It seems to be all or nothing for Buckeye Thea of late. The talented 6-year-old Dave Panlone mare won her third Fillies & Mares Open Pace in her last seven tries on Friday night (February 12), beating favored Native Dream (John DeLong) and American Girl (Trace Tetrick) in 1:54.1 despite frigid weather and howling winter winds.
On the other four occasions, however, the Steve Carter trainee has failed to pick up a check. Still Buckeye Thea has picked up $20,000 already this season and is closing in rapidly on $200,000 in career earnings for owner Richard Paltani. Leading driver Josh Sutton was in the sulky for the first time since the winner's last victory three weeks ago.
Buckeye Thea was content to sit mid-pack in the early going as the eventual place and show finishers mixed it up on the front end. Shortly after the field reached the first quarter station in :28.1, though, Sutton confidently pulled first-up and raced in that position through middle fractions of :56.2 and 1:24.4. When the weather conditions began to take their toll on the frontrunners, Buckeye Thea stayed strong and pulled away to a length victory at the end of the stretch.
The $20,000 feature race was the middle leg of the 50-cent Lucky Pick 5 which was solved by two patrons—each receiving over $1200 for their half-a-dollar investment. The winners of the five legs, in order, were Game Of Dreamers ($6.00), Sand Swan ($32.80), Buckeye Thea ($15.60), Canttakeitwithyou ($6.80) and CI's Buckeye ($5.00). The Lucky Numbers were 6-4-3-5-2. The wager features an industry-low 12% takeout. (Miami Valley)