GD Western Joe continued his mastery of the open class at Miami Valley on Saturday (March 27), notching his fifth win in the top class in ten seasonal starts. The six-year-old Real Desire stud has also been second three times and third once. Driver Chris Page waited until just past the :27 initial quarter to take command. Once a top, Page throttled the winner to a :56.1 halfway juncture, then sped through a back half in an eye-popping :54.1 to secure the victory. My Hero Ron (Josh Sutton) gave futile chase in the stretch before setting for second, while Our Majordan A (Brett Miller) tried valiantly from an assigned outside post to catch GD Western Joe around the final bend, but ultimately faded to third.
Finalists for the $30,000 championship leg of the Tom Tharps Memorial Series were determined in a pair of final preliminary legs on the Saturday card. Two huge upsets make next Saturday’s final look like a wide open affair.
E Mode’s Desire paced a new lifetime mark of 1:50.4 for owner-trainer-driver Mike Peterson to score at 15-1 odds over No Quarter (Mitch Cushing) and heavily favored Louie Louie (Chris Page). The five-year-old son of Real Desire, who made an uncharacteristic break in stride in the first prelim in the series, needed the impressive come-from-behind victory to advance to the lucrative final. It was the sixth pari-mutuel triumph in E Mode’s Desire’s career and boosted his earnings to over $90,000.
Sunshine List (Cushing) was an even more shocking upset winner in the second Tharps Memorial split, returning a $50 win mutual for beating Shvaiko (Brett Mille) and Hamsandwich (Dan Noble). The 1:51.4 tally was the fifth of four-year-old Sunshine List’s career and secured the son of Sunshine Beach’s spot in the championship. Mike Hitchcock conditions the winner for owner William Hartt.
Series earnings determine the nine finalists who will battle in the $30,000 championship tilt next Saturday (April 3). In order, they are Louie Louie, Sunshine List, E Mode’s Desire, Shvaiko, Velocity Poprocks, No Quarter, Thrasher, Lou’s A Pansy and WF Eeyore. Hamsandwich would move in should any of the finalists fail to enter.
Another highlight on Saturday was the first sub-1:50 winner of the meet. Opportune Hanover (Page) scorched the lightning quick five-eighths mile oval in 1:49.4, beating Townline All Good (Noble) and Lucky Lime (Kyle Ater) in a $14,400 conditioned event. Ron Burke trains the four-year-old son of Dragon Again who now sports $155,769 in lifetime earnings.
Driver Brett Miller became the third reinsman at Miami Valley to surpass the $1 million purse earnings plateau in 2021, joining Trace Tetrick and Dan Noble in the top five on the national purse earnings list. Chris Page is on the brink of joining the seasonal $1 million earnings fraternity; while Tyler Smith isn’t far off and likely will also join the club in the coming weeks.
The winners of eight of the first ten races took new career speed badges as track superintendent Jimmy Shelton and his crew took full advantage of Friday’s rain coupled with beautiful sunny, warm weather on Saturday to produce a perfectly manicured speedy surface.
Racing resumes on Sunday at Miami Valley with the normal early week matinee post time of 2:05 p.m.

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