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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

Blue Ivy overcame windy conditions and a brisk 39 degrees to become the fastest three-year-old harness racing filly pacer to win in the history of Northfield Park. Blue Ivy (Captaintreacherous - Ali Blue - American Ideal) fired from post two to lead her competition through quarter times of :26.3, :54.1, 1:22 and 1:51.1, winning by 7 ¾-lengths. The previous 1:51.2 record was held by sophomore filly pacer Giggles In Dreams and Shawn Barker II set earlier this year. Blue Ivy now has eight wins in 20 starts this season for owner Renee Bercury and trainer William Bercury. Aaron Merriman was aboard for the winning drive. The victory increased Blue Ivy's earnings to $185,285. Blue Ivy was heavily favored and returned $2.40 to win. by Ayers Ratlliff, for Northfield Park

WASHINGTON, PA, Nov. 12, 2019 -- Hammered down to 1-9 in the wagering, Blue Ivy was as powerful as the odds suggested, pouring through the sloppy Lightning Lane to capture her third straight in Tuesday's fharness racing eature at The Meadows, a $13,500 Filly & Mare Conditioned Pace. Blue Ivy was content to stalk Sandy Win from the pocket. But when Aaron Merriman pointed her to the Lightning Lane, she blew past the leader and defeated her by a widening 2-1/4 lengths in 1:54.3. Art Of Norma rallied for show. Bill Bercury trains Blue Ivy, a 3-year-old daughter of Captaintreacherous-All Blue who now boasts $179,085 in career earnings, for Renee Bercury. Merriman piloted four winners on the 13-race card while Brady Brown fashioned a triple. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday, when the program features a $31,771.56 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5 as well as an $877.02 carryover in the Pick 5 (races 2-6). First post for the 13-race card is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association    

WASHINGTON, PA, Nov. 11, 2019 -- Barn Girl rolled to her 11th harness racing win this year -- and 24th over the past two seasons -- with a front-end victory in Monday's $20,000 Open 1 Handicap Trot at The Meadows. The only mare in the field -- as she often is -- Barn Girl forged three wide to the lead for Aaron Merriman and blunted the backside bid of Whats The Word. The 7-year-old daughter of Cash Hall Turquoise Sweetie held off the Lightning Lane charge of Pass The Vape by a head to score in 1:54.2. Donatover, parked the entire mile, was a game third. Bill Bercury trains Barn Girl, who extended her lifetime bankroll to $858,878, for Renee Bercury. Tony Hall collected four wins and Dave Palone three on the 13-race program. Live racing at The Meadows continues Tuesday when the card features a $29,563.70 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5.. First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

WASHINGTON, PA, Nov. 1, 2019 -- An era will end Saturday when Roger Huston, "The Voice" of The Meadows for the last 44 years, calls his final harness racing card at the track (first post 1:05 PM). At 77, Huston is cutting back his workload. He'll still call the Little Brown Jug, which he's done since 1968, and he'll announce races at a number of county fairs. But his day-to-day presence will be reduced. And what a presence it has been. Not only has Huston called more than 188,000 races in his career, but he's also been an effective ambassador and champion for harness racing, attracting many new fans to the sport through his distinctive calls and enthusiasm. Fittingly, the Hall of Famer has accepted a position as ambassador for the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association, returning to his Ohio roots. He seldom refuses an assignment, calling races throughout North America and journeying to Dublin each year to announce Ireland's premier event, the Vincent Delaney Memorial. But a race needn't be high profile to lure him; he once called a homespun Pittsburgh affair known as "The Undie 500," which featured humans, possibly inebriated, racing in their skivvies. That one may not make his career highlights list, but all who heard his call remember it. Huston is prolific to be sure, yet he also brings to his work a Cosellian quality, rare among announcers, that infuses even the most humble event with importance. When he calls a race, it's historic -- and we're thrilled to become part of that history. Now, on the eve of his final call at The Meadows, horsemen are offering tributes and remembrances. Some are veteran Ohio and western Pennsylvania horsemen. Others are winners of the Jug or the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids. A few are both. If you've never been on your feet, you better get up now to join these horsemen in thanking Roger Huston and celebrating his career. * * * * * "We're not just losing a man; we're losing an icon He's the SportsCenter, the Chris Berman of harness racing. His knowledge and dedication to something that he loves are unsurpassed. I've always looked forward to Roger's announcing every day, to his thunder and his fire. The statistics he compiles are instrumental to the game. With today's technology, I hope there's a group that will keep that going." -- Aaron Merriman, four-time national driving champion who's co-located at The Meadows and Ohio tracks * * * * * "He's the reason my dad took me to the races for the 1976 Adios. I had no background in horses, no interest in horses, but when I heard Roger calling the stretch duel between Armbro Ranger and Keystone Ore, I was hooked. I thought, I'd like for that guy to scream my name. He's been my No. 1 supporter, even introducing me at my Hall of Fame induction. When I won the Jug with P-Forty Seven (2005), he was the happiest guy in the winners' circle -- tears running down his face, big hug. That meant a lot. It will be weird driving races and not hearing him." -- Dave Palone, harness racing's all-time "winningest" driver * * * * * "When I was 17, I skipped school to go to the Jug. I had no pass, no parking -- the Jug barn wasn't even built then. So I'm walking up the road, and I hear Roger holler, 'They're going to the gate.' It made my hair stand on end. He makes the whole experience more special. In 2017, I had three horses at The Meadows for Emerald Highlands Farm on Adios Day. We won the Adios with Fear The Dragon, we won an Adioo Volo division, and we won an Arden Downs split. Roger couldn't let that go: 'Three in a row at The Meadows!' That put the cherry on top." -- Brian Brown, Delaware, Ohio-based trainer * * * * * "I've known Roger just about my whole life. I remember first meeting him when I was 8 at the Ashland County Fair and later hearing him call the Jug. He really loves harness racing; you can tell by the way he calls the races. Things won't be the same without him. After I won my first Jug with No Pan Intended (2003), I told Roger, 'I'm glad it was you who called my first Jug win.'" -- Hall of Famer David Miller, five-time Jug winner and former member of The Meadows drivers colony. * * * * * "Roger is Meadows racing as far as I'm concerned, and I'm lucky enough to call him my friend. It's truly a loss for The Meadows. At the same time, I'm happy for him taking on his new role in Ohio. He's had a tremendous impact on the sport and on me personally. When I watch replays and hear him screaming my name, it makes my job fun." -- Mike Wilder, Ohio native and longtime driver at The Meadows * * * * * "On behalf of all our horsemen, I want to thank Roger. He's been harness racing's No. 1 fan, and we really appreciate all his hard work in promoting racing. He's in the Hall of Fame for a reason." -- Kim Hankins, executive director, Meadows Standardbred Owners Association * * * * * "I'm from Ohio, and my first harness racing experience was listening to Roger's calls at the Jug. That was the most exciting thing. We moved to western Pennsylvania even before Roger arrived at The Meadows; I remember having dinner at his house when we were kids. It was great to have an announcer of his stature at The Meadows; just his being here brought us publicity. That's been important for all our careers. What he's brought to our sport is unfathomable." -- Norm Parker, The Meadows-based trainer * * * * * "I've actually been thinking quite a bit about his departure. I'm trying to appreciate hearing him now, because when he's gone, people will really miss him. My father grew up in Pittsburgh and, I assume, went to The Meadows in the '70s. Roger was the announcer then, so to me, he connects my generation to my dad's generation. Something feels good about that, knowing I'm listening to the same announcer. I don't know what it will be like here when he's gone, but it certainly will be different. Roger is as much a part of The Meadows as anyone or anything ever." -- Mark Weaver of Weaver Bruscemi LLC, who treasures Huston's calls of his two Jug wins (Limelight Beach in 2014, Filibuster Hanover in 2017) and his 2018 Adios title with Dorsoduro Hanover. Super Hi-5 Jackpot at $15,025.63 The jackpot for the final-race Super Hi-5 at The Meadows has grown again. Friday's Super Hi-5 offers a carryover of $15,025.63. First post for the 12-race card is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 22, 2019 -- Broadway Kabam retook the lead at the quarter and drew away steadily from there, collecting an easy harness racing victory in the slop for Aaron Merriman in Tuesday's feature at The Meadows, an $11,300 Conditioned Trot. It was one of six victories for Merriman on the 13-race card, and they came for as many trainers: Nathan Bresnahan, Ron Burke, Spencer Kahrig, John Melsheimer, Peter Stratton and Fred Uber, Jr. Broadway Kabam released Jailhouse Buckaroo to the point, but once he retook, neither his rivals nor the off track bothered him. He prevailed in a career-best 1:55, 5-3/4 lengths better than Moni Justice, while Jailhouse Buckaroo saved show. Uber conditions the 4-year-old daughter of Broadway Hall-Go Get Sarah for Jodi Martin, Kaylee Martin and Nicole Uber. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday, when the program features a trio of rich wagering opportunities: a $1,353.71 carryover in the Pick 4 (races 3-6); a $3,529 carryover in the Pick 5 (races 2-6); a $6,558.53 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 19, 2019 -- Harness racing's Carolina Beach snapped his "bridesmaid" streak when he inherited the lead down the backside and made it stand up in Saturday's $18,000 Open Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Carolina Beach had five consecutive place finishes and appeared destined for another as he stalked the formidable Windsong Leo from the pocket. But when Windsong Leo made an uncharacteristic and potentially dangerous break past the half -- Dave Palone guided him safely to the back of the pack -- Carolina Beach seized the opportunity, holding off the Lightning Lane charge of K Ryan Bluechip by a head in 1:51.1 for Aaron Merriman. Improbably, Windsong Leo recovered to earn show. Bill Bercury trains Carolina Beach, a 5-year-old Somebeachsomewhere-Laughandbehappy gelding who lifted his career bankroll to $297,843, for Renee Bercury. Tony Hall and Merriman each collected three wins on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday when the program features a $5,000 total-pool guarantee in the Pick 4 (races 3-6) and a $3,052.36 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 15, 2019 -- Touchamatic collected her 16th harness racing win this year when she barreled through the Lightning Lane and captured Tuesday's $18,000 Filly & Mare Open Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Sea Shadows, seeking her sixth straight victory, looped the field from last and grabbed the lead near the three-eighths but tired in the stretch. That enabled Touchamatic and driver Aaron Merriman to shoot the Lightning Lane and score in 1:51.1, a head better than the rallying Camera Lady. Sandy Win finished third at 30-1. Bill Bercury trains Touchamatic, a 5-year-old daughter of American Ideal-Perfect Touch who soared over $400,000 in career earnings, for Renee Bercury. Merriman piloted five winners and Dave Palone three on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday when the program features a $1,951.06 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

DAYTON, OH. - Shards Halo N (Aaron Merriman) dominated the $16,000 Open Mares Pace at Hollywood Dayton Raceway on Friday night (Oct. 11), downing her harness racing rivals by an easing 4-1/2 lengths in 1:51.3 r a rain-soaked racing strip. Merriman allowed eventual third place finisher Gone Girl (Tyler Smith), entering the race off two consecutive scores at this level, to clear to the front but immediately retook command at the :27 first quarter station.   Without a challenge, the heavy 2-5 favorite enjoyed a :29 second quarter breather before speeding through the third panel in :26.4 as Up Front Flor Ida (Brett Miller) ranged up on the outside. Once that challengers effort was thwarted, Allbeastnobeauty (Dan Noble) rallied furiously through the stretch to secure second, but without causing an anxious moment for the winner.   Shards Halo is owned by Scott George in partnership with trainer Tyler George.   Earlier on the card, Town Temptress won the $13,000 top conditioned pace for females. It was the 23rd lifetime win for the 7-year-old daughter of Artiscape, who is five months in foal to Ohio stallion Mr Wiggles according to trainer Steve Bauder.   "We hope to reach $300,000 in earnings in her next start, then she'll be put away to a well deserved comfortable life on the farm." A reminder that Hollywood Dayton will present matinee cards on both Saturday and Sunday this week with 2:15 post times. From the Dayton Raceway Media Department

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 1, 2019 -- Touchamatic held off challengers inside and out to capture Tuesday's $18,000 Filly & Mare Open Handicap Pace at The Meadows. It was the 15th victory this season for Touchamatic, who was driven by Aaron Merriman for trainer Bill Bercury and owner Renee Bercury. The 5-year-old daughter of American Ideal-Perfect Touch took the field through a swift 1:21.4 three-quarters but still had enough in the tank to turn back the outside brush of Camera Lady and the Lightning Lane charge of Suddenly Royal. She prevailed in 1:50.2, 1/2 length better than Camera Lady, while McDazzle rallied for show ahead of Suddenly Royal. Touchamatic now boasts career earnings of $388,572. Dave Palone and trainer Scott Betts each enjoyed a triple on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday when the program features a $3,698.94 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, Sept. 30, 2019 -- The verdict is in: Dr Judge was much the best in Monday's harness racing feature at The Meadows, a $13,200 Conditioned Trot, as he triumphed in 1:53 and knocked 1.4 seconds from his lifetime mark. Aaron Merriman and Dr Judge served early notice that they would take no prisoners, blistering the first quarter in 26.3. Although the 6-year-old Dr McDreamy-Carolling gelding was geared down late, he had enough in the tank to hold off the rallying Dawson Springs by 1-1/4 lengths, with Delcrest Holiday third. Tyler Stillings trains Dr Judge for Rags To Riches Of PA. Mike Wilder fashioned a triple on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Tuesday when the card features a $2,583.53 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5, First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

Classic Gent paced home for his 50th career harness racing victory, winning the thirteenth race at Northfield Park on Wednesday (September 25). The 9-year-old veteran, with 231 career starts, also has 28 seconds and 34 third-place finishes. Classic Gent (Blissfull Hall-Northern Jade-Northern Luck) has career earnings of $477,629 with a lifetime mark of 1:51.2 at Woodbine Racetrack at age four. The gelding's richest win was also at Woodbine in a $36,360 stakes event in 2013. Classic Gent is a well-traveled campaigner -- his 50 wins have been spread across 10 different racing surfaces. Classic Gent started from the rail in the evening's $4,000 conditioned event. He virtually led the entire mile through fractions of :28.3, :58, 1:26 and 1:55, besting his closest competitor by 3-lengths. He was heavily favored in the race and returned $2.10 to win. Rick Howles of Lake Orion, Michigan owns Classic Gent. Trainer Ryan Angus called upon leading driver Aaron Merriman to pilot. by Ayres Ratliff, for Northfield Park

WASHINGTON, PA, Sept. 10, 2019 -- Continuing his harness racing comeback following a lengthy layoff, millionaire Il Sogno Dream overcame a demanding opening quarter and captured Tuesday's feature at The Meadows, a $12,700 Conditioned Trot. Although sidelined most of the first six months this year, Il Sogno Dream now has two wins and as many seconds in his last five outings. On Tuesday, he was three wide for much of the 27.2 opening panel before clearing to the lead for Aaron Merriman near the three-eighths. The 8-year-old son of Cantab Hall-La Reve held off the late charge of Gee Wizz George to down him by a length in 1:54, with Mac Deeno third. Chris Beaver trains Il Sogno Dream, who lifted his lifetime bankroll to $1,128,533, for Bill Manes, Dan Manes, Leonard Christopher and Randy Christopher. Tony Hall and Merriman each collected three wins on the 14-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday when the program features a $2,412.72 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

Custom Cantab (Aaron Merriman) captures the $40,000 fourth leg of the Miss Versatility at Tioga Downs on Friday (September 6). Emoticon Hanover (Aaron Byron) led the first quarter in :26.4. She continued to lead to the half in :56.3. Ice Attraction (Mike Merton) was the first to challenge as Emoticon Hanover led to three-quarters in 1:24.3. Custom Cantab ($4.00), who is owned by trainer Christopher Beaver, Donald Robinson, and RBH Ventures, was fourth after three-quarters. She would go four wide down the stretch to win in 1:53.0. Dream Together (Wally Hennessey) finished second with Emoticon Hanover settling for third. Custom Cantab is a 4-year-old mare by Mr Cantab. It was her third win this season. She now owns 18 career victories. Gigi From Fiji (Wally Hennessey) takes the $11,000 fillies & mares open 1. Gigi From Fiji ($8.30) went to the front and controlled all the fractions (:27.2, :55.3, 1:23.0, 1:52.0). She got challenged by second place finisher Truth And Liberty (Mike Simons). Gigi From Fiji, who is owned by trainer Mike Deters, L Barnett, and J Spindler, was not to be denied and held on for the win. Northern Dali (Fern Paquet Jr.) finished third best. Gigi From Fiji is a 5-year-old mare by Ponder. She won for the ninth time this year. She now has 18 career victories. Mike Merton drove five winners on the night. He won with Blurred Lines ($3.80), Choochoocharlie ($6.00), Roaring Rei ($6.50), Runhappy Ten ($9.00), and R M Blackhawk ($9.40) Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Saturday (September 7) with a 13 race card starting at 6:15 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com. by John Horne, for Tioga Downs

Juxta Cowgirl (Aaron Byron) captures the $12,000 featured fillies and mares open on Friday (August 2). Juxta Cowgirl ($21.40) went to the front and led to a first quarter of :26.1. Gigi From Fiji (Wally Hennessey) sat in the pocket and followed as Juxta Cowgirl led to the half in :55.3 and controlled the pace to three-quarters in 1:22.4. Juxta Cowgirl, who is trained by Mike Watson for owners Robert Cooper Stables LLC., and Glasser Racing LLC., led going to the stretch. Gigi From Fiji popped out of the pocket and came charging late but Juxta Cowgirl dug in and won in a seasonal best of 1:51.2. Gigi From Fiji settled for second. Gold Star Mysti (Corey Braden) finished third. Juxta Cowgirl is a 5-year-old mare by Relentless Yankee. It was her third win this season. She now has 34 career victories. Fern Paquet Jr. drove three winners on the night. He finished first with Gold Star Aurora ($3.80), Nothern Dali ($18.00), and Shutthefrontdoor ($10.80). Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Saturday (August 3) with a 10 race card starting at 6:15 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com by John Horne, for Tioga Downs

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 2, 2019 -- The ancient Greeks considered Nemesis the goddess of retribution, and for trainer Bill Bercury, his horse Major Nemesis often seemed just that, racing himself into repeated trouble when it appeared his speed lay over the field. In recent weeks, however, the 5-year-old Big Bad John-Nassau Loop gelding ripped off an impressive winning streak at Northfield Park and is back at The Meadows to show off his new, mannerly look. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Saturday following a week's post-Adios break, and Major Nemesis and Aaron Merriman have drawn post 4 in the $18,000 Open Handicap Pace, which goes as race 7. First post is 1:05 PM. Bercury purchased Major Nemesis for owner Renee Bercury toward the end of his sophomore campaign on the advice of one of the horse's drivers. Recalls Bill Bercury: "He said to me, 'This is the fastest horse I ever sat behind. If you get him, you'll figure him out.' I didn't think it would take me a year to figure him out, although he's more than paid for himself. He's a wonderful horse to work with. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body." Early on for the Bercurys, Major Nemesis proved fast but furious. Bercury implemented a makeover by treating the horse's feet and throwing away his equipment card. "We took off his shadow roll, his head pole, his Murphy blinds," Bercury reports. "We rigged him with expandable hopples that stretch three inches and give him much more support. Give Aaron credit for that -- it was his idea." The results have been palpable. His four straight victories at Northfield included a pair of sub-1:50 miles in which he was parked most of the way. In his return to The Meadows on Adios Day, he finished fourth off a similar demanding trip. A win Saturday would vault Major Nemesis over $200,000 in career earnings. One of the major impediments will be his stablemate, Carolina Beach, who'll leave from post 5 in the same race. Bercury is pointing Major Nemesis to a pair of stakes for Ohio eligibles later this year, and he's confident that the horse no longer is bent on retribution. ""I qualified him myself and found him to be not that difficult anymore," Bercury says. "I think he's growing up." On the wagering front, Saturday's card features a $6,563.80 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

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