Dayton Raceway to hold richest night in Ohio horse racing history

History will be made Saturday night at Dayton Raceway.

The ever-growing harness track will host the richest night in Ohio racing history when, for the first time ever, the Ohio Sire Stakes championships will be run here with eight different $300,000 races and they will share the card with four Dayton Derby races, each worth $250,000.

“That’s a total purse of $3.4 million, which is by far the richest purse in the history of Ohio racing, both for harness horses and Thoroughbreds,” said Gregg Keidel, the race secretary at Dayton Raceway.

He said for the past 26 years the Ohio Sire Stakes – which draws the state’s top 2 and 3 year olds and is called the Ohio Super Night – have been run at either Northfield Park or Scioto Downs.

“That was always the state’s biggest night of racing, other than the Little Bow Jug each year,” he said. “But now, when they’re combined with the four Dayton derbies, I think it definitely is the biggest night. It’s richer than the Little Brown Jug.”

Saturday, though, is about more than just big purses, it’s about top performers and none are bigger than Bulldog Hanover, the No. 1 ranked, fastest harness horse in history.

He has been the top rated horse in North American for 12 straight weeks in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Cup poll.

“He’s just phenomenal,” Keidel said. “He’s won 10 races in a row and set the world record (a 1:45.4 mile at the William Haughton Memorial at The Meadowlands) a month ago.”

The four-year-old son of Shadow Play who is trained by Jack Darling and driven by Dexter Dunn, a three-time Driver of the Year in North America has won over $1 million this year and is the leading candidate for Horse of the Year.

He’ll run in the Dayton Pacing Derby. The four Dayton derbies – the Pacing Derby, the Dayton Distaff Derby, the Dayton Trotting Derby and the Dayton Oaks – are Grand Circuit stakes events for the best older horses in America.

Saturday night’s Oho Sire Stakes championships were preceded by preliminary competitions run at Miami Valley Gaming in Lebanon, MGM Northfield and Eldorado Scioto Downs.

That Dayton Raceway was awarded the Ohio Super Night is testament to the track’s growing status. Connected to the Hollywood Gaming casino at Needmore and Wagner Ford roads, it had its biggest season ever last year and showed a $3.5 million increase in its handle.

The 2022 season, the ninth since the track opened in 2014, begins today with 4 p.m. post for the 14-race program. The meet ends December 23. The 70-race program runs every Tuesday through Saturday. On October 22, the track will a host the Buckeye Stallion Series.

Keidel said this year Dayton Raceway is offering a Pick 8 wager that guarantees a purse of $25,000 every night.

On Dec. 23 last season – in the final week of the racing program – Dayton had its biggest, single day handle ever with $850,522 in wagers.

“That was big,” Keidel said, “but Saturday night will be bigger.”

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