Deep Battle of Lake Erie field set

Racing stallion Carbine looks to continue his winning ways in Saturday’s $200,000 event.

by Jay Wolf

The real Battle of Lake Erie, the naval affair that became the turning point of the War of 1812, lasted just over three hours, but MGM Northfield Park’s director of racing Dave Bianconi has spent much more time than that putting together maybe the deepest field in the race’s history.

Headlining the 38th edition of the $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie on Saturday night (June 8) is the two-time Ohio Horse of the Year, Bythemissal (Chris Page).

The 2022 Little Brown Jug champion is making just the second start of his 5-year-old campaign. He finished fifth in the $100,000 Joe Auger Memorial Invitational at Harrah’s Philadelphia on May 26.

The gelded son of Downbytheseaside is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Eric Good, Rich Lombardo and Weaver Bruscemi.

Conditioner Ron Burke looks to add to his record six Battle of Lake Erie training titles.

Rounding out the ‘Battle’ field are Linedrive Hanover (Aaron Merriman), second in the recent $109,500 Camluck Classic, the second Burke entry Hellabalou (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.), winner of the Camluck Classic and the $457,000 MGM Borgata Pacing Series, Coaches Corner (Jason Barlett), the MGM Borgata Pacing Series runner-up, the 2021 Pepsi North America Cup champion Desperate Man (Matt Kakaley) and regional standouts Little Rocket Man (Jeremy Smith) and Why Not Now (Dan Noble).

Representing the Eldorado Scioto Downs circuit will be Charlie May (Brett Miller) and Carbine (Austin Hanners).

The fan favorite Charlie May has made just one start this season, a fourth-place finish in Scioto’s open pace last Saturday. He was 2½ lengths behind Carbine, who won for the ninth time in 16 2024 starts.

Carbine is a 6-year-old who entered the Virgil Morgan, Jr. barn at the start of the year and was pulling double duty as a stallion and a racehorse.

“He has a history of being fast at times,” said Morgan. “He is extremely well bred and a big, good-looking horse. I was excited to get him.”

Carbine owns a pair of 1:47.4 victories — at The Meadowlands at age 4 and last year at Woodbine Mohawk Park — and has 29 career wins and is $2,031 short of half a million in career earnings.

This year he captured the $100,000 Wizard Memorial Invitational on Miami Valley Raceway’s closing day (May 4) and has earned $190,645, all in the Buckeye State.

“[His earnings] are a strong statement,” said Morgan. “We are just into June and he’s made that kind of money, all in Ohio. Surely anybody who is in the business, now knows that Ohio is one of the premier states.”

Carbine was bred by the Let It Ride Stable and is owned by Dana Parham’s Odds On Racing.

“Dana deserves a lot of credit,” said Morgan. “He has invested greatly in the Ohio program. He is very active in the claiming game. He breeds almost all of his mares in Ohio and now he is standing Carbine. He loves this sport and it shows.”

The handsome son of Somebeachsomewhere—Shot Togo Bluechip just completed his first season at Midland Acres where he bred 50+ mares.

“It is all about a routine and so far, he has liked the routine,” said Morgan. “He went to Midland Acres on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, or when they needed him… The farm has been wonderful. It’s all about communication. It’s worked out well.”

Carbine is less than a length from having a current seven-race win streak; five wins and two runner-up finishes, one by a half-length and one by a neck. Four of those wins came with the 25-year-old Austin Hanners in the bike.

“Carbine is a really good gate horse,” said Morgan. “He is extremely fast off the gate. Trace Tetrick was driving him at Miami Valley, but we knew we needed a regular driver for Scioto and I suggested Austin and it’s worked out very well.”

Despite having more than 7,450 career training wins, none of Morgan’s victories have come in the Battle. His best finish in the Battle of Lake Erie is a second place with Rockin Finish in 2014.

The Battle undercard will include a $100,000 leg of the Ohio Sires Stakes for 3-year-old male trotters and the third edition of the $75,000 MGM Buckeye Distaff, an invitational for veteran Ohio-sired pacing mares.

While not an invitational event, the six-horse field of colts for the second leg of the OSS trot is talent laden. Last year’s Ohio freshman trotter of the year, Tennessee Tom (Chris Page) will be one of the top betting choices. The Long Tom colt is two-for-two this season after banking $456,350 last year.

Spaaaanzano (Aaron Merriman) will also receive support from the betting public. The homebred son of Coraggioso is coming into this leg off a 1:53.2 track record effort in the $100,000 Bunker Hill Trot at Plainridge Park (May 16).

Royal Precedent (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.) defeated Spaaaanzano by a neck in the first leg of the OHSS at Miami Valley Raceway (May 4) in gate-to-wire fashion. The Creatine offspring will leave from the coveted rail position and was installed as the morning line second choice at 5-2.

The post time for the 16-race card is 6:00 p.m.


$200,000 Battle of Lake Erie Invitational

PP — Horse — Driver — Trainer — ML Odds

1. Linedrive Hanover — Aaron Merriman —Anthony Beaton — 7-2

2. Bythemissal — Chris Page — Ron Burke — 2-1

3. Coaches Corner — Jason Bartlett — Per Engblom — 12-1

4. Carbine — Austin Hanners — Virgil Morgan, Jr. — 8-1

5. Hellabalou — Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. — Ron Burke — 10-1

6. Little Rocket Man — Jeremy Smith — Ken Rucker — 10-1

7. Charlie May — Brett Miller — Steve Carter — 15-1

8. Why Not Now — Dan Noble — Todd Luther — 20-1

9. Desperate Man — Matt Kakaley — Travis Alexander — 4-1