a personal best. Although Zoe Ellasen has 14 career victories and $268,605 in earnings, it came largely in juvenile stakes competition. The 4-year-old daughter of Santanna Blue Chip has consistently been in-the-money since joining the older open ranks, but hadn't won until now. Smith, realizing that front-end speed was holding up well on this evening, put Zoe Ellasen on the point from the get-go and showed her heels to the field at every pole, reaching them in :27, :54.2 and 1:22.3 before reaching the wire in 1:52. Zoe Ellasen topped Cas Art Apparel and Juslikeaqueen in the $25,000 Mares Open Pace Conrad photo Clyde Perfect owns the winner, who bested longshot Cas Art Apparel (Josh Sutton) and Juslikeaqueen (Jeremy Smith). Zoe Ellasen paid $8.00 to win. When Donna's Dream won Miami Valley's 4th race on Friday night it gave veteran trainer Bob Phillips his 1000th win since the USTA began keeping records in 1996. Phillips was training long before 1996, and actually recorded 480 driving wins in the five year span from 1977-81.  Bob Phillips gets his his 1000th win                    -Brad Conrad photo   Gregg Keidel    

LEBANON, OH. - Pass The Vape passed his first major test of his sophomore season on Tuesday afternoon (April 17), capturing the $40,000 championship leg of the first-ever James K. Hackett Memorial for Ohio-sired harness racing 3-year-old colt trotters. Started in 1971 at Lebanon Raceway, the Hackett Memorials have featured the Buckeye state's best juvenile pacers for 4-1/2 decades, but the trotters weren't added until 2018 by Miami Valley Raceway. Driver-trainer Derek Watiker popped the pocket at the head of the lane to trot home a 1:55.1 winner in his $15,000 Hackett elimination a week ago, but decided to take no prisoners in the final. Leaving strongly from the 7-hole, the son of Dejarmbro encountered only limited resistance while cutting modest fractions enroute to a 1:57.3 triumph. Pass The Vape held favored Sultan Of Cash (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.), the other elimination winner, at bay by 1-1/2 lengths to score his fourth career win in just six lifetime starts. In his two wins as a 2-year-old, both at Ohio county fairs, the excitable colt overcame breaks in stride to still win. The next big test for Pass The Vape will be in the $50,000 Scarlet & Gray Invitational at Miami Valley on Saturday (April 28). Sultan Of Cash and third place finisher Sand Cash (Chris Page) also stamped themselves automatic invitations to Miami Valley's newest innovation, four lucrative Scarlet & Gray races sandwiched between the Hackett championships and the first leg of the Ohio Sires Stakes season on MVG's closing weekend. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - Red Storm, dispatched as the betting favorite based on an impressive elimination win last week and an inside post draw, prevailed in the first-ever $40,000 James K. Hackett Memorial championship for Ohio-sired harness racing 3-year-old trotting fillies held at Miami Valley Raceway on Monday (April 16). Although the Hackett Memorial is one of the longest continuous events in Ohio harness racing, pre-dating even the Ohio Sires Stakes when it started in 1971, it has always featured pacers only until this year. Most of the best sophomore trotting colts in the Buckeye state will assemble Tuesday (April 17) afternoon for their $40,000 final. Red Storm withstood not only the challenge of a talented field of finalists-the top four finishers all got the identical time with a scant neck separating each one at the wire-but also the elements as a sudden snow squall accompanied by high winds descended on the track minutes before post time. Impinktoo , last year's 2-year-old Ohio Sires Stakes champion, was first away from the gate for driver Peter Wrenn, reaching the quarter mile station in :28.3. After she got a relative breather to the :57.4 halfway point, Red Storm (Aaron Merriman) made a bold brush to the front before the three-quarters was reached in 1:26.2. As the field fanned out coming off the final bend, a thrilling cavalry charge ensued to the finish line. Longshot Spunky Bottom Girl (Tyler Smith) got up for second followed by Non Smoker (Dan Noble) and California Love (Trace Tetrick). All four fillies were timed in 1:57.4. Sandra Burnett bred and is still the owner of Red Storm, who banked $109,975 in 2017 on the basis of a 3-2-1 scorecard in just seven starts. The chestnut daughter of Stormin Normand has learned all her early lessons from highly regarded trotting trainer Chris Beaver. The top three finishers in each Hackett final, as well as the defending Ohio Sires Stakes freshman champion (if qualified), receive automatic bids to one of the four $50,000 Scarlet & Gray Invitationals that Miami Valley will present on Friday, April 27 (fillies) and Saturday, April 28 (colts). Other owners and trainers with good Ohio-breds worthy of consideration should contact Race Secretary Gregg Keidel or enter online in hopes of receiving an invitation to take one of the remaining spots on the Scarlet & Gray starting gate. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - Walter White not only stepped back into the Open trotting ranks on Sunday afternoon (April 15) at Miami Valley, but he stepped right to the head of the harness racing class. The 6-year-old son of Cantab Hall took advantage of an inside post draw which resulted in a close-up ground-saving journey and a tiring rain-soaked racing surface that took its toll on frontstepping Ladys Dude and made it difficult for other closers. With new driver Dan Noble at the controls, Walter White found room to split rivals in deep stretch and garner the winner's share of the $25,000 Open Trot purse in 1:55.1. Another Breath (Chris Lems) was the runnerup with longshot Jesse's Promise (Aaron Merriman) rallying for a show finish. Elmo Blatch (Tylor Lough), who entered the Open for the first time with a seven-race win streak, responded with a valiant first-over effort-actually getting a neck lead in midstretch-before fading to fourth. Lady's Dude held on for the final check in the nine-horse field. Walter White was the fourth consecutive different Open Trot winner at Miami Valley. Jim Eaton trains the winner for Robert Silberberg. Walter White now owns 19 lifetime wins and has earned $422,071. Miami Valley will present a Monday (April 16) matinee at 2:05 p.m. featuring the $40,000 James K. Hackett Memorial series championship for Ohio-sired 3-year-old trotting fillies. Gregg Keidel  

LEBANON, OH. - Miami Valley Raceway presented the $24,000 annual Craig Colston Memorial Open Pace on Saturday (April 14) honoring the memory of one of old Lebanon Raceway's staunchest harness racing supporters. When the winner, Night Pro, returned to the winner's circle he was surrounded by about 40 of Colston's family and friends. Owner-trainer-driver Dale Decker reverted to "catch me if you can" tactics for this victory, following a failed effort to win from behind last week. Night Pro had to work hard to secure the front in a :26 flat opening panel, but was able to throttle back to a :54.3 half before being pressured. The intact 8-year-old son of Pro Bono Best-out of the fantastic former race mare Midnight Jewel-continued to show the way to the 1:23 three quarters station, then tacked on a :28.4 final split to hold off all challengers in 1:51.4. Longshot Savage Seelster (Jason Brewer) took full advantage of the innermost post position and a pocket ride throughout to gain runnerup laurels, while My Hero Ron (Tyler Smith) rallied from last in the full field down the backstretch to grab the show dough. Co-featured on the Saturday card were a pair of $15,000 James K. Hackett eliminations for some of Ohio's finest 3-year-old colt pacers. Sectionline Bigry (Tyler Smith), who set the 1:51 track record for the age and sex in his last start, overcame an outside post to score a 1:51.3 tally over Bounding Dragon (Josh Sutton) and Bus Ninethirtysix (Chris Page). Also advancing to the $40,000 championship were fourth place finishers Oberlin (Kyle Ater) and Gotarockinmypocket (Peter Wrenn) on the merits of the quickest fifth place finish in the two eliminations. Harold Lee and Harold L. Bauder of Delaware, Ohio bred and still own the winning son of Pet Rock out of their prize broodmare Aquatic Yankee. Steve Bauder is trainer. Dragonology (Chris Page) from the Brian Brown Stable proved best in the second split, topping fellow championship qualifiers Stark Hanover (Josh Sutton), In Trouble Again (Jeff Nisonger) and Harambe Deo (Kayne Kauffman). The son of Dragon Again earned $75,000 as a freshman, including a third place finish in the $250,000 Ohio Sires Stakes championship and a victory in the Ohio Breeders Championship at Delaware. It was the first start of the promising colt's sophomore season for owners Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco and AWS Stables. The fields are now set for all four $50,000 Hackett Memorial finals next week. The 3-year-old trotting fillies will go postward on Monday (April 16) with the trotting colts vying for supremacy on Tuesday (April 17). It will be the sophomore pacing fillies contesting their final on Friday (April 20) and the pacing colts completing the annual Hackett series on Saturday (April 21). Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. – The photo finish operator at Miami Valley had a busy night on Friday (April 13) as thrilling close finishes were the order of the day, including the three featured harness racing events.  A pair of $15,000 James K. Hackett Memorial elimination heats produced crowded photo finishes as did the $24,000 Mares Open Pace. Up Front Flor Ida (Kayne Kauffman) pulled a major upset in the initial Hackett elim, nosing out Filou Fly Fast (Chris Page) and Just Zip It (Keith Crawford) in 1:53.4.  Big Bad Goldie (Mike Wilder), who lead the field to the first quarter pole in :28, also qualified for the $40,000 Hackett championship next Saturday with a fourth place finish.  The top seven fillies in the ten-horse field were within 1-1/4 lengths at the wire.  The winner, a daughter of Woodstock who had just two wins and $15,824 in freshman earnings, paid $46.00.  Up Front Flor Ida is trained by Tim McKoy for owners Kevin McKinney and Virginia McKoy. The second Hackett elim went to favored Kay Again (Chris Page), who won by 1-1/4 lengths and paid $3.20.  It took the camera to separate the next four finishers, however, as they were all noses apart.  Also advancing to the final were Grant Me This (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.), Badlilvelocity (Aaron Merriman), Auntmilly’smartini (Rocky Ward) and fastest fifth place finisher Merciless (Tyler Smith).  Kay Again also had just two wins, good for $45,190 in earnings, heading into the Hackett but now must be considered one of the favorites in a very competitive and evenly matched championship field.  The daughter of Dragon Again is owned by Alan Keith and trained by Mike Roth. The lucrative Mares Open Handicap was not to be outdone, producing another exciting photo finish.  American Girl (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) eeked out a mild upset over Colorful Sky (Aaron Merriman), Zoe Ellasen (Tyler Smith) and Rockin Racer (Jared Finn)—all of which “you could cover ‘em with a blanket” at the finish line. It was the third seasonal win for American Girl, although she hadn’t visited the win circle in two months.  She paid $16.40 for topping the elite field with over $2.5 million in career earnings.  The 9-year-old Art’s Chip lass now has 49 career victories and $913,160 in life bounty for owners Darla Gaskin and Stanley Rosenblatt.  Trainer Tyler George manages her daily routine. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. – A pair of $15,000 eliminations in the James K. Hackett Memorial division for trotting colts and a milestone accomplishment by harness racing driver Chris Page were highlights of the Tuesday (April 10) matinee card at Miami Valley Raceway. Pass The Vape (Derek Watiker) was ultra-impressive in the first Hackett elim, crushing a field of 3-year-old Ohio-sired colts in 1:55.1.  With just a pair of qualifiers under his girth, the son of Dejarmbro—with just four starts and $6,169 in earnings as a 2-year-old—turned a two-hole trip into a dominating 3-1/4 length romp over Sultan Of Cash (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) and Banker Twentyfive (Trace Tetrick).  Also qualifying for next Tuesday’s $40,000 championship were fourth-place finisher In My Dreams (Sandy Beatty) and fifth-place finisher Bealot (Cameron McCown). Pass The Vape is a homebred owned by Lionel Watiker, whose son was in the sulky.  Dispatched at 18-1  in a field that included two Ohio Sires Stakes 2-year-old finalists and a colt with Grand Circuit experience as a freshman, the winner paid $38.20.  His initial 2018 performance will likely make him the favorite with a decent post draw in next Tuesday’s final. Sand Cash, a recent acquisition by the Ron Burke Stable, won the second split in 1:56.4. Driver Chris Page rushed the son of Cash Hall to the front, briefly relinquished the lead to eventual runnerup Two O B Wonkenobi (Tyler Smith) between the quarter and the half, then cruised to a 3-1/2 length score.  Show finisher Ride The Rails (Tetrick) and fourth-place finisher MVP Luke (Dan Noble) also advanced to the $40,000 championship tilt. In addition to Burke Racing Stable, new partners on Sand Cash are Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Richard Lombardo and Josh Green. Chris Page surpassed the $30 million earnings plateau when he won with Clarksville Boy in the day’s second race.  The 34-year-old Mt. Vernon, Ohio native went winless in his first nine lifetime starts in 2000, earning $489.  After five more years of limited success, primarily at county fairs, his career blossomed in 2006 at age 22 and has been consistently excellent every campaign since.  Page has won over 150 races a year the past 12 seasons, including the last five years in which he has topped 400 victories.  Chris has totaled over 1,000 wins in 2016-17 alone and earned over $10 million with horses he has driven in the last two years. 2018 looks like another stellar season for Page.  He currently ranks third in the Miami Valley dash standings and has accumulated over 100 wins and over $1.1 million in purse earnings in the first 100 days of this calendar year. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - The Ohio stakes season kicked off Monday afternoon (April 9) at Miami Valley Raceway when a pair of $15,000 elimination heats were contested by 3-year-old Buckeye-bred trotting fillies nominated to the James K. Hackett Memorial Series. The top four finishers in each heat plus the fastest fifth place finisher will reassemble next Monday afternoon for a $40,000 divisional championship race. Red Storm (Aaron Merriman), a winner of $109,975 in her freshman season, opened her sophomore campaign will an impressive track record 1:56.2 score in the first elimination. Favored Impinktoo (Peter Wrenn), a half-sister to Hambletonian winner Pinkman and last year's Ohio Sires Stakes champion, closed well to finish second, while California Love (Trace Tetrick) advanced with a show finish. Kellie's MVP (Ray Paver Jr.) qualified for the final with a fourth place finish, as did Spunky Bottom Girl (Tyler Smith) on the merits of the quickest fifth place finish. Chris Beaver trains Red Storm, a chestnut daughter of Stormin Normand, for owner Sandra Burnett. Heavily favored Non Smoker, a gray filly by My MVP, lived up to expectations with a handy 1:57.1 score for trainer-driver Dan Noble in the second split. Sesame (Merriman), Bang (Kayne Kauffman) and Bugs MVP (Tetrick) followed the winner through the wire to qualify for their lucrative final. Steve Sexton owns Non Smoker, who was making her seasonal debut after a conservative freshman campaign that included two county fair victories. Two Hackett Memorial eliminations for Ohio-sired trotting colts will be contested Tuesday afternoon at Miami Valley; followed by elims for pacing fillies on Friday night and pacing colts on Saturday. Each of the four Hackett championship tilts a week later will carry $40,000 purses.    

LEBANON, OH. - Eliminations week for the James K. Hackett Memorial Series at Miami Valley Raceway is upon us. One of the longest running harness racing events in Ohio, the Hackett will add a new twist in 2018 when trotting events have been added for the first time. First raced at Lebanon Raceway in 1971, a year after Jim Hackett was killed in a racing accident at Latonia Raceway in northern Kentucky, the prestigeous Hackett Memorials have featured 3-year-old Ohio-sired pacers for five decades. Hackett was born in London, Ohio in 1917. A decorated World War II veteran, he went to work for the Doc McMillen Stable upon returning to Ohio. In 1952, he became the private trainer for the powerful Sam Huttenbauer Stable of Cincinnati. He broke, trained and drove numerous outstanding Grand Circuit horses, most notably Little Brown Jug winner Best Of All. The 2018 edition of the Hackett Memorials kicks off Monday afternoon (April 9) at Miami Valley, when two $15,000 eliminations of Buckeye-bred sophomore trotting fillies will go postward. Red Storm, with North America's leading dash driver Aaron Merriman in the sulky, has been installed the lukewarm 5-2 morning line favorite. A winner of three legs of the Ohio Sires Stakes series in 2017, the Chris Beaver-trainee banked $109,975 for owner Sandra Burnett last season. Impinktoo (3-1, Peter Wrenn) and California Love (9-2, Trace Tetrick) are expected to provide stiff competition. Non Smoker, trained and driven by Dan Noble, gets the slight morning line nod in the second split at 5-2. Owner Stephen Sexton's gray filly earned $20,551 in her first year of racing, winning two fair races and placing in three O.S.S. outings. Bugs MVP (7-2, Trace Tetrick) and Sesame (4-1, Aaron Merriman), both from the Chris Beaver Stable, will also get considerable support at the betting windows. The top four finishers from each elimination, plus the fastest fifth place finisher, will advance to the $40,000 championship a week later. Colts and geldings step to the plate on Miami Valley's Tuesday matinee, also in two eliminations. Sultan Of Cash (5-2, Ronnie Wrenn Jr.), Slap Happy Sammy (7-2, Chris Page) and Banker Twentyfive (9-2, Trace Tetrick) are expected to attract the most attention in the first split. Favorites in the second elimination are Ride The Rails (2-1, Tetrick), Sand Cash (5-2, Page) and Countthebenjamins (9-2, Wrenn Jr.). First race post time on Monday and Tuesday at Miami Valley is 2:05 p.m. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - Mojoto Hanover (Tyler Smith) completed a clean sweep of the Tom Tharps Memorial Series on Saturday (April 7) at Miami Valley Raceway. The harness racing 4-year-old Well Said gelding edged Classy Hill (Dan Noble) by a neck in a quick 1:51.4 clocking with Limited Edition (Jason Brewer) gaining show laurels in the $27,500 championship final. Mojoto Hanover was one of two series contenders that had each won a pair of $15,000 preliminary legs. The other, Herehecomesarockin (Jared Finn), finished fifth in the final. The late closer featured horses and geldings that were non-winners of six pari-mutuel races or $60,000 lifetime. Zachary Miller trains Mojoto Hanover, who now sports nine wins and $87,830 in earnings for owner Edward Dobrowolski. The Tom Tharps Memorial honors the memory of the patriarch of a large racing family, many of whom are still active. His widow Carol was surrounded in the winner's circle by a couple dozen children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, as well as son-in-laws and daughter-in-laws. One of Tom and Carol's sons, Randy Tharps, is the winningest African-American driver in harness racing history by a wide margin. A pair of Open Paces were also presented on Saturday night. Angelo J Fra (Chris Page) successfully stepped up in class to capture the $23,000 Open I in 1:51.2, his fourth victory in 11 seasonal starts. The 6-year-old The Panderosa gelding is owned by Burke Racing and Weaver Bruscemi LLC and trained in Ohio by Kris Hinchcliff. Favored My Hero Ron (Tyler Smith) and recently claimed Totally Kissed (Peter Wrenn) completed the trifecta. My Buddy Ninkster (Josh Sutton) made every pole a winning one going gate to wire in 1:52.4 in the $20,000 Open II. Feelnlikearockstar (Jason Brewer) and Prince Bayard (Kayne Kauffman) got the place and show dough. The victory gave veteran trainer Bob Phillips his 999th career conditioning triumph. My Buddy Ninkster is owned by John and Mary Krasnican. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - Won For Gigi rallied from sixth in the early going to capture the harness racing  $25,000 championship of the Dr. Don Mossbarger Memorial Series on Friday night (April 6) at Miami Valley Raceway. Driver Dan Noble unleashed a wicked three-wide brush at the halfway point of the race and pulled even with pacesetter and runnerup Desire One (Chris Page) at the top of the stretch. With all the momentum, Won For Gigi cruised home a 3-1/2 length winner in 1:53.4 over the rain dampened surface listed as good. Rockin Hot Lady (Trevor Smith) rode the pylons to a third place finish. Joe Seekman trains the winning 4-year-old daughter of Santanna Blue Chip for his wife Tina and her partner L&L Devisser LLC. Won For Gigi's lifetime bankroll soared past the $100,000 plateau with the triumph. The series, for pacing mares who started the event without six pari-mutuel wins or $60,000, honors the memory of Dr. Don Mossbarger, a pillar in Ohio harness racing for many decades-primarily as the founder and patriarch of Midland Acres. With the weather worsening, the $25,000 Mares Open Pace two races later resulted in a 12-1 upset by Colorful Sky (Aaron Merriman), who just edged 25-1 Dalianna (Randy Tharps) in 1:55.3. Zoe Ellasen (Tyler Smith), who set all the early fractions, held for third. Nicole Stewart conditions the 6-year-old daughter of Skydancer Hanover for owner Grant Wilfong. It was the 20th win for Colorful Sky in just under 100 starts, boosting her career bounty to $165,727. Her backers got $27.80 for a $2 bet, while the exacta kicked back a whopping $520.20. The Saturday night (April 7) card at Miami Valley will feature the $27,500 Tom Tharps Memorial championship race as well as a $23,000 Open Handicap. Post time is 6:05 p.m. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - A new track record and a prolonged winning streak were the results of another pair of "Lebanon Legends" late-closer series finals on the Tuesday (April 3) harness racing matinee at Miami Valley Raceway. In the $17,500 Omar Hiteman Memorial championship race, Sectionline Bigry established a new track record for sophomore pacing colts when he upset heavily favored Mindtrip in 1:51. After CG's Boy Toy and Colin N Down dueled to the first quarter station, driver Peter Wrenn gunned Mindtrip-who entered the race off a sharp 1:51.3 score in the final preliminary leg a week ago-to the front as the field passed the stands the first time over the five-eighths mile oval. Down the backstretch driver Tyler Smith felt it was Sectionline Bigry's time to mount a challenge and the 3-year-old son of Pet Rock responded with a gritty back half going head-to-head with Mindtrip. Just a neck separated the pair at the finish as Sectionline Bigry dug down deep to gain the slight advantage. Skyway Quinton (Charlie Conrad) was next best in the affair for non-winners of two races or $20,000 prior to the series start. The winner is a homebred owned by Harold Lee and Harold L. Bauder. Steve Bauder trains the son of the prolific broodmare Aquatic Yankee, who has also produced several earlier stalwarts for the Bauder family. Following a half-hour weather delay as a lightning thunderstorm passed through the area, the $22,500 Dr. Dan Farwick Memorial Trot final, for non-winners of six races or $60,000, went postward. Upstart Elmo Blatch, discovered by owner-trainer David Lough just days before becoming an Amish buggy horse late last year, ran his win streak to five with a 1:56.3 triumph. Lough's son, Tylor, was again in the sulky but changed tactics in this outing. Despite going off as a 3/5 favorite, Elmo Blatch was not rushed to his customary lead, opting instead to take a seat fourth along the pylons in the early going. Following early fractions of :27, :56.2 and 1:25.2 by eventual show finisher Rose Run Spanky (Dan Noble), Lough angled Elmo Blatch out three-wide around the final bend. After clearing the frontrunner, Lough's charge confidently held fast-closing Starlight AS (Chris Page) at bay through the wire. Racing will resume Thursday afternoon at Miami Valley with a special make-up matinee program at 2:05 p.m. Gregg Keidel

Rockin Hot Lady was slowed by issues at ages 2 and 3, but with three wins in her past four starts, the 4-year-old female pacer is starting to reward harness racing trainer Ernie Gaskin's confidence in her. On Friday, the mare will attempt to extend her hot streak in the Dr. Don Mossbarger Memorial Series championship at Ohio's Miami Valley Raceway before possibly being sent to compete on the East Coast. Purchased as a yearling for $23,000 at the 2015 Hoosier Sale, Rockin Hot Lady is owned by Gaskin's wife, Darla, and daughter Emily, the race marketing manager and a race commentator at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. Also a member of the ownership group is Shelby Ratcliff, the daughter of Centaur Gaming Chairman and CEO Rod Ratcliff. Rockin Hot Lady, by Rockin Image out of Deferred Comp, is a full sister to Rockin Rum Springa, a multiple winner on the Indiana-bred stakes circuit, and half-sister to successful invite-level gelding Nitro. "She came from a proven family and was a nice big filly, so we stepped out for her," Gaskin said. "She trained down great as a 2-year-old, but she later had the start of a (fracture) so we shut her down. She came back at 3 and things went OK, but then she kind of fell off the edge of the earth. "It took us a little while to get it figured out. She wasn't physically lame, so we were looking for bleeding and ulcers and stuff like that and it turned out to be EPM (equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, a neurological disease). Once we got it figured out, it's been a lot better." Rockin Hot Lady has won seven of 37 career races, with six of those victories coming in her past 12 starts, and earned $54,900. She enters Friday's Mossbarger Memorial final off a 1:54.3 win by a nose over Turnitdownforwatt in a second-round division of the series. It was her first start of the season. "She's coming around," Gaskin said. "We like her. We got a little messed up with the weather (coming back this year); I'd love to have one more race in her. We'll see. "She is beautifully gaited. She's one of those that fools you a little bit. You look down at your watch and you're surprised how fast you've gone. She's a fluid mover that way." Rockin Hot Lady will start from post No. 1 on Friday with driver Trevor Smith, the 22-year-old brother of driver Tyler Smith. Trevor also drove Rockin Hot Lady last week. "Trevor is just another good, young, athletic horse kid coming up," Gaskin said. "I'm happy to have him." The $25,000 Dr. Don Mossbarger Memorial -- named to honor the founder of renowned breeding facility Midland Acres and a member of the Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Fame -- is the ninth race on Miami Valley's 13-race card Friday. Post time is 6:05 p.m. for the first race. Other winners in the Mossbarger's two preliminary rounds were Won For Gigi, Desire One, and Turnitdownforwatt. Friday's Miami Valley card also features the $25,000 open for pacing fillies and mares, which includes Darla Gaskin co-owned American Girl. American Girl's presence is one reason Gaskin is considering sending Rockin Hot Lady east to trainer Julie Miller. Another is Rockin Hot Lady's early speed and versatility. "She can leave in quarters of :25.4 and get around any sized track," Gaskin said. "We'll decide what to do after the final. We already have American Girl and I don't really want to race them against each other. We've had great luck with Julie. Her and (husband) Andy are great." To view Friday's complete Miami Valley entries, click here. Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager

LEBANON, OH. - Another pair of harness racing "Legends" champions were crowned at Miami Valley on Monday afternoon (April 2) as Uncle Buck captured the $17,500 final of the Robert J. Brown Memorial Series and Canadian Rocker won the $17,500 George 'Red' Owens Memorial Series final. The Brown Memorial featured trotters who started the late-closer as non-winners of two pari-mutuel races or $20,000. Uncle Buck (Trace Tetrick) dominated the championship tilt winning by over five lengths in 1:56.3. The sophomore son of Stormin Normand bested Bazaar Bazaar (Kyle Wilfong) and Just Friends (Jimmy Smith) after favored Ultra Muscle made an untimely break in stride behind the starting car. Steve Bauder trains the colt for owner Wayne Temple, who greeted the colt in the winner's circle. As the public's second choice Uncle Buck paid $6.20 to win. The Owens Memorial was a test for similarly green pacing fillies and mares. Canadian Rocker (Mike Peterson) edged Rosylipsnredcheeks (Jason Brewer) in a very tight photo finish, after heavily-favored and undefeated frontrunner Doc's Ravenna (Charlie Conrad) faltered in the stretch to finish third. Richard Nash and Randall Newcom own the winning 4-year-old daughter of Rockin Image who learned all her early lessons on the Indiana fair circuit. Peterson also trains Canadian Rocker, who was dispatched at 7-1 odds. A $22,000 Open Handicap Trot was also contested on the matinee program with the 6-year-old mare Churita (Trace Tetrick) again topping the 'boys', this time in a sporty 1:53.1. Another Breath (Jason Brewer) launched a bold move to the front just after Churita clocked a :27 opening quarter, but Churita was back out right after the :55.4 half to regain the lead prior to the 1:24 three-quarters and cruise to a three-length victory, the 32nd of her illustrious career. With earnings now exceeding $800,000, Churita-owned by Porterprofessionalservice--will likely be one of the favorites when the $100,000 (est.) Miami Valley Distaff Grand Circuit Trot goes postward on closing day of the MVG meet, May 7. Leading driver Trace Tetrick copped five victories on the day, while dash derby runnerup Dan Noble was home first on four occasions. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - A pair of Open Paces and a pair of final preliminary divisions of the Tom Tharps Memorial late-closing series highlighted the Saturday (March 31) night harness racing program at Miami Valley, raced over a sloppy surface due to persistent light rains during the night. Night Pro returned to his winning ways, fronting the $25,000 Open I pacers from start to finish in 1:52. Now two for seven on the season, with three place finishes as well, the indefatigable 8-year-old Pro Bono Best stallion increased his bankroll to $877,347 with his 55th lifetime triumph in 114 starts. Owner-trainer-driver Dale Decker put his prized possession on the engine from the word go, as has been his custom throughout the 2018 season. Night Pro dodged raindrops through fractions of :27.2, :56 and 1:23.4 before towing runnerup Lucky Lime (Shawn Barker II) and show finisher Prince Bayard (Kayne Kauffman) across the finish line. The $20,000 Open II went a tick faster when Savage Seelster (Jason Brewer) beat Journeyman (Chris Page) and Caviart Midnight (Dan Noble) in 1:51.4. Robert Bellamy and Chris Bulak own the 8-year-old Camluck gelding who has visited 28 winner's circles in 114 lifetime trips to post, good for $244,959 in earnings. The score was one of four for Jason Brewer, who celebrated his 40th birthday by completing a driving grand slam. The final two $15,000 preliminary heats of the Tom Tharps Memorial series, for non-winners of six races or $60,000, resulted in two exciting finishes. Herehecomesarockin (Jason Brewer) edged Sossy's King Kong (Chris Page) by a half length in 1:52 with Outrajus Blue Chip (Tyler Smith) garnering the show dough. Mojoto Hanover (Tyler Smith) won by the same slim margin in the second split over Up On The Outside (Brady Galliers) and Limited Edition (Chris Page). The teletimer read 1:51.3 at the end of this mile. Both Herehecomesarockin and Mojoto Hanover are repeat Tharps Series winners and will enter next Saturday's $27,500 championship final as co-favorites. Miami Valley will be dark on Easter Sunday, but will present four consecutive 2:05 p.m. matinees from Monday through Thursday of the coming week. Gregg Keidel

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