WATTSBURG PA – After a cool but sunny Monday of racing two-year-olds, the skies threatened the three-year-old action on Tuesday at the Erie County Fair in this northwest Pennsylvania town, but a recently-rare show of cooperation by Mother Nature – and hard work by the track crew – allowed the three-year-old A Rocknroll Dance colt Under Paid to circle the twicearound in 2:00.3, just 2/5 of a second behind the all-time Wattsburg standard.
In his division of the “A” PA Fair Sire Stake for his class, Under Paid and driver Aaron Johnston were in charge for the mile, posting splits of :29.2, 1:00.3, and 1:31. The weather was again cool and breezy, not conducive to record miles, but Under Paid came home in :29.3, just two ticks shy of the all-tyime local mark shared by Venier Hanover and Midway Island. Under Paid has now won three straight – his fair debut, a pari-mutuel Stallion Series event, and then here at Wattbsurg – with trainer Ron Burke taking a rare dip into the fair waters and emerging successful for Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Lawrence Karr, and Phil Collura.
The most impressive horse on the Monday card for two-year-olds was the Father Patrick – Yankee Etta trotting gelding Penance, who won his fifth “A” fair event in 2:06.3, just three-fifths shy of the divisional track record set by Tag The Lady ten years ago. Penance, who also was a winner of a division of the Arden Downs Stake the night before the Adios, has the same connection as RT Gloria De Dios – driver Kyle Bolon, trainer Bob Rougeaux III, and the Brocious Racing Stable LLC, whose patriarch for many years was “Lefty” Brocious.
Bolon visited Victory Lane twice on both Monday and Tuesday to emerge as the short meet’s top driver with four victories. Roger Hammer trained three baby winners and added a sophomore win to take honors as the leading trainer with four triumphs – Hammer was not on hand on Tuesday, as he was attending the funeral of Mr. Gerald Kelly, a longtime Hammer patron and one of the most respected men in the Mid-Atlantic area, unflinchingly kind and calm while operating a moderate stable until his recent passing at age 81.
The Pennsylvania fair circuit is right back in action at Stoneboro PA Thursday (freshmen) and Friday (sophomores), with the racing scheduled to start at 11 a.m. This will be the last stop on the “western” swing of the circuit; the four stops after Stoneboro will be two-day and fair sessions at Bloomsburg and Gratz, as the horses make a final charge to qualify for the Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes Championships at The Meadows on Saturday, October 5. (Last year’s Fair Championships, remember, were the “coming-out party” for Aflame Hanover, who won a Messenger elimination this past Saturday, and goes for $500,000 in the Triple Crown event this Saturday at Yonkers.)