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INDIANA PA - Two three-year-old fillies and trainer/driver Roger Hammer continued their winning ways at the Indiana County (PA) Fairgrounds Monday and Tuesday, with two-year-olds going on Monday and Tuesday spotlighting the harness racing three-year-old set. You have a choice of clichés pointing to which should be written about to start -- "Age before beauty" vs. "Ladies first," so we'll defer to chronology and describe the freshmen action first. And that would be headlined by Hammer: the Real Artist pacing colt colt Cirrus De Vie won the "A" Sires section in 2:04 for his trainer/driver/co-owner and co-owner Vicki Fair, and the Delmarvalous gelding Marvalous Falcon completed the sweep with a "B" level win in 2:07.1 for his owner/trainer/driver. Cirrus De Vie won his first two fair starts in B, went 6-0-5-1 upon coming to A, and now has taken three straight in the higher class, while Marvalous Falcon is 3-for-3 in B while also winning twice in A, including the only fair conquering of Venier Hanover. Speaking of "only fair conquerings": The Andover Hall gelding Grapple Hanover won his fourth baby trot A contest in 2:09, and doing so put the first blemish on Hockey Hanover's fair scorecard after five victories. Wayne Long trains and drove Grapple, and he then completed a driving sweep of the A class with a 2:07.1 win behind the Donato Hanover gelding Tymal Advocate, trained by Bob Rougeaux III for the Brocious Racing Stable Inc. and the Lone Wolf Stable. On the filly side, Nicole Hanover has now won four of five fair starts after the Explosive Matter filly twice circumnavigated the Indiana oval in 2:08.1, doubling up for the Brocious gang and trainer Rougeaux, who also steered the filly. On Tuesday, the hometown fans got to give a big cheer in the opening race, as the local McMullen Stable LLC's All Set Lets Go kept alive the circuit's longest win streak at ten, the Donato Hanover distaff winning in 2:04.4 for driver Roger Hammer and trainer/patriarch John McMullen Jr. Even with an 11-10-0-1 fair record and thus 365 points, All Set Lets Go is not atop the points column among all divisions at the fairs: that distinction goes to the Rocknroll Hanover filly Bella Ragaza, who won her ninth straight in 2:04 to send her twicearound record to 11-10-1-0, 10 points in the lead, for driver Tony Schadel and trainer Linda Schadel, the latter co-owner with Roxana Buffington. Tony and Linda Schadel also posted a driver/trainer sweep of the 3YO trotting colt action; the twist here is that Carrick, an altered son of Donato Hanover, won the B section in 2:02.1 for owners Dr. Scott Woogen and Pam Wagner, much faster than the Schadels' own gelded son of Explosive Matter, Photo Bomber, posted in his 2:04 victory, his fifth of the fair circuit. But Carrick also shows an A victory - maybe the Schadels are learning how to play the A/B system like Hammer. But as usual, the last word went to the wily Hammer, trainer/driver and co-owner with Vicki Fair of the Delmarvalous gelding Marvalous Artist, who won the A colt pace in the fastest time of the meet, 2:01.1. Marvalous Artist now has won three times at both the A and B levels (in case you're wondering, B division results don't earn points in qualifying for the Fair Sire Stakes Championships). Hammer trained and drove seven winners during the two days, putting him at only a 49-47 disadvantage behind Chris Shaw in the drivers ranks and ballooning his lead to 43-29 over Chris's brother Jason on the conditioning side. FINISHING LINES - While the meet wound down at Indiana Tuesday, a two-day meet started at the Erie County Fair in Wattsburg PA, and the two-year-old sensation Venier Hanover posted the fastest mile ever in the history of the oval, 2:00.1. More on Venier's recordsetting mile in the Wattsburg recap after Wednesday's races. Publicity Office, Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association    

BEDFORD PA - Sam Beegle and Roger Hammer, both of whom began their athletic careers on the wrestling mats in this southwest Pennsylvania community and both of whom are still competing on the racetracks of Pennsylvania, were jointly honored as both hometown and statewide harness heroes during ceremonies before the start of the racing program at the Bedford Fair on Monday, the first day of a two-card session here. The Keystone Chapter of the U. S. Harness Writers Association voted their highest award, the Mary Lib Miller Award for "outstanding service to state harness racing," to the two veterans, both of whom are in the Bedford Sports Hall of Fame. Bedford Fair Director of Racing Jake Hoover, upon hearing the announcement, asked Keystone USHWA if the awards could be presented at the Bedford Fair, to which the communicators were happy to comply. In addition to the writers and the local racing community, on hand to honor Hammer and Beegle on Monday were Fred Strathmeyer, Deputy Secretary of the PA Department of Agriculture and a good friend of racing, and Jesse Topper, state Congressman representing counties in and around the Bedford area. Topper read commendations from other area politicians, and also read to the public was a congratulatory letter from state Senator Scott Wagner, a possible Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate. Hammer and Beegle, for their part, chose to let their performance on the racetrack do their speaking for them. Beegle was in the sulky for the fastest mile of the week, a 1:58.4 victory by the Yankee Cruiser sophomore gelding Ginger Tree Marty, who shaded 28.1 for his personal last quarter after being three-wide from just past midbackstretch. Ginger Tree Marty, who just missed the all-age track record at Gratz by a tick when he won there in 1:55.2, is the leading magic mile producer along the fair circuit with three. Beegle also trains the fast sophomore, and his Ginger Tree Farms also co-owns him with Bob Reber. Hammer, whose stable had ten horses on the eight-race Monday card, won three races as a driver and two as a trainer, including a horse he trains and drives, along with co-owning with Vicki Fair, Toolbox Tuesday, producing a 2:02.2 mile in the Sire Stakes "B" three-year-old colt trot, equaling the clocking in the "A" division by Rockefeller Lindy, who along with Everclear Hanover gave trainer Bill Daugherty Jr. a 1-2 sweep in the top-level event. The Donato Hanover filly All Set Lets Go was catch-driven by Hammer to her fifth straight win (after starting her campaign 0 for 10) in the "A" event for sophomore trotting fillies, winning in 2:03.4 for trainer John McMullen and the McMullen Stable LLC. On Tuesday the freshmen took the spotlight, and fair wunderkind Venier Hanover became the only other Keystone twicearound performer to have multiple magic miles for the season when he won in 2:00, last quarter 29.1. The victory by the altered son of Well Said for trainer/driver Dave Brickell, co-owner with Mitchell York, was Venier's sixth, keeping him in a tie for winningest freshman in North America - as Brickell goes for a "consecutive double" after guiding the filly Camera Lady to that distinction last year. Finally, two Tuesday continuations of a theme - one in wrestling, where Nicholas Cook, Sam Beegle's grandson who like Grandpa and Hammer was a top high school grappler, won with the two-year-old Ginger Tree Mcdade; and the other in the toughness in all PA Fair Sire Stakes racing, as the "B" division of the freshman colt trot was won by Tell Me Something and trainer/driver Jim Daugherty in 2:06.1, 2/5 of a second faster than the "A" section. The fair circuit now moves midstate to the Clearfield County Fair, where a four-day program of harness racing begins this Sunday, July 30. Publicity Office, Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association

HUGHESVILLE, PA - The second stop on the 2017 Pennsylvania fair circuit was made at the Lycoming County Fair in this city in the central part of the state, a 2-day Sire Stakes event on Saturday and Sunday. The track was modified in the last few months, and though this weekend's times were not spectacular, the "workout given to the track" will get it "tighter" for when the county fair meet comes to town.   The best race on both days was the first race, possibly not coincidentally featuring "A"-level pacing colts on both cards. On Sunday Venier Hanover, the freshman who was the talk of the circuit after his 1:58 mile at Dayton last week, tasted defeated at the hooves of Marvalous Falcon, but both babies gave superior performances.   The King of the Pennsylvania Fairs, Roger Hammer, got away quickly from post three with his homebred Delmarvalous gelding Marvalous Falcon, with Venier Hanover burdened with a second tier starting slot and driver Dave Brickell having him outside and underway from sixth place.   By the 29.3 quarter. Hammer rated the half to 1:02.2, with Venier Hanover by then alongside and even slightly ahead at times, but Marvalous Falcon then threw a 28.1 third quarter (the odd-numbered quarters were the faster almost all weekend at Hughesville) to assert himself, with his game challenger staying within four lengths of the 2:01.4 winner.   Marvalous Falcon, himself already a Q1:55.3f performer and with a maternal pedigree sporting countless PA county fair stars, is a Hammer breeder / owner/ trainer/ driver production.   The fastest mile of the meet came from these babies' three-year-old counterparts to open the racing weekend, with the Bettor's Delight gelding The Book Of Life garnering only his second lifetime victory after stopping the timer in 2:01.2 ahead of circuit familiars like Cruiserwillwin (2016 Fair Championship winner) and Artist's Ruffles. However, The Book Of Life's other win was in 1:55.2 at Philly, showing that the youngster had speed, and he was able to maximize his talents on this day for driver Shawn Johnston, trainer Rich Gillock, and owner Harry Locke.   Though Venier Hanover may have suffered his first defeat, his stablemate in the Dave Brickell barn, Camera Lady, continued her love affair with Keystone State fairgrounds winners circles by taking a 2:04.3 decision. The Dragon Again filly, trained and driven by Brickell and owned by him in partnership with Mitchell York, was 2016's winningest two-year-old in North America with 15 triumphs, 14 of them on the local fair circuit, and this year's she's two-for-two over the twicearounds.   Another double fair winner in 2017 is the Great George Two gelding Gee Wizz George, who went the meet's fastest trotting time, 2:05. "George" was 13 lengths off the pace at the quarter, but he steadily rallied into a very fast pace to win nicely for driver Brady Brown, trainer Jean Rastetter, and owner Maryann Rastetter.   Roger Hammer sent six charges to Victory Lane for the second straight week to already establish a big lead in the fair trainer and driver standings. One of those wins was a dead-heat victory with trotter Toolbox Tuesday, finishing even with Irish Valentine, whose driver Chris Shaw (6 wins) and trainer/brother Jason (5 victories) are second to Hammer in the early stats.   The PA fair circuit now heads back out west for two days of competition at The Big Butler Fair on Thursday and Friday. The starting gate will be in motion at 10 a.m. on both days, with two-year-olds Thursday and three-year-olds Friday.    From the Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association    

(WOODSTOCK, VA --- 10/1/2016) ---- Silver Sierra came on in the stretch and surged past Day To Day just before the wire to capture the featured $8,000 Open Handicap Trot Saturday afternoon at Shenandoah Downs. Roger Hammer, who trains the 4 year old Sierra Kosmos gelding, was in the sulky today for his charge. Day To Day, trained and driven by Tyler Stillings, led from the start and even carried a five length lead past the three-quarter pole. Silver Sierra came outside in the final turn and methodically pecked away at the lead. The winner, out of Heather Spur by SJ's Caviar, crossed in 1:57 2/5 and captured his 11th lifetime race. Hammer had another training win earlier in the card with Arycca Hanover. The sophomore filly pacer connected for the first career triumph. Herman Hagerman's Hot Rod Mindale and Gerry Longo's Magnifique both entered Saturday action looking for their third straight win. The pair came away with respective hat trick performances . The former became the first horse to win at the Shenandoah meet from post position eight while the latter wired the field. Driver Joey Mapes guided Hot Rod Mindale to a dominant, 6 1/2 length win. The 12 year old Real Artist gelding had no problem overcoming the outside starting spot. He was in third with a first over trip at the opening panel, took control in the second turn and never looked back. Out of Nani Oakly by Jate Lobell, Hot Rod Mindale crossed in 1:57.0 and his lifetime bankroll increased to $353,936. Longo's pacer, which he drove, held off four others in a $7,000 Open Handicap. The 5 year old Tell All mare led by less than a length through most of the mile. She crossed 1 1/4 lengths over Indian Hero in 1:58 1/5 for her 8th win of the year. Magnifique is out of Jardin Des Arts by Jeremys Gambit. Potential Horse of the Meet candidate Last Chance Harvey came outside at the half of his $3500 conditioned pace, slid into the pocket and eased by front stepping Three Large in the stretch to score his second straight. The 7 year old Henry Lewis trainee has reached the winner's circle six straight times at Woodstock going back to the Shenandoah County Fair, but was disqualified and placed second in his September 17th start. Racing returns to Shenandoah Downs on Sunday at 1 PM and guest caller Roger Huston returns to the microphone for a second straight day. The "Wine & Trotter" festival continues Sunday and starts at 11 AM.   by Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs

BLOOMSBURG PA – If it turns out that Roger Hammer is one victory short of a milestone win whenever he decides to end his illustrious harness racing sulky career, he’ll remember the name “Billy’s Falcon.” On Thursday, the last day of a 3-day harness meet at the fairgrounds in this northeast Pennsylvania town, and the last fair on the 2016 Pennsylvania twicearound tour, all eight divisions of the Bloomsburg Stakes, worth $38,255, were carded. In the opening race, the three-year-old colt pace, Hammer looked forward to a walkover with Billy’s Falcon, as his horse was the only one to declare. But then it rained Wednesday night into Thursday, the track was rendered unraceable, and the Bloomsburg Stakes were canceled – a squishy end to a great year on the Keystone fair trail. Hammer still got the money – all $3,344 of it – and the other seven events had their purses divided equally among all those who declared in. But money can’t buy experience and conditioning – which is why the PA-sired two-year-olds suffered a double blow at Bloomsburg, with their Tuesday Sire Stakes being washed out, then joined in rainout by their Bloomsburg Stake events Thursday. That leaves 20 days between their last Sire Stakes contests, a week ago Sunday at Gratz, and their $25,000 divisional Fair Championships at The Meadows a week from this coming Saturday. You can be sure that some horsemen will be scrambling to find qualifiers and still-undrawn overnight races for early next week, so that their stock can be in top fettle for the Championships. But even the rain couldn’t spoil what was an excellent season on the Pennsylvania fair circuit, which saw no fewer than 36 track record miles, including the rewriting or equaling of all-age standards at three ovals, and 24 miles in 2:00 or less. The following is a short statistical summary of the Pennsylvania fair season, leading with a listing of the top pointwinners based on finish position at the various fairs at which they competed (or were rained out); all of the leading pointwinners will receive a blanket color-coded to their stable colors at the annual Pennsylvania Fair Banquet on January 14. 2017 in Bedford PA: 2TC – TOOLBOX TUESDAY, an altered son of Broadway Hall trained by Roger Hammer, who is also co-owner with Vicki Fair; six fair wins, most in his division, and three track records. 2TF – NO NOT YET, a daughter of Tom Ridge trained by Gary Johnston for owner Dr. William Solomon; tied for her divisional lead with five fair victories. 2PC -- MARVALOUS ARTIST, a Delmarvalous gelding trained by Roger Hammer, who is co-owner with Vicki Fair; eight fair victories, second in the division only to stablemate Artists Ruffles’ 10, and one track record. 2PF – CAMERA LADY, a daughter of Dragon Again trained by Dave Brickell, also co-owner with Mitchell York; started her fair campaign with 14 straight victories, including a track record, then lost by a nose in her 15th (and what turned out to be last) fair start at Gratz. 3TC – MAJOR MATTER, an Explosive Matter gelding trained by Rick Beinhauer, who is also co-owner with Regina Beinhauer; six fair wins, opening his fair campaign by tying the all-age track trot mark at Wattsburg with a 2:04 mile -- also defending divisional Champion. 3TF – A LITTLE LAID BACK, repeating as divisional pointsleader, a Great George Two filly trained and owned by Roger Hammer; six fair triumphs to lead her group, and three track records. 3PC – STAR OF TERROR, an altered son of Western Terror trained by Jason Shaw for owners Fortunate One LLC; eleven wins at the fairs, five of them in 2:00 or less to lead all fair campaigners, and equaled the all-age track pace record at Butler, 2:00.2, among three track records. 3PF – UNBEAMLIEVEABLE, repeating as divisional pointsleader, a daughter of Moon Beam trained by Jason Shaw for owner/son Mason; set two track records among her nine 2016 victories at the fairs, and ends her fair career with a remarkable two-year tally of 27-22-4-0. Most points, overall, for 2YOs, for pacers, and for females: Camera Lady. Most points for 3YOs and for males: Star Of Terror. Most points for trotters: A Little Laid Back. Multiple 2:00 performers: 3PG Star Of Terror, 5; 3PC Dragon Strikes, 4; 3PF Vorst, 3. Fastest time, pace: tie between 2PG Artists Ruffles and 3PG Star Of Terror, 1:57. (Artists Ruffles’ mile       equaled the all-time PA 2PC fair record, the only such listing altered in 2016.) Fastest time, trot: 3TF Real Caviar, 2:00.1. Multiple track records set: 4 – 2TF Lovebeinglucky. 3 – 3TF A Little Laid Back; 3PG Star Of Terror; 2TG Toolbox Tuesday. 2 – 2PG Artists Ruffles; 3PF Singalongwithbing; 3PF Unbeamlieveable; 3PF Vorst. TOP DRIVERS by wins: Chris Shaw, 65; Roger Hammer, 46; Todd Schadel, 41; Shawn Johnston, 37; (tie) Brady Brown and Steve Schoeffel, 32. TOP TRAINERS by wins: Jason Shaw, 57; Roger Hammer, 44; Todd Schadel, 36; Gary Johnston, 23; Mike Gillock, 22. Publicity Office, Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen’s Association

HONESDALE PA - The "King of the Pennsylvania Fairs," Roger Hammer, rewrote both track records for harness racing two-year-old colts on Thursday at the Wayne County Fairgrounds in this northeast PA town, bringing the number of local standards set during the two-day fair meet to four, and six overall including the "two-day Sire Stakes meet" held here on Sunday and Monday.   Both the recordsetters were not unfamiliar with 2016 altering of lines in the annals. In fact, this was the third visit to the archives for the Broadway Hall trotting gelding Toolbox Tuesday, after lowering Butler's divisional standard and then equaling Bedford's; here he changed the mark at Honesdale to 2:04.2, reducing the former mark of KT Dixie Player, set in 2008, by 4/5 of a second.   The Real Artist pacing gelding Artists Ruffles equaled two records when he won in 1:57 at Bedford: equaling the fastest mile ever on the PA fair circuit by a two-year-old, and tying the standard at that oval; in addition, it's the fastest time at the Keystone fairs this year, faster than Star Of Terror or any of the three-year-olds has gone. At Honesdale he put in a mile of 2:01.3, with a 28.1 last quarter, to reduce the mark set by DVC Givemattitude in 2009 by a tick. Both recordsetters are owned by trainer/driver Hammer in partnership with Vicki Fair, and both now have four victories at the fairs in 2016.   The Dragon Again filly Camera Lady has twice that many victories at PA fairs already, with her 2:04.2 victory Thursday keeping her undefeated on the local twicearound circuit. What's more, when throwing in a pari-mutuel win, Camera Lady has nine triumphs, making her the winningest two-year-old filly in North America on either gait for trainer/driver Dave Brickell, co-owner with Mitchell York.   Camera Lady has set no track records - the opposition's found it hard to stay near enough to her to push her - but the two records on Thursday ran the total alterations in the Honesdale record book to four for the fair meet, and six for the total four days of racing. In fact, the mark for three-year-old pacing fillies took a knock twice: Unbeamlieveable lowered it to 2:00.4 last Sunday, and then on Wednesday Singalongwithbing equaled that clocking to co-share that spot with her stablemate.   During the fair meet, top driving honors went to Todd Schadel with six sulky successes; on the trainer's side, Schadel and Jason Shaw shared the crown at four. Totaling the four days of Honesdale racing, the story remained the same: Schadel led the drivers with nine wins, while on the training side both he and Shaw each sent out seven winners.   The next fair harness racing in Pennsylvania will take place at Hughesville on Saturday and Sunday. Those cards mark the start of six straight days of Keystone fair sulky sport, as the trotters and pacers will be at Washington (Arden Downs) Monday and Tuesday, and then at Dayton Wednesday and Thursday.   Publicity Office, Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association  

CLEARFIELD PA - There must be something about driving a trotter during the first week of August that brings out the best in Roger Hammer - and his horse. Hammer's most famous win during this timeframe, of course, came on August 6, 2005, when he took a graduate of the Pennsylvania fairs named Vivid Photo and made history in winning harness racing's most prestigious race, the Hambletonian.   On Tuesday, August 2, 2016, Hammer and another sophomore trotter made history - on a somewhat smaller scale admittedly - when the Great George Two filly A Little Laid Back toured the half-mile oval at the Clearfield (PA) County Fair in 2:02.3, breaking the old 2010 track mark of 2:03.2 by PJ's Photo for the division, and not far off the all-time Clearfield trot mark of 2:02 shared by Cottonwood Sam and Simeon.   Hammer used "a little laid back" driving style with Vivid Photo, rallying him from well of the pace, but here he went back to his usual frontstepping tactics, putting up splits of 30.2, 1:01, and 1:31.3 en route to the record clocking; the only thing that was affected by her two other rivals breaking stride was the winning margin, which was only 48¾ lengths. A Little Laid Back has now set five track records in her year-plus of PA fair racing for owner/trainer/driver Hammer - three last year, and two this year. She's tied with stablemate 2TC Toolbox Tuesday and the 2TF Lovebeinglucky as the only horses to have set divisional track records on two occasions this season.   If memories of Vivid Photo are to be evoked, it is only fair to note that Hammer's ownership partner on "Vivid," Todd Schadel, drove three horses from his barn to victory on the Tuesday card, while no other horseman made more than one visit to Victory Lane.   The sport's glamour division, the three-year-old pacers, will be featured on the final card of the four-day Clearfield stand, with post time Wednesday at high noon.   Publicity Office, Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen’s Association          

CLEARFIELD PA - The longest harness racing meet of the year on the Pennsylvania Fair circuit, a four-day stay at the Clearfield County Fair in the central Pennsylvania town, conducted its first two days of racing by featuring two-year-olds, Sunday for the trotters and Monday for the pacers.   It's been nine years this week since PA fairs "graduate" Vivid Photo won the Hambletonian (and in fact driver Roger Hammer's whip-whirling finish was shown in the lead-in to the Hambo press conference), so it is appropriate that Hammer and his co-owner in "Vivid," Todd Schadel, would produce the best mile among the freshmen.   Hammer sent Artists Ruffles, fresh off a 1:57 score at Bedford that stands as the fastest mile of the Keystone twice around season regardless of age, to the lead in his Fair Sire Stakes heat and put up fractions of 30, 1:01, and 1:29.3 over track with a variant of "+3," looking to put himself in a position to threaten the local 2PC record of 2:01 shared by four horses, But Artists Ruffles tired a bit late, and it was Schadel and the Yankee Cruiser colt Cruiserwillwin who came on in the stretch from midpack, catching the pacesetter by 1¼ lengths while going in 2:01.2, just missing the local standard. Cruiserwillwin, second to Artists Ruffles in the Bedford mile, is also trained by Schadel, and Todd is co-owner with his wife Christine. Both Hammer and Schadel had two winners on the Monday card, tying them for top honors for the day and the meet (3).   They sure named Camera Lady correctly, as the Dragon Again miss had her picture taken in Victory Lane for the seventh times in eight starts - she is the winningest two-year-old pacing filly in all of North America as of this writing. "Smilin" Dave Brickell, her trainer/driver and co-owner with Mitchell York, and his filly went their back half in 1:00.4 to complete a 2:04.4 mile.   Among Sunday's baby trotting contests, probably the most impressive winner was Gee Wizz George, a Great George Two gelding who posted his fourth victory (one off the North American lead in his category) by winning in 2:08, equaling the fastest mile of the day. However, not too many 2:08 miles, especially on fair tracks, feature middle halves in 1:00.2 - which was what Gee Wizz George trotted while going from over 11 lengths back at the quarter after a break at the start to a five-length lead at the ¾. The pace of course took its toll, but Gee Wizz George was able to fight off late-charging Intense Standoff by a nose for driver Ron Harvey, trainer Jean Rastetter, and owners Maryann and Richard Rastetter.   The focus at Clearfield now shifts to the three-year-olds for cards on Tuesday and Wednesday starting at high noon, with the trotters on Tuesday and the pacers on Wednesday.   Publicity Office, Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association

WILKES-BARRE PA - Like the sighting of the first robin in spring, the first series of baby races at a track heralds the oncoming of the prime of the season, and yesterday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, five sets of freshmen faced the starter under race conditions for the first time in non-purse events.   No Pennsylvanian will be surprised that the fastest of the youngsters was a pacing filly bred, owned, trained, and driven (and possibly shod and trucked) by Roger Hammer, the Delmarvalous miss Marvalous B T, who moved after a 29.3 quarter to set middle fractions of 59.4 and 1:29.2 en route to a 2:00 victory. The touch of Hammer (and of his late patron and Hall of Famer Max C. Hempt) is all over the pedigree of this filly - her granddam won 20 races at three and almost $200,000 in two years at the races, then produced six $100G winners and two Pennsylvania fair champions, while her third dam, Keystone Romance, produced the $600G+ winners Keystone Luther and Keystone Arturo.   Jim McGettigan, main announcer at the Pennsylvania fairs, is in constant contact with the photo finish person for tight race results, and no doubt he took the 2:02.2 victory of the Winning Mister-Photogenic trotting gelding Mister Photogenic as a positive omen for the upcoming year. Tom Jackson rallied the winner out of the pocket to win for McGettigan, the baby's trainer, and owner/breeder/brother Edward McGettigan Jr.   Marcus Miller brought home two two-year-old winners, the first being the Western Terror-Cherry Tree Coco pacing colt Cerisier, who came his own back fractions in 58 - 28.3 in rallying for the 2:01.2 tally for father/breeder/owner/trainer Erv Miller. Marcus then put the Explosive Matter-Nicole trotting filly Nicole Matters on the lead, rated the half, then sprinted away in 58.3 - 28.4 for a 2:04 tally. Clifton Green conditions the Lindwood Farm-bred distaff for owner Mahlon Martin, and she certainly has a pedigree allowing improvement, as dam Nicole's half-sister was the $500G+ winner Kadealia.   Trainer John Mc Dermott took an infrequent turn in the sulky and rallied the Cantab Hall-Habit Of Creature trotting colt You Cant Habit to a nose tally in 2:04 in the day's other event. The baby's second dam, Habit, produced six $100G winners including the $1M+ Civil Action, which gives Mc Dermott and owner/breeder Tim Klemenic something to look forward to - and isn't that what baby races are really all about?   PHHA / Pocono

BEDFORD PA - The Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association, in conjunction with their good friends at the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, honored their best and brightest harness racing stars of 2015, both human and equine, at the annual awards banquet traditionally held after the USTA District 7 (Pennsylvania) meeting.   The event was held at the historic Bedford Springs Omni Hotel and Resort, in the hometown of USTA District 7 Chairman and PHHA President Sam Beegle, who presided over the distribution of awards with Darryl Breniser of MH Eby, Inc., always among the most generous of suppliers of door prizes, with this year's prizes climbing by one unofficial count to approximating $15,000. 20-30 inches of snow fell over different parts of Pennsylvania during the 36 hours before, during, and after the banquet, but of the 180 ticket purchasers approximately 100 attended (and those that didn't but called in and canceled were included in the door prize drawings).   The highlights of the evening were the inauguration of two awards which will become annual Fair Banquet events. The first award was the Walter "Boots" Dunn Rising Star Award, named after the former Chairman of District 7, fair legend, and possessor of the spirit of a colt even if the body has bouts with lameness. Boots himself was present to give the award to Brady Brown, the up-and-coming western Pennsylvania horseman who was fourth in the fair driving standings last year. At age 22, Brown already boasts three drives behind Fair Championship winners, and when you consider that there are only twelve drivers who have more in their career - and their names are Hammer, Schadel, Merriman, Hall, Offutt, Zendt, McNeight, Bolon, Schoeffel, Palone, Stillings, and Wilder, a collection which has to his credit two Hall of Fame members, two national dashwinning champions, and four national UDR champions - and you can see the sky is the limit for young Brown.   The second new award was the Top Gun Award, which was given in its inaugural year to the legendary Roger Hammer, not merely because of his resemblance to Tom Cruise, but for the fact that for the umpteenth year Hammer led all Pennsylvania fair horsemen in driving wins (86) and training wins (81).   A third award was presented in absentia to Ron Battoni, longtime executive vice-president of the PHHA who semi-retired (Beegle kept emphasizing the "semi-") at the end of 2015, and who was one of the major driving forces behind the fair horsemen getting their share of the prosperity generated in the Keystone State with the introduction of slots. Battoni was going to drive from his brother's birthday party in North New Jersey Friday night to Bedford (Meadowlands to Bedford is 269 miles), but the snow put paid to that idea; quick-thinking PHHA marketer Ed Kobesky did a panorama cell phone shot of the crowd applauding Battoni, which he will no doubt enjoy.   Two sets of eight horses and their connections earned awards last night - and there were 16 different winners because none of the leading pointwinners during the 20-stop fair season could come back to win their Fair Championship race at The Meadows October 10, showing what a tightly-matched group from top to bottom this year featured.   Pointwinning leaders:   2TC - Keystone Shotgun, owned by Roger Hammer and Todd Schadel, and trained by Hammer; 2TF - A Little Laid Back, owned and trained by Hammer; 2PC - Billy's Falcon, owned and trained by Hammer; 2PF - Unbeamlievable, owned by Mason Shaw and trained by his father Jason;   3TC - Wimborne Hanover, owned by Susan Daugherty and trained by Bill Daugherty Jr; 3TF - Peoplesaimnogood, owned and trained by Hammer; 3PC - R N Nate, owned and trained by Hammer; 3PF - Betterthanrevenge, owned by the Thomson Sisters Racing Stable and trained by Harold Brocklehurst (who, surprisingly, was the only native of Albuquerque, New Mexico at the banquet).   Fair Championship racewinners:   2TC - Major Matter, owned by Rick and Regina Beinhauer and trained by Rick Beinhauer; 2TF - Waterview Hanover, owned by Susan Daugherty and trained by Bill Daugherty Jr.; 2PC - Wagon Master, owned by Bob Key and trained by Mike Gillock; 2PF - Worthy Jackie, owned by the Bay Pond Racing Stable and trained by Sam Beegle;   3TC - Simeon, owned by Dave and Delores Wade, Jerry Brittingham, and William Peel III, and trained by Dave Wade; 3TF - Piano Rose, owned by Ralph Del Priore Jr. and trained by Steve Schoeffel; 3PC - Royaltyhasarrived, owned by Virginia & Kathy Schoeffel and Michael Munn and trained by Steve Schoeffel; 3PF - Crumcake, owned by Mike and Yvonne Medors and trained by Pat Medors.   A final note - you may have done the division of those $15,000 of door prizes by even all 180 tickets sold and gotten about $85 for an average "swag takeaway" for a $35 ticket. We invite you to come to the Pennsylvania Fair Banquet next year!   (And who won the most "swag," including a $6000 Spyder racing bike? Well, if your guess has initials other than "RH," you need to spend more time at the Pennsylvania fairs next year!)   Jerry Connors  

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 8, 2015 -- It reaches from Bloomsburg in the east to Wattsburg and Meadville in the northwest to Waynesburg and Washington in the southwest. It's the Pennsylvania Fairs circuit, a pillar of harness racing in the Commonwealth that helps promote and perpetuate the sport even as it provides employment and entertainment for thousands. The 2015 season of the PA Fairs culminates Saturday, Oct. 10 at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, when the top point-earners on the 20-stop circuit compete for $200,000 in purses over eight championship races. The Meadows and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) will create a county fair-like atmosphere for the event by offering a variety of family-oriented activities, including a bounce house for kids, sulky rides for all and the chance to get up close and personal with a Standardbred. "County fair racing is important to our state and our horsemen," said Kevin Decker, director of racing for The Meadows. "We are delighted to host the fair championships each year to show our appreciation for the contribution fairs racing makes to our sport." First post on fair championships night is 6:55 PM. Mingling of Generations One reason for the ongoing popularity of Pennsylvania fairs harness racing is the earnings opportunity it provides. Typically, PA Fairs Sires Stakes for 2- and 3-year-olds offer purses of about $5,000. While that's only a fraction of the sires stake purses at the state's three pari-mutuel tracks, there are so many fair stakes that it's not uncommon for horses to turn profits for their owners with their fairs winnings alone. Says trainer/driver Steve Schoeffel: "The fairs are a nice place to race my horses. I can make money with them and teach them how to be racehorses." Schoeffel, of Evans City, has campaigned his horses at The Meadows and PA fairs for about 30 years and uses the Butler County Fairgrounds as his base of operations. This year at the fairs, Schoeffel won 30 races as a trainer, 14 as a driver. Just as important as the cash is the mingling of generations on the fairs circuit, a vehicle for the exchange of information and experience across age groups. That sort of pollination, if you will, is a key factor in the perpetuation of Pennsylvania harness racing. Stars in many sports retire in their late 30s, but that's hardly true in harness racing. This year's leading trainer (81 wins) and driver (87 wins), as he's been so many times, is 69-year-old Roger Hammer, known as the "King of the Fairs," who collected his 4,000th career victory last May at The Meadows. Those accomplishments notwithstanding, in any fairs stake, Hammer may find himself battling such younger rivals as Schoeffel, 45, and the Johnston brothers, Aaron and Shawn, whose combined age is 47. Schoeffel has turned over many of his driving responsibilities to a protege, 22-year-old Brady Brown, who responded by logging 45 wins -- including 10 straight with Schoeffel's top horse, Royaltyhasarrived -- to rank fourth in the standings. "It's Brady's time; he's been waiting a long time to get started," Schoeffel says. "We turned him loose on all the good ones this year." Families Working & Prospering Together Finally, PA Fairs give families the chance to work and prosper together. Consider the Shaws, where Jason trains 'em (47 wins), his brother Chris drives 'em (61 wins), and Jason's 3-year-old son Mason owns many of them. Mason's ownership might mean little to him now, but as he grows and stays close to harness racing, he'll have ready-made entre to the business. Much the same is true of the Johnstons who, as Schoeffel, reside in Evans City and train at the Butler County Fairgrounds. The brothers got involved in harness racing through their father, trainer Gary Johnston, and their grandfather, Charles Moses, who bought Shawn his first horse. That mare, Tremor Hanover, is approaching $600,000 in career earnings, but Shawn Johnston wouldn't think of giving up fairs racing to concentrate on more lucrative raceway purses. "I won in my first race at the fairs when I was 17 or 18, and I've loved fair racing since then," he said. "You're always with the same group of people, although we do try to get newcomers involved. Everyone's family at the fairs." * * * * * Following the fairs championships, The Meadows will take a nearly three-week break from live racing to prepare for its fall-winter meeting. Live racing returns Friday, Oct. 30, when the card begins at 12:55 PM, with a special program set for Saturday, Oct. 31, first post 11:25 AM. Those programs will complement the track's simulcast presentation of the two-day Thoroughbred Breeders Cup, always a fan favorite. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

YORK PA -- The "King of the Pennsylvania Fairs," Roger Hammer, has generated a lot of headlines during the summer season with his two-year-old trotting filly A Little Laid Back, who has set three divisional track records, and now it looks like he may sweep the Fair Championship filly trots, as Peoplesayimnogood has nobody saying that after the sophomore equaled the all-age track trotting record of 2:01.2 here Tuesday, closing day of a two-day meet.   The Lear Jetta filly Peoplsayimnogood had been the division's leading pointwinner in an evenly-matched group summerlong, but she claimed a spot alongside sophomore trotting colt Southwind Nitro in the boldface York record books as she trotted in 29.4, 1:00.1, and 1:31.1 en route to the record-equaling clocking for owner/trainer/driver Hammer.   A divisional track record had been demolished on Monday as the homebred Explosive Matter - Tahiti Springs freshman trotting gelding Major Matter cruised the slick York oval in 2:02.1, wiping out the previous mark of 2:03.4 set by Markup Hanover, with trainer Rick Beinhauer, also the trainer, in the sulky; Beinhauer also co-owns the fast gelding with wife Regina. Major Matter is undefeated in four fair starts, but he may have to win at Gratz and Bloomsburg, the circuit's last two stops, to get enough points to guarantee himself a spot in his $25,000 Fair Championship October 10 at The Meadows.   Hammer's powerhouse pair of pacing colts kept rolling along; in one case, his chief rival kept pace, while the other was upset in his York start. The Nuclear Breeze-B T Falcon gelding Billy's Falcon (12-10-2-0 at the fairs) won a division of the two-year-old event in 2:01.4 for his owner/trainer/driver, while archrival Well Lets See (12-10-0-2) ran his win streak to five in 2:04.1, with Brandon Givens driving the Well Said - Lionness Hanover colt for trainer Kevin Lare and owner Frank Chick.   On the sophomore side, R N Nate made it seven straight and 11-10-1-0 for the year, the Nuclear Breeze gelding buzzing home in 27.3 to complete a 2:00 mile for his breeder/owner/trainer/driver. But in the other section, Royaltyhasarrived lost his ten-race winning streak when Hammer's friendly wrestling rival from high-school days, Sam Beegle, guided Modern Yankee, a 1:51.2 winner at Philly on August 30, around the York oval in 1:58.3, with "Royalty"'s furious rally into the mile's 29 kicker coming up just a neck shy. The victorious Yankee Crusier colt is also trained by Beegle, USTA District Directorvfor Pennsylvania and president of the PHHA, for his Ginger Tree Stable LLC, James Brown, and Donald Currie.   In fact, Beegle wound up with the two fastest miles of the meet, as three races later, the sophomore Quik Pulse Mindale filly Angel Fling toured the twicearound in 1:59.4-28.1. This was the initial fair appearance for both of Beegle's three-year-olds and thus they are unlikely to make the Championships, so defending divisional champ Kesytone I Wish, who won the other 3PF section in 2:00.2 for Todd Schadel, might well repeat. (Schadel was unlucky the day before: his 2TC St Michel Hanover won in 2:03.3, which eclipsed the local divisional standard at the start of the day, but Major Matter's record mile was carded just ahead of his.)   One double-digit fair winning streak still alive is that of the Moon Beam - DVC Ibleievnangles baby pacing filly Unbeamlievable, who won for the tenth straight time in 2:02, a divisional season's record for the fairs. The filly, now 11 for 12 at the fairs, is campaigned by Team Shaw -- driver Chris, trainer Jason, and "sophomore" owner Mason -- who also have the filly Tropical Terror, last year's winningest two-year-old in all of North America.   From the Publicity Office, PA Fair Harness Horsemen's Association    

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

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