Day At The Track
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LEBANON, OH. - A rain-drenched sloppy race track didn't prevent a pair of Open paces at Miami Valley from producing quick miles on Saturday night (Feb. 24). Night Pro captured the $22,000 Open I in 1:51.2 in gate-to-wire fashion for owner-trainer-driver Dale Decker. It was the 54th career win for the 8-year-old son of Pro Bono Best and the outstanding former race mare Midnight Jewel. As is his custom recently, Night Pro blasted from behind the wings to a :26.2 opening quarter. Following a relative breather to the :54.4 halfway point, Decker pushed the pedal to the metal through a 1:23.1 third stanza before completing the mission with a :28.1 final split to hold off Stuckey Dote (Kyle Ater) and Feelnlikearockstar (Tony Hall). The $20,000 Open II pace produced an equally impressive win for Lucky Lime, who tripped the final teletimer in 1:51 for driver Kyle Ater. Following a give-and-go at the quarter pole, Lucky Lime cut the remainder of the mile before fronting Caviart Midnight (Trace Tetrick) and Doctor Carter (Josh Sutton) through the finish line. It was the 40th lifetime victory for the 9-year-old son of Rocknroll Hanover, owned by Kirk Nichols and trained by Ohio Hall Of Famer Dan Ater. Miami Valley will feature 2:05 p.m. matinees on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 25-27.   Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - Night Pro, one of the Midwest's most stellar harness racing open ranks performers over the past four years, reached the winner's circle again Saturday night (Dec. 23) at Hollywood Dayton Raceway. The 7-year-old Pro Bono Best stud captured the $18,500 Open Handicap Pace for his 12th seasonal win and 53rd from 107 starts in his career. He has raced his entire life for owner-trainer Dale Decker, who has now banked $834,647 due to Night Pro's efforts. Driver Chris Page took advantage of one of Night Pro's best recent post positions (3-hole) to sprint immediately to the front of the field. Finding no challengers in the early going, Page throttled the 3-5 favorite back through a pair of pedestrian fractions. Following :28 and :56.2 clockings, however, Page pushed the pedal to the metal and Night Pro responded with a :55 back half to stop the final timer in 1:51.2 on a 32-degree evening. Starlite Kid (Trevor Smith) benefitted from a second-over trip behind first up Boys Round Here (Kayne Kauffman) to rally for a runnerup finish, but never really threatened the winner. A fast-closing Manhattan Beach (Trace Tetrick) came from sixth at the half to garner the show dough. Driver Jason Brewer scored a "Grand Slam" on his final program for 2017. The red and black clad reinsman triumphed with four horses from his father Jeff's red-hot stable. The Brewer's winners were CC's Desire (1:53.2, $5.60 to win), Lyons Jimmydean (1:52.2, $7.00), Hezabluechipboy N (1:52.2, $10.60) and J J M Jet Set (1:53.3, $12.20). The Brewer clan will be closing out the year enjoying a well-deserved week vacation in Aruba. Hollywood Dayton's final week of the meet will feature a Tuesday matinee at 2:15 and 6:15 evening programs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Gregg Keidel    

London, ON, May 16, 2017 - As the 2017 edition of the Molson Pace quickly quickly approaches, harness racing owner-trainer Dale Decker says he has been anticipating this year's rich classic for a long time. The Michigan-based conditioner was here once before and is eager to redeem himself following a sixth place finish in the 2015 Molson Pace with returning star, Night Pro. Night Pro, a son of Pro Bono Best, has won 46 of 82 career starts and has banked more than $730,000 in his career. "I was really hoping to get the invite and when the phone came in, I couldn't have been happier," Decker said of the Molson which comes up next Friday, May 26. "This race has been marked on my calendar since my horse came back last season and this is the first big race of the year for me." Widely known as king of the mid-west, the seven year old has finished worse than second just once in 29 starts over the past two seasons while racing manly at Hoosier Park, Northfield Park and Miami Valley. Back for a second time in this year's Molson, Decker says he hopes to use his past experience to his advantage in this year's race. "He didn't handle himself the best on the turns and had an injury that was starting to appear," he said. "He's been perfect thus far this season and couldn't be coming into the race any better. We all need luck in big races and I'm happy to be a part of the night." Decker, who resides in Temperance, Michigan, will trek roughly three hours to The Raceway and his approach will be different this year. "When I was there in 2015, I shipped him in early and he kind of washed out in the paddock because I got there around noon that day," he said. "I'll bring him in normal time and he should benefit from that." Decker, who is a home builder by trade, has campaigned Night Pro in all of his 82 career starts. "He has provided me with all kinds of thrills and I couldn't be more fortunate," he said. "A horse like him doesn't come along very often and I certainly don't take him for granted. He's so professional considering he's a stud and has a wonderful demeanour along with excellent manners. "My family will be in attendance that night which will make it extra special. It's a wonderful atmosphere and a great night for racing," Decker added. Six starters have been confirmed so far for the Molson with the final two spots to be filled out this week. The star-studded pacers joining Night Pro includes Rockin Ron, Soto, Bit Of A Legend, Sunfire Blue Chip and defending champion Evenin Of Pleasure. The powerful Molson Pace undercard will feature the first leg of the Ontario Sires Stakes for sophomore pacing colts and geldings along with a quartet of City of London finals. Total purses for the night will be in excess of $500,000. Two-time Molson Pace champion Foiled Again will also be competing on the night's undercard in what could be one of his final career races on Canadian soil. The 13-year-old is the richest pacer of all-time with earnings in excess of $7.5 million and he currently sits with 94 career wins to his credit. For complete details and a closer look at this year's Molson Pace field, visit www.molsonpace.com. Greg Blanchard

London, May 27, 2015 -- Michigan-based harness racing trainer Dale Decker has never been to The Raceway at The Western Fair District, but he’ll have a not-so-secret weapon on his side when his star five-year-old Night Pro goes to the gate Friday night from post four in the $150,000 Molson Pace. Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. will be in Night Pro’s sulky. “He’s the leading dash driver in the country the last two years,” said Decker. Make that the leading dash-winning driver in North America. Wrenn, Jr., 28, won the 2014 continental title with 847 wins and the 2013 crown with 714 victories. This year, Wrenn, Jr. currently sits a close second behind Aaron Merriman in North America with 330 wins. In just eight years in the bike, Wrenn, Jr. has already surpassed 2,500 career victories, most of that over the last four seasons. The Ohio-based driver has made just one career start at The Raceway at The Western Fair District — a fourth-place finish driving Rock Bottom in an overnight in January of 2011. Decker said he had to do a little convincing to get Wrenn, Jr. to give up his full slate of drives Friday at Scioto Downs in Columbus, OH to come to London, but thinks racing in the Molson Pace could be a good stepping stone to bigger races for the driver. “He’s kind of got to make a decision if he wants to try to venture into the Grand Circuit ranks or just stay local,” Decker said. Night Pro has proven to be a horse worth following on the stakes trail. In three years of racing, the son of former Ontario-based star Pro Bono Best out of Midnight Jewel has amassed over $500,000 in earnings and sports a startling record of consistency with 29 wins in 49 starts. The pacer has finished no worse than third in 84 per cent of his starts. “He’s a true racehorse,” Decker said. “He’s the best one I’ve had, by far.” Decker also owns and raised Night Pro, the 5-1 fourth choice in the Molson Pace, behind Confederation Cup winner All Bets Off (post 1, 8-5), two-time defending Molson Pace champ State Treasurer (post 8, 2-1) and Duc Dorleans (post 6, 9-2). The Molson Pace is race 12 in a promotion-packed night of racing at Western Fair. The first race post time is 7:15 p.m. Last year, Night Pro regularly held his own racing against such star older pacers as Foiled Again, Sweet Lou, Clear Vision and Bettors Edge. He posted a record of 12-3-3 in 24 starts and earned over $230,000 racing in stakes in the Midwestern United States, close to Decker’s base close to Toledo, OH. “I try to stay more local to where I’m at, within about a four-hour ship. Horse racing, even though I wish it was my full-time occupation, it’s not. So, time is limited,” said Decker, a residential home builder by trade. “Besides, (Night Pro’s) not the best shipper in the world, either. He’ll be sweating when I get (to Western Fair).” Decker was the one that was sweating when he took Night Pro to the Hoosier Classic Yearling Sale in 2010 to be sold on behalf of breeder Linda Marckel. Night Pro is the second foal out of Midnight Jewel. Her first foal, Starzzz Of Jewel, sold for $40,000. When it came time for Night Pro to sell, there was little interest. “I was in a state of shock at the sale,” Decker said. “I had no idea what I was doing. I’m not kidding you. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. The bidding stalled at $4,500. That’s when I jumped in… I did have the money to buy him. So, it wasn’t an issue. But I had plenty of horses and I was just trying to make (his breeder) some money. I ended up with him.” The cost was $14,000. “I had no idea I was going to end up with him because I didn’t want another horse. I already had a barn full. I didn’t want to spend $14,000 either, because I’d have to go home and explain that to my wife,” Decker said. “She wouldn’t let me sell him now.” Though Night Pro is a bigger horse, Decker said The Raceway’s tight half-mile oval doesn’t concern him because his farm track is smaller than a half and Night Pro, “gets around here just fine… He’s pretty universal. That’s what’s nice about him. He can race any way and he can race on any size track.” Fans will be able to enjoy all 12 races on the Friday card on a large infield video tote board that will feature an enhanced broadcasting coverage all night. The Molson Pace card will offer betting patrons a cornucopia of wagering options. There’s a $7,500 guarantee on the early Pick 4 and the Super Hi-5, a $10,000 guarantee on the late Pick 4 and Super Hi-5 and a $2,500 guarantee on the Pick 3 offered in races one through three. Other promotions include scratch and win programs giving patrons a one-in-six chance to win a prize, a guest horse outside the main entrance to greet fans, a raft of prizes and giveaways courtesy of Molson and the OLG and, throughout the night, fans can even take a spin around the track in a double-seated jog cart with the Wanna Ride team. For more information, please visit: www.molsonpace.com. Greg Blanchard

ANDERSON, Ind.-April 4, 2015 - On a chilly night in Indiana, odds-on favorites were hot at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino as both of the heavy favorites delivered in the $21,000 featured trot and pace on Saturday, April 4. Each of the featured harness racing events saw familiar faces in the winner's circle as both races produced repeat winners from the previous week. Kicking things off for the evening, Rose Run Parker and Ricky Macomber Jr. extended their winning streak as they easily handled an abbreviated field of six in the $21,000 Invitational trot in 1:55. Unhurried from the gate, Rose Run Parker sat patiently along the rail in fourth through fractions of :28, :56.3, and 1:26.2 set by Lady Blitz and Verlin Yoder before making a move. Using a :27.4 final panel, Rose Run Parker set his sights on the wire and wore down Lady Blitz late in the lane. Ed Hensley and Bloodstockshalltab staged a late rally but had to settle for second place honors. Escuela and Jason Dillander rallied nicely for third. As the heavy betting favorite, Rose Run Parker returned $2.40 to his backers. Trained by Ron Burke, Rose Run Parker remains undefeated in 2015 from three starts. The gelded son of Jailhouse Jesse-Centergy pushed his lifetime bankroll over the $600,000 mark for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, and W. Haas Jr. On the pacing side of things, Night Pro and Peter Wrenn scored their second consecutive Hoosier Park victory with a final time of 1:51.4 in the $21,000 Invitational pace. Using the same front-running tactics as the previous week, Night Pro dictated fractions of :27.1, and :56.2 before ever feeling a threat. Let's Drink On It and Tyler Smith were the first to commit to the outer flow as they began their first-over bid approaching the final turn. With a three-quarter clocking in 1:24.3, Night Pro began to put his talent on display as the field turned for home. As the rest of the field struggled to stay within striking distance, Night Pro cruised home with a :27.1 final quarter to finish two lengths in front of Let's Drink On It. Latest Desire and Ross Leonard rounded out the trifecta ticket. As the public's choice, Night Pro returned $3.00 at the betting windows. "This is going to be a great summer with this group of horses," Peter Wrenn noted in the winner's circle. "My horse has had a few starts and he's really sharp right now. He did that tonight just like it was a training mile. He was well within himself at the wire and did everything like he was supposed to. He's a great, great horse." Trained and owned by Dale Decker, Night Pro remains undefeated in four starts in 2015. With the win, the five-year-old son of Pro Bono Best-Midnight Jewel pushed his career earnings to $473, 512. Live racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will continue on Tuesday, April 7 with a daily post time of 5:15 p.m. Live racing will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and be conducted through November 14, 2015. For more information on the upcoming entertainment or live racing schedule at Hoosier Park, please visit www.hoosierpark.com Photos: 1) Rose Run Parker and Ricky Macomber Jr. score their second consecutive victory at Hoosier Park. 2) Night Pro and Peter Wrenn a decisive winner in the featured pace at Hoosier Park. Photos courtesy of Linscott Photography. Emily Gaskin

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