by Thom Pye, for the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association
Lancaster, OH — What started this past June at Paulding in northwest Ohio as a summer-long journey that raced through 67 of the 88 Ohio County Fairs finished on Thursday (Oct. 11) as the 2018 Ohio Fair season concluded at the Fairfield County Fairgrounds in southwest Ohio.
And as it has since 1880 the grand old half-miler offered its followers and fans some pretty exciting contests and it was no exception on the two days of Ohio Colt Racing Association racing.
Wednesday began with 82 degrees under a sunlit sky and a large crowd witnessed Diamond H Racing Stable and Steve Carter’s Bat Chip Crazy with Ryan Holton dominate six other 2-year-old trotters in the $10,899 OCRA stake as the Manofmanymissions gelding stepped off by 8-3/4 lengths.
As the clouds and rain moved in the resilient surface was dulled but kept the attendees’ interest as the $4,842 OCRA 3-year-old fillies still came home in :30.4 as the Titus Schlabach-trained Momementsoffire (Ryan Holton) pushed her lifetime earnings close to the $60,000 plateau with a three-quarter length triumph over Moola Begonia (Jason Haynes) and Missiononmymind (Allen Miller).
The Free For All Pace was grabbed by Sigh Of Relief (Derek Watiker) by 10 in 2:03.4 as the 6-year-old mare by The Panderosa got her first win in six starts of 2018 for owner/trainer Mary Dawson.
Thursday’s (Oct. 11) 13-race card had a thriller under cloudy skies and 57 wind-blown degrees when Long Train Runnin (Hunter Myers), Cass Delight Rock (Cam McCown), and Adios Man (Trevor Smith) — each of them winners of more than $40,000 in 2018 — were pitted in the $5,400 OCRA 3-year-old pacing colt first division.
It turned out to be a neck and neck battle between Myers and McCown the whole mile before Cass Rock Delight was posted the victor by a tight length in 2:02.3 as the Bret Schwartz-conditioned Pet Rock gelding lived on the outside. Adios Man was up for third as the track had a two-second allowance due to the overnight rains.
Carol Jean Noble’s Johnny Chip took the second division by 7-3/4 lengths as the Dan Ater-trained Big Bad John gelding defeated CG’s Toy Boy (Roger Hughes Jr.), Rock Hard (Cam McCown) and four others in 2:04.3.
Marthas Star found the cool weather agreeable as Jack Dailey steered Gwen Thompson’s 3-year-old filly by World Of Rocknroll to her very first trip to the winner’s circle in 35 career starts in 2:05.1 over Christina One (Pat Melloys Jr.) and Filou Fly Fast (Ryan Holton) in the $4,802 OCRA stake.
A neck separated Billy Tumey’s Itsnoonertime (Allan Anderson) and Screen The Call (Tom Litt) in a conditioned pace while the Mervin Schmucker-conditioned Rockinthepines (Cam McCown) necked out Team Zordin (Luke Ebersole) and Rompaway Beau (Jack Dailey) in the Signature Series Trot with a mile in 2:07.3 as the career winner of $200,000 gave driver McCown his fourth winner on the day.
The 2018 season finale, the second division of the John Ricketts Open, finished with Zachary Highers aiming the Joey Putnam-tutored 5-year-old Shadyshark Hanover mare Halle Shark to a length win in 2:03.4 over Bestinthebusiness (Braxton Boyd) as the career winner of $185,000 gave Zach his first win of 2018 on the last day of the Fairs.
All the action was up close and personal and it was not about the time, it was about the tempo as the racing was viewed by devoted fans of the sport and swarms of young people as they enjoyed a couple of official days off from the Fairfield County schools to compete at and come to the Fair. It was wild and noisy and controlled mayhem. And quite enjoyable. A family tradition at Lancaster since 1851.
Northfield Park hosts the Ohio Fair Championship finales on Saturday (Oct. 20) as the top point earners of the summer face off to put an exclamation point on their season.