Posted on

Hollenback collects six wins at Harrison Co. fair meet

Hollenback collects six wins at Harrison Co. fair meet
Hollenback collects six wins at Harrison Co. fair meet
In a four-way photo finish, VP Shadow Dancer and driver Mike Hollenback, left, lead (from left) Hoosier Gem, Chief Three Card and Grany's Baby Boy four-wide across the line in Thursday's final race at the 147th annual Harrison County Fair. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

For the first time in recent memory, there were no free-for-all heats held at the annual Harrison County Fair harness races here last week. As such, the track records of 1:57 2/5 (pacer Ndana Whosier) and 2:04 (trotter Sunday Express) were in no danger of being taken down. Nevertheless, the action on the crushed limestone surface was just as hot as the weather.
The quickest mile of the two-day meet came in the third race Friday, as trainer-driver Mike Hollenback piloted 3-year-old colt Laredo’s Goose to a win in a lifetime record of 2:02. Goose’s only other win this year came last month at Kendallville.
The victory was just one of six that Hollenback recorded during the 12-race meet.
Two-year-old filly trotter DJ’s Desire won her first race, capturing the top spot in opening heat on Friday. She crossed the line in 2:15 4/5 for trainer-driver Alan Riegle.
Trainer-driver Charlie M. Conrad was second with Ripken’s Range Sue for David Brunck of Sellersburg. Finishing third in the race was Bunkhill Suzietta for driver Mike Hollenback.
In the second event, trotter Deputy Gabriel made a strong move at the half pole to win his fifth race in seven starts in a time of 2:11 for Hollenback and owner-trainer Doug Siefert. The 2-year-old colt won its fourth race in a row, which included a lifetime mark of 2:08, set at Goshen on July 22.
In the fourth race, Sparky M, a 3-year-old filly pacer, picked up her second win in 14 races this year for owner-trainer Gene Hereford and driver Michael Neafus of Corydon. Sparky came across in 2:04.
Martz Creek Danty was second, and Hoosier Hoopland was third for driver Charlie M. Conrad.
Conrad came back in Friday’s final match to drive 2-year-old trotter Note To Groovey to his first win in three starts in 2:11 1/5 for trainer Charles Von See of Mississippi.
After taking a lead when Groovey broke, DC Northern returned the favor by losing stride in the final 200 meters and placing second, continuing a hot streak of seven money finishes in eight starts. CN Little Boy Josh was third for owner-trainer-driver Carrie Hollman.
Thursday’s card was a testament to a balanced race card, as there were six photo finishes among the seven races, including a dazzling four-way battle in the final bout.
The afternoon began with a win by last year’s top trainer of the meet, Hollman. The owner-trainer-driver put colt Yobro Tyson up for his victory in 2:08 2/5. Delphi’s Connection was second, followed by Joey Joey Joey in third.
Hollenback and Cheyenne’s Catch nosed out Chief Oracle for the win in the second race in a lifetime record of 2:06. Catch, a 3-year-old trotter, picked up his first win in 10 starts to go along with a couple of seconds and a third for trainer-driver Hollenback.
Oracle was second for the third time in seven starts for the Swartzentruber stable, while Hoosier Punk was third.
The day’s second photo finish came in the next race as Wigwam Baby held off Bet On Lacie for the victory in 2:05.
Baby, a 3-year-old filly trotter who was trained and driven by Robert Wagler and is owned by Don Swartzentruber of Loogootee, continued a string of top finishes dating back to June 26 at Shelbyville. The standardbred has turned in five wins in its past seven starts, which don’t include a victory that was taken away for a broken gait, or a runner-up finish under break.
Dave’s Success was third in the race.
The fourth bout of the afternoon saw Hollenback guide First Buckaroo from gate to wire in 2:08 1/5. Buckaroo’s victory caps a seven-race run in which the 3-year-old filly finished either first or second.
Snow Roll was second, followed by Santa’s April Fool, who was driven by Neafus for owner-trainer Dave Raber of Montgomery.
Race number five was hotly contested throughout, but a late effort by Bluecreek Starlite was enough to earn the top spot. Starlite, a 2-year-old brown filly out of the Beam stable, won for the first time in eight starts, taking a record of 2:05 1/5.
Brunck’s, Scooter Babe was driven to a runner-up finish by trainer Charlie M. Conrad, with Senorita Smoke coming across third for owner-trainer-driver Dave Beanblossom of Laconia.
The final two heats had fans on the edge of their seats as 2-year-old black filly Ideal Becky, trained and driven by Charlie M. Conrad for Junior Dalyrumple, led from gate to wire in her first win in 2:04.
What made the race so scintillating was that four more standardbreds crossed the line in less than 4/5 of a second.
Corydon’s Rocky Loney drove Roughtoughnsmokin to a runner-up finish for trainer Charlie M. Conrad and owner Harold Fravel, also of Corydon. Lickcreek Jazzy was third for Neafus, followed by Kikikake and Safety Gal.
The final stage of the day proved to top all of the others as a four-way photo finish capped the day’s action.
Two-year-old colt VP Shadow Dancer, driven by Hollenback, trained by Moses Beeman and owned by Ronald Roberson of Anderson, beat Chief Three Card by a head for his fourth win in nine tries this year.
Dancer’s time of 2:06 was well off his best of 2:02 2/5, taken at Connersville on July 31, but considering a four-wide move that began on the backstretch, a slower time was to be expected.
Rounding out the photo finish were Hoosier Gem (driven by Jack Kieninger, Jr., for the Beam stable) and Grany’s Baby Boy, who was trained and driven by Charlie M. Conrad and is owned by Josh Whitelow of Corydon.
Free-for-alls may make comeback
Harrison County Fair racing secretary Dave Limeberry says he believes, and hopes, that the popular free-for-all harness races will make a return to next year’s fair lineup.
The races afford the opportunity for locally owned and trained standardbreds that aren’t part of the Indiana Sired Stakes program to take to the track. This year, board vice-president Buck Mathes made a motion at a fair board meeting that the races be dropped due to a lack of funds. The suggestion passed.
‘We had some new board members and I’m not really sure they knew what it was, or how popular it was, and they just went with what (Mathes) suggested,’ Limeberry said. ‘Those fair week races were usually the only time that local horses got to run. I think it’s important for us to try and get those back because people really like to see the local horses and drivers out there.
‘I know a couple of years ago I had a horse come out here that really had no business running in a race and she ran fifth or something. It’s just something that adds a local flavor to the races, and it’s something that a lot of horsemen enjoy. We’ve received a lot of feedback about not running the races, and not all of it has been good. I think some of the other board members have probably heard the same thing. It’s certainly something I’d like to have back.’
This year, owners of at least 10 pacers and six trotters tried to enter a free-for-all race, only to find out that the events had been cancelled.
From the announcer to the race purse, the state racing board pays for everything involved in the harness races at the fair, with the exception of the free-for-all matches.
In past years, the state paid half of the purse for each free-for-all, with the other half being raised through blanket sponsorships.
Also missing from this year’s fair was the awarding of stopwatches for the leading driver and leading trainer at the two-day meet.
Using the old scoring system, the leading driver would have been Mike Hollenback, with an amazing six wins in 12 races.
The leading trainer would have been Charlie M. Conrad, followed closely by Hollenback.
‘That’s something else I’m looking to get going again next year,’ Limeberry said. ‘I think we can do it.’
— Forever Showin Off won at Indiana Downs in Shelbyville last week, equaling her own best record of 1:58 4/5 for Don Conrad of Corydon and Fred Schroeder of Evansville, with trainer Charlie M. Conrad driving.
At The Red Mile in Lexington, Ky., the Kentucky Fair Finals were raced on Friday.
Doc’s Cash won, taking a 3-year-old record of 1:56 4/5 for Andy Roberts of Lexington and trainer-driver Charlie M. Conrad.
Prodigal’s Best was third for Timothy Wright of Kentucky, trainer Clint Binkley and driver Michael Neafus of Corydon.
The same trio had a second with Hesagreateclipse, and a third with Shezagreatgirl.
Kalamkari finished second for Don and Mary Brock of Kentucky, with Neafus in the bike.
Shezagreatgirl was third for Wright, trainer Binkley and driver Neafus.
In regular Red Mile racing on Saturday, Bananih was second for Kenneth Gehlbach of Corydon and trainer-driver Neafus.