The ultra-consistent J J Hall capitalized on a miscue by odds-on harness racing favorite Shining Ember to win a $32,000 split of the Ohio Governor's Cup on Sunday afternoon at Scioto Downs. He was driven to victory by Ohio Hall of Famer Chip Noble for trainer Scott Mogan.
Shining Ember and catch-driver Dan Noble grabbed the lead from Future Night Train at the first quarter in :28 seconds and rolled onto the half-mile marker in :56.3. He eased the tempo during the third quarter as J J Hall moved out to challenge.
Suddenly Shining Ember was offstride, allowing J J Hall to surge to the lead but interfering with Future Night Train. Shining Ember got back on gait and fought back to finish second behind J J Hall, but he was placed third for interference.
The time of 1:55.4 was only a tick off the track record for sophomore trotting geldings.
"I think Shining Ember was hitting the bike," said Chip Noble in the winner's circle. "I could tell he was hitting the bike when he left the gate and I think he did that again when he picked up the pace at the three-quarters."
Shining Ember's error conceded the victory to J J Hall, but the senior Noble said, "Any win is a good win."
In 15 career starts, J J Hall has finished in the top three 13 times for owner Doug Millard of Ontario.
The other division of the Ohio Governor's Cup went to Rose Run Mac and driver Don McKirgan. He moved the gelded son ofthree wide at the half-mile marker to assume command and pulled away to win by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:57.3.
It was his eighth win in 13 starts this season for trainer Ray Crawford and owners Crawford, Crawford, and Kochilla.
"He can race either way, in front or from behind," said McKirgan, "but the one thing you can't do is touch him with the whip. He doesn't respond to the whip. In fact, he goes the other way; he slows down."
Driver Ryan Stahl swept both $31,900 divisions of the Ohio State Trot for the state's best freshman colts with identical trips. He was able to idle in the pocket behind the pacesetter until the final quarter and win the homestretch duel.
He won first with Rose Run Nash, a Scott Cox-trainee, by sitting behind 6-5 favorite Count Me In and driver Marty Wollam until the stretch. Captain Jesse moved into contention outside of Rose Run Nash entering the final quarter, but Stahl wasn't worried.
"I knew how good Marty's horse was last time here at Scioto and I was confident he'd take me into the stretch and then I could get out," said Stahl.
That's exactly what happened as Rose Run Nash won by a length in 1:59.3. It was his second straight win for owners John Novak and Robert Crynick.
Count Me In held for second while Jailbird Jesse got third.
Stahl's other Ohio State Trot win came behind Carolina Carl, trained by Mike Medors for Robert Sidley and Carl Anders. It was his second win in seven starts this season.
Carolina Carl left fastest of all, but yielded to the 4-5 favorite Rock N Jessie after the opening quarter.
"I would've been okay to race him on the front end, but when I saw Tony [Hall] coming with Rock N Jesse, I was content to let him go," said Stahl.'
Carolina Carl shot to the inside in the stretch and trotted past Rock N Jesse to win by a half-length while Its Jesse Time was a close third. The time was 1:59.4.
Caris True won the faster split of the $28,600 Ohio First Lady Pace as Dan Noble put the odds-on favorite on the lead and never relinquished it. She was under pressure in deep stretch from Osborne's Sweeper and I Love My Yankee, but thrust her neck out to win in 1:53.3
She is owned by the Smiling Pace Stable and trained by Virgil Morgan, Jr.
The other split of the Ohio First Lady for sophomore filly pacers went to Crossthreaded who nosed out Sparkling Yankee in 1:53.4. Ocean Pearl, the 3-2 favorite, moved to the front after the opening quarter, but Crosstreaded and Sparkling Yankee surged past her in the stretch to hit the wire together. It was the second straight 1:53.4 score at Scioto for Crossthreaded who is trained by Jim Mullinix, co-owner of the filly with Jamie Berhrer. Ocean Pearl held for third.
by Dean Hoffman