(NEW KENT, VA - Trainer/driver Brad Irvine's Bagel Man and Rick's Crossroads captured both divisions of the Horace Martin Memorial Pacing Series Wednesday afternoon at Colonial Downs as the 17th annual harness racing season got underway. Both pacers faced eight other foes in their respective divisions but took different paths to the winners circle. The late closer races contested at a distance of 7/8ths of a mile. Bagel Man, an 11 year old I'm The Chairpan gelding, sat fifth thru the first trio of fractions before making an outside move on Scarboro Hanover and A.J.'s Poppop, who were dueling for the lead. Irvine smartly guided Bagel Man to third at the head of the stretch before easily sweeping by the front steppers. He crossed in 1:39 1/5, 3 Â¼ lengths ahead of McBlack. Rick's Crossroads did not need a come from behind effort as he sailed to a 4 Â¼ length triumph in wire to wire fashion. The 8 year old Dream Away gelding never led by more than a length until the straightaway and carried a lead of only a nose into the third fraction. He finished in 1:40 2/5 and earned his 21st career win. The Martin series will extend to a mile distance next Wednesday and the 1 Â¼ mile distance for the third and final legs. River Runs Deep and Wishingonadragon scored first leg victories in the VHHA Pacing Series on Wednesday. Chuck Perry's 3 year old Riverboat King colt wired the field in 1:55 4/5 while trainer Stacy McLenaghan got her third win of the card with the latter in an identical 1:55 4/5 clocking. Colonial Downs will host a 9 race card on Thursday at 1 PM. The season continues thru October 26 with racing every Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. by Darrell Wood, for Colonial Downs
(NEW KENT, VA --- 9/14/14) ---- Colonial Downs' 17th annual harness racing season will kick off this Wednesday September 17th at the home of the "one turn mile" with a ten race card beginning at 1:00 PM. Draws for both the Wednesday & Thursday programs took place this weekend. Featured races are a pair of late closer series that boast two divisions each. The Horace Martin Memorial Pacing Series' first leg will be contested at a 7/8ths mile distance and has nine horse fields in each division. Herman Hagerman's McBlack, based on five straight "in the money" finishes at The Red Mile, is favored in race four while Stacey McLenaghan's Hale Street is top early choice in the seventh race. The second "Martin" leg, scheduled for September 24th, will be at a one mile distance while the third and final legs will be contested at 1 1/4 miles. The VHHA Pacing Series has a pair of six horse fields that will vie in the fifth and sixth race. George Antrhop's Daggy is top pick early while McLenaghan's Wishingonadragon is favored late. The future VHHA legs will all be at the mile distance. Corey Braden and Frank Milby, last year's second and third leading reinsmen at the New Kent meet, return to Virginia and have nine and seven drives respectively on Wednesday. Jeff Nisonger, fifth in the '13 standings has six drives in the opener as does Chuck Perry. Trainer George Anthrop populates Wednesday's card in grand fashion with nine horses in to go while returnees Gerry Longo and Herman Hagerman, along with newcomer David Lake, have five in each. The Colonial meet will continue thru October 26th with racing slated every Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 PM. General admission is $3 and kids 12 and under are free. The 4th floor Turf Club Dining Room will be open on weekends. Opening weekend features two unique promotions --- one participatory while the other, not quite so. On Saturday, September 20th, the VHHA (Virginia Harness Horsemen's Association) will select the name of eight fans in attendance to become one day "horse owners". Those fans will return the following day as "owners" and get to keep the amount of purse money their respective horse earns in a $3,000 race. They will also tour the barn area, meet their trainer and driver, and enjoy a lunch for 2 in the VHHA Sky Suite. This promotion will continue every Saturday thru October 18th. The Sunday September 21st card will feature popular ostrich and camel races, which had become a Father's Day tradition at Colonial Downs in the 2012 and 2013 summer thoroughbred meets. In keeping with a standardbred theme, ostriches will also have a sulky of sorts attached to them for the event. The camel race will be after the 5th harness race and the ostrich race will be after 8th harness race. Kids will be invited to run in a 100 yard dash on the track after the races and will actually line up behind the starter's car. by Darrell Wood, for Colonial Downs
WASHINGTON PA - The rain went away from this southwestern PA town close to The Meadows for Tuesday fair harness racing at the Washington County Fair and the famed Arden Downs oval, allowing for a full day of racing two-year-olds, as opposed to the previous day, when only two heats for sophomores got in. The attention Wednesday focused on two-year-old pacing colts, and especially three babies trained by "The King of the PA Fairs," Roger Hammer, even though Hammer drove only one of them. That one would be R N Nate, a Nuclear Breeze gelding who was won his last six starts at the fairs (plus throwing in a Stallion Series victory for good measure, in 1:55.4) for breeder-owner-trainer-driver Hammer. The circuit's top dashwinner, Chris Shaw, deputized for Hammer on the two other horses, including the day's (and meet's) fastest, Given Up Terror, an altered son of Western Terror who won here in 2:01.2 for trainer Hammer, with Mississippian Chad Parker on the paperwork as the owner. This precocious youngster has been twice second in the Stallion Series and won an overnight in 1:55.4. Those two races came among the four divisions of the PA Fair Sire Stake 2PC event; driver Brady Brown and trainer Mike Gillock clicked to take the other two, with Firm It Up (2:09.1- 30.2) and Moonshine Road (2:06.3). We talked about three Hammer 2PCs - the third is racing in the Quaker State Stakes, and Rustlercafe is now 7-6-1-0 in that series after a 2:02.2 score. Hammer is the owner/trainer/breeder of the altered son of Rustler Hanover, with Chris Shaw again in the bike. Other highlights included Ohioan Marty Wollam capturing three races on the day, from three different trainers, including two of the three Fair Sire Stakes 2TC winners: the Andover Hall colt Andover Express and the SJ's Caviar colt Itza Rube; and the recent local addition of Crist Hershberger, who had two sulky scores Wednesday and has already posted his best overall moneywinning season - and it's only mid-August. Mid-August means plenty of PA fair racing, and indeed the trotters and pacers will be back in action today and Thursday at Dayton PA, where first post is noon; a recap will be posted at the end of the meet. ................................................ Your correspondent had the privilege of filling in at the microphone for the peerless Roger Huston, returning from Ireland, during the first two days of the four-day meet at the State Fair of West Virginia (NOT the West Virginia State Fair, as you will be told), track #187 in his personal collection. On Tuesday, day two, it looked like a boxing slugfest out there: driver Chuck Perry won the first race, J D Wengerd the second, then Perry, then Wengerd, then Perry - so that the scorecard after the first two days reads 4-4, with three of Wengerd's winners coming from the barn of top trainer Shane Heasley. The SFOWV track crew again did an excellent job with the surface after more lashing with rain, and the meet's fastest pace, 2:02.1, was put up by the veteran campaigner Spudcam, a gelded son of Camluck trained and driven by Wengerd for J M F Racing. Publicity Office, PA Fair Harness Horsemen's Association
The first day of the two-day meet at the Arden Downs racetrack, during the Washington (PA) County Fair, was limited to two divisions of the three-year-old filly pace before a widespread band of rain overswept the area around 10:30 a.m. and forced the cancellation of the day's remaining races for sophomores. Getting to the Washington winners circle before the skies opened and the rest of the card was washed out were the Real Desire filly Southern Sweetie, a 2:01.4 winner for driver Brady Brown, trainer Mike Gillock, and owner Rich Gillock; and the McArdle miss TSM Soul Sister, now 5 for 8 this campaign after a 2:02.2 triumph for driver Todd Cummings, trainer Bob Krenitsky Jr., and owner Ted Tomson. With a break in the weather for tomorrow, the two-year-olds will try to get their racing in at Washington, with a 10 a.m. first post (unfortunately, those nationally-acknowledged handicappers at The Weather Channel say that showers and thunderstorms are about even money to hit the area shortly after midnight). ***** Lewisburg WV, home to the West Virginia State Fair and an annual four-day harness meet in conjunction with the fair, is 223 miles almost directly south of Washington, and the same line of wet stuff falling to its north had taken hold of its area, too, lasting until early afternoon. The WVSF's racing had one advantage, though: post time there was 5:30 p.m., and when the skies closed, lead trackmen Glen Ford and Joe Hayes Jr. did a terrific job of refurbishing the half-mile oval to the point that it was safe and raceable, and its curtainraising 5-race card was held. Featured was a $1700 Open trot, going to the Victory Sam gelding Calling A Victory in 2:07.2 over the sodden oval. Driver J D Wengerd figured out early that the front end was very desirable in these conditions by winning the first race in that way, and he again used those tactics in the finale to complete a driving-training double for himself and conditioner Shane Heasley. One other event, a $1500 pace, should be mentioned, taken in a tremendously-courageous performance by the Camtown Fella gelding Go Easy On Me in 2:03.4. Both driver Jeff Lieberman, behind Call Him Clint from post three, and driver Chuck Perry, behind Go Easy On Me one gate spot outside him, wanted the lead in this contest -- and Lieberman kept Perry hung through a vicious 29.2 opener. Go Easy On Me finally backed off for the two-hole nearing the 3/8, and the revved Call Him Clint went on to hit the half in 59.3. But then Perry, again not heeding the name of his horse, moved him back outside at the 1:31.2 3/4s, and went by his early tormentor on the turn. Don'tforgetmysugar was proverbially licking his chops sitting just off this duel, but Go Easy On Me found more in the lane and held off his late rival in 2:03.4 for driver Perry and trainer/owner Henry Lewis - as game a showing as you'd see in a 1:52 mile at a pari-mutuel track. Again, with atmospheric cooperation (and Lewisburg's forecast is identical to Washington's except for more likelihood of rain in late morning), the second day of the WVSF meet will have the first of its six races at 1 p.m. tomorrow. Jerry Connors
NEW KENT, VA --- Blueridge Adalia and Candid Photo won Virginia-bred divisional titles for the second straight year Sunday as three year olds as Colonial Downs closed out its 16th annual fall harness racing season with the $380,000 "Day of Champions" card. Morgan Hagerman's Blueridge Adalia captured the two year old filly pacing title a year ago and wired the field in Sunday's title race as a sophomore in 1:53.0. The Badlands Hanover filly was driven by Chris Page, one of four Virginia-bred wins that Colonial's leading reinsman scored. Page also guided Candid Photo to a 20 length triumph in the colt/gelding trot in a lifetime best 1:57.0. The Classic Photo gelding came first over in the turn and surged past Flaming Yankee for trainer Jane Dunavant. Dunavant also won the three year old filly trot with I Concur, who made up for a break in last week's prep race to score a convincing five length victory in 1:57 4/5. Eloise Eden, who won that prep by 13 lengths, broke stride at the start, regained the lead through the turn, but faultered in deep stretch and took second. Mark Gray's Southern Hoss won the three year old colt/gelding trot. The The Panderosa gelding wired the field in the prep last week and duplicated the feat Sunday, beating The Virginian by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:53 4/5. Chuck Perry directed the effort for owner Anne McDonald, who won another Virginia-bred divisional title with freshman filly trotter Always Quick Star. Handsome Jim and Perfect Number battled for the second straight week in the two year old colt/gelding category but their fortunes were reversed in the $51,475 final. Freddy Darby's Perfect Number won the prep by a head over Jimmy Viars' Handsome Jim in 1:56 2/5 but the order went the other way Sunday after a thrilling quarter mile match race of sorts between the two after they pulled away from the six other competitors. Handsome Jim led throughout and won by a half length in 1:58 1/5. A Christmas theme carried through the other pair of two year stakes as Jingle Bells won the colt/gelding trot in 2:03 2/5 for trainer/driver William Long while Santa Baby scored in the filly pace in 1:56 3/5. by Darrell Wood for Colonial Downs
(NEW KENT, VA ---- Original runner-up Fortune’s Jenna had his fortune reversed for the better as a result of a winner disqualification in Wednesday’s $7,400 final leg of the Horace Martin Memorial Pacing Series at Colonial Downs. Dean Eckley’s Jovial Joker N, who entered the finale with two wins in the three earlier Martin Series legs, scored what appeared to be a near wire-to-wire effort in the 1 ¼ miles finale in 2:26 2/5 in a steady drizzle. The 13 year old Life Sign gelding crossed one half length in front of Fortune’s Jenna but after a judge’s inquiry, it was ruled that he caused interference with the runner up and the order was reversed. Fortunes Jenna was as far back as sixth in the second turn, but came on strong in the stretch and despite the interference, almost passed Jovial Joker N before the finish. The 8 year old Cams Fortune gelding earned his second series win and 20th career victory. Jeff Nisonger directed the winner for trainer John Ingram and owner Daniel Chansky of Keysville, Virginia. Lemondrop Martini took third. Vertigo Hanover completed a series sweep in the U Gotta Win One Pacing Series by capturing the $5,650 final leg at the 1¼ distance. Driver Chuck Perry previously guided the 7 year old The Panderosa gelding to victories in the 7/8ths mile first leg and one mile second leg by identical 2½ length margins. On Wednesday, Vertigo Hanover traded front stepping places with All Is Lost on two different occasions before he opened up by five at the top of the stretch and coasted home 9 ¾ lengths ahead of Forward Bliss, who came from way back to take second. The winner, who crossed in 2:26 3/5, is trained and owned by Henry Lewis. Colonial Downs will host an eleven race card Thursday at 1:00 PM. by Darrell Wood for Colonial Downs
(NEW KENT, VA --- 9/25/13) ---- Doc’s Bonanza, the 2012 “Horse of the Meet” at Colonial Downs, got back to the winner’s for the first time in two starts at the current fall season in Wednesday’s $6,000 “winners over” featured pace. Driver Chris Page, who wasn’t at Colonial for Doc’s Bonanza’s first start a week ago, was in the bike Wednesday and the connection from last year’s success kicked in immediately. The 6 year old The Panderosa horse sat fourth through the first three fractions, went to the extreme coming out of the turn and wore down front steppers A Fool For Mark, Jolt of Fire and Doc’s Zippy in the stretch. Doc’s Zippy set the early pace, triggering fractions of :26 2/5, :54 1/5 and 1:22 3/5. Doc’s Bonanza ended up winning in 1:51.0, a seasonal best, by 1 ¾ lengths over Fly To The Angels. Last fall, the Mary Dawson trained horse had a winning mile of 1:49 4/5 in New Kent. A trio of late closer pacing series took place on the card as well. Fortune’s Jenna and Lemondrop Martini scored $3500 divisional wins in the Horace Martin Memorial’s second leg. Jeff Nisonger directed the former to a 1:53 4/5 one length triumph while Gerald Longo guided the latter to a new life mark in 1:53 3/5. What’s Up Rock made up for an early break in the VHHA Pacing Series’ first leg to score a tight win over Plain Easy in a $4,000 second leg division Wednesday. Driver Robert Dinning directed trainer Dean Eckley’s 3 year old Rocknroll Hanover gelding to a neck victory in 1:54 2/5. A sluggish I Reckon So shook off a tough start and stormed by six other pacers in the stretch to capture the second VHHA division. The 3 year old Yankee Skyscraper gelding crossed in a lifetime best 1:53 3/5 after going off stride before the start and languishing in last through much of the first three-quarters. The U Gotta Win One Now Series also got underway with a single $3500 division and Henry Lewis’s Vertigo Hanover got his second win of the young meet with a 1:36 3/5 effort in the seventh-eighths mile pace. Driver Chuck Perry took advantage of a perfect pocket trip to beat runner-up All Is Lost by nearly three lengths. Colonial Downs hosts a ten race harness program Thursday beginning at 1 PM. By Darrell Wood for Colonial Downs
Vertigo Hanover broke into the win column after four straight 'in the money' finishes by scoring a methodical victory Saturday in a harness racing three-quarter mile pacing feature at Colonial Downs.
Chuck Perry and John Wagner scored harness racing driving triples Sunday afternoon on a day that Colonial Downs featured a training flat race, a pari-mutuel steeplechase race and ten harness races.