A pair of champions were crowned at Miami Valley Raceway on Wednesday (April 1) night with favoured Smokey Joes Cafe (driven by Randy Tharps) capturing the Omar Hiteman Memorial Series and longshot Big Bear Bow (Kayne Kauffman) prevailing as 'the last man standing' in the three-week Survivor Series.
Lightly raced Smokey Joes Cafe made it four wins in a row, including all three legs of the Hiteman Memorial, by beating Led Schneppelin (Kayne Kauffman) and JDs Profiteer (Ross Leonard) in 1:54. The winner, a five-year-old Lis Mara gelding owned by O. D. L. Robinson, got his act together just at the right time. With just five lifetime starts and one win at the time of nomination, Smokey Joes Cafe made the Hiteman Series his personal playground, winning in every conceivable way over the three week event. In the final, Tharps changed the come-from-behind strategy he employed in the preliminary heats and left alertly with the 2-5 favourite, tripping the beams at the quarter-mile stations in :27.1, :55.4 and 1:24.3 before sealing the deal with a :29.2 final panel.
Conditions for the Hiteman were non-winners of two pari-mutuel races or $15,000 lifetime at time of nomination. Omar Hiteman was honoured as one of nine “Lebanon Legends” with series named in their memory this season at Miami Valley. He was instrumental in giving a host of current southwest Ohio horsemen their starts and early lessons in the business.
The Survivor Series started with 32 horses who made their most recent starts as $5,000 claimers or less. The field was whittled to two 10-horse races for the second elimination round; and resulted in one 10-horse championship field of survivors for the $10,000 final.
Big Bear Bow (Kayne Kauffman) barely survived each of the first two rounds with fifth-place finishes, but saved his very best for last to become the 12-1 upset winner. Kauffman settled near the rear early as a handful of hopefuls contested quick early fractions. Following a :26.1 first quarter and :55.3 half, Big Bear Bow was guided into the outer flow with favoured Martydaonemanparty (Jeremy Smith), a winner in the first two rounds, directly in front of him. With the outer flow advancing steadily around the final turn, Martydaonemanparty was swung three-wide and Big Bear Bow four-wide for the stretch drive following a 1:24.4 three-quarter clocking. In the end, Big Bear Bow got by Martydaonemanparty, with Hay Goodlooking (Tyler Smith) up for third. The 1:53.4 championship mile was the winner’s best ever. The six-year-old Sportsmaster gelding is owned by trainer Eddie Poling and his partner James Martin.
Racing resumes Thursday night when the feature will be the $10,000 George ‘Red’ Owens Memorial Series championship.
(Miami Valley Raceway)