Day At The Track

Fly Past Hanover repeats as PA fair champion

03:31 AM 06 Oct 2014 NZDT
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Aaron Merriman, harness racing
Aaron Merriman drove three PA Fair Champions
Chris Gooden Photo

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 5, 2014 -- Fly Past Hanover, a 3-year-old trotting gelding, shot the Lightning Lane and notched his second straight Pennsylvania Fairs championship Saturday at The Meadows

On a festive evening that featured many family-oriented activities, The Meadows hosted all eight fairs finals, each with a purse of $25,000 -- up 25 percent from last year. Aaron Merriman piloted three champions, including a pair -- Fly Past Hanover and Wimborne Hanover -- for trainer William Daugherty, Jr.

Fly Past Hanover stalked the favorite, Mr Weaver, from the pocket and blew by inside to triumph in 1:59.2 for his 22nd victory over the past two seasons, downing Mr Weaver by 2-1/4 lengths. Faust was third. Daugherty said he wasn't surprised the son of Cantab Hall-Flexible Spending was able to repeat as champion.

"He's a good honest trotter -- 90 percent sound, no big problems," Daugherty said. "We got rained out three or four times this summer; that gave him a little rest."

In the other championships:

3-Year-Old Filly Trot -- Sheema Star

Sheema Star provided the night's tote board pyrotechnics when she shed excess cover in the lane to pull off a 50-1 shocker in 1:59.3 and give driver Brady Brown his first career victory at The Meadows. She Nuit was second by a head, with Hearts Content third.

"When I saw I was following the morning-line favorite, I knew we wouldn't be on the fence long," Brown said. "I figured I would have cover carrying me all the way to the stretch. My plan was to come from the back anyway. Everything worked out."

Ashley Brown owns and trains the daughter of SJ's Caviar-Hearts In Bloom.

3-Year-Old Filly Pace -- Wiggle It Hanover

Not to be outdone by his buddy Brown, Shawn Johnston captured his initial driving victory at The Meadows when Wiggle It Hanover -- a daughter of Dragon Again-Western Gesture that Johnston also owns and trains -- rallied to capture only her second lifetime win in 1:56.3. La Fiesta, the PA Fairs juvenile champion, was second, a head back, while Fixed Income earned show.

"They were all itching to get out of there, but she likes to come off the pace," Johnston said. "Was there anything holding her back? Probably me."

Johnston received congratulations of sorts when his fellow horsemen doused him with two buckets of icy water.

3-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace -- Wellsaidandone

Seated early by the determined Ruffle Up and Roger Hammer, Wellsaidandone had more pop late and blazed by the leader to score in 1:53.4 for Merriman, trainer Mike Gillock and owner Harry Locke. On a brusque night when stake records seemed safe, the Well Said-Yenta Hanover gelding missed the stake mark by a tick, an impressive performance.

"That horse of Roger's looked like he'd been getting his own way at the fairs," Merriman said. "I thought if he got cheap fractions, he'd be tough to beat. My horse really exploded out of the hole and made my job extremely easy."

2-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trot -- Wimborne Hanover

Wimborne Hanover soared over $100,000 in earnings with his win in 1:59.3. Bambam Lauxmont was second, 3/4 lengths in arrears, while Music Man De Vie completed the ticket. The victory by the Muscle Massive-Wherley gelding wasn't surprising -- he was the 1-2 favorite -- but the front-end style was, as Daugherty previously indicated the youngster had become too hot.

"In this field, I thought he might have to go to the front," Daugherty said. "He's been good and solid since I changed his bit, but he wasn't going to get a seat tonight. Aaron said he got a little lazy near the wire."

2-Year-Old Filly Trot -- Isabella Carina

Brian Zendt drove Isabella Carina in her most recent outing, a Keystone Classic split, and what he learned proved instrumental in her victory Saturday.

"We made some rigging changes," Zendt said. "She had a Murphy blind, and she acted like she couldn't see right. She had her head kind of cocked sideways. We took that off, and she was much better tonight. She's a Cadillac -- wants to do everything right."

The daughter of Tom Ridge-Bellissimo moved three wide down the backside and drew off by 5-1/2 lengths to score in 1:59.2. Susie B and Peoplesayimnogood completed the ticket. Walter "Boots" Dunn conditions the homebred Isabella Carina for Dunn Stable.

2-Year-Old Filly Pace -- Keystone I Wish

Although she trailed by 5 lengths down the backside, Keystone I Wish tracked down the loose leader, Angel Plus, and scored in 1:57. Tropical Terror, the "winningest" freshman in harness racing with 16 victories, lacked late racing room and settled for second, 1-1/2 lengths behind, while Angel Plus saved show.

"I was a little concerned (with her position), but this filly will chase one down," said winning driver Todd Schadel, who trains the daughter of Art Official-I Will -- an $8,000 Harrisburg buy-back -- and owns with Christine Schadel.

2-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace -- Marshmallow Pulse

Marshmallow Pulse not only grabbed the championship in 1:57.1, but he also extended a streak -- in the money in all 17 career starts. Tony Hall drove the Quik Pulse Mindale-Marshamarshamarsha gelding for trainer Jason Shaw and owner Mason Shaw who, although only 2, showed his savvy as a horseman yet again. Nippy was second, 3-3/4 lengths back, with Given Up Terror third.

"He tries every time he goes on the racetrack," Jason Shaw said of his $4,500 yearling acquisition. "He gives you everything he's got. Next year we may try some early closers here, then back to the fairs."

by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

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