The fields are set for a quartet of $50,000 Scarlet & Gray Invitational races at Miami Valley Raceway on Friday and Saturday. Many of the very best Ohio-sired 3-year-olds, divided by sex and gait, will be squaring off with the fillies going postward on Friday night and the colts on Saturday. In addition, all four Ohio Sires Stakes 2-year-old champions accepted invitations to take on the top three finishers in the recently completed James K. Hackett Memorial championships, as well as other sophomore pacers and trotters in fine recent form.
The trotting fillies contingent includes returning OSS champ Impinktoo, freshman Grand Circuit winner Looking For Zelda and the trio of Hackett finalists that finished a neck apart at the wire—Red Storm, Spunky Bottom Girl and Non Smoker. Impinktoo, a half-sister to 2015 Hambletonian winner Pinkman, has earned $170,790 in her young career—the majority coming as the winner’s share of the $250,000 OSS final last September.
Looking For Zelda entered that final undefeated in the four preliminary legs, but settled for runner-up in the most lucrative tilt before returning to the winner's circle in divisions of the Simpson Stake and the International Stallion Stake. She banked $228,675 in her freshman season.
Red Storm was ultra impressive in sweeping her elimination and the final of the Hackett, but Spunky Bottom Girl and Non Smoker came from far back in the early going to make the final into a thrilling stretch drive with a photo finish. Upset minded Sesame, Kellie’s MVP and Tickle My Fancy will round out the field in the evening’s eighth race.
Two races later the pacing fillies will face the gate with defending OSS champ Bad Girls Rule and 2017 Ohio Breeders Championship winner Baron Remy squaring off against seven rivals. Bad Girls Rule, who has already made $182,566 in bank deposits, found tough sledding in her initial 2018 start when she was parked out well past the quarter-pole and failed to advance to the final, although still beaten only 2 1/2 lengths. With any check in the Scarlet & Gray Baron Remy will eclipse the $100,000 earnings plateau.
It is quite possible, however, that Hackett winner Up Front Flor Ida may be sent off as the betting favorite in this race. Although she has just four wins in 10 starts thus far, her 1:52.4 clocking in the Hackett final established a new Miami Valley track record for sophomore pacing fillies. Second and third place finishers Kay Again and Big Bad Goldie both paced in 1:53, which would have equaled the old standard. The elite grouping for this $50,000 Scarlet & Gray Invitational also includes Grant Me This, Ask Me If I Care, Auntmilly’smartini and Just Zip It, each capable of an upset.
On Saturday night the trotting colts division will feature the return to the races of Mission Accepted, the 2-year-old champion who earned $190,800 off a pair of impressive qualifiers. He will need to be in fine form to fend off Hackett champion Pass The Vape, who lead Sultan Of Cash and Sand Cash to the wire in 1:57.3 in the recent final. Mission Accepted was also an Ohio Breeders Championship divisional winner at the Delaware County Fairgrounds last fall, as was Sultan Of Cash. Pass The Vape won two out of four races as a 2-year-old, both after breaking stride at county fairs. He has been flawless in sweeping an elimination and the final of his Hackett in his first two 2018 efforts.
Banker Twentyfive, MVP Luke, In My Dreams, Countthebenjamins and Doc Mossies Legacy are all eager to "tackle the big boys," and prove that they can go with them—maybe even prove that they are one of them in this race.
In what Miami Valley Raceway's handicapper Pacey (The Wizard) Mindlin has called "The Race Of The Meet," Ohio’s best pacing colts will congregate for Saturday’s 12th race. Freshman champ Seeing Eye Single enters off a single impressive 1:51.4 qualifier at The Meadowlands. His $209,355 bankroll is tops in the field, but Rockathon has earned $131,212 and won a conditioned race last Saturday in 1:51.4.
The top three Hackett final finishers will also have much to say about the outcome of this showdown. Sectionline Bigry has won four of five early in 2018 and scored from the eight-hole in 1:51.1 in the Hackett. Bounding Dragon was lapped on to the winner at the wire and show finisher Dragonology wasn’t far behind. Upset-minded in this $50,000 fray will be Rockn Motion, Stark Hanover, Harambe Deo and Oberlin.
The Scarlet & Gray Invitationals, the latest innovation at Miami Valley, allows Ohio-bred horses the ability to race for lucrative purses three straight times early in the year as well as close out Miami Valley Raceway's meet in style. Last week the best Buckeye-breds raced for $40,000 in the Hackett, this week $50,000 in the Scarlet & Gray and next weekend $40,000 or more in the first leg of the Ohio Sires Stakes. (Miami Valley)