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LEBANON, OH. - Big Bossman and Friskie Adam scored impressive harness racing triumphs in a pair of $7,500 elimination heats on Saturday night to determine the finalists for the $25,000 James K. Hackett Memorial at Miami Valley Raceway next weekend (April 26). Driver Greg Grismore left alertly with Big Bossman in the first split only to yield to Chance I Might (Chris Page) nearing the quarter mile marker. Content to sit the pocket through moderate fractions, the pride of the Parent Racing Stable and trainer Doug Hinklin found a seam along the pylons in the stretch and nailed the frontrunner in the final strides of the 1:55.3 mile.   Other Ohio-sired sophomore pacers who garned spots in the championship were third place finisher Dibs (Tony Hall), UF Fast Feelin (Dan Noble) and Led Schneppelin (Kayne Kauffman), who was the quickest of the two fifth place finishers (1:56.3) to earn the final spot in the final.   Friskie Adam was clearly the best in the second division posting a 5/1/2 length victory for driver Kyle Ater, trainer Dan Ater and owner Dr. Jerry Maloon. The heavily favored son of Feelin Friskie was never pressured during his 1:55.2 mile and appeared to be on cruise control at the finish.   Feelin Speedy (Josh Sutton) crossed the line second followed by Two Will Forever (Jeremy Smith) and Hawks Cry Hoboken (Noble) who all qualified for the impending championship race.   A $9,000 Open I pace was also presented in front of another full house of racing fans on Saturday and Royal Outlook (Jim Pantaleano) made his return to Miami Valley a happy homecoming notching a 1:52 score by a length over I Found My Beach (Grismore) and Justified (Hall).   It was the fourth consecutive Open I win at Miami Valley and sixth victory in seven local starts, interrupted only by a three week stint at Hoosier Park which resulted in one additional triumph. The razor sharp winner is trained by Terry Deters and owned by David Hudson, a former professional hockey player.   Racing resumes on Easter Sunday night at Miami Valley with a 6:30 p.m. post time.   From Miami Valley Raceway Publicity Department      

LEBANON, OH. - Kayne Kauffman extended his lead in the dash standings at the inaugural meet at Miami Valley Raceway notching four wins on the Thursday night program.   The 35-year-old reinsman, determined to defend the dash title he earned at the final meet at nearby Lebanon Raceway in 2013, has 64 victories through the first 45 nights of racing. Runnerup Tyler Smith has 49 wins, Dan Noble 44, Jeremy Smith 37 and Jason Brewer 35. Rounding out the top twelve are Jim Pantaleano 31, Kyle Ater 30, Chris Page 29, Randy Tharps 27, Josh Sutton 25, Pat Berry 23 and Greg Grismore 21.   Kauffman's $257,022 also tops the 'Money Won' list with 20 of the 65 nights of the track's first meet still remaining. Noble's $201,000 is second while another ten drivers have earned over $100,000 with their mounts thus far.   His four wins on Thursday night came from four different stables. He won with Southern Accent for trainer Jim Arledge Jr., Gordyyys Pet for conditioner Chris Short, RM Mornin Sunshine for Gavin Bixler, and Countmymuscles, a trotter from his own barn.   The trainer's title is still up for grabs with Jeff Brewer and Virgil Morgan Jr. currently deadlocked at the top of the list with 23 triumphs. Doug Hinklin and Chris Short are well within striking distance with 18 victories apiece. They are followed by Conor Flynn 15, Kayne Kauffman 13, Sam Coven and Terry Deters 12 each, Dan Ater and Sherif Cunmulaj 11, and Roy Murphy Jr. 10.   Morgan's $91,210 narrowly heads the stable earnings list which boasts ten different trainers averaging over $1000 earned per program.   Statistically, post position five is winning at an alarming 18.1 % clip, followed by PP 4 at 15.3, PP 3 at 14.5, and PP's 2 and 1 both at 12.5. Post time favorites have won 33.47% of the races which are averaging over 8.6 starters per race.   From the Miami valley Publicity Department

LEBANON, OH. - Despite the fact he was making his first money start in over four months, Southwind Pepino was impressive Friday night, fighting fierce wind gusts and six creditable rivals to capture the $9,000 Open Trot at Miami Valley Raceway. A winner of eight races and $165,000 last year, the handsome six-year-old son of Chocolatier had just a mediocre qualifier under his belt before this initial triumph of 2014. Content to drop in fourth from an assigned outside post position, driver Hugh Beatty Jr. moved into the second-over position in the outer flow after seeing pedestrian initial panels of :29.4 and :59 posted by frontrunning Cashahallic (Jim Pantaleano), who ultimately faded to fourth at the finish. At the three-quarter mile marker reached in 1:28.3 Beatty flipped Southwind Pepino three-wide around Bookem (Josh Sutton) who was racing bravely first-up on the outside and finished third. The winner opened up a two-length margin in midstretch then held off runnerup Quick N Slick (Dan Noble) who was closing furiously after getting away at the back of the pack early. Beatty owns Southwind Pepino in partnership with Robert Sharrits. From Miami Valley Raceway Publicity Department    

LEBANON, OH - Royal Outlook (Jim Pantaleano) captured the $10,000 Open Handicap pace at Miami Valley Raceway on Saturday night weathering a parked-out trip from the assigned outside nine-hole and still besting Ardyne Ace (Randy Tharps) and Doubletrouble (Josh Sutton) in 1:52.4.   The Canadian invader, sent to trainer Terry Deters just over a month ago, has soared to the top of the best class at the new five-eights mile oval and has earned a well-deserved week off next Saturday following three consecutive victories in the weekly feature race.   Driver Kayne Kauffman had the hot hands on the program as he inched closer to leading driver Tyler Smith, who was at The Meadowlands for their Legends vs. Phenoms Driving Challenge, with five triumphs.   Kauffman's stellar evening started by winning both halves of the daily double with Jim Arledge Jr. trainees No Satin Intended and Camart Hanover. He had back-to-back wins again in the middle of the card with Jetstream Friskie, trained by Joseph Essig, and Soil The Beans from the Chris Short stable. Kauffman captured his fifth race with Ra Ra Steven who resides in his own stable at nearby Lebanon fairgrounds.   Josh Sutton scored a driving triple guiding A Luck Duck and Mybrothergeorge, a pair of recent claims by trainer Barry Langley, into the winner's circle as well as Southbound for conditioner Brett Landis.   One of the most exciting races on the 14-race program was the $6,000 male gender semi-final in the month-long Miami Valley Madness In March tournament for $4,000 claiming pacers.   Olive Loaf (Kyle Ater) eeked out a neck-long 1:54.4 upset victory over City Pizza (Jeremy Smith) with Communicator (Pat Berry) also lapped on at the finish. Earning the fourth and final spot in an $8,000 "Battle of the Sexes" championship race versus the four best female finishers from a tandem brackets tournament elimination match on Sunday night was C D's Report (Kauffman). The "final four" boys will face off against the "final four" girls on Sunday, March 30 to culminate the Miami Valley Madness in March event.   From the Miami Valley Publicity Department  

LEBANON, OH. - Despite a four-month layoff, Fusion Man started his 2014 campaign in impressive fashion Friday night capturing the $9000 Open Handicap Trot at Miami Valley Raceway.   Leading driver Tyler Smith, who will miss the Saturday session at Miami Valley to compete in the Legends vs. Phenoms drivers challenge at The Meadowlands, sent the five-year-old son of Valley Victor directly to the front and gamely held off Cashahallic (Jim Pantaleano) and Mama Made Me Blue (Dan Noble) in a three-horse photo finish.   It was the eleventh career victory for the winner who is trained by Tyler's father Jeff Smith and owned by Tdtrot LLC of Florida. His 1:56.1 clocking was just one-fifth of a second off the track trotting record established in the first six weeks of the five-eighths mile oval's inaugural meet.   The win was one of three on the night for Tyler Smith who also scored in both halves of the early daily double with pacer Gigaro and trotter Unfazed. Kayne Kauffman, who is second in the dash standings, kept pace with three tallies of his own behind pacers Cowboy Cal and Bluebird Ideal and the trotter Treasurer John. Scoring doubles on the program were Dan Noble, Randy Tharps and Josh Sutton as only five drivers combined to win all twelve of the Friday night races.   by Miami Valley Raceway  

LEBANON, OH. - Not only did father/trainer Jeff Brewer and son/driver Jason Brewer sweep the Open I and Open II mares features on Sunday night at Miami Valley Raceway, but they stamped their stable as the one to beat in the distaff final of the Madness In March tournament for minimum claimers as well.   Holiday Shopper captured her third victory in five local tries in the $10,000 Open I event closing from 5-1/2 lengths off the leader at the head of the stretch to triumph over Addys Way (Jeremy Smith) and That's My Girl G (Randy Tharps) in 1:55.1. Owned by Drs. Robert and Randall Hutchison, the winning seven-year-old Camluck mare now has amassed 22 lifetime tallies and a bankroll of almost $330,000.   The same connections surprised the Open II field when Upfront Miss Major pulled a 1:56.4 upset over Artie's Last Party (Kayne Kauffman) and The Shoe Fits (Chris Page). The five-year-old Art Major mare was sixth and moving at the halfway point and took command in the final strides to reward her backers with a handsome $29.80 mutuel return.   Rock Ann Rolling established herself as the favorite in the 'Madness' elimination tournament by winning the fastest of two $5000 quarter-final splits in 1:56 over Taylors Artist (Josh Sutton) and May Street Bon (Jim Pantaleano). Jason Brewer owns the six-year-old Rocknroll Hanover lass who now has back-to-back elimination week wins.   The Brewers will have a coupled entry in the $6000 female final next Sunday as their Boiler Heidi Ho finished second in the other division to C L Life Road (Pat Berry) with Tips Girl (Tyler Smith) getting the show dough. Following next week's race the top four mares will advance to face the top four males from a tandem elimination bracket in an $8000 'Battle of the Sexes' on March 30.   Submitted by Miami Valley Raceway

LEBANON, OH. - Cashahallic produced a minor upset in the $10,000 Open Handicap trot at Miami Valley Raceway on Friday night, stepping to a 1:56 track record in the process.   At odds of 9-1, the six-year-old son of Cash Hall was the quickest of the full field off the wings of the Woebkenberg starting gate, leaving alertly in :28.1 for driver Jim Pantaleano. The Chris Scicluna trainee continued to show the way through fractions of :57.4 and 1:26.3 before holding off pocket-sitting Baby Blaze (Chris Page) by a neck for owner Michael Lipman. Itzaziam (Pat Berry) rallied late to garner the show dough.   Drivers Jeremy Smith and Chris Page each scored hat tricks on the 12-race program.   Smith sped to the quickest mile of the night with a 1:53.4 triumph behind Big Pulse. He also guided Exit Here (1:55.4) and Milliron Pete (1:58.4) to victories.   Page's wins were with Newspeak (1:55.1), Polo Johnny (1:56.2) and the trotter Chet N Spanky (1:58.3).   Racing resumes Saturday night with a solid 14-race program including a $10,000 Open Handicap pace and four first-round elimination heats of the Miami Valley Madness In March tournament for $4000 claimers. Post time is 6:30 p.m.   Brad Conrad  

LEBANON, OH - Rehab Mountain trotted to his second straight track record capturing the $9,500 Open at Miami Valley Raceway on Friday night. Despite a week off due to the race not filling and drawing the outside post position, the seven-year-old gelding was sent directly to the front by trainer-driver Brad Hanners. Following pedestrian early fractions of :29 and :58.4 the pride of the B6 Racing Stable stepped on the gas with a :28.2 third split then held off all challengers with a :29.2 final quarter to stop the clock in 1:56.3. Hanners has raced sparingly in the first month of the Miami Valley meet, but is batting .1000 with five wins in five tries thus far. Master Host (Josh Sutton) saved ground through the lane to finish second in the featured mile followed by Itzaziam (Pat Berry) and Cashahallic (Jim Pantaleano) across the finish line. by Miami Valley Raceway Publicity Department        

LEBANON, OH. - Driver Jason Brewer and his partners had a huge night at Miami Valley Raceway on Thursday. Not only did the talented reinsman win three races, but he was an ownership partner on each of them.   Brewer's big night started with Brooklets Sugarland in the seventh race. Following a brief give-and-go back to the front end, the lukewarm favorite was on the engine the entire mile to beat All Tanned Up (Tony Hall) and May Street Bon (Jim Pantaleano). The $4000 claiming mare is owned by Brewer in partnership with Vince Orlando.   In the very next race Volleyball Star became the first three-time winner at Miami Valley, besting a field of $5000 claiming mares in 1:55.2. Although just mildly favored in the race, Brewer stepped alertly to the front of the class off the wings of the gate and widened to a six-length margin of victory at the wire. Co-owned by the Holland Racing Stable, the winner bested Dangerous Forever (Tyler Smith) and Dora Des Rivieres (Jeremy Smith).   Brewer proved it wasn't just favorites he could guide to victory when he returned to the winner's circle after race ten, a $5000 conditioned distaff event captured by Autumn Seelster in 1:56.2. The triumphant lass was parked on the outside much of the mile but managed to reach the finish line a length ahead of fellow longshot Bella Sophia (Randy Tharps) and Babes's Bistro (Kayne Kauffman). Bettors who thought Brewer could score the hat trick were rewarded with a $27 win ticket mutual. The $2 exacta in the race returned $960.40 while the winning 50-cent trifecta combination paid $954.70. Brewer's partner on Autumn Seelster is William Fleming.   On Wednesday night, 21-year-old Tyler Smith, who currently stands atop the driver's dash standings at the initial Miami Valley meet, visited the winner's circle four times to bring his total to 20 triumphs after 13 nights of racing. Racing continues at Miami Valley on a Wednesday through Sunday night schedule with a regular 6:30 p.m. post time. Submitted by Miami Valley Raceway Publicity Dept.

LEBANON, OH. - Sisters Aqua Artist and Sectionline Yankee won back-to-back races Sunday night at Miami Valley, including the $10,000 Fillies and Mares Open pace. Trainer Steve Bauder had the siblings super sharp on this night and reinsman Chris Page used that to full advantage. Aqua Artist, at age seven, two years the senior of Sectionline Yankee, (both out of the Cambest mare Aquatic Yankee), beat the top distaffers with a front-stepping 1:55.1 effort. She bested Rev Me Up (Dan Noble) and Holiday Shopper (Jason Brewer) for her 25th career triumph, raising her lifetime bankroll to $306,696. Sectionline Yankee pushed her total earnings to $246,795 with her 14th win. Her 1:56.3 score over Babe's Chip (Tyler Smith) and Sonic Breeze (Jim Pantaleano) came in a $7000 conditioned event. Owners Harold Lee Bauder, Harold L. Bauder and Michael Dixon also bred both winners. By Gregg Keidel  

LEBANON, OH. - Despite the outside post position in a scratch-shortened field of seven, Itzaziam trotted to an impressive 1:57.4 score in a $7000 conditioned event at Miami Valley Raceway on Friday night. The six-year-old gelded son of Harrys Star Ranger put in two stellar qualifiers at his new home track before notching his first Ohio pari-mutuel win over Cashahallic (Jim Pantaleano) and Mama Made Me Blue (Dan Noble). Co-owned by James Craparotta and driver Pat Berry, it was the 15th career win for Itzaziam who is trained in Ohio by Conor Flynn. Hunchie (Noble) garnered the lion's share of a $6500 purse offered for conditioned claimers who were non-winners of 10 races and carried $15,000 tags. Gerrie Tucker owns the winner who races out of the Virgil Morgan Jr. stable. Hunchie's 1:56 clocking bested Bullwinkle (Jason Brewer) and T M Valley Storm (Tyler Smith). Racing resumes Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. when the feature will be a full-field $10,000 Open Pace.    

LEBANON, OH. - Despite sub-freezing temperatures Lookinforadventure scorched the new Miami Valley five-eighths mile oval in 1:51.4 on Sunday night to capture the featured $10,000 Open-Preferred pace and lower the track record.   Driver Ronnie Wrenn Jr. left alertly and opted to sit the pocket throughout most of the record-setting mile. Eventual runnerup I'm Feeling Good (Tony Hall) posted front-end fractions of :26.4, :55.3 and 1:23.4 before yielding halfway down the stretch to finish 1-1/2 lengths behind. Ardyne Ace (Jim Pantaleano) raced gamely from the outside post position in the field of nine to garner the show dough.   Green Acquisition Corporation owns Lookinforadventure, a six-year-old gelded son of Rocknroll Hanover out of the Jate Lobell daughter Student Driver. The winner was recently moved to the Virgil Morgan Jr. stable as he approaches the half-million dollars in career earning plateau.   Submitted by Miami Valley Raceway  

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  

Gregg Keidel, a native of Ohio and someone who has contributed much to Buckeye State harness racing in various capacities over the last 35 years, is “returning home” as the race secretary at both of the new Dayton-area racinos that will be filling the traditional racing spot formerly held by venerable Lebanon Raceway: Miami Valley Raceway, a joint venture of Churchill Downs and Delaware North which will soon open the 2014 racing season in southern Ohio, and Dayton Raceway, a “Hollywood Slots”/Penn National venture which will follow Scioto Downs’ traditional summer meet in what is envisaged as an almost year-round circuit. Most of Keidel’s experience, as those familiar with him know, was picked up in the northeastern part of the state, at what was known then (and still is by many) as Northfield Park in Cleveland. Following his selling a chain of weekly newspapers which he had managed to success at an early age, Keidel got into harness racing as an owner, but it wasn’t long before he was training and driving his own horses, racing at Northfield, Windsor in Ontario, and the county fairs. Gregg had two early successes in his stable’s black and green colors: the pacer Blastabaroness, a top two-year-old Ohio filly of 1984 who gave Keidel 12 of his 14 victories very early in his sulky career; and a caretaker plucked out of waiterdom from the Northfield clubhouse who would go on to be known to many fans over 6000 victories later, Jim Pantaleano. Keidel’s newspaper experience led him to supplement his stable’s income by serving as a part time publicist for the track, and when a position in the racing office as assistant to Dennis Haskell opened, Gregg saw a more “stable” life for himself and his family and decamped there fulltime, shortly becoming Northfield racing secretary, a post he would hold for over 20 years as Northfield built itself into one of the hardest-working successes in the sport. During most of this time, Keidel “kept himself in the stirrups” on the Billings amateur circuit, being named Amateur Driver of the Year in North America in 2001. “I’ve had some of the best experiences in my life from amateur driving,” Gregg states. “I’ve been blessed to make six overseas trips as part of a visiting team of amateurs taking on the host countries, and they certainly have provided quite a few good memories. I’m also proud I notched my 100th win during Jug week in Delaware,” in 2007. When Running Aces Harness Park opened north of Minneapolis in 2008, Keidel took on the challenge as race office boss during the summer meet, getting a midseason leave of absence from the Cleveland oval, and he combined the two jobs until deciding to focus on Running Aces in 2010, with Florida judging his other source of income (though he also handled the last meet at Toledo Raceway Park last year – mainly from Running Aces!). One of the great aspects for Keidel in his new jobs is that the spring meet at Miami Valley and the fall meet at Dayton Raceway bookend the summer action in Minnesota beautifully. “I think these new opportunities in Ohio are exciting,” Gregg opines. “The parent companies all come from a racing base, and they understand that you have to promote both the racing and the casino play, whereas elsewhere many of the owners come from straight from the casino world, and the racing is often given a very secondary status.” The new 5/8-mile track at Miami Valley, nine miles from Lebanon Raceway, will accommodate nine-horse behind the starting gate – and Keidel would be very happy to have some full gates as MVR opens on February 7. “I am being realistic about how many horses we will attract at first,” he said. “There is no barn area here – we had a lot of inquiries from horsemen about stabling, but there just aren’t that many stalls available in the area right now, although some county fairs are talking about refurbishing their barn areas and staying open as training centers all year. Also, we have had some of the most miserable weather in the last few weeks around here (Gregg, it hasn’t been just around you – ed.), and a lot of horsemen are behind schedule in bringing horses back.” Indeed, the day this story was written, qualifying standards of 2:10 for pacers and 2:12 for trotters within 45 days were announced as a temporary measure until trainers get back on their schedules. If the horses may need a start or two to hit top stride, the same cannot be said about the driving colony. The last three North American driving champions – Ron Wrenn Jr. (2013), Dave Palone (2012), and Dan Noble (2011) – have committed to racing at Miami Valley during opening weekend, and interest in regular racing has been indicated by five other drivers with 3000+ wins: Greg Grismore, Randy Tharps, Tony Hall, Pat Berry ,… …and remember that Northfield waiter who got his start with the Keidel barn? Yes, count Jim Pantaleano, now 6,150 wins ahead of his former boss, among those likely to be checking out Miami Valley. For the opening two cards, Friday, Feb. 7 and Saturday, Feb. 8, Miami Valley will draw on Tuesday, Feb. 4. Gregg Keidel and the rest of the Miami Valley team will be hoping for some luck rubbing off on that date – because that day it will have been exactly 50 years since Pompano Park staged its first-ever card. It will be much warmer in Florida than it will be in southwest Ohio, but Pompano certainly has had its share of magic over the years – and Gregg Keidel has been in the horse game long enough to take magic, luck, or anything else that will aid his cause and that of his management. By Jerry Connors for Harnesslink.com

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  

MANALAPAN, NJ - January 16, 2014 - In a 90-minute meeting, mediated by Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey President Tom Luchento, more than 150 horsemen had an opportunity to verbalize their concerns to Freehold management. The meeting, conducted in the Renaissance Room at Freehold Raceway on January 15, was focused on track conditions, medical response and other issues triggered by the horrific spill that occurred in the fifth race on Friday, January 10, 2014. Five drivers - Cat Manzi, Debra Rucker, Vincent Ginsburg, Chris Scicluna and Jim Pantaleano - ended up at area hospitals and a sixth driver, Rick Pantano, was also checked out after the starting gate slide into the field on the first turn. Horses suffered cuts and bruises. Representing Freehold were general manager Howard Bruno, director of racing Karen Fagliarone, starter Robert Blum and track supervisor Michael Fagliarone. "As a result of this meeting, we all seem to agree that there is a need for an independent track expert to review the track surface and the manner in which it is maintained," said Luchento. "We've also called upon Freehold to pay for the replacement of the racing bikes, colors, veterinarian bills and other costs that derived out of this accident. Additionally, the owners of the horses that did not get to race because of the cancellation of the balance of the card on January 10 will be reimbursed $125." All seven of the starters in the fifth race will equally split the $4,300 purse. Some speakers described the freeze-thaw cycle of the afternoon of January 10 as the "perfect storm" for the track conditions to turn dangerous in a short amount of time. Others expressed concern that if they complained or scratched horses on bad weather days, they would face retribution. Both Luchento and Karen Fagliarone assured horsemen that this would not be the case and that it was important for there to be an open dialogue between drivers and the judges. While outrider Beth Cumberland was praised for her quick response to gathering up the loose horses, there were questions about the slow response time for additional ambulances from local hospitals. This was exacerbated by the volume of black ice road accidents in the region, it was explained. Cat Manzi, who suffered multiple broken ribs and a punctured lung, was released from Jersey Shore University Medical Center on Wednesday, January 15. Debbie Rucker, who had internal bleeding in her leg, was discharged the prior day. by Carol Hodes for SBOANJ        

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