the bistro off broadway
Before the start of the Riegle Memorial, the family was honored and was presented with
artwork done by Ann Lufkin. CNO Photos by Brad Conrad
Riegle Memorial heads final race card at the fair
Ladies race proves interesting
By George Starks

GREENVILLE  - The final night of harness horse racing brought the spotlight on two areas Friday at the Darke County Fair.

The seventh race of the night brought on the much anticipated, Gene Riegle Memorial Pace.

With a $10,000 purse at stake, five of the best pacers the business has to offer took to the half mile track with the possibility of a new track record being set.

The current record is held by Jimmy Whisman who drove Prince Sheldon to the winners circle in a time of 1:54.4 set in 2002.

That record stayed intact Friday after the Riegle Memorial had been completed.

With a quarter of the race in the books, the opening fraction was a blazing 28.3 seconds and 56.4 seconds at the half-mile marker.

At that point, the thought was a new record is on the horizon.

When the race was completed, Mark Winters Jr. took Lucky Me to the winners circle but had missed the record by just over a second, hitting the wire in a time of 1:56 flat.

The family of Riegle was on hand for the event as was State Representative Jim Buchy and the general manager of the Ohio Harness Horseman's Association, Jerry Knappenger.

"Tonight was all about my father," said Bruce Riegle, son of Gene. "It was great that the Darke County Fair sponsored a race on behalf of my father. I was glad that everyone came out and participated in the event. It was a great day for a great man."

Riegle got started in the harness horse racing business at a young age, only to become one of the best trainers and drivers in the country.

His horses were trained at the county fairgrounds and when the name of Riegle is mentioned, it goes hand in hand with the Darke County Fair.

"Dad has been here forever and he loved this fair," said Riegle. "While he was still here, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame and that was not only a big plus for him but for Darke County too. He trained right here on this track and it was this track that helped make him what he was."

While Gene Riegle is a racing legend, his horses were legends as well.

With names like Western Hanover, Jay Time, Three Diamonds, Arnie Almahurst and the 1993 winner of The Little Brown Jug, Life Sign, the Riegle legacy will live on for many years to come as horses bred from these names will be passed on throughout the years.

The biggest name from the Riegle stables was Arts Place.

The son of Abercrombie-Miss Elvira, the best of the best reached a level of greatness at Pompano Park in November of 1990 when he won the $605,870 Breeders Crown Freshman Pace in a lightening fast time of 1:51.1-- the fastest mile ever by a two year old over any size track. Arts place was named the Two Year Old Colt of the year in that year after winning the $797,400 Metro Final and the $655,600 Governor's Cup Final. The horse won 10 of 18 starts that year, banking nearly one million dollars.

In 1991, horses like Western Hanover, Caprock, Gamma Ray and Gold Coast was on the scene. That year, Hanover banked nearly $700,000, winning Two Year Old Colt Pacer honors.

"Horses like Arts Place and Western Hanover was the who's who of harness racing and those were just the sires," Riegle said. "Dad had some great fillies like Three Diamonds and Napa Valley. I think dad lives on through the horses that he trained. What concerned me the most is that my father would be forgotten as time went along. Now, with this race being a annual race in his honor and knowing there are many horses out there with the bloodlines that came from dad's stables, he will not be forgotten."

The eighth race of the night was a ladies only race that saw Stacie Nisonger, wife of Jeff Nisonger, pick up her second win in as many lifetime starts when she brought Cherokee Ryder home in a time of 2:01 for the mile pace.

The win was the second of her life in as many starts with the first coming that afternoon, taking JJ's Rosie to the winners circle in the third race of the day. In that race, her husband Jeff, finished third.

It was the first time out for Stacie and could be the final lifetime start for Rosie as she is due to foal in four to five months.

In that race, Mandy Jones finished third with Thank You Momma, a horse her dad Brian Jones trains.

Friday's Race Results:

Afternoon (8 races)

Race 1 (Trot)
1. CL Done Victory (J. Nisonger)
2. Parson Brown (Dailey)
3. Forest Wayne (Heath)
Race 2 (Pace)
1. Rabbit Man (Smith) 2:01.4
2. Sir Johnny Colt (Adams)
3. Askpedia (Lough)
Race 3 (Pace)
1. JJ's Rosie (S. Nisonger)1:59.4
2. No Doz Cam (Dailey)
3. Lil Miss Alibi (J. Nisonger)
Race 4. (Trot)
1. Tag The Lady (Miller) 2:04.3
2. Miss Tiger Lilly (Steenbergen)
3. CR Muscle Power (Farley)
Race 5 (Pace)
1. Always A First Time (J. Nisonger0
2. Jack Strait (Rideout)
3. Pacific Dancer (Lough)
Race 6 (Pace)
1. Do Ya Wanna Rumba (Adams) 2:01
2. Hoosier Tiger (Smith)
3. Super Zip (Landess)
Race 7 (Pace)
1. Mr Benati (Smith) 2:03
2. Henry's Way (Richards)
3. Gun's Bounty Hunter (Dailey)
Race 8 (Trot)
1. Craiger (J. Nisonger) 2:05.4
2. Simmy (Myers)
3. Go-Spread The Word (Smith)
Evening Results (9 Races)
Race 1 (Pace)
1. Zip Snap N Drop (Winters Jr) 1:59
2. CC Ruby (Leyes)
3. Rashbec (J. Nisonger)
Race 2 (Trot0
1. Machine (McQuinn) 2:03
2. Earl H (Malone)
3. Vision of Glory (Ebersole)
Race 3 (Pace)/Dead Heat for Third
1. Ally-Con (J. Nisonger) 1:58.4
2. Dazzling Diana (Sturgeon)
3. I Throw Fitz (Dailey)/Noah C (McQuinn)
Race 4 (Pace)
1. Melissa L (Dailey) 2:01
2. The Bomb Dottie (Sturgeon)
3. Marti's Song (Ebersole)
Race 5 (Trot)
1. Tesla (Dailey) 2:03.4
2. Rose Run Nolan (Winters Jr.)
3. I Look Foxy (J. Nisonger)
Race 6 (Pace)
1. Manny's VC (Rideout)
2. Hawks Cry Believe (Leyes)
3. Catch A Lucky Star (J. Nisonger0
Race 7 (Pace)
Riegle Memorial
1. Lucky Me (Winters Jr.) 1:56
2. Lost Jewels (Rideout)
3. Cross Threaded (J. Nisonger0
Race 8 (Pace0
Ladies Only Race
1. Cherokee Ryder (S. Nisonger) 2:01
2. Vince The Man (Kelly)
3. Thank You Momma (Jones)
Race 9 (Pace)
1. Hanky L (Dailey) 2:02.1
2. Forever Eli (J. Nisonger)
3. Sadies Hero (Roush)

Mark Winters Jr. and Lucky Me crossed the finish line in 1:56,
winning the inaugural Gene Riegle Memorial.
Winters stands in the winners circle with Lucky Me and the Riegle family.

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