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GRATZ PA - The first two-day meet at Gratz PA, the fifth stop on the Pennsylvania Fair harness racing circuit for 2014, featured some $95,000 of Sire Stakes action, with five of the eight "PA Fair Season's Leaders" emerging from the session, including the quickest miles on both the trot and the pace. Actually, the local season's record in the 3TC category was lowered three times in Sunday's three divisions - within 30 minutes total, and Steve Schoeffel, top North American UDR driver (300-499 starts) in 2013 and again atop the local circuit's driving colony, handled all three. First came Millertown Road, winning in 2:03-29.2 and sending announcer/trainer Jim McGettigan down from his booth to the winners circle, and then two trained by Bill Daugherty Jr. for owner Susan Dougherty: first Fly Past Hanover, reclaiming the distinction with which he entered the day with a 2:02.3-1:00.1-30 triumph to run his fair scorecard to five-for-five, and then Broadway Charm, running his fair tab to four-for-five after a 2:01.3 tally, also the new quickest trot mile locally in '14. Fastest pacer of the meet, and of the fair circuit so far, is Mister Chaos, last year's 2PC Fair Championship winner, who overcame the outside post six in 2:00.3 for trainer Bob Rougeaux III and driver Chris Shaw, who like Schoeffel had three wins on the Sunday card. Fly Past Hanover is the only sophomore who raised his record to 5-for-5 over the weekend; on the freshman side, he was joined by the filly Tropical Terror (driver Chris Shaw for trainer/brother Jason), winning sharply in 2:01.1 to be the fastest two-year-old of the local season. Fastest freshman trotter is also a filly, Peoplesayimnogood, who won in 2:04.3 for driver Todd Schadel and trainer/Vivid Photo partner Roger Hammer, and at an opportune time: with no fewer than 12 divisions of 2TF state pari-mutuel stakes action this past week, this fair Sire Stake drew only one division, making the cut worth a seasonal-high $11,710. (Good time to break your maiden, eh?) All nine freshman winners took new marks over the quick Gratz oval Saturday, with four sophomores rewriting their speed badges on Sunday. Steve Schoeffel and Chris Shaw each drove five winners on the weekend to earn top status; Jason Shaw was leading conditioner with four winning charges (all owned by his two-year-old son Mason, Chris's nephew). From the Publicity Department, PA Fair Harness Horsemen's Assn.    

Driver Andrew McCarthy scored a victory about Iaintnomomaluke in the sixth race at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Wednesday night for the 1,000th victory of his career. McCarthy, who has been a regular at Pocono for the past several years, had moved to 999 with a triple on Tuesday night before toppling the mark on Wednesday night. In other action on Wednesday night at Pocono, there were seven $30,000 divisions of Pennsylvania All Stars races held for 2-year-old trotting fillies. The winners were: Wouldn't Itbesweet (Cantab Hall - U S Victory), driven by Howard Parker and trained by Jim Raymer, in 1:57; Fashion Voyager (Broadway Hall - BWT Maija), driven by John Campbell and trained by Jim Campbell, in 1:57:4; Gatka Hanover (Muscle Massive - Girlie Tough), driven by Matt Kakaley and trained by Ron Burke, in 1:56; Onda Di Mare (Yankee Glide - Upfront Ob's Janet, driven by Tim Tetrick and trained by Jim Campbell, in 1:56:3; Speak To Me (Muscle Massive - Ms Naughty), driven by Yannick Gingras and trained by Jimmy Takter, in 1:57; Jersey Strong (Muscle Massive - Vacation's Over), driven by Tim Tetrick and trained by Mark Harder, in 1:56:4; and Matter Of Days (Explosive Matter - Drinking Days), driven by Matt Kakaley and trained by Todd Schadel. Jim Beviglia      

The month of June arrived at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and brought with it some of the most competitive racing we've had all year long. We saw a little of everything: Standout performances, stunning long shots, drivers and trainers putting in big efforts, and much, much more. It's never easy to pick out the very best of such a crowded field, but that's what we're here to do by handing out another edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: BJ'S RAMEAU Like any other athlete, character is often most clearly revealed in a harness racing horse when adversity strikes. In the case of BJ's Rameau, that adversity came in the midst of an outstanding season as one of the top claiming pacers at Pocono, when, in his first start in the barn of trainer Matias Ruiz on May 17, he finished dead last in a field of nine despite having a lead at the top of the stretch. That rare clunker of a finish was mitigated somewhat by the fact that he started the race from the outside post, meaning that the lead he captured was extremely hard-fought. Still, the bettors were skeptical enough that in his next start, BJ's Rameau went off at a tepid 6-1. He responded with a gutty win from the pocket in 1:50:2. On Saturday night, he was the even-money favorite once again in his usual $25,000-$30,000 claiming handicap group, and he delivered a bravura effort. With Joe Pavia Jr. in the bike, BJ's Rameau made the lead about 3/8 of a mile into the race and poured it on from there, beating the toughest pacers on the grounds by 5 ¾ lengths and doing so in a career-best 1:49:1, which was the fastest pacing time posted this week at Pocono. Like all the finest horses, this 5-year-old gelding bounced back from his brief bout of adversity stronger than ever. Other top pacers this week include: Morgan Shark (Simon Allard, Pierre Paradis), who ripped off his Third Straight claiming win on Saturday night and did so in a career-best 1:50:1; Skitsofrantic (Mark MacDonald, John Barchi), who continues to tear up the lower claiming ranks, winning in 1:53:3 on Sunday night for his fourth consecutive victory; and Stanhope (Anthony Napolitano, Steve Salerno), a three-year-old who won his Third Straight condition race on Sunday, this one in 1:52:4, despite the fact that he wasn't favored in any of those starts. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: JOHNHANNIBALSMITH Fans of 80's television will recognize this name as being the same as the leader of the A-Team, a guy famous for saying, "I love it when a plan comes together" at the end of every episode. For the trotter of the same name, an 11-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, the plan has been pretty simple. He just goes out and beats everybody he faces. Coming into Wednesday night's $12,500 claiming trot, Johnhannibalsmith had made seven starts in 2014 and won six of them. His only loss was by a heartbreaking head to Fortissimo on April 25 at Chester, but he ripped off three more wins in a row following that defeat, two of them coming at Pocono. On Wednesday night, he upped his claiming price from $10,000 to $12,500 for a new challenge, but the race played out the same when the gelding booked to the front end. With his regular driver George Napolitano Jr. in tow, Johnhannibalsmith led all the way even though he was tested at the end of the mile. That extra effort led him to a career-best time of 1:54:3, meaning that this veteran trotter deserves another victory cigar lit in his honor, just like his television namesake liked to do. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tamasin Hall (Bill Mullin driver and trainer), a mare who picked up her second straight condition win on Tuesday night, this one in 1:56:3; Bufalino Hanover (Matt Kakaley, Todd Schadel), whose condition win on Tuesday night came in the week's fastest trotting time of 1:53:3, which was also his career-best; and Truth In Action (Mike Simons, Jenny Melander), who overcame an outside post position to win a claimer on Tuesday night in 1:55:2. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: PSYCHOBABBLE The filly's maiden victory on Tuesday night with Tom Jackson in the bike was probably just as memorable for her bettors as it was for her, as she cashed in at 36-1 for a $74.40 payout on a $2 ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: Joe Pavia Jr. Joe proved this week that he is still a force in the sulky when he takes on enough drives, posting back-to-back three-win nights on Saturday and Sunday night. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: FRED GRANT Grant pulled off a unique training double on Tuesday night, as each of his winners, trotter Psychobabble and pacer Somenicebeach, earned their maiden victories. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs  

GRATZ PA - The Somebeachsomewhere sophomore pacing filly Keystone Wanda recorded the fastest time on the Pennsylvania fair circuit in over four years when she took a division of her Sire Stakes event at the Gratz Fair Monday in 1:55.4. Trainer Todd Schadel, also co-owner with Christine Schadel and co-breeder with the late George Hempt, sent Wanda right down the road on her "home track" (Todd trains at Gratz) through fractions of 28, 57.4, and 1:27.1, snapping home in 28.3 to knock off 2/5 of a second from Talk All Day's 2008 divisional mark. Keystone Wanda's mile was also the quickest on the local circuit since Lahaye's all-age track record mark at Gratz, 1:55.1, on July 12, 2009. Todd and Christine Schadel were the breeders of Classic Martine, who tied with Frau Blucher in the fastest-ever trotting dead-heat, 1:53.2, at The Meadows in a p/m Sire Stakes Championshp Friday night, and Todd must have though this deadheating business was fun, because 30 minutes later he guided the Real Artist gelding Plenty Of Spunk to finish on equal terms with the Western Terror gelding Jungle Of Terror in 1:58 in a cut of the Sires event for sophomore pacing colts. Plenty Of Spunk moved early and controlled the pace, while Jungle Of Terror moved past the half to stalk the leader, and the latter gained through the stretch against his stubborn foe to the point that the camera could not split them at the finish. Steve Schoeffel trains and drove Jungle Of Terror, the pointleader of all divisions with only Bloomsburg left, for Stephen Lander and Virginia and Kathy Schoeffel; Schadel trains and drove "Spunk," who reunites the partnership on 2005 Hambletonian winner Vivid Photo, Schadel and Roger Hammer (that was eight years ago? wow!). "The Hammer" himself paraded back twice Monday with Boots Dunn owned-trained-bred horses: the Classic Photo gelding Classicality, who trotted his last ¾ in 1:28.1 to take the faster heat of the sophomore colt trot in 2:00.4; and also the fastest filly division with the Cantab Hall miss Lindyofalifetime in 2:02.4-30. Steve Schoeffel has been well in command of the tables in both driving and training wins seasonlong, both in the Sire Stakes and overall (including Quaker States and overnights), but the veteran Dunn has now tied him by harnessing 40 Fair Sire Stakes winners - again, with just one more meet to go. We should mention that Lindyofalifetime's division mate Monroe County yet again gave one of her distanced-after-an-early-break-to-crossing-the-wire first efforts, but this time she interfered with a rival while offstride and was placed out of the money. And what would a Keystone fair report be without McAlvin? The deadheat in the 3PC's other division may have stolen McAlvin's spotlight a bit, but the McArdle gelding evidently was in a hurry to end the day by storming home in 27.1 in the card's final race to complete a 1:58.3 win for driver Chris Shaw, trainer Bob Krenitsky Jr., and owner Julie Krenitsky. However, like Keystone Wanda (she and McAlvin are the only multiple magic milers of the 2013 fairs here), McAlvin is still outside the Championship pointstandings - both will likely need wins at Bloomsburg and a defection or two of better-placed rivals to be at The Meadows on October 5 for the $200,000 Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes Championship Night. FINISHING LINES - This year the schedule for Bloomsburg will be different than the traditional one. All eight of the time-honored Bloomsburg Stakes will be raced during a special 2 p.m. card this Friday (declare in by 10 a.m. Wednesday), and the last Sire Stakes prelim events will face the gate on Monday (2YOs) and Tuesday (3YOs) at 10:30 a.m. - declare in for these races by Friday at 10 a.m. by Jerry Connors for PASS Fairs  

Roger Hammer, the longtime "King of the Fairs" in Pennsylvania and a Hambletonian Champion with Vivid Photo, avoided serious injury after being involved in a traffic accident on his way to the Indiana (PA) Fair. Hammer was near Ebensburg, PA when he received a phone call that the day's races at Indiana were canceled. Shortly after turning around and heading to his home training center in Bedford, PA, Hammer's truck and trailer were struck by a tanker truck. A report from the scene said that the truck was totaled, and the trailer, containing six horses, may have tipped. One horse had a minor cut, the rest were uninjured. Horseman Todd Schadel, Hammer's partner on Vivid Photo, arrived later on the scene and transported the horses back to Bedford, along with Vicki Fair. Fair, who owns horses with Hammer, was also in the truck but was uninjured. Vickie Mock, a caretaker for the Hammer Stable, was the third passenger. She was taken to a local hospital with possible broken ribs. Hammer refused treatment at the scene. by the PA Fair Harness Horsemen's Association  

DAYTON PA - During sophomore stakes action at the Dayton (PA) Fair on Thursday, the two fastest performers on the Keystone twicearounds this year - pacing gelding McAlvin (1:57 at Gratz) and pacing filly Keystone Wanda (1:57.2 at Gratz) became the only two horses to notch two fair "magic miles" (the phrase is still apt in, and over, certain "circles"). We'll lead with the filly, because Keystone Wanda's 2:00 clocking for driver Todd Schadel in a Sire Stakes contest also equaled the Dayton divisional mark set by Caramel Chinno and pilot Roger Hammer two years minus two days previously. (This would not be the only time that the partners on 2005 Hambo champ Vivid Photo would be in proximity this day at Dayton - see below). Keystone Wanda, who set the pace for Schadel, was given all she wanted by the vaunted She'salilfireball, as the two battled fiercely through a 29.3 kicker until Keystone Wanda sustained a half-length lead the finish for Schadel, also trainer of the Somebeachsomewhere filly and co-owner with wife Christine. In another sidewheeling filly division, In A Better Place, already the circuit leader with seven fair triumphs, rallied but came up ¾ of a length short to the Western Terror pacesetter Have More Wine, whose 2:01 triumph was her sixth of the fair season for trainer/driver Steve Schoeffel and the ownership of Schoeffel, Schoeffel, Reuther, and Nelson. McAlvin has been at the 2013 fairs only twice, and his colt and gelding opponents are glad of this fact, as he has posted two of the year's three fastest times in his appearances. This day the altered son of McArdle engined a 1:58.2 triumph, just 3/5 off the all-time Dayton record of JT Arthur set 11 years ago, 13 ¾ lengths clear for the camera for driver Chris Shaw, trainer Robert Krenitsky Jr., and owner Julie Krenitsky. Two of McAlvin's contemporaries paced in 2:00.4: Dinger One (James Dodson) and Mein Schatz (Aaron Johnston), the latter of whom parlayed a late-season hot form skein into the Fair Sire Stakes Championship in 2012. By far the fastest trotter of the day was the SJ's Caviar gelding Ruddy Rusty, who grinded down the pacesetter from the Schadel stable, Markup Hanover, to win in 2:02.2 for owner/trainer/breeder Boots Dunn. Hammer (who had three victories on the day, all with trotting colts) and Dunn combined on another 3TC winner, Classicality, who won in anything but classic fashion: the altered son of Classic Photo made a miscue after the half and found himself 15 lengths behind at the ¾ and still 10 down at headstretch, but he trotted his individual last quarter in 29.2 to be drawing clear at the finish. In another 3TC cut, Prince Lauxmont's 5 for 5 fair win streak was stopped when he finished third to Southwind Glider, a Glidemaster gelding who has now fashioned three straight wins since Hammer was given the lines. FINISHING LINES: In addition to the aforementioned Hammer driving triple and Dunn training/owning/breeding double, others with multiple win credits included driver (4x)/trainer (2x) Schoeffel, still far ahead in both fair categories; the Neal stable of trainer/father Randy and driver/son Eric, winning Sire Stakes with two maidens; and two-timers driver James Dodson/trainer-owner Ron Lineweaver, trainer/driver Aaron Johnston, driver Chris Shaw, and sires Classic Photo, Broadway Hall, and Western Terror....The circuit moves to "Boots's Place," the Crawford County Fair in Meadville, for four days of racing from Monday to Thursday. by Jerry Connors  

HONESDALE PA - Royalty For Life was the King of the Hambletonian this past Saturday, and at the Honesdale Fair on Wednesday, another "King" continued to leave his "Marc" on the Keystone fair circuit. That would be trainer Syl King Jr., along with designated driver Marc Mosher, who swept the Daily Double and the 3TF PA Fair Sire Stakes races with Chrissy O and Homepage - just as they had in the first part of the experimental Honesdale 2-part meeting on Sunday! Chrissy O, a daughter of Broadway Hall owned by Ron Silletto and Joseph Benedetti Jr., was the first and faster in 2:07.3, quickest trot of the day, while Homepage, a Tom Ridge filly raced under lease by King, is now perfect in six fair outings after closing in 28.3 to complete a 2:08.2 package. King has now doubled or better in his last six days of racing at the fairs, with his fair UTR at .468, .499 with trotters. He has a 2013 Honesdale UTR of .513 going into today's last local card, with 9 babies to send out (after a local UTR of .493 in 2012). He is in second place in the fair training standings with 18 - all in the last 26 days, as he did not compete during the early western swing. And Chrissy O and Homepage have now won on the same day four times - at Gratz, at Bedford (where both trotted in 2:04 for the sectional track record), and now twice at Honesdale. And as impressive as King's record is and has been, protégé sulkysitter Mosher outdid him yesterday, picking up two catchdrives in the FFA paces and winning both to parade back four winning steeds. The day's other trotting highlight was Bsmaximummoondream, repeating from Sunday after finishing second six straight times before that, taking a cut of the 3TC in 2:08.2, a mile with a 28.4 last quarter. The Bedford County gelding won for owner/trainer/driver Dave Brickell, who in the same capacities also posted the co-quickest mile of the day, 2:02.4 while also snapping off a 28.4 kicker, with the Magical Mike 3PF DVC Jaded Attitude. (Also doubling as owner/trainer/driver on the card was Todd Schadel). Finally, the last race of the day brought the first career purse victory to driver 38YO James Dill, who won a 3PC section with the Robert Dill-trained Shady City, a Metropolitan gelding James co-owns with Rudy Ligrano. James Dill has faced the starting gate five times, and the results have been first - second - horse fell down - third - first, a very good (save one) start to a career in the sulky. Oh: James Dill's colors are green and white. As are, basically, Syl King Jr.'s. Maybe Dill's a quick study. FINISHING LINES - There will be two-year-olds in action 358 miles apart on the PA Fair Circuit's one of three days in 2013 with two fairs in operation: Waynesburg, in the southwest corner of the state, races today and tomorrow at 10 a.m., while the northeast's Honesdale' has its curtainlowerer set to begin at high noon.   by Jerry Connors  

CLEARFIELD PA - Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes racing concluded a four-day stand at the Clearfield (PA) Fair yesterday (Thursday), featuring three-year-old pacers, and the two fastest miles of the week were posted on this card - both by Somebeachsomewhere fillies, and one and two races after the track rating was changed from "slow" to "good" after overnight rains were quickly absorbed by the track. It would not have been surprising to think that She'salilfireball would be involved in a speed show, as she had been a terror in earlier fair starts. However, upon her return to the twicearound circuit, she got the rudest of receptions - being hung out to the ¼ in 28 seconds (Roger Hammer still concedes nothing on the racetrack), and then rolling along to middle splits of 59 and 1:29.2. She'salilfireball maintained her lead to headstretch, but Naked At The Beach and In A Better Place were well-positioned for stretch charges, and at the wire it was Naked At The Beach raising her own fair scorecard to 5-3-2-0 with a handy victory in 2:01.2, with In A Better Place also getting by She'salilfireball late. Dan Walski conditions the Brady Brown-driven winner for owner Howard Millhine. As hard-fought as that 2:01.2 triumph was, the other was a 180-degree turnaround in simplicity for Keystone Wanda. Todd Schadel, also trainer and co-owner with wife Christine, set sail from the rail and came home over 13 lengths clear in a 59.3 back half to keep her record unblemished in two fair starts. Have More Wine became the first five-time fair winner in her division, and solidified her lofty view atop the 3PF pointstandings, with a 2:02.1-29.3 engine score in the last race before the track condition change. The Western Terror miss posted her Third Straight victory for trainer (2x winner)/driver (3x) Steve Schoeffel and owners Virginia and Kathy Schoeffel (both 2x), James Reuther, and James Nelson. (And as if to illustrate the old saw that "time don't mean nothin' unless you're in prison," Schoeffel throttled down Sweet Talia to a 1:38 ¾ clocking in the last filly split, then sprinted home in 29.3 to win a cut that went over five seconds slower than the other three.) The "'brothers' Dinger," Dinger One and Dinger Two, were among the pacing colts, with "One" racing in division #1, hitting the wire #1 after a sharp back-half move, and posting the #1 time of the day for the boys, 2:02.2. The altered son of Art's Card Trick was guided by James Dodson for owner/trainer Ron Lineweaver. This pairing came back in division #2 with Dinger Two and acquitted themselves very well, but had to settle for finish position #2 after a battle most of the last half with Captain Kubota, who proved ¾ of a length the best on this day in 2:03.2. Captain Kubota, a McArdle gelding, completed a double for driver Brady Brown and trainer Mike Gillock. (In this race Jungle Of Terror, bidding for his sixth fair victory, made a rare misstep just after the half, taking himself out of contention.) 2YO Fair Sire Stakes Champion Mein Schatz showed himself a force still to be very much reckoned with by making up 3 1/2 lengths in the lane to win in 2:02.4 for owner James Biego and trainer/driver Aaron Johnston while completing a siring double for Real Desire. (Second in this race was Skylite's Finale; he and Jungle Of Terror are tied at the top of this section's pointstandings after eight stops.) The other colt cut saw the co-owners of 2005 Hambletonian winner Vivid Photo locked in combat in the lane, with owner/trainer/driver Schadel able to rally the Real Artist gelding Plenty Of Spunk from the pocket to catch pacesetter Camturo Beach (Hammer) in 2:03.1. FINISHING LINES - The Pennsylvania Fair Circuit now splits this coming week, with action 358 miles apart ... Honesdale (Wayne Co.), in the northeast part of the state, is trying a novel approach by scheduling their "two-day Sire Stakes event" and their regular fair racing in a five-day span, which means racing on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday ... In the southwest sector, Waynesburg (Greene County) will go postward on Thursday and Friday; please note that, contrary to some very early reports, the Waynesburg action will commence at 10 a.m. each day. by Jerry Connors  

Sent off as the favorite in the 2005 Hambletonian, Classic Photo was defeated by Vivid Photo for the $1.5 million purse, but Todd Schadel, who just happened to co-own the victorious gelding, possessed no reservations about breeding to the stallion and is quite pleased with how Classic Martine, the result of this mating, is performing.

Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds were featured on the final day of harness racing on the PA Fair Circuit for the season, at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds.

The final stop on the Pennsylvania Fair Circuit, the Bloomsburg Fair in Columbia County, kicked off four days of harness racing on Monday (September 24).

Harness racing returned to the Indiana County Fairgrounds in Indiana, PA on Monday (August 27), with eight PA Sire Stake races.

Cantab Cabela trotted the fastest winning time out of four harness racing divisions of The Stallion Series held at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Tuesday night.

Three-year-olds were featured in Pennsylvania Sire Stake harness racing the Gratz Fairgrounds near Harrisburg, PA on Sunday (July 15). Tony Schadel led the way with three driving wins on his home track. Tony's brother, Todd Schadel, opened the card with a victory from one of his own trainees, Ballagio Hanover.

The Pennsylvania Fair Circuit wrapped up the 2011 harness racing season with two-year-olds in PA Sire Stake action at the Gratz Fairgrounds. Ballagio Hanover (Cantab Hall) opened the day by winning a division of the freshman colt trot. Todd Schadel trains and was in the bike for the 2:07.3 effort, the colt's first career win.

Harness racing three-year-olds wrapped up their portion of the Pennsylvania fair schedule at the Gratz Fairgrounds on Wednesday (Sept 28), and Steve Schoeffel won half of the day's 10 races.

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