The Ohio State Buckeyes won't be crowned national collegiate football champions this season (although they did win the Big Ten title), but that won't stop the harness racing "Buckeyes" at Hollywood Dayton Raceway from trying to assert their dominance.
The field is set for the third annual "Hoosiers vs. Buckeyes" Drivers Challenge to be contested this Saturday night, Dec. 9. Five of Hoosier Park's leading dash winners will make the trip from Anderson, Ind. to Dayton to face the five winningest drivers at the current Hollywood meet.
Representing the Hoosiers, who won last year's second edition of the annual contest to even the score at one win per state, will be Trace Tetrick, Sam Widger, John DeLong, Ricky Macomber and Brandon Bates.
The Ohio squad is comprised of Josh Sutton, Dan Noble, Kayne Kauffman, Tyler Smith and Kyle Ater, who edged Chris Page out for the final spot. Both reinsmen were tied for fifth in the current meet dash derby at the deadline following last Saturday's races with 53 wins and 49 place finishes, thus the tie-breaker became show finishes where Ater prevailed.
The contest is comprised of six races in which all the participants will battle head-to-head, with each squad having odd numbered post positions in half the races and even in the others. Each individual driver's post positions will add up to 33, putting all the participants on approximate equal footing prior to the horses being drawn into the races by the USTA's automated random post positions feature.
The scoring system to be used is heavily weighted for on-the-board finishes, but does allow for valuable points based on fourth through ninth place finishes as well. A winner gets 30 points, followed by 24 for second, 18 for third, then 14-11-8-5-3-1 for the other finishers.
A total of $3000 in prize money is being offered by Hollywood Gaming and the Ohio Harness Horsemens Association. In the first two years, the drivers from both squads agreed to donate the entire pool to charities that provide both warm clothing and Christmas toys to area families in need. Among the 2017 recipients will be Dayton Fire Department Local 136, who provides EMT and ambulance services for every live racing program at Hollywood Dayton, for their Christmas For Kids campaign.
Washington Court House, Ohio, native Tyler Smith, who plied his trade at Hoosier Park and was a member of the "Hoosiers" in last season's contest, returned to Ohio in 2017 and is looking forward to being a "Buckeye" this time around. "I made alot of good friends in Indiana over the last few years, but I've always been a Buckeye at heart," he mused. "I know all the Hoosier drivers very well and hope they have a good time while here, but I want the 'bragging rights' associated with this challenge staying right here where they belong, in OH-IO."