BEAVERCREEK — Dan Noble will drive 3-year-old champion gelding Ocean Rock in the $176,500 Dayton Pacing Derby tonight.
The race is one of three Derby Races to be contested at Dayton Raceway at Hollywood Gaming.
Ocean Rock, with Noble — a Beavercreek resident — in the sulky, paced the mile in 1:48.4 on the undercard of last week’s Little Brown Jug at Delaware County Fairgrounds. That time marks a world record for 3-year-old geldings racing on a half mile track.
“Well, we figured he is going to be 4 in a couple of months, so while the weather is good, it’s right here in our backyard, why not give him a good test,” Noble said. “He’s an athlete. He meets all the requirements and he deserves to be in there. The last couple of races he’s been on the lead, but he has proven he can come from off the pace too. It might be his last race of the year, but we will sure be looking for some big things next year too.”
“I know Danny is extremely high on him,” said Gregg Keidel, Dayton Raceway’s racing secretary. “He doesn’t like to race horses where he doesn’t think he has a good chance (to win).”
“It is unusual for a 3-year-old to take on the older Open Class racers,” Keidel added. “He will be the first ever to race in the Dayton Derby in its seven year history. We changed the conditions last year to allow 3-year-olds to enter, just in case a horse like this might come along. And sure he enough, he came along.”
Keidel noted that Bettor’s Wish, an 8-year-old pacer with earnings over 2 million dollars, was assigned the 5/2 morning line favorite for the race. Ocean Rock opens at 8/1, which is the sixth best line among the nine pacers. Final odds will be determined by the wagering public in the pari-mutuel pool.
Trained by Noble’s wife, Christi, the 2019 Ohio Sire Stakes Winner runs for owner Sandra Burnett of Wilmington. Ocean Rock has earned just over $363,000 in the short 2020 season. He has six wins, two seconds and a third in his nine career starts.
Eight other Open Class horses are entered into the Dayton Pacing Derby, which will be the 12th race on a banner card. Entries include horses from as far away as Meadowlands Raceway in New Jersey, Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and Woodbine in Toronto, the Red Mile in Lexington and Delaware Raceway. Driver’s include a who’s who among American Racers. Scheduled to join former national champ Noble are Yannick Gingras, Dexter Dunn, Tim Tetrick and Brian Sears, all among the country’s elite.
Other Grand Circuit Stakes races on Saturday will include the Dayton Trotting Derby and the Dayton Distaff Pacing Derby, both with $175,000 purses. Additionally, the card includes the Open Trot and The Mares Open Pace consolation races with minimum purses of $25,000 each, and eight Buckeye Stallion Series Championship races. Post Time is 6:15.
Noble will drive in six contests and “has one in the Mares Open Pace, one in the special open and a few in the Buckeye Stallion races.”
The Noble’s home stable is located at the Greene County Fairgrounds. They keep from 20 to 30 stalls with a mixed group of younger milers as well as trotters and pacers claimed from other races, a common practice in the industry.
Harness racing features standardbred horses, pulling a sulky and driver, generally over a mile circuit. The horses must maintain a specific gait or stride, either pacing or trotting to be competitive in the field. Pacers move right-side then left-side legs in unison, while trotters move opposite front and back legs to maintain the condition.
It is great to have some local flavor in the derby fields,” said Jason Bluhm, director of racing for Dayton Raceway. “You don’t always get that because we are talking about the best of the best here. And the Buckeye Stallion series finals for 2 and 3-year olds are mixed into the card as well. It will be an excellent night of racing.”
Noble said Ocean Rock has a chance in the feature event, which will see a post time around 10 p.m.
“Hey, he doesn’t know how old (or young) he is,” Noble said.
Dayton Race at Hollywood Gaming is currently restricting in-person attendance to a smaller than normal capacity due to COVID-19 guidelines. There is no entry fee to the track and no reservations are being accepted. Bluhm advises that masks are required at all times.