Lebanon, OH – A jammed leader board atop the Omar Hiteman Memorial Series standings at Miami Valley Raceway makes for an interesting championship when the top nine money winners gather on Monday (Feb. 24) for the $20,000 final. The series commenced with 27 nominees who were all non-winners of two pari-mutuel races or $20,000 lifetime.
The final preliminary leg was contested in two $12,000 divisions on Monday (Feb. 17) afternoon with Friday Night Blues and Sunshine’s Finest each getting their initial wins in the series and securing spots in next week’s ‘big dance.’
Friday Night Blues (Cam McCown) scored as the favorite over longshot Fast Track (John DeLong) and Big Bank Hank (LeWayne Miller). The 4-year-old altered son of Ohio stallion Pet Rock won ten races in 2019, but all at county fairs. After an uneventful month to start the 2020 season at Woodbine Mohawk Raceway, he was returned to Ohio and the care of Jessica McCown for the Hiteman late closer.
Sunshine’s Finest (Brett Miller) pulled a mild upset in the second split, topping favored Fishin For Apples (DeLong) and Velocity Komodo (Mark Evers) in 1:53.2. Owned by Thestable Sunshinesfinest, the winning 4-year-old son of Sunshine Beach also started the current campaign at Woodbine Mohawk before being shipped south to the Virgil Morgan Jr. Stable for this series.
The nine finalists for the Hiteman Memorial, based on series earnings, will be Fishin For Apples, Sunshine’s Finest, Friday Night Blues, Captain Sunshine, American Trademark, Fast Track, E R Hotshot, Farmers Only and Spoiled Rockin.
The popular Survivor Series for male $5,000 claiming pacers staged its final elimination round on Monday as well. The series started with 76 horses in eight divisions, was whittled to 40 in four divisions in Round 2, and reduced to ten finalists from a pair of Round 3 elimination heats. Purses in the first three elimination rounds escalated from $5000 to $6000 to $7500, while the final next Monday (Feb. 24) will chase a $20,000 bounty.
Longshot Bettor Win (LeWayne Miller, 1:56, $40.60) and favored Hit And Giggle A (Brett Miller, 1:55.2, $6.40) managed narrow decisions in the final preliminary heats. The remaining finalists hoping to be crowned the King of the Bottom Claimers will be Amasa Al, Pence Hanover, Latenite Trick, River’s Crest, I Am Will, A J Corbelli, Khan Blue Chip and Creighton Hanover.