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Pennsylvania Fair Awards Presented

Published: January 24, 2016 7:08 pm ET

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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, honoured their best and brightest 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. Twenty to 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 cancelled 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 12 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 dash-winning 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 point-winners 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.

Point-winning 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 – Billys 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 race winners:

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.

(Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen’s Association)

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