Lebanon, OH — An outstanding Saturday (Feb. 29) card at Miami Valley Raceway, featuring total purses in excess of $200,000, included a $25,000 Open I Pace, a $20,000 Open II Pace and three divisions of the first leg of the George Williams Memorial Series. But the biggest surprise came in an $18,000 high conditioned event when General Dolan (Sam Widger) shocked everyone with the first sub-1:50 mile before the calendar turns to March in the seven year history of the five-eighths-mile track.
After being nabbed at the wire in the same class last week, Widger and General Dolan were on a mission to avoid a repeat occurrence. The pair sped to the early lead in :26.3, despite frigid 27 degree temperatures, and never backed off until reaching the wire an open length winner in 1:49.3.
It was just the 11th lifetime win for General Dolan, a 5-year-old son of Rockin Image, and increased his career bankroll to $207,865. Owned and bred by John and Robert Esposito, the quick clocking also lowered the winner’s best of 1:50, taken at Harrah’s Hoosier Park as a 3-year-old.
Hallie’s Comet (Chris Page) displayed a late burst to finish second and favored Granite (Josh Sutton), who loomed first up on the outside much of the way, held for third.
The featured Open I also produced a surprise result when longshot Big Bad Mike (Trevor Smith) scored in 1:50.3 at odds of 14-1.
Part of a three-way drag race to the first quarter pole, Smith ultimately gave way to Shagnwiththedragon (Dan Noble) as the timer flashed :26. Shortly thereafter, Fan Of Terror (John DeLong) rushed up to challenge the leader through middle fractions of :54.2 and 1:21.4.
When the leader finally faltered halfway down the lane, Big Bad Mike found a seam and became part of a cavalry charge to the wire. He collared game runner-up Fan Of Terror in the final strides and My Hero Ron (Tyler Smith) closed sharply to grab the show spot.
Deborah Swartz conditions Big Bad Mike, a 6-year-old gelding by Big Bad John, for owners Scott Albaugh and Bradley Delaney.
The Open II was not quite as dramatic with heavily favored GD Western Joe (Page) topping Lifewithjohn (Ricky Macomber Jr.) and Royale Rose (Tyler Smith) in 1:51. No stranger to winning, the Ron Burke trainee now sports 19 lifetime wins and $459,121 in earnings.
The son of Real Desire watched the first quarter as the leaders put up a pedestrian :28 panel, but rushed to the lead shortly thereafter and avoided any tense moments by tacking middle fractions of :56.2 and 1:23.2 on the board before speeding home in 1:51.
The trio of winners in first leg George Williams Memorial action were Diesel Accelerator (Kyle Ater) in 1:53.2, Dashing To Da Wire (Brett Miller) in 1:52.3 and Gold Digger King (Miller) in 1:52.2.
The Williams will definitely be a contentious three week long series as a host of other very nice 4-year-olds are nominees.