Little Rocket Man Upsets In Battle Of Lake Erie

Little Rocket Man
Published: June 9, 2024 01:27 am EDT

As the old saying goes, "the third time's the charm," and for Little Rocket Man, the third trip to the $273,973 Battle of Lake Erie was a winning one. He scored an impressive upset victory on Saturday, June 8 at MGM Northfield Park.

Carbine (Austin Hanners) was hustled off the wings, clearing rivals entering the first turn. Bythemissal (Chris Page) was left parked by Linedrive Hanover (Aaron Merriman). As the field entered the clubhouse turn, Desperate Man (Matt Kakaley) jumped off stride, completely changing the dynamic of the race.

Entering the backstretch, Bythemissal powered past Carbine to take over before a soft :27 first quarter. As the field entered the stretch the first time, Little Rocket Man (Jeremy Smith) looked like he wanted to come to the outside, but bided his time, waiting on Coaches Corner (Jason Bartlett) to step off the pylons in order to do some of the heavy lifting.

With the outer flow developing, Merriman tipped Linedrive Hanover to the outside first over to take a shot at the two-time Ohio Horse of the Year. However, Bythemissal continued to cruise on the front end past the half in :55.2.

Entering the backstretch, Bythemissal continued to fend off all challengers, but at three-quarters in 1:23, the race was on, with Page looking over his shoulder to a host of pursuers.

As they entered the far turn, Coaches Corner tipped off cover three-wide, bringing Little Rocket Man, who got the perfect trip, with him. Pocket-sitting Carbine was stacked up around the far turn behind a tiring Bythemissal, with Little Rocket Man roaring four-wide turning for home.

"That four-wide move around the last turn is very difficult," said jubilant trainer Ken Rucker. "He's got a heart of gold. He wants to win every race he is in."

Through the stretch, Bythemissal gave way, with Little Rocket Man, dismissed at 20-1, storming down the centre of the racetrack in upset fashion by a half length in 1:52.4.

The eight-year-old son of Rockin Image is owned by Russell E. Beeman and Jack A. Freeman. It was the 59th victory for the gelding and brought his earnings to $1,334,876.

"Everything I anticipated to happen in the race didn't happen," said winning driver Smith. "My horse just overcame it. At the half, I thought if I could be third or fourth, it would be great, but going into the last turn, my confidence swelled. He never lets me down."

Why Not Now was pulled up before three-quarters. "He’s okay," said trainer Todd Luther. "The vet ran some fluids through him and we will take him home for further examination."

Racing For Three made it four-for-four over the Home of the Flying Turns with a power-packed victory in the $102,740 MGM Buckeye Distaff.

Soft Spot (Jason Bartlett) was put into play early, clearing foes entering the first turn, with Racing For Three (Trevor Smith) taking up pocket position and Hey Hey Mama (Wrenn) finding a seat in third.

Soft Spot led the field in the straight alignment past an uncontested quarter of :27.3. Entering the stretch for the first time, Do It Like Bobbi (Austin Hanners), who was parked from the start, engaged Soft Spot, but Bartlett continued controlling the tempo, with the field getting to the half in :57.

Bartlett sped to three-quarters in 1:24.4, asking his mare for a little more entering the far turn. Ground-saving Racing For Three exploded around the final turn, working past Soft Spot, winning by three-quarters of a length in 1:54.

"We got lucky coming into the last turn, she likes to drift out a little bit, so when she came out of the pocket, I was very happy," said Smith. "She's such a fun horse to drive."

Owned by Carlo Racing LLC and C2G Stable, the four-year-old by Western Terror pushed her career earnings to $283,329.

Earlier on the Saturday card, a month off was no problem for Ohio freshmen trotting champion Tennessee Tom. The two-year-old son of Long Tom scored an impressive victory in the $136,986 Ohio Sires Stakes for three-year-old colt and gelding trotters.

Tennessee Tom (Chris Page) looked like he might be up against it when they were going to the half with the pacesetting favourite Spaaaanzano setting comfortable fractions of :28.1 and :57.3.

Page couldn’t wait any longer, as the flow wasn’t developing. He pulled just past the half and worked on the rim uncovered. Tennessee Tom gained moderately and got to the leader's wheel right as they passed three-quarters in 1:26.1.

Around the far turn, he continued gaining ground before putting his nose in front with an eighth of a mile to go. Under very minimal urging, Tennessee Tom went on to win in 1:55. Spaaaanzano (Aaron Merriman) was able to hold on to the place position as pocket-sitting Royal Precedent (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) wasn’t able to gain and finished third.

His eighth career win pushes Tennessee Tom to $631,289 in career earnings. Three-for-three on the year, Tennessee Tom is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Hatfield Stables and Knox Services.

The Battle of Lake Erie card also featured the Buckeye Stallion Series, in which Dancin Moon and What An Ocean View were repeat winners during second leg action.

In the fourth of six $27,397 divisions, Jeremy Smith took Dancin Moon to the lead and never looked back, cruising to an easy four-length win 1:54.1.  It was the fourth win in eight seasonal starts for the son of Dancin Yankee, who is trained by Herman Hagerman and owned by Hagerman Racing, Charles Reeve and Melinda Herschberger. First-leg winner Wireless Caller was second, with Fancy Feet third.

What An Ocean View, with Page aboard, also had an easy time as they won the fifth division. It was the second Stallion Series win of the night for Page. What An Ocean View fired off the gate from the seventh post position, taking the lead at the quarter-pole and rolling to a four-length victory in 1:56. What An Ocean View has hit the board in seven of nine starts this year with three wins. He is trained by Burke and owned by Burke Racing Stable, Knox Services, RAS Racing and J&T Silva – Purnell & Libby. Sons of Downbytheseaside took the top three spots, with Seaside Delight second and Seasideescape third.

In the first division of the night, Leaving A Legend sat fourth through the first half-mile before following first-leg winner Attention Span up the backstretch. Attention Span with Brett Miller grabbed the lead at the three-quarter pole but couldn’t shake Leaving A Legend. Turning for home, the two duelled down the stretch, with Leaving A Legend surging to win by a length in 1:54.4. It was the first win of the year from seven starts for the son of Bit Of A Legend A, who is trained by Kayne Kauffman and owned by Legends Racing. Attention Span finished second, with Legendary Noble third.

In the second division, Ronnie Wrenn Jr. took favourite High On The Hill to the lead and went wire-to-wire, winning by two lengths in 1:53.4. It was the third win in six starts this year for the Nob Hill High gelding. Brian Brown trains High On The Hill, who is owned by Kirk Nichols, Daniel Wozniak, VIP Internet Stable and Stephen Burns. Cruiser With Class finished second with Twenty Five finishing third.

In the third division, Page won his first Buckeye Stallion Series race of the night as he piloted Well Thats Marky to victory for trainer Logan Rowe. Well Thats Marky made his move going three-wide up the backstretch.  Around the final turn, Well Thats Marky shot to the lead and held on at the wire to win by a length in 1:55. It was the first win of the year for Well Thats Marky, who is owned by Matt Rowe. Fondsea finished second with Rainrock was third.

In the final division of the night, My Legend with Wrenn shot down the passing lane and reeled in Magic By The Sea to win by a length in 1:54.1, a new lifetime mark. John Ackley trains the son of Bit Of A Legend N, who earned his first win in seven seasonal starts, for owners CT Stables and Thomas Cave. Bang Bang Bang finished third.

Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association Charity Night Benefits Nine Charities

The perfect match between charity and horse was at the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association’s charity night on Saturday at MGM Northfield Park. By The Dawn’s Early Light, a charity that makes positive impacts and helps to bring normalcy to a foster child’s life that is directly affected by addiction, was teamed with Clearlydreamy, whose owner has 11 adopted siblings, all stemming from foster care, took home the top prize of $13,699 from the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association.  A total of nine charities benefitted from the generosity of Ohio horsepeople.

The charities participating in the event were paired with a horse in the Saturday’s sixth race. Each charity received a donation from the Ohio association for participating, with the top three finishers receiving larger donations. First place received $13,699, second place received $6,849, and third place $4,110.  All other finishers received $2,740 donations.

Clearlydreamy, with Dan Noble, took the pocket trip behind The Dragon Queen and Jeremy Smith.  At the top of the stretch, Noble swung Clearlydreamy wide and started the charge down the lane, getting up at the wire to win by a neck in 1:55.2.

John Conaway represented By The Dawn’s Early in the winner’s circle, cheering on Clearlydreamy.  When the four-year-old mare crossed the finish line, Conaway jumped up on the wall of the winner’s circle to hug charity founder Dawn Scherma.

“I am in tears and still in shock,” said Scherma. “We have 3,800 children on our roster, and this will do so much to help them with birthday presents, Christmas presents, diapers and hygiene items.”

Scherma said the donation will also help assist children who will be aging out of the foster care program.

Clearlydreamy's part owner Rod Allums Jr. said it was a weird coincidence they were paired with By The Dawn’s Early Light.  

“My mom was beyond ecstatic that our horse ended up getting this charity. I have 11 adopted siblings all stemming from foster care; there are 18 of us in total.”  

Allums said the adopted and foster kids range in age from seven months to 20 years old. 

Allums' mother Sheila Mobus said it was ironic that the horse was teamed with this charity and then to have it win was even better. Mobus said fostering the children is so rewarding.

“I get to see the children’s happy faces all the time. They are great kids in bad situations and if more people fostered children, we would have less of this.”

The Dragon Queen finished second for the Akron Canton Food Bank while Do Me Better with Ronnie Wrenn Jr. finished third for the Geauga County Library Foundation. The other charities represented were the First Tee Cleveland, Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary, Kent State University Geauga and Twinsburg Academic Center, The Emergency Assistance Center, The LCADA Way and Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry.

A total of $41,096 was donated to the charities by the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association.

MGM Northfield Park returns with live racing on Sunday, June 9 at 6: p.m. Buckeye Stallion Series action resumes on Wednesday, June 12 at Northfield when sophomore filly trotters take the track.

(With files from Northfield Park and Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association)

Have something to say about this? Log in or create an account to post a comment.