Blank Stare became the fourth different winner of Miami Valley’s weekly Open I Pace on Thursday as the Southwestern Ohio oval completed its fourth full week of the 87-day 2022 meet.
The five-year-old son of Bolt The Duer actually crossed the line first in the opening week feature, but was placed third in the official order of finish by the judges. GD Western Joe was elevated to winner back on Jan. 6 and has been joined by Stars Align A and Sectionline Bigry as Open I winners in subsequent weeks.
On this occasion driver Tony Hall and Blank Stare got away third during the quick :26.4 opening quarter, then moved outside to follow Stars Align A (Dan Noble) who rushed up to challenge pacesetting Dojea Gizmo (Trevor Smith) before the half was reached in :54.4. Still in second-over position at the 1:21.4 third timing station, Blank Stare was able to circle a tiring Stars Align A as the area’s top pacers rounded the final turn. On even terms with Dojea Gizmo at the top of the lane, the two stalwarts battled stride for stride the final eighth of a mile before Blank Stare stuck a neck in front at the 1:50.4 finish.
Trainer Jeff Cullipher co-owns the winner with Pollack Racing. Blank Stare now sports 13 victories and $378,000 in earnings in just 49 lifetime starts. Sent to post as the second favourite he paid $9.40 to win.
Winner of the $24,000 Open II Pace on the same program was General Dolan, a seven-year-old Rockin Image gelding. Leading driver Trace Tetrick guided General Dolan for the meet’s leading trainer Tyler George.
Fan Of Terror (Tyler Smith), despite a second tier start, manoeuvred smartly to the front of the field before they reached the first quarter in :26.3. After a :29 breather to the half in :55.3, Smith was forced to speed up when Saying Grace A (Josh Sutton) and Omega Cat (Brett Miller) applied outside pressure prior to the 1:23 third quarter.
A cavalry charge to the wire ensued with General Dolan finding a seam along the pylons midway down the stretch to win it. Rose Run Ulysses (Kayne Kauffman) flew four-wide and fastest of all in the final furlong to get up for second; while Saying Grace N held on for the show dough.
John and Robert Esposito own General Dolan, who has now won 24 times in 129 tries and banked $337,407.
Miami Valley will be dark, except for simulcast wagering from other venues, until Sunday (Jan. 30) when another five consecutive days of live racing will commence at 4:05 p.m.