LEBANON, OH – Gold Digger King (Tyler Smith) pulled a mild upset over co-favorite GD Western Joe (Chris Page) and My Hero Ron (Josh Sutton) in Saturday’s $23,000 Open I Handicap Pace at Miami Valley. The five-year-old son of Pet Rock, trained by Scott Mogan for owner Linda Van Camp, was making just his second start of 2021 after a stellar 2020 season when he won eight and was runnerup on five other occasions in just 18 starts. His 1:50.1 clocking established a new lifetime mark for the $269, 137 career winner.
Smith negotiated a pocket ride throughout the tilt after forcing GD Western Joe to a :27 opening quarter before turning him loose. Page got a brief breather for his charge before reaching the :55.2 halfway point, but was forced to go :26.4 to repel first-up challenger Dojea Gizmo (Brett Miller) in the third quarter. When clearance appeared at the head of the lane Gold Digger sprinted past a stubborn GD Western Joe to secure the triumph.
The winner paid $10.60 and the exacta returned $35.20.
The championship of the annual Tom Tharps Memorial series was also contested for a $30,000 purse. The top three finishers were noses apart as Velocity Poprocks (Sutton) threaded traffic to nip Hamsandwich (Dan Noble) and Thrasher (Kayne Kauffman) in the evenly-matched field of finalists.
“I thought I was in great shape at the three quarters, in third over position after three straight :27 (and change) quarters,” said a relieved Sutton immediately after the race. “Then he dove in a little coming off the final turn and I had to straighten him up. After that I had to get lucky to just barely get up at the wire!”
Mark and Sylvia Evers’ Velocity Standardbreds Stable own Velocity Poprocks, a six-year-old by Pet Rock who missed his entire five-year-old season. A 1:51.2 winner in the first preliminary leg of the Tharps series, ‘Poprock’ was roughed up a little in the second preliminary, but bounced back nicely for this 1:51.4 score.
The winner paid $14.40 to his mutual faithful. The exacta kicked back $138 and a winning 50-cent trifecta ticket was worth $302.15.
A $20,000 Open II Pace produced another stirring stretch duel between a pair of seven-year-old sons of American Ideal. American Dreamer (Page) prevailed over American Firewater (Kauffman) by a neck in 1:51.4.
Miami Valley will be dark on Easter Sunday, but will present 2:05 matinees on Monday (April 5) and Tuesday (April 6).

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