Day At The Track

Buckeye Battle on Friday

12:06 PM 10 Dec 2019 NZDT
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Harness racing
Raymond K. Lance photo
DAYTON, OH. - Five of Northfield Park's top harness racing drivers will square off against a quintet of Hollywood Dayton's best reinsmen on Friday night (Dec. 13) in the first-ever "Buckeye Battle" to determine state bragging rights (North vs. South) as well as raise money for the Greater Dayton Disaster Relief Fund.
 
Hollywood Gaming and the Ohio Harness Horsemens Association have joined forces to provide $3000 in prize money for the event--$2500 to the winners and $500 to the losers. All ten drivers from both teams have agreed to donate the entire amount to the relief fund, monitored by the Dayton Foundation, and being used to rebuild infrastructure in neighborhoods that were devastated by a Memorial Day tornado.
 
Team Northfield is captained by Aaron Merriman, the reigning 2019 national dash champion who currently has a comfortable lead in his quest to repeat and defend that title. He will be joined by Kurt Sugg, Chris Lems, Greg Grismore and David Lake.
Team Dayton is led by local dash leader and native Ohioan Brett Miller, who is wrapping up his first year back as a Buckeye after a successful decade-long stint at The Meadowlands and other major harness tracks on the East Coast. Also competing for the local squad will be Jeremy Smith, Tyler Smith, Kayne Kauffman and Josh Sutton.
 
The drivers will go toe-to-toe and stride-for-stride in eight races on the Friday program, which starts at 6:15 p.m. Each of the ten drivers were pre-assigned approximately equal post positions over the course of the contest, with horses then randomly drawn in to those races. Points will be awarded as follows: 30 for first place, 24 for second, 18 for third, followed by 14-11-8-5-3-1-0 for fourth through tenth place finishes.
 
Five claiming events, ranging from the $6500 level up to $15,000, plus three high level condition races comprise the competition.
Team Northfield will look to gain an early advantage as Merriman will guide the morning line favorite in three of the first four events. Team Dayton drivers, however, have been blessed with morning line favorites in the final three events.
 
The competition will be friendly, but also fierce, as these ten top reinsmen face off to determine if the northern Ohio or southern Ohio drivers win the inaugural "Buckeye Battle."
 
by Gregg Keidel, for the Buckeye Battle
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