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Lebanon, OH---The stage is set for the $25,000 North America Drivers Championship day on Tuesday afternoon (Jan. 9). Ten finalists have emerged from a total of 30 talented harness racing reinsmen who were competing during the first two preliminary days. Heading the list is Simon Allard, who finished in first place after his eight drives over two days, with 144 points. He was followed by Peter Wrenn with 130, Corey Callahan and Chris Page with 117 each, Louis Phillipe Roy 116.5, defending champ Doug McNair 116, Billy Davis Jr. 114, national dash champion Aaron Merriman 111, Trace Tetrick 106 and Jason Brewer 102. Narrowly missing the cut were Pat Berry and Brady Galliers, each with 101. Post positions for the eight races to determine the champion were drawn randomly following the final preliminary race on Monday. In accordance with the published conditions, the scoring slate will be wiped clean to start the championship round. Scoring will be identical to the preliminary rounds, with 30 points for a win, 20 for second, then 14-11-9-7-5-3-1-0. A driver is awarded 8 points in the unfortunate event that a horse is scratched. All ten finalists will compete in all eight races. First prize is $10,000 for the winner. Monday’s contest winners were Big Bad Bobby (Callahan, $4.00), Screaman Seaman A (Berry, $17.20), Velocity Sonja (Allard, $4.60), Savage Seelster (Trevor Henry, $5.00), Mach It Paiden (Tetrick, $10.40), Dante Ivy (McNair, $28.40), Blake North (Davis Jr., $9.00), Jiggles The Clown (Page, $6.40), Amazing Chip (Wrenn, $10.80), Bettor Win (Wrenn, $8.40), After Alimony (Page, $6.40) and Milliondollar Art (Roy, $26.80). Miami Valley’s Pick 5 has a carryover of $5862.73 going into Tuesday, which has prompted a guaranteed $10,000 gross pool on the wager covering races 10 through 14. Miami Valley Gaming   

In a memo issued January 3rd The management of Northfield Park a harness racing track outside of Cleveland Ohio has started to ask horsemen to leave the grounds. At issue is a dispute over the tracks simulcast signal. The Ohio Harness Horseman’s Association alleges that Northfield Park has sent its signal to 20 unapproved locations and has taken Northfield Park to court over the issue. Under terms of a court settlement Northfield Park will stop sending its simulcast signal to the unapproved locations but states that doing so will result in a loss of 1 million dollars in revenue annually.  Due to this loss in revenue Northfield Park says it must implement new backstretch operational procedures. Included in these changes is the reduction of the barn area with the first set of trainers being asked to be off the grounds by January 14th. Also an support staff that works for trainers being asked to leave the grounds that live in the dorms at the track must also vacated the grounds. Other changes being made are the closing of the equine swimming pool and the reduction of training and jogging hours on the main and secondary training tracks from 8am to 1pm  Monday thru Saturday with no jogging or training being allowed on Sundays. Northfield Park also states other changes may be made as seen necessary to implement the changes in backstretch operations. In the memo Northfield Park asks any horsemen with questions about the changes to refer them to the OHHA.  When asked for a comment on this story Northfield Park asked for any questions to referred to their attorneys. Raymond K. Lance

LEBANON, OH. - Many of the continent's most talented and prolific harness racing drivers will descend on Miami Valley Raceway in southwest Ohio from January 7-9 to determine the winner of the second annual North America Drivers Championship.   Doug McNair, one of six Canadians entered in the 2018 contest, will return to defend his title.   Eight of the contestants have recorded over 5,000 driving wins in their careers with another four who have surpassed 4,000 victories.   In total the drivers scheduled to compete have amassed approximately 110,000 career wins with almost 9000 of those coming in 2017.   Peter Wrenn tops the list in lifetime triumphs with 9938, slightly ahead of the reigning national dash champion Aaron Merriman with 9815.   Others with over 4,000 are Brett Miller (7632), Trevor Henry (6388), Mike Oosting (6298), Sam Widger (5922), Corey Callahan (5544), Randy Tharps (5269), Dan Noble (4906), Trace Tetrick (4347), Josh Sutton (4253), and Chris Page (4059).   The other drivers vying for the crown, in alphabetical order, will be Simon Allard, Kyle Ater, Pat Berry, Jason Brewer, Marc Campbell, John Cummings Jr., Billy Davis Jr., John DeLong, Kayne Kauffman, James MacDonald, Jim Marino, Marcus Miller, Drew Monti, Louie Phillipe Roy, Jeremy Smith and Tyler Smith.   Two spots remain open. Drivers interested in participating can contact the race secretary at: greggkeidel@yahoo.com.   Each driver will get four drives on both the Sunday, January 7 and Monday, January 8 matinee programs.   After two days, the ten leaders in the point standings will return on Tuesday, January 9 to vie for $25,000 in prize money and the championship trophy.   Post time for each of the three consecutive matinees at Miami Valley is 2:05 p.m.   Gregg Keidel

Lebanon, OH --- The Winter Harness Racing Festival at Miami Valley Raceway kicks off Friday (Jan. 5) with the largest purses in the track's brief five-year history. A 10-15 percent purse increase to condition races positions horsemen to race for an average daily overnight purse structure of approximately $150,000.  With close to $14 million in anticipated purses to pay out during its 87-day meet, Miami Valley is grateful to host one of the highest purse structures in all of harness racing. Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association President Kevin Greenfield remarks, "Miami Valley is a shining example of how Ohio horsemen understood the expansion of gaming to benefit harness racing. Amazing purses, increased earnings opportunity for our members and positive contributions to the community. The team at Miami Valley has brought the OHHA's vision of winter racing to life in Southern Ohio." OHHA Executive Director Renee Mancino said, "Three years ago we thought Miami Valley was a diamond in the rough, so it is no surprise to the Ohio horsemen that their "can-do" skilled management team, and Ohio-centric approach to the racing program has them pacing strong to the top of the class in the industry." Unprecedented purses are not the only reason to be excited about the harness racing tradition that continues in Lebanon, Ohio. The second annual $25,000 North America Drivers Championship ushers in Miami Valley's Winter Festival on Jan. 7 and 8, with finals on Jan. 9. Thirty of the continent's most accomplished drivers will go head-to-head for the title. A variety of enhanced lucrative series will surely appeal to harness racing fans at every level. January, February and March features will include nine Claim To Fame series, four Survivor Series and nine Legends Late Closers. Wagering opportunities include the early double, a Pick-3, Pick-4, 50-cent Lucky Pick-5 (with industry low 12 percent takeout) beginning on race 10, and a 10-cent Buckeye Hi-5 on Race 12 each program. Carryover provisions apply to the Lucky Pick-5 and Buckeye Hi-5 wagers until a winning ticket is hit. Stay tuned for Grand Circuit, Ohio Sires Stakes, Hackett Memorial and Scarlet & Gray Invitational action during Miami Valley's upcoming Spring Festival in April and early May. For the first time ever, trotting divisions have been added to the Hackett Memorials for 3-year-old Ohio-sired horses. Details on all of Miami Valley's special events for 2018 can be found at www.miamivalleygaming.com, using the Racing/Horsemens Info tabs. Condition sheets for opening week are now available on the USTA website. Plan now to be part of the action when Miami Valley goes postward beginning Friday (Jan. 5). Afternoon matinees will be presented every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday with a 2:05 p.m. post time. Friday and Saturday evening cards will commence at 6:05 p.m.   Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - Its been a very exciting week for harness racing driver Travis Seekman, to say the least. His wife Desiree presented the 27-year-old reinsman with their first child, a healthy 8 pound 1 ounce baby girl they've named Raegyn, on Thursday morning; and Saturday night (Nov. 18) he won the $18,500 Open Handicap Pace with Let's Drink On It at Hollywood Dayton Raceway. Despite persistent night-long rainfall and strong gusting winds, the 6-year-old son of Art Official, trained by "Grandpa" Joe Seekman and taken care of by "Grandma" Tina Seekman, overcame the dreaded 9-hole and swept to a convincing 2-1/4 length 1:54.1 score over the sloppy surface. Go Daddy Go (Randy Tharps) and Dreamfair Mesa (Josh Sutton) battled through the first quarter in :28 and the half in :56.3 before Dalhousie Dave (Kyle Ater) ranged up to challenge the leaders at the 1:25.2 three-quarters with Let's Drink On It in tow in the outer flow. It was at that point that "Daddy" Seekman swung his charge three-wide and got the response he hoped for. "That wind was brutal on the last turn and I was out three wide, but Let's Drink On It raced big tonight and went a big mile," beamed Travis. "I'll have enough for my first load of diapers now," he laughed. Prince Bayard (Kayne Kauffman) and Dont Say Goodby (Trace Tetrick) were also near the back of the pack in the early going, but also responded well throughout the second half to garner runnerup and show finishes, respectively. Let's Drink On It has now scored 33 triumphs and pushed his lifetime earnings past $850,000 with the win. 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      

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. - 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

Delaware, OH --- Cool Cates beat Satin Dancer to the front on the first turn and it proved decisive as she marched to a 1:56 win in Wednesday’s (Sept. 20) $80,575 Buckette Stakes for harness racing 3-year-old female trotters at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. Satin Dancer was second, beaten by 1-1/4 lengths, and Maewegonow was third. Feed Your Head, the morning-line favorite from the stable of trainer Jimmy Takter, was scratched. Cool Cates, driven by Andy McCarthy, and Satin Dancer were quickest off the starting gate, but Cool Cates got the lead from post two on her way to an opening quarter-mile of :27.2. The field reached the half in :57.3, at which point Maewegonow was making a first-over bid and nearing Satin Dancer in second place. The group held those positions to three-quarters, in 1:26.4, and Cool Cates trotted home from there. “I sort of thought we would end up on the front today; on paper once Takter’s horse was scratched I sort of thought we were the best,” said Noel Daley, who trains Cool Cates for owner All Laid Out Stable. “She’s no champion, but she’s a nice filly. She’s been on her game of late. She’s a lot more controllable now in the races. “I did sort of expect her to be pretty good today.” Cool Cates (Yankee Glide) has won five of 12 races this year and seven of 20 in her career, good for $251,379 in purses. She has three wins and two second-place finishes in her last five starts. She was the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship runner-up on Sept. 3. “She will go to Lexington next,” Daley said about Cool Cates’ schedule. “We just hope we can dodge some of the good ones there in the Bluegrass. If she’s good enough we’ll drop her in (the Kentucky Filly Futurity). Obviously, we’re not beating Ariana G, but if she has a good week we’ll put her in there. “They’re going to breed her to Muscle Hill next year, so we’ll do what we can in between,” he added. Cool Cates, the even-money second choice behind 4-5 favorite Satin Dancer, paid $4.00 to win. It was both Daley’s and McCarthy’s first win in the Buckette. "We bought her for $35,000 down in Lexington and she's a nice filly but as a 2-year-old she was a little tough to manage," said Daley. "She was this year too early on but she really has been coming around. Adding Lasix helped her and she's also begun to mentally mature." -- Kim French contributed to this report by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

Harness racing trainer Joe Paver thought Carmensdaleyapple would be a good horse, but he never expected the homebred 2-year-old male pacer to produce win after win after win. Fifteen, to be exact, without a single setback as he heads Wednesday to an Ohio Fair Racing Conference division at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. "It's a big surprise," said Paver, who bred, owns and trains Carmensdaleyapple. He added with a laugh, "I don't usually win that many races in a year, let alone with one horse." True. Carmensdaleyapple has nearly equaled Paver's previous career high for training wins in a season, 17 in 2005. This year, the 58-year-old Paver has posted 30 victories and career-best purse earnings of $152,833. Carmensdaleyapple has won more races this year than any 2-year-old in North America. The gelding's 15 victories are tied for fourth among horses of any age and he is the only undefeated horse among the 69 with at least 11 wins. "He trained down good," said Paver, who trains his stable of five horses at the Union County Fairgrounds in Marysville, Ohio. "I'd been in 2:01 with him at home before I ever raced him. That was by himself, though. He's been a little bit better than I thought. He's a good-natured horse. He's long barreled and I like his gait." Carmensdaleyapple is a son of stallion Mr Apples out of the mare Mydaleybread, who Paver bought in 2014 and raced briefly as a 14-year-old before breeding her. Carmen is Paver's wife, who named Carmensdaleyapple. Paver drove Carmensdaleyapple in his first start, at the Paulding County Fair, and won by nearly 24 lengths in 2:13 over a sloppy track. Since then, 20-year-old Pierce Henry has been Carmensdaleyapple's regular driver. Last year, Henry drove another Paver homebred, Mannys Too Special, several times on the fair circuit. "I didn't have any help, I was having to paddock and drive, so I tagged Pierce and put him up," Paver said. "He's getting better every day. Experience is how drivers get better. I've got faith in him. He'll be all right." Carmensdaleyapple has won nine of his 15 races by at least five lengths and his narrowest margin of victory has been 2-1/2 lengths. His best win time of 1:57.1 came Aug. 14 at the Mercer County Fair in Celina. "A couple times he's had miles cut for him, but most of the time he does it on his own," Paver said. "But he can do it either way (from the front or following)." On Wednesday, Carmensdaleyapple and Henry will start from post No. 1 at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. Carmensdaleyapple is the race's even-money favorite on the morning line. Dan Noble's Jus Chillin It, who has won five of eight races this year and not yet faced Carmensdaleyapple, is the 4-1 second choice. Wednesday's card also includes the $273,250 Jugette for 3-year-old female pacers and $80,575 Buckette for 3-year-old female trotters. "It hasn't mattered so far to him, but it's nice to draw the rail there," Paver said about Delaware's half-mile track. "We've got to hope for the best. Anything can happen. But I think he'll be all right." Paver, who is from Marysville, followed his uncle, Tom, and father, Pearl, into harness racing. He started jogging horses around the age of 12 and bought his first horse in his mid-20s. He owns some horses with his father and brother, Dennis. Among their recent successes is Ohsowigglesspecial, a homebred 4-year-old female pacer who has won 19 of 54 career races and earned $166,478. Carmensdaleyapple will race once more following Wednesday's start, in the Ohio Fairs Championship next month. Then the horse will receive time off before preparing for his 3-year-old campaign. "I'll look and see what I want to do next year," Paver said. "I know he will be in the sire stakes. I didn't do it this year; I just staked him to the fairs to teach him to race. But there will definitely be some staking next year." Click here for Wednesday's complete card at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. Ken Weingartner

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  

STONEBORO – For 150 years, the Great Stoneboro Fair has put cotton candy in children’s hands, ribbons on livestock, harness racing and created memories for the families who walk its midway. Nobody knows for certain, but those who work each year to make the fairgrounds come alive think it might just be the county’s oldest, and longest-running, event. Located on 60 acres, the event has survived two world wars, the Great Depression and multiple recessions. But that doesn’t mean the fair hasn’t changed with the times, said Shirley McIntire, president of the Mercer County Agricultural Society, the non-profit organization that runs the event. And that just might be why this Stoneboro tradition is still going strong, she said. Every year, the event gets tweaked based on lessons learned from the previous fair. “It’s like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade,’’ she said. “After one fair ends, we begin preparing for next year.’’ Among the changes over the years include adding more than a dozen golf carts to ferry attendees around. And once the domain of country music for entertainment, rock bands and other music styles were added to create wider appeal. But although the fair strives for more visitors each year, there are some limits. Famous entertainers who draw big crowds cost too much. “Fairs are losing money by doing that,’’ McIntire said. “They’re drawing the big names, but they’re losing money.” The financial strings have gotten tighter over the years. The state used to pump money into fairs throughout the state. “All of the state money has dried up,’’ McIntire said. “Now you have to make it on your own.’’ When it comes to attendance, fairs have been affected by public schools opening ever earlier. A generation or so ago, the day after Labor Day was the most popular first school day for most districts. It’s now common for schools to open two weeks before Labor Day. That’s a challenge for Stoneboro’s fair, which has always been held on the long Labor Day weekend. “We’ve tried talking to school districts about opening up later, but they don’t want to hear it,’’ McIntire said. One district is willing to take a different tack. On Thursday, Lakeview School District took its second-grade class to the fair. Being able to watch and to pet farm animals, along with enjoying a complimentary dish of ice cream, was a smash hit with the students. “I liked when we got to see a dog do tricks,’’ said Katrina McCullough, a member of the class. Other fairgoers liked watching the action, such as the harness races. “I come for the horses,’’ said Dick Rufener, an Orangeville resident. “I can stay here for hours just watching the races. With the fair having such a long life, for some families it’s a time to gather. “We get to see each other and see old friends,’’ fairgoer Jean Boozer said. Of course, there are other adventures at the fair. In addition to carnival rides, judging farm products from horses to fruit remains popular. The growers of this year’s class can be particularly proud of the items they are putting before the judges, said Jim Denyker, who supervises the competition. “It wasn’t an easy year for fruits and vegetables,” he said. Denyker says that the best part of the Great Stoneboro Fair is that it remains – a fair. “It’s a local fair that still maintains its local flavor,’’ Denyker said. “It’s small enough so that younger children won’t get too tired, but large enough that you can stay all day if you want and still have something to see or do.” Keeping the fair going isn’t cheap. McIntire declined to give a specific number, but said it was more than $100,000. A huge favorite of fans is the demolition derby. Cars hit each other, with the winner being the driver who has the last car that is still running. “That’s when we get our biggest crowd,’’ McIntire said. Like any sizable event, unexpected problems occur. Communicating with volunteers working throughout the complex can be a challenge. “Sometimes when we have big crowds, our cell phones don’t work very well,’’ said Sharyl Vaughn, secretary for the organization. To supplement the fair’s income, the fairgrounds are rented to others. Large buildings also can be leased for winter storage for items like boats. But for those like McIntire who have roamed the fairgrounds for many, many years, preserving the tradition for another 150 years is not just a job. It’s a calling. “I just love it here,’’ she said.  By Michael Roknick Reprinted with permission of The Herald

From the very first Morrow County Fair in 1850, Mount Gilead has held a spot in her heart for harness racing and constructed a fine half-mile track (two times around the oval) in 1868 for their “Speed Program.” Everyone would bring their trotters and pacers to see if they could “outstep” their neighbors’… it became a family tradition. The races start on Monday afternoon, Aug. 28 at 4:30 p.m. as the 2-year-old colt and filly pacers and trotters compete in their respective divisions of the Ohio Fair Racing Conference stake races. The Bill Taylor Memorial, a Free For All Pace, will highlight the program. Tuesday afternoon (Aug. 29) has a 4:30 post time as well and features more Ohio-bred OFRC two and three-year-old trotters and pacers and a Free For All Trot as the area’s “good trottin’ horses” do battle. On both days visit the O.H.H.A. “Racing With The Stars” tent as we’ll be offering prizes and giveaways as we test your Ohio and harness racing trivia such as “Who was the harness horse-loving President who was born in Ohio in 1822? (before he became a general, everyone always took him for grant-ed) Come on in, bet your favorites, and cheer on your winners! Just like way back when… because Mount Gilead remembers. Reprinted with permission of The Morrow County Sentinel  

Harness racing driver Yannick Gingras & Foiled Again battle Ronnie Wrenn Jr. & Ruffy's Desire going to the 1/4 in last nights $14,000 Open Pace at Northfield Park. Foiled Again would go on to win making it his 95th lifetime victory and taking his career earnings to $ 7,529,128 Raymond K. Lance

The 61st Annual Blooded Horse PreJug Sale will offer 120 harness racing yearlings on Monday August 28 of its 2-day venue at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Delaware, Oh. Most are featured with black type pedigrees that can now be viewed online. The yearlings include 87 Ohio-breds, 15 Indiana-breds, 7 NY-breds and 11 from PA, IL, DE and ON; some with dual eligibility. In addition, over 600 racehorses, racing prospects and broodmares are being offered. Visit www.bloodedhorse.com to view the yearlings and order a catalogue. Jerry Haws  

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