Track Records Fall At Wattsburg, Pa.

Published: August 30, 2017 10:26 pm EDT

The greatest ever meet of harness racing at the Erie (Pa.) County Fair, and one of the best meets anywhere in Pennsylvania fair harness racing over the last couple of decades, took place on Tuesday (August 29) and Wednesday (August 30) in Wattsburg, located in the northwest corner of the state.

On Tuesday, the all-age track record for pacers was broken – by a two-year-old; on Wednesday, given over to sophomores, that newly-minted all-age pacing mark was duplicated, and the track’s all-time trotting standard, first established 29 years ago, was also equalled.

The two-year-old who went the monster mile was Venier Hanover, the Well Said-Valmctorian gelding who went fractions of :29.3, :59.2, and 1:29.3 en route to completing his mile in 2:00.1, a clocking which knocked two-fifths of a second off of the 2013 effort of the sophomore filly Shesalilfireball, and also annihilated the track’s former two-year-old pacing colt mark of 2:03 (Twilight Artist, 2010). Dave Brickell, also the trainer and co-owner of the wunderkind with Mitchell York, was as usual in the sulky, with Venier Hanover garnering his fifth track record at the fairs). Venier Hanover’s record at the fairs is now 9-8-1-0, and overall he has 10 victories, second in North America among freshmen to the undefeated Ohio baby Carmensdaleyapple, who has 12.

Trainer Ron Burke, who has dominated the North American statistical training scene over the last few years, has found a new world to conquer – his home state’s county fairs – and two of his charges were the sophomores who tied all-age track records at Wattsburg on Wednesday.

Midway Island had made his fair debut last week by rewriting the Meadville all-age standard to 1:58, and this week he tied Venier Hanover’s 2:00.1 local record. Chris Shaw handled Midway Island, an altered son of Somebeachsomewhere, in a mile with fractions of :30.1, 1:01.2, and 1:31.1, with a sprint home in :29 to get a tie on the top line of the pacing column, as well as reduce the local three-year-old pacing colt record of 2:01 previously first set by Straight Character in 2010 and then equalled by Royaltyhasarrived five years later.

Burke Racing Stable, LLC, Weaver Bruscemi, LLC, Knox Services, Inc., and David Wills are the owners of Midway Island, and this quartet also owns the Yankee Glide gelding New Heaven, who equaled the Wattsburg all-age trotting mark of 2:04 first set by Smokey Crown in 1988 and then finally tied by Major Matter last year, and also their shared divisional track record. New Heaven’s record mile came with fractions of :30, 1:01.2, and 1:32.4, and it left him undefeated after four starts on the fair circuit. Chris Shaw again had the sulky duty for trainer Burke.

One other three-year-old worth mentioning is the Dragon Again filly Camera Lady, last year’s winningest two-year-old in all of North America, and currently on a skein of five wins in her last six starts after a sharp brush down the backstretch put her in front and in position to carry out a 2:03.1 effort. Camera Lady is a stablemate of Venier Hanover, with Dave Brickell training, driving, and co-owning with Mitchell York on this solid pacer as well.

Chris Shaw had three wins on Tuesday and then five on Wednesday to make him by far the leading driver, upping his season-long fair lead over Roger Hammer to 53-47 (despite Hammer winning seven races earlier in the week at Indiana, Pa.). Chris’s brother Jason conditioned two winners each day to top all Wattsburg trainers, and he narrowed Hammer’s lead in the conditioner’s contest to 43-31.

Two-year-olds are back in action at Stoneboro on Thursday (August 31), while three-year-olds will get their final start on the western part of the Pennsylvania fair circuit on Monday (September 4). From there, the circuit comes east for its final seasonal stops at York, Gratz, and Bloomsburg.

(Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen’s Association)

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