Lebanon, OH --- Kayne Kauffman, the leading driver at the final meet at nearby Lebanon Raceway in 2013, is not going to relinquish Southeast Ohio's top reinsman rights without a battle.
Despite the deeper and more talented driver's colony that has descended on the new Miami Valley Raceway, the 35-year-old sulky-sitter vaulted into a tie for third in the dash standings on Wednesday night (March 5) by winning three of the first four races on the program.
Tyler Smith, the 21-year-old phenom who was the youngest driver ever to reach 1,000 wins, leads the standings with 28 wins through 18 nights of the 65-night meet. He is followed by Dan Noble, the North American dash leader in 2012, who has 23. Kauffman and Tony Hall are next with 19 each.
All four grew up in Southeast Ohio and got valuable early lessons at Lebanon, which was appropriately dubbed the "Cradle of Drivers" due to the number of nationally acclaimed drivers who started their careers at that half-mile oval.
Noble captured the fastest race of the night when he scored with My Brother George in 1:54.3 in a $5,000 conditioned pace. The Frank Bellino & Sons-owned gelding, conditioned by Virgil Morgan, Jr., bested Major Marcus (Smith) and Truly The Best (Hall) for his 17th career victory.
Driver Chris Page scored the quickest trotting triumph when he guided Mischievous Jesse to a 1:57.1 tally over Good Friend (Hall) and Kiss Me I'm Loaded (Kyle Ater) in a $5,000 conditioned event. The Ohio-sired squaregaiter, now owned by T C Stables and trained by Erik Jaeck, Jr., has 26 lifetime wins.
Madness in March tournament set to open Saturday
A total of 45 $4,000 claimers dropped into the first elimination round of Miami Valley's Madness in March tournament, set to open this Saturday night. The large response necessitated the use of a preference system outlined in the conditions which rewarded horses and geldings which had already started at Miami Valley with spots, followed by the highest money winners in their most recent five starts.
Four fields of ten will go postward for $4,000 purses on Saturday with the top four official finishers in each race advancing to next week's Sweet 16 round for $5,000 purses.
In the third week of the Miami Valley Madness tournament, the Elite 8 will race for a $6,000 bounty. The Final Four males will advance to the $8,000 Battle of the Sexes championship on March 31 to face the four best females from a tandem tournament which will be conducted the next three Sundays.