Day At The Track
Search Results
49 to 64 of 165

DAYTON, OH. - Drivers Josh Sutton and Randy Tharps each got "one for the thumb" late on the Saturday night (September 26) harness racing program at Hollywood Dayton Raceway, scoring five victories apiece. Based on Sutton's pari-mutuel payoffs, the defending driving champion's hot evening wasn't all that unexpected. Patrons who bet $2 on each of Sutton's five winners profited by $15; while Tharps' $2 backers reaped a $66 profit for their $10 in $2 win wagers. Sutton started his evening off with a bang, winning the first race with Killean Cut Kid (1:51.4, $4.80). He followed that up with victories in the third behind Hobbys Hobbit (1:54, $4.40), fifth with Avalance Hanover (1:51.1, $6.80), eighth with Fudge (1:52.3) and eleventh with Dress The Part (1:51.3, $4.20). Tharps' big night didn't warm up until the fourth when R O I (1:52, $24.00) got his first win. Friskies Cheapsuit (1:53, $12.40) captured the sixth, Kaffir Kemp (1:56, $19.40) trotted home a winner for Tharps in the ninth, Harnessnitencanada (1:53.3, $7.60 copped the tenth, and Rocknroll Special (1:53.4, $12.60) capped Tharps' big night in the thirteenth. Randy Tharps is the winningest African-American harness driver in history with 4,942 triumphs good for over $22 million in purse earnings. Neither Sutton or Tharps sped the fastest mile of the night, however. That honor belonged to driver Chris Page who captured the $12,000 Open Pace in 1:50.4 with Dedi's Dragon. It was the second straight open class victory for the five-year-old son of Dragon Again, who is owned by J. E. McGill, B. K. Carsey and J. L. Benson and trained by Walter Haynes Jr. Hollywood Dayton Raceway reminds trainers of nominees to the $135,000 Dayton Pacing Derby and the $135,000 Dayton Trotting Derby, to be raced this coming Friday night, October 2, that the entry box closes at 2:00 p.m. on Monday afternoon for Friday, including these two lucrative Grand Circuit Stakes. Gregg Keidel

As the most successful horseman in Ohio harness racing, Scioto Downs-based trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. has license to spend his mornings lollygagging in his loungewear and his evenings hobnobbing in the clubhouse. Morgan, 49, is the first North American harness trainer to reach 5,000 victories since records were first kept in 1992. His horses have won more than $47 million in purses in his career, during which he has finished among the top-10 winningest trainers in 16 of the past 19 years. Morgan has dominated Scioto Downs so thoroughly in recent decades that the track lost count of his consecutive training titles. After double-checking, it was determined that Morgan is on pace for his 22nd straight. Clearly, Morgan is the best at his home track and one of the best in his sport. But he can be better, he said. His horses can be better, he said. So Morgan will wake at his Grove City home at 4:55 a.m., as he does most days, and there will be precious little downtime until he gets home from the track late in the evening, as he does most nights. “Your top trainers, they’re all like that,” said driver Josh Sutton, who picks up most of Morgan’s drives at Scioto Downs. “But he’s more hands-on than most trainers. That means a lot. You can tell when you sit behind the horses and see how they are.” On a typical day, Morgan will have sent a mass text message to his employees by 6:30 a.m., laying out the day’s training schedule. By 7, he has made sure his horses’ racing schedules are set. By lunchtime, he has checked in with his blacksmith and veterinarian, reviewed any health issues and has been on the track for several training sets behind multiple horses. “I don’t require a lot of sleep,” Morgan said. Nor does he require a lot of praise or pomp. Although he did show up to an event in which he was presented with the key to Grove City in 2013, Morgan is not one for winner’s circle photos or for chit-chat, unless it’s with his teenage children, son, Tre, and daughter, Kiara. “Virgil just doesn’t have time for small talk,” said owner Carl Howard, the CEO of the Fazoli’s restaurant chain who has 20 to 25 horses in training with Morgan, including many that they co-own. “That can be something that doesn’t go over too well with people. He’s nice to people, but he has to move on. He has work to do.” Morgan bought his first horse at 17 and later started working for Scioto Downs-based trainer Randy Owens before striking out on his own in the late 1980s. Morgan’s horses won more than $1 million in purses for the first time in 1998. These days, Morgan can have as many as 70 horses in his stables at a time, with 15 or 20 more based at his satellite operation in New Jersey. Although he employs a staff of about 30, including assistant trainers, grooms and caretakers, Morgan is a hands-on horseman, priding himself, he said, on giving as much personal attention to the lowliest claimer as he does a prized invitational horse. The jogging cart and equipment bag are arguably his most important tools. Some days, the staging area outside Morgan’s barn can look like “a runway at LaGuardia,” with horses waiting for and returning from their spins around the track with Morgan at the reins, said Harolene Johnston, Morgan’s sister and administrative assistant. “With some large stables, and I’ve worked for many, if you pay Joe Blow to train your horse, Joe Blow never gets behind that horse,” said blacksmith Dave Thomas, who has been working for Morgan for more than two decades. “If you pay Virgil Morgan to train your horse, you get Virgil Morgan.” What comes with that is Morgan’s knowledge of the important aspects of harness racing and an uncanny ability to produce winners that has been developed by more than three decades of experience at tracks across Ohio. Morgan prefers to keep a low profile at Scioto Downs on racing nights. He will hit the paddock to chat with Sutton or head to the clubhouse, where he often sits alone with his reading glasses perched on his nose, a pile of paperwork and closed-circuit television controls close at hand. Morgan keeps close tabs on racing throughout North America, parlaying that knowledge into an ability to expertly classify his horses, making sure they are racing at the right place at the right time and against the right competition. He has long been a major player in the claiming game, never afraid to add a new horse to his stable if he thinks it can help his operation. Morgan, too, is obsessive over the equipment and shoeing setups of his horses, and is unafraid to try new setups or training regimens. Past successes don’t matter much if he thinks a horse can do more. In fact, Morgan said, he prefers not to know much about the routine or setup of any new horse that comes to his stable. “Other trainers see a successful horse and just keep doing the same thing,” said John Reichert, a Grove City equine veterinarian who has worked with Morgan for years. “He’ll change things up and see if it makes the horse happier. He’s very perceptive of what a horse is going to respond to.” Morgan keeps himself in prime physical condition, looking much younger than 49. He loves sports — he played football, basketball and baseball growing up in Grove City — and he views his horses as athletes. Morgan is big on sports analogies, comparing Sutton to a quarterback, his grooms to offensive linemen and himself to a head coach. The horses are his skill players. “And they can’t talk, so they’re tough to coach,” Morgan said. Yet, Morgan loves the challenge. He studies their blood work, their gait and their temperament, always in search of more speed. Horses have fascinated him since he was a child, when his late father, “Big Virg,” and uncle dabbled in thoroughbred ownership and were regulars at Scioto Downs. “He’s got stopwatches, the old kind, the silver ones, all over the place,” Johnston said. “He wants to have the fastest and the best, and he’s got a knack for it. He wants the best for those horses and he gets to know them very, very well. ” Howard said Morgan would never admit it, but he is a trainer who can get attached to his horses because he is around them so much. Morgan secretly hates seeing them claimed or sold, he said. Morgan’s bread-and-butter remains overnight and stakes racing in Ohio, though he has hit it big on occasion, training six horses that won $1 million or more in their careers. Mister Big was a two-time Dan Patch winner as the pacer in his division in 2007 and 2008. Pet Rock, one of the fastest pacers in the sport’s history, won almost $2 million before retiring in 2013. Both helped ease the burden on Morgan when Ohio’s harness industry was struggling before the legalization of casino-style slots injected new life into the state’s tracks in 2012. A new era was beginning to dawn, and Morgan said he finally allowed himself to step back and enjoy Pet Rock’s run. “Usually, when a horse hits the wire, I’m immediately thinking about what I want to do with the horse the next week or if there is anything I can do to improve the performance,” Morgan said. “I think sometimes I don’t enjoy the racing as much as I should or could, but nobody really cares that you won 5,000 races or $50 million in purse money. They care about the next race.” Morgan considered moving his entire operation to the more lucrative East Coast in the 2000s but elected to stick it out. Now, he trains all year at Scioto Downs, keeping his stable there even in winter. His presence adds panache. “I’m sure some don’t want to hear it, but there would not be this quality of racing in Ohio right now if he was somewhere else,” Howard said. “He’s brought in other owners with some unbelievably talented hoses. If he was gone, it would have taken a lot longer for the quality of racing that we have to come back.” By Shawn Mitchell Reprinted with permission of The Columbus Dispatch 

LEBANON, OH. - Harness racing driver Josh Sutton and trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. captured their respective titles at the recently-concluded second-ever Miami Valley Raceway meet. The 89-day season, which started January 2 and ended May 3, could only be deemed a huge success as almost $8.5 million was doled out in purses, numerous track records were lowered, and overall average daily handle was up a whopping 29.2%. Sutton's 182 wins not only dominated the Miami Valley driver's dash standings, but currently places him fifth in the national wins column despite competing at just one track. In addition to his lofty win total, Josh managed 115 place and 92 show finishes, giving him an impressive .332 UDRS average. Sutton visited the winner's circle after 21.9% of his 832 races. Purse earnings for his mounts totaled $1,012,134, for an average of $11,372 per program. Other top ten dash drivers at the 2015 Miami Valley meet were Dan Noble with 121 wins, Kayne Kauffman 116, Chris Page 101, Jeremy Smith 80, Kyle Ater 69, Randy Tharps 66, Tyler Smith 62, Jason Brewer 49, and Ken Holliday and Jeff Nisonger tied with 43 apiece. Morgan Jr. garnered his second consecutive trainer's title with 66 wins in 222 starts and a lofty .404 UTRS average. The first trainer in harness racing history to reach 5,000 career wins and Ohio's all-time leader, Morgan's stable amassed $442,760 in earnings during the 2015 Miami Valley meet, an average of just a shade under $5,000 per program. Jeff Brewer finished second in the conditioner's standings with 50 victories, followed by Chris Short 43, Dan Ater and Kayne Kauffman 33, Jim Arledge Jr. 28, Jim Dailey 24, Jeff Nisonger 21, Jim Pollock Jr. 18 and Deborah Swartz 17. A total of 16 stables earned over $100,000 over the four-month meet. Best post position was No. 5 with a winning percentage of 18.4. The percentage of winning favorites was 36.09. Overall average daily handle was up 29 percent over the inaugural 2014 season. Gregg Keidel

LEBANON, OH. - Poison Oak, a recent private purchase addition to the Virgil Morgan Jr. Stable, captured the $15,000 championship leg of the George Williams Memorial Series, one of nine series being contested at Miami Valley honoring the memory of 'Lebanon Legends' of days gone by. The four-year-old son of Always A Virgin topped E R Oliver (Tyler Smith) by a length with Awinkandagrin (Jeremy Smith) another three-quarters of a length back in third. Miami Valley's leading driver Josh Sutton sent Poison Oak charging out of the gate from the eight hole and steadily forged to the front just past the :27.2 opening panel. The winner posted middle fractions of :55.2 and 1:24.2 before finishing the job by stopping the clock in 1:53.4. The George Williams series featured male pacers who were shy of either four pari-mutuel wins or $30,000 in earnings when the nominations closed on March 1. It was the eighth career win for Poison Oak, owned in partnership with Morgan Jr. by Carl Howard, and increased his lifetime bankroll to $38,876. As the second choice on the tote board, Poison Oak paid $5.80 while the exacta kicked back $24.20. Gregg Keidel  

LEBANON, OH. - Harness racing driver Josh Sutton is enjoying his own version of 'March Madness' at Miami Valley Raceway. The 32-year-old reinsman, ranked sixth in the national dash standings prior to winning a handful (5) of races on Friday night, has scored multiple victories on 12 of the 15 programs presented thus far this month and is averaging better than three wins per night in March. Sutton visited the winner's circle on six occasions the night of March 11 and owns two five win nights, three four win nights and four three win nights in the past three weeks. His total of 46 wins in the last 15 nights at Miami Valley has vaulted him into a comfortable lead in the driver's standings with a season total of 125 scores. Dan Noble is second with 94 tallies, followed by Kayne Kauffman with 71. Among Sutton's Friday night successes was a second straight Fillies and Mares Open victory with Betterluvnexttime. The lukewarm favorite held off Shine N Shimmer (Chris Page) in 1:53.3. The top pair are both seven-year-old American Ideal mares with impressive credentials. The winner now has 41 wins in 100 starts, good for $488,875 in earnings; while the runnerup has 19 wins and has earned $333,617. Virgil Morgan Jr. conditions Betterluvnexttime for owner Daniel Mitchell. Sutton's other winners Friday were Royal Sue (1:57.2), trotter War Cry Hall (1:58.3), Perfectly Royal (1:55) and Ubettorbeturlife (1:54.2). A pair of first round $5000 divisions of the Robert J. "Skeeter" Brown Memorial Series, featuring non-winners of two pari-mutuel races trotters, also went postward on Friday. Held In Balance (Jeff Nisonger) captured the first split in 1:59.1 over All B Over (Tyler Smith) and Fly Away Bumblebee (Kayne Kauffman). The second division went to E R Justiceforall (Ken Holliday) who bested Mojito As (Jason Brewer) and Hooray Wisconsin (Kyle Ater).    

LEBANON, OH. - Red-hot Josh Sutton, Miami Valley's leading driver and ranked seventh in the country in 2015 wins, racked up another most impressive night over the southwest Ohio five-eighths mile oval. The 32-year-old reinsman visited the winner's circle six times during the 14-race card to become the first Miami Valley driver to pass the 100 win plateau already this season and the seventh driver in North America to reach that level. Sutton started the evening with 95 wins at Miami Valley to go with a .312 UDRS and $536,833 in purses earned for owners of horses he has handled. Only two of Sutton's winners were favorites. His parade of winners started in the third with Sand Shark (1:55.3, $9.40 to win), followed by Gypsy Colors (1:54.2, $8.80), trotter Vacation Angel (1:59.2, $17.00), Settlement Request (1:56.2, $6.40), Sir Howie's Z Tam (1:54.4, $3.40), and trotter Claim Jumper (1:57.3, $41.00). Driver Chris Page scored a triple on the Wednesday program; while Randy Tharps doubled. Gregg Keidel          

LEBANON, OH. - Harness racing driver Dan Noble has climbed back into a virtual tie for leading dash driver at Miami Valley's second season.   The nearby Xenia, Ohio native won five times on a snowy, 10 degree special President's Day Monday matinee to end the day deadlocked with Josh Sutton, who had a driving double of his own.   The pair each have 63 victories through the first 32 programs of an 89-day meet. Defending champion Kayne Kauffman is third with 56 tallies.   Noble's triumphs were with Angels N Demons, who covered the snow-covered 'good' track in 1:59.2 and paid $2.80 to win, Make Your Move (1:59.3, $7.20), Picture Me (1:57.2, $6.80), Salutation Hanover (1:59.2, $5.60) and E R Prince Charmin (2:00.3, $10.80).   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

LEBANON, OH. - Mykindachip made it three wins in four tries since the start of Miami Valley Raceway's second season by winning the $15,500 Open Pace in 1:54.3 on Saturday (February 7). In each of the three victories, driver Kayne Kauffman has left the wings of the gate alertly with the six-year-old son of Art's Chip, allowed a single adversary to clear to the front, then retakes the lead just past the quarter and successfully plays catch-me-if-you-can to the wire. Sent off as a prohibitive 2-5 favorite over a 'good' track, Mykindachip watched Cam B Zipper (Chris Page) sweep by just before the :27 opening quarter, then Kauffman retook command through fractions of :56.4 and 1:25.3 before a :29 final panel sealed the deal. Rockin Finish (Brent Holland) raced gamely first-up on the outside to finish a lapped-on second with Cam B Zipper holding firm for third. It was the 25th career triumph for Mykindachip and increased his lifetime bounty to $408,107. He is owned by Carl Atley and trained by Danny Dubeansky. Driver Josh Sutton enjoyed quite a night, winning six of the first 11 races to move into a strong third in the local dash standings after 25 nights of the 89-night meet. With three races remaining on the Saturday night program, defending champion Kayne Kauffman and former national dash champion Dan Noble were deadlocked for first place with 49 victories apiece. Sutton, who won the recent Dayton Raceway dash title, gained considerably with his stellar Saturday night. His win total was 44 at presstime. Racing resumes Sunday afternoon with a 3:00 PM post time. Gregg Keidel

Northfield Park recognized its 2014 harness racing leading driver and trainer on Monday (February 2). Northfield Park Vice President and General Manger, Brent Reitz and Assistant General Manager, Mike Colacarro were in the winner's circle to congratulate Ronnie Wrenn Jr. and Brian Loney. They presented them with plaques and each will receive a $100 gift certificate to the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park. Ronnie Wrenn Jr. again topped the 2014 local driving ranks, winning 659 races over the Flying Turns. His nearest competitor, Aaron Merriman, drove 475 winners. Josh Sutton (282), Kurt Sugg (191) and Jason Merriman (171) completed the top five reinsmen. Wrenn, 28, resides in Maumee, Ohio and now has three driving titles under his belt. Ronnie won the dash titles at Northfield Park and Northville Downs in 2013. Ronnie's 2014 total victory tally is 847, which was seven wins better than any other driver in North America. Aaron Merriman (840), George Napolitano Jr. (679), David Palone (640) and Bruce Aldrich Jr. (615) completed the top five drivers (by wins) in the continent. Wrenn began driving in 2008 and has won 2,221 races and purses of $9,006,331. Wrenn's richest win ever came in a $200,000 Ohio Sire Stake Final. His fastest win was aboard Rockin Finish in 1:50.0. Northfield Park's 2014 leading trainer Brian Loney won nine more races than any other Cleveland conditioner. He garnered 89 local victories throughout the year. Barry Langley finished second with 80 wins. Virgil Morgan Jr. (72), Jessica Millner (70) and Calvin Hollar (68) complete the top five Northfield Park trainers for 2014. Brian is originally from Hager Hill, Kentucky and has recently relocated to Northfield, Ohio. He has three children: 14 year-old son Gannun, 10 year-old son Payton and 5 year-old daughter Polly. Loney, 36, has 1,185 career victories and purse earnings of $2,549,704. However, 2014 marks his first dash title. Brian remembers his first training win was with the gelding pacer Stealth Fighter, at Fairmount Park. His favorite horse he has ever cared for is Moe Joe Rack It. Ayers Ratliff

LEBANON, OH. - War Cry Hall made it three in a row in O-Hi-O on Sunday afternoon at Miami Valley by capturing the $16,500 Open Trot. Harness racing driver Josh Sutton urged the winner past Mr Web Page (Chris Page) in the final strides despite a sloppy track caused by steady rainfall throughout the day. Can'tcutthatchip (Jack Dailey) was a fast-closing third in the feature race. Favored Rehab Mountain (Brad Hanners) cut fractions of :28.4, :58.4 and 1:29 before tiring in the late going. RBH Ventures Inc owns War Cry Hall, who earned $99,010 in 2014 before returning to Ohio at the beginning of the year. He has visited the Miami Valley winner's circle on three straight occasions, including two Opens. Leading trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. trains the six-year-old son of Cash Hall. Gregg Keidel  

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

LEBANON, OH. - A shortened field of seven open trotters, reduced by two scratches, went postward over a track dampened by the season's first serious thaw in Sunday's featured $16,500 event. When the battle ended it was War Cry Hall, driven by Josh Sutton, owned by RBH Ventures, Inc. and trained by Virgil Morgan Jr., that prevailed in 1:59.3. The frontstepping winner outlasted a fast-closing Whit with Mischievous Jesse also finishing strong to garner the show dough. It was the second 2015 win for War Cry Hall who stepped into open company after capturing the top conditioned trot a week ago. Finalists were also determined on Sunday in two of the eight "Claim To Fame" series currently being conducted at Miami Valley. In the division for $20,000 claiming horses and geldings, the finalists-in order of earnings in the two preliminary legs-are Blue Fin and Dabestleaderever, who tied for first with a win and a place finish each; Littlebitaclass, Tomitta Bayama, Saulsbrook Astrobo, Rustys No Fool, Ideal Race, Volo and Vincent Vega. If any of the finalist fail to declare, first also-eligible is Big Time Rocks. With five different winners in the five preliminary races, the $25,000 championship next Sunday promises to be a hum-dinger. Finalists for the pacing claiming mares $5000 division will be Bittersweet Best, Dawn Of New Money, Debi's Sign, Luna Hanover, EE Bay, Miss HKB, Charolettes Maggie, She Can Attack and either LCB Sandy or Bonnie's Beach, who tied for the ninth and final spot. There were four different winners in the four preliminary races in this section too, so a competitive $10,000 championship race is also expected. From the Miami Valley Media Department  

LEBANON, OH. - There were no relapses for Rehab Mountain on Sunday as the six-year-old gelding raced "clean as a whistle" to win Miami Valley Raceway's $16,500 Open Trot for the second week in a row.   Driver Brad Hanners, who also trains the winner, settled into a snug pocket behind Celebrity Hercules (Dan Noble) through fractions of :28, :57.3 and 1:26 before angling out at the head of the stretch and passing the pacesetter in the final strides to win by a half-length in 1:55. Mr Web Page (Kayne Kauffman) finished third, Victory Is Coming (Ammon Hershberger) fourth and favored CI's Buckeye (Chris Page) fifth in the full nine-horse field.   The B6 Racing Stable owns Rehab Mountain who now boasts 27 wins and $245,687 in earnings in 99 lifetime starts.   A pair of "Claim To Fame" series opening legs were also contested on the late afternoon Sunday program, with two divisions for $5000 claiming mares and three splits for male $20,000 claimers.   In the mares heats, Debi's Sign (Josh Sutton) and EE Bay (Tyler Smith) came up with identical 1:56.2 triumphs in the $5000 races. The series promises to produce some exciting racing as just three lengths separated the nine mares at the wire in the first split, and all nine in the second split were within six lengths at the finish.   Debi's Sign, sent off at 34-1 odds, closed from seventh at the head of the stretch to nip Luna Hanover (Kayne Kauffman) and She Can Attack (Kyle Ater) and pay $70.40 to win. EE Bay went gate-to-wire as the 2-1 second choice in the betting, holding off Miss HKB (Jeremy Smith) and Bonnie's Beach (Charlie Neff).   Winners in the trio of $12,500 divisions for the $20,000 claimers were Tomitta Bayama (Jeff Nisonger) in 1:53.4, Saulsbrook Astrobo (Kayne Kauffman) in 1:53.3 and Littlebitaclass (Chris Page) in 1:52.3.   Both Tomitta Bayama and Saulsbrook Astrobo used frontstepping style; while Littlebitaclass employed a pocket ride strategy. Tomitta Bayama bested Blue Fin (Dan Noble) and Vincent Vega (Tyler Smith) by just a half-length.   Saulsbrook Astrobo was three-quarters of a length better than Volo (Randy Tharps) with Rusty's No Fool (Greg Grismore) another neck back in the show spot. Littlebitaclass proved a head better than pacesetter Dabestleaderever (Dan Noble), while Fudge (Shawn Barker II), who was claimed from the race, rallied for third.   Racing resumes Wednesday night at Miami Valley when the "Claim To Fame" focus shifts to five divisions of $5000 claiming races for male pacers, plus a pair of divisions for $8000 claiming pacing mares. Post time is 6:30 p.m.   From the Media Department Miami Valley    

LEBANON, OH. - The much-anticipated kickoff to Miami Valley Raceway's second season of harness racing took place Friday night with positive reviews of the many capital improvements to both the grandstand and paddock. The overflow crowd present to welcome back live racing were impressed by the new infield tote board, which features a high-tech video panel, and were overheard complimenting the improved sight lines accomplished by lowering the elevation of all the big screen TVs mounted throughout the grandstand. Horsemen seemed pleased that a number of promised improvements in the massive paddock were completed and made their racing experience more enjoyable. Included in the paddock improvements are gas heating units installed down both aisles, better drainage and more hot water in the bath stalls and installation of four additional TVs. On the track, $99,000 in purses were offered on the 14-race program. Buckeye Thea (Josh Sutton) captured the initial $13,500 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap pace, edging Stucklikeglue (Greg Grismore) and Ella V Horse (Jeff Nisonger) in 1:54.1. Sectionline Yankee prevailed following a frantic three-wide battle for the front during a :26.4 opening panel with Stucklikeglue eventually settling In The Pocket and Muy Caliente falling into third. The top three stayed in order during a relatively pedestrian :29.2 second quarter but longshot Ella V Horse was ranging up first-over with Buckeye Thea in tow in the outer flow. When Ella V Horse cleared prior to reaching the 1:24.4 third stanza it left Buckeye Thea to fend for herself on the outside in the stretch. Stucklikeglue found racing room along the inside in midstretch and the three of them fought tooth and nail to the wire. The winner, owned by Rich Paltani and trained by Steve Carter, paid $16.00. Drivers Tyler Smith and Kayne Kauffman grabbed the early lead in the Miami Valley driver's dash standings on the strength of four wins each on the opening night card. Smith, a 21-year-old native of nearby Washington Court House, visited the winner's circle with trotter P L Halle (1:59.1) in the second, Eloquent Velocity (1:56.2) in the eighth, Hoponit (1:54.4) in the ninth and Metro Shopping (1:54) in the eleventh. Kauffman successes came behind Miss York County (1:56.4) in the third, Over And Out in the seventh, All Terror (1:55.2) in the twelvth and CC's Munchkin (1:56) in the nightcap. Driver Josh Sutton scored a driving triple; while Jeremy Smith had double. Miami Valley races five times a week through May 3. Post time Wednesday through Saturday nights is 6:30 p.m. with a weekly Sunday matinee scheduled for 3:00 p.m. From the Miami Valley Media Department

DAYTON, OH. - Hollywood Dayton Raceway brought the curtain down on its inaugural 57-night harness racing meet on Saturday, crowning Josh Sutton as its first-ever dash champion and Virgil Morgan Jr. as its leading trainer. Sutton captured five races on the closing night card to bring his meet-leading total to 103 triumphs. Dayton Raceway became the ninth different track at which the 32-year-old reinsman has won a dash title. Sutton has captured 2,784 victories in his career and his mounts have earned over $16 million. With 588 wins and a .319 UDRS he is a top ten driver in the 2014 national dash standings. Morgan is no stranger to meet training titles as he has captured twenty straight at Scioto Downs and captured the inaugural training title at nearby Miami Valley Raceway earlier in 2014. He managed 52 trips to the Dayton Raceway winner's circle. His powerful stable has produced 327 victories good for a .365 UTRS rating in 2014. Virgil was the first trainer in history to record 5,000 career training wins, a number which has since grown to 5,378. The stable has produced over $45 million in career earnings for its horse owners. Rockin Finish (Randy Tharps) captured the final $10,000 Open Pace of the Dayton meet, one of three winners from the Morgan Stable on closing night. The five-year-old son of Rocknroll Hanover managed a 1:52.3 neck victory over the sloppy track, topping Valentino (Kayne Kauffman) with iron-tough Lucky Lime (Kyle Ater) picking up the show dough. Gerrie Tucker owns Rockin Finish, who increased his seasonal earnings to $80,000 and his lifetime earnings to nearly $335,000 with the impressive tally. The top trotters at Dayton also lined up for their final $10,000 test on Saturday with Mr Web Page (Jeff Nisonger) emerging as the victor by sticking his nose in front of Celebrity Hercules (Dan Noble) at the wire. Touchmymuscles (Jeremy Smith) closed strongly to garner the show payoff. Helping Hands Stable owns the winning six-year-old son of Muscles Yankee, whose seasonal earnings are now also nearing $80,000 and a career bankroll of $475,000. Jim Arledge Jr. conditions Mr Web Page, who finished his 2014 season with two wins and a second place finish in his last three starts-all in open company. Hollywood Dayton Raceway closed its first season with strong momentum for the future. Each of the final three programs produced record high handles, both on-track and via export simulcast, encouraging signs for harness racing's newest venue.

49 to 64 of 165