HUGHESVILLE PA – There was little luck with the two-year-old Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes racing on Wednesday at the Lycoming County Fair in this northcentral borough in the state (near the home of Williamsport and the Little League World Series), but then the three-year-olds put on a great show Thursday, headed by the all-age track record pacing mile of 1:56.1 turned in by the filly Blank Cheek in an “A” division of a PaFSS.
Blank Cheek is a daughter of Sweet Lou who was winning for only the third time in her career, but her powerful mile eclipsed not only her division’s previous Hughesville mark of 1:58.4 set by Marvalous Song in 2018 but also the 1:56.3 overall record set by three-year-old male Aladdin Hanover last year. Todd Schadel drove and trains the new recordholder, and he co-owns her with wife Christine.
In the other “A” divisional event, Sam Beegle, president of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association and Chairman of USTA District 7 (Pennsylvania), caused the USTA’s computer to update his career driving win total to 997 with a victory behind the Stay Hungry filly Ginger Tree Lena.
Besides Blank Cheek’s historic effort, three more 2:00 miles were recorded Thursday: a 1:57.3 victory by the Betting Line gelding Rusty Beach in the only division of the “A” colt pace for driver Eric Neal and trainer Richard Dunn, co-owner with MBC Stables LLC -- and, surprisingly, two magic miles in the “B” Sire Stakes ranks: first a 1:59.4 jaunt from the Captaintreacherous gelding Louie Hanover, and then a 1:59.3 triumph from Little Lady J, a daughter of A Rocknroll Dance.
The team behind Louie Hanover, driver Shawn Johnston and trainer Steve Schoeffel, dominated the three-year-old trotting ranks, sweeping the colt divisions with Big Baller Beane, a Father Patrick gelding owned by Virginia and Kathy Schoeffel with James Reuther and Roger Romesser, in 2:01.4, and with Ocean Bar, a Bar Hopping gelding who posted his third fair win, here in 2:02, with the Schoeffel women co-owning this one with Marian Schilling and Daniel Goehle.
Johnston/Schoeffel also had a “B” winner among the males with the Southwind Frank gelding Motorwerks. Johnston drove a winner of the “A” filly trot, the International Moni filly Smooth As Silk, now a three-time fair winner; the faster event for that class went to the Bar Hopping miss Keystone Sweetpea (trainer/driver Todd Schadel), whose 2:01.4 matched the best time of the colts.
Wednesday saw only four races for the babies get conducted before the skies opened up and washed out the rest of the card, and because of a malfunction none of those races were timed. The If I Can Dream gelding Dry Ridge Erie became the first three-time winner at the 2023 fairs in triumphing for driver Shawn Johnston, trainer Gary Johnston, and owner Randy Ringer.
Shawn Johnston won seven times at Hughesville to be far and away the leading driver; Todd Schadel and Steve Schoeffel both sent out four success stories to top the conditioners.
Pennsylvania fair racing next goes to Bedford PA, with two sessions scheduled for next week, all cards starting at 3 p.m.: their 2-Day Sire Stakes Event on Sunday and Monday, and then their Fair meet on Thursday and Friday.