LEBANON, OH. – Despite an outside post, a sloppy track and 25-1 odds, Levi pulled a major upset in the $35,000 championship leg of the Claim To Fame series for $30,000 claimers at Miami Valley on Thursday (Feb. 24). All the aforementioned negative circumstances seemed like minor inconveniences to driver Sam Widger when Levi found another gear at the head of the stretch and stormed down the middle of the lane to nip the favored Bell I No (Josh Sutton), who made a valiant effort to go gate to wire, in the final two strides.
Bell I No was able to seat the entire nine horse field behind him shortly after the start, but had to sprint the opening panel in :26.2 in order to do so. Widger had Levi well back in the single file field as the middle two timers flashed :54.4 and 1:22.4. The winner was in the live outer flow around the final bend, but was the only one to threaten and then collar the frontrunner as they reached the wire in 1:52. Bluebird Recon (Brett Miller) grabbed the show dough.
It was the second seasonal Claim To Fame championship for Levi, owner Jack Freeman and trainer Ryan Bellamy as those connections also captured the final for $12,500 male pacers just one month ago. The 6-year-old son of Pet Rock increased his 2022 earnings to $55,325 with the triumph and surpassed $240,000 in career bounty with his 20th victory.
A pair of Open Paces were also contested at Miami Valley on Thursday. In the Open I Handicap, recent newcomer Oakwoodnitownit IR scored in 1:51.2 for his third straight win since arriving in Ohio after being claimed by owner Dune Road Stables LLC at Yonkers in November. All three victories have come in front stepping fashion for driver Trace Tetrick and trainer Tyler George, a tandem that has been red hot the first two months of the meet.
Bred by the Oakwood Stud in Ireland, the son of Foreclosure N downed Sectionline Bigry (Brett Miller) and Blank Stare (Tony Hall).
The Open II Handicap saw YS Mathis (Dan Noble) hold off Just A Start (Chris Page) and Havefaithinme N (Miller) in 1:51.4. Christi Noble trains the 5-year-old son of Sportswriter for Yves Sarrazin of Quebec. It was the winner’s 12th lifetime win and boosted his earnings to over $295,000.
Miami Valley is dark on Friday and Saturday, but will be back with live action from Sunday (Feb. 27) through Thursday (March 3) with a 4:05 p.m. start each afternoon.

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