After three legs, all at different distances, The First Step won the $25,000 championship of the Bill Dailey Memorial Medley at Miami Valley on Saturday (Feb. 20).
Making a move to the top just after the :28.4 first quarter proved to be the right decision for The First Step, as the winner was able to control the remaining fractions of :57.1, 1:26.2 and 1:54.3 before tacking on a final :28.1 panel to score in 2:22.4. The clocking was three seconds off the world record (2:19.4) established by Boulder Creek on Nov. 27, 2006 at Dover Downs, but was admirable considering it is mid-February and the temperature was 28 degrees.
Shagnwiththedragon finished second and Snowballs Romeo third in the added-distance event.
The First Step, shipped in by the Burke Brigade to Miami Valley from Yonkers for the Dailey Series, was fourth in the initial five-eighths mile dash, then followed up with a win in 1:51.3 at the traditional mile. The five-year-old Betterthancheddar gelding now has 13 wins and $161,719 in earnings. Chris Page drove the winner.
The medley annually honours the memory of Bill Dailey, one of the top trainer-drivers in Ohio harness history who died way to soon at age 57 in 2018. Dailey produced six Ohio Triple Crown winners, was named Ohio Trainer of the Year on four occasions, and remarkably was able to win at least one Ohio Sires Stakes champion in seven of the eight divisions for two- and three-year-olds.
The weekly $22,000 Open Handicap pace was won by General Dolan in come-from-behind fashion with Brandon “Big Ticket” Bates in tow. The 1:52.2 score resulted in a $34.80 mutuel. Favourites GD Western Joe, Fan Of Terror and Voracity were battling for the lead before General Dolan flew bye on the outside, but were next to cross the line.
While General Dolan did take a 1:49.3 record at Miami Valley in 2020, he had been struggling to regain his form in high condition races until recently. The win was the 19th in 101 starts and increased his earnings to $277,425. The six-year-old by Rockin Image is owned by John and Robert Esposito.
Three races after scoring the upset in the Open, driver Bates was back in the winner’s circle with Beach Pro, a $15,000 claimer the paid $25.80 for the winning 1:53.2 mile.
Miami Valley will race the next four afternoons (Sunday through Wednesday) will 2:05 p.m. (EST) post times each day.
(Miami Valley Raceway)