LEBANON, OH. – If the race would have been one yard shorter, heavily favored Atlantic Star (Tony Hall) would have completed a sweep of the three week long Claim To Fame series for $12,500 pacing mares. As it was, Always Be Lucy (Jeremy Smith) flew through the home stretch and needed every foot of the mile to snatch the championship in 1:53. Friskie Jolie (Sam Widger) completed the trifecta with Dancing Lisa (Chris Page) and JD’s Queen Lori (Dan Noble) also earning paychecks in the lucrative final.
Always Be Lucy, trained by Jeff Nisonger, now has 27 lifetime wins and $212,166 in earnings. Owner Myron Koester nominated the winner and raced her in the first leg, but lost her via the claim box after a third place finish. Willing to pay the 30% premium allotted the horses in the second leg, Koester showed his confidence in Always Be Lucy—who finished second in Leg 2—by claiming her back assuring he would have her in the final. The gamble paid off as his 7-year-old Always A Virgin-sired mare copped the lion’s share of the $22,500 purse, also returning a $27.20 return to her $2 backers.
It was the first time Jeremy Smith ever sat behind ‘Lucy,’ but he hopes it is not the last. “She’s a real nice mare,” he explained after the race, “who seems to like her job! She just kept on coming through the lane.”
The winner’s next start will likely come in an upcoming Claim To Fame series for $20,000 claimers, which starts next Monday.
In the $26,000 Mares Open Handicap Pace on the same card, Rose Run Vision became the first repeat winner of the 2022 Miami Valley meet in the weekly feature for the top females.
Driver Trevor Smith guided the winner directly to the front of the field and took no prisoners the rest of the way. After posting moderate opening fractions of :28.2 and :57.2, Smith hit the gas pedal to cross the wire in 1:52.4. Runnerup Princess Rougarou (Noble) challenged the pacesetter down the backside—getting on even terms at the 1:25.1 third quarter marker–but ultimately ran out of steam as the result of a :55.2 back half.
The Eash Racing Stable stalwart now has 21 victories in just 79 career starts and the 5-year-old Time To Roll lass has banked $217,792.
Miami Valley will present 14-race programs at 4:05 p.m. both Wednesday (Jan. 26) and Thursday (Jan. 27).

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