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LEBANON, OH. - Tura Lura Lural (Kayne Kauffman) completed a clean sweep of the Herb Coven Jr. Memorial Series, winning the $25,000 Championship leg on Friday night (March 15) at Miami Valley Raceway. The 4-year-old daughter of The Panderosa also captured a pair of preliminary legs before topping Avaline Hanover (Chris Page) and McPansy (Brett Miller) in the final. The Coven Memorial featured distaff pacers who lacked four wins or $40,000 in lifetime earnings at the series' commencement. Kauffman was intent on dictating the action, wrestling the lead away from McPansy just past the quarter mile mark of the race. Fending off a prolonged challenge by Scwartz Bros Beaty (Trace Tetrick), Tura Lura Lural then had to contend with Avaline Hanover for the length of the stretch before cruising under the wire a three-quarter length winner in 1:54.3. Kauffman's wife Natalie shares ownership of the winner with Douglas Millard and Sandra Burns of Ontario, Canada. She now sports five wins in just 25 lifetime starts and career earnings rapidly approaching $100,000.     -Conrad photo A $22,500 Mares Open Pace was won by Big Bad Jane, an Ohio-sired 5-year-old Big Bad John daughter making her initial start in open company for trainer-driver Dan Noble and owner Sandra Burnett. Content to sit next-to-last in the field of seven, Noble sent Big Bad Jane three wide at the halfway station, moved up to third with two furlongs to go, and cruised to a 2-1/4 length triumph over E R Hilary (LeWayne Miller) and fast-closing Rosemary Rose (Chris Page) in 1:53.4. Big Bad Jane has captured 17 of her 53 races to date and her bankroll has soared to $221,694. Big Bad Jane      - Conrad photo Racing resumes Saturday night (May 16) at Miami Valley with the $25,000 championship of the George Williams Memorial series on tap as well as a $25,000 Open I and a $20,000 Open II. Post time is 6:05 p.m.   Gregg Keidel

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Fair Managers inducted Mel Hagemeyer, Jacqueline and Jack Wood II and Darrel D. “Cubby” Cubbison into the Ohio Fairs Hall of Fame class of 2019, Jan. 6. Hagemeyer Hagemeyer has contributed to the fair community in Warren County for more than 60 years. Hagemeyer has been on the Warren County Agricultural Society Board since 2002 and has worked at the Lebanon Raceway 45 years, serving as program director, mutual clerk, paddock judge, director of operations, and since 1992, general manager. He has served as served as the fair harness racing superintendent for 12 years. Mel has also been the open class superintendent of antique tractors, competitive arts, baked goods and horticulture. For the last five years, Hagemeyer was one of the driving forces behind getting video terminals legalized at Ohio’s horse tracks. Mel is a member of the Optimist, Shrine, Masonic Lodge and Scottish Rites Lodge. He is a past president and current member of the Ohio Valley Standard Bred Association, the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association and the United States Trotting Association. Mel is also a past director for Harness Tracks of America. Mel is actively involved in the multi-generational operation of Hagemeyer Farms in Clarksville, Ohio. He has been married to Pam for 34 years. They have four children, Scott, Tiffany, Steven and Cheryl, and five grandchildren. The Woods Jack was born and raised in the concession business by his father. Jack missed two fair seasons in his lifetime due to two tours of duty in Vietnam. Two weeks out of the Navy, he attended the 1971 OFMA convention and was elected to the seat held by his father on the Greater Ohio Showman Board. He served on that board for 22 years with four years as president. Jacqueline and Jack started out buying two trailers from Jack’s parents in 1971. After Jack’s  time on the Greater Ohio Showman board, he served on the board of the National Independent Concessionaires Association for five years with one as president. Jack has served three terms on the Ohio Food Service Advisory board and several years on the Games Rules Advisory board. Jack and Jacqueline started and operated Rite-Way Custom Trailer for 25 years, building concession trailers for the industry. Jacqueline served on many committees for the Greater Ohio Showman Association. She belongs to the Women in NICA committee, was secretary of the Logan County Fair, Indian Lake school board, Daughter of the American Revolution and earned the Certified Concessionaire Executive designation. Jack and Jacqueline have been the food midway concession manager at the Warren County Fair for more than 30 years. They have been married more than 51 years. They have two children, who are continuing the legacy of Woods Concessions, and three grandchildren. Cubbison Cubbison is a lifelong resident of Muskingum County. He was an active 4-H member who showed chicken and sheep, then later became a 4-H adviser. After serving six years in the National Guard, part of which was active duty, Darrel operated Cubby’s Poultry. He retired from Guernsey-Muskingum Electric Cooperative, Inc. Cubby has always had a passion for fairs and has visited nearly every fair in the state, along with many fairs in the eastern half of the United States. He has served on the board of the Muskingum County Fair since 1972 and has led the board through many building projects and property negotiations. He has served as the OFMA District 7 director and received the OFMA District Director of the Year in 2009. He has also served as the first and second vice president of the OFMA and served as the OFMA president in 2014 and 2015. Darrel is active in his community where he has been a 4-H adviser, Sunday School teacher and lay leader at his church, a member of the local Board of Trade, and serves on the board of directors of both Pritchard Laughlin Civic Center and the John and Annie Glenn Historic site. Darrel is also a past member of Caret Council Agricultural Research Extension and Teaching. Darrel was inducted into the Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame for East Muskingum Schools in 1996. He also received the Bob and Delores Hope Good Samaritan Award in 1996 for his contributions to his community. He was recognized by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and received recognition of outstanding public service and support of the Ohio Cooperative Extension Service and its educational programs from the Epsilon Sigma Phi. Darrel and his wife Carol operate a small grassland farm near New Concord, Ohio. He has two children, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Pictured (left to right): Jack Wood II, Jacqueline Wood, Darrel D. “Cubby” Cubbison and Mel Hagemeyer. Reprinted with permission of the Farm And Dairy

Weather permitting, officials said a new 17,500 square foot event center and 530-space parking lot should be partially available for the 2019 Warren County Fair. The long-awaited $3.4 million development is to be built at the center of the 100-acre fairgrounds, just north of downtown Lebanon, where the grandstands stood for decades. “I’m optimistic some, if not all, of the building will be available,” Gene Steiner, chairman of the Warren County Agricultural Society, said last week. RELATED: Warren County event center project back on track The fair is to open on July 14. The Warren County Port Authority and construction manager Conger Group were waiting last week for final permitting from the city of Lebanon to use in obtaining building permits from the county building department. “Get the permits and get the ball rolling. It’s been a long, interesting trail,” Steiner added. “When you have this many public entities involved, it gets complicated.” The old grandstands were demolished in May 2017 in anticipation of the event center, part of redevelopment of the fairgrounds after the legalization of racinos in Ohio. The fairgrounds’ main sign advertises the yet-to-be constructed event center. To pay for the project, Warren County is spending $3 million donated by the operators as part of the agreement through which harness-racing and simulcast betting were moved out of Lebanon to the Miami Valley Gaming & Racing facilities, off Interstate 75 in Turtlecreek Twp. The sixth live racing season opened Friday night. RELATED: Warren County fair goes on without event center Last year during the fair, a circus was set up where the grandstands previously stood. Last month, with Commissioner Shannon Jones absent, the county commission approved a “master resolution” putting the county port authority in charge of the event center project and 1.1 acres beneath it and leasing it to the agricultural society, better known as the fair board. “Essentially the fair board has given up that land,” said Martin Russell, executive director of the port authority. The county and fair board are to share in profits from weddings, meetings and other events held there. County Administrator Tiffany Zindel said the agreement would provide another revenue stream for the fair board, reducing its need to turn to the county for money. Future leases could turn over event-center operations to another operator. The overall fairgrounds lease between the commissioners and fair board also has been changed. “You hold the cards,” Assistant County Prosecutor Bruce McGary told the commissioners. Unlike past “perpetual” leases, dating back to when two racing seasons dominated the fairgrounds except during fair season, the new leases are to be for a limited time period, McGary said. Steiner said the current fairgrounds lease still runs for 15 years. RELATED: Warren County seeks funding options for fairgrounds project Last June, the county commissioners stopped the event center project as costs rose to $3.8 million, in part due to a stormwater retention area and waterlines required by the city. The commissioners appealed to Lebanon to help make up the difference, resurrecting an old feud over splitting $3 million in state funds set aside for cities that lost racetracks to racinos. Lebanon purchased a piece of the fairgrounds from the county for a new fire station. But the city council decided to use the last $400,000 of Lebanon’s share of the redevelopment money to set up an entertainment district downtown. Russell predicted the event center would be “roughed in” by July with restroom facilities available to fair-goers, weather permitting. After the fair, Russell said Conger will finish the project. Russell credited Steiner with making the event-center development happen by accepting county control. “There has to be this really good relationship. I think Gene has brought that into the mix,” Russell said. MORE: Lebanon among Ohio cities redeveloping racetracks By Lawrence Budd Reprinted with permission of My Dayton Daily News

LEBANON, OH. - Rosemary Rose (Chris Page) captured the final Friday night Fillies and Mares Open Pace feature of the 2018 meet. The 4-year-old daughter of Foreclosure N won a come-from-behind thriller over Truth And Liberty (Aaron Merriman) and American Girl (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) in 1:51.2. Page was content to sit sixth as American Girl tripped the first three quarter pole beams in :26.2, :54 and 1:22.4, then tipped wide and closed in :28.3 to pin the narrow defeat on her rivals. Rosemary Rose now sports 14 wins and earnings of $283,992 for Burke Racing, J. V. Melillo and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. The Miami Valley Mares Open has been highly competitive throughout the season, evidenced by the fact that Rosemary Rose was the sixth consecutive different winner of the main distaff event. Other recent winners were Rockin Racer, Zoe Ellasen, American Girl, Colorful Sky and Noone to Depend On.   Gregg Keidel

The 2017 Warren County Fair likely will not have a grandstand at the center of activities. The 70-year-old structure, where horse racing fans also placed bets during fairs and live harness racing for more than 50 years, is to be demolished in March. Plans for its replacement, an event center that would also be used for the week-long fair, are still taking shape. “We will not have a facility there during their fair,” Gene Steiner, president of the Warren County Agricultural Society, said Monday. “We hope to have it up and running by the summer of ‘18.” On Thursday, county and city officials are scheduled to meet to consider seeking reimbursement for the $330,000 demolition from funds set aside for redevelopment of communities that lost racetracks after racinos were legalized in Ohio. Last month, a divided agricultural society board approved the demolition after several years of debate. “There’s a lot of history that goes along with that structure,” Steiner said. The grandstand, in popular use during the 60 years the Lebanon Raceway offered live harness racing and then off-track betting here, has fallen into disrepair since the business left Lebanon three years ago to be operated as part of the Miami Valley Gaming racino. A new lease between the fair board, which is in charge of the fairgrounds, and the board of commissioners, which owns the 97-acre complex, cleared the way for redevelopment of the facilities on the north end of downtown Lebanon. City and county officials sit on the local board overseeing applications for reimbursement through the state racetrack redevelopment. They are scheduled on Thursday to consider submitting this project for funding through the Ohio Development Service Agency. On Tuesday, Dec. 27, the county commissioners are expected to approve a resolution to fund the demolition and the event center. The fair board is still working on a plan to run the fair next July without the grandstands. “For the short term, I’m not sure. Long term, we have plans for another structure to be built,” Steiner said.   By Lawrence Budd   Reprinted with permission of The Dayton Daily News

LEBANON, OH. - Harness racing reinsman Kayne Kauffman, who won the dash title the final meet at old Lebanon Raceway in 2013 and topped the inaugural driver's standings at Miami Valley in 2014, reached the coveted 2,000 career wins plateau at Miami Valley on Tuesday night (April 28). The 36-year-old Kauffman, who grew up in nearby Greenville and learned his early lessons from his grandfather Herman Baker, won back-to-back races with favored Two Hearts and longshot Chantal to accomplish the feat. With 112 wins in the first 84 nights of the current meet, Kauffman is having another solid season with almost $800,000 in purses won in the first four months of 2015. Gregg Keidel  

LEBANON, OH. - The first leg of the Rootbeer Slammer Series, named after one of the most durable and popular open class pacers in the storied history of old Lebanon Raceway, was contested in two divisions on Wednesday night at Miami Valley Raceway. Big Bear Bow pulled off a mild upset from the inside No. 1 post position in the first split; while Peck Blue Chip rewarded his backers, who made him the off-time favorite, with a win from the outside No. 8 post position in the second. Driver Jeff Nisonger elected to let Big Bear Bow race fourth until pulling second-over into the outer flow approaching the halfway point. The six-year-old gelding cleared Astronomer (Greg Grismore), who was the frontrunner, just past the three-quarter station and cruised to the finish in 1:56 over the "good" track dampened by a steady cold drizzle. Astronomer held for second with One Last Chance (Josh Sutton) finishing a creditable third. It was the 11th career tally for Big Bear Bow, who returned $10.20 to win, and pushed his earnings over $30,000 for trainer Eddie Poling and his partner James Martin. Reinsman Josh Sutton, who won five races on the program, set sail from the get-go with Peck Blue Chip, clearing to the front just past the quarter and holding all challengers at bay in 1:56.3. Navahoe (Andy Shetler) got the garden trip to finish second without seriously challenging the favored winner, who returned $5.40 for a two dollar ticket. Skyway Titan (Ken Holliday) completed the trifiecta ticket. Peck Blue Chip's lifetime statistics are now 16 wins and $147,823 banked. He is trained and owned by Tom Blankenship. Jeremy Smith scored his 999th career victory behind JD's First Lady in the eleventh race on the program. The 35-year-old Washington Court House, Ohio, native has eight drives on Thursday night's 12-race program at Miami Valley. Post time is 6:30 p.m. Gregg Keidel

Northfield Park has announced that Aaron Merriman, Bill Pocza, Dunkster, Myopia's Mop and Natural Ability will be the newest members of the Northfield Park Wall of Fame. Their formal inductions will highlight the Wall of Fame ceremonies at Northfield Park on Sunday, August 10. The banquet festivities begin at 5 p.m. Aaron Merriman, 36, is the youngest Wall of Fame inductee since the awards were inaugurated in 1990. His perseverance, work ethic, talent and success have been on display at Northfield Park for over a decade. He captured the local dash title in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. He has 6,577 career victories to his credit. 4,042 of those wins have come over the Flying Turns, the most by any driver in Northfield's 57-year history. He has won multiple stake races at Northfield, including the 2008 Cleveland Classic with Upfront Hannahsboy and the 2010 Courageous Lady with Sand Windsor. At a young age, Aaron has already stood the test of time. He is one of the most popular horsemen ever to reach the elite status of Wall membership. Bill Pocza was a top trainer/driver at Northfield Park for many years, beginning with the track's opening year in 1957. His .416 UDRS led all local drivers at the 1965 Painesville meet, and he was famous in that decade for campaigning crack pacers Royal Black and Hope Time, as well as the standout trotter Guy Garrett. Although he drove until 1985, winning a total of 824 races, his reputation as a consummate horseman was established in the 60's and 70's when he presided over a powerful stable that competed not only in Ohio, but at top tracks in the mid-Atlantic and East Coast regions. For many years Pocza's main patron was noted Youngstown owner, Armour Lloyd. Dunkster retired in 2011 as one of the greatest Ohio-bred trotters of all time. He won 89 times, including 35 victories at Northfield Park, and captured 45 Open/Invitational trots throughout his career. Dunkster bankrolled $894,320, ranking him as the fourth highest earner among all Ohio-bred trotters. He became a world champion on May 10, 2004 when he sizzled Northfield Park's Flying Turns in 1:54.2. At that time, it was the fastest mile ever trotted by a five year-old and up gelded trotter on a half-mile track. By virtue of that world record performance, Dunkster held Northfield's overall track record on the trot for over 10 years. The handsome chestnut also holds the trotting record at the Wayne County Fair (1:57.3) and Lebanon Raceway (1:57). Myopia's Mop will be the first broodmare to join the Northfield Park Wall of Fame. Seven of her foals made it to training, six have raced, and five have been prominent names at Northfield Park. Her six starters -- Osborne's Trick, Cleaning Lady, Osborne's Bullet, Osborne's Gypsy, Osborne's Yankee and Shez Good Osborne -- have won purses totaling $1,422,341. None have earned less than $100,000, and their cumulative win tally is 159 races, with 92 of those paced over Northfield's ½-mile oval. Her offspring have five Ohio Sires Stakes Finals to their credit. Three of those championships were captured at Northfield Park, plus two Scarlet and Gray victories. Natural Ability was an Open and Invitational pacing star from the mid-1970's to 1980. He won 28 of 92 races at Northfield Park, earning $141,657. Even though he never started in a stakes race, Natural Ability accumulated 80 wins and $322,446 in his career. He took his 1:58.4 lifetime mark at Northfield Park at the age of five. He competed against Rambling Willie several times and defeated top performers Nero, Momentum and Jilley, as well as previous Wall inductees Missouri Time, Osborne's Bret and Pickwick Baron. Natural Ability was a model of soundness and consistency for the Wilbur and Bill Zendt Stable throughout his racing days, scoring a career-high 19 wins in 30 starts at age 14. Northfield Park's Wall of Fame Banquet is a triennial event. Other presentations on August 10 will be made to Dean Davis for the Distinguished Owner Award, Dr. Dan Wilson for the John Lee Good Fellowship Award, Nadine Hadbe for the Willie C. Banks Ideal Employee Award, Deb Sweney and Monica Drago for Outstanding Caretaker Awards, and Dan Noble and Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. for Outstanding Achievement Awards. Ayers Ratliff

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

The hottest horse in all of North American harness racing is the undefeated three-year-old National Debt - and his sire, Allamerican Native, is standing his first season in Ohio at Hagemeyer Farms, in the southwest quadrant of the Buckeye State. Allamerican Native, after starting his stud career in Pennsylvania and then standing the last three years in Ontario, was brought to the well-known Hagemeyer Farms as the racing fortunes are improving in Ohio and the four-generation family-owned operation looked to expand their "footprint" in the state. Having the sire of such an exciting prospect standing at your farm for $2500 is as about a good first step for the Hagemeyer expansion as can be imagined. (To see and learn more about all five of the Hagemeyer stallions - the "Native," World Of Rocknroll, Canyon Wind, Home Stretch, and Rompaway Wally -- go to the farm website at, logically, www.hagemeyerfarms.com.) People looking to breed their mares to Hagemeyer stallions, especially if leaving the mares in care of the farm for gestation and foaling, "will get a personalized degree of service that we think is our strongest selling point," notes Scott Hagemeyer, the farm manager. (Scott, by the way, is part of the "third generation of Hagemeyers": his grandparents Maynard and Stella are living legends in that part of the world; father Mel started selling programs at Lebanon Raceway in 1968, and, 45 years later, retired as the track's general manager as Lebanon now gives way to two new tracks in the area; and daughter Lyndsay is a key worker around the farm.) "If someone calls out of the blue and says, 'What can you offer to my horse?', I answer them honestly and say, 'I'm not sure; I'll have to learn more about your horse'," Scott Hagemeyer states. "Every horse is treated as an individual first; we figure out exactly just what care brings out the most potential in them. Most of our stock during breeding season is broodmares, mostly bred to our farm stallions, and with that combination we have a conception rate of 90% to 95%." Scott expects some 150 mares to be bred to his farm's stallions (well, that estimate was before National Debt's victory on Saturday), and last year the peak equine population was 188. That's a far cry from a few years ago, one of the lower points in Ohio racing, where the farm had about 90 horses at most, including an influx of horses from other breeds, and the farm's two stallions serviced a total of 12 mares. "All thanks to the reconfiguring and revitalizing of Ohio racing," Hagemeyer notes, perhaps playing down a little the excellent care provided by the farm and him personally - "I treat all of our horses as if I owned them myself." Offspring of mares bred to farm stallions are of course eligible to be in the much-enrichened Ohio Sire Stakes, and if the in-process breeders awards program requires mare residency, Hagemeyer Farms is again in good position. While for the most part a breeding operation, there is a half-mile training track on the farm, and the population does include a few racehorses. "We've had some inquiries from some horsemen who both breed and race, since currently there is a bit of a shortage of stalls with the new tracks. That's a situation we'll have to be looking at." Besides his own illustrious family, there is another name indelibly linked to southwest Ohio and harness racing, and Scott noted that "I think Corwin Nixon would be ecstatic beyond words at the new situation here - Lebanon going over to the Miami Valley people, and the entire resurgence of the sport." Inquiries to Scott Hagemeyer can be directed through the farm website, or to 513 304 9263 - but be prepared for a possible busy signal if phoning, because National Debt may be making Allamerican Native's spring a little busier - and thus happier, of course. By Jerry Connors, for Harnesslink.com

LEBANON, OH. - Kayne Kauffman, the leading driver at the final meet at nearby Lebanon Raceway in 2013, is not going to relinquish Southeast Ohio's top reinsman rights without a battle.   Despite the deeper and more talented driver's colony that has descended on the new Miami Valley Raceway, the 35-year-old sulky-sitter vaulted into a tie for third in the dash standings on Wednesday night by winning three of the first four races on the program.   Tyler Smith, the 21-year-old phenom who was the youngest driver ever to reach 1,000 wins, leads the standings with 28 wins through 18 nights of the 65-night meet. He is followed by Dan Noble, the North American dash leader in 2012, who has 23. Kauffman and Tony Hall are next with 19 each. All four grew up in Southeast Ohio and got valuable early lessons at Lebanon, which was appropriately dubbed the "Cradle of Drivers" due to the number of nationally acclaimed drivers who started their careers at that half-mile oval.   Noble captured the fastest race of the night when he scored with My Brother George in 1:54.3 in a $5000 conditioned pace. The Frank Bellino & Sons-owned gelding, conditioned by Virgil Morgan Jr., bested Major Marcus (Smith) and Truly The Best (Hall) for his 17th career victory.   Driver Chris Page scored the quickest trotting triumph when he guided Mischievous Jesse to a 1:57.1 tally over Good Friend (Hall) and Kiss Me I'm Loaded (Kyle Ater) in a $5000 conditioned event. The Ohio-sired squaregaiter, now owned by T C Stables and trained by Erik Jaeck Jr., has 26 lifetime wins.   A total of 45 $4,000 claimers dropped into the first elimination round of Miami Valley's Madness in March tournament set to open this Saturday night.   The large response necessitated the use of a preference system outlined in the conditions which rewarded horses and geldings which had already started at Miami Valley with spots followed by the highest money winners in their most recent five starts.   Four fields of ten will go postward for $4,000 purses on Saturday with the top four official finishers in each race advancing to next week's Sweet 16 round for $5,000 purses. In the third week of the Miami Valley Madness tournament, the Elite 8 will race for a $6000 bounty. The Final Four males will advance to the $8000 Battle of the Sexes championship on March 31 to face the four best females from a tandem tournament which will be conducted the next three Sundays.   Submitted by Miami Valley Raceway  

A former bookkeeper has been charged with embezzlement of $111,943 from the racetrack companies that offered betting on harness racing at the Warren County Fairgrounds in Ohio. Susan L. Wilson, 48, of Lebanon, was indicted on two counts of grand theft and two counts of unauthorized use of property, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office. Wilson is accused of embezzling the money by writing 119 earning checks paid to winners and cashing them, in some cases by forging her husband’s signature, County Prosecutor David Fornshell said. Wilson is accused of embezzling the funds from October 2010 to December 2012, while working for the Lebanon Trotting Club and Miami Valley Trotting Club, according to the indictment. The two companies offered betting on live harness races and simulcasts of other horse races before the move to the Miami Valley Gaming complex south of Lebanon in December. Wilson was identified as the general manager of Lebanon Trotting in a 2012 story on the sale. The theft was discovered in mid-2013 during accounting done in anticipation of the sale of the businesses to Miami Valley Gaming, Fornshell said. Lebanon police presented the case to the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office earlier this year, Fornshell said. by Lawrence Budd, reprinted with permission by www.daytondailynews.com

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

January 25, 2014 -- The Ohio Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association will hand out its annual awards at the Ohio Harness Horseman’s Association banquet on Sunday, January 26, 2013 at the Columbus Marriott Northwest (Dublin). The Ohio Chapter has voted Brian Brown as the recipient of the Winner’s Circle Award for the Ohioan who has achieved outstanding accomplishments in the past year; named Joseph Essig as the Peter Haughton Memorial Award as the young Ohioan who is an “up-and-coming” star among harness horsemen; elected Eddie Wheeler into the Immortal Hall of Fame; selected Missouri Time into the Standardbred Hall of Fame; and will honor David Carr as the winner of the Rambling Willie Award for the Ohioan who has done the most for harness racing over the past two decades. 2013 was Brian Brown’s best year in terms of earnings ($1.5 million) and training wins (65), establishing a UTRS of .385. The native of Upper Sandusky, Ohio conditioned Limelight Beach (p,2,1:49.4 - $210,192), winner of the Bluegrass and International Stallion Stakes, Color’s A Virgin (p,2,1:53.2s - $2111,700) and Beach Memories (p,3,1:48.3f - $429,739). Joseph Essig is the 21 year-old son of the 1986 Peter Haughton Memorial Award winner, Joe Essig, Jr. The younger Essig recorded 18 wins in 2013 and earned $97,106 in purse earnings, racing mainly at Hoosier Park and Lebanon Raceway. He is expected to be one of the top reinsmen at the new Miami Valley Raceway. Wheeler, a native of Troy, Ohio, was a highly respected by his peers as a horseman and driver. He trained and drove the great trotter Duke Rodney, winner of the Yonkers Trot and Kentucky Futurity, two of the Triple Crown legs in 1961. He later served as a second trainer for prominent horsemen such as Stanley Dancer, Tom Haughton and others. Missouri Time was one of the toughest distaffers ever to compete in the state of Ohio. The daughter of Race Time was bred by Billy Colson and campaigned by Dominic Staffery during her seven year career. She finished on the board in 90 of her 138 career starts and competed against the best mares in the country, including Silk Stockings, Handle With Care and Tarport Hap. She retired from racing in 1979 with $328,423 in earnings and a lifetime mark of 1:56.3f. Carr is a 30 plus year employee of the United States Trotting Association is the manager of the Information & Research Department for the USTA. Carr is an unsung hero to the publicists, writers and sales’ companies and was awarded the LeeAnne Pooler Memorial Award by the national U.S.H.W.A. in 2008. by Jay Wolf for Ohio Chapter USHWA

We are visiting today with 20-year-old harness racing driver Tyler Smith.   Tyler Smith made harness racing history at Hoosier Park when he became the youngest driver ever to reach the 1,000-win mark at the age of 20. He earned his first driver title at Hoosier Park in 2013. Smith scored 262 wins and earned over $2.8 million in purses to secure the title. At the young age of 20 he went on to score 507 wins and $3,667,360 in money won for the year. He will turn 21 in just a week on January 23.   He has now drawn the attention of the harness world by driving week days at Northfield Park in Ohio and weekends at Cal Expo in California. He catches a plane every Friday to drive at Cal Expo for the weekend. He then flies back on Sunday to Ohio to drive Monday at Northfield Park   One-On-One is done exclusively for Harnesslink.com by Brian McEvoy   HLINK: Congratulations on a great year of racing. You were the leading driver at last year's Hoosier Park meet and recently became the youngest driver to reach the 1,000-win mark at the age of 20. How exciting was it to accomplish what no one in the history of harness racing has ever done before?   TS: It was unbelievable. It came down to the last night of the Hoosier Park meet. I think it was good for the sport and Hoosier Park. It is something I wanted to do when I first started driving at 17. It was remarkable that I was able to do it with 5 to 6 month left. I got to drive a lot of nice horses for a lot of good trainers at Hoosier and it worked out.   HLINK: You started driving at the age of 12 at the matinees and full time at 17. Tell us about how you started driving and those early years. Who were you influences and who helped you get started?   TS: They have matinees back in Ohio where they don't race for any money. I started driving at the county fairs in Ohio at 16. I drove on the fair circuit at 16 and 17. I got my pari-mutual license on my birthday at 17 and drove the next night at Northfield Park. My whole family has been involved in harness racing. My dad has been the biggest influence in my career, by far. My dad has about 40 horses right now. Ever since I was 2 years old I was hanging around the barn. When other kids were going to school and playing sports, I was always at the barn.   HLINK: Who helped you out in your progression of your driving career?   TS: I always looked up and admired John Campbell. He gave me my first set of collars when I was 3. When I was younger I would hang around him during Jug Week. He is a great guy and is still the best driver in the sport today.   HLINK: Hoosier Park has been one of the success stories in harness racing. Last year Hoosier Park's handle increased by 27%. What do you see that has contributed to their success?   TS: The people who are involved in horse racing and publicity are incredible. They want horse racing there! They try to bring people in not just for the casino, but for racing too. They bring people over to meet the drivers. Hoosier Park is a place all race tracks should take after. Hoosier Park is a place that wants horse racing. Other places with casinos will have only 10-12 people in the stands. I think that is what horse racing has got away from. The money we go for at Hoosier is great. We get $25 dollars a drive if we finish in the money or not. They are trying hard to bring the sport back.   HLINK: Your driving at Hoosier Park against some top notch drivers. Among the driving colony is Ricky Macomber, Peter Wrenn, Trace Tetrick, Marcus Miler, etc   TS: I think the driving colony at Hoosier is unbelievable. They are a great group of guys who all get along. They all go somewhere else in the winter and are successful. They all didn't win 18,000 races combined by accident.   HLINK: You are now doing something very unique in harness driving history. You are driving week-days at Northfield Park in Ohio. You are getting on a plane on Friday to get to Cal Expo in California to drive there on the wee-ends. How did this get started and how are you managing to do this?   TS: I was driving quite a bit for Bobby Johnson at Hoosier. He asked me about coming out one week to drive for him in California. I was driving 5 nights a week in the cold at Northfield. It was starting to get to me. I thought I needed a change of scenery. I thought it would be a chance for me to experience something different. I knew I would get some drives at Cal Expo. I was only going to come out for one week. I got to talking to Chris Schick, the general manger of Cal Expo, and he said it would be a good thing for Cal Expo. It is also a good thing for me. Chris has got me a good deal on a hotel here.   HLINK: Gary Siedel, the track announcer at Cal Expo, has told me a great story about how you guys met on a plane coming out to Cal Expo..   TS: Gary and I have been flying in on the same plane from Vegas. Gary stays at the same hotel on the weekends. We fly back and forth together. I was standing in line as the last one to get on the plane. There was an empty seat between Gary and a Marine. He had the program out explaining to the Marine what it was. I said you look familiar. I didn't know who he was at first. How many people fly from Vegas to California with a Cal Expo program? He drives me around as not being 21 yet, I can't rent a car.   HLINK: Are you going to drive the whole meet at Cal Expo?   TS: I am going to drive there to the middle of March. Their meet runs till May That is when Hoosier starts back up. I was just racing at Northfield on Mondays and Wednesdays. I just started back racing this week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday at Northfield.   HLINK: You have stated " I prefer to drive over a mile track. On a half mile, post position can be a big handicap and you always have to be moving. I like to be patient and think a little more out there".   TS: I like a mile track a whole lot more. I think it is better for the betting public. As far as driving, it gives you more space. On a mile track you can a make a bad move and it will still work out. On a half you can't make too many mistakes.   HLINK: Have you mapped out your plans of where you will drive this year? Last year you drove at the following tracks; Buffalo Raceway, Hoosier Park, Northfield Park, the Red Mile, Scioto Downs, Raceway Park, and Lebanon Raceway. Did I forget any?   TS: I drove at Balmoral and at the Meadows, also. I am going to drive the whole meet at Hoosier. I am going to have to have an unbelievable year to top what I accomplished last year. There is no way I would ever leave Hoosier. Ohio is my home state. I am so glad the tracks got the slots. I love what Hoosier Park does for the drivers and getting the people in to watch the races. I love people coming to the track and watching the races. I wish other tracks would start to do that. After the Hoosier meet it will depend on how good I race as to where I go.   HLINK: Who were some of the better horses and trainers you got to drive for last year?   TS: I got to drive in the Hoosier Park Champions Night and also at the Red Mile in the 2 Million Kentucky Sire Stakes Championship Night. The best horse I drove was Betterluvnexttime. I got the first call for Virgil Morgan. Virgil has a live barn and a lot of horses. It was a big opportunity to get first call from him. Betterluvnexttime won 17 races last year. She won 7 invitational races in a row. I got to drive some nice trotters for Jonas Czernyson. I was very fortunate to drive some good horses for a lot of great trainers.   HLINK: How much better of a driver are you after driving full time for over 4 years?   TS: I look back at when I started driving and I am amazed I got this far. The more horses I sit behind the better I get. I make mistakes every night. I use to take the bad drives home with me. I have come to realize that you can't take back what happened. If I have a bad drive I will be the first to admit it. I never try to make excuses. I used to always take it home with me or to the next race. You just have to move on from the bad drives and learn from them.   HLINK: Where do you see yourself driving in 5 years? Do you see yourself driving in the northeast at the big tracks or staying in Indiana and Ohio?   TS: I hope to be at the big tracks in the east. You can make a really good living driving in Indiana. There are guys out there that would love that opportunity. I want to be the best. I want to be the one people look up to. I want to be driving the best horses and get the first call from the best trainers. I am only 21. It is difficult to get the top horses. To be successful, I am going to have to be able to get live horses there.   HLINK: What do you do for excitement and entertainment in your downtime? Are you going to take a break for a vacation? What's new on the girlfriend front?   TS: I was going to take a few days off and go to Vegas when I turned 21. I got a couple of days off since they canceled at Northfield on Monday and Tuesday. I have not raced in a week and it is killing me. I am not thinking of any vacation. I spend the days off with the family. I got a girlfriend and we been together for 3 months. I just love going to work and driving.   by Brian McEvoy for Harnesslink.com  

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