Hammer wins DiSalvo Trophy|
Friday, August 03, 2012
By Rich Murawski Assistant Sports Editor
A pair of photo-finish losses and a charge from Chris Shaw had Roger Hammer's run at another DiSalvo Trophy in question Thursday at the Clearfield County Fair.
But with just three harness races to go, Hammer got a big performance from Nucular Enemy, who ran the week's fastest time at 2:00.4 in the Mary Hainsey Memorial 3-year-old colt PA Sire Stakes Pace.
The win broke a three-way tie with Shaw and Dave Brickell, and Hammer claimed his 11th DiSalvo Trophy with six victories on the week.
Nucular Enemy also gave Hammer another piece of hardware, the Jerry "Killer" Krisher Trophy for the week's fastest time.
"I knew they wouldn't beat her," Hammer said of his competition having a chance to win against Nucular Enemy. "I figured I'd get up on them (Brickell and Shaw). And I knew (Eric) Neal had the best horse in the next race and the last one was a toss-up."
Neal did, in fact, have the best horse in the following race, driving McHoffman to a ¾-length win over Brady Brown and Hershey Please in the R-Bar 3-year-old colt PA Sire Stakes Pace.
Neal's victory was his fourth, adding to an already tight driver race.
Brickell had Dalton Hanover in the lead at the ½-mile and the ¾-mile, but faded down the stretch and had to settle for third.
Hammer, Brickell and Shaw all had entries in the final race, but none could catch Robert Verney aboard Real Tenacity, who took the lead at the ½-mile mark and held off the field for a 1¼-length win in 2:04.1.
Hammer guided Nate Breeze across the line in second, Shaw and Chesire Cat placed third and Brickell, who challenged for the lead most of the race, faded to sixth at the wire.
Hammer led nearly the whole way in the second race of the day - the Robert Luce PA Sire Stakes Pace, piloting Paints Hall to the front before getting a major challenge down the stretch from both Brickell and James Dodson.
The three were bunched together the entire stretch run, making for perhaps the closest finish in the history of the Clearfield County Fair.
When the dust settled and judges examined the photo, it was determined that Brickell's Kaitlin Kir edged Hammer and Paints Hall by a whisker at the wire. Dodson and Argument Hanover placed third and were just a neck behind the leaders.
Brickell's win gave him five for the week, tying him with Hammer at that point.
Hammer also led until the stretch run in the fourth race - the Margaret "Peggy" Haney Memorial 3-year-old PA Sire Stakes Pace, but he and Shootoutthelights were caught from behind at the wire.
This time, it was Shaw making the move with Steppin Hanover, who arrived only about 20 minutes before the start of the race due to an accident on Interstate 80 that had traffic tied up for hours.
But Steppin Hanover stepped out of the trailer and into the winner's circle after stalking Shootoutthelights from the pocket for over half the race before turning on the jets and pulling out a 1¼-length victory.
"I didn't think that would happen," Hammer said about his horses getting caught and edged out at the wire. "I thought they would win. But I haven't trained them in a couple weeks because it was so hot. We should have trained them."
Shaw followed that up with a win in the next race - the Violet Lansberry Memorial 3-year-old PA Sire Stakes Pace.
He drove Theshipscruisinin to a wire-to-wire win, topping Brown and Cin Cardle by 2¾ lengths to earn his fifth driver victory of the week and send an incredibly competitive DiSalvo Trophy chase into a three-way tie with just three races remaining on the card.
When asked if he could ever remember a DiSalvo race so tight, Hammer said, "never."
Brown picked up a pair of wins on Thursday, piloting Seth First to a 1½-length, wire-to-wire victory in 2:10.4 in the first event of the day - the Chester C. Chidboy 3-year-old Quaker State Pace.
He also directed Medoland Zizzy to a ½-length win in 2:05.2 in the Chandler & Dawson Ross Memorial 3-year-old PA Sire Stakes Pace. Hammer had Serenity Breeze in the lead until Medoland Zizzy moved far to the outside to run them down at the wire.
Brown's win gave him three wins for the week and placed him fifth in the DiSalvo standings,
Allstar Life, driven by Cory Kreiser, also made a move down the stretch, diving under Hammer and taking second by a nose.
But Hammer overcame all the close losses early on to collect his 11th DiSalvo Trophy at the track that will always have a special place in his heart.
"I like coming to fairs," he said. "And right here is where I made my first drive when I was 16. And I'll be back."
NOTES: The total combined purse of Thursday's races was $26,395 and the four-day total was $107,566 ... Hammer has won three of the last four DiSalvo Trophies and six of the last 10 ... After Hammer's 11 DiSalvo's, the next closest driver in career trophies is Joe Offutt with five.
Harness Racing Day 4
3-year-old Quaker State Pace
Chester C. Chidboy Memorial
1. Seth First (Brady Brown), 2:10.4; 2. Laundress Hanover (Wayne Long); 3. Dealer Lauxmont (Shawn Johnston); 4. Roughwaytogo (Charles Flickinger).
3-year-old Filly PA Sire Stakes Pace
Robert Luce Memorial
1. Kaitlin Kir (Dave Brickell), 2:02; 2. Paints Hall (Roger Hammer); 3. Argument Hanover (James Dodson); 4. NF Jessica (Aaron Johnston); 5. Scott's Terror (Brown).
Chandler & Dawson Ross Memorial
1. Medoland Zizzy (Brown), 2:05.2; 2. Allstar Life (Cory Kreiser); 3. Serenity Breeze (Hammer); 4. Caribe (Brickell); 5. Lima Beauty (Chris Shaw).
Margaret "Peggy" Haney Memorial
1. Steppin Hanover (Shaw), 2:02.4; 2. Shootoutthelights (Hammer); 3. DVC Itsanattitude (Brickell); 4. Markin My Territory (Long).
Violet Lansberry Memorial
1. Theshipscruisinin (Shaw), 2:02.2; 2. Cin Cardle (Brown); 3. Golden Slipper (John Green); 4. Nuclearccino (Hammer).
3-year-old colt PA Sire Stakes Pace
Mary Hainsey Memorial
1. Nucular Enemy (Hammer), 2:00.4; 2. Anotherbugga (Long); 3. DVC I's Magical (Dodson); 4. Cervante Bluestone (Robert Verney); 5. Summer Foolery (Shaw).
1. McHoffman (Eric Neal) 2:01.4; 2. Hershey Please (Brown); 3. Dalton Hanover (Brickell); 4. Power Share (Shaw); 5. Baybliss (Verney); 6. Youllhavetolaugh (A. Johnston).
Liberty Tax Service
1. Real Tenacity (Verney) 2:04.1; 2. Nate Breeze (Hammer); 3. Chesire Cat (Shaw); 4. Ticklish Terror (Kreiser); 5. Police Car (Brown); 6. Herlastchance (Brickell).