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MEADVILLE PA - The Pennsylvania Fair Circuit set up shop for a four-day stay at the Crawford County Fairgrounds in this northwest Pennsylvania city, with the first two days of harness racing action devoted to two-year-olds. Here are some of the highlights from that action:   --The Great George Two-Annabelle Lane trotting filly A Little Laid Back, possibly named for owner/trainer/driver Roger Hammer, sped around the fairgrounds oval Monday in 2:04.1 for a new divisional track mark, her second of the summer following a 2:03.4 at Hughesville. To put the clocking it perspective: it lowered the old mark of Glide By Shooting by 1 2/5 seconds; it is more than two seconds faster than any colt counterpart has won a race in here; it was 3 1/5 seconds faster than the faster colt division Monday; and it went 3/5 faster than the quickest pacing filly section went the next day. A Little Laid Back is tied for second among North American 2TF with eight wins (believe it or not, there is an Illinois/Iowa filly named Surviver Di with 16 wins already, in just 84 days of racing!). Hammer had four wins on Monday and added another Tuesday.   --Continuing a fine tradition on to its fourth generation, 20YO horseman Nicholas Cook visited Victory Lane for the first time Tuesday, guiding the Well Said-Dragon So pacing colt Ginger Tree Currie to a 2:04.3 over Mclassic - the colt and his driver "breaking their maidens" at the same time. Nicholas's father is horseman Steve Cook, the main trainer for the stable of his grandfather Sam Beegle (like Beegle, Nick was an excellent high school wrestler), and his grand-grandfather was George Heit Jr., a noted southwest Pennsylvania horseman.   In the other two 2PC colts, the Western Terror-Free At Last colt Wagon Master made it three for three in his fair career, downing Hammer's highly-regarded Billy's Falcon, the only 2:00 freshman on the circuit to date, in 2:02.4, and Well Lets See joined Billy's Falcon at 7 for 9 at the fairs with a 2:04.3 triumph. --Possibly no victory was better received than the 2:05.3 victory of Bellagio Bay in the FFA trot Tuesday, as the trainer was none other than hometown hero Boots Dunn.   The racing continues at Meadville continues Wednesday (trotters) and Thursday (pacers) for the three-year-old set.   Publicity Office, PA Fair Harness Horsemen's Association

WASHINGTON PA - Harness Racing came to this town's fairgrounds oval, known as Arden Downs during its Grand Circuit days, just down the road from The Meadows for two days of action on Monday and Tuesday, and the standout performance was generally agreed to be the 1:59.1 victory of the first day turned in by the sophomore Nuclear Breeze gelding R N Nate, who ran his fair record for 2015 to 7-6-1-0, with two three-race winning streaks bookending a second at Hughesville. The indomitable Roger Hammer is "Nate"'s breeder, owner, trainer, and driver; the "magic mile" is the sixth of the Pennsylvania fair season, which has not been blessed with the best of weather.   Also among the three-year-olds, the Andover Hall gelding Simeon kept his fair record perfect after four starts with a 2:05 win for trainer/driver Dave Wade, who also co-owns with Jerry Brittingham, William Peel III, and Delores Wade. Earlier this month, Simeon had tied the all-age trot mark at Clearfield by winning in 2:02.   When the two-year-olds got their turn on Tuesday, two of them continued remarkable runs of form and consistency for babies by advancing their local records on twicearounds to 8-7-1-0. The pacing filly Unbeamlievable (Moon Beam-DVC Iblievenangles) won in 2:06.1 to bolster her credentials for Team Shaw (owner/3YO Mason, trainer/father Jason, and driver/uncle Chris), perhaps bringing to mind that team's success with Tropical Terror in this division last year; while "Beam"'s gelding counterpart Billy's Falcon (Nuclear Breeze - B T Falcon) also got to that seasonal recordline with a 2:05.1 win for Team Hammer (Roger the breeder, Roger the owner, Roger the trainer, and Roger the driver). The win by Billy's Falcon was hardly an upset, seeing as he had the circuit's first 2:00 mile of the year, a 1:59.4 at Gratz on July 11 (remember, he's a two-year-old).   Hammer was in a tie for the lead for the meet championship in both training and driving: both he and Brady Brown sulkysat four returnees to Victory Lane, while he and Mike Gillock each harnessed three winners.   One other item perhaps worth the reporting might be a 2:05.3 win by the SJ's Caviar sophomore filly HS Pearl in the first race of the meet, not so much as she came out of nowhere (the win was her fourth in her last five fair starts), but her connections were new to the recent Keystone fair scene: driver named Palone, trainer named Burke, owners named Burke Racing and Weaver Bruscemi. Rumors are these "new fellows" might do pretty well in the sport if they keep at it, based on their "debuts" (Palone hadn't had a PA Fair Sire Stakes win in the 23 years of computerized records kept by the USTA; must be busy somewhere else).   FINISHING LINES - The PA fair circuit swings right back into action Wednesday and Thursday at Dayton PA, with some of the top Fair Sire Stakes horses not racing at Washington slated for action at Dayton, where the bell will be rung for the first race at high noon each day.   Publicity Office, PA Fair Harness Horsemen's Association

After the cancellation of the Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes program for three-year-olds yesterday, harness fans got to see some talented two-year-olds on the track today (Thursday) at the Wayne County Fair.   Roger Hammer had two geldings run their fair records to 7-6-1-0 in the racing for the freshmen. He posted the fastest time on the pace with the Nuclear Breeze - B T Falcon gelding Billy's Falcon, whom he owns, trains, drives, and bred.    (We should note, though, that despite that lofty record, Billy's Falcon is fractionally behind in the seasonal pointstandings to the McArdle-Timeless Classic gelding Mclassic, who has an 8-4-3-1 tally after winning at Waynesburg Monday.)   Also 7-6-1-0 on his tour of Pennsylvania is the Donato Hanover-Gaytanes gelding High Octane, this time home in 2:08.2 for owner/trainer/driver Hammer.   Hammer's A Little Laid Back, the leader among baby trotting fillies, lost a four-race winning streak when she ran into the Cantab Hall-Eclat Hanover buzzsaw miss Connie Jean, now four-for-four at the country twicearounds after a 2:10 win for trainer/driver Todd Schadel and owners Charles Keller III (the Hall of Fame nominee), Charles Keller IV, and Dan and Brett Bittle.   Trainer/driver Schadel also posted the fastest trot time in the FFA event with the SJ's Caviar mare Caviar Call Girl, a 2:07.3-29.3 winner for himself and wife Christine, also the breeders.   It seems only appropriate, five days after the tenth anniversary of their Vivid Photo winning the Hambletonian, that Hammer and Schadel both sat atop the training and driving lists with three winners during the abbreviated session.   Brandon Givens drove a pair of winners as he continues his comeback, with his seasonal totals 59-20-9-7-.463, and he sits fourth in the sulky statistics behind Hammer (44), Chris Shaw (37), and Brady Brown (24).   Next week the Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes circuit makes two stops.   First will come the action at the Washington County Fairgrounds, the site known as Arden Downs during its Grand Circuit days, where sophomores will go Monday and freshmen Tuesday, both days at 10.   The circuit then moves on to the (relatively) nearby Dayton Fair, for action starting at high noon on Wednesday (three-year-olds) and Thursday (two-year-olds).   Jerry Connors

The four-day  harness racing meet at the Clearfield County Fair came to an end today (Wednesday), with the last card featured sophomore pacers: two geldings upped their fair records for the year to 6-5-1-0, and one filly - already very familiar with winning - also notched her fifth fair win of 2015.   In three divisions for the males, the Western Terror gelding Royaltyhasarrived recorded the fastest clocking, 2:01.1, to post his fifth straight fair victory, this time by 6¼ lengths.   The all-time track recordholder at Hughesville by virtue of a 1:58.1 victory there in July, Royaltyhasarrived won again Wednesday for driver Brady Brown, trainer Steve Schoeffel, and owners Virginia and Kathy Schoeffel and Michael Munn.   Driver Brown also won another division of this event with EJ And Orr in 2:03.1 for conditioner Dan Walski and the Walski Stables LLC, to give him three scores on the day.   R N Nate also impressed as he kept pace with Royaltyhasarrived, having to race on the rim throughout, yet still tallying in 2:01.3 by 12¾ lengths.   Owner/trainer/driver/breeder Roger Hammer is the guiding force behind the altered son of Nuclear Breeze - whose dam, R N Artist, was the 2003 PA Fair Champion in her sophomore division.   The Western Terror filly Tropical Terror, who led all North American two-year-olds last year with 16 visits to the winners circle (including 15 at the fairs), ran her 2015 tally to five victories on the twicearounds (four in current succession) with a 2:04.1 win for driver/uncle Chris Shaw, trainer/father Jason Shaw, and owner Mason Shaw, like the filly a three-year-old and the CEO/COO/CFO of the powerful Team Shaw.   The fastest filly division fell to the McArdle filly Clear Winner, who pulled a 2:04 major upset of Keystone I Wish, co-fastest PA fair horse of the year with Royaltyhasarrived (her 1:58.1 was at Gratz).   Keystone I Wish made an early burst after the ¼ to the lead, but Clear Winner, 6¼ lengths behind at the 3/4s, unleashed a powerful move through the turn and the stretch to edge her rival by a head for most of the team behind Royaltyhasarrived: driver Brady Brown, trainer Steve Schoeffel, and owner Virginia Schoeffel, with Fred and Seth Dowling also co-owning Clear Winner.   For the four days of racing, Roger Hammer had eight driving victories and seven training triumphs to lead all horsemen; the sulky success allowed Hammer to win the Buster DiSalvo Trophy for most driving wins at Clearfield for the twelfth time.   Hammer solidified his perch atop the season-long standings, now having 40 sulky victories and 39 conditioning wins.   The highlight of the meet had to be the 2:02 trotting victory by Simeon and Dave Wade on Tuesday, equaling Cottonwood Sam's all-age track trotting record set in 2003.   The 2015 Pennsylvania fair circuit reaches its midpoint next week with racing at two fairs, stops number 10 and 11 on the 20-stop circuit, and about as far apart as you can get in Pennsylvania - there are 358 miles between Waynesburg PA (hometown of Dave Palone), in the southwest corner of the state, and Honesdale PA in the far northeast.   Waynesburg will race 2YO events this coming Tuesday and 3YO events this coming Wednesday, with first post each day 10 a.m.   The racing starts Wednesday at Honesdale at 4 p.m., with 3YO contests plus a $2000 FFA pace, while Thursday's 1 p.m. start will showcase 2YOs and a $2000 FFA trot.   Jerry Connors

The first two days of the 2015 four-day meet at the Clearfield County Fairgrounds in this northcentral Pennsylvania city are in the books, with two-year-olds in the spotlight: trotters on Sunday and pacers on Monday.   This week is the 10-year anniversary of the victory in the prestigious Hambletonian achieved by Vivid Photo, who made and won his first career start in PA Fair Sire Stakes action at the local circuit's Bloomsburg Fair, so perhaps it was appropriate that Vivid's co-owners, Roger Hammer and Todd Schadel, swept all five of the Fair Sire Stakes trotting events offered Sunday.   Roger trained and drove three winners, including two horses who have lost but once at the fairs: the Great George Two-Annabelle Lane filly A Little Laid Back (2:06; 7-6-0-0) and the Donato Hanover-Gaytanes gelding High Octane (2:07.2; 6-5-1-0). The other Hammerite was Keystone Shotgun, a Yankee Glide gelding out of Keystone Sirena who won in 2:06.4 for the partnership of Hammer --- and Todd Schadel.   Schadel's two winners included the Yankee Glide-Keystone Brittany gelding Keystone Blade, fastest winner of the day at 2:05.2 for his second straight victory (his first handed High Octane his only defeat), whom Schadel trains, drives, and co-owns with wife Christine; and the Cantab Hall-Eclat Hanover filly Connie Jean, now perfect in three fair outings after a 2:07.2 jaunt for the partnership of Charles Keller III (a candidate for the Harness Hall of Fame), Charles Keller IV, Dan Bittle, and Brett Bittle.   Come Monday and the pacers, the spotlight shifted to the red-hot triumvirate who have come to the Pennsylvania fair circuit this year with great success: driver Brandon Givens, trainer Kevin Lare, and owner Frank Chick. The trio had three winners on the day, including the card's fastest, 2:03.4, posted by the Well Said-Lioness Hanover colt Well Lets See, who ran his fair record to 7-6-0-1 and in the process handed Billy's Falcon (Hammer), who had won in 1:59.4 at Gratz earlier, his first fair setback after five straight triumphs.   In the baby pacing filly ranks, Worthy Jackie (Shark Gesture-Jakes Lil Sis) was quickest in 2:05.4 for trainer/driver Sam Beegle and Bay Pond Racing Stable. Two other fillies ran their fair marks to 6-5-1-0: Unbeamlievable (Moon Beam-DVC Ibelieveinangles, 2:06.2) for driver Chris Shaw, trainer/brother Jason, and owner/nephew Mason; and Devious Behavior (Dragon Again-Ideal Sign, 2:06.4) for Team Givens/Lare/Chick. Both fillies, ironically, had their only defeat at Bedford - they have yet to meet.   The two days saw Roger Hammer train and drive four winners to lead those respective columns; Givens and Lare of course had three each; and also with three training wins is Gary Johnston, having a fine season, with Shawn Johnston winning with two and Aaron Johnston piloting the other.   The three-year-olds will be in the spotlight at noon on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the trotters leading off the sophomore action at Clearfield.   Publicity Office, PA Fair Harness Horsemen's Association

BEDFORD PA - Roger Hammer, "King of the Pennsylvania Fairs" and coming to race in his home town of Bedford, where he is in the Sports Hall of Fame, posted three victories on both Monday and Tuesday at the local fairgrounds to be the leading driver for the meet and retake command of the local seasonal win category.   Hammer posted the fastest mile of the meet, 2:01.3, and got the biggest purse of the session when he won the one-division PA Fair Sire Stakes for three-year-old pacers, with an $11,345 purse, with his homebred Nuclear Breeze gelding R N Nate, who earlier in the year had rewritten the Butler standard for his class to 2:01 - for thirty minutes, until Royaltyhasarrived, who was not entered at Bedford, beat the new mark by a tick.   With his sextet of visits to Victory Lane, Roger raised his 2015 total on the fair circuit to 32, four ahead of Chris Shaw, who had come out of the gate hot this year but was inexplicably 0-for-15 over the Bedford half-miler. Hammer also trains all six of his winners, now giving him a 32-22 lead in the conditioning colony over Chris's brother Jason, who entered only two horses in the two days.   Since we are fast approaching the 10th anniversary of the magical (hey, it is to us!) Hambletonian win of Vivid Photo, owned by Hammer in partnership with Todd Schadel, it seems appropriate that Todd was right behind Roger with five victories over the two days, including winning with the fastest trotter, the sophomore filly Scarlett's Legacy, in 2:03.1. Todd trains all five of his successful quintet, and co-owns three with his wife Christine; Max J. Hempt, grandson of Hall of Famer Max C. Hempt, owns one of the others, and the second is backed by a quartet that includes Hall of Fame nominee Charles Keller III.   A shout-out should also go to another member of the Bedford Sports Hall of Fame, Sam Beegle - who got in the local Hall for his wrestling skill, having gone to the high school State Finals, and who of course has had a fine career as a trainer/driver, President of the PA Harness Horsemen's Association, and now Chairman of USTA District 7, of which he has been a longtime director. Beegle guided the Shark Gesture-Jakes Lil Sis baby pacing filly Worthy Jackie home first in 2:04.2.   The Pennsylvania fair action now heads to the Clearfield County Fair in the northcentral part of the state. Racing is being held on a Sunday through Wednesday schedule this year, with post time the day after the Adios 1 p.m. and noon for the following three sessions.   PA Fair Harness Horsemen's Association  

After taking a battering on Wednesday with the resetting of the Lycoming County Fair records on both the pace (Royaltyhasarrived, 1:58.1) and trot (Aloysius, 2:01), the local harness racing record book had to absorb another alteration during Thursday's Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes action for two-year-olds, as trotting filly A Little Laid Back was nothing like her name by winning in 2:03.4. (We originally typed "trotting fully" instead of "trotting filly," but both are applicable.)   A Little Laid Back, a daughter of Great George Two - Annabelle Lane owned, trained, and driven by (the always "laid back") Roger Hammer, shaved 2/5 of a second off the former track mark for this section, set by Desired Outcome four years and two days ago - but all they had to white-out is the time, date, and the horse's name, as Hammer had sulky duty on Desired Outcome's recordsetting day as well.   Fastest baby trotting male, and the Pennsy fair season's leader for freshman diamondgaiters, is Major Matter, an altered son of Explosive Matter - Tahiti Springs, who won nicely in 2:02.1 for trainer/driver Rick Beinhauer, who shares ownership and breeding bragging rights with Regina Beinhauer.   The day's other big story were the PA fair circuit newcomers who combined for a triple: driver Brandon Givens, trainer Kevin Lare, and owner Frank Chick. (Givens had a fourth winner through a catch drive, and his total of 10 fair wins puts him fourth in the standings.) The triumvirate took down half of the four 2PC divisions, including the fastest with the Well Said - Lionness Hanover freshman Well Lets See, who took his third win in four starts with a 2:02 clocking.   The local fair circuit moves on to Bedford for racing on Monday and Tuesday.   The oval at Bedford, in its second year back after a 23-year hiatus of harness racing, was in lightning shape last year, and perhaps the weather will be cooperative in giving the young stars chances at fast clockings.     Jerry Connors

Roger Hammer, "King of the Pennsylvania Fairs," had five horses he owns, trains, and drove visit Victory Lane during the two-day harness racing Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes event at Dayton over the weekend - and lost the seasonal driving lead to Chris Shaw, who guided five winners on both two-year-old Saturday and three-year-old Sunday for a total of ten wins in all.   Six of Chris Shaw's winners were strictly "all in the family" affairs - driven by him for trainer/brother Jason and owner/nephew Mason, himself only three but likely to be able to pick the college and even program of his choice with all of this "college tuition" money that Team Shaw keeps winning.   Among the Team Shaw sextet of victories was one with Tropical Terror, the Western Terror filly who in 2014 led all of North America's freshmen with 16 victories. On Sunday she toured the Dayton twicearound in 2:02.3, fastest heat in her division, tacking on a 29.3 last quarter to her wire-to-wire triumph.   Two sophomore colts went in 2:01 to tie for meet speed honors.   One was R N Nate, a Nuclear Breeze gelding who had earlier set a 2:01 divisional track record at Butler for breeder/owner/trainer/driver Hammer.   The other was Royaltyhasarrived, already author of a fair 2:00 mile via his 1:59.1 triumph at Gratz and the "eraser" of R N Nate in the Dayton books when later in the day he went 2:00.4.   "Royalty" was king in his Dayton outing for driver Brady Brown, who had an excellent Sunday with four victories; trainer Steve Schoeffel, who provided Brown with three of his winners; and owners Virginia and Kathy Schoeffel and Michael Munn.   Trotting speed honors for the meet went to the Muscle Massive filly Missive, another Brown/Schoeffel collaboration who earlier had also erased a line in the track record book at Butler.   Sunday she traversed the local twicearound in 2:04 on the engine for the Lander Stable LLC and Kathy Schoeffel.   On the two-year-old side, generating the most "buzz" is still the Nuclear Breeze-B T Falcon gelding Billy's Falcon, who had won in 1:59.4 at Gratz.   Only Saturday Billy's Falcon moved early and won by a country mile, here translating to 18 3/4 lengths, in posting the fastest Dayton freshman clocking of 2:03.1 as yet another success story for owner/breeder/trainer/driver Hammer.   The PA fair circuit now moves to Hughesville for cards on Wednesday and Thursday.   When the circuit arrives at that midstate town not too far from the Little League World Series home of Williamsport, the top five trainers and drivers for the 2015 PA fair season to date will look like this:   DRIVERS: Chris Shaw, 23; Roger Hammer, 21; Brady Brown, 11; Steve Schoeffel, 6; and tied with 5, Shawn Johnston and Wayne Long (who got four of those at Dayton).   TRAINERS: Roger Hammer 21; Jason Shaw 17 (he had seven in all at Dayton); Steve Schoeffel 12; Bill Daugherty Jr., 5; and tied with 4, Lisa Dunn-Adams, Kevin Lare, and Todd Schadel.   Jerry Connors

Seeing that next month will be the 10th anniversary of Vivid Photo's winning of The Hambletonian, it seems correct that his owners, Roger Hammer and hometown hero Todd Schadel, would tie atop the horsemen's standings for the harness racing meetings on Saturday/Sunday in Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes action here at the central Pennsylvania oval, perhaps the local circuit's fastest, with four wins each as trainer and driver.   Schadel posted the fastest mile of the young Keystone fair season, 1:58.1, with the Art Official filly Keystone I Wish, last year's 2PF Fair Championship winner, whom he owns with his wife Christine.   Another highlight for Todd came when he swept the two-year-old trotting filly divisions in the first two races of the meet, with the Explosive Matter miss, home in 2:03.3 for Todd and Christine, and Connie Jean, a Cantab Hall miss who clocked in 2:03 for Charles Keller III (Hall of Fame nominees race at the Pennsylvania fairs!), Charles Keller IV, E. Dan Bittle, and Brett Bittle. Keystone I Wish and Connie Jean, like their fellow six horses who were the fastest divisional winner in their respective Gratz events, also became PA Fairs season's leaders in notching their winning clockings.   Hammer's highlight was the 1:59.4 victory with the two-year-old ( on a fair half-mile track in mid-July!) pacing gelding Billy's Falcon, who in his only other fair start went 2:00.1 at Bloomsburg.   The Nuclear Breeze gelding is owned by Hammer, as were his other three weekend winners, giving him 16 victories in just six fairs as both trainer and driver, leading both sets of statistics.   The other sub-2:00 mile of the weekend was notched by Royaltyhasarrived, a sophomore Western Breeze gelding who had set a divisional track record at Butler in his last start.   On Sunday he covered the Gratz twicearound in 1:59.1 for driver Brady Brown, trainer Steve Schoeffel, and owners Virginia and Kathy Schoeffel and Michael Munn.   Special mention must be made of two drivers named Brandon, especially Brandon Givens, who had been away from the races over five years putting his life back together.   Now working for fellow "comeback kid" Kevin Lare, Brandon, a career winner of over 1000 races who had not driven for 1917 days, fashioned a sulky triple on Saturday, two of them for trainer Lare.   The other Brandon, Brandon Henley, made his first Pennsylvania fair appearance Sunday - in fact, it was the first time he had raced at a fair since the very first start of his career, in the summer of 2010 at The Great Pocomoke City (MD) Fair.   He was also quick to find the winners circle, rounding out the weekend's action by guiding the Tom Ridge 3TG Oregon Ridge to a 2:04 victory for lessee/trainer Syl King Jr.   Jerry Connors

BLOOMSBURG PA - If you ask the Pennsylvania fair harness racing horsemen's community to consider an old adage, they would definitely say that the glass is half-full.   For the second straight week, the PA fair circuit was reduced from two scheduled days to one because of rain. Last week at Wattsburg, the three-year-olds got to race Sunday; this past weekend, the two-year-old set got their first action on Saturday at Bloomsburg, the speedy northeast Pennsylvania half-miler.   The star of the Saturday action had to be Billy's Falcon, a Nuclear Breeze gelding out of B T Falcon, and whose granddam produced two Sire Stakes champions - so he had the pedigree. In his corner is breeder / owner/ trainer / driver Roger Hammer - "the King of the PA Fairs."   And he has the speed - he won in 2:00.1 over a fair track rated "good," in his second career start, with back fractions of 58 - 28.4. The other 2PC winners went good miles (McClassic in 2:04.3 - 28.4, Crazy Idea home in 30.2 in a 2:07 outing), but Billy's Falcon and Hammer certainly stamped themselves as the early horse to keep an eye on.   Fastest 2PF winner was Unbeamlieveable (a Moon Beam filly backed by driver Chris Shaw, trainer Jason Shaw, 3YO owner Mason Shaw), stopping the clock in 2:04 - 28.3. On the trot, speed honors went to the filly She's Seaworthy (Cantab Hall), a 2:07.3 winner for trainer/driver Steve Schoeffel and owners Virginia and Kathy Schoeffel, James Nelson, and the BPN Partnership; fastest colt was another trainer-driver Hammerite, the Yankee Glide gelding Keystone Shotgun, home in 2:08 for the ownership team of Hammer and Todd Schadel, the partnership behind Vivid Photo, the Hambletonian winner ten years ago.   In all, Hammer had an owning / training / driving triple; horsemen doublers were trainer/driver Schoeffel, driver Shaw and trainer Shaw, and driver Shawn Johnston.   The circuit heads back west this weekend to the Meadville Sertoma event at the Crawford County fairgrounds, where legendary "host" Boots Dunn will do his best to give his fellow horsemen a "full glass of action."     Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen Association's Publicity Office        

WASHINGTON, PA, May 18, 2015 -- Harness racing driver Roger Hammer notched career win 4,000 Monday at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino when he piloted Joevidal to victory in the sixth race. Hammer said that as a young trainer/driver, he never imagined he would achieve such a lofty milestone. "I never thought of the victories; I thought more of the money," he joked. "I was just enjoying the races." Hammer's involvement in harness racing, which now extends more than six decades, began when he was 6 and started helping his father, the late Clay Hammer, as the elder Hammer plied the Pennsylvania and Ohio fair circuits. Young Roger was 16 when he drove his first horse. It wasn't long before Hammer was amassing training and driving victories -- at raceways to be sure, but particularly at PA fairs -- and earning assignments from such renowned trainers as Harry Harvey. His career received a key boost when he formed a productive, long-lasting relationship with the late Max C. Hempt of Hempt Farms, an important breeder then and now. They became partners in many horses over the years. "A big part of my career was Max," Hammer said. "One thing about Max: Max never bothered you, never called you. He was just a true horseman. When he did call it was always after noon. He'd say, 'You're busy in the morning, and I don't want to bother you.' That's the way he was." Hammer indicated the notion that Hempt would tab the best "Keystone" yearlings for their partnership is false. "Everybody thought that, but that wasn't Max. It was after I bought his yearlings that he would say, 'Give me your list,' and he would pick out the ones he wanted for our partnership." With that steady supply of capable young horses, Hammer began to roll up eye-popping numbers. He's an eight-time North American UDR champion -- usually in the 300-499 starts category -- and his UDR exceeded .300 for a remarkable 26 straight years. On Sept. 9, 2003, he drove 11 winners at the York Fair; only Bruce Ranger (13 victories at Pompano Park on Sept. 5, 2009) has collected more wins on a single program. But Hammer's reputation as "King of the Fairs" underwent serious revision on Aug. 6, 2005, when he drove the gelding Vivid Photo, whom he trained and co-owns with Todd Schadel, to a stunning victory in the Hambletonian. That triumph -- with a horse he campaigned at the Big Butler Fair and the Clearfield Fair, no less -- proved that Hammer could, at the same time, be a throwback and a success in an environment dominated by catch drivers. Consider how unlikely his feat was. In the Hambletonian's first 25 years, 23 of the winners were driven by their trainers. In the most recent 25 years of the race, only five trainer/drivers have won: Stefan Melander (Scarlet Knight, 2001), Trond Smedshammer (Windsongs Legacy, 2004), Ray Schnittker (Deweycheatumnhowe, 2008), Jimmy Takter (Trixton, 2014) and Hammer. Even now, Hammer has no second thoughts about having raced his future Hambo champion at the fairs. "He was a mean horse in the stall, climbing the walls and running around biting himself," he told USTA a few years ago. "We had to castrate him to keep him from damaging himself. Best thing that ever happened to him, but here's the point. If I'd known how great he would become, I still would have raced him at the fairs at 2. It's educational, and if you pick the right fairs, it doesn't hurt them." Hammer says winning the sport's most prestigious race didn't change him. "It was the greatest thing, to win the Hambletonian, but it never changed my lifestyle, and it never changed my attitude as far as racing goes," he said. "It was a pleasure winning that race, but I was right back to the fairs the next day. I was glad that Harry Harvey was there. I only wish my dad and Max could have seen it." Today, Hammer operates his farm in Bedford, PA, roughly 100 miles east of The Meadows, where he manages about 70 head, including racehorses, broodmares, youngsters and a few retirees. Among the latter are Vivid Photo and Shark Kosmos, another top trotter of yore for Hammer, who pal around in their own paddock. Hammer has cut back a bit, typically driving only at The Meadows while relying on catch drivers elsewhere. "I like to torment the guys at The Meadows," Hammer said. "I like to tease them here." He's trying to reduce his equine holdings as well but is finding it difficult to do so. "When you raise 10 or 11 yearlings a year, it's hard to cut back because they accumulate too much," he said. "I'm trying to get rid of most of my racehorses, just keep a couple around to pay the bills. I'd like to cut back to 15-to-20 head, but I don't know what else I would do. That's the thing that keeps me going." Evan Pattak

HARRISBURG PA - Example A of why never to say "Oh, he (or she) is 'just a fair horse'" is the pacer Sapphire City, a seven-year-old son altered son of Metropolitan, winner of his Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes Championship at age 2 - and the sport's newest millionaire following victory in Saturday's $100,000 Levy Series Consolation at Yonkers.   Just over two years removed from their Vivid Photo Hambletonian fame, Pennsylvania horsemen Roger Hammer (by the way right now just two wins short of 4000) and Todd Schadel purchased the baby from his breeder, the late Dr. John Hurtgen. As is the case with many Hammer/Schadel copurchases of yearlings in a given year (Vivid Photo would be one), they divvied up the horses between them to train, and Schadel got Sapphire City.   At two, Sapphire City got checks in the "big" Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and was undefeated in five starts at the fairs, after which he posted a wire-to-wire victory in his Fair Championship at The Meadows. At three, Sapphire City got checks in p/m Sire Stakes competition and even won a Stallion Series event, so a late-season flurry of 5-3-2-0 fair activity wasn't enough for him to get to the Final, soon after which he was sold to Illinois' Centaur Stable and Indiana's Jordan Sklut, who still own him, and has been under the shedrow of trainer Paul Blumenfeld the vast majority of that time.   Sapphire City won over $200,000 in each of his 4, 5, and 6YO years, and $773,895 combined in those three seasons, taking a mark of 1:49.4 at Tioga Downs. This year he had two early wins in Yonkers' Open handicaps, which triggered his campaigned in the Levy, where he had two seconds (one a half-length loss to Levy champion Domethatagain), a third, and two fourths to earn him a spot in the Consolation. Ironically, he was never higher than 8-1 in his Levy prelims, but he was 13-1 in the Consolation, where - for the sixth straight week against top-level horses - he used his early speed, perhaps learned in his fair days, to work out a pocket trip, then rallied in the passing lane to win in 1:52.2 and go over seven figures in earnings.   Schadel and Hammer purchased Sapphire City for $27,000 as a yearling and made almost $80,000 with him at two and three, and undoubtedly got a good price when he was sold to the Midwesterners, who obviously have gotten a great deal as well. Sapphire City, new millionaire, is the embodiment of why using the dismissive term "He's just a fair horse" is a risky choice of words for anyone.   Publicity Office, Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association

WASHINGTON, PA, April 21, 2015 -- Pinned along the pylons in the stretch, RN Nate swerved sharply outside and roared home to pull off a 24-1 upset victory in Tuesday's $32,800 championship of the Visible Gold Pace for 3-year-old colts and geldings at The Meadows. Roger Hammer, driver, trainer, breeder and owner of RN Nate, was giving the Nuclear Breeze-RN Artist gelding a ground-saving trip but found himself sitting fifth behind a stopping rival, in desperate need of room. "We came off the rail so fast that we nearly hit Dickie's (Stillings) wheel," Hammer said. "I had to take up a little bit to make sure I cleared him." With that clearance, RN Nate gobbled up the leaders and scored in a career-best 1:53.3. Well Bred shot the Lightning Lane for place, a length behind, with the first-over Chaching Hanover and Stillings third. RN Nate showed considerable promise at 2, winning eight of 10 starts while taking a mark of 1:54, when injury struck. "He got a hairline crack in a coffin bone -- that's why we had to quit with him," Hammer said. For the balance of RN Nate's sophomore campaign, Hammer indicated he would follow the recipe that has been so successful for him over the years -- a touch of PA Fairs, a dash of PA Stallion Series, perhaps a dollop of PA Sires Stakes for flavor. "I'll just take a little bit of money," he said. The win gives Hammer 3,998 career driving victories. Wednesday's card at The Meadows features the $36,700 championship of the Daylon Miracle Trot for 3-year-old fillies (race 9) as well as a $15,000 total-pool guarantee for the Pick 4 (races 4-7). First post is 12:55 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 5, 2014 -- Fly Past Hanover, a 3-year-old trotting gelding, shot the Lightning Lane and notched his second straight Pennsylvania Fairs championship Saturday at The Meadows On a festive evening that featured many family-oriented activities, The Meadows hosted all eight fairs finals, each with a purse of $25,000 -- up 25 percent from last year. Aaron Merriman piloted three champions, including a pair -- Fly Past Hanover and Wimborne Hanover -- for trainer William Daugherty, Jr. Fly Past Hanover stalked the favorite, Mr Weaver, from the pocket and blew by inside to triumph in 1:59.2 for his 22nd victory over the past two seasons, downing Mr Weaver by 2-1/4 lengths. Faust was third. Daugherty said he wasn't surprised the son of Cantab Hall-Flexible Spending was able to repeat as champion. "He's a good honest trotter -- 90 percent sound, no big problems," Daugherty said. "We got rained out three or four times this summer; that gave him a little rest." In the other championships: 3-Year-Old Filly Trot -- Sheema Star Sheema Star provided the night's tote board pyrotechnics when she shed excess cover in the lane to pull off a 50-1 shocker in 1:59.3 and give driver Brady Brown his first career victory at The Meadows. She Nuit was second by a head, with Hearts Content third. "When I saw I was following the morning-line favorite, I knew we wouldn't be on the fence long," Brown said. "I figured I would have cover carrying me all the way to the stretch. My plan was to come from the back anyway. Everything worked out." Ashley Brown owns and trains the daughter of SJ's Caviar-Hearts In Bloom. 3-Year-Old Filly Pace -- Wiggle It Hanover Not to be outdone by his buddy Brown, Shawn Johnston captured his initial driving victory at The Meadows when Wiggle It Hanover -- a daughter of Dragon Again-Western Gesture that Johnston also owns and trains -- rallied to capture only her second lifetime win in 1:56.3. La Fiesta, the PA Fairs juvenile champion, was second, a head back, while Fixed Income earned show. "They were all itching to get out of there, but she likes to come off the pace," Johnston said. "Was there anything holding her back? Probably me." Johnston received congratulations of sorts when his fellow horsemen doused him with two buckets of icy water. 3-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace -- Wellsaidandone Seated early by the determined Ruffle Up and Roger Hammer, Wellsaidandone had more pop late and blazed by the leader to score in 1:53.4 for Merriman, trainer Mike Gillock and owner Harry Locke. On a brusque night when stake records seemed safe, the Well Said-Yenta Hanover gelding missed the stake mark by a tick, an impressive performance. "That horse of Roger's looked like he'd been getting his own way at the fairs," Merriman said. "I thought if he got cheap fractions, he'd be tough to beat. My horse really exploded out of the hole and made my job extremely easy." 2-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trot -- Wimborne Hanover Wimborne Hanover soared over $100,000 in earnings with his win in 1:59.3. Bambam Lauxmont was second, 3/4 lengths in arrears, while Music Man De Vie completed the ticket. The victory by the Muscle Massive-Wherley gelding wasn't surprising -- he was the 1-2 favorite -- but the front-end style was, as Daugherty previously indicated the youngster had become too hot. "In this field, I thought he might have to go to the front," Daugherty said. "He's been good and solid since I changed his bit, but he wasn't going to get a seat tonight. Aaron said he got a little lazy near the wire." 2-Year-Old Filly Trot -- Isabella Carina Brian Zendt drove Isabella Carina in her most recent outing, a Keystone Classic split, and what he learned proved instrumental in her victory Saturday. "We made some rigging changes," Zendt said. "She had a Murphy blind, and she acted like she couldn't see right. She had her head kind of cocked sideways. We took that off, and she was much better tonight. She's a Cadillac -- wants to do everything right." The daughter of Tom Ridge-Bellissimo moved three wide down the backside and drew off by 5-1/2 lengths to score in 1:59.2. Susie B and Peoplesayimnogood completed the ticket. Walter "Boots" Dunn conditions the homebred Isabella Carina for Dunn Stable. 2-Year-Old Filly Pace -- Keystone I Wish Although she trailed by 5 lengths down the backside, Keystone I Wish tracked down the loose leader, Angel Plus, and scored in 1:57. Tropical Terror, the "winningest" freshman in harness racing with 16 victories, lacked late racing room and settled for second, 1-1/2 lengths behind, while Angel Plus saved show. "I was a little concerned (with her position), but this filly will chase one down," said winning driver Todd Schadel, who trains the daughter of Art Official-I Will -- an $8,000 Harrisburg buy-back -- and owns with Christine Schadel. 2-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace -- Marshmallow Pulse Marshmallow Pulse not only grabbed the championship in 1:57.1, but he also extended a streak -- in the money in all 17 career starts. Tony Hall drove the Quik Pulse Mindale-Marshamarshamarsha gelding for trainer Jason Shaw and owner Mason Shaw who, although only 2, showed his savvy as a horseman yet again. Nippy was second, 3-3/4 lengths back, with Given Up Terror third. "He tries every time he goes on the racetrack," Jason Shaw said of his $4,500 yearling acquisition. "He gives you everything he's got. Next year we may try some early closers here, then back to the fairs." by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

BLOOMSBURG PA - The time-honored Bloomsburg Stakes were raced this Wednesday and Thursday at the fairgrounds oval here, with some $45,000 in harness racing stakes putting an official end to the 2014 Pennsylvania fair season. Wednesday's action was highlighted by Police Navidad winning his 11th race, putting him atop all North American baby trotters. The altered son of Muscle Massive won in 2:06.2 for trainer/driver Steve Schoeffel, and is owned by Virginia and Kathy Schoeffel in partnership with Lander Stables LLC and James Reuther. Roger Hammer trained two winners Wednesday, guiding his own 2TF Peoplesayimnogood to win in 2:02.3, an impressive clocking for the daughter of Lear Jetta. Hammer then again turned over the lines of the Rustler Hanover gelding Rustlercafe to Chris Shaw, the fair circuit's leading driver, and that gelding won his 11th straight race, and 13th of the year (seven times with Shaw guiding), in 2:01.2. Driver Chris Shaw currently has the amazing status of being the driver behind four of the five winningest two-year-olds in all of North America, the others being the filly Tropical Terror (15) and the geldings Nippy (14) and Marshmallow Pulse (12). The latter three are trained by his brother Jason and owned by his 2YO nephew Mason. Fastest mile of the two days was the 2:00.4 clocked by 2PF Keystone I Wish, a daughter of Art Official-I Will, in winning her stake (all but the 3TCs went one division). Her "big sister" by Yankee Cruiser, Keystone Ivy, won the 3PF event on Thursday in 2:05.4, when rain dampened the racetrack and any hope for fast clockings. Both fillies are trained and were driven by Todd Schadel, and Schadel also shares ownership with his wife Christine. Hammer turned up behind two more winners on Thursday, one behind his own Real Artist gelding Ruffle Up, the only multiple sub 2:00 performer at the fairs this year; here he negotiated a "slow" oval in 2:02.4. Roger also won for trainer/owner Boots Dunn with the streaking SJ's Caviar filly Hearts Content, who won in 2:05 and is carrying her speed better from start to start. Taking the 3TC races were Mr Weaver (driver Bryce Truitt) in 2:07.1-29.4 and Millertown Road (Steve Schoeffel) in 2:09-30. Many of the above-named horses and horsemen will be at The Meadows on Saturday, October 4, to compete in the $200,000 Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes Championship Night. From the PA Fair Harness Horsemen's Association

Bloomsburg, PA---The final stop of the 2014 Pennsylvania fair season staged the first phase of its harness racing action on Thursday and Friday, with Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes the features over the half-mile oval in this northeast Pennsylvania town. (This Tuesday and Wednesday, the time-honored Bloomsburg Stakes will ring down the final curtain on this year’s circuit.) In a season where pacers had dominated the headlines heretofore, the Fair Sire Stakes here saw the trotters take center stage, with all four divisions of the diamondgaiters posting the fastest clockings of the fair circuit for age, sex, and gait. (A certain two-year-old pacing filly also got her name on that list, too, but more on her in a moment.) The sophomore trotting gelding Millertown Road put it all together Friday over the track where he trains, going wire-to-wire in 2:00.2, last quarter 28.3, to post the summer’s fastest trot mile over the Pennsy twicearounds. The son of Malabar Millennium took the faster division of his event by defeating Faust, who had held the season’s record, for driver Steve Schoeffel, trainer Jim McGettigan, and owner Edward McGettigan Jr. Other winners in this class were Fly Past Hanover, giving driver Schoeffel 2/3 of this section with his 11th win of the year, and Mr Weaver, who won his last eight Fair Sire Stakes starts en route to nine triumphs on the season. Earlier, the filly Hearts Content had matched Faust’s 2:00.4 trot mark for 2014 with an exciting wire-to-wire victory over an onrushing Cantabs Lightning in the fastest 3TF cut. Racing on the lead as is her wont, the daughter of SJ’s Caviar opened a big enough margin that her major rival couldn’t catch her as Hearts Content tallied for driver Roger Hammer and the Dunn Stable of trainer Walter “Boots” Dunn. A day earlier, driver Steve Schoeffel still had his name next to the fastest 2TF, but it was the Muscle Massive miss Missive replacing Mooksie on the top of the charts after a 2:01.4 triumph. Schoeffel also trains Missive, who led all the way for owners Kathy Schoeffel and the Lander Stable LLC. Two trotting geldings both went in 2:04 to set the standard for baby trotting males. First up was The Master, with Steve Schoeffel earning himself another line in the 2014 record books by sulkysitting behind the Glidemaster gelding for trainer Syl King Jr. and owner Mahlon Martin. Fifteen minutes later, the SJ’s Caviar gelding Music Man De Vie wrote his name alongside that of The Master by matching his time for driver Marc Mosher and trainer/lessee Clifton Green while defeating Schoeffel’s Police Navidad, who is still tied for most wins by a baby trotter in North America with 10. The one pacer posting a PA fair season’s mark was the winningest two-year-old in all of North America, the Western Terror pacing filly Tropical Terror, who ran her remarkable record to 17-15-2-0 with a 2:00 victory for Team Shaw – driver Chris, trainer Jason, and owner Mason. The 2:00 equaled the clocking of Keystone I Wish, who has hung the only two defeats on Tropical Terror – and who finished behind “TT” Thursday after a fierce duel the last quarter. Team Shaw’s 2PG Nippy won for the 14th time of this season earlier in the card, putting him second in victories among all U.S./Canadian freshmen. Also worth a mention is Ruffle Up, a sophomore Real Artist gelding who posted the fastest clocking of the meet, 1:59.3, in winning Friday for owner/trainer/driver Roger Hammer; Ruffle Up had three magic miles this summer, while no other horse could post more than one. A report on the Bloomsburg Stakes will follow this Wednesday’s action, and a summary of the entire 2014 fair season will be issued shortly after that sending. From the Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horseman's Association 

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