At this second-to-last stop on the Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes circuit this summer this past Sunday and Monday, there were many fine and fast miles, more pointtotal champions crowned, the leading North American 2YO in terms of wins upset by her archrival - and a young driver earning a special place in the circuit's history, Chris Shaw, a 28-year-old horseman from Meadow Lands PA, has shown progression from year-to-year at the fairs while also slowly building a foothold on the pari-mutuel side, mostly at The Meadows, and this summer it has all come together for Shaw, who posted his 100th victory of the summer season with a victory behind the 3TC Blazin' Tsunami in a Fair Sire Stake Monday. Not too many drivers have made the century mark on the Pennsy twicearounds - Roger Hammer for sure - and the confidence Shaw has built in himself and in other trainers has gotten him quality mounts throughout the warm months. Of course, it also helps when your two-year-old nephew Mason, son of Chris' brother Jason (who is trainer for Team Shaw), owns three "other" 2YOs who have collectively gone 47-39-8-0 over the summer. Two of the trio are geldings, and they swept the 2PC Fair Sire Stakes events: Marshmallow Pulse (Quik Pulse Mindale) in 2:00 and Nippy (Nuclear Breeze) in 2:01.4 for his ninth straight win. Nippy now has 13 visits to Victory Lane, more than any North American 2YO male, and clinched a tie for leading his division in preliminary round points: the only way he could be caught is if he didn't race Thursday at Bloomsburg, the last prelim stop, and Marshmallow Pulse would win and tie him. Marshmallow Pulse has twelve wins, and is tied with three other horses at that figure, including, maybe not surprisingly, another horse with whom Chris Shaw won on Sunday: Rustlercafe, a Rustler Hanover gelding who competes on the parallel Quaker State circuit. He won '14 victory #12 - and tenth in a row - for owner/trainer Roger Hammer, with Chris having deputized for Hammer six times now. The winningest two-year-old in North America, the 2PF Tropical Terror (Western Terror) tasted defeat for only the 2nd time in 16 seasonal starts, though it was a very game outing, a ¾-length defeat to her archrival Keystone I Wish, an Art Official filly owned by trainer/driver Todd Schadel in partnership with his wife Christine. Tropical Terror parked a fired-up Keystone I Wish to a 29.4 opener before yielding for the pocket, and then could not catch her fast foe late at the end of a 2:00.4-29.2 mile. Keystone I Wish now has won the two races Tropical Terror lost. Besides Nippy, other divisional pointwinners were crowned and will be receiving the blanket in stable colors at the postseason fair banquet. Perhaps the most "unusual" blanketwinner will be in the 2TF ranks, where trainer Boots Dunn swept the two Sire Stakes contests at Gratz with Isabella Carina and Trustworthy Gal. But assuring herself of the blanket was the horse who missed a half-length to the latter: the Tom Ridge filly Peoplesayimnogood, a Lear Jetta filly owned, trainer, and usually driven by Roger Hammer. Peoplesayimnogood now has a seasonal standings of 15-2-10-2-1 at the fairs, remarkable consistency for a green trotting division - and she does have speed, as evidenced by her 2TF track record of 2:04.2 at Stoneboro. In a division where four different misses have set track records, there should be a competitive Championship, part of the $200,000 Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes Championships at The Meadows on Saturday, October 4. The other horse to have clinched a blanket at Gratz was the Cantab Hall filly Cantabs Lightning, who is now 11-10-1-0 at the fairs, the last seven in succession, for owner/trainer/driver Wayne Long. (Such was the respect her opponents have for Cantabs Lightning that she won the slowest of the 3TF divisions: Todd Schadel guided the S J's Caviar filly Caviar Call Girl to a 2:01.2 triumph to post the fastest clocking all summer in this division.) Perhaps the most anticipated contest of the weekend was a division of the 3TC, where Fly Past Hanover (11-10-1-0 with 5 straight wins) was to face off with Mr Weaver (who had a six-race winning streak). And these two did not disappoint, with the Madison River gelding Mr Weaver rallying out of the pocket to catch "Fly Past" by a nose in 2:03-29.2 for driver Bryce Truitt and trainer John McMullen Jr., the latter co-owner with grandson Owen McMullen. The three-year-old pacers posted three sub-2:00 miles, including the filly Southwind Jumanji (driven by Wayne Long) in 1:59.2. Colt winners were Ruffled Up (Roger Hammer) in 1:59.2, making him the only horse to have two magic miles at the PA fairs this summer; and Mister Chaos (Chris Shaw sulkysitting) in 1:59, fastest mile since the Bedford Speedway explosion in July. Mention should also be made of Police Navidad, a 2TG by Muscle Massive whose 10th victory on Sunday put him tied atop the North American charts for winning baby trotters. Steve Schoeffel trains and drove the steady trotter for Lander Stables LLC, James Reuther, and his mother (Virginia) and wife (Kathy). From the Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association
STONEBORO PA - The Pennsylvania Fair Circuit was in a total "split" situation this past Tuesday and Wednesday, with the racing for two-year-olds conducted at both the Erie County Fair in Wattsburg and the Indiana County Fair on Tuesday, and the three-year-olds going the following days at both places. Speed was achieved at both venues: the two track records for trotting fillies were rewritten at Wattsburg, while at Indiana the only 2:00 mile of the fair season outside of Bedford went into the books. And one young horseman accomplished an amazing feat linking both tracks both days. On Tuesday morning the two-year-old trotting filly Missive reset the Wattsburg track record for a/s/g to 2:08 in winning her division of the Fair Sire Stakes (and going faster than the boys did). Steve Schoeffel, Wattsburg's leading driver with six wins in the two days, trains and drove the daughter of Muscle Massive for Lander Stables LLC and Kathy Schoeffel. Within an hour of that performance, North America's winningest two-year-olds, the pacing filly Tropical Terror (now at 12) and gelding Nippy (10), both added to their victory total, and both did it in the same unusual way - they were both placed first in their events. Both the Western Terror filly Tropical Terror (who has now won in a dead-heat and by disqualification, and lost by a half-length in her only other start) and the Nuclear Breeze gelding Nippy are campaigned by Team Shaw - trainer Jason Shaw (Wattsburg meet leader with 4 wins over the two days), driver Chris Shaw, and owner Mason Shaw, Jason's 2YO son. On Wednesday Wattsburg altered another line in its record tables when the sophomore Straight Up Lindy filly Static Electricity made the stopwatch click at 2:05.2. The firm of Shaw, Shaw, and Shaw also profited from this trotter's victory. Tuesday's Indiana action saw Todd Schadel drive four winners, but he had to settle for second behind perhaps the most impressive winner of the day, the baby trotting filly by SJ's Caviar named HS Pearl, who won in 2:07.1 (also faster than either winning time posted by her colt counterparts, like Missive at Wattsburg), and with last quarter of 29.4. Wayne Long trains and drives the impressive miss, and he shares ownership with Joyce Lineweaver. On Wednesday at Indiana, the Yankee Cruiser gelding Fangled Hanover teamed with owner/trainer/driver Roger Hammer to win a division of the 3PC event in 2:00, the only magic mile of the year on the Pennsy twicearounds other than at the speed show at Bedford, which produced six such times. There have only been a handful of clockings in even time or better at Indiana (the all-time fastest is 1:58.3 by Straight Character), and Fangled Hanover now joins that select group for Hammer, who was the meet's leading trainer with four and co-leading driver with four along with his Vivid Photo partner Schadel - and an up-and-coming horseman who deserves his own paragraph. 20-year-old Cory Kreiser has only 48 driving victories in his young career, and he had never trained a winner before this season. But Kreiser posted four sulky victories at Indiana to tie the veterans Hammer and Schadel - and even more impressively he trained a winner - each day - at each of the two tracks! Winning at Wattsburg Tuesday was Uber Doober Do (Schoeffel deputizing) and Julio Lauxmont (Brady Brown) Wednesday in Quaker State events; at his "base" at Indiana, Kreiser was the victorious trainer/driver in a Sire Stake with Allstar Ballet on Tuesday and a Quaker State with Acelia on Wednesday to complete the unique trainer quartet. Cory also had Indiana catch-driving Sire Stakes triumphs with Koi Lauxmont for trainer Ted Williams on Tuesday and Medoland Onyx for conditioner Pat Medors on Wednesday, thus achieving his sulky foursome. The circuit moves on to its final "Western stop" this Friday and Sunday at the Great Stoneboro Fair; freshman will start their races at 10 a.m. Friday, with sophomores set to go Sunday at high noon. The circuit then heads east for its final tour, at Port Royal, York, Gratz, and Bloomsburg, then goes back west to The Meadows on Saturday evening, October 5 for the $200,000 Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes Championship Night. From the PA Fair Harness Horsemen's Association
HONESDALE PA - The second half of the dual-phase harness racing meet at the Wayne County Fairgrounds in this northeast PA town, the "PA Fair Sire Stakes" portion after the "county fair" portion, ended yesterday, with many familiar storylines in place at the wire: Roger Hammer, who set the Honesdale track records on both the pace (Alastor Hanover, 1:56.2) and trot (Vivid Photo, 2:02) in 2010, again in 2014 had the fastest mile, a 2:00.4 outing by the Rocknroll Hanover gelding Rockabella, for whom Hammer is owner/trainer/driver, in a division of the FFA pace Wednesday. Like most of the week's miles at Honesdale, the early pace was conservative, but the final quarter was impressive (28); The most interesting fair division so far, the two-year-old filly pace, had seen Keystone I Wish stop Tropical Terror's win streak at eight earlier in the week; on Thursday the fillies, who had deadheated at Bedford, drew in separate divisions: and both won: first the Art Official filly Keystone I Wish for trainer / driver Todd Schadel, co-owner with his wife Christine; and then the Western Terror filly Tropical Terror for driver Chris Shaw, trainer Jason Shaw, and owner Mason Shaw; The 2PFs went in races 3 and 4; races 1 and 2 were for the 2TFs, and both Schadel and Shaw won one each of these two as well - both catchdriving for owner/trainer Boots Dunn: the Glidemaster filly Shewontkissandtell and the Tom Ridge filly Isabella Carina. Driving doubles seemed to be the order of the day in the Thursday Fair Sire Stakes for babies: on the colt side, Marc Mosher guided both trot winners, while on the pace Chris Shaw paraded back twice; Well-known amateur horseman Alan Schwartz made a rare venture over the New York state line profitable as he won with R'lene Jetta, a Lear Jetta sophomore filly he owns, trains, and drove; And of course the ongoing success of Hurricane Shaw, the trio mentioned above. After Chris drove seven winners during the first session and Jason trained five, all for his two-year-old son Mason the owner, Team Shaw went 6-5-5 during the second two-day section. FINISHING LINES - Roger Hammer also trained the fastest winner of the opening day of the two-day meet in Waynesburg PA (358 miles southwest of Honesdale) yesterday, with the Rustler Hanover baby gelding Rustlercafe distancing a Quaker State field in 2:02 for driver Steve Schoeffel, who won three times on that card. There will be a full summary on the Waynesburg meet appearing after today's racing for three-year-olds. Publicity Office of PA Fair Harness Horsemen's Association
HONESDALE PA -- Hurricane Shaw blew through this northeastern Pennsylvania city this past Sunday and Monday during the fair harness racing meet, offering $100,000 in purse money, at the Wayne County Fairgrounds here, but the prize that they probably wanted the most eluded them, instead going to the horse that figured to be the one to beat. "Hurricane Shaw" here refers to an owner, 2-year-old Mason Shaw, who before lunchtime Sunday, 3YO day, saw his horse earn over $9500 and had his stable go 8-5-3-0 over the two days; his father, trainer Jason Shaw (who also trains, quite successfully, for the accounts of other owners), who won five times during the meet; and his uncle, driver Chris, who had six visits to Victory Lane. Chris now sports a 51-48 edge in driving triumphs over Steve Schoeffel, who will wait for fair action to return to his western Pennsylvania part of the state, at Waynesburg; Jason now has a 38-31 edge over the Schoeffel barn on the conditioning side. The win that they probably most wanted, though, was with Tropical Terror in a division of the two-year-old Fair Sire Stakes filly pace. Tropical Terror, a daughter of Western Terror, had been the only horse in any division to go eight-for-eight at the first eight 2014 PA fair stops, and the Shaws were of course hoping for number nine. But victory number 8 had been in a dead-heat with Keystone I Wish at Clearfield last week, and this filly had shown her talent with a 2:00 score at Gratz earlier. And it was Keystone I Wish who got the nod when the two squared off at Honesdale, in 2:02.4 (just 2/5 off the fastest mile of the meet, which was recorded by the 3PF La Fiesta, who closed in 28.2 for the team of guess who). But Tropical Terror was gallant in defeat, making up 6Â½ lengths on her rival from the half, only to come up Â½ length shy of the Art Official filly Keystone I Wish, trained and driven by Todd Schadel and owned by Todd and wife Christine. The clocking was also only a tick off the local divisional standard set by Car-Lin's Stardurst in 2003. Fastest trot of the meet was a 2:06.4 triumph turned in by the Pistols N Spurs gelding Must Be A Pistol, owned by Michael Brocklehurst, in a division of the FSS 3TC. The race was notable for two reasons: 1) Faust, who had just rewritten the Bedford trot mark to 2:00.4, made a break with a four-length lead coming into the stretch; and 2) it was the first drive at Honesdale for trainer/driver Harold Brocklehurst in at least 22 years, the furthest-back the USTA records go, and possibly his first-ever trip behind the gate there. The Shaw clan will hope for their luck to continue at the Honesdale 2-day meet, which will begin tomorrow. Pennsylvania fair racing will also be conducted on Thursday 358 miles to the southwest, at the Greene County fair in Waynesburg, which will also race on Friday. The three meets within the six-day period will find some $290,000 in purses offered to the cream of the Keystone twicearound circuit. Publicity Department, PA Fair Harness Horsemen's Association
CLEARFIELD PA - The four-day harness racing meet at the Clearfield (PA) County Fair concluded on Wednesday, with $107,784 in total purses distributed in the quartet of days among the best of the Keystone State's fair competitors. Clearfield, (relatively) centrally- located in the state, always draws one of the biggest pool of entrants, and local fans enjoyed 34 heats of racing during the meet. The tightest finish of the meet, by definition, occurred on Tuesday in a division of the two-year-old filly pace, when Tropical Terror, a daugher of Western Terror, is the only fair campaigner to win at all eight of the season's initial stops, maintained that distinction while finishing in a 2:03.3 dead-heat with Keystone I Will, fastest of this group at the fairs off a 2:00 mile at Bedford. The Art Official filly Keystone I Wish is trained and was driven by Todd Schadel, while Tropical Terror tallied for trainer Jason Shaw and driver Chris Shaw. There were five divisions of the two-year-old colt pace that day, with Team Schadel accounting for two and Team Shaw (whose brace included the fastest winner Marshmallow Pulse in 2:03) taking two more. The fifth was won by R N Nate for trainer/driver Roger Hammer, who will take his present six-race win streak behind the gate tomorrow (Friday) at Harrah's Philadelphia. On the trotting side, the highlight would be the remarkable performance of trainer Bill Daugherty Jr.'s three-year-old colts, both of whom are now six for seven at the twicearounds after Clearfield victories. Fly Past Hanover, an altered son of Cantab Hall, has lost only in a photo when Faust set the all-age Bedford track record of 2:00.4, while the Broadway Hall gelding Broadway Charm posted the Clearfield meet's fastest trotting time of 2:03.4. ("Charm"'s Clearfield counterpart on the pacing side would be Ruffle Up, a sophomore Real Artist gelding who won in 2:01 for trainer/driver Roger Hammer.) Handling the two Daugherty powerhouses throughout the summer has been the fair circuit's leading driver, Steve Schoeffel, who with four wins on the week now has 48 wins in eight stops; Schoeffel's main rival, Chris Shaw, visited Victory Lane via sulky six times at Clearfield to raise his win total to 45. The Shaw/Schoeffel duel on the driving side is paralleled on the training side as well, as Chris's brother Jason harnessed five winners during the session to currently enjoy a 33-31 edge over horses out of the Schoeffel barn. Perennial "fair king" Roger Hammer is third in both categories, with 19 driving wins and 20 training triumphs. The fair circuit now moves to the far northeast of the state, at the Wayne County Fair at Honesdale, which will stage its "fair meet" on Sunday and Monday and its "2-day meet" on Wednesday and Thursday. Next Thursday also sees the start of two days of racing at the Greene County Fair in Waynesburg, 358 miles away from Honesdale. (Miss the turn for Honesdale and you'll be in New York; miss the turn for Waynesburg and you'll be in West Virginia ... yes, Pennsylvania is a big state.) by Jerry Connors for the PA Sire Stakes Fairs
BEDFORD PA - The two-year-old pacer Gordo astonished the racing fans at the Bedford (PA) Fair on Monday afternoon when he scorched to a 1:57 victory in a Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes event, missing both the all-time Bedford track record and the national season's record for age, sex, and gait by only 2/5 of a second. Driver Steve Schoeffel sent Gordo right to the front and blitzed amazing fractions of 28.2, 58.2, and 1:26.2 en route to the sensational victory. A son of McArdle out of the Blissful Hall mare Blissard Of Oz (who had had only one winner in four living foals pre-Gordo), the fast freshman was bred by Perretti Farms. (As to whether this horse is named after Gordon Waterstone, the Hervey Award-winning journalist for the Horseman and Fair World magazine, there are only two possible clues: 1) being a Perretti-bred, he was likely named by Communicators Hall of Fame candidate Bob Marks, who often incorporated people's names into horses' names: an earlier foal of Blissard Of Oz was named Duke Of Pellington; 2) the pacer is a gelding.) For driver Steve Schoeffel, the circuit's leading driver and trainer, it was his fifth visit to Victory Lane on the day (but first with a pacer; more on that later), all five of whom come from his own barn. His wife Kathy had her fourth winner of the day with Gordo, and co-owner Lander Stables LLC got their third. The other two winners in the sections of the FSS two-year-old colt pace had a distinctly "hometown" flavor. In the first, R N Nate paced in 2:00.2, which would be a divisional track standard for about 30 minutes, for breeder-owner-trainer-driver Roger Hammer, perhaps the best-known citizen of Bedford in harness racing. And in the second, Sam Beegle, PHHA president and a state wrestling championship finalist when attending his native Bedford High School, paraded back Modern Yankee after a 2:01.3 triumph. Two impressive freshman fillies paced home first in their Fair Sire Stakes cuts. Keystone I Wish was first up, and she went the first 2:00 mile of the local fair season when she won in even time for trainer/driver Todd Schadel. Her clocking shaved two seconds off the previous divisional track mark co-held by Keystone Trixie and Keystone Haden - a tribute to the Hempt Farms' "Keystones," which are still producing winners; Schadel is co-breeder of "Wish" with the Estate of George Hempt Trust. (And that is not to forget Keystone Famous, whose 1:56.3 here in 1986 is still the pacing record, though threatened by Gordo today.) The other baby filly winner, Tropical Terror, kept her distinction intact: she has now won at all seven stops to date on the circuit, here in 2:02.1 for (driver Chris) Shaw / (trainer Jason) Shaw / and (owner and 2YO himself Mason) Shaw. The Schoeffel barn sent out four of the five winners in Fair Sire Stakes freshman trotting competition, including the new track recordholder for 2TFs, Mooksie, who lowered the old mark 5 2/5 seconds with a 2:02.1 tally, over three seconds faster than any of her colt counterparts trotted today. Also a winner was Missive, in 2:05, for the same ownership as Gordo. The Schoeffelites winning the colt events were Police Navidad, fastest of the victorious trio in 2:05.3, and the unusually-bred Shark Gesture trotter out of an Artsplace mare, Chiney Babco, who has now won six "on the trot," here in 2:07.2. Trainer-owner Boots Dunn and driver Chris Shaw sent out 2:06.3 winner King Karma to break up a total Schoeffel sweep. Oh ... and the track was rated "slow" throughout the card. FINISHING LINES-The first race of the day was a Quaker State trot, and the only two entrants were from the Syl King Stable, so it was not really shocking to see a final time of 2:27.4 - which by the way, grouped with Gordo's 1:57 mile to produce a 30 4/5 second variance from fastest to slowest mile on a card, was NOT a record for Western Pennsylvania - just about 29 years ago, Marauder won his heat of the 1985 Adios in 1:52.1, and then, when Nihilator did not return for the final, took the trophy by walking over in 2:27.4, for a 35 3/5 second variance!... The three-year-olds take to the track at Bedford Tuesday at 11 a.m., and given the speed show put on by the babies, who knows how fast the sophomores will go? From the Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association
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 Â¾ 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.