XENIA — The Greene County Fair’s marquee harness racing event — the Chip Noble Memorial — is getting a face lift.
In the previous two years of the Noble Memorial, the race had been open to 2-year-old pacing fillies, but Bob Briley of the County Fair harness racing committee said the Ohio Harness Horseman’s Association (OHHA) suggested a change that will likely increase the level of competition and prize money for years to come.
“We saw this as an opportunity to get more money involved with the race,” Briley said. “The OHHA wasn’t real excited about sanctioning a race for 2-year-old fillies. That limits the kind of horse you would get in the race. So we’ve now opened the race up a larger field by making it an Open Pace, which allows for a larger number of top-quality horses to be eligible for the race.”
Briley said horses 4 years of age and older are now eligible for the race, but the OHHA has some restrictions on the entrants: The first preference is that they be Ohio sired; Second preference is that the horse has to be solely Ohio owned; and the third preference is that the horse be one of the top money winners for this 2017 season.
“Hopefully, we’ll have a racing purse for the Chip Noble Memorial of $9,000,” Briley said. “That would be the biggest purse we’ve ever offered in Xenia.”
The Chip Noble Memorial will also be limited to seven horses, per OHHA regulations for the half-mile fairgrounds track. The track was named the Chip Noble Racetrack last year, in the harness racing standout’s honor.
Wednesday, Aug. 2, starting 6:30 p.m., the fair will have several Ohio Colt Racing Association (OCRA) events, of the trotting and pacing variety for 2-year-old colts and fillies, with the night’s final event being the Ohio Ladies Pace. The Ray Henley Memorial Signature Series event will also be held that night.
The Chip Noble Memorial is the final race of the Greene County Fair harness racing series, Thursday, Aug. 3, but the day’s racing also gets under way at 6:30 p.m. that day as well. Several OCRA events for 3-year-old fillies and colts will be in the offing, with the Steve Phillips Memorial Signature Series race also on the final day’s schedule.
Briley said he expects a dozen harness races for each day of competition at the Greene County Fair.
Horse blankets will be awarded to each race winner. Area sponsors Alan Besco Motors, Miami Valley Gaming & Racing, and Buckeye Propane & Soft Water donated two each, while Bud’s Automotive, Delaney Family Racing Stable, Earl Schneder, Bob and Joy Briley, the Impson Family, Glenna Myers, Veterinary Associates, Drake Concessions, Neeld Funeral Home, Dr. William Dahling, the Patterson Family, Woodland Run Veterinary Clinic, and Aim Media Midwest newspapers Xenia Gazette, Fairborn Daily Herald, and the Beavercreek News-Current each sponsored a blanket for one race.
Briley said a similar OHHA-sanctioned memorial race takes place in Greenville each year in honor of a former horse trainer who worked there.
“That memorial race has been going on now (with the OHHA’s help) for nearly 10 years now, and their purse is $35,000 now. This is the first year for us to have the Chip Noble Memorial race in this format. So with the support of local businesses, we could potentially grow our race to those levels as well. The potential is there,” he said.