The Pennsylvania harness racing fair season finally got underway on Wednesday and Thursday with a two-day Sire Stakes event at the Lycoming County Fairgrounds in Hughesville PA, not far from Williamsport, the (usual) home of the Little League World Series.
And as somehow seems right in our current topsy-turvy situation, the meet’s fastest miles came from unusual sources: the fastest mile of the meet, 2:00.4, came from a two-year-old in the very first heat of the year, and the second-fastest miles, both in 2:02.1, were generated by a trotter and a pacer winning a “B” division of the Sires.
Seth Hanover, an altered pacer by Artspeak–Subtle Charm, stopped the timer in 2:00.4 winning the single “A” cut of his Sire Stake. David Brickell was in the sulky behind the fast youngster, who is trained by Mitchell York; Brickell and York are the owners with high hopes for their prospect, who has won a qualifier in 1:55.2 at The Meadows already.
Both of the 2:02.1 winners had eight triumphs as freshmen, so they knew the way to the winner’s circle. Establishing the seasonal state standard for trotters was the Possess The Will gelding No Name Yankee, who was coming off a 1:57.2 victory at The Meadows. Roger Hammer, eight-time North American UDR champion, is the sophomore’s owner/trainer/driver as he won a division of his “A” Sire Stake.
Hammer also owns and trains Caffeine Buzz, a gelded son of A Rock N Roll Dance, who won a “B” division of the Sire Stake faster than any of the three “A” winners. Hammer’s lieutenant Branden Smith was in the sulky.
The only Fair Sire Stakes Champion from age two who got his three-year-old fair campaign off to a winning start at Hughesville was the Explosive Matter trotting colt Stickler Hanover, who needed only 2:07.3 to take his division for trainer/driver Steve Schoeffel. Yet another eight-time winner as a freshman, Stickler Hanover now has three wins in four seasonal starts for owners Virginia and Kathy Schoeffel.
Roger Hammer trained six winners during the 32 heats of racing over the two days to emerge as the leading conditioner early on, while his partner on champion trotter Vivid Photo, Todd Schadel, drove six winners to lead the sulky sitter’s side. Five different Schadels appeared in either the trainers or drivers win column: Todd (six driving plus four training), brother Tony (five driving), sister-in-law Linda (three training), father Bruce (two training), and son Cody (one driving, the second win in his short career).
There will be fair racing at the Silver Springs Ranch training center, near The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, next Thursday and Friday. Further arrangements for the summer, a difficult task as can be imagined, are progressing, and more information should be released shortly.
(PHHA / MSOA / PFHHA)