Neal takes early lead during first day of harness racing at the fair|
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
By Rich Murawski Assistant Sports Editor
The chase for the Buster DiSalvo Trophy began Monday at the 152nd edition of the Clearfield County Fair with eight harness races.
Punxsutawney's Eric Neal grabbed the early lead for the honor of the week's top driver by winning two events, including a dominating 15-length victory in the Ceci Lizotte Memorial 3-year-old colt pass trot. Neal guided Ibanez to the easy win in the fastest time of the day, 2:05.2.
Brian Weaver, Ed. McNeight Jr., Chris Shaw, Dave Brickell, James McIlmurray and Bobby Rougeaux III each notched one victory as well.
Weaver and Brickell are the only winning drivers from Day 1 to have earned a DiSalvo Trophy. Brickell took the prize in 2007, while Weaver won back-to-back in 1992 and 1993.
Monday's action got started with Weaver driving Dixie General to one of the day's few wire-to-wire victories, but it wasn't easy.
After setting the pace and hardly being challenged through the first one-and-a-half laps, Dixie General was pushed to the limit by a hard-charging The Final Frontier on the race's final quarter.
Weaver and Dixie General were able to fend off the Chris Shaw-driven The Final Frontier by a nose in a photo finish that had race officials looking at the pictures before declaring the winner, who put in a time of 2:11.3.
While no race quite equaled the drama from the Earl Hallstrom Memorial 3-year-old Quaker State Trot, there were plenty more finishes that delighted the crowd.
Neal, aboard Future Past, won the Moyer's Auto Body race in 2:10.2 after battling with Rougeaux III and Roger Hammer throughout.
Rougeaux had RT Jacks Torpedo in first at the halfway point, but was unable to hold the lead as both Future Past and Quantum Roulette (Hammer) overcame him down the stretch.
Future Past found the extra push he needed to cross the line 1¾ lengths ahead of Quantum Roulette. It was Future Past's second win in a row and second in just five races this year.
In the Betty and Richard Fink 3-year-old filly pass trot, McNeight Jr. piloted Northmedo Treasure to the front early in the first lap and never looked back, winning by 2¼ lengths over James Dodson and Mal's Gal, who ran in second the entire race.
Northmedo Treasure broke maiden in just her fourth start of 2012 and sixth of her career.
After stalking the field from the back of the pack for over half the A.E. Gus Mellott Jr. 3-year-old filly pass trot, Shaw and Bloomfieldcantifly effortlessly moved to the front during the final quarter.
Bloomfieldcantifly blew by leader The Raincatcher (driven by Steve Schoeffel) and the rest of the field at the top of the stretch and cruised to a 4-length win with a time of 2:07.1.
The field set a blazing pace in the fifth race of the day - the Foster Kerr Memorial 3-year-old filly pass trot, passing the quarter-mile mark in 31.1.
Erin Kristen, driven by Brickell, raced to the lead early in the first lap and held it the whole way, getting stalked by Fred Uber Jr. and Puttinonthechips from the get-go.
Uber Jr. made a move down the stretch and put a heavy challenge on the leader, but Brickell and Erin Kristen were able to fend off the pesky Puttinonthechips and win by ½ length in 2:06.4.
It was Erin Kristen's seventh win in 17 starts in 2012.
McIlmurray drove Mulligan Bl to a wire-to-wire win in the Butch Flanagan Memorial 3-year-old pass trot.
Mulligan Bl flew to the front of the field as the gate moved out of the way and eased out to a comfortable advantage, nearly equaling the quarter-mile time from the race before, missing by .1.
The brown colt eventually bested the field by seven lengths with a time of 2:06.1.
In the seventh race, Rougeaux III and Sweet Talkin Tim thrilled the crowd by coming from the fourth spot at the ¾-mile mark to best the field by 3¼ lengths.
Rougeaux kept leader Uber Jr. aboard Alright Boy in his sights from the back of the field before making a move on the back stretch. Rougeaux III and Cory Kreiser aboard Stone Valley, who sat in the pocket from the start, both moved past Uber Jr. before having a battle of their own down the stretch.
But Sweet Talkin Tim turned on the jets for a comfortable finish, his second victory of 2012.
That set the stage for Neal to take the lead in the DiSalvo chase and earn the day's fastest finish in a Ceci Lizotte Memorial that was never in doubt.
Post time for today's program is noon, with nine races on tap.
NOTES: A total of $26,014 was awarded on Monday ... 2011 DiSalvo Trophy winner Timmy Offutt was not in attendance during the first day of racing.
3-year-old Quaker State Trot
Earl Hallstrom Memorial
1. Dixie General (Brian Weaver), 2:11.3; 2. The Final Frontier (Christopher Shaw); 3. Gomer (Norman Morford); 4. Sams Zoomin Brady (Fred Uber Jr.), 5. Livinintheoblivion (Steven Gastelu); 6. NF Flight Risk (William Daugherty Jr.).
Moyer's Auto Body
1. Future Past (Eric Neal), 2:10.2; 2. Quantum Roulette (Roger Hammer); 3. RT Jacks Torpedo (Robert Rougeaux III); 4. Triple T Casey (Dave Brickell); 5. Side Ways (Brady Brown).
3-year-old Filly Pass Trot
Betty & Richard Fink
1. Northmedo Treasure (Ed McNeight Jr.), 2:09.4; 2. Mal's Gal (James Dodson); 3. Riann Lady (Hammer); 4. RR's Socks of Gold (Charles Flickinger); 5. Magnolia Grace (Brickell).
A.E. Gus Mellott Jr.
1. Bloomfieldcantifly (Shaw), 2:07.1; 2. RT USS Chilton (Rougeaux III); 3. Desired Outcome (Hammer); 4. The Raincatcher (Steve Schoeffel); 5. Classy Victoria (Brickell).
Foster Kerr Memorial
1. Erin Kristen (Brickell), 2:06.4; 2. Diary Hanover (Shaw); 3. Puttinonthechips (Fred Uber Jr.); 4. Hall Number Three (Dodson).
3-year-old Colt Pass Trot
Butch Flanagan Memorial
1. Mulligan BI (James McIlmurray), 2:06.1; 2, Order by Music (Shaw); 3. Try My Way (Aaron Johnston); 4. Ona Wyoming Trip (Weaver); 5. Megabar Lenny (Morford).
1. Sweet Talkin Tim (Rougeaux III), 2:10.3; 2. Stone Valley (Cory Kreiser); 3. Mr Patterson (Neal); 4. Radical Ridge (Shaw); 5. Alright Boy (Uber Jr.).
Ceci Lizotte Memorial
1. Ibanez (Neal), 2:05.2; 2. Sweet Gypsy Lindy (John Green); 3. MM's Yankee (Brickell).