by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows
Washington, PA — When The Meadows hosts Saturday’s (Oct. 6) $200,000 Pennsylvania Fairs championships, the final for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers might be billed “Clash of the Titans II.”
That’s because Cirrus De Vie and Venier Hanover, who dueled in last year’s Fairs final, are the top two in points this year and will square off in the glamour division once more. They’ll meet in race eight when Venier Hanover goes from post five and Cirrus De Vie from post seven as part of an entry.
Each of the eight championships carries a purse of $25,000. The program begins at 12:35 p.m. with a non-wagering event while the card proper starts at 1:05 p.m.
In last year’s championship, Venier Hanover was pounded down to 1-9 but couldn’t get past the 25-1 Cirrus De Vie, who took the crown while Venier Hanover settled for show.
Both geldings have done quite well since then. Venier Hanover, a son of Well Said-Valmctorian, has banked $135,837 for trainer/driver David Brickell, who co-owns with Mitchell York. For his part, Cirrus De Vie has earned $84,028 for Roger Hammer, who trains, drives and co-owns with Vicki Lynn Fair. This year, however, Venier Hanover has a decided edge in head-to-head competition. While his archrival has downed him on three occasions, he’s beaten Cirrus De Vie five straight times en route to his current eight-race Fairs winning streak.
Venier Hanover’s sharp form notwithstanding, Brickell indicates he’s wary of Hammer, who’s been known for years as “King of the Fairs.”
“That streak gives me a lot of confidence, but when you’re racing against ‘The Great One,’ he pulls them out somehow,” Brickell says. “I won’t know what I’ll do until the gate opens, but if ‘Cirrus’ doesn’t get away from me, we should be all right.”
With Venier Hanover’s sophomore campaign winding down, Brickell said he and York likely will sell their $6,000 yearling purchase.
“We mostly race at fairs, and it takes a lot of extra traveling to race an older one at pari-mutuel tracks,” he said. “If we can’t get what we’re asking for, then, yes, we’ll race him at the pari-mutuel level. For an inexpensive purchase, he’s been excellent. Those only come around every once in a while.”
Brickell and Hammer can’t afford to get too preoccupied by the renewal of this rivalry, as they’re sending out a total of 11 horses in the championships. And they’ll knock heads one more time in the final for 3-year-old filly trotters (race six), where Hammer will be represented by Blow Back, a nine-time winner in 2018 and the divisional points leader, and Brickell by Secret Cookie, winless in 23 outings this year.
Saturday also is the celebration of the annual “Pink Out” staged by The Meadows and The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association to benefit breast cancer awareness and treatment. Among the highlights is a “Meet and Greet” with Foiled Again who, with more than $7.5 million in earnings, is the richest Standardbred ever and is based locally in the Ron Burke stable.
Other festivities include:
- A mini-pony race
- A “Pinkest Pony” contest
- A Chinese auction
- The Washington County Auto Show
- Food trucks and vendors on the apron
On the racing side, the card features a number of attractive wagering opportunities, including a pair of rich pool guarantees — $7,500 for the Pick-4, $5,000 for the Pick-5 — and a $902.83 jackpot in the final-race Super Hi-Five.