Making a strong bid to be named 2021 Horse of the Year at Miami Valley, Pace Baby Pace won Friday’s $25,000 Mares Open Pace for the sixth time in 11 tries.
Using the winner’s usual come-from-behind tactic, Chris Page managed to reach the lead at the head of the stretch with Pace Baby Pace and then held off a late charge by Checks On The Way in 1:52. Pansys Image was also flying at the finish while settling for the show spot.
For Page, the win was his 100th at the current Miami Valley meet. For trainer Ron Burke, the win was number 36 at Miami Valley this year as he attempts to overcome Tyler George’s meet leading 39 victories before the curtain comes down on May 3.
A race earlier on the program, driver Tyler Smith became the fifth Miami Valley reinsman to crack the $1 million purse earnings plateau. Five of the top 13 money-earning drivers in North American have been Miami Valley regulars since early January. Trace Tetrick was the first to surpass $1 million and currently leads the sport in the category. Other southwest Ohio stalwarts are Dan Noble (2nd nationally), Brett Miller (6th), Chris Page (7th) and Smith (13th).
Also on Friday, driver-trainer Bruce Sturgeon guided King Klueber to his first win in just his second lifetime start. The three-year-old son of Allamerican Native, owned by Sturgeon and Karen Heaberlin, was impressive triumphing in 1:52.4 over Sweet Oliver (Ed Hennessey) and Serious Miki (Kayne Kauffman).
Although Sturgeon has won over 900 races and earned over $3 million in his sulky career, the victory was the first since 2017 for the 59-year-old driver.
Racing resumes Saturday (April 10) at Miami Valley featuring a showdown between Charlie May and Heart Of Chewbacca in the second elimination division of the annual James K. Hackett Memorial late closer. The two colts finished one-two in the $300,000 Ohio Sires Stakes championship for two-year-olds last season and both have announced intentions to venture outside Ohio to look for national acclaim when their scheduling allows this year.
(Miami Valley Raceway)