Friday’s $200,000 Pennsylvania Fairs championships at The Meadows bring together the finest two and three-year-old performers from across the Keystone State, yet the event could become a showcase for trainer/driver Todd Schadel.
Schadel will send out 12 horses in the eight races, which he says probably is a record for him. Moreover, his brother and sister-in-law, Tony and Linda Schadel, have four finalists, meaning that of the 68 horses in the championships, nearly 25 per cent represent the Schadel family.
Friday’s 14-race card kicks off with a non-wagering event, the championship for three-year-old colt and gelding pacers. All other races are part of the pari-mutuel program. On the wagering front, the program offers a $19,427.24 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. Special fall/winter post time is 4 p.m.
Schadel has at least one starter in seven of the eight finals, missing only the championship for freshman colt and gelding trotters. He had one who qualified there, Lebron Hanover, but had to scratch him due to sickness.
It isn’t that Schadel necessarily targets fair racing as his primary venue. He was, after all, partnered with Roger Hammer in Vivid Photo, who made harness racing history with an improbable win in the 2005 Hambletonian. Yet even Vivid Photo raced at the fairs prior to his unforgettable Hambo victory.
“I buy horses to make a living with, and I try to buy them at the right price,” said Schadel, a resident of Spring Glen near the Gratz Fairgrounds in central Pennsylvania. “I can’t go out there and spend $200,000 or $300,000 to buy horses to compete in sires stakes, yet that’s what this business is. I try to buy them where we can make a profit, then go back the next year and buy more.”
Indeed, Schadel didn’t give more than $50,000 for any of his finalists, yet they’ve already banked more than $650,000 combined.
Asked to handicap his “Dazzling Dozen,” Schadel says these three have perhaps the best shots at titles:
• Tonianne, a sophomore pacing filly who’s already won 14 times for owners Andy Miller Stable and Louis Willinger. “She raced awfully well for me last week. They’ll have a tough time beating her,” said Schadel. Miller will pilot the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Table Talk from post two, Race 6. She’s one of seven horses Miller will drive for Schadel in the championships.
• Buchannon Hanover, a son of Always B Miki-Beachbunny Hanover. The freshman pacing colt goes from post seven, Race 4 for Miller. “He was running over horses last week. Andy will figure him out. If he has a little bit of luck, he’ll be fine."
• Terry A Hanover, a three-year-old pacing colt named for the late Terry Altmeyer, a stalwart of the PA Fairs circuit. “He has a great personality, and he’s been nothing but a money maker. He’s done his job, and he’s a nice horse to drive." Miller will guide the son of Artspeak-Triplet Hanover from post three in the early non-wagering event.