Day At The Track

Hockey Hanover completes double

02:00 PM 08 Oct 2017 NZDT
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Hockey Hanover, harness racing Cirrus De Vie, harness racing
Hockey Hanover completed an unusual harness racing double
Chris Gooden Photo
Cirrus De Vie
Chris Gooden Photo

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 7, 2017 -- Already Pennsylvania's Stallion Series champion 2-year-old male trotter, Hockey Hanover completed an unusual harness racing double when he captured Saturday's PA Fairs final at The Meadows.

On a sun-splashed, unseasonably warm day, The Meadows hosted all eight PA Fairs championships, each with a purse of $24,200, and joined with the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association to stage the annual "Pink-Out" to benefit breast cancer research. The event offered many festive activities, none more enjoyable to the McMullen Stable than the victory by Hockey Hanover.

McMullen Stable purchased the Explosive Matter-Hotentrot gelding for $10,000 as a yearling and saw his earnings soar to $91,630. Yet trainer/driver Wilbur Yoder wasn't as confident as he might have been, as Hockey Hanover was a disappointing fifth in his last tune-up for the fairs final. Leaving from the rail, Yoder pushed Hockey Hanover for the lead rather than settle for a seat.

"He's been having a little trouble lately, and the main concern was trying to get him around the first turn," Yoder said. "I was concentrating on that. But when they come at him, he digs in. He'll have a couple months off now, a well-deserved break."

Hockey Hanover shrugged off a challenge by Grapple Hanover in the lane and prevailed in 1:58.1, 2-3/4 lengths better than the ground-saving Yougottabecrazy, with Grapple Hanover third.

Elsewhere on the championship card, Yoder and McMullen Stable teamed for another crown with All Set Lets Go while Aaron Merriman earned a pair of titles. The "King of the Fairs," 71-year-old Roger Hammer, collected his 22nd fairs title at The Meadows with a colossal upset. Oh yes: an up-and-coming trainer named Ron Burke got a taste of fairs circuit success with a championship. The highlights:

2-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace -- Cirrus De Vie

Venier Hanover had been pounding his foes so relentlessly that he was hammered down to 1-9. Someone forgot to tell the King he had been overthrown. Hammer sent the 25-1 Cirrus De Vie to the front with a quarter-pole move, and the son of Real Artist-Walk On The Beach won handily in 1:55.2, 1-1/4 lengths better than Starvin Marvin. Venier Hanover had to settle for show.

"I thought I would give Venier Hanover a race for his money," Hammer said. "I figured if I could get this horse back to the top and let him roll, I would make Venier come first over after him."

Hammer and Vicki Lynn Fair own Cirrus De Vie, who has a surprise awaiting him when he returns to Hammer's Bedford, PA farm -- and it's not a sweet treat.

"He'll be turned out and castrated tomorrow," Hammer said. "He needs it. He's a little on the sulky side."

3-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trot -- Rockefeller Lindy

Rockefeller Lindy was trying to pass New Heaven in the Lightning Lane when there was contact between the two. Rockefeller Lindy jumped once and, in a remarkable show of poise for a young trotter, came back down on gait and downed New Heaven by x in 1:57.2 for Merriman. Irish Valentine rallied for show.

"I thought he would go down, but he kept trotting. That's the only thing that saved us," said Bill Daugherty, Jr., who conditions the Lucky Chucky-A Touch Of Lindy gelding -- an $18,000 yearling acquisition -- for Susan Daugherty. "He's always been good gaited, but man oh man, going that speed and he's tired, you can imagine. I'll probably quit with him for the year. I've had enough, and he's had enough."

2-Year-Old Filly Trot -- All Set Lets Go

All Set Lets Go had been virtually unbeatable for Yoder and McMullen Stable -- she swept her final 12 preliminary fair events -- and she was no less dominating Saturday. She powered to the front with a quarter-pole move and defeated entry-mates Opal Hanover and Drinking Class in 1:58.3, a life mark.

"She's pretty honest -- trots all the time and minds her business," Yoder said. "She's pretty good off the gait and gets into position. We'll race her in some overnights and hope we find a class where she's competitive."

3-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pacers -- Midway Island

At about the same time Midway Island was rolling to his facile victory, Burke's champion mare, Hannelore Hanover, was performing at the Red Mile, turning in the second-fastest mile ever trotted. Nevertheless, the trainer had to be pleased with the Somebeachsomewhere-Up Front Gal gelding, who won all six of his fair circuit starts after his mid-season acquisition by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Knox Services and David Wills.

In the championship, Midway Island retook the lead past the quarter for Chris Shaw, leading driver on the fairs circuit this year, and triumphed in 1:52.2. Ginger Tree Marty closed well for place, 4-3/4 lengths back, while Cinnabar Dragon completed the ticket.

"I had to put everybody else in a hole," Shaw said. "I didn't want to be coming from the three hole."

3-Year-Old Filly Pace -- Bella Ragaza

Merriman got his second crown with Bella Ragaza who, after a winless freshman season, put it all together this year and bagged 11 victories entering the championship. She quarter-poled to the top and had little trouble holding off Keystone Nikki by 2-3/4 lengths in 1:55.4, fastest of her career. A trapped in Camera Lady earned show.

"She's very handy but more of a grinder than a sprinter," Merriman said. "If you can get her to the front and keep her moving, she'll keep going on the end."

Linda Schadel trains the daughter of Rocknroll Hanover-Armbro Bahama and owns with Roxanna Buffington.

2-Year-Old Filly Trot -- Nicole Hanover

Nicole Hanover needed every foot of the stretch to get by the stubborn Kylah, but she ultimately prevailed by a head over the game leader in a career-fastest 1:58.3, with Lightning Lois third.

"She needed a helmet to follow," said winning driver Brian Zendt. "She's won a lot of races on the front end, but she's not used to going three-quarters in 1:27 at the fairs. I could have used the Lightning Lane, but sometimes green horses don't know what's going on there, so I'm glad I had room outside."

Robert Rougeaux III conditions the daughter of Explosive Matter-Nan's Conway for Brocious Racing Stable.

2-Year-Old Filly Pace -- Pretty Proud

Pretty Proud was pretty fast early, taking the field through three-quarters in a snappy 1:26.1. She slowed in the lane but was determined enough to outlast Marvalous Song by 3/4 lengths in 1:57.2 -- easily a life mark -- for Jim Pantaleano. Keystone Diamond, the wagering favorite, lacked racing room and was a hard-luck third.

"The fractions took their toll on all of them late in the mile," said Rich Gillock, who conditions the daughter of Bettor's Delight-Pears N Amoretto and owns with Barbara Richardson and James Richardson. "One of her big assets all year has been she can leave the gate. A couple of her main contenders had road trouble and couldn't quite catch up to us.

The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

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