Shawn Johnston picked up three wins on the second day of harness racing Monday at the 159th Clearfield County Fair to shoot into contention for the Buster DiSalvo Trophy, which is awarded to the driver with the most victories over the four-day program.
Eric Neal matched his win total from Day 1 and now leads the field with four.
Reigning DiSalvo champion Todd Schadel, who drove three horses to victory on Sunday, did not compete on Monday.
Johnston won consecutive races early on Monday’s card, taking a pair of 2-year-old pacing fillys to their fourth wins of the year.
Johnston guided Write All About It to a wire-to-wire victory in the Auto Mart of Clearfield Pace, holding off Neal and Rose of Roses by 2 3/4 lengths in a time of 2:07.4.
After enjoying a coast-to-coast ride in front of the field, Johnston parked Silly But Serious in the pocket behind Neal and TSM Western Soul for the first half of the Richie Salvatore Memorial Pace.
Johnston took Silly But Serious around TSM Western Soul at the 3/4-mark and the two bay fillys battled for track position from there all the way down the stretch until pulling away for the 1/2-length win in a time of 2:05.1.
Johnston earned his final win on the sixth race of the day, driving 2-year-old colt Champ Charbel to a 1/2-length victory in the Beardsley Funeral Home & Creamatorium Pace.
Champ Charbel trailed Life’s Marvelous (driven by Roger Hammer) and Halliwell Hanover (driven by Dave Brickell) for over half the race before making his move over the final quarter mile.
Both Johnston and Brickell overtook Hammer, who led most of the way. Johnston and Champ Charbel crossed the line in 2:02.1. It was the third win in four tries for Champ Charbel.
Hammer began his day with a scary fall in the opening Dunlap-Swales Memorial pace.
He was directing Mr Yannick around the early leaders as the group headed for turn three on the first lap when Mr Yannick broke stride and then reared up in the air, knocking Hammer out of the sulky and to the ground.
Branden Smith and Caffeine Buzz as well as Brady Brown and All Aboard got caught up in the accident and were not a factor in the outcome.
That left Neal and Ucomin in front for a wire-to-wire win with Wayne Long and Itsthehilbillyrock finishing 1 3/4 lengths behind. The winning time was 2:08.1.
The program was delayed briefly while medical personnel checked on Hammer, who returned to compete in two later races, winning the last one of the day —the Arlene Swales Memorial Pace Queen’s Trophy.
He guided Sanction Hanover to a wire-to-wire victory in 2:06, beating Neal and Ideal Gisele to the line by 2 1/2 lengths.
It was the bay fillys third win in seven starts this year.
Neal, who had three runner-up finishes on Monday, took the lead in the race for the DiSalvo Trophy when he took Its Bin Said on a coast-to-coast trip in the front of the pack in the Crawford Williams Memorial Pace.
The duo held off Brickell and TSM She Wulf by 2 1.4 lengths in a time of 2:06.3 as the bay filly earned her maiden victory.
There was no holding off Brickell in Monday’s fourth race — the Moyer’s Auto Body Pace — as he and his bay filly Dream Dancing flirted with the track record for 2-year-old pacing fillys.
Brickell and Dream Dancing had to contend with Johnston and Irish Rocket in the early going, falling behind out of the gate before surging to the lead at the quarter-mile mark.
The duo poured it on from there, dashing to a 20 1/4 length victory in a time of 2:01.4, just .2 off the record-setting pace of Chrome Over in 2011.
Smith, the step grandson of Hammer, rounded out Monday’s winners with the most dominating performance of the program.
He sat in the sulky behind Dracula in the E. Jay Master Memorial Pace as the duo put up the fastest opening quarter (30.1) and half-mile (1:00.3) of the day. They had such a big lead that Smith backed off the gas pedal and crossed the line in 2:05.1, 41 3/4-lengths in front of the nearest competitor.
It was the second win in two starts for Dracula.
The total purse of for Monday’s 8-race card was $32,200.
Today’s 9-race program in set to begin at noon.
Pennsylvania Sire Stakes
2-year-old Colts & Geldings
Dunlap-Swales Memorial Pace
1. Ucomin (Eric Neal), 2:08.1. 2. Itsthehilbillyrock (Wayne Long). 3. Caffeine Buzz (Branden Smith). 4. All Aboard (Brady Brown). DNF. Mr Yannick (Roger Hammer), DNF.
Auto Mart of Clearfield Pace
1. Write All About It (Shawn Johnston), 2:07.4. 2. Rose of Roses (Neal). 3. Precious Jess (Brown). 4. Gotta Go Ellie (Long). 5. Well Versed (Kyle Bolon).
Richie Salvatore Memorial Pace
1. Silly But Serious (S. Johnston), 2:05.1. 2. TSM Western Soul (Neal). 3. Seabbreeze De Vie (Brown). 4. Millimister (Long). 5. RT Dont Speak (Bolon).
Moyer’s Auto Body Pace
1. Dream Dancing (Dave Brickell), 2:01.4. 2. Blue Speech (Bolon). 3. TSM Opal Dancer (Neal). 4. Irish Rockett (S. Johnston).
1. Its Bin Said (Neal), 2:06.3. 2. TSM She Wulf (Brickell). 3. Gypsy Ginger (Brown). 4. Premier Lauxmont (S. Johnston).
2-year-old Colts & Gelding
Beardsley Funeral Home
& Crematorium Pace
1. Champ Charbel (S. Johnston), 2:02.1. 2. Halliwell Hanover (Brickell). 3. Life’s Marvalous (Hammer). 4. TSM Batman (Brown).
E. Jay Master Memorial Pace
1. Dracula (Smith), 2:05.1. 2. Risen (S. Johnston). 3. TSM Dancer T (Neal).
Arlene Swales Memorial Pace Queen’s Trophy
1. Sanction Hanover (Hammer), 2:06.0. 2. Ideal Gisele (Neal). 3. Hickory Maybelle (Brown).