Lebanon, OH — After three legs, all at different distances, The First Step (Chris Page) won the $25,000 championship of the Bill Dailey Memorial Medley at Miami Valley on Saturday (Feb. 20).
Making a move to the top just after the first quarter was reached in :28.4 proved to be the right decision as the winner was able to control the remaining fractions of :57.1, 1:26.2, 1:54.3 before tacking on a final :28.1 panel to triumph in 2:22.4.
The clocking was three seconds off the world record (2:19.4) established by Boulder Creek on November 27, 2006 at Dover Downs, but was admirable considering it is mid-February and the temperature was 28 degrees.
Shagnwiththedragon (Dan Noble) finished second and Snowball’s Romeo third in the added-distance event.
The First Step, shipped in by the Burke Brigade to Miami Valley from Yonkers for the Dailey Series, was fourth in the initial 5/8ths mile dash, then followed up with a win in 1:51.3 at the traditional mile. The five-year-old Betterthancheddar gelding now has 13 wins and $161,719 in earnings.
The medley annually honors the memory of Bill Dailey, one of the top trainer-drivers in Ohio harness history, who died way to soon at age 57 in 2018. Dailey produced six Ohio Triple Crown winners, was named Ohio Trainer of the Year on four occasions, and remarkably was able to win at least one Ohio Sires Stakes champion in seven of the eight divisions for 2- and 3-year-olds.
The weekly $22,000 Open Handicap pace was won by General Dolan in come-from-behind fashion with Brandon (“Big Ticket”) Bates in tow. The 1:52.2 score resulted in a $34.80 mutuel. Favorites GD Western Joe (Page), Fan Of Terror (Brett Miller) and Voracity (Noble) were battling for the lead before General Dolan flew bye on the outside, but were next to cross the line.
While General Dolan did take a 1:49.3 record at Miami Valley in 2020, he had been struggling to regain his form in high condition races until recently. It was the 19th career win in 101 starts and increased his earnings to $277,425. The six-year-old by Rockin Image is owned by John and Robert Esposito.
Three races after scoring the upset in the Open, driver Bates was back in the winner’s circle with Beach Pro, a $15,000 claimer the paid $25.80 for the winning 1:53.2 mile.
Miami Valley will race the next four afternoons (Sunday through Wednesday) will 2:05 p.m. post times each day.