HONESDALE PA, Wed., Aug. 6 - Come tomorrow morning, Jeff Firmstone, racing secretary at the Wayne County Fair in Honesdale PA, may have a painting chore to perform - but it'll be one he'd be happy to do.
Today is the first day of the Honesdale Fair's racing program under the "Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes 2-Day Meet" banner, sponsored by the local Jaycees, and Firmstone has two fields set to go in a $2200 free-for-all pace. With good weather and good luck, Jeff thinks his fields have a chance to rewrite the all-time local pacing record of 1:56.2, set by Alastor Hanover in 2010 - and if that happens, on Thursday Firmstone and buckets and brushes will be whitewashing and then repainting, and happily.
One of the horses who seems to have a good chance is trained and will be driven by the man who holds the current Honesdale standards on both the trot and the pace -(who set the track trot mark of 2:02 with the renown Vivid Photo during the same week as "Alastor"'s pacing record). He'll be guiding Rockabella, who will start from post two in the second division.
Rockabella won over the Philadelphia oval in 1:52f two starts ago, and he has a positional edge on his main paper foe, Only The Lonely (outside post four, driver Hannah Miller, trainer), who has also won in 1:52 this year, was racetimed in 1:50.4 at The Meadowlands in his last start, and shows half-mile track ability with a win at Monticello earlier this campaign.
The Miller/Surick team will also start Esprit De Kayjay A from post three in the first FFA division - this one has a lifetime mark of 1:51.3, and in 2014 won a qualifier over the half-mile track at Freehold in 1:55.4h. Just to "Esprit"'s outside is the ageless Tarver Hanover - perhaps not quite the 1:49.2 pacer of yesteryear, nor the 1:52.3h winner at Harrington a couple of campaigns back, but the 13YO from the Dinges barn has been consistently pacing sub-1:55 miles at Pocono and Tioga in recent starts.
FINISHING LINES - Hannah Miller, from the Erv/Marcus line of Millers (not the David/Brett line), has a lifetime UDR of .556 in the first eight driving starts of her career. She may improve on that figure with some luck today, when racing begins at Honesdale at 4 p.m.
From the Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association