There was very little intrigue heading into the final day of harness racing Wednesday at the 161st Clearfield County Fair as far as the winner of the Buster DiSalvo Trophy goes. Defending champion Todd Schadel already had that honor sewn up.
But while the race for the DiSalvo — given to the driver who collects the most winning drives over the four-day program — was already decided, the 7-race card featuring 3-year-old pacers certainly didn’t lack for drama.
The day included a scary accident, a judges inquiry and disqualification, a photo finish that took some time to decide and a near track record set.
Things started out with a normal first race, which featured the Colts & Geldings B Group.
Dave Brickell drove Toto Hanover to a wire-to-wire win in the Dawson & Chandler Ross Memorial, crossing the line in 2:00.4.
The real race was for second place, which went to Tony Schadel and Dario Hanover, who nosed past Eric Neal and Southwind Memphis for second, 1 1/4 lengths behind the winners.
Unfortunately for Neal, his dip to third at the line was only the beginning of a difficult day.
Neal took TSM Ruby T out on the track for a warmup lap in the Sue Lanich Memorial featuring the Fillies B Group when disaster struck.
Just before the first turn right after the grandstand, TSM Ruby T reared back and dumped Neal out of the sulky. TSM Ruby T then came crashing to the ground still hooked to the sulky and flailed on the ground before lying still for a long period of time.
After about a 15-minute stoppage, TSM Ruby T was able to get to her feet and loaded into the trailer before being driven back to the barn area.
Following the conclusion of the harness racing action for the day, race secretary Ron Neeper told The Progress that TSM Ruby T was doing fine.
“The horse and driver are both fine,” Neeper said.
“The veterinarian checked the horse and could find no injuries or any reason for the incident.”
Neal, who walked back to the barn and got the trailer to load up TSM Ruby T, competed in four more races on Wednesday.
After the track was worked on and gotten back in racing condition the Sue Lanich Memorial began with four horses, after TSM Ruby T scratched, and ended with a judges inquisition.
It appeared Jack Killeen and Cali Beach won the race by a half-length over Schadel and Teen Dream, but after a driver’s protest and judges review it was determined Killeen and Cali Beach interfered with other competitors after going offstride and were placed third.
That gave Schadel the win, while Long and Shimmy Shimmy Bop were placed second.
Schadel went on to win two more times Wednesday, taking the sixth and seventh races of the day to give him 11 wins for the week.
His closest competitor was Brady Brown, who had four wins coming into the final day, but was not in attendance for the finale.
It’s the second DiSalvo Trophy in a row and third since 2018 for Schadel, who is now tied for fourth all-time with J.C. Miller Jr. with three DiSalvos each.
Schadel nearly set a track record in The Castagnolo Family Pace, taking Buchannon Hanover to victory in a time of 1:58.2, winning by 12 1/2 lengths.
He just missed equaling his own track record for 3-year-old Colts & Gelding set just last year by Terry A Hanover, who ran a sizzling 1:58.1 in the 2021 Butch Flanagan Memorial.
Schadel finished off the day and the meet with his 11th victory, a wire-to-wire win by C-Bet Hanover in the Clearfield Pace.
Other winning drivers on Wednesday were Tony Schadel, Hugh O’Neil and Killeen.
Tony Schadel and Bettor Strait N Up took the Clearfield Thunderbirds NWTF Pace featuring the Fillies A Group in a time of 2:03.0. They went wire-to-wire and held on for a 3 1/4-length win over Neal and Ain’t Goin Down.
O’Neil led Gray Skies coast-to-coast in the Howard & Jess Neeper Memorial, winning by six lengths in a time of 2:02.2 to claim her eighth win in 16 starts in 2022.
Killeen brought Aladdin Hanover from the back of the pack to win in a photo finish over O’Neil aboard Honali.
Aladdin Hanover sat in fifth place in the 5-horse field at the half-mile mark before steadily climbing through his competitors.
By the top of the stretch, Killeen and Aladdin Hanover had the leaders in their sights and ran then down at the wire to win by a whisker — officially a nose, but it took the judge and photo finish expert some time to determine the winner.
The purse for Thursday’s program was $28,400, bringing the total for the week to $128,250.
Pennsylvania Sire Stakes
Colts & Geldings B Group
Dawson & Chandler Ross Memorial
1. Toto Hanover (Dave Brickell), 2:00.4. 2. Dario Hanover (Tony Schadel). 3. Southwind Memphis (Eric Neal). 4. Sweet N Fearless (Roger Hammer). 5. Everbridge (Wayne Long).
Fillies B Group
Sue Lanich Memorial
1. Teen Dream (Todd Schadel), 2:01.2. 2. Shimmy Shimmy Bop (Long). 3. Cali Beach (Jack Killeen). 4. Rock Rules (Hammer).
Fillies A Group
Clearfield Thunderbirds NWTF
1. Bettor Straigt N Up (Tony Schadel), 2:03.0. 2. Ain’t Goin Down (Neal). 3. Toodles Hanover (Long). 4. Somewhere Dancin (Killeen).
Howard & Jess Neeper Memorial
1. Gray Skies (Hugh O’Neil), 2:02.2. 2. TSM Daisy Dance T (Neal). 3. Sweet and Feisty (Brickell).
Colts & Geldings A Group
Busters Sports Bar
1. Aladdin Hanover (Killeen), 2:02.2. 2. Honali (O’Neil). 3. Dancethewayuare (Tony Schadel). 4. TSM Tristan T (Neal). 5. Wound Tight (Hammer).
The Castagnolo Family
1. Buchannon Hanover (Todd Schadel), 1:58.2. 2. Pure Country Dance (Brickell). 3. Truthfull Meaning (Killeen). 4. Gee I’m The Prince (Branden Smith).
1. C-Bet Hanover (Todd Schadel). 2. Ivy Stud (Tony Schadel). 3. Myartbelongstorock (Killeen). 4. Mr Untitled (Neal).