by Thom Pye, for the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association
Northfield, OH — Maybe the weather didn’t cooperate but everything else fell into place on a wet and windy Saturday (Oct. 20) as the Ohio Fair Championships for 2- and 3-year-olds were contested in eight $25,000 races at Northfield Park.
It was the end of the 2018 Fair season in Ohio for many of the year’s best at the Fairs and Joyce McClelland’s This Year’s Best (Ryan Stahl) trotted to a 13th victory in her 30th 2018 start with another consistently good time of 2:00.4. The John Ryan Melshiemer-trained 3-year-old daughter of My MVP pushed her seasonal earnings a tick shy of the $60,000 mark as she gutted it out from the half over Sunny Day (Chris Shaw) and Bellesvictorysong with Jeff Nisonger.
So Romantic (My MVP-Modern Romance), a Ken Holliday trained and driven 2-year-old filly trotter, decided to make her initial appearance to the winner’s circle in her 12th lifetime start for Black Magic Racing with a gate-to-wire effort in 2:02.2. The slick-gaited miss had been competing against the tougher OSS and KYSS lasses and was 64th in points earned but she made the final when a lot of the other 2-year-olds opted out of the race. She responded with a two length win over Trotslikenoother (Uncle Peter) with Ronnie Wrenn Jr. in the bike and an up and challenging Ilianora (Broadway Hall) and Cam McCown as she notched her seasonal earnings to just about the $50,000 level.
A mile in 1:59 over the track rated sloppy was stamped by the Ron Randall owned and trained Officially My Way (Jason Thompson) as the 2-year-old filly pacer by Art Official added win number 11 to her 2018 17-race resume and showed her heels to the field by three lengths in besting Bad Leading Lady (Big Bad John) and Cam McCown and Heythere Lisamarie (Pet Rock) with Ryan Stahl as her freshman year’s earnings topped $70,000.
Myron Yoder’s Stars And Stones, a 2-year-old gelding trotter by Wishing Stone garnered his seventh win in 16 starts when the Sophie Desroches-conditioned trotting machine capped the season with his 14th on-the-board effort in 16 starts and rounded off his 2018 earnings to a little over $50,000. Cam McCown did the honors again as he made his statement on the front end when he cut the mile in 2:00.3 and won by two over UB Cruisin (Dontyouforgetit) with Chris Lems as Hall N Bro (Dejarmbro) and Jason Thompson took the show spot.
Aaron Merriman commanded the 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings when he put Gerald Mijal’s Tanner J (Believeincruiser-How Is Carrie) on top and led every step of the way in the mile in 1:58.1 as the Steve Novak student posted victory number seven in his 17th lifetime start for $51,000-plus. Thundering Jim (Woodstock) and Ryan Stahl were a game second as Beachesbeckonme (Beachtrea) and Jimmy Smith got up for third.
You knew it was TC’s Happy Times when the van full of delighted Wellers arrived in the winner’s circle. Ryan Stahl had just steered Louise and Jay Weller’s Triumphant Caviar 3-year-old trotting gelding to a 2-1/2 length triumph in 2:00 as the Jayne Weller-conditioned gelding was the crowd favorite by besting Home Run Trot (Jason Merriman) and Twilight Twist (Robin Miller) over the rain-soaked surface.
The van had to turn right around when Jayme (Weller) Laing’s Talkaboutaqueen dominated the 3-year-old filly pacers by eight lengths with a Chris Lems-authored mile in 1:56. The Jayne Weller-trained daughter of Oaks Enforcer chalked up her fourth seasonal win to go along with a tenfold of seconds as the proud and happy group had two-in-a-row in Ohio trips to victory lane on the night. VH Princess Brea (Ryan Stahl) was second as Aaron Merriman with Friske Jewels managed the third spot.
In the Pace For The Cure, seven dauntless ladies braved the elements as Emily Hay took Christopher Short’s JJ’s Doughnut straight to the finish line in an excellent time of 1:57.4. It was Hay’s first time behind the Keith Kash Jr.-trained 11-year-old and she held off Bold Decision (Sierra Graham) and Da Vinci Artist piloted by a very busy Jayne Weller in a thriller by a half-length.
The 2018 Ohio Fair season wrapped up the night as Rose & Buerger Farms LLP’s Rockin M and Kurt Sugg took the 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings race in a blanket-finish of four in 1:57.1. The Mark Winters Sr.-trained Pet Rock gelding prevailed by a head over Long Train Running (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) and Ohio Prince (Ken Holliday) as Cass Rock Delight (Cam McCown) was 1-1/4 lengths back in fourth. It was the seventh win on the year for the $61,000-plus lifetime winner as the dependable sophomore was on the board in 18 of his 21 seasonal starts.
A sincere thanks to our host on the night, Northfield Park, and to all the officials, owners, trainers, caretakers, track crews, and faithful fans that made our Ohio Fair season an enjoyable “back to our roots” family-fun event.
Good speed and good racing throughout the year to all.