The $250,000 event for sophomore pacing colts goes Saturday at MGM Northfield Park.
by Jay Wolf
With opportunities limited on the national stage, Ocean Rock and the driver/trainer combo of Dan and Christi Noble were hoping for a little luck in the post-position draw. What they got was the outside post #8 and a much tougher assignment in Saturday’s $250,000 Carl Milstein Memorial at MGM Northfield Park.
“We were pretty disappointed,” said Christi. “Ocean Rock’s got gate speed, so hopefully we can use that to our advantage. A couple of times we raced him in overnights and both times we raced him off the pace and he came home in :27 and :27.2.”
“I’ll go off how he scores down and how he feels,” added Dan. “I’ll let him tell me whether to pull back or go forward. He has turned into a versatile horse. At two, it was his way or no way.”
Ocean Rock comes into the Milstein off a pair of impressive sub-1:50 miles.
On July 18, in the third leg of the Ohio Sires Stake (OHSS) for sophomore colt pacers, Ocean Rock was gunned from post seven and grabbed the early lead and cruised to a 7 ¾ length score over Elver Hanover, handing the world champion his first career defeat.
The winning time of 1:48.4 established a new Eldorado Scioto Downs’ track record, topping the 1:50 mark established by Gallo Blue Chip in 2000.
Ocean Rock’s most recent start (Aug. 1) was an open-length victory in the $118,000 Ohio State Fair event at Scioto Downs in 1:49, pacing the last half of a mile in :53.
With not many chances to take on the continent’s best colts, the Nobles were looking for the chance for Ocean Rock to shine on a more national stage.
“His schedule is pretty set. He has the last leg of the sire stakes (Aug. 22) and then the final (Sept. 5) and the (Ohio) Breeders Championship at Delaware (Sept. 24),” noted Christi.
The connections discussed the possibility of supplementing into the Little Brown Jug, but the recently announced open supplement will not be available until 2022.
The homebred son of Rockin Amadeus has earned more than $285,000 for his owner Sandra S. Burnett of Wilmington, OH. Burnett is a long-time patron of the Noble family.
“She and her husband had horses with Dan’s father (Sam ‘Chip’ Noble) since he was 19 years old. When Dan and I started our stable, she gave us a couple of her homebreds and we have had some success for her,” said Christi.
Dan, who recently notched his 6,000th career win, broke and trained Ocean Rock as a 2-year-old and turned the training duties over to his wife at the start of the 3-year-old season.
At 2, Ocean Rock recorded five wins, a pair of second place finishes and $156,377 in nine 2019 starts. He collected the Ohio State Fair stakes, a pair of Ohio Sire Stakes legs and a solid second place finish to Elver Hanover in the $300,000 OSS Final.
MGM Northfield Park’s executive vice president of racing/simulcast Dave Bianconi has put together another solid Milstein field of 3-year-old pacing colts.
The top three morning choices all drew the inside three post-positions – Catch The Fire (PP1 – Mike Wilder), Odds On Osiris (PP2) and Elver Hanover (PP3 – Chris Page).
Catch The Fire comes into the Milstein off a gutsy victory in the $375,000 Adios Pace Final on Aug. 1 in 1:49.3 over a sloppy Meadows surface. John Ackley trains the Captaintreacherous colt, who has earned $468,413 lifetime for the C T Stables LLC.
Odds On Osiris, the 2019 Indiana Sires Stake champion, has won eight of 13 lifetime starts and has earned $375,395 for owner Odds On Racing of Boca Raton, FL. Peter Wrenn will drive for his wife, trainer Melanie Wrenn.
The third choice is the Ohio-bred Elver Hanover. The gelded son of Yankee Cruiser started his career with 11 straight victories, including a world record 1:48.3 last fall at the Red Mile in Lexington, KY. Ron Burke trains the $422,700 career earner for Burke Racing Stable, Dr. Bridgette Jablonsky, Jason Melillo and J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby.
The race honors Carl Milstein, who owned Northfield Park from 1984 until his death in 1999. The Milstein family operated Northfield Park until July 2018.
The Milstein undercard features the $50,000 Myron Charna President’s Pace, an invitational for older Ohio-sired pacers, $100,000 (div.) Ohio Sires Stakes for 3-year-old trotting colts and the $100,000 (div.) OSS for 3-year-old pacing fillies.
The double world champion, Action Uncle (Brett Miller) looks to remain undefeated on the season in the second $50,000 division of the sophomore colt trot. Trained by Virgil Morgan, Jr., the son of Uncle Peter has a lifetime mark of 1:52.4f and a career bankroll $367,075 for owners Carl Howard, Joyce McClelland and Larry Wills.
The first post for the 16-race card is 6 p.m.
The $250,000 Carl Milstein Memorial Invitational
PP-Horse (Driver/Trainer) – ML Odds
1-Catch The Fire (Mike Wilder/John Ackley) – 2-1
2-Odds On Osiris (Peter Wrenn/Melanie Wrenn) – 7-2
3-Elver Hanover (Chris Page/Ron Burke) – 4-1
4-Stanford Court (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr./Brian Brown) – 6-1
5-Slippin The Clutch (Aaron Merriman/Curtis Carey) —15-1
6-Manticore (Chris Lems/Bruce Saunders) – 12-1
7-Chief Mate (Scott Zeron/Tony Alagna) – 10-1
8-Ocean Rock (Dan Noble/Christi Noble) – 8-1