Amarettigone and Keene Santanna stamped themselves as the early favorites in the Herb Coven Jr. Memorial late closing series by virtue of first leg victories on Friday night at Miami Valley Raceway.
Driver Tyler Smith guided favored Amarettigone to a gate-to-wire triumph in the first of the two $12,000 divisions, stopping the clock in 1:55.1 in front of Out Of Sight (Lewayne Miller) and Grandrosa (Chris Page). Trent Stohler trains the winning daughter of Real Desire for himself and partners Benjamin and Tim Graber.
The Coven Memorial, for pacing mares that are non-winners of four pari-mutuels or $40,000 lifetime, is one of nine annual events that comprise the "Lebanon Legends Series."
Keene Santanna prevailed from the second tier in the full 10-horse field second division. Driver Kyle Ater, who won four of the first seven races on the Friday program, adeptly weaved his way through traffic to nail Canadian Rocker (Mike Peterson) in the final strides of the 1:55.2 mile. National dash champion Aaron Merriman, who drives regularly on the Miami Valley Friday night card, grabbed the show dough with Gorgeous Ranger.
William and Elizabeth Keene along with partner Douglas Bartley own and bred Keene Santanna, who is trained by James Short.
A second leg of the Coven Memorial will be contested next Friday night, March 9, with a $22,500 final going postward on March 16. (Miami Valley)