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Honey B, one of three mares who made it to the championship final of the Ray Paver Sr. Memorial trotting series at Miami Valley, pulled a mild upset in the $20,000 harness racing event. With the series victory, Josh Sutton became the first Miami Valley driver to surpass the $1 million mark in purse earnings during the 2016 meet, with 64 of the scheduled 88 dates completed. Following two preliminary legs when the 4-year-old Victory Sam mare tried to go gate to wire, only to get collared in the final strides and finish second, driver Kyle Ater chose to accept a pocket ride in the final despite drawing the coveted rail post position. When the 3-year-old Chips So Fast (Chris Page) left alertly from an outside post position, Ater made the decision to sit chilly in the two-hole and try to turn the tables on the colt that beat her from the pocket last week. 'Plan B' worked to perfection when Chips So Fast tired just enough to cause him to drift slightly in the lane allowing Honey B to shoot through on the inside and defeat him by just a 'head' at the finish. Hooray For Willie (Ken Holliday) was just one length behind to garner the show dough. Honey B, who has banked over $150,000, largely on the strength of a half dozen Ohio juvenile stakes victories, is owned by Jim Burnett and Tim Homan and is trained by Kyle's father Dan Ater, who was recently inducted into the Ohio. A pair of second leg divisions of the George "Red" Owens Memorial pacing series for non-winners of two races or $15,000 lifetime fillies and mares were also contested on the Monday matinee. Prohibitive favorite Asadvertised did not disappoint capturing the first split by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:56.4, returning $2.20 to win. Jeremy Smith guided the Real Desire filly for owner Brenda Pfeifer and trainer Dustin Pfeifer. Alwayssmoothraigin (Randy Crisler) was next best and qualified for the $15,000 final next week with a second place finish, while Aunt Babe (Hunter Myers) also advanced by grabbing the show spot. Awesum World parlayed a first-up on the outside trip into a 1:56 triumph for leading driver Josh Sutton, topping ER Lila (Jeremy Smith) and Southern Bess (Ron Taubert). Greg Henderson conditions the 4-year-old daughter of World Of Rocknroll for the Illinois partnership of David Falzone, Christopher Mroz and Steven Searle. Gregg Keidel

Fancy Creek Elusiv crept closer to the $500,000 earnings plateau for a harness racing pacer on Saturday night (April 2) at blustery Miami Valley Raceway by capturing the $20,000 Gerald Justice Memorial Open Pace. The six-year-old Sportsmaster gelding is now on a three-week win streak, including two straight Opens, and has banked $492,137 on the strength of 24 victories in 102 trips to post. Driver Josh Sutton was in the sulky for trainer Billy Farmer and owner Todd Rosenberg on a night when wind gusts were reaching 40 to 60 miles per hour and temperatures were falling fast. Although Miami Valley's leading dashman had won four of the first five races on the program, all in come-from-behind style, Sutton chose to gun Fancy Creek Elusiv right to the front in the featured sixth race, sticking a nose in front of Bettor Than You (Derek Watiker), who held firm for a close second place finish, at the :27.3 initial quarter-mile clocking. The winner was never headed through subsequent fractions of :56 and 1:25, but Bettor Than You did rally to make it close at the 1:54 finish. Can He Go (Peter Wrenn) skimmed the pylons to secure a show finish. A pair of first leg $12,500 divisions of the Tom Tharps Memorial Series were also contested to open the program. Sutton swept both halves of the daily double with winners Keystone Memphis and K Ryan Bluechip. Keystone Memphis topped Arti Gras (Kyle Ater) and Ardie B Speed (Chris Page) for Hinchcliff Racing and trainer Kris Hinchcliff. K Ryan Bluechip bettered Prince Bayard (Jason Brewer) and SOS Justified (Kayne Kauffman) for owners Carl Howard, Bruce and Trish Soulsby and Alan Weisenberg. The four-year-old Art Major gelding was making his first 2016 start for conditioner Virgil Morgan Jr. Josh Sutton strengthened his stranglehold on the dash derby lead with a total of seven victories on the night. In addition to Keystone Memphis (1:55.3, $34.80), K Ryan Bluechip (1:58.2, $4.40) and Fancy Creek Elusiv (1:54, $7.00), he also scored with Rockin Finish (1:56.2, $7.60), Hasty Western (1:57.1, $4.60), Come And Get 'Em (1:54.2, $6.80), and Our Dragon King (1:53.1, $2.40). Dan Noble notched a natural hat trick when he guided three straight winners in races 8 through 10. His trips to the winner's circle came behind Stonebridge Cowboy (1:55.3, $7.20), Finnish First (1:56.2, $19.80) and Real Winner (1:54.4, $16.40). Jeremy Smith matched Noble's hat trick with three of his own wins. He scored with Doctor Carter, Saulsbrook Astrobo and Go Both Ways in the finale. Gregg Keidel

Martz Time bounced back from his first off-the-board finish of 2016 last week to win the harness racing $20,000 Open Trot at Miami Valley Raceway on Sunday (March 20) in convincing fashion. Driver John DeLong allowed polesitter Revenue Agent and fellow 'leaver' Cimeron Ken to battle through a :28 opening quarter before pressing quickly to the front before the :55.4 halfway station. Although Tag Up And Go (Jeff Nisonger) applied mild pressure during the payoff half-mile, Martz Time looked in complete command to hold off the challenger by a half-length in 1:54.4. Favored Il Mago (Trace Tetrick) got the show dough, but never mounted a serious threat during the mile. John McGill and Brian Carsey own Martz Time, a seven-year-old son of Primetime Ranger, who now boasts 30 career wins and has earned $366,981-ten percent of which has been banked at Miami Valley in just seven seasonal starts. Walter Haynes Jr. conditions the winner. Leading driver Josh Sutton, the first local reinsman to reach 100 wins this season and the first to crack the $800,000 purse earnings plateau, had another stellar afternoon with five victories during the 53rd card of the meet. Sutton started the day with a natural hat trick in the first three races. The red, white and blue clad driver scored consecutively with Debi's Sign (1:57, $4.00 to win), trotter Held in Balance (1:58.3, $3.40), and Doc's Zippy (1:56, $7.20). Later in the card Josh returned to the winners circle with Mustabeenadreamer (1:56.3, $8.00) and Kathy's Kitchen (1:54.3, $17.40). Sutton currently ranks seventh in North America with 108 wins on the strength of averaging over two wins per program at Miami Valley. Gregg Keidel    

A long awaited stretch showdown between the two most dominant harness racing trotters at the current Miami Valley Raceway meet finally took place in the $20,000 Open Trot on Sunday (March 13). Actually Penn and Il Mago were pitted against each other (and seven other classy squaregaiters) two weeks ago, but a suicidal :26.3 first quarter speed duel between the two ended the anticipation early as Blackwolf Run, Martz Time and Dancing Dynamite swept past the tiring favorites around the final bend to complete an unlikely trifecta. Il Mago returned last Sunday and used a successful come-from-behind strategy to top Martz Time and Tag Up And Go in 1:55. Penn's ill-fated parked-the-mile trip the final weekend in February, which snapped a five race open company win streak, prompted trainer Bobby Brower to give his stable star a week of rest before tangling with the area's top trotters again. Starting from post positions seven and eight over a sloppy track, Il Mago (Trace Tetrick) and Penn (Josh Sutton) again left the gate fearlessly in search of the front end or a forwardly-placed seat along the pylons. With Martz Time (John DeLong) intent on good early position as well, and the others keeping all the holes behind him filled, it looked briefly like a replay of their last encounter with the two titans parked out, but advancing, around the first entire bend. Just past the :27.3 first quarter clocking, though, Penn was able to clear to the front with Il Mago moving alongside him. As the pair approached the :57 halfway station Sutton made the difficult decision to allow Tetrick to cross over to the pylons down the backstretch of the five-eighths mile oval. The move turned out to be the winning one as Penn regained his bravado in the pocket and eventually wore a game Il Mago down in a classic stretch duel. Cimeronken (Kyle Ater) also joined the fray and finished a close-up third, just a nose better than Martz Time who held strong for fourth. Tag Up And Go (Don Irvine Jr.) recovered from an early break in stride to pick up fifth money. Barkley Counts is the proud owner of Penn, a six-year-old Master Glide gelding, who surpassed $250,000 in career earnings with his 32nd win. A pair of top conditioned trots, for $12,000 purses, were also contested on Sunday with Revenue Agent (Andy Shetler) topping Sam's Princess (LeWayne Miller) and Team Zordin (Chris Page) to win the first division in 1:55.1. Dancing Dynamite (LeWayne Miller) eeked out a neck victory in the second split over Rehab Mountain (Chris Page) in 1:56.3, with Celebrity Hercules (Josh Sutton) garnering the show dough. Gregg Keidel

Ice Scraper, whose 1:50.1 triumph on April 4, 2015 still stands as the second fastest mile in Miami Valley Raceway history, notched his first local victory of the 2016 harness racing season when he scorched the five-eighths mile oval in 1:51 to capture the Saturday (February 27) $20,000 Open Pace. Leading driver Josh Sutton, who is averaging better than two wins per night through the first 35 programs of the current meet, sent the seven-year-old Yankee Skyscraper gelding directly to the front of the class when starter Mike Woebkenberg's starting car wings opened, pressing through fractions of :26.4, :54.4 and 1:21.4 before holding sway over My Buddy Ninkster (Kayne Kauffman) and My Temudjin N (Chris Page), both of whom were lapped on to the winner at the wire. Michael Brown trains Ice Scraper for owner James Behrendt, whose star pupil now boasts 32 career victories and over $400,000 in earnings. Ice Scraper backers got a $12 return for each $2 wagered. A $15,000 Open II Pace was captured by longshot Lookinforadventure (Kayne Kauffman) with a strong stretch drive at the end of the 1:51.3 mile. Carl Atley's eight-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding collared runnerup Milliron Pete (Randy Tharps) in the final strides, while Thisjetsabookin (Sutton) picked up the show dough. In addition to producing a $27.20 win mutuel, Lookinforadventure topped a $2 exacta worth $253.40. He is trained by Danny Dubeansky. Major Blue Coat (Sutton) and Stonebridge Adam (Page) each copped a division of first leg late-closer action for horses and geldings who were non-winners of $1200 per start in 2015-16. It was the third win in four local starts for Major Blue Coat, who bested Rocknroll Reality (Jeremy Smith) and No Excuses Please (Page) in 1:52.4. A Piece Of The Action LLC owns the six-year-old son of Art Major who is conditioned in Ohio by Jeff Nisonger. It was also the third win in four starts for Stonebridge Adam, but the first at Miami Valley. Also a six-year-old, the son of Stonebridge Regal defeated E R Rudy (LeWayne Miller) and Manhattan Benny (John DeLong) for the Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Kris Hinchcliff conditions the small segment of the powerful Ron Burke brigade currently racing in southwest Ohio. Racing resumes at Miami Valley on Sunday afternoon with a 2:05 p.m. matinee. Highlight of the program should be the much anticipated showdown between top trotters Penn and Il Mago and seven other contenders in the $20,000 Open, carded as the sixth race. Gregg Keidel

Penn put forth another monster effort in Miami Valley's $20,000 Open Trot on Sunday afternoon (February 21), notching his fifth straight harness racing triumph in southwest Ohio over the last ten weeks. Trainer Bobby Brower is racing the six-year-old gelded son of Master Glide sparingly in an effort to keep him sharp through a long 2016 campaign he has charted out for him. To date the plan is working to perfection. Despite a four-week respite prior to his latest victory, Penn was fired out from behind his assigned outside post position behind the gate by leading driver Josh Sutton. Despite being three-wide much of the first quarter, Penn collared Blackwolf Run (Randy Tharps), who had left alertly, as the quarter was reached in :27.3 and crossed over to the front just steps thereafter. Sutton was then able to 'steal' a relatively pedestrian :58.2 middle half before sealing the deal with a :28.4 closing panel for the 1:54.4 victory. The even-money favorite did get quite a scare from the only mare in the field, longshot Dancing Dynamite (LeWayne Miller), who made a valiant stretch bid that fell just a head short. Martz Time (John DeLong), who was last week's feature race winner, rallied for the show spot ahead of Cimeronken (Kyle Ater) and Blackwolf Run (Randy Tharps), who picked up the minor spoils in the full field of ten. Penn returned $4.00 to his faithful with a $2 win ticket; the $2 exacta returned a healthy $58.00; and correct $2 trifecta tickets paid a handsome $300.80. Barkley Counts of Tennessee owns Penn, who now boasts 31 career triumphs and $241,294 in earnings. Gregg Keidel

Bottom claimers got a unique opportunity to race for a $20,000 purse at Miami Valley Raceway on Monday afternoon (February 8) when the championship leg of the track's popular Survivor Series was contested. Ninety-one $5000 claimers paid $100 entry fees to start the elimination tournament on January 11 in ten divisions. The top three finishers plus the six fastest fourth place finishers advanced to Round 2 a week later, comprised of four divisions. Following a cancelled card on January 25, two semi-final fields faced the starter on February 1 with the top half of the finishers qualifying for the lucrative championship. Peck Blue Chip, despite narrowly surviving the early rounds with two third place and one fourth place finishes, was crowned Survivor Series King with a 1:54.2 upset victory for driver Josh Sutton, trainer Daniel Jones and owner Miracle Meadows LLC. Back At Cha (LeWayne Miller), part of a favored Todd Rosenberg-owned entry, finished second; while Sammy Storm (Jason Brewer), who was claimed in each of the preliminary elimination rounds, garnered the show dough. The winner paid $17.00 for a $2 ticket. Sutton wrestled the winner off the gate and retreated to the pylons through a :27.4 opening quarter. Miami Valley's current leading driver pulled into the outer flow just prior to the half, but still had five horses to pass. Abandoning the second-over position at the three-quarter station, Peck Blue Chip was angled three-wide coming off the final turn and responded with a strong stretch drive to secure the triumph. Although Peck Blue Chip now has 21 career wins and $168,585 in earnings, the $10,000 winner's share of the championship purse is the son of Art Major's largest ever payday. Although he finished second as a two-year-old in The Standardbred stake at Delaware, Ohio, and had won several $25,000 claiming races at Hoosier Park in 2013, Peck Blue Chip's tally in the Survivor Series final has been his largest single financial success.   The win was one of four on the program for Josh Sutton, who entered the day tied with Jeremy Smith for the meet dash lead. He also scored with Caseofthesillies (1:56.1, $8.00 to win), Mojito Hanover (1:54, $4.80) and Dolly's Girl (1:54, $11.80). Sutton now sports 36 wins through the first 22 days of the 2016 meet. Jeremy Smith is second with 33, followed by Dan Noble, Tyler Smith and Trace Tetrick-all deadlocked with 29. Rounding out the Top Ten are Chris Page 26, Kayne Kauffman 24, John DeLong 20, Randy Tharps 19 and LeWayne Miller 14. Miami Valley Raceway

LEBANON, OH. - Penn continued his domination of the open trotting ranks in Dayton, Ohio on Sunday afternoon (January 24) with an overpowering 1:57.1 triumph over a harness racing track rated 'good' due to a partial thaw during the matinee. Despite racing on an every-other-week schedule, the six-year-old Master Glide gelding has remained razor sharp since showing up in southwest Ohio following the completion of the Hoosier Park meet in mid-November. Five of the nine classy trotters left the gate in the $20,000 feature event, including Penn who was saddled with an assigned outside post position. Driver Josh Sutton pressed forward confidently until all the inside leavers settled, then crossed over to the front well past the quarter, which was reached in :27.2. Without the ability to take a second quarter breather due to immediate pressure from It Really Matters (Dan Noble) Penn stopped the middle teletimer beams in :56.3 and 1:25.3 before holding off a trio of closers in the lane. Boytown (LeWayne Miller) nosed out Martz Time (Trace Tetrick) for runnerup honors with Herbies Wildflower (Doug Rideout) racing creditably as the only mare in the full field finishing fourth. Bobby Brower trains Penn for owner Barkley Counts of Tennessee. Four $17,500 preliminary divisions of Claim To Fame Series action for $20,000 claiming horses and geldings were also presented on Sunday with the results determining the finalists for the $35,000 championship race next week. Winners were Bolero Andrew (Chris Page, 1:54.1), Double Dribble (Jeff Nisonger, 1:56.1), Blueridge Doc (Josh Sutton, 1:54.1) and Supreme Z Tam (LeWayne Miller, 1:56.1). That quartet will be joined by Major Marcus, Master Of Desire, Mr. Dennis and M G Kid in the lucrative final, plus the winner of a random draw for the final spot between Johnny Come Lately, Mach To The Max, Machin Music and Montana Pablo A. A total of 45 nominees started in the series with five changing hands at the claim box during the first two legs. Racing resumes Monday and Tuesday with 2:05 p.m. matinees at Miami Valley. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - Harness racing action was hot and heavy at Miami Valley Raceway on Saturday night (January 23) with a $20,000 Open Pace and six divisions of preliminary Claim To Fame series races, the final opportunity for the nominees to earn valuable points to qualify for lucrative championships next Saturday. Sandwiched between all those keenly contested events came a real shocker, though, as Thisjetsabookin (Josh Sutton) sped to an all-time track record 1:50 performance in a conditioned race for non-winners of ten races lifetime. The altered four-year-old son of Jereme's Jet lowered his own speed standard, taken at Hoosier Park in mid-summer, by a full second in capturing his ninth career victory. Owned by trainer Tom Harmer's Ciara Stable and his longtime friend Gerry Bookmyer, who is also the new track record holder's breeder, Thisjetsabookin shaved one-fifth of a second off the old 1:50.1 standard established by Ice Scraper (Ken Holliday) on April 4, 2015. Thisjetsabookin was the frontstepper for the seventh consecutive race, rushing to the quarter mile marker in :26.2 despite 25-degree weather. Subsequent fractions were :53.3, and an eye-popping 1:20.2 at the three-quarter station before coasting home in 1:50 flat. Fancy Creek Elusiv (Chris Page) captured the $20,000 Open Pace in 1:51.2, holding off Mykindachip (Kayne Kauffman) and Positively Perfect (Jeremy Smith) for his first 2016 score, fresh off a 2015 season in which he won nine times and earned $114,394. Billy Farmer conditions the six-year-old Sportsmaster gelding for owner Todd Rosenberg. In Claim To Fame Series action for $12,500 pacing mares, Lady Ashlyn (Tyler Smith) was an upset winner in the first division over Love Of Liberty (Josh Sutton) and Ellie's Best Dream (Jeremy Smith); while the second split was won by Allthatjazz De Vie (Trace Tetrick) who bested Ginger Spice N (Randy Tharps) and Princess Baby Ella (Chris Page). Those six will be joined by Miss Metro Fitz, Zumba and McEver in the $18.700 championship next week. Male $12,500 pacers concluded the preliminary legs in their series in four divisions. Winners were Ally Con (Josh Sutton) in 1:53.1, Hot Shot Lawyer in 1:52.1, Falcon Justice (Chris Page in 1:52.3) and Scootnfordamoney (Trace Tetrick). The top nine money winners in the series will go postward chasing a $29,500 bounty next Saturday. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - Buckeye Thea, one of the most consistently outstanding pacing mares in the state of Ohio during the past two harness racing seasons, was triumphant again Friday night (January 22) in the $20,000 Fillies and Mares Open Pace at Miami Valley Raceway. It was the six-year-old Dave Panlone mare's first 2016 victory, but her 11th in the last twelve months and 23rd in a career comprised of 102 starts. Owned throughout her life by owner-breeder Rich Paltani, she is trained by Steve Carter and was driven by Josh Sutton to the 1:53.3 score. Getting away fourth from the trailing post position in the full field of ten, Buckeye Thea took up second-over position just before the half before swinging three wide midway around the final bend and pulling away in the final strides. Art I Sweet (Ken Holliday), fresh off a victory in a $20,000 late-closing claiming event, stepped up to test the best distaffers in southwest Ohio and rallied well for a second place finish. Addys Way (Dan Noble) used the advantageous rail post draw to garner the show dough in the feature race. Second round Claim To Fame Series action was also contested in five divisions by $8000 claiming male pacers; while a pair of $20,000 claiming mares divisions also went postward. Winners in the $8000 series were Art's Delight (Josh Sutton, 1:53.1), Allstar Seelster (Dan Noble, 1:53.4), Concert Ticket (John De Long, 1:54), Csardas (Trace Tetrick, 1:53.2) and Fox Valley Mahalo (Kayne Kauffman, 1:54.4). The nine top money earners in the two preliminary legs will chase a $23,000 purse in the championship leg next Friday (January 29). Seascape Hanover (Josh Sutton, 1:55.2) and My Hare Lady (Jason Brewer, 1:54.4) copped the $20,000 distaff splits. When their $26,500 final goes the same night they will be joined by Art I Sweet, Gran Gabriel, Pipecreek Star, A Little Starstruck, Dream Ball, Medoland Lindeylou and either Somenicebeach or Top Brand, who will draw randomly for the final spot in the nine-horse field. Gregg Keidel      

DAYTON, OH. - Hollywood Dayton Raceway closed the curtain on a successful second season on Wednesday night (December 30) with an overall average nightly handle increase of 20% over the inaugural 2014 harness racing session. Over $5.2 million in purses were paid out over the 75-night meet. Josh Sutton successfully defended his 2014 driver's dash title by winning 116 races (through the 8th race on closing night) and earning nearly $600,000 in purse money. At age 33, Sutton has won 3,288 races in his career and is nearing $20 million in purse earnings. He currently ranks seventh in the national dash standings, one of four Ohio-based drivers in the top ten. Kayne Kauffman also cracked the 100 wins barrier to finish second with Dan Noble, Chris Page and Jeremy Smith rounding out the top five. Trainer Jeff Brewer garnered his first Hollywood Dayton trainer's title, harnessing 46 winners with stable earnings of almost $200,000 for the meet. The 56-year-old Brewer has sent a total of 1,675 horses to the winner's circle in a productive career that also includes training titles at Hoosier Park, Indiana Downs, Lebanon Raceway and Thunder Ridge. Horses in his care have earned just under $8 million over the years. The remainder of the top five were Virgil Morgan Jr., Kayne Kauffman, Chris Short and Sam Coven. An astounding total of 440 trainers made at least one start during the 3-1/2 month Hollywood Dayton season. New track records were established on both the pace and trot. State Treasurer (David Miller) copped the $138,500 Dayton Pacing Derby in 1:48.4, the fastest mile ever at Dayton; while Penn (Josh Sutton) lowered the square-gait standard to 1:52.3 in a December open event. Hollywood Dayton Raceway put an exclamation point on its successful second season with another all-time record handle, $366,773, on the final program of the year--eclipsing the old record established a week earlier of $357,603. Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - Penn, Somenicebeach and Freddyscooter won the three featured Open races during the Saturday night (December 26) harness racing program at Hollywood Dayton Raceway. Track record holder Penn (Josh Sutton) topped the Open trotters in 1:53.3 over a sloppy surface, topping Rehab Mountain (Tyler Smith) and Martz Time (John De Long) in relatively easy fashion. After working hard to get the front from the assigned outside No. 7 post position just before the :26.3 quarter station, the five-year-old son of Master Glide raced evenly throughout the remainder of the mile stopping the subsequent teletimers in :55.4, 1:24.1 and 1:53.3 for his ninth win in 20 starts this season. His seasonal earnings end at $97,860 with his lifetime bounty increased to $211,294 for owner Barkley Counts. The weekly top distaff pace went to Somenicebeach, giving meet-leading driver Josh Sutton his second feature win on the program. In her first start at Hollywood Dayton, the four-year-old Somebeachsomewhere lass narrowly edged Albanian Era (Dan Noble) with Sectionline Aqua (LeWayne Miller) also looming large in the stretch. The 1:53 score was the winner's sixth in 2015 and twelfth lifetime. She was claimed at Yonkers Raceway six months ago by Carl Howard and Bruce Soulsby and entrusted to trainer Virgil Morgan Jr., who laid her up for a couple months, put her on lasix and qualified her twice before her winning debut pari-mutuel effort. Freddyscooter (Tyler Smith) beat the best boys at the meet in 1:51.2, giving the ten-year-old gelding his 49th career visit to the winners circle and upping his earnings to $894,895, all for trainer and co-owner Steve Brannan, who also bred him, and partner Frederick Shiery. Freddyscooter benefitted from a two-hold trip behind eventual runnerup PQ Three (Jeremy Smith), who set early fractions of :26.3, :55 and 1:22.2 before begrudgingly giving way to the winner in deep stretch. E R Oliver (LeWayne Miller) closed well to finish third in the $12,000 race. Just three nights remain in the Hollywood Dayton Raceway meet with 6:35 post times on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the coming week. Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - Despite temperatures hovering around the freezing mark, Buckeye Thea swept to her second straight $12,000 Fillies and Mares Open pace victory at Hollywood Dayton Raceway on Friday (December 18) by equalling her lifetime mark of 1:51.4. With the impressive win, the five-year-old's tenth of the year and 22nd of her career, Buckeye Thea ran her lifetime bankroll to $$175,552 for owner Richard Paltani, who entrusts the training duties to Steve Carter. Driver Josh Sutton was content to back off the gate from an outside post position, but didn't wait long to charge up and challenge pacesetteer Rockin Good (Jared Finn) after the :27 first quarter. By the halfway station, the winner had poked a head in front as the teletimer flashed :56.2. By the third split in 1:23 Buckeye Thea had opened up an impressive six-length lead, leaving the balance of the field little option but to fight for the minor spoils. Western Empress (Trace Tetrick) was best of the rest with American Girl (Tyler Smith) garnering the show dough. The win was one of two through race ten on the program for Sutton, who has regained the lead in the local dash derby with just eight cards remaining in the Hollywood Dayton Raceway season. Five wins on the Thursday night program pushed Sutton past Kayne Kauffman, who has held the lead for much of the meet. The current tally is Sutton 102, Kauffman 94, with Chris Page 86, Dan Noble 84 and Jeremy Smith 80 rounding out the top five. Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - Penn dominated the $12,000 Open Trot at Hollywood Dayton Raceway on Saturday (December 12), speeding to the quickest trotting mile in the two-year history of the five-eighths mile harness racing oval. With his 1:52.3 clocking, Penn shaved a tick off Market Share's previous standard of 1:52.4 taken in the 2014 Dayton Trotting Derby. Driver Josh Sutton set sail when the wings of the gate folded, clearing to the front just before reaching the first quarter station in :26.1. The five-year-old son of Master Glide, who had made a miscue in last week's feature, had no such problems on this warm evening. Penn coasted through subsequent fractions of :55 and 1:23.1 before arriving in-hand at the wire in 1:52.3. Chips (Trace Tetrick) made a mild bid in the stretch to finish second with Martz Time (Chris Page), who was last week's winner, finding room late to rally for third. Barkley Counts of Tennessee owns Penn, who now has 27 career wins and $205,794 in earnings from just 62 lifetime starts. Bobby Brown conditions the new Dayton Raceway track record holder. Three races later Sports Sinner returned to the winner's circle after winning the $12,000 Open Pace in 1:51. The four-year-old Western Ideal gelding has now captured the week's top race three of the last four tries for driver Dan Noble, trainer Christi Pokornowski and owner Perkins Racing Stable LLC. It was the ninth seasonal triumph for the late-blooming winner and pushed his career bankroll over the $100,000 plateau. Fancy Creek Elusiv (Chris Page) raced gallantly to finish a lapped-on second, while PQ Three (Jeremy Smith) made a furious stretch charge from far back to garner the show money. Racing will be conducted six consecutive nights next week as Hollywood Dayton begins winding down towards closing night on December 30. Excitement is building for the Tuesday night program, which features the "Buckeyes vs. Hoosiers Driver's Challenge." Five of Hoosier Park's top reinsmen will battle with Dayton's top five in the current dash standings over six races borderline bragging rights. The two tracks, despite being in separate states, are only a little over an hours drive apart. The Buckeye team has 13,918 combined wins and earned $72,825,298 in their careers. The Hoosiers have 8,262 total victories good for $73,298,825 in earnings. The Ohio squad is comprised of Kayne Kauffman, Josh Sutton, Chris Page, Dan Noble and Jeremy Smith; while Indiana will be represented by Trace Tetrick, Tyler Smith, LeWayne Miller, Ross Leonard and Andy Shetler. Post time every night is 6:35 p.m. Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - In her sixth start after a couple months rest, Buckeye Thea captured the $12,000 Fillies & Mares Open pace at Hollywood Dayton Raceway on Friday night (December 11), pushing her 2016 harness racing summary line to 9-6-6 in 39 starts, good for $93,445 in earnings. Following an unsuccessful first-over bid a week ago, driver Josh Sutton opted for a more conservative approach in this outing--content to get away sixth, moved into second-over position at the half, then swung three-wide just past the three-quarters before throwing a :27.3 final panel to win by over a length in 1:52.3. Pacesetter Rockin Good (Jared Finn), who didn't clear to the front until past the :26.2 opening quarter, held for second money while Western Empress (Trace Tetrick) closed for the show dough. Steve Carter trains Buckeye Thea for owner Rich Paltani. A race earlier, My Hare Lady (Jason Brewer) won a $7500 condition and optional $15,000 claiming event in 1:54, pushing the six-year-old Jereme's Jet mare's lifetime bankroll past the $100,000 plateau. Claimed by Chris Choros for $8000 a month ago, the winner carried a $15,000 base tag this time out. She topped Platinum Spirit (Dan Noble) and Ohmybelle (Chris Page) for trainer Jeff Brewer, who has a comfortable lead in the trainer's dash standings with 14 programs remaining in the meet. Gregg Keidel

DAYTON, OH. - Sports Sinner captured the $11,500 Open Pace at Hollywood Dayton Raceway on Saturday (November 21), his third tally in the weekly feature in his last four tries. Driver Dan Noble left alertly from the No. 1 post position, but yielded to notorious frontrunner Ice Scraper (Josh Sutton) before the first quarter beam was tripped in :26.4. Enjoying a pocket ride through middle splits reached in :54.4 and 1:23, Noble found a narrow opening at the three-quarter station and paced a final panel in :29.1 on a cold, windy night to complete the 1:52.1 triumph. Longshot Red Scooter (Lewayne Miller) rallied in the stretch to finish third. Sports Sinner is owned by Perkins Racing Stable and trained by Christi Pokornowski. The four-year-old Western Ideal gelding eclipsed the $50,000 seasonal earnings barrier with the victory and is rapidly approaching $100,000 in his career. The win was one of three on the night for Noble as he also scored with Allthatgltrsisgold (1:53.3) and JJ Shooter (1:55). Penn, a newcomer to Hollywood Dayton, beat the Open Trotters in 1:56.2 with Josh Sutton on his lines. The five-year-old Master Glide gelding's next check will push him over the $200,000 lifetime earnings plateau for owner Barkley Counts and trainer Bobby Brower. As the heavy favorite, Penn opened an eight length lead early in the stretch and coasted home ahead of a fast-closing Martz Time (Chris Page) and last week's winner Winwood Scout (Jeremy Smith). Sutton also fashioned a hat track with other wins behind Gear Box for trainer Derek Menchhofer and The Riddler for trainer Tom Harmer. From the press box at Dayton Hollywood Raceway

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