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Hockey Hanover Doubles In Fair Final

Published: October 7, 2017 9:32 pm ET

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Already Pennsylvania’s Stallion Series champion two-year-old male trotter, Hockey Hanover completed an unusual double when he captured Saturday’s PA Fairs final at The Meadows.

The Meadows hosted all eight PA Fairs championships, each with a purse of $24,200, and joined with the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association to stage the annual “Pink-Out” to benefit breast cancer research. The event offered many festive activities, none more enjoyable to the McMullen Stable than the victory by Hockey Hanover.

McMullen Stable purchased the Explosive Matter-Hotentrot gelding for $10,000 as a yearling, and the gelding has gone on to earn $91,630. Leaving from the rail, trainer-driver Wilbur Yoder pushed Hockey Hanover for the lead.

“He’s been having a little trouble lately, and the main concern was trying to get him around the first turn,” Yoder said. “I was concentrating on that. But when they come at him, he digs in. He’ll have a couple months off now, a well-deserved break.”

Hockey Hanover shrugged off a challenge by Grapple Hanover in the lane and prevailed in 1:58.1, two-and-three-quarter lengths better than the ground-saving Yougottabecrazy, with Grapple Hanover third.

Elsewhere on the championship card, Yoder and McMullen Stable teamed for another crown with All Set Lets Go while Aaron Merriman earned a pair of titles. The “King of the Fairs,” 71-year-old Roger Hammer, collected his 22nd fairs title at The Meadows with a colossal upset.

Hammer sent the 25-1 Cirrus De Vie, who he owns with Vicki Lynn Fair, to the front with a quarter-pole move, and the son of Real Artist-Walk On The Beach won handily in 1:55.2 in the Two-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Pace, one-and-a-quarter lengths better than Starvin Marvin. Venier Hanover settled for show.

“I thought I would give Venier Hanover a race for his money,” Hammer said. “I figured if I could get this horse back to the top and let him roll, I would make Venier come first over after him.”

Rockefeller Lindy was trying to pass New Heaven in the "lightning lane" when the two came in contact. Rockefeller Lindy jumped once and obtained his stride and downed New Heaven in 1:57.2 for Aaron Merriman in the Three-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Trot. Irish Valentine rallied for show.

“I thought he would go down, but he kept trotting. That’s the only thing that saved us,” said Bill Daugherty, Jr., who conditions the Lucky Chucky-A Touch Of Lindy gelding — an $18,000 yearling acquisition — for Susan Daugherty. “He’s always been good gaited, but man oh man, going that speed and he’s tired, you can imagine. I’ll probably quit with him for the year. I’ve had enough, and he’s had enough.”

All Set Lets Go, sweeping her final 12 fair prelims, powered to the front with a quarter-pole move and defeated entry-mates Opal Hanover and Drinking Class in the Two-Year-Old Filly Trot, going in 1:58.3, a lifetime mark.

“She’s pretty honest — trots all the time and minds her business,” Yoder said. “She’s pretty good off the gait and gets into position. We’ll race her in some overnights and hope we find a class where she’s competitive.”

The Ron Burke-trained Somebeachsomewhere-Up Front Gal gelding Midway Island, who won all six of his fair circuit starts after his mid-season acquisition by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Knox Services and David Wills, retook control to win the Three-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Pace in 1:52.2 with Chris Shaw at the reigns. Ginger Tree Marty closed for second, four-and-three-quarters lengths behind, while Cinnabar Dragon finished third.

“I had to put everybody else in a hole,” Shaw said. “I didn’t want to be coming from the three hole.”

Merriman got his second crown with Bella Ragaza in the Three-Year-Old Filly Pace who, after a winless freshman season, bagged 11 victories entering the championship. She quarter-poled to the top and had little trouble holding off Keystone Nikki by two-and-three-quarter lengths in 1:55.4, a career best. Camera Lady finished third.

“She’s very handy but more of a grinder than a sprinter,” Merriman said. “If you can get her to the front and keep her moving, she’ll keep going on the end.”

Linda Schadel trains the daughter of Rocknroll Hanover-Armbro Bahama and owns with Roxanna Buffington.

Nicole Hanover struggled to overtake pacesetter Kylah, but she ultimately prevailed by a head over the game leader in a career-best 1:58.3 in the Two-Year-Old Filly Trot, with Lightning Lois third.

“She needed a helmet to follow,” said winning driver Brian Zendt. “She’s won a lot of races on the front end, but she’s not used to going three-quarters in 1:27 at the fairs. I could have used the Lightning Lane, but sometimes green horses don’t know what’s going on there, so I’m glad I had room outside.”

Robert Rougeaux III conditions the daughter of Explosive Matter-Nan’s Conway for Brocious Racing Stable.

Pretty Proud was fast early, taking the field through three-quarters in 1:26.1. She slowed in the lane, but had enough to hold off Marvalous Song by three-quarter lengths in 1:57.2 — a lifetime mark — for Jim Pantaleano in the Two-Year-Old Filly Pace. Keystone Diamond, the wagering favourite, lacked racing room and was third.

“The fractions took their toll on all of them late in the mile,” said Rich Gillock, who conditions the daughter of Bettor’s Delight-Pears N Amoretto and owns with Barbara Richardson and James Richardson. “One of her big assets all year has been she can leave the gate. A couple of her main contenders had road trouble and couldn’t quite catch up to us.

(With files from The Meadows)

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