The Ohio Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry has taken serious hits in recent years because of competition for the gambling dollar, but there should be a bright spot Oct. 4 when one of the strongest Best of Ohio championship programs in recent memory is offered at Beulah Park.
Five races worth a total of $330,000 will be offered, and none has drawn fewer than 10 entries. In all, 59 horses have been entered for the Best of Ohio, which traditionally determines many seasonal championships in the Buckeye state.
The feature, the $100,000 Endurance for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/4 miles, has attracted a field of 12 including Brad Anderson's Devil Time, a four-time Ohio stakes winner in 2003. In his last start Sept. 1 at Thistledown, Devil Time defeated Cat Singer by a nose in the 1 1/4-mile Governor's Buckeye Cup.
Trained by David Carroll, 6-year-old Devil Time, to be ridden by Bill Troilo at 122 pounds, figures to be the favorite for the Endurance. By Devil His Due, Devil Time was bred by George Smith, Dr. Wilbur Johnston, and Margaux Stallions.
Also entered in the Endurance is the 3-year-old Hackendiffy, a two-time Ohio stakes winner this year. Owned by David Eigel and trained by Bernie Flint, Hackendiffy finished second to Wild and Wicked in the Ohio Derby (gr. II) at Thistledown in June. Mike Rowland has the call at 119 pounds.
In the $60,000 Distaff for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles, Ohio champions Ashwood C C, owned and bred by Ashwood Thoroughbreds; Lady Cherie, owned by Ron McKay's M.Y. Stables; and Crypto's Twinjet, bred and owned by Dr. Paul Gutheil and Ron DeWolf, head a strong field of 11.
M.Y. Stables' Ben's Reflection, a 3-year-old who is five-for-seven in his career, heads the $60,000 Sprint for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs. Ben's Reflection, bred by Tom McCann and trained by Mike Nance, finished a good second in the 1 1/8-mile Cleveland Gold Cup at Thistledown and had been considered for the Endurance, but his connections opted for the Sprint, which lured 12 horses.
The $60,000 Juvenile and $60,000 Juvenile Fillies, both at six furlongs, lured 14 and 10 entrants, respectively. As usual, they've drawn an assortment of lightly raced horses.
Among the starters in the Juvenile is the promising Oblat, bred and owned by Dr. Dan Frazier's Pyrite Stables. Oblat, by Distorted Humor, started only once, but it was quite a debut. In a maiden special weight event at Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort, Oblat rated early and rallied strongly on the far turn to win the six-furlong race by six lengths in 1:10.96. Oblat is trained by Miguel Feliciano and will be ridden again by Ricardo Feliciano.
The Juvenile Fillies marks the return of Barnsy, bred by Blazing Meadows Farm and owned by Tim Hamm, Joseph Tamari, and Alan Muir. Barnsy won her debut in a maiden special weight event at Churchill Downs this spring, then finished fourth in the Fashion Stakes at Belmont Park. Hamm trains and Julio Felix has the call.
Post time Oct. 4 is 12:55 p.m. The 14-race program will include five races from Thistledown. The Best of Ohio races at Beulah Park will run consecutively as races 10 through 14.