Racing season opens in Iowa

by Mary Lou Lawless

Independence, IA — Neither threatening clouds, measurable rainfall nor a challenging spring training season could keep Iowa’s Standardbred community from gathering at What Cheer on Monday, May 28, to officially open the 2007 racing season.

Never mind the tightened purse structure, due to funding cuts that didn’t quite get ironed out during the legislative session.

“Sloppy” and then some were the track conditions as Ryan Ladely of Grinnell, Iowa and Kevin Hannah of Naples, Texas plowed furrows with their bike wheels during the groom’s race. The expressions on these young men’s faces, though? “Priceless!” said Association Prez Royal Roland.

Iowa native Richard Kranzel, Jr. is back on Iowa turf for the racing season, bringing his own unique sound and great enthusiasm to announcing at the fair meets. Kranzel joined Judges Kevin Finn and Curt Vos, Starter Garry Philips and Clerk of Course Don Heldenbrand in officiating for Monday’s eight races.

Homer “Hack” Wilson, right, and Morris Trabert talk of the racing, then and now, as Mrs. Rex Wilkening, aka “The What Cheer Bookie,” keeps up her program.

While picnics on the backside and fellowship in the well populated grandstand made the day memorable, 91 year old Homer “Hack” Wilson and his longtime friend Morris Trabert made time to reminisce. Roger and Judy Roland were content to quietly celebrate their wedding anniversary at the same site where they had honeymooned, 45 years ago this Memorial Day!

Ms. KayVeonna Rose Austin, infant daughter of Lar Fay and Amanda (Huffman) Austin of Sigourney, was admired and welcomed to her first race meet, as was Ethan Dean Roland, son of Nick and Julia Roland of Grinnell.

Mary Lou Lawless photos

Adam Hauser guides Chals Grand Slam to victory.

Before it was over, the skies brightened, warm breezes dried the oval and speed picked up accordingly. Adam Hauser handled the reins for the day’s fastest pacer, Chals Grand Slam, in the seventh, winning in 2:06.3.

Gary Hafner’s trotter, Zippy Star, romped to the winner’s circle in 2:07.4, and was joined there by the Hafner Family Racing connections.

Sixty-three entries in 11 races are slated for the second go-round, at the Humboldt County Fair track in Humboldt, Iowa on Saturday, June 2, beginning at 1:00 p.m.

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