Roger Hammer, who hit the big time when Vivid Photo won the 2005 Hambletonian, proved that he’s still “King of the Fairs” in Pennsylvania when three-year-old filly pacers he trains swept the first four positions in their PA Fairs Championship Saturday at The Meadows.
On a splendid fall night, The Meadows hosted all eight fair finals — each with a purse of $20,000 — a celebration that included many family-oriented activities coordinated by the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association. The evening featured many highlights, but none more impressive than Hammer’s sweep.
Todd Schadel, who owns the recently retired Vivid Photo with Hammer, brought Shootoutthelights from well back to score by five and a half lengths in 1:55.3. The daughter of Dragon Again-Armbro Pomme was followed by Serenity Breeze, Hot Latte and Paints Hall, with Hammer aboard. A fifth Hammer entry, Nuclearccino, finished last.
“I had four in a final last year and finished second, third and fourth,” Hammer said. “I thought two would be good tonight. I still like the fairs. I don’t race at the fairs because I have to. I do it because I want to. You’re educating your colts, and it’s the same bunch of guys driving with you. It’s nice. It’s a different atmosphere.”
Oddly, Boytown made the three-year-old colt/gelding trot final despite competing at only one fair, but there was nothing odd about the Lightning Lane charge that brought him victory for Dick Stillings and trainer Rich Gillock, who owns the American Winner-P Town Girl gelding with Barbara and James Richardson. Early leader Mulligan Bi was second, half a length back, with Redder Than Red third. The time of 1:56 is a fairs championships record.
“He has his issues,” Stillings said. “He has bad feet, and he’ll get off his game once in awhile. But giving him the two-hole tonight was the key.”
Boytown now has banked $169,488.
Two-year-old pacing gelding Mein Schatz captured his fourth straight, all from off the pace, with a sustained uncovered bid for trainer/driver Aaron Johnston that carried him to victory in a career-best 1:57.3, a head better than Camturo Beach. Captain Kubota was third.
“He’s a late developer and hasn’t wanted to leave,” Johnston said of the $5,000 yearling acquisition. “He’s done for the year. That’s all he needed.”
James Biego owns Mein Schatz, a Real Desire-Rainbow Sky gelding.
Greg Grismore wasn’t satisfied with his two earlier drives on the card for trainer Steve Schoeffel, but he made up for it by winning in the Lightning Lane with Schoeffel’s Hershey Please, who triumphed in in the three-year-old colt/gelding pace in 1:54.4 over early leader Dalton Hanover. Anotherbugga earned show.
“I told Steve I needed to make up for the other two,” Grismore said. “He felt good, and luckily, we got there.”
Stephen Lander and Kathy Schoeffel own the I Am A Fool-Hershey Hall gelding, who lowered his lifetime mark by eight seconds.
Schadel got a training win as well when two-year-old trotting colt Keystone Bolt, a son of Cantab Hall-Keystone Brittany that he owns with Christine Schadel, notched an easy front-end victory in 1:59.1. Prince Lauxmont and Polamalu completed the ticket. Keystone Bolt raced for purse money only, so Prince Lauxmont was considered the winner for pari-mutuel purposes.
“Todd told me to watch him going out of there and not to get in any hurry,” said winning driver Dave Palone. “He was just perfect. He jogged.”
Bloomfieldcantifly shot the Lightning Lane for Aaron Merriman and trainer/lessee Syl King Jr. and triumphed in the three-year-old filly trot in a career-best 2:00.3. Erin Kristen was second, one and a half lengths in arrears, with RT USS Chilton a rallying third.
“I had to start and stop her a lot during the mile,” Merriman said. “Thank goodness she was handy and took hold. She was really nice to drive. When she saw air, she wanted to go. That made my job a little easier.”
Two-year-old pacing filly Shesalilfireball opened a substantial lead before tiring late — her last quarter was :30.4 — but had enough to score in 1:56.2 for Tony Hall. Caviart Ginger was two lengths back in second, with In A Better Place third.
“She’s been pretty handy at the fairs,” said Charlie Myers, who trains the daughter of Allamerican Native-Candy Stripes for Robert Grover. “This is it for her this year. We’ll keep her paid up to the fairs and the sires stakes. We’ll turn her out and give her a chance.”
Two-year-old filly trotter Lady Broadway wrapped up a stellar freshman campaign with her 13th victory in 18 starts, scoring at 1-5 in 1:59.3 for Wil Yoder. Troublebeginsnow was six lengths back in second, with Tommys Cover Girl third.
“She’s the best two-year-old we’ve ever had,” said