Beanblossom, 80, gets wish, drives pacer again
Seventeen races with near full fields made up the two-day Indiana Fair Circuit Harness Races at the Harrison County Fair last week.
However, it was a qualifying race that occurred after the final official race for purse money that stole the show Friday.
At 80 years old, Laconia’s Jim Beanblossom returned to the sulky to race. It was a birthday present for the veteran owner and trainer of standardbreds.
‘Behind the starting gate,’ Beanblossom said of his favorite part of the race. ‘The first time it was a thrill. I didn’t know what to expect, but, today, I knew what to expect. I knew what he would do.’
The pacer Beanblossom drove was one of his favorites and a veteran as well. Eleven-year-old Ndana Favorite took off in the one-mile event guided by Beanblossom around the first turn in second place. He held position for the entire race, finishing behind Michael Neafus’s Lady Cambest.
‘I need a little bit longer shaft; he kept hitting the race bike, pounded it pretty good,’ Beanblossom said of the race. ‘It was an experience. I hadn’t drove in a long time. I intended to drive him at Lexington (Ky.) last year, but things didn’t work out. Maybe I’ll get down there (next month) if he can walk in the morning.’
The fast time of 2:01-2/5 met the qualifying standards to enter a race at the upcoming meet at The Red Mile in Lexington (begins Aug. 4). Compared to the younger horses, 2- and 3-year-old competitors on the fair circuit, Ndana Favorite didn’t show his age, pacing faster than all but Lady Cambest.
‘We got it done, but I don’t know if I’ll drive any more or not,’ Beanblossom said. ‘I’m surprised we went that fast. I was thinking 2:04 or 2:05, but he stayed caught up pretty good. I couldn’t hold drive him in the turns on the account he was hitting the race bike.’
In throwback fashion, the race was unofficially started by the race track bell. The modern starting gate didn’t come into use until the late 1940s.
Beanblossom had been planning his return to the sulky, taking Ndana Favorite to Paducah, Ky., in June to put him in a race qualifier. He met the standard time, going in 2:04, but came out of the race lame.
After spending time grazing in the field, Beanblossom put Ndana Favorite back into training. With good enough works, Beanblossom returned to the Harrison County Fair to take another competitive ride.
He’d like to race Ndana Favorite in Lexington if possible.
‘If he can walk in the morning, we’ll see what happens from there,’ Beanblossom said.
After the race, Beanblossom drove his pacer around to the start/finish line to take commemorative photos with his family, including four children, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Recalling his first race, Beanblossom said he was at the now-defunct Louisville Downs with a 3-year-old.
‘Finished third,’ he said. ‘I don’t know what the time was, maybe two minutes back then. The first race I won was at Louisville Downs.’
Corydon-based Conrad Stables had a solid showing at its home fair.
Charlie Conrad had a win and a pair of second-place finishes on Thursday. The win came behind the 2-year-old filly pacer Cas Art Apparel. She led from the start then pulled way for a two-length victory in a time of 2:07. The win for Cas Art Apparel was the fourth of the year in seven starts. Trained by Charlie Conrad, the filly is owned by Sarah, Nichole and Carson Conrad along with Tammy Carter.
Charlie Conrad’s second-place finishes came with Dojea Fruitcake in a filly pace for 2-year-olds and Sack Full of Hope among 3-year-old trotters.
Training horses at the Harrison County Fairgrounds, Corydon’s Michael Neafus wasn’t able to get a victory but placed second in a race both Thursday and Friday. In the opener on Thursday, Neafus drove the 2-year-old filly pacer H-and-N Dho Hailey to a second-place finish behind Tom Luther’s Always Ya Baby. The winner scored her fourth win of her young career for William Johnson of New Salisbury, along with fellow owner Thomas Voress.
Neafus held the lead for the first 3/4 of a mile in a 2-year-old colt trot with Moveup. The colt faded to second as Lester Raber’s Joe Tucky took the lead late to snag the victory.
The dominant trainer-driver for the meet was Don Eash. Based out of Greenfield, Eash scored six wins. He drove home the following winners: Swan’s Mistress, KRB Four, ER Monica, ER Candy, Jesse Say More and Well Connected Kid.
Also scoring a high number of wins was Loogootee’s Lester Raber. He won four races in the sulky with the following horses: Summachine, Signsealdeliver, Joe Tucky and Hyway Marcus.
Trainer-driver Steve Carter scored three victories: Hope For Pot Gold, Little Marylou Who and Always Wanna.
Hope For Pot Gold ran in the card’s final event Friday before the qualifier. The 3-year-old pacer pulled away for a 4 1/2 length win with the fastest time of the week, 2:01-2/5, on the crushed limestone.
Among trotters, Summachine had the quickest time, going in 2:03-2/5 among trotters.
Through grants from the Indiana Sires Association, the Harrison County Fairgrounds made vast improvements to the main horse barn located on the front stretch. New siding, roof and lights are some of the upgrades.
A one-day fall meet will return for the second consecutive year to the fairgrounds. The event will take place Saturday, Sept. 28, with wine tasting and craft vendors slated to begin at 11 a.m.