Red Storm, dispatched as the betting favorite based on an impressive elimination win last week and an inside post draw, prevailed in the first-ever $40,000 James K. Hackett Memorial championship for Ohio-sired 3-year-old trotting fillies held at Miami Valley Raceway on Monday.
Although the Hackett Memorial is one of the longest continuous events in Ohio harness racing, pre-dating even the Ohio Sires Stakes when it started in 1971, it has always featured pacers only until this year. Most of the best sophomore trotting colts in the Buckeye state will assemble Tuesday afternoon for their $40,000 final.
Red Storm withstood not only the challenge of a talented field of finalists -- the top four finishers all got the identical time with a scant neck separating each one at the wire -- but also the elements as a sudden snow squall accompanied by high winds descended on the track minutes before post time.
Impinktoo, last year’s 2-year-old Ohio Sires Stakes champion, was first away from the gate for driver Peter Wrenn, reaching the quarter-mile station in :28.3. After she got a relative breather to the :57.4 halfway point, Red Storm (Aaron Merriman) made a bold brush to the front before the three-quarters was reached in 1:26.2. As the field fanned out coming off the final bend, a thrilling cavalry charge ensued to the finish line.
Longshot Spunky Bottom Girl (Tyler Smith) got up for second followed by Non Smoker (Dan Noble) and California Love (Trace Tetrick). All four fillies were timed in 1:57.4.
Sandra Burnett bred and is still the owner of Red Storm, who banked $109,975 in 2017 on the basis of a 3-2-1 scorecard in just seven starts. The chestnut daughter of Stormin Normand has learned all her early lessons from highly regarded trotting trainer Chris Beaver.
The top three finishers in each Hackett final, as well as the defending Ohio Sires Stakes freshman champion (if qualified), receive automatic bids to one of the four $50,000 Scarlet & Gray Invitationals that Miami Valley will present on Friday, April 27, for fillies and Saturday, April 28, for colts. Other owners and trainers with good Ohio-breds worthy of consideration should contact Race Secretary Gregg Keidel or enter online in hopes of receiving an invitation to take one of the remaining spots on the Scarlet & Gray starting gate. (Miami Valley)