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Memorable card at Wattsburg to open Pa Fair season
Saturday, June 15, 2013 - by Jerry Connors, for the PA Harness Racing Commission

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Wattsburg, PA --- So many notable things came out of the opening day of the 2013 Pennsylvania Fair season on Saturday at the Erie County Fairgrounds, featuring Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for 2-year-olds, it's hard to know where to start in describing them.

In the first race of the season, the Well Said filly Stirling Caprice turned in a sharp :30.1 last quarter in completing a 2:07 triumph. This victory put in place many themes for the day: trainer/driver Steve Schoeffel winning, as did wife Kathy and mother Virginia as part-owners, a combination which would team for victory five times in all Saturday, with a different matchup in partnership with the Schoeffels for each (James Reuther was in this one and one other).

Fastest mile of the day was the 2:05.1 time hung up by the Yankee Cruiser colt A OK Hanover. After a Precious-Bunny-at-Delaware-like gatel eaving (he had 1-1/2 lengths at the physical start spot of the race) for owner-trainer-driver Roger Hammer (who had a sulky double), A OK Hanover was never in doubt of the victory.

On the trot, maybe the most promising horse all day was the Donato Hanover gelding Ravenclaw who came home in 1:01.3-:30.3, something not done by a 2-year-old in mid-June at a track where the all-time track trotting record is 2:04, to complete the 2:08.2 headturning victory for the Schoeffel brigade as described above, Reuther, and Stephen Lander.

The final group, the trotting filles, were headed by the simply-named Bessie, who made trotting fast look simple as she made her debut successful in 2:10.2, home in :31.1 over the fairgrounds twicearound for owner/trainer/driver Dave Brickell, who guided two more winners, one of which he also owns and conditions.

In a card full of babies, it seems appropriate that there was an owner younger than his winning horse. Mason Shaw, with "year of birth: 2012" clearly printed on PATHWAY, is the owner of Hopeful Trust, a pacing filly by Quik Pulse Mindale (whi along with Western Terror had two siring credits on the card), who paraded home first for trainer/father Jason Shaw (yes, father and son are Jason and Mason) and driver/uncle Chris.

And the veterans had their moments, too. Walter "Boots" Dunn already has another season where he conditioned a fair winner after Glide By Shooting (by Glidemaster) won.

And perhaps the most moving moment of the day was watching the return to the sulky of Winston Lineweaver, 52 weeks after a cardiac incident at the very same curtainraiser last year. "Pink" (an ironic nickname for someone who forgot his helmet and had to borrow a blue one) acquitted himself well, too, steering Flynn Raider through three first-turn miscues to grab second behind the uncatchable Ravenclaw.

And finally, a phrase entered the all-time PA Fair lexicon in the last race. As Mcartic Ocean (McArdle) set the pace for owner/trainer/driver Aaron Johnston, nearing the half his brother Shawn guided Gambler Lauxmont up to challenge uncovered. With something combining incredulity and mirth in his voice, Aaron looked right over at his brother, right in front of the stands, and very clearly shouted, "Take a number!" It ain't braggin' if you can back it up, and Aaron did, sending Mcartic Ocean home in :29.4 to complete a 2:06.4 victory first-time-out.

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