XENIA — More races. More horses. More money.
Greene County Fair racing committee member Dave Elliott says this season’s harness racing action could be some of the best the fairgrounds has seen in years.
“We’ll have $50 giveaways between races, and we should have 10-12 races each night which is more races than we had last year,” Elliott said. “And new this season is a Lady’s Race, with a full field of female racers. It’s been a big draw at other county fairs, and so we wanted to bring it to the Greene County Fair, too.”
Elliott noted that Meredith Noble, daughter of the late legendary racer Chip Noble, is entered in the Lady’s Night pace on Wednesday, Aug. 5.
“Most of the race purses have gone up, thanks in part to the popularity of the area racinos,” Elliott said. “So when the purses go up, you see more interest from owners. And they bring more horses and that means more races.”
A year ago, there were nine races as part of the first day’s racing. Eleven races filled the event card for the fair’s second day.
Local racer Dan Noble won five out of nine races during the first day of last year’s action, including the inaugural Chip Noble Memorial race which was named for his father.
Ohio Horseman Hall of Fame inductee Chip Noble passed away in 2014. Noble had more than 5,000 career wins as a driver and another 1,000 as a trainer. He represented the United States twice in the World Driving Championship, and has competed in the prestigious Hambletonian and Little Brown Jug harness racing events.
A Noble-ridden horse, Dr. Elbon, currently holds the track record for a pacer at 1:55.4.
Elliott said some grading has been done to the Greene County Fairgrounds track and says there’s a shot that the 14-year-old track record could possibly fall this season.
“The track’s been really fast,” Elliott said. “Now I won’t come out and say it will happen, but people are talking about it. I’ll give you that … Dr. Elbon’s record could be in jeopardy.”
Elliott says longtime harness racing fans might get a tinge of nostalgia when they see large fields and high purses becoming the norm once again at the county fair.
“You’ll see some races this year like we used to have 15-20 years ago. The horses are back and the purses are big. It’s gonna be like it used to be (at the Greene County Fair). The racing may not be over as many days, but it’s getting that way,” Elliott said. “This resurgence is helping the horse racing industry. We race more horses, the purses go up, the farmers sell more hay. Everybody is winning.”
The Ohio Colt Racing Association (OCRA)-sanctioned racing is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday nights, Aug. 5-6.
The Signature Series headlining points event for Wednesday is the second Chip Noble Memorial race, for 2-year-old filly pacers. Another Signature event is a trot race, the Ray Henley Memorial, also on Wednesday.
Thursday’s Signature Series main race is the annual Steve Phillips Memorial pace.