Rock Me Baby in mild upset at Miami Valley
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Content to sit fourth in the early going as favored American Girl (Aaron Merriman) posted fractions of :27.1 and :56.1, Miller moved Rock Me Baby to the outside to challenge the leader by the 1:24 three-quarter station. Closing in a :28.3 final panel, the winner passed American Girl halfway down the lane and then held off fast-closing runner-up Allbeastnobeauty (Dan Noble) at the wire. The 1:52.3 triumph was the second straight in the new year for Rock Me Baby, who won a top conditioned pace a week ago.
The feature race victory was the third on the night for Miller, who recently finished second in the $25,000 North America Drivers Championship at Miami Valley, and plans to make the track his home base for the next four months.
Rock Me Baby is trained by Virgil Morgan Jr. and owned by the partnership of Carl Howard, Carl Atley, Milt Leeman and Karen Witt.
Trace Tetrick and Dan Noble, who won the NADC just days ago, shared driving laurels as each scored a grand slam (four wins) on the 14-race program.
The Friday night card also included four divisions of the first leg of a Claim To Fame late-closing series for $12,500 male claimers. A dozen horses (three from each race) changed hands via the claim box. Winners of the $12,500 divisions were Stonehouse Adam (1:53, Trace Tetrick), RHP (1:51.2, Dan Noble), Mosee Terror (1:52.2, Noble) and Rock Of The Ages (1:52.4, John DeLong). (Miami Valley)