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LEBANON, OH - A jammed harness racing leader board atop the Omar Hiteman Memorial Series standings at Miami Valley Raceway makes for an interesting championship when the top nine money winners gather on Monday (Feb. 24) for the $20,000 final. The series commenced with 27 nominees who were all non-winners of two pari-mutuel races or $20,000 lifetime. The final preliminary leg was contested in two $12,000 divisions on Monday (Feb. 17) afternoon with Friday Night Blues and Sunshine's Finest each getting their initial wins in the series and securing spots in next week's 'big dance.' Friday Night Blues (Cam McCown) scored as the favorite over longshot Fast Track (John DeLong) and Big Bank Hank (LeWayne Miller). The 4-year-old altered son of Ohio stallion Pet Rock won ten races in 2019, but all at county fairs. After an uneventful month to start the 2020 season at Woodbine Mohawk Raceway, he was returned to Ohio and the care of Jessica McCown for the Hiteman late closer. Sunshine's Finest (Brett Miller) pulled a mild upset in the second split, topping favored Fishin For Apples (DeLong) and Velocity Komodo (Mark Evers) in 1:53.2. Owned by Thestable Sunshinesfinest, the winning 4-year-old son of Sunshine Beach also started the current campaign at Woodbine Mohawk before being shipped south to the Virgil Morgan Jr. Stable for this series. The nine finalists for the Hiteman Memorial, based on series earnings, will be Fishin For Apples, Sunshine's Finest, Friday Night Blues, Captain Sunshine, American Trademark, Fast Track, E R Hotshot, Farmers Only and Spoiled Rockin. The popular Survivor Series for male $5000 claiming pacers staged its final elimination round on Monday as well. The series started with 76 horses in eight divisions, was whittled to 40 in four divisions in Round 2, and reduced to ten finalists from a pair of Round 3 elimination heats. Purses in the first three elimination rounds escalated from $5000 to $6000 to $7500, while the final next Monday (Feb. 24) will chase a $20,000 bounty. Longshot Bettor Win (LeWayne Miller, 1:56, $40.60) and favored Hit And Giggle A (Brett Miller, 1:55.2, $6.40) managed narrow decisions in the final preliminary heats. The remaining finalists hoping to be crowned the King of the Bottom Claimers will be Amasa Al, Pence Hanover, Latenite Trick, River's Crest, I Am Will, A J Corbelli, Khan Blue Chip and Creighton Hanover. From Miami Valley Raceway

LEBANON, OH. - Three divisions of second round action in the George 'Red' Owens Memorial late closing harness racing series were featured on the Sunday (Feb. 16) matinee at Miami Valley Raceway. The results of the trio of $12,000 splits determined the nine finalists for next Sunday's $20,000 championship tilt. The Owens Memorial is one of nine Lebanon Legends series that honor the memory of notable horsemen, now deceased, who were among the early heroes at nearby Lebanon Raceway which now serves as a training center for many Miami Valley participants. A total of 27 horses, all fillies or mares that were non-winners of two races or $20,000 at the start of the series, were nominated. Jazzie Babe (Trevor Smith) copped the first division in 1:54.4, edging Pray The Rosary (Luke Ebersole) and Valendougha (Sam Widger). It was the fifth win in 15 starts for the late-blooming 8-year-old daughter of Dontgetinmyway, who didn't commence her racing career until age seven. She is owned and trained by Perry Smith. Crowntimerockette (Brett Miller) was the quickest of the three winners, turning the tables from Leg 1 on runnerup Hilary Barry N (John DeLong) in 1:53.4. It was the third lifetime success for the 3-year-old daughter of Pet Rock, trained by Tom Blankenship for owner Jason Shumway, who lowered her career best time by over three seconds. Rockinattheryman (Trace Tetrick) closed well to secure the show finish. Big Bad Mosa (Tetrick) became the only two time winner in the series when he scored in 1:55 over Onspeed N (Tyler Smith) and Sweet Ginger (Josh Sutton). Ronnie Roberts trains the 3-year-old filly by Big Bad John for the Watson Stables. She, too, lowered her lifetime best clocking with her fourth triumph in just 13 trips behind a starting gate. The field for the championship finals in the Legends series is determined by money earnings in the two preliminary legs. The 'Red' Owens Memorial finalists, in order of earnings, will be Big Bad Mosa, Crowntimerockette, Jazzie Babe, Hilary Barry N, Pray The Rosary, Onspeed N, Rockinattheryman, Lookintomyeyes and Sweet Ginger. Racing resumes Monday afternoon at Miami Valley featuring two divisions of the second round of the Omar Hiteman Memorial series, as well as the final two elimination heats in the popular Survivor Series for $5000 male claiming pacers. Post time is 2:05 p.m. From Miami Valley Raceway        

LEBANON, OH. - Thrilling finishes and quick harness racing miles were prevalent on Saturday night (Feb. 15) at Miami Valley Raceway, highlighted by a $22,500 Open I Pace, a $20,000 Open II Pace, and the final two preliminary divisions of the second annual Bill Dailey Memorial Medley. I'm A Big Deal (Brett Miller) pulled a mild upset over Windsong Leo (Chris Page) in the Open I, managing a 'head' decision in 1:51.1. Windsong Leo, a winner in six of his last seven outings versus Open company, cut the mile with I'm A Big Deal sitting snug in the pocket throughout the contest. After fractions of :26.3, :56.1 and 1:23.3 the favorite was still able to close in :27.3, but the winner was a tick or two quicker to gain the slight advantage in the final two strides. My Hero Ron (Tyler Smith) was forced to race first-over on the outside much of the mile and finished third. It was the first win in nine local starts since I'm A Big Deal was plucked from the Harrisburg sale last November by owner Bottom Line Racing of Boca Raton, Florida, and trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. However the 5-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere has managed a win in a top condition pace and three runnerup finishes in the weekly features to earn about $40,000 in his first three months in Ohio. The Open II event was captured by Shagnwiththedragon (John DeLong) over Rose Run Uriah (Jeremy Smith) and The Dark Shadow (Sam Widger) in 1:51. Dropping out of the Open I after a month of fourth and fifth place finishes, the 6-year-old son of Dragon Again flashed a huge closing kick to secure his 20th lifetime triumph. J. D. Perrin trains the winner for his wife Tessa and her partner Eim Racing Stable. The Bill Dailey Memorial Medley started with 5/8ths mile dashes in three $12,500 divisions in the first leg, then followed up with two $17,500 divisions going a mile on Saturday. The top nine money winners from those first two legs will assemble next Saturday night for a $25,000 championship tilt at 1-1/4 miles. Royale Rose (Tyler Smith) was a 'nose' winner in 1:52.4 in the first split at one mile, edging Angelo J Fra (Page) with Manny (DeLong) finishing third. Daniel Stone conditions the 7-year-old Ashlees Big Guy gelding for S & S Racing Stable and Bert Turner. It was the 27th career tally for the lifetime winner of $333,932. Just N Ace (Widger) edged stablemate Uncmprmising Z Tam (Ricky Macomber Jr.) by a neck in the second division, clocked in 1:51.1. Champion Rock (Smith) grabbed the show dough and a ticket into the championship dance. Jamie Macomber trains the winning 5-year-old son United Ace for the Eleven Star Stables. The lineup for the $25,000 Bill Dailey Memorial Medley championship consists of Royale Rose, Just N Ace, American Dreamer, Dave And Dennis, Life On The Beach A, Uncmprmising Z Tam, Angela J Fra, Stormy West and Champion Rock. From Miami Valley Raceway    

LEBANON, OH - Harness racing driver Brett Miller reached a pair of milestones on Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 11) at Miami Valley Raceway, winning for the 8,500th time since beginning his sulky career in 1991 and surpassing $90 million in purse earnings with the horses he has driven. The 46-year-old Miller, who returned to his native Ohio roots at the beginning of 2019 after a decade stint as one of the top drivers on the East Coast, is enjoying another banner season in 2020. Following up on a 518 win campaign in his first year on the Miami Valley, Scioto Downs and Hollywood Dayton circuit, Brett has triumphed 51 times already this year. The cousin of Hall Of Famer David Miller has exceeded $5 million in purse earnings in nine of the last ten years. Miller's landmark score came in a conditioned/claiming event behind Motor City Man, owned by Jeannette Conrad and trained by Greg Henderson. Three races later Brett was back in the winner's circle having guided Majestic Player A to victory in the featured $24,000 Open Handicap Trot. Majestic Player A, making just his second United States start since being imported from Australia, scored a very impressive triumph in Miami Valley’s $24,000 Open Trot on Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 11).  His open lengths 1:53.2 tally represents the quickest trotting mile of the current meet which began on January 3. It was the first time that driver Brett Miller, who earlier on the card recorded his 8,500th win and surpassed the $90 million purse earnings plateau, has sat behind the 6-year-old gelded son of Majestic Son and he was duly impressed.  “He looked good on paper, but raced even better than it looked,” Miller smiled.  “I didn’t rush him out of the gate, but when I asked him for ‘go’, he had plenty!  The new owners have themselves a real nice horse.” Those new owners are Jeffrey Fought,  Brian Carsey and Casey Myers, who purchased him abroad after noticing his 15 victories out of 29 lifetime starts Down Under.  Walter Haynes Jr. is training Majestic Player A, who surpassed $100,000 in converted U.S. dollars with this score. Walter White (Jeremy Smith) set the early pace, hitting the first two timing stations in :28.1 and :57.2 before the winner decided to take charge just prior to the 1:25.1 third quarter clocking.  In other Tuesday matinee action, three divisions of the second leg of the R. J. Brown trotting late closer decided the finalists for a $20,000 championship tilt next week.  Winners of the $12,000 splits were The Bombean (Tyler Smith, 1:59.3, $6.00), Mary Mag Delene (Hugh Beatty, 1:58, $6.40) and B Three Seven (Beatty, 1:57.2, $13.40). Others who also qualified for the final are This Man Raps, Ms Toni, LaDolfina, Avalon, DC Mr Dominator and Stone Cold Blue.  Pier Hanover and Docs Swan Song are also eligible should any of the top nine money winners in the series fail to enter the final. A pair of final elimination heats in the Survivor Series for $5000 claiming mares were also contested.  Nice Trip (Jason Brewer) captured the first division in 1:54.2 with Allspeedallthetime (Miller) victorious in the other, clocked in 1:55.4.  Joining that pair in the $15,000 series championship on February 18 will be Rock The Baby, Over Speeding, Desires Lady, Jetstream Johnnie, Love Love Me Do, American Sweet Pea, Lucky Seven Oflodi and Endeavors Ladyluck. From Miami Valley Raceway

LEBANON, OH. - Highlights of the Monday afternoon (Feb. 10) harness racing matinee at Miami Valley Raceway were three divisions of the first leg of the Omar Hiteman Memorial Series and four splits of second elimination round action in the Survivor Series for $5,000 male pacers. American Trademark (Trace Tetrick) captured the first division of the Hiteman for green pacing horses in 1:55.1 over a track rated good, topping ER Hotshot (Ricky Macomber Jr.) and Sundown Showdown (Brady Galliers). The Tyler George owned and trained 4-year-old son of Rockin Image paid $11.60 for his second lifetime win in just seven starts. Fishin For Apples (John DeLong) proved worthy of his even money favoritism, besting Farmers Only (Tetrick) and Letsmakithapncapn (Trevor Smith) in 1:54.4. The impressive late-blooming 4-year-old gelding by Mr Apples, owned by Kathleen Prickett and trained by Rob Cook, now has triumphed in half of his first six career tries. Captain Sunshine (Cameron McCown, 1:55.3, $3.60) remained undefeated in four lifetime trips to post beating Spoiled Rockn (Kayne Kauffman) and Sunshine's Finest (Miller). The 4-year-old gelded son of Captaintreacherous is owned by Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco and Richard Lombardo. The Survivor Series field was narrowed from 40 to 20 for a pair of $7500 third round final elimination races next week. The $20,000 championship tilt is scheduled for Monday, February 24. Winners of this week's four elimination heats were A J Corbelli (Kayne Kauffman, 1:56, $4.40), Hit And Giggle A (Brett Miller, 1:56, $3.80), Star Guitar (Miller, 1:56.4, $3.60) and I Am Will (Jason Beattie, 1:55.1, $35.80). Three of the four winners were claimed for the second week in a row and will race out of new homes in the final elimination. Rules called for all horses to carry $5000 claiming tags in Round 1, then only horses claimed in Round 1 eligible to be claimed for an enhanced tag of $6500 in Round 2. The price tags escalate to $8500 in Round 3 on just the four horses that were collared in Round 2 and advanced with a Top Five finish. From Miami Valley Raceway  

LEBANON, OH. - Hilary Barry N (John DeLong) stamped herself as the harness racing favorite in the George "Red" Owens Memorial series for green pacing fillies and mares, winning the quickest of three first round divisions on Sunday (Feb. 9) at Miami Valley Raceway. The late closer is limited to non-winners of two pari-mutuel races or $20,000 lifetime and attracted 27 nominations. Heavily favored Hilary Barry N, a 4-year-old New Zealand bred daughter of Bettor's Delight, glided over Miami Valley's damp five-eighths mile oval in 1:56.1 for DeLong to easily defeat Crowntimerockette (Brett Miller) and Vinecancruise (Chris Page) without an anxious moment. Trainer Trent Stohler also owns the winner who looked every bit the part of a 1-9 favorite, paying just $2.10 to win. Big Bad Mosa (Tetrick) captured a split of the Owens Memorial in 1:57.1 over Jazzie Babe (Trevor Smith) and Rockinattheryman (LeWayne Miller). Ronnie Roberts trains the winning sophomore filly by Ohio stallion Big Bad John for owner Watson Stable of Illinois. She paid $3.60 to her backers. Pray The Rosary (Luke Ebersole) was the other winner, besting Lookintomyeyes (Tyler Smith) and Model Number Five (Tetrick) in 1:59.1. Ebersole found a seam in deep stretch to gain the nose victory, the third in five lifetime tries for the 3-year-old daughter of Art Official. Robert Boggs owns the winner, who kicked back $6.80 to her backers at the betting windows. Racing resumes Monday afternoon (Feb. 10) at Miami Valley when four $6000 divisions of the second elimination round of the popular Survivor Series for $5000 male claiming pacers will go postward; plus three $10,000 first round divisions of the Omar Hiteman Memorial series for non-winners of two or $20,000 lifetime colt and gelding pacers. Tuesday's action at Miami Valley will feature a $24,000 Open Trot, second round eliminations in the Survivor Series for $5000 claiming mares, and three second round splits in the Robert J. Brown Memorial series for non-winners of two or $20,000 lifetime trotters. From Miami Valley Raceway    

LEBANON, OH. - After a winless month of January, Fan Of Terror (John DeLong) returned to his winning ways on Saturday night (Feb. 8) at Miami Valley Raceway. The 8-year-old Western Terror gelding, whose 18 victories in 2019 fell just one short of being the most in the country, captured the $25,000 Open Pace in 1:52 despite being saddled with a second tier start in the full field of ten of the Midwest's finest older harness racing horses. DeLong got Fan Of Terror away fifth during the :26.4 first quarter and remained there until the halfway point in the mile was reached in :55. Swinging three wide down the backside and around the final turn, the winner was able to move up to third when the three quarters timer flashed 1:23.1. Fan Of Terror proved strongest during the stretch drive when a cavalry of closers came calling from near the rear of the field. 18-1 longshot Beyond Delight (Chris Page) came closest to catching the winner while 5-2 I'm A Big Deal (Brett Miller) got the show dough. Fan Of Terror, owned by Therl Hensley and trained by Peter Redder, paid $13.40 to win. Coupled with Beyond Delight, the exacta payoff was a hefty $254.60. The 50-cent trifecta return was $476.45. Fan Of Terror holds off Beyond Delight to capture Miami Valley’s $25,000 Open on Saturday Three divisions of the first leg of the Bill Dailey Memorial Medley late closer were also contested on the program. The series began with the contestants squaring off in a trio of $12,500 five-eighths mile dashes. Week two next Saturday will feature one mile races for $17,500 purses; while the $25,000 championship will be decided over a mile and a quarter distance. First leg winners were American Dreamer (Kayne Kauffman, 1:09.1, $4.80), Lifeonthebeach A (Chris Page, 1:08.3, $2.40) and Dave And Dennis (Sam Widger, 1:09.2, $7.00). The Dailey Memorial Medley honors the memory of James "Bill" Dailey, one of the finest conditioners of young horses in Ohio's storied harness racing history. Dailey won seven of the eight divisional Ohio Sires Stakes championships offered for two and three year old Buckeye breds during his career and had a prime contender for the only one missing on his impressive resume at the time of his sudden and unexpected passing in 2018. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - Checks On The Way (Trace Tetrick) destroyed a field of classy distaffers in the $24,000 Mares Open Pace at Miami Valley Raceway on Friday night (Feb. 7). Her 1:51.2 clocking, in her first start back after a two month break, was two full seconds faster than any of the previous five Friday night features thus far in the meet. Tetrick, confident the 5-year-old daughter of Believeinbruiser was ready after a winning 1:55 qualifier eight days earlier, fired the winner from the starting gate and enjoyed a two length advantage when the quarter mile marker was reached in :27 flat. Checks On The Way extended the lead throughout the remainder of the mile, posting middle fractions of :55.4 and 1:23.2. A :28 final quarter netted a comfortable 5-1/2 length victory for the 9-5 favorite who returned $5.60 to her win backers. Colorful Sky (Sam Widger), who was last week's Mares Open winner, closed well for runnerup honors but was no match for razor sharp Checks On The Way. Allbeastnobeauty (Tyler Smith) grabbed the show dough; while Sandy Sue (Chris Page) and Eliza Dushku N (LeWayne Miller) secured the minor spoils. Trainer Tyler George co-owns Checks On The Way with Scott Tyler. With 23 triumphs in 77 career tries, she now boasts earnings of $179,779, almost half of which was banked in 2019 during her four-year-old season. From Miami Valley Raceway  

LEBANON, OH. -Hello Peggy Sue! Good bye heart! The 5-year-old Donato Hanover lass, named after the 1957 Buddy Holly tune, won the hearts of her current faithful harness racing followers on Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 4) at Miami Valley Raceway, winning the $24,000 Open Handicap Trot in 1:54.2 for driver-trainer Brady Galliers over a sloppy surface. She topped Majestic Player A (Walter Haynes Jr.), who was making his U. S. debut and Sweet Mr Pinetucky (Trace Tetrick), who has captured a pair of Open Trot victories already this season. Dispatched at 9-2 odds, Peggy Sue paid $11.60 to win. Coupled with the Down Under newcomer (Majestic Player A), the exacta returned $35.20; while the 50-cent trifecta including Sweet Mr Pinetucky paid $51.35. The 10-cent superfecta with last week's winner, Party At The Banks (Chris Page), grabbing the final spot was worth $18.41. Peggy Sue lowered her lifetime best clocking by one tick with her 12th career triumph, boosting her earnings to $166,570. She is owned by Galliers Racing LLC. Galliers and Peggy Sue left the gate with alacrity, allowing only Sweet Mr Pinetucky to settle in front of her as the leaders passed the first quarter timer in :27.4. After middle fractions of :57.1 and 1:26, the winner popped the pocket early in the stretch and closed in :28.2 to secure her first victory in open company. Three first leg divisions of the R. J. Brown Memorial Series for trotters that are non-winners of two pari-mutuel races or $20,000 lifetime were also contested on the Tuesday program. Winners of the $10,000 contests were This Man Raps (1:58.1, Kayne Kauffman, $38.60), LaDolfina (1:59.3, Brett Miller, $3.60) and Ms Toni (1:59, Josh Sutton, $12.80). The second leg will chase $12,000 purses on Feb. 11, followed by a $20,000 championship tilt on Feb. 18. Four fields of $5000 fillies and mares claiming pacers went head-to-head in the first elimination round of their Survivor Series, with the top five finishers from each division advancing to Round 2 next week. The surviving ladies after that round will meet to crown a champion in a $15,000 final-also on Feb. 18. First Round winners were Nice Trip (1:54.4, Tyler Smith, $3.20), Lucky Seven Of Lodi (1:55.1, Jeremy Smith, $16.60), Kelseys On Cruze (1:56, Cameron McCown, $17.80) and Virginnaire (1:55, Kyle Ater, $8.80). From Miami Valley Raceway  

LEBANON, OH. - A total of 40 of the 73 harness racing starters "survived" the first elimination round of the popular Survivor Series for $5,000 male claiming pacers at Miami Valley Raceway on Monday (Feb. 3). Many of those that met the top five finish requirement to advance from the eight divisions will go postward for new owners in Round 2 as 18 horses changed hands via the claim box in Round 1. Only the horses claimed in Round 1 that advanced will carry claiming tags in Round 2, but with 30% enhanced purchase prices ($6500). Purses for the eight Round 1 elimination races were $5000. When four divisions go postward in Round 2 they'll compete for $6000 purses. A pair of $7500 Round 3 races in the third week will determine the finalists for the $20,000 championship tilt on Monday, Feb. 24. Round 1 winners were Stanhope (1:56.1, Josh Sutton), Totally Kissed (1:55.4, Kayne Kauffman), Bettor Win (1:55.2, LeWayne Miller), Hit And Giggle A (1:54.2, Brett Miller), A J Corbelli (1:54.1, Trace Tetrick), Montana Pablo A (1:54.2, Shawn Barker II), Fritas Shooter (1:56, John DeLong) and Amasa Al (1:54.2, Barker). Mutuel payoffs in the eight elimination heats on Monday ranged from $3.00 (Totally Kissed) to $101.60 (Amasa Al). Four of the 18 horses claimed in Round 1 were among the eight winners. The Survivor Series for $5000 claiming mares will commence on Tuesday (Feb. 4) in four $6000 divisions at Miami Valley. Post time for the matinee program is 2:05 p.m. From Miami Valley Raceway  

LEBANON, OH. - If either the Kansas City Chiefs or the San Francisco 49ers perform as well as harness racing star Windsong Leo has been lately at Miami Valley Raceway they should have no problem trouncing their adversary in the Super Bowl. Windsong Leo, who won 15 races in 30 starts in 2019, is undefeated in four 2020 starts-all in Open Handicap contests where he has been assigned an outside post. In his most recent triumph on Saturday night (Feb. 1) the 8-year-old Jereme's Jet gelding was again sent seeking the front end by pilot Chris Page. Stuck four wide midway through the first turn, Page backed the stellar winner off briefly to let the dust settle, but continued to the front as the leaders passed the quarter in :27 flat. As is his custom, Windsong Leo played catch me if you can from that point to the finish, and again nobody could. Despite a few tepid challenges along the way, Page patiently guided his overwhelming favorite through middle fractions of :56.1 and 1:23.4 before sealing the deal for the third consecutive week in 1:52.3. Longshots General Dolan (Sam Widger) and Lifewithjohn (Ricky Macomber Jr.) rallied for place and show finishes with My Hero Ron (Tyler Smith), Shagnwiththedragon (Brett Miller) and Beyond Delight (John DeLong) picking up the minor spoils in the full field of ten. Windsong Leo is trained by Ron Burke for Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi and Phil Collura. Miami Valley will not race on Sunday (Feb. 2) due to the Super Bowl, but will resume the normal five-days a week schedule on Monday afternoon at 2:15 p.m. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - Colorful Sky (Sam Widger) copped her first Open Mares harness racing event in quite some time, upsetting Sandy Sue (Chris Page) and heavily favored Golden Paradise (Trace Tetrick) at odds of 7-1 on Friday night (jan. 31) at Miami Valley Raceway. Four of the seven top level mares gunned out of the gate with Elysium Seelster (Josh Sutton) gaining command as they sorted things out around the first turn. Sam Widger squeezed Colorful Sky into the two-hole with Knockout Queen (Brett Miller) and Sandy Sue falling in next in line. Following a :26.4 first quarter clocking, the tempo slowed to :55.4 at the half without much change. Knockout Queen was the first to challenge and was lapped on Elysium Seelster at the 1:24.2 third station, but the demanding pace over the 'good' track took its toll on the frontsteppers, who began to falter at the head of the stretch. That gave Colorful Sky an opportunity to squeeze back out of the pocket and lead the charge of distaffers moving quickly from the back of the pack. When the wire was reached in 1:53.4, Colorful Sky had a diminishing lead over Sandy Sue and Golden Paradise. It was the 35th career tally for the 8-year-old winner and boosted her lifetime earnings over $300,000. She is owned by Wilfong Racing LLC and trained by Peter Redder, who has now reached the winner's circle ten times in 2020. Miami Valley will present another strong Saturday night program beginning at 6:05 p.m., then take Sunday off in deference to the Super Bowl. From Miami Valley Raceway  

What a difference a year makes. Last January, the female harness racing pacer Golden Paradise was competing in the Claim to Fame Series at Miami Valley Raceway. This January, she is already a two-time winner of the fillies-and-mares open at the same track, where on Friday she will try to capture her third in a row. And, in between, she won the Indiana Sire Stakes championship for pacing mares. So, it's safe to say trainer/co-owner Tyler George is very grateful Golden Paradise was not claimed a year ago. "No kidding," George said with a laugh. "I would have been kicking myself, that's for sure." Golden Paradise, a 6-year-old daughter of Allthatgltrsisgold out of Paradise Island who began her career on the Indiana fairs circuit, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in Friday's $22,500 fillies-and-mares open handicap. She will start from the outside, post No. 7, with driver Trace Tetrick. For her career, Golden Paradise has won 30 of 86 races and $259,302. Her current ownership group, made up of George, Sam Schillaci, and Wrenn Jr. Racing, came together in November 2018. After working with the mare to resolve tying-up issues and changing her routine, she began to click on a more consistent basis. Since the beginning of 2019, she has won 12 of 28 starts and $157,675. "She hasn't really changed physically much," George said. "She calmed down a little bit, just kind of matured. She's become a professional. We've had some nice mares that are faster than her, but she just never has a bad day. She just always puts in a good effort every time. "I really appreciate that about her. She's very consistent. And she's very easy to drive. Trace said the other day he could drive her with no handholds right now. That's hard to find. Plus, she's very versatile. She'll race just as well off a trip as if you put her in play." Golden Paradise's current form shows three wins and two seconds, both by a head, in her past five races. George, who was among the horse's trainers prior to owning the mare with Ronnie Wrenn Jr. and Schillaci, said her breeding also might be a factor in her development. "She's out of an Abercrombie (sired) mare, you don't see that very often in the program anymore, and those horses, years ago, just got really good when they got older," George said. After the mare began to show improvement last year, her connections supplemented her to the Indiana Sire Stakes. She will compete in the sire stakes again this season. "She fits pretty good with those horses, I think," George said. "Beyond that, it would probably be hard for her. We'll just keep her around here and have a little fun with her. We'll race at Miami Valley and Hoosier a little bit, maybe Scioto. She's already exceeded all our expectations." Regardless of where Golden Paradise does compete, it is safe to say where she will not race anytime soon. "No more claimers," George said, laughing. Racing begins at 6:05 p.m. (EST) Friday at Miami Valley Raceway. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

LEBANON, OH. - Party At The Banks (Chris Page) and Peggy Sue (Brady Galliers), a pair of classy mares sitting at the rear of a field of the Midwest's best geldings in Tuesday's (Jan. 28) $24,000 Open Trot at Miami Valley Raceway, got serious as they approached the :56.4 halfway juncture. They swept past their male counterparts in the second half-mile and finished one-two in the feature race, clocked in 1:55.2. Page was content to ease his winning mare off the gate, landing last as the leaders tripped the initial beam in :27.1. Party At The Banks was pulled to the outside just before front stepping Sweet Mr Pinetucky (Trace Tetrick) reached the midway point in :56.4. Making steady progress during the third stanza, the 6-year-old daughter of Break The Bank K moved up to fourth in second over position at the 1:25.3 three quarters station with Peggy Sue in tow. The pair of mares still had a half dozen lengths to make up as they swung off the final turn but with the leader's strides shortening late in the mile they were able to accomplish the feat with a few steps still to go. Party At The Banks, the 2019 aged Ohio Sires Stakes champion, was making her third start of the 2020 season. Racing for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi, she now sports 27 wins in 62 lifetime tries and a bankroll of $326,548. The final pair of Claim To Fame Series championships were also contested on Tuesday. Smash (John DeLong) lead Galyns Gift (Galliers) and M E Radar Girl (Miller) past the wire in 1:55.4 to be crowned queen of the $12,500 claiming mares. Owner Wilfong Racing LLC got the winner's share of the $22,500 purse. Peter Redder trains Smash, who returned $17.40 to her faithful in a mild upset. Legal Transfer (Jeremy Smith) copped the split for $8000 male claiming pacers, topping Beachboydesire (Tetrick) by a head with Colossal (Josh Sutton) just a half length back at the end of the 1:54.4 mile. Trainer Adam Short also owns the 11-year-old winner who has banked over a quarter million dollars in his career. Legal Transfer paid $5.60 to win. From Miami Valley Raceway

LEBANON, OH. - Insomniac and Foolish Heart were crowned harness racing champions of their respective Claim To Fame Series on Monday afternoon at Miami Valley Raceway. Each captured a preliminary leg enroute to the lucrative finals and each utilized the popular "give and go" strategy early in their triumphant championship miles. Insomniac proved best in the $15,000 claiming trot division, contested for a $27,500 purse, scoring a 1:58.1 triumph over a sloppy track besting Away My Baby (Tyler Smith) and Ray Hall (Ricky Macomber Jr.). Taking full advantage of an inside post draw, driver-trainer Brady Galliers allowed a single adversary to manage a temporary lead but retook control as the field passed the quarter mile marker. From there, the margin of victory was about the only thing in doubt as the 8-year-old gelded son of Crazed easily lived up to his 6-5 favoritism and cruised to an open lengths victory. A noted early speed trotter, Insomniac has been on the lead at the halfway point in each of his last five starts, resulting in three wins in addition to a second a third place finish. The 29-time winner has now amassed $350,517 in earnings. He is owned by Galliers Racing LLC. Insomniac Trace Tetrick guided Foolish Heart to victory in the $17,500 final of the Claim To Fame division for $8000 claiming mare pacers. The 6-year-old daughter of Foreclosure N reclaimed the lead from stablemate T C Scandal (Brett Miller) early in the trip then showed her heels to the field until reaching the wire in 1:56.2. Skyway Royalty (John DeLong) and My Caroline (Kyle Ater) did make a race of it in the stretch, but Foolish Heart held them off and returned $3.80 to her faithful. Partners Carl Howard, Dana Parham and trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. claimed the winner out of the first preliminary leg in the series for $9600 and were rewarded with a $8,750 return in their first start with the new stable addition. The eight division Claim To Fame Series at Miami Valley will come to a close on Tuesday afternoon (Jan. 28) when the $8000 claiming "boys" and $12,500 claiming "girls" will each decide their championships while chasing $22,500 purses. Post time is 2:05 p.m. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - The Dark Shadow pulled a major harness racing upset in the $37,500 championship leg of Miami Valley's Claim To Fame series for $30,000 male pacers on Sunday afternoon (Jan. 26). Driver Sam Widger, perhaps buoyed by winning the $20,000 Claim To Fame division with Pet Shark as a longshot from an outside post position on Saturday, exploded his charge from the 8-hole behind the Woebkenberg starting gate. After reaching the quarter mile marker on top in :26.1, the 6-year-old Shadow Play gelding continued to keep the pedal to the metal tripping the middle clocking stations in :54.2 and 1:22.2. Facing pressure from eventual runnerup Street Boy (Jeremy Smith) throughout the final panel and then show finisher Southern Flight (Brady Galliers) up the inside in the lane, The Dark Shadow held off both challengers to score in 1:52.1 and take down the lion's share of the meet's largest purse to date. The winner, dispatched at 15-1 odds, paid $32.60. Coupled with Street Boy the exacta returned $239.60; while the 50-cent trifecta with Southern Flight kicked back $308.75. Owner-trainer Adam Short collared The Dark Shadow via the claim box for $30,000 from the first leg of the series. His wise investment has already returned $32,500 by winning the second leg and final. With his 16th win from 81 career starts, The Dark Shadow surpassed the quarter million dollar earnings plateau. There will be racing programs on Monday and Tuesday afternoons at Miami Valley Raceway followed by evening cards on Friday and Saturday. There will be no racing on Sunday, Feb. 2 in deference to the Super Bowl. Gregg Keidel

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