LEBANON, OH – Most of Ohio’s finest three-year-old colts and geldings were showcased at Miami Valley on Saturday (April 24) in a pair of $50,000 Scarlet & Gray Invitationals.
In the trot, Winning Ticket (Aaron Merriman) ran his win streak to three with a convincing 1:54.1 victory over stablemate Panzano (Dan Noble) and Lockbox (Chris Page). Merriman made every call a winning one through fractions of :28, :58 and 1:26.4 before closing in :27.2 to win in hand by over two lengths. A winner of an elimination heat and the $40,000 final of the recent James K. Hackett Memorial at Miami Valley, the son of Triumphant Caviar now has seven wins in eleven lifetime starts and his bounty has grown to $147,547. His sophomore season has started with three triumphs in three tries earning $52,500 in purses.
Winning Ticket is co-owned by trainer Chris Beaver in partnership with Steve Zeehandelar, Tim Homan and Jim Burnett.
In the pacing division, heavily-favored Heart Of Chewbacca (Noble) was dominant as expected. The son of Bring On The Beach lowered his personal best time to 1:51 with a 4-1/2 length win over Laughagain Hanover (Page) and Hardt At Work (Mike Micallef). Noble never experienced an anxious moment in the mile and Heart Of Chewbacca required little if any urging through the stretch. Dennis Owens and Noble’s Norman Rae Racing LLC own the winner who now sports seven career wins, including two in 2021, and has earned $244,348.
The next start for both Scarlet & Gray winners is expected to be first leg Ohio Sires Stakes action at Miami Valley on Monday, May 3—closing day for the 2021 86-day season.
A pair of Open Paces for the best pacers in the region were also contested on Saturday.
The Open I Handicap was won by Havefaithinme N (Noble), who upset GD Western Joe (Page) and Gold Digger King (Tyler Smith) in 1:51.3. It took the photo finish camera to determine that the ten-year-old had won by a mere nose. J. D. Perrin trains the New Zealand bred stalwart for his wife Tessa. With 35 wins on his resume, Havefaithinme N is approaching $1.5 million in career earnings. He returned $11.80 to his $2 win backers.
The Open II went to Yacht Week (Merriman) who pulled a mild upset over Americanfirewater (Page) and Shagnwiththedragon (Noble). The 1:51.1 clocking was also a lifetime best for the Somebeachsomewhere five-year-old who is owned by Brian Witt and Chad Slone and trained by Larry Finn. A Yacht Week win ticket was worth $18.
Racing resumes Sunday afternoon at 2:05 p.m. at Miami Valley.

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