STONEBORO PA – Thirty-one heats of Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes racing were conducted on Saturday and Sunday at the Stoneboro Fair in this northwest Pennsylvania borough, and emerging as an unlikely hero was a 29-year-old native of Scotland who had won exactly one race in his driving career before the weekend.
But Hugh O’Neil had shown enough that Dan Altmeyer, the veteran successful trainer, tapped him for two drives during the Saturday program, which was devoted to two-year-olds. He promptly won with the Sweet Lou – Rockn On The Beach colt Lou On The Beach in 2:01.4, faster of the two “A” divisions, to give that baby two wins on the Fair Circuit already for owners Diamond Club Racing and David Wills. He also was successful with the pacing filly Texas Dolly (Betting Line – Control The Beach) in 2:03.2 for owners Diamond Club Racing, Dr. John Egloff, David Wills, and Will To Win Stable LLC; a repeat circuit winner in that division was another daughter of Betting Line, Rambling Ruby (dam Goldies Bad Girl) in 2:04.2 for trainer/driver Todd Schadel.
The third double Fair winner among the freshmen was the Southwind Frank – Moots trotting miss Nick N A Promise in 2:07.2 for trainer/driver Bill Daugherty Jr.; the fastest of all the freshman trotters was another filly, the Father Patrick – Lindy On The Rocks distaff Jameson N Line, owned by Virginia and Kathy Schoeffel, Big L Stable, and Marv Owlett, who went in 2:04.4 to give trainer/driver Steve Schoeffel the fair season’s leader in both baby trotting sections after Big Baller Beane set the Butler track record for his section of 2:02.1.
The name “Mc Ilmurray” is famous in Michigan but seldom seen this far east; owner/trainer/driver James Mc Ilmurray prepped the International Moni – Clover Market trotting colt Crypto Currency at Northville near Detroit, then came to the Keystone fairs and promptly won his debut in 2:08.3.
Come Sunday and the three-year-olds, and Hugh O’Neil again made the headlines by guiding the Western Ideal pacing filly Gray Skies, the horse who had provided his single previous career win at Butler, to the fastest mile of the young state fair season, 2:00.2, for trainer Scott Betts and owner Timothy Betts. O’Neil also won with the Betting Line – Pears N Amoretto pacing gelding Any Ace in 2:02.1 for trainer Rich Gillock – quite a following among quality trainers the young horsemen is developing.
The other two two-time fair winners were trotters: the Explosive Matter filly Curry Hanover stayed hot with a 2:05.3, fastest of that group “A” races, for driver Brady Brown, trainer Steve Schoeffel, and owners Virginia and Kathy Schoeffel, James Reuther, and Seth Dowling. Among the colts, the Possess The Will colt Heytherwillie added another win in 2:05.3 for driver Kyle Bolon and trainer Kaylee Martin; however, that time was far eclipsed by the 2:02.1 clocking, tying for fastest trot on the circuit this year, by the Cantab Hall gelding Bigly, earlier a 1:56.4 Stallion Series winner at Pocono, trained and driven by Aaron Johnson and owned by Jennifer Johnston and Brian Taylor.
Aaron Johnston and Hugh O’Neil tied for the meet lead by each piloting home four successful horses; Roger Hammer harnessed three winners to edge by one nine other trainers who had two victories.
The Pennsylvania Fair Circuit now heads to the Lycoming Fair in Hughesville PA, near Williamsport and the Little League World Series, where racing will be held at 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.