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Ohio Sires Stakes harness racing action sizzled on Sunday afternoon, May 5 at Miami Valley Gaming & Racing with five divisions of state-bred action for 3-year-old male trotters and pacers contested under sunny Buckeye skies.   Three $40,000 contests for trotters saw 2-5 Lane Of Stone notch the first division victory in a new life mark of 1:53.1 with Jeff Nisonger driving for trainer Mark Winters, Sr. The brown son of Wishing Stone's time was a national season's record for a 3-year-old trotting colt on a 5/8's mile oval and was his second straight triumph this season in as many starts.   Lane Of Stone prevailed by nearly four lengths over 12-1 ELO Hanover (Brett Miller), with 5-1 Westfiftysecond (Josh Sutton) grabbing show honors. Lane Of Stone owns a seasonal bankroll of $45,000 with lifetime earnings of $189,893. Owned by Harry Horowitz of Brooklyn, NY, the homebred colt was raised at Hagemeyer Farms and is the fourth foal out of the Lindy Lane mare Wisteria Lane, 4, 1:57.3 ($18,550) and is a half-brother to Laney Hall (by Angus Hall) 3, 1:59 ($29,220) and to Why Argue (by SJs Caviar) 3, 1:59s ($21,253).   Patti's Main Man                        Photos by Brad Conrad & Ben Holton Patti's Main Man trotted to a new career clocking of 1:55.1 for driver Jeremy Smith and owner-trainer Mike Sowers in the second OSS division. The 6-1 son of Manofmanymissions put in a game effort through the stretch, holding off the hard-trying, 3-5 Serenity Cruise (Chris Page) by half a length and completing his front-stepping triumph. Kayne Kauffman steered 24-1 longshot Ilooklikeanallstar to a third-place finish. Bred by Midland Acres, Patti's Main Man now has $20,000 earned in 2019 and $92,455 lifetime from seven wins, two seconds and two thirds in 15 career starts. He is the 14th foal out of the American Winner mare Patti Page and is a half-brother to: Get Chipped (by Chip Chip Hooray) 6, 1:54.3 ($415,424); Express Justice (by Justice Hall) 5, 1:54.3f ($282,311); Brewing Master (by Master Lavec) 5, 1:56.4f ($86,044); Chip Chip Page (by Chip Chip Hooray) 5, 1:58f ($69,485).   Wittyville & Chris Page                                 Photos by Brad Conrad & Ben Holton Wittyville captured the third OSS trotting division, taking a new career mark of 1:54.3 in the process for driver Chris Page. Trained by Ronnie Burke, the Manofmanymission's colt left the gate at odds of 5-2, quickly taking the lead past the opening panel and trotting to a 2¾ length victory--his fifth in 13 career starts and third this season in four starts. Shake N Bake (Ryan Stahl) was second at 3-1 odds, while 20-1 longshot Voyage To Paris (Kayne Kauffman) got up for third. Owned by Burke Racing Stable, Knox Services and Weaver Bruscemi, Wittyville now has $254,653 earned lifetime and $47,500 in his seasonal bank account. He is the sixth foal out of the SJ's Photo mare Witty Girl, 3, 1:58.2f ($32,602) and is a full brother to Mission Accepted 3, 1:52f ($420,454) and a half-brother to March Awareness (by Ken Warkentin) 7, 1:53f ($433,264) and to Witty's Winner (by Jailhouse Jesse) 5, 1:54.4s ($95,75).   Rock Candy                               Photos by Brad Conrad & Ben Holton In the first of two $50,000 OSS pacing divisions, 2-5 favorite Rock Candy stole the show with a dominating, wire-to-wire 1:50.3 score. The brown gelding couldn't have looked better for owners Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco and Richard Lombardo as he captured his sixth lifetime win in 12 starts and his third victory this season in as many tries. Trained by Brian Brown, Rock Candy now has $260,826 in career earnings, with $56,250 earned this season. Cross Country was second at 9-2 for Luke Ebersole, while 24-1 Rose Run Ulysses was third with Aaron Merriman at the lines. Bred by Mark Moger and Albert Delia, Jr., Rock Candy is the third foal out of the Sportsmaster mare Cotton Candy p, 3, 1:52.3 ($188,312), making him a half-brother to Mr D's Dragon (by Dragon Again) p, 4, 1:50.1f ($250,158) and to Anna D (by Ponder) p, 4, 1:54.1f ($40,430).   Seattle Hanover & Chris Page                        Photos by Brad Conrad & Ben Holton The second OSS division saw Seattle Hanover score a new life clocking of 1:50.3 in rein to Chris Page. The Ron Burke-trainee was sent off as the 6-5 favorite and battled throughout the mile with 5-2 Dislocator (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.) for first prize, holding off his rival by 1½ lengths at the wire. McMoe, the 5-1 choice, was third for driver Brett Miller. Lifetime, Seattle Hanover has amassed $103,682 from three wins, three seconds and four thirds in 16 starts and this year has a 2-1-3 record in seven tries with $54,000 in seasonal earnings for owners Burke Racing Stable, Larry Karr, J&T Silva-Purnell & Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi. Bred by Hanover Shoe Farms, Seattle Hanover is the seventh foal out of the Western Hanover mare Scarlet's Western and is a full brother to Scarboro Hanover p,4,1:54.4 ($54,809) and a half-brother to Sapient Hanover (by Yankee Cruiser) p, 2, 1:50.3 ($88,272); Red Hot Scarlett (by Artiscape) p, 3, 1:56.4h ($23,692); and Syndil Hanover (by Art Major) p, 3, 1:59 ($13,505). Kimberly Rinker Ohio Standardbred Development Administrator

For Jeff Nisonger, harness racing is addictive. “It gets in your blood,” he said. “The adrenaline rush, it’s kind of like a drug.” On Saturday, Nisonger and other horsemen at McGhees’ Mile will be showing the Aiken community what their sport is all about during the Standardbred Races. Gates will open at 9 a.m., and the post time for the first race will be noon. There will be eight races for standardbreds and one for miniature horses, said Janis McGhee, whose family owns McGhees’ Mile, on Monday. Nisonger, who is an owner, a trainer and a driver, will be busy because many of the 18 pacers and trotters in his stable will be participating. And Nisonger will be driving some of those animals while sitting behind them in a sulky. Even though the races won’t be official, they’ll serve a useful purpose. “It’s mainly an educational experience for 2-year-olds that have never raced before,” Nisonger said. “It teaches them to go behind the starting gate (which is mounted on a moving truck) and to be with other horses in a race field.” Those young standardbreds won’t be going all out the entire way. “The drivers will carry watches, and there will be a designated time for a mile that we will want to go in,” Nisonger said. “During the last little bit, we’ll turn our horses loose. But the older horses I have will actually be racing from the start in their races.” Nisonger, who lives in Ohio, brought horses to McGhees’ Mile this winter for the first time. “I wanted to get away from the cold,” he said. “A lot of people suggested this place. They called it a hidden gem.” Nisonger has enjoyed his time here. “The town is very nice, and the people are very friendly,” he said. Nisonger, 36, became interested in harness racing while he was growing up in the Buckeye State. A friend of his mother’s introduced him to the sport. “I was about 8 or 9 years old, and I learned about it from the ground up,” Nisonger said. “I started by cleaning stalls and taking care of the horses, and it progressed from there. I ended up liking it, and I got to be around some good horsemen.” In early January, Nisonger scored his 3,000th career victory as a driver. He got the win with a 10-year-old mare named Brooklets Sugarland at Miami Valley Raceway in Ohio. “I’ve had a lot of horses in my stable, but I haven’t had any great ones,” Nisonger said. “When they get really good, I try to sell them and make money while I can.” McGhees’ Mile is at 620 Banks Mill Road. General admission tickets are $10 each in advance and $12 at the gate. Children who are 10 years old or younger get in free. The cost for general parking is $5. Railside parking bundles, which include two general admission tickets, are $50 apiece. For more information, call 803-617-8511.   By ​Dede Biles  She is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Reprinted with permission of The Aiken Standard

DAYTON, OH. - A record handle, a handful of wins for Chris Page, and a 3000th win for Jeff Nisonger were harness racing highlights of an exceptional Opening Night at Miami Valley Raceway on Friday night (Jan. 6), despite frigid 8-degree temperatures.   The prospects for a tremendous opening week seem real with a powerful 14-race Saturday night (Jan. 7) program on tap followed by three consecutive matinees which include the inaugural $25,000 North American Drivers Challenge.   The $531,410 Friday handle obliterated the old wagering standard as an enthusiastic live crowd was joined by a growing number of simulcast patrons across the country who are realizing that Miami Valley presents a viable betting product with full fields of competitive horses and one of the strongest drivers colonies in the land.   On the track, Noone To Depend On captured the $22,000 Fillies and Mares Open I pace with an impressive 1:53.3 score for trainer-driver Kayne Kauffman. A recent Harrisburg sale purchase, the 4-year-old Santanna Blue Chip lass swept from seventh at the half-mile marker to a half-length victory for new owners Stephen Herrick and Mark Bogen.   Dispatched at 8-1 in her first open company test, Noone To Depend On surpassed the $100,000 career earnings plateau while besting runnerup Lease Ness Monster (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) and show finisher American Girl (Trace Tetrick).   Noone To Depend     Chris Page notched five wins on the night to grab the early local dash derby lead. Perennially one of Ohio's top reinsmen, Page's first triumph came behind the trotter No Whip Chip (1:58.2, $9.60 to win), owned by Deb Noble, the widow of the late great Chip Noble and trained by their daughter Meredith Noble. Page followed up with winning drives with pacers Lucky Lime (1:54.4, $6.00), Friskie Adam (1:55.1, $11.40), Cast No Shadow (1:54.4, $7.00) and Lancaster Park (1:54.4, $4.60). Kauffman added a pair of other wins to his feature race success, scoring a hat trick to open his 2017 season.   Jeff Nisonger notched his 3,000th career victory in the nightcap, steering Brookletssugarland from his own training stable to a nine-length romp in 1:56.4.   Nisonger and owner Janie Hartley have long been fond of the now 10-year-old Personal Power mare who has 37 lifetime win circle visits and over $200,000 in earnings.   Nisonger, age 35, began his driving career at the turn of the century and enjoyed much success at Lebanon Raceway, where he won multiple meet driving titles, as well as being a sought-after driver on the Ohio county fair circuit.   Post time for Friday and Saturday night programs at Miami Valley is 6:05 p.m., with the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday matinees beginning at 2:05 p.m.for the next four months.   Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - Miami Valley Raceway possesses a deep and talented harness racing driver colony, but rarely do you see a night at a commercial track nowadays where a different driver wins every race. That was the case on Wednesday, however, as ten drivers each won one of the ten races on the program. Even more shocking, leading driver Josh Sutton-currently in fifth place in the national dash standings with 155 wins at Miami Valley-was not one of the winners. Those that did reach the winner's circle were Alex Hawk, Ken Holliday, Randy Tharps, Hugh Beatty Jr., Dan Noble, Chris Page, Adam Beatty, Jeff Nisonger, Jason Brewer and Jeremy Smith. Gregg Keidel          

LEBANON, OH. - Artie's Last Party became the tenth Fillies and Mares Open pace winner in the first fourteen weeks of the 2015 harness racing meet on Friday night (April 3) at Miami Valley. Driver Jeff Nisonger was content to skim the pylons near the rear of the field in the early going as favorites Shine N Shimmer and Betterluvnexttime duked it out through a sizzling :26.3 opening panel over a sloppy surface. Following a :55.4 half Nisonger eased the winning six-year-old Artiscape mare into the outer flow following Rev Me Up, last week's winner. When the three-quarter clock flashed 1:25.2 the field fanned out for the stretch duel with closers getting the best of it. Artie's Last Party prevailed in the $17,050 feature race over Betit To Getit (Jason Brewer) and Ivory Collection (Jeremy Smith) in 1:55.2.  Trainer Eddie Poling owns Artie's Last Party who has banked $30,000 in a dozen seasonal starts at Miami Valley. The $10,000 championship leg of the Robert J. Brown Memorial Series was also contested on Friday with Mojita As (Jason Brewer) upset the field of green trotters in 1:59.1. Anette Lorentzon trains and co-owns the four-year-old Muscle Mass mare with ACI Stuteri Ab. Following a pair of runnerup finishes in the preliminary legs, Mojito As tracked mid-pack as Fly Away Bumblebee and E R Justiceforall played hardball on the engine. After a casual :29.2 opening quarter, the frontstepping pair went at it wheel-to-wheel through a :27.4 second panel to reach the half in :57.1. It wasn't until past the 1:28.3 third station clocking that the others began to close in on the speedsters with Mojito As strongest in the stretch to beat Held In Balance (Jeff Nisonger) with Fly Away Bumblebee (Kayne Kauffman) holding on for third. The 'Skeeter' Brown series featured trotters who hadn't won two races or $15,000 lifetime as of the March 1 nomination date. Racing resumes Saturday night at Miami Valley with a strong $18,150 Open Pace and two $10,000 divisions of the second leg of the Tom Tharps Memorial Series on tap. Post time is 6:30 p.m. On Easter Sunday, the Budweiser Clydesdales will be presented at Miami Valley from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., just prior to a special matinee program. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - The owners of A Piece Of The Action LLC got more than a piece of the action in a pair of lucrative harness racing "Claim To Fame" finals at Miami Valley on Thursday night...they got half of the action and a solid immediate return on investment. They claimed both Regil Tiger, the winner of the $15,900 championship division for $8000 claiming horses and geldings, and Carlina Hanover, the winner of the $19,600 split for distaff $12,500 claimers, just one week ago in the final preliminary leg of the respective series. Both winners were entrusted to new trainer Jeff Nisonger. Regil Tiger (Josh Sutton) fought off constant pressure over a sloppy track and still managed to pull away to a 1:56.2 score over Orse Power (Tyler Smith) and Bazinga (Randy Tharps). It was the 35th lifetime triumph for the nine-year-old son of Mach Three and increased his career bankroll to over $310,000. The win was one of five on the night for Josh Sutton, who captured the recent Hollywood Dayton Raceway driving title and currently ranks third at Miami Valley Raceway. Carlina Hanover (Kayne Kauffman) also employed gate-to-wire tactics to capture her championship, holding off Yankee's Lady (Kyle Ater) and Schmatie (Dan Noble) in 1:55.3. It was just the ninth lifetime win for the lightly raced daughter of Dragon Again and boosted her career bounty past $87,000. The "Claim To Fame" series concludes this weekend at Miami Valley when the finalists in the $5000 claiming trot compete for an $8200 purse on Friday night and the $12,500 male claiming pacer chase a $20,000 purse on Saturday. Sunday, February 1, is the deadline to enter another series of late closers, these for conditioned horses, to go postward over the next few weeks. Entry forms can be downloaded at: www.miamivalleygaming.com using the Racing and then Horsemens Info tabs. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - A pair of $15,000 championship races were contested Wednesday night as 'finals week' of the popular harness racing "Claim To Fame" series continued at Miami Valley. The finales for $8000 claiming mares and for $5000 claiming geldings were on top and when the smoke cleared it was She's A Ball and Winchester that were crowned champions. Driver Kyle Ater steered both winners, but used completely different tactics in the two lucrative races. Ater sent She's A Ball alertly from her inside post position and cut all the fractions to best Brookletssugarland (Jeff Nisonger) and CC's Munchkin (Greg Grismore) in the mares clash. As the lukewarm 8-5 favorite She's A Ball cruised through fractions of :27, :55.4 and 1:24 before closing the deal in 1:53.3. The winner's championship victory capped quite a night for trainer Deborah Swartz, who had four steeds from her stable visit the winner's circle. She's A Ball was plucked from a $5000 claiming event in early December by owners Bradley Delaney and Scott Albaugh and has since won five of six races and banked an even $20,000. As second choice in the $5000 and horses and geldings championship, Winchester was wrestled off the starting gate by Ater and watched a :26.4 speed duel develop up front between AK's Livin Large and Corey Road. After a demanding half in :56.2, Winchester was moved into third-over position in the outer flow past the 1:25.1 clocking. The entire field was well bunched at the head of the stretch with Ater swinging three-wide with Winchester full of pace. He gobbled up the tiring frontrunners and was strongest at the finish clocked in 1:54.1. Winchester, who has spent time in the Ater Stable in the past, was claimed by Dan Ater, Kyle's father, for $5500 last week and returned immediate dividends winning the $15,000 final. Fortune's Jenna (Josh Sutton) finished second with longshot Momma's Jolt (Jeremy Smith) completing the trifecta ticket. Due to the fact that 50 $5000 claimers participated in this series, an $8000 Consolation Final was also carded. Jack Apple (Jason Brewer) bested Spirits Gone Wild (Randy Tharps) and Easton Bound (Kayne Kauffman) in 1:54. Brewer co-owns the winner with William Eltzroth. Driver Shawn Barker II scored a hat trick on the program, winning with Eagle Jacob, Sissboombah and Ricky Blue Eyes, all trained by Deborah Swartz. Racing resumes Thursday night at Miami Valley with a 6:30 PM post time. Gregg Keidel

(NEW KENT, VA --- 10/9/14) ---- Fresh off a stellar Delmarva Pacing Series where he won two early legs and finished second in the finale, Bellator cruised to a wire-to-wire triumph in a new harness racing late closer series that began Thursday at Colonial Downs. Trained by leading conditioner Stacy McLenaghan, Bellator faced five others in the $4,000 first leg of The Juniors Pacing Series, open to non-winners of three races. The 4 year old Rocknroll Hanover gelding hit the quarter fractions in :26 1/5, :55.0 and 1:23 1/5 before crossing in a new life mark of 1:51.0. He set his prior best of 1:53.0 in the Delmarva's first leg on opening week. Even though Bellator wired the field, driver Jason MacDougall had to fend off pocket tripper Hotunderthecollar, who got a smart drive from Jeff Nisonger. The runner-up finished just a length shy at the wire. Cabrera, another McLenaghan trainee, took third. A second straight summer-like day in New Kent resulted in eight new life marks being recorded during the ten race program. The new grade earners were Jan's Pride 1:55.1 (Somebeachsomewhere), Berto Adalina 1:57.4 (Like A Prayer), Rapid Tempo 1:57.2 (The Panderosa), Bellator 1:51 (Rocknroll Hanover), Heaven Is For Real 1:54.2 (Christian Cullen), New York's Best 1:57.2 (Conway Hall), Jailhouse Bride 1:56.2 (Jailhouse Jesse) and Racin Best 1:52 (Cambest). Colonial Downs is dark Friday. Weekend cards will be held Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 PM. by Darrell Wood, for Colonial Downs  

(NEW KENT, VA ---9/21/14) ---- On a day when Colonial Downs starter Mike Wojchick oversaw and directed races with pacers, trotters, ostriches, camels and children, Nuclear Attraction and Smile A Little stole the show and scored impressive harness racing victories in sub-1:50.0 times on a hot Sunday afternoon. The other unique animals created laughter and applause between the quick mile trips. In the camel race, trainer Morgan Hagerman smartly guided Desert Charmer to victory while hanging on for dear life against three other two humped animals, which were ridden respectively by trainer Amanda Jackson, track veterinarian Chad Hundley and driver Jeff Nisonger. Hagerman's camel won by a nose over Hundley's Joe Camel. The fun day also included an ostrich race with sulkies attached to the feathered animals, and kids races on the track in which they lined up behind the starter's car. In equine competition, Cory Braden directed Nuclear Attraction to a wire-to-wire romp in the Good OIe USA's Pacing Series' first leg. The 4 year old Nuclear Breeze gelding triggered fractions of :26 4/5, :54 3/5 and 1:21 4/5 before crossing 5 ¾ lengths ahead of Hotundethecollar in 1:49 4/5. The Brian Malone trainee's previous best was a 1:52 4/5 clocking at Philadelphia last year Two races later, Jason MacDougall guided Smile A Little to a blowout win in week's featured conditioned pace in a sizzling 1:49 3/5. The 6 year old I Am A Fool gelding nosed by Doc's Zippy coming out of the turn and powered ahead to win convincingly by ten lengths. The George Anthrop trainee's prior best was set at Colonial last fall in 1:51.0. The track's 17th harness race season continues Wednesday at 1 PM. Darrell Wood  

(NEW KENT, VA --- 9/14/14) ---- Colonial Downs' 17th annual harness racing season will kick off this Wednesday September 17th at the home of the "one turn mile" with a ten race card beginning at 1:00 PM. Draws for both the Wednesday & Thursday programs took place this weekend. Featured races are a pair of late closer series that boast two divisions each. The Horace Martin Memorial Pacing Series' first leg will be contested at a 7/8ths mile distance and has nine horse fields in each division. Herman Hagerman's McBlack, based on five straight "in the money" finishes at The Red Mile, is favored in race four while Stacey McLenaghan's Hale Street is top early choice in the seventh race. The second "Martin" leg, scheduled for September 24th, will be at a one mile distance while the third and final legs will be contested at 1 1/4 miles. The VHHA Pacing Series has a pair of six horse fields that will vie in the fifth and sixth race. George Antrhop's Daggy is top pick early while McLenaghan's Wishingonadragon is favored late. The future VHHA legs will all be at the mile distance. Corey Braden and Frank Milby, last year's second and third leading reinsmen at the New Kent meet, return to Virginia and have nine and seven drives respectively on Wednesday. Jeff Nisonger, fifth in the '13 standings has six drives in the opener as does Chuck Perry. Trainer George Anthrop populates Wednesday's card in grand fashion with nine horses in to go while returnees Gerry Longo and Herman Hagerman, along with newcomer David Lake, have five in each. The Colonial meet will continue thru October 26th with racing slated every Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 PM. General admission is $3 and kids 12 and under are free. The 4th floor Turf Club Dining Room will be open on weekends. Opening weekend features two unique promotions --- one participatory while the other, not quite so. On Saturday, September 20th, the VHHA (Virginia Harness Horsemen's Association) will select the name of eight fans in attendance to become one day "horse owners". Those fans will return the following day as "owners" and get to keep the amount of purse money their respective horse earns in a $3,000 race. They will also tour the barn area, meet their trainer and driver, and enjoy a lunch for 2 in the VHHA Sky Suite. This promotion will continue every Saturday thru October 18th. The Sunday September 21st card will feature popular ostrich and camel races, which had become a Father's Day tradition at Colonial Downs in the 2012 and 2013 summer thoroughbred meets. In keeping with a standardbred theme, ostriches will also have a sulky of sorts attached to them for the event. The camel race will be after the 5th harness race and the ostrich race will be after 8th harness race. Kids will be invited to run in a 100 yard dash on the track after the races and will actually line up behind the starter's car. by Darrell Wood, for Colonial Downs

Miami Valley Raceway opens Friday night in southwest Ohio and there will be no shortage of talent on the racetrack during the opening weekend. Among the drivers expected to compete are the three most recent national dash champions: Ronnie Wrenn Jr., Dave Palone and Dan Noble. Wrenn led North America in wins in 2013 with 714 while Palone led in 2012 with 675 and Noble was tops in 2011 with 773. The new five-eighths-mile harness racing track, located between Dayton and Cincinnati, opens Friday night with an 11-race card. Post time is 6:30 p.m. for the first race. Palone, who is based at The Meadows in western Pennsylvania, has won more races than any driver in North American harness racing history, with 16,223 victories to his credit entering Thursday. Wrenn, who was the leading driver at Northfield Park last year, and Noble are expected to be regulars at Miami Valley, along with Pat Berry, Jack Dailey, Greg Grismore, Tony Hall, Kayne Kauffman, Jeff Nisonger, Jim Pantaleano, Tyler Smith, and Randy Tharps. Hall was the leading driver at Scioto Downs last year and Smith, who is the youngest driver in history to amass 1,000 wins, was the leading driver at Hoosier Park in Indiana. Kauffman was the top driver at Lebanon Raceway, which closed in December to make way for Miami Valley, a $175 million racino with a grandstand to accommodate more than 1,000 fans and a casino with 1,600 gaming machines to help increase purses. "I think everyone is looking forward to the racing," said Smith, who is from Washington Court House, Ohio. "There's going to be a lot of new faces and it should be very competitive. It's good. I think Ohio needs more drivers, new faces, to make the racing better. "Whenever you've got money (for purses) you're going to get good horses, and good horses bring good races." Miami Valley, which will offer live racing Wednesdays through Sundays until early May, held qualifiers on Feb. 1, giving drivers and horses their first trips around the oval. In the 14 prep races, nine were won by a horse that was no worse than second at the half-mile point, although it is too soon to draw conclusions about how the track's design and surface will affect racing throughout the season. "It's going to take a while to get it set up, and making it tougher is the fact this is the worst winter we've had in 12 or 13 years," said Hall, an Ohio native who earlier this year surpassed 4,000 career wins. "I think the track is probably going to be a little tiring the first few months until it gets set up." Kauffman, who lives 10 minutes from Miami Valley, said the track is not banked as much as Scioto Downs, the state's other five-eighths-mile oval, which might factor into driver strategy. "At Scioto you can pull at the quarter and live for a long time," Kauffman said. "I think here people might sit and wait a little longer." Smith said he thought speed would hold up based on what he saw in the qualifiers. "Maybe that will change, but right now it looks like a front-end track," he said. There is no inside passing lane in the stretch at Miami Valley, which also will affect strategy. "That's a big game-changer," said Hall, who plans to race regularly at Miami Valley in addition to racing at The Meadows. "Usually you get a two-hole trip and it's a great place to be, but now you might look for other positions for horses you'd like to land up close. The track does have long straightaways, so that might help closing horses out some." Added Kauffman, "The stretch is longer and you do kind of drift out more, which might open up room for horses." Miami Valley Raceway, which has a 156-stall paddock, will host the James K. Hackett races for Ohio-sired 3-year-old colts and fillies, with purses increased to $25,000 for the finals, on April 26. The track also will present the first legs of the Ohio Sire Stakes series when the state's best 3-year-old pacers and trotters compete on May 2 and May 3. In addition, the meet-ending May 4 card will include two new Grand Circuit races for older female pacers and trotters: The Sam "Chip" Noble III Memorial for the pacers and the Miami Valley Distaff Trot. "It'll be interesting to see how it all goes," Kauffman said. "They have some issues they need to address, but they're working on them and have been real receptive to suggestions. I think there will be plenty of horses. Hopefully everybody can be successful." "I think it's going to be a nice facility overall," Hall said. "People have waited a long time for an opportunity like this, and some had gone just about as far as they could go waiting for something good to happen. Like any new place, they've got some kinks to work out, but overall I think it's going to be great." By Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA  

LEBANON, OH. - The race office at Miami Valley Raceway will open for the first time on Thursday morning (Jan. 30) from 8 a.m. until noon and again Friday morning from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. The first order of business will be accepting entries for the first-ever qualifying races over the brand new five-eighths mile oval of Saturday (Feb. 1) starting at noon. Phone numbers for the race office are 513-934-7336, 513-934-7337 BS 513-934-7339, "We know that the prolonged arctic weather in southeast Ohio over the past month has been the worst in a quarter century," said Race Secretary Gregg Keidel. "Trainers are having a very difficult time maintaining the schedules they laid out in anticipation of our opening. Accordingly, we've relaxed the qualifying standards temporarily to get as many horses back to the races as we can as soon as possible." Opening Weekend is slated for Friday through Sunday, February 7-9 with a 6:30 p.m. post time each night. Trainers within shipping distance of Miami Valley are urged to check out the condition sheets for the first three nights, available at both www.ustrotting.com under the Horsemen tab and at www.miamivalleygaming.com under the Racing tab. Horses will be required to show a good clean charted line within 45 days of their anticipated race. "We may be able to direct trainers who want to race horses two or three nights on Opening Weekend and are shipping from longer distances to affordable nearby overnight stabling. We are talking to the county fairgrounds in both Lebanon and Dayton about offering overnight rates to trainers who pre-pay with a deposit," Keidel reports. Hall of Famer Dave Palone, the winningest driver in harness racing history with over 16,000 victories, has accepted an invitation to race Opening Weekend at Miami Valley Raceway. Over a dozen other drivers with over 1,000 wins have announced their intentions to compete regularly. In order of lifetime triumphs they are Jim Pantaleano 6251, Greg Grismore 6181, Randy Tharps 4618, Tony Hall 4013, Dan Noble 3511, Pat Berry 3024, Jack Dailey 2679, Jeff Nisonger 2644, Josh Sutton 2220, Kayne Kauffman 1653, Ronnie Wrenn Jr. 1325, J.D. Wengerd 1318, Tyler Smith 1227 and Mark Winters Jr. 1056. Submitted by Miami Valley Raceway  

NEW KENT, VA  ---- Omaha Survivor shook off three straight runner-up finishes and returned to the winners circle for the first time since opening weekend by capturing Thursday’s $3,500 co-featured conditioned pace at Colonial Downs. An extremely competitive field of eight lined up behind the gate including six pacers who had a winning mile of 1:51 2/5 or faster at the New Kent fall meet. Jeff Nisonger, driving Omaha Survivor for the first time, positioned the 8 year old Ideal Towne gelding In The Pocket initially and stayed there until mid-stretch when he calmly came out and overtook front stepping Vertigo Hanover. Henry Lewis’ Vertigo Hanover, who was going for his sixth win of the season, led from the outset and cut panels of :27.0, :55 4/5 and 1:24 1/5. Omaha Survivor got to the finish first though by a 2 ½ length margin in 1:51 4/5. The win was driver Nisonger’s middle leg triumph of a natural driving hat trick. The 32 year old connected in the race prior with John Ingram’s Diesel Fuel and in the race after with Gerald Russell’s Ashley Force. He is currently the fifth leading reinsman with 21 wins. Quiet Charmer kicked off the afternoon with a tight win over My Heidi in the $7,800 final leg of the Juniors Trotting Series. The 4 year old Cash Hall mare had a second and third in the first two series legs but went wire-to-wire with big money on the line. Frank Milby directed Quiet Charmer to a 1:57 1/5 victory, a head better than Jane Dunavant’s My Heidi, who won the second leg by a pair of lengths over Quiet Charmer. The winner is trained by Joe C. Mapes for his wife Irene. Colonial Downs has only two days left in its annual fall campaign. Cards will be presented Saturday and Sunday at 1 PM. The $380,000 Virginia-bred “Day of Champions” highlights action Sunday with eight divisional championships up for grabs. Three of the “Champions” races will be non-betting starting at 12:20 PM and the remaining five will be part of a twelve race pari-mutuel program.   by Darrell Wood for Colonial Downs  

(NEW KENT, VA) ---- Cajon Hot Shot passed Gordieisanartist at the top of the stretch and coasted home to a 2 ½ length win in Thursday's $6,000 winners over pacing feature at a damp Colonial Downs. Coming off a sixth place finish in last week's feature, Cajon Hot Shot got the services of the nation's winningest driver in the sulky. Ronnie Wrenn Jr., who had only been racing weekends at the New Kent oval, made his first weekday appearance and he guided the 5 year old Grinfromeartoear gelding to victory in 1:52 2/5. The winner is trained by Dean Eckley for the Gallicchio Racing Stable of Lanoka Harbor, New Jersey. Gordieisanartist held on for second while Indescribable was third. Reinsman Jeff Nisonger had his best day Thursday since he started competing at Colonial Downs. The 32 year old driver, whose main job is a policeman in Ohio, scored four wins on the day. He connected with Paul The Powerful, The Doctor, Garbo and Blueridge Casino. Nisonger saves up his vacation time and overtime to be able to compete in Virginia during the six week fall season. Colonial Downs is dark Friday. A pair of eleven race programs will go to post Saturday and Sunday at 1 PM. by Darrell Wood for Colonial Downs  

(NEW KENT, VA  ---- Original runner-up Fortune’s Jenna had his fortune reversed for the better as a result of a winner disqualification in Wednesday’s $7,400 final leg of the Horace Martin Memorial Pacing Series at Colonial Downs. Dean Eckley’s Jovial Joker N, who entered the finale with two wins in the three earlier Martin Series legs, scored what appeared to be a near wire-to-wire effort in the 1 ¼ miles finale in 2:26 2/5 in a steady drizzle. The 13 year old Life Sign gelding crossed one half length in front of Fortune’s Jenna but after a judge’s inquiry, it was ruled that he caused interference with the runner up and the order was reversed. Fortunes Jenna was as far back as sixth in the second turn, but came on strong in the stretch and despite the interference, almost passed Jovial Joker N before the finish. The 8 year old Cams Fortune gelding earned his second series win and 20th career victory. Jeff Nisonger directed the winner for trainer John Ingram and owner Daniel Chansky of Keysville, Virginia. Lemondrop Martini took third. Vertigo Hanover completed a series sweep in the U Gotta Win One Pacing Series by capturing the $5,650 final leg at the 1¼ distance. Driver Chuck Perry previously guided the 7 year old The Panderosa gelding to victories in the 7/8ths mile first leg and one mile second leg by identical 2½ length margins. On Wednesday, Vertigo Hanover traded front stepping places with All Is Lost on two different occasions before he opened up by five at the top of the stretch and coasted home 9 ¾ lengths ahead of Forward Bliss, who came from way back to take second. The winner, who crossed in 2:26 3/5, is trained and owned by Henry Lewis. Colonial Downs will host an eleven race card Thursday at 1:00 PM. by Darrell Wood for Colonial Downs

(NEW KENT, VA --- 9/25/13) ---- Doc’s Bonanza, the 2012 “Horse of the Meet” at Colonial Downs, got back to the winner’s for the first time in two starts at the current fall season in Wednesday’s $6,000 “winners over” featured pace. Driver Chris Page, who wasn’t at Colonial for Doc’s Bonanza’s first start a week ago, was in the bike Wednesday and the connection from last year’s success kicked in immediately. The 6 year old The Panderosa horse sat fourth through the first three fractions, went to the extreme coming out of the turn and wore down front steppers A Fool For Mark, Jolt of Fire and Doc’s Zippy in the stretch. Doc’s Zippy set the early pace, triggering fractions of :26 2/5, :54 1/5 and 1:22 3/5. Doc’s Bonanza ended up winning in 1:51.0, a seasonal best, by 1 ¾ lengths over Fly To The Angels. Last fall, the Mary Dawson trained horse had a winning mile of 1:49 4/5 in New Kent. A trio of late closer pacing series took place on the card as well. Fortune’s Jenna and Lemondrop Martini scored $3500 divisional wins in the Horace Martin Memorial’s second leg. Jeff Nisonger directed the former to a 1:53 4/5 one length triumph while Gerald Longo guided the latter to a new life mark in 1:53 3/5. What’s Up Rock made up for an early break in the VHHA Pacing Series’ first leg to score a tight win over Plain Easy in a $4,000 second leg division Wednesday. Driver Robert Dinning directed trainer Dean Eckley’s 3 year old Rocknroll Hanover gelding to a neck victory in 1:54 2/5. A sluggish I Reckon So shook off a tough start and stormed by six other pacers in the stretch to capture the second VHHA division. The 3 year old Yankee Skyscraper gelding crossed in a lifetime best 1:53 3/5 after going off stride before the start and languishing in last through much of the first three-quarters. The U Gotta Win One Now Series also got underway with a single $3500 division and Henry Lewis’s Vertigo Hanover got his second win of the young meet with a 1:36 3/5 effort in the seventh-eighths mile pace. Driver Chuck Perry took advantage of a perfect pocket trip to beat runner-up All Is Lost by nearly three lengths. Colonial Downs hosts a ten race harness program Thursday beginning at 1 PM. By Darrell Wood for Colonial Downs  

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