Burke/Page win 5; OHSS champ Action Uncle romps in Scioto qualifiers
May 16, 2020
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Scioto Downs had their test run on Saturday in the form of 16 qualifying events in preparation for their pari-mutuel opening on May 22--their 62nd season.
With Eldorado Resorts Senior Vice-President of Racing Joe Morris and Racing Secretary Jason Roth on hand to greet horsemen and women at the stable gate, the entry box was bursting with enthusiasm in the form of over 140 entries.
Many of the "kingpins" in the sport, including leading trainer Ron Burke and top dash winner Aaron Merriman were on hand in competition and the appropriately named track superintendent Phillip Good had the famed five-eighths mile oval lightning fast in welcoming all back to Ohio.
Stressing the quality of the horseflesh appearing this day, the first of the 16 qualifying events featured a million dollar field of trotters--actually a $2.2 million dollar field--which went to Workinitonbroadway, handled by Chris Page for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi in 1:54.3, equaling his lifetime best performance.Page and Burke teamed up together for five wins on the afternoon card.Ohio Sires Stakes champ Action Uncle has a successful 3-year-old debut as he won easily in 1:56.3. The son of Uncle Peter was driven by Brett Miller for trainer Virgil Morgan Jr.Miller and Morgan also teamed up to score with the 3-year-old filly trotter Uncle Peter's Love, also a winner on the Ohio Sires Stakes circuit last year. The daughter of Uncle Peter won in 1:56.1.
The 11th qualifying event of the day consisted of a field of nine with over $3 million in career bounty and many of the elite drivers in the sport and it was a 26 year-old "rookie," Devon Tharps, who stole the show with General Dolan, a 5-year-old altered son of Rockin Image trained by Robert Phillips for breeders-owners John and Robert Esposito.
Young Tharps sent General Dolan to the front at the opening marker and went on the lead the rest of the journey to score in 1:52.3, the fastest mile of the afternoon.
Tharps began his career in the sport in 2019 and is looking for his first lifetime pari-mutuel win after 14 career trips back of the starting gate.
In summing up the day, Merriman remarked, "I thought the track was great. I don't think you could've asked for a better surface." He also lauded the efforts of Morris, Roth and Gabe Prewitt, who spent valuable time with the horsemen upon arrival and in the paddock.
A live stream of the qualifiers was shown on the OHHA Facebook pace and replays will be available on "trotandpacemarketing.com."
Post time time for the May 22 opener is 6:30 p.m. (with files from Scioto)