by Mary Lou Lawless
Independence, IA — As much as Iowa’s fair season is anticipated and enjoyed, the going can get rough as July unfolds. With the competition accelerating every week, the price of fuel and recent concerns over purse money, Standardbred racing enthusiasts and some of their most loyal fans stood up to those challenges and made Monday’s (July 9) program an evening to remember at the Linn County Fair in Central City.
Determined to have the traditional racing program during the fair, The Linn County Fair Board joined forces with the Iowa Harness Horsemen’s Association and local volunteers and sponsors, to reinforce purses to a total of $13,000, to make significant improvements to the track, and to reward a full and lively audience with prizes and participation in the 11-race evening program.
“Got Drive..You Bet!” gave fans of all ages an opportunity to win a t-shirt, take virtual ownership of a specific horse, and, if that horse won, to be a winner of $50!
Youth entered Human Cart Races in both the under 12 years of age division and the 12 and over, where winning teams received $50 “purses” and contestants had a photo shot with the sweet and lovely Linn County Fair Queen, Amber Broulik.
Central City’s rich harness racing history dates back to September of 1888 and the track was a frequent and popular Midwest circuit stop through the 1950s. Because the fair values their racing heritage, efforts are underway to continue improvements at the facility and to add more racing dates there to the schedule in the near future.
IaHHA horseman Bobby Williams is stabled at Central City this season and has taken a leading role in updating the track in terms of dimensions and quality of the racing surface. As a result, speed picked up this year!
On his home track, Linn County horseman Scott Smith headed the roster of winners, piloting Curtis Carey’s trainee, Blueintotown, to victory in the quickest pace, 2:03.3.
Owner Jodi Siamis of Marion directed the promotional facets of racing at Central City and arranged for each winning horse and owner to be presented with a trophy cooler blanket by the Fair Queen.
Driven by her trainer, Brad Ashby, the freshman filly One Request captured the second cooler for owner Bernie Nanke of Waterloo, Iowa, pacing the mile in 2:10 flat in her second lifetime race start.
Trained by Mary Carey-Hauser, Two NTS With Her out trotted a field of four to win her fourth lifetime start for the winner’s share of $1,500, and driver Adam Hauser accepted the blanket for owner Troy W. Mollohan of Fowler, Ohio.
Scott Smith recorded his second driving win of the evening with Michael Smith’s Tootin’ Matt (2:10.2) and Pat Howard brought Jim Coulter’s Ideal Lender to victory lane in a time of 2:09.1.
Jenni King of Sauk City, Wis., owns, trains and drives the trotter Skinan, who finished in a winning 2:08 flat.
Will Roland sent Sendhimdownthepike over the race course in 2:05.3 for his grandfather, Roger Roland, of Grinnell, Iowa, and Adam Hauser came to the winner’s circle again with TJ Park N Party, who paced in 2:10.1.
Owned by Roger Roland and Ed Dieleman of Sully, Iowa, HiHopes Sunset was reined by her trainer, Will Roland, to a 2:06.3 win, and Gary Hafner’s full of trot Zippy Star accomplished his sixth consecutive win in as many starts on the Iowa circuit this season.
L Baler and trainer/driver Brandon Jenson came all the way from Humboldt County to race at Central City, where they won the final pace in 2:06.3. Jenson co-owns the 5-year-old gelding with his brother, Bryce Jenson.
Three huge programs and around $95,000 in purses are scheduled for the Keokuk County Fair in What Cheer this weekend, July 13-15, beginning at 12:30 p.m. all three days.
See www.iowaharnessracing.com on the Internet for more info on harness racing in Iowa.