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LEBANON, OH. - Rock Me Baby pulled a mild upset in the $25,000 Mares Open Pace at Miami Valley Raceway on Friday night (Jan. 11) with harness racing driver Brett Miller, who is rapidly making his presence felt in southwest Ohio, on her lines. Content to sit fourth in the early going as favored American Girl (Aaron Merriman) posted fractions of :27.1 and :56.1, Miller moved Rock Me Baby to the outside to challenge the leader by the 1:24 three-quarter station. Closing in a :28.3 final panel, the winner passed American Girl halfway down the lane and then held off fast-closing runnerup Allbeastnobeauty (Dan Noble) at the wire. The 1:52.3 triumph was the second straight in the new year for Rock Me Baby, who won a top condition pace a week ago. The feature race victory was the third on the night for Miller, who recently finished second in the $25,000 North America Drivers Championship at Miami Valley, and plans to make the track his home base for the next four months. Rock Me Baby is trained by Virgil Morgan Jr. and owned by the partnership of Carl Howard, Carl Atley, Milt Leeman and Karen Witt. Trace Tetrick and Dan Noble, who won the NADC just days ago, shared driving laurels as each scored a grand slam (4 wins) on the 14-race program. The Friday night card also included four divisions of the first leg of a Claim To Fame late-closing series for $12,500 male claimers. A dozen horses (three from each race) changed hands via the claim box. Winners of the $12,500 divisions were Stonehouse Adam (1:53, Trace Tetrick), RHP (1:51.2, Dan Noble), Mosee Terror (1:52.2, Noble) and Rock Of The Ages (1:52.4, John DeLong). Racing resumes Saturday night (Jan. 12) with a $25,000 Open Pace and four divisions of first leg Claim To Fame action at the $20,000 level. Post time is 6:05. Gregg Keidel    

LEBANON, OH. - Former North American dash champion Dan Noble, who won that harness racing title in 2011 with 773 victories, accumulated 112 points over his eight drives on Tuesday afternoon (Jan. 8) to capture the 2019 edition of Miami Valley Raceway's annual $25,000 North America Drivers Championship. He follows in the footsteps of Doug McNair and Trace Tetrick, who won the $10,000 first prize in the initial two competitions. Noble trailed Brett Miller by eight points with just one race remaining. The 36-year-old native of nearby Xenia, Ohio, managed a second place finish with Rockin Hot Lady to earn 20 valuable points. Miller, unfortunately, finished last in the final event and finished with 100 points-good for second place in the final standings and $5000 in prize money. Drew Monti, the leading driver on the Buffalo/Batavia circuit, finished a strong third (95 points) to win a $3000 bonus payday. Travis Henry (87) from Ontario won $2000 for his fourth place finish, followed by Randy Tharps (86, $1500), 2015 World Drivers Championship winner Dexter Dunn (85, $1250), Jeremy Smith (76, $1000), Joe Bonjiorno (67, $750), Aaron Merriman (53, $500) and Anthony Napolitano (39). Noble is the first local reinsman to win the NADC at Miami Valley. The son of the late, great Ohio Hall Of Famer Chip Noble grew up about 25 miles from Miami Valley and is the fourth generation Noble to occupy the same barn at the Xenia Fairgrounds over the years. A winner of 5,465 races, Noble lists a 1:47.4 career fastest mile behind Pet Rock, winning the prestigious Kaltenbach Award as the leading Ohio Sires Stakes driver of the year, and his national dash championship as his most memorable highlights. "Winning this championship, especially so close to home, ranks right up there with those other highlight moments though," exclaimed a jubilant Noble on his way back from the winner's circle presentation to the paddock. Noble's 112 points came on the strength of one win, one place finish, two show finishes, two fourths, a sixth and a seventh place finish over the eight races with ten-horse fields. The eight winners during the Championship Round were: The Optimist (Brett Miller, $6.20), Desires Lady (Dan Noble, $18.40), Twin B Honour (Joe Bonjiorno, $3.60), Cool Like That (Drew Monti, $14.80), One Sweet Woman (Randy Tharps, $12.80), E R Hilary (Travis Henry, $10.40), Colonys Best (Dexter Dunn, $28.80) and Northernflightlady (Tharps, $11.00). The ten finalists in today’s NADC Championship Following the winner's circle presentation, Noble was rushed back to the paddock where he had to literally run inside to get a whip and run to jump on the sulky as the horses entered the track for his final mount of the day in a $4000 overnight event. In typical Noble fashion, he won again with Crombie A, returning $6.80 to his faithful at the windows. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - The stage is set for the Championship Round of Miami Valley's 3rd annual $25,000 North America Drivers Championship on Tuesday afternoon (Jan. 8). In one of the closest races in the contest's short history, the field of harness racing driver finalists was whittled from thirty to ten after two preliminary rounds to engage in an eight-race head-to-head battle for the trophy, the title and the $10,000 first prize. The 'race' to make the Championship Round was so close, in fact, that five drivers tied for the final spot and had to draw randomly to determine which one got to advance. Although he didn't win a race on Day Two, Brett Miller managed three runnerup finishes from his four drives and emerged as the point leader of the preliminary rounds. His 144 point total topped Jeremy Smith (136), Randy Tharps (122), Joe Bonjiorno (115), Dan Noble (114), Drew Monti (113), Aaron Merriman (106), Dexter Dunn (98), Anthony Napolitano (91) and Travis Henry (86)-the lucky winner of the draw to advance. Others in the tie at 86 points were Simon Allard, Pat Berry, Shawn Gray and Chris Page. Conditions call for a clean scoring slate for Championship Round with all ten drivers starting again from scratch. Points are awarded 30-20-14-11-9-7-5-3-1 for first through ninth place finishes. A total of ten drivers scored triumphs during the twelve NADC races on Monday. Simon Allard and Jeremy Smith scored the only doubles. Winners, in order, were Fudge (Noble), Ideal Magic (Allard), Townlinedaliscard (J. Bradley Harris), Friskie Teddy (Smith),Fleet Bumblebee (Allard), Three Card (Merriman), IYQ YQR (Monti), Cast No Shadow (Henry), Velocity Mattis (Bonjiorno), Llama Llama (Dunn), Howabout Hanover (Smith) and Scwartz Bros Beaty (Napolitano). Immediately following the Round Two races, drivers were drawn randomly into fields of horses that were previously drawn. In front of a full room of anxious finalists invited to witness the draw, the results were revealed. Those who draw morning line favorites in the eight-race competition, in order, were Jeremy Smith (Gold Coast Muscle), Anthony Napolitano (Carries Desire), Randy Tharps (Rock Is Sweet), Dan Noble (Mgsperkg Bluegrass), Tharps (One Sweet Woman), Noble (Gone Girl), Napolitano (Bettor Win) and Noble (Rockin Hot Lady). Post time for Tuesday's North America Drivers Championship program is 2:05 p.m. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - Harness racing driver Brett Miller enjoys a slim lead after the first of two preliminary rounds in the $25,000 North America Drivers Championship currently being contested at Miami Valley Raceway. The native Ohioan, who plans to return to the Buckeye State for the 2019 season, accumulated 75 points with a win, a second, a third and a fourth place finish in his four drives. Randy Tharps, who scored the only driving double on the day, is a solid second with 72 points. Only ten of the thirty drivers competing will advance after Monday afternoon's second round to the Championship Round on Tuesday when they will compete head-to-head in eight races to determine who wins the trophy, the title and the $10,000 first prize. In addition to Miller and Tharps, the Top Ten after Day One are: Shawn Gray (63), Aaron Merriman (57), Jeremy Smith and Sam Widger (55 each), Joe Bonjiorno (54), Chris Page (53), Pat Berry (50) and Drew Monti (49). All but one of the top ten drivers recorded a win-worth 30 points-- in the competition, as did Mike Oosting (47 points) and J. Bradley Harris (40 points). Shawn Gray did not reach the winner's circle, but benefitted from three runnerup finishes worth 20 points each. Win mutuels in the spirited contest ranged from $3.60 to $40.20 with the average payoff a healthy $13.00. The featured $27,500 Open Handicap Trot was captured by the day's longest shot, The Next Triumph (Brett Miller), scoring in 1:56 over fellow longshots Monopoly Blue Chip (Billy Davis Jr.) and Flight Of The Kiwi (Chris Page). In addition to the $40.20 win price, the exacta paid a whopping $523 while a 50-cent trifecta returned $2,117.50. Monday's Round Two of the North America Drivers Championship begins at 2:05 p.m. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - Brett Miller recorded his first victory at Miami Valley Raceway on Friday (Jan. 4)-Opening Night of the 2019 87-day meet- in the feature race, a $16,000 event for top condition mare pacers. The 45-year-old reinsman plans to make Miami Valley his base of operation for the next four months as the purple and white clad nephew of Hall Of Famer David Miller has returned to his roots in Ohio, where he started his distinguished career. Miller got away fifth with Rock Me Baby over the rain-soaked racing strip as the field sped past the quarter pole in :26.3. Still fifth as the distaff pacers passed the half in :54.2, Miller and Rock Me Baby made an impressive three-wide rush during the third panel which resulted in the lead at the 1:23.3 three quarter station. From there it was clear sailing to the wire in 1:53.3, holding off Avila Beach (Jeremy Smith) by 3-1/2 lengths. Big Bad Jane garnered the show dough. A trio of other drivers scored driving doubles before a full house of patrons eager to welcome back live racing to the southwestern Ohio oval. Kyle Ater, Tyler Smith, Josh Sutton and defending Miami Valley dash champ Trace Tetrick all reached the winner's circle twice on Opening Night. Racing resumes Saturday night (Jan. 5) with a powerful 14-race program featuring a $25,000 Open Handicap and a total of $187,500 in overnight purses. The highly anticipated 3rd annual North America Drivers Championship will take center stage on the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday matinees which all start at 2:05 p.m.   Gregg Keidel    

LEBANON, OH. - The battle lines have been drawn for the third annual $25,000 North America Drivers Championship at Miami Valley from Sunday, January 6 through Tuesday, January 8. Three consecutive matinee harness racing programs will decide which of the 30 talented drivers in the contest will emerge with the title, the trophy and the $10,000 first prize.   Each driver has four randomly drawn horses and post positions on each of the first two programs.   Following Monday afternoon's results the top ten point getters will advance to Tuesday's championship round and race head-to-head starting with a clean scoring slate over eight races on the card.   Thirty points are awarded to the winner of each contest race with 20-14-11-9-7-5-3-1 points earned for second through ninth place finishes.   Based on post positions alone, Dexter Dunn--the Down Under sensation who won the 2015 World Drivers Championship--gained a slight nod over his competitors. With an average post position draw totaling 44 over each driver's eight opportunities on Day 1 and Day 2, Dunn's starting posts equal 30.   A total of seven drivers drew post positions totaling under 40. The others were Anthony Napolitano (31), Bruce Ranger (32), Jeremy Smith (33), Brett Miller (34), Randy Tharps (35) and Drew Monti (36).   On the flip side, there are six drivers who drew post positions adding up to over 50. Joe Bonjiorno will have his work cut out for him with a total of 64, although that number is skewed by an assigned outside post behind Grana Padanno--a winner of two straight at the top level at Northfield Park--in the $27,500 Open Trot on Sunday. Others who didn't fare particularly well at the draw are Roger Plante Jr. (55), Bob McClure (55), Dan Noble (53), Pat Berry (51) and Simon Allard (51).   Dunn will be looking to get off to a fast start as his four Day 1 drives include two rails and just nine in total post positions.   Others who will have a slight advantage as they try to top the leader board early are J. Bradley Harris (11), defending champion Trace Tetrick (13), national dash champion Aaron Merriman (16) and top Chicago-land reinsman Casey Leonard (16).   Those with an excellent chance of moving up the leaderboard on Day 2, based on post positions alone, will be Hollywood Dayton Raceway's recently named dash champ Jeremy Smith (9), Billy Davis Jr. (13), Anthony Napolitano (14), 8959-time winner Bruce Ranger (14) and the all-time winningest African-American driver Randy Tharps (16).   "We look forward to an exciting championship that goes right down to the wire, just as the first two editions of this competition did," said Tournament Director and Race Secretary Gregg Keidel. "Unless someone gets really hot, the winner isn't usually known until they hit the wire in the last race. These drivers have over 120,000 collective wins so they all know how to reach a winner's circle. I hope the fans and the participants enjoy this unique contest format and may the best man win!"   Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - The recently completed 75 program meet at Hollywood Gaming's Dayton Raceway was deemed a complete success by Mark Loewe, Penn National's Vice President of Racing for Ohio. "We had good competitive harness racing over a good race surface, resulting in track records on both the pace and trot," said Loewe. "We featured full fields of horses and deep, talented rosters of drivers and trainers...and our patrons responded. I'd like to thank everyone who played a part for their contribution to the success of our fifth meet."   The overall track records were lowered in Hollywood Dayton's signature Grand Circuit events. Donttellmeagain (Tim Tetrick) captured the $150,000 Dayton Pacing Derby in 1:47,4 while Ariana G (Brian Sears) lowered the trot standard to 1:52.1 in the Dayton Trotting Derby. Other new divisional records were established by 3-year-old trotting filly Black Mamba (1:55), 3-year old male trotter Pass The Vape (1:54.1), 4-year-old pacing mare Carol's Z Tam (1:51) and 4-year-old male trotter Optimist Blue Chip (1:53.2, tie with Il Sogno Dream).   Driver Jeremy Smith won his first Dayton meet dash title by establishing a new record of 154 wins in a meet. His mounts topped $1 million in purse earnings as well. Dan Noble and Chris Page tied for second on the list, followed by Josh Sutton, Kayne Kauffman, Tyler Smith, Jason Brewer, Aaron Merriman, Trevor Smith and Kyle Ater in the top ten.   On the training side, Virgil Morgan Jr. captured his third Dayton Raceway title with 45 winners and $335,000 in purse earnings for his stable. The top ten list also included Jeff Brewer, Dan Maier, Dan Noble, Kayne Kauffman, Ron Burke, Charles Stewart, Dan Ater, Phil Belanger and Larry Finn.   Total purses for the meet exceeded $8.2 million for an average of over $110,000 per program.   With plentiful horse supply, there were an average of 13.4 races per program with over 8.5 horses starting each contest. An average of 182 horses per day entered the box, with 88% of those entered online.   Post position 5 again produced the most winners during the season (16.3%), narrowly besting the No. 4 post (15.6%) and the No. 1 starting position (14.3%). Favorites won 39% of the time and finished on-the-board (top three) 68.5% of the time.   "Now that we've completed five successful seasons at Hollywood Dayton, we'll turn our attention to 2019," said Race Secretary Gregg Keidel. "The meet will open September 8 and end of December 28 next year, highlighted by the Dayton Pacing and Trotting Derbies on September 27, the Buckeye Stallion Series championships on a special Sunday, September 29 matinee and the Ohio Fair Finals on another added Sunday, October 13."   Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - Jeremy Smith and Virgil Morgan Jr. were recognized as Top Driver and Top Trainer, respectively, on Saturday night (Dec. 29) at Hollywood Gaming At Dayton Raceway as the curtain fell on the track's fifth 75-program season of live harness racing. Smith set a new standard for wins during a Dayton meet with 154 victories, good for $1.1 million in purse earnings. It is Jeremy's first dash crown in the post-VLT era in Ohio as his only other title came at old Lebanon Raceway prior to the commencement of the impressive racing renaissance in the Buckeye state over the last five years. Previous dash champs at Dayton have been Josh Sutton (2014, 2015 and 2016) and Kayne Kauffman (2017). Morgan Jr. is no stranger to training titles as he is the perennial champ at Scioto Downs over the past two decades. This title marks his third award at Hollywood Dayton, having won previously in both 2014 and 2016. The only other training winner has been Jeff Brewer, who captured the crown in both 2015 and 2017. Morgan managed 45 wins during the 2018 campaign from 197 starts-earning over $325,000 in purses and sporting a .345 UDRS. On the track, the closing night Open Handicap Pace was won by My Hero Ron for the second straight week. Despite being assigned an outside post in a full field of nine, driver Tyler Smith managed to get away sixth along the pylons during the :26.4 opening panel. Shuffled further back on the way to the :55.2 half, Smith managed to squeeze My Hero Ron into second-over position in fifth by the time the leader and eventual runnerup Night Pro (Dale Decker) tripped the third quarter beam in 1:23. Smith was on a mission through the stretch and used a :27.3 closing kick to nail the leader in the final two strides. Despite his ultra-consistent 2018 scorecard, which read 33 7-11-7 $153,090 going into the race, My Hero Ron returned $10.60 to win. He is trained by Danny Dubeansky for owners Brian Witt and Cory Atley. The quick 1:51.2 clocking of the Open was one of six sub-1:52 races over the five-eighths mile oval on the card. Other amazing miles were turned in were by Full On Rocknroll (Jeremy Smith, 1:51.4), Fan Of Terror (Trace Tetrick, 1:51.4), Just Toyin With Ya (Josh Sutton, 1:51.2), Migrate Blue Chip (Tyler Smith, 1:51) and Evergreen Elite (Kyle Ater, 1:51.2). Hollywood Gaming wishes to thank every owner, trainer, driver, caretaker, official, employee as well as its racing patrons for making Dayton Raceway their home for harness racing over the past four months. Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - The final $18,500 Open Trot of the Hollywood Dayton Raceway meet produced an upset harness racing winner, 18-1 Monopoly Blue Chip. The six-year-old son of Donato Hanover has been racing well during the meet, including two recent wins in top condition events, but had been no better than third in four previous Open level attempts. Driver Kayne Kauffman guided the winner to the pylons when the gate swung open, getting away fourth in the :26.4 opening quarter mile. Monopoly Blue Chip was eased off the pylons into the outer flow as the field passed the :56.3 halfway point, then found himself first-over in third as the third stanza timer was tripped in 1:24.4. The game gelding passed race favorites Pine Dream and Churita mid-stretch and then had to hold off the determined challenge of 7-1 All About Cowboys (Jeremy Smith) by a scant nose at the wire. Pridecrest (Mike Oosting) completed the trifecta at odds of 30-1. Monopoly Blue Chip paid $38.80 to win, the exacta returned $181.40 and a 50-cent trifecta was worth $334.20. Jeff Olsen trains Monopoly Blue Chip for owner Shayne May. On the season, the winner now sports five triumphs in 25 starts and seasonal earnings of $52,860. Two races later, Zoe Ellasen (Aaron Merriman) captured her third Mares Open Pace in her last five starts as the 9-5 second choice on the tote board. The four-year-old Santanna Blue Chip lass swept past runnerup Endeavors Fantasy (Trace Tetrick) and show finisher Gone Girl (Jeremy Smith) in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:52.3. The winner's share of the $18,000 purse pushed trainer Tyler George's pupil over the $100,000 seasonal earnings plateaul It was Zoe Ellasen's 18th career win in just 63 starts, pushing her lifetime bounty to $313,235. She is owned by Ronald Steck in partnership with the trainer. The curtain will fall on Hollywood Dayton's fifth season on Saturday night (Dec. 29). The power packed 14-race card will feature the track's final $18,500 Open Pace for male pacers, a full nine horse field with recent winners Granite and My Hero Ron assigned outside post positions. The track will also present their annual Top Driver and Top Trainer awards to Jeremy Smith, who won his first local dash derby, and Virgil Morgan Jr. who captured his third seasonal conditioner's title. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - The roster for the 3rd annual $25,000 North America Drivers Championship at Miami Valley Raceway in early January is now set. The thirty outstanding harness racing drivers who will descend on the southwest Ohio oval January 6-8 to compete for the title have an astounding 120,385 collective victories. Aaron Merriman, the reigning national dash champion and recently named USHWA 2018 Driver of the Year, heads the winners list with 10,922 career wins through the Dec. 22 contest entry deadline. Eight of the drivers have surpassed the 5,000 wins plateau, five more have over 4,000 triumphs. A dozen drivers have win totals between 2,000 and 4,000 while the remaining five reinsmen all exceed 1,000 wins. Defending champion Trace Tetrick, the winningest driver in Hoosier Park history, will return to seek back-to-back trophies. Here's the alphabetical list of contestants with their win totals in parenthesis: Simon Allard (3531) Pat Berry (3797) Joe Bonjiorno (1526) Billy Davis Jr. (2495) Kyle DiBenedetto (6383) Dexter Dunn (2311) Shawn Gray (4096) J. Bradley Harris (1443) Travis Henry (1044) Casey Leonard (2579) Aaron Merriman (10,922) Bob McClure (2251) Frank Milby (2678) Brett Miller (7919) Drew Monti (1244) Anthony Napolitano (2729) Jeff Nisonger (3204) Dan Noble (5457) Mike Oosting (6517) Chris Page (4561) Roger Plante Jr. (2489) Bruce Ranger (8959) Jeremy Smith (2142) Tyler Smith (2754) Josh Sutton (4515) Trace Tetrick (4834) Randy Tharps (5300) Todd Warren (4842) Jimmy Whittemore (1639) Sam Widger (6224) If any driver on this list has had an emergency which will prevent them from participating, there is a short list of alternates so please contact the Race Secretary (greggkeidel@yahoo.com or 651-260-8250) prior to the draw on January 1st for the first two days of the tournament. Gregg keidel

LEBANON, OH. - Thirty harness racing drivers with over 115,000 combined wins will descend on Miami Valley Raceway from January 6-8 to seek the title in the third annual $25,000 North America Drivers Championship. Doug McNair of Ontario won the inaugural contest at the southwest Ohio oval in January of 2017; while Trace Tetrick of Indiana is the defending champion following his 2018 victory. Aaron Merriman, the reigning North American dash champion, tops the list of winningest drivers in the contest with 10,922 career triumphs. Bruce Ranger, who returned to the sulky in 2018 after a two year absence and is currently sporting a .403 UDRS score, is next in line with 8959 victories. Brett Miller, who is returning to his Ohio roots for the 2019 campaign, boasts a resume which includes 7919 wins. Another trio of the contestants sport over 6000 career wins-Mike Oosting with 6517, Kyle DiBenedetto 6383 and Sam Widger 6224. A pair of accomplished local reinsmen have eclipsed the 5000 wins plateau: Dan Noble with 5457 and Randy Tharps with 5300. Another handful of drivers have visited over 4000 winners circles: Todd Warren with 4842, defending champion Trace Tetrick 4834, Chris Page 4561, Josh Sutton 4515 and Shawn Gray 4096. Pat Berry 3797 and Simon Allard 3531 are next in line. Another eight hopefuls have surpassed 2000 lifetime wins: Billy Davis Jr., Dexter Dunn, Casey Leonard, Bob McClure, Anthony Napolitano, Roger Plante Jr., Hollywood Dayton dash champ Jeremy Smith and Tyler Smith. Younger accomplished drivers with over 1000 wins and much recent success are J Bradley Harris, Travis Henry, Drew Monti and Jimmy Whittemore. The final three spots in the championship will be announced on Thursday, December 27. Each driver gets four randomly drawn drives on the Sunday, Jan. 6 and Monday, Jan. 7 matinees. The field will be reduced to the ten top point leaders for an eight-race head-to-head competition to determine the winner on Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 8. In addition to the prestigious North America Drivers Championship trophy, the winner will receive $10,000 with the balance of the prize pool distributed to second through ninth place finishers. Miami Valley will open its 2019 season on Friday night, January 4, and continue on a Friday through Tuesday five-days-a-week schedule through May 6. Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - The ultra-consistent My Hero Ron captured the $18,500 Open Pace at Hollywood Dayton Raceway on Saturday night (Dec. 22), his 25th on-the-board finish in 33 starts this year. Harness racing driver Tyler Smith ducked to the inside midstretch, just in time to sneak past longshots Hot Rod Dylan (Travis Seekman) and Night Pro (Dale Decker) in a thrilling photo finish. The 6-year-old son of Well Said's 1:53 triumph was his seventh of the season and increased his 2018 bankroll to $153,000. Career-wise the Danny Dubeansky trainee has amassed $770,000. My Hero Ron is owned by Brian Witt and Cory Atley. Smith got a pocket ride for My Hero Ron behind pacesetter Winwood Mac for the first 7/8ths of the mile. 10-1 Night Pro made a monstrous move down the backside that fell just short in the end. He was followed by 30-1 Hot Rod Dylan who actually stuck a nose in front in deep stretch. My Hero Ron paid $5.20 to win as the favorite, but the 4-10 exacta returned a healthy $96.40 and a 50 cent trifecta paid $215.15 to lucky ticket holders. Hollywood Dayton has just three programs left in its 75-day meet. Racing at 6:15 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights (Dec. 27-29) will bring down the curtain on the new track's fifth and most successful season to date. Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - JB's Shooting Star, the only filly in a field of Open mares, captured the $18,000 weekly feature for harness racing distaffers at Hollywood Dayton Raceway on Friday night. Driver Chris Page guided the upset winner confidently despite being dispatched at 14-1 odds. The Jace Sundeen-trained daughter of Straight Shooting got away fifth from an inside post during the quick :26.4 opening panel, then moved into secondl-over position while passing the :56.3 halfway point and 1:24.3 three-quarters station. At the head of the stretch she still had Rock Me Baby and Rockin Racer to pass, which she did in mid-stretch, and then muster the stamina to hold off fast-closing A Little Starstruk (Trevor Smith), the lapped-on runnerup in the race. Endeavors Star (Josh Sutton) also closed with resolve to garner the show dough. John Barnard owns JB's Shooting Star, who was competing in open company for the first time. The win was her fifth this year and eighth in her initial two seasons, and increased her juvenile bankroll to $115,008. For Page, who is headed off for a holiday vacation, it was his third win on his final program of 2018. Gregg Keidel  

LEBANON, OH. - Miami Valley Raceway is still seeking top harness racing drivers from throughout North America for its third annual North America Drivers Championship. The contest will feature up to 30 of the continent's best reinsmen chasing $25,000 in prize money and the prestigious trophy. Doug McNair of Ontario and Trace Tetrick of Indiana captured the first two editions by each managing multiple victories on the third and final day. Each driver will get a minimum of four drives on the opening two matinees on Sunday, January 6 and Monday, January 7 behind randomly drawn horses. The top ten in the point standings after two days will advance to the championship showdown on Tuesday, January 7 which will feature eight head-to-head races and a fresh scorecard. Miami Valley will pay for hotel accommodations and Ohio Racing Commission licenses for out-of-state entrants and all drivers will receive commemorative hooded sweatshirts with the North America Drivers Championship logo. Among the early entrants for the 2019 competition are (alphabetically) Simon Allard, Pat Berry, Dexter Dunn, Brady Galliers, Casey Leonard, Aaron Merriman, Bob McClure, Brett Miller, Lewayne Miller, Drew Monti, Dan Noble, Mike Oosting, Chris Page, Roger Plante, Trace Tetrick, Tyler Smith, Josh Sutton, Jimmy Whittemore and Sam Widger. Any other drivers interested in participating are asked to email the Race Secretary for Miami Valley at: greggkeidel@yahoo.com or call him at 651-260-8250. Further Drivers Championship information and entry blanks can be found at: www.miamivalleygaming.com and then hitting the Racing and Horsemens Info tabs. The December 22 deadline for entering is Saturday (Dec. 22) of this week, so top drivers are asked to please act quickly. Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - In a thrilling come-from-behind victory the Buckeyes topped the Hoosiers in the fourth annual harness racing "Hoosiers vs. Buckeyes Drivers Challenge" at Hollywood Dayton Raceway on Saturday night (Dec. 15) over a rain-soaked strip labeled good. The Ohio squad needed a minimum of a first, second and fourth place finish in the sixth and final leg to secure their third triumph in four years by a 359-335 margin. The winners erased a 26 point deficit and turned it into a 24 point score in their last ditch effort. Hoosiers captain Trace Tetrick tried valiantly to single-handedly capture team laurels for his fellow Indianans, winning four of the first five races in the competition, but the dominant Buckeyes performance in the final race overcame his early heroics. Winners, in order, were Townlinedaliscard (Trace Tetrick, 1:55.2, $56.40), trotter Kolbee's Star (Chris Page, 1:58.1, $11.00), Smiling Terror (Tetrick, 1:55, $5.20), Dateline Hanover (Tetrick, 1:54.4, $45.20), Whiskey Friskie (Tetrick, 1:53.4, $8.80) and the ironically named Indiana Cam (Jeremy Smith, 1:54.1, $17.40). With tongue in cheek, Buckeyes captain reiterated in the winner's circle that he guaranteed a victory and claimed the outcome "was never in doubt." It is doubtful anyone else in attendance felt that way until the final score was announced. Individual leaders were Tetrick with 145 points, Dan Noble with 96, Smith with 91, Brandon Bates 74 and Chris Page 65. Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway provided $2500 in prize money and the Ohio Harness Horsemens Association pitched in $500. For the fourth consecutive year, the drivers from both squads donated the entire prize pool to Dayton Firefighters Local 126, who provides ambulance and EMT service for each of the Dayton programs throughout the meet. The local firefighters use the funds to purchase new toys and insure that every need child in their district has a gift on Christmas mornings. Hundreds of other new toys and over $1000 cash was donated by owners, trainers, drivers, caretakers and employees of Dayton Raceway over the past several weeks in addition to the $3000 Drivers Challenge donation. Horsemens Bookkeeper Terri Mt. Pleasant and OHHA rep Brett Merkle again spearheaded the Dayton horse community's charitable Christmas efforts. Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - The battle lines are drawn and now only the result of the fourth annual harness racing "Hoosiers vs. Buckeyes Driver's Challenge" this Saturday night (Dec. 15) remains to be seen. Hoosier Park's top five available reinsmen will compete with Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway's five dash leaders in a six-race competition for bragging rights over the next 12 months. The Hoosier squad is captained by Trace Tetrick, the all-time leading driver at the Anderson, Indiana track, and also includes Ricky Macomber Jr., Lewayne Miller, Mike Oosting and Brandon Bates. Leading driver Jeremy Smith heads up Team Buckeyes and will be joined by Dan Noble, Chris Page, Josh Sutton and Kayne Kauffman. Myles Linderman, Dayton's morning line guru, has tabbed three Buckeyes and three Hoosiers as morning line favorites in the six contest legs carded as races 1,3,5,7,9 and 11 on the program slated to begin at 6:15 p.m. Each team will start from the odd numbered post positions in half the races and each of the ten drivers were pre-assigned post positions that added up to 33 over the half dozen races. Classic Comedy (Chris Page) is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the first leg, an $8000 fillies and mares claimer, based on three victories in her last four starts. There are five other recent winners in the field plus three more who own place finishes in recent weeks. He's Got Pizazz (Dan Noble) got a narrow 3-1 nod in the second leg despite drawing outside in the mid-range conditioned trot. The class dropper will face a full field of squaregaiters who have all fashioned top three finishes in their last five tries. Blueridge Doc (Jeremy Smith) will open as the 5-2 favorite in a contentious $10,000 claimer slated as leg three. Again, every one of the ten horses in this race has at least a top three finish in recent starts, including three who won their last time out. Waterside Champ (Lewayne Miller) will start from the second tier, but is listed 5-2 in the fourth leg, a $15,000 claiming event. In a recurring theme, every combatant shows an on-the-board finish on the program page, five with recent victories. Whiskey Friskie (Trace Tetrick) drew the coveted rail in the fifth leg, a condition/claiming event for non-winners of ten races, to gain 5-2 morning line favoritism. Five of the nine horses with on-the-board finishes have been winners since November 1. Blooming Genius (Ricky Macomber Jr.) will open as the 5-2 choice in leg 6, the finale featuring $20,000 claiming pacers. Oddly, he is one of just two horses without a recent top three finish, but is dropping in class from the $30,000 level. Each winning driver in the six races will earn 30 points for their team. A place finish is worth 24 points, show gets 18 and then 14-11-8-5-3-1 for fourth through ninth place. In the unfortunate event of a scratch, that driver will receive 10 points for his team. The Buckeyes won the inaugural Drivers Challenge in 2015 and held on for a thrilling 351-333 victory last year. Sandwiched in between was the Hoosiers only triumph in 2016. Hollywood Dayton Raceway provides $2500 in prize money for the contest and the Ohio Harness Horsemens Association throws in an additional $500. In the past, the drivers from both squads have graciously donated the entire $3000 pool to Dayton Firefighters Local 136, the unit that provides ambulance and EMT service to Dayton Raceway during each and every live racing program. The local firefighters and paramedics use the funds to purchase toys for needy children in their service area at Christmas time. Gregg Keidel

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