ROCK SPRINGS — Sunny skies and a large crowd turned out for the harness horse racing at the Meigs County Fair Thursday afternoon, where driver Charlie Schoonover was the big winner of the day on the Southern Valley Colt Circuit race card.
This year for the first time in decades, perhaps over 50 years, pari-mutuel wagering on the horse races returned to make it more exciting for many in attendance.
Although there were no “high stakes” at risk, the move proved to be popular, boosting the crowd by perhaps 150 or so attendees. Long lines were backed up at the betting window, and a good ole wager among friends brought joy, laughs and some competitiveness to those wishing to pick their favorite horse. Whether or not the wager was official, all in attendance were treated to a good time.
Harness horse racing has long been a perennial favorite for Meigs County fairgoers. This year ‘s races, for years held on Saturdays, were moved to Thursday afternoon with an initial post time at noon. The program, sponsored again by the Quality Print Shop in Middleport, listed classes for 10 races for pacers and trotters with two of those classes being designated as “free for all.”
“The Ro-o-ock” as circuit announcer Chris Patterson calls the beautiful hairpin Rocksprings oval, was well prepped in an effort to produce high-quality racing. The fans were not disappointed as races five, eight and nine saw close action throughout the pack right down to the wire.
Fans lined the fencing adjacent to the track and filled the major portion of two-thirds of the historic grandstand at the fairgrounds.
Adding the local professional flavor to the event were outrider Megan Cleland, Horse Princess Halley Sigman and Little Miss Meigs County 2012 Lorena Kennedy, who were present in most of the victory lane photos.
Charlie Schoonover won three events on the day, winning three races in the sulky of three different horses. Schoonover and Ryan Holton are among the top drivers in the state, and are always hot commodities at the Meigs County fair.
Some disappointment was expressed in the quantity of the entries as several races featured only two horses due to last-minute scratches. The quality of the events did not let down the crowd who was very vocal down the trek from race one to the final race number ten. “Cheering for your favorite horse” added to the atmosphere of the racing and asserted that those in attendance had a wonderful time.
Representatives from the Southern Valley Colt Circuit promised larger fields in future years as harness racers continue to campaign legislatures for a boost to racing venues statewide, including the popular county fair circuits. The Meigs County Fair Board was praised by the SVCC for posting one of the better county fair purses on the schedule.
Race Five, won by Schoonover and Whatchamadoogie, was an exciting battle that saw lead changes right down to the final turn among three horses all within a length of one another at the finish. Bill Long, Jr. and Airie Feelin overcame a dominant early lead by Ty VanRhoden and I Shall Fly, passing the early leader on the final stretch to post the win.
Other winners were Bryan Weaver and Dance With Molly, Schoonover in the sulky of Pat’s Flash, Holton and Bellastwilghtstar; Ed Rider and Blue Rock Mo, 13-year old Hallie Nesselroad and Royal Sugar, and Schoonover with Soprospurus. The last two races were won by Rose Run Newsman with driver Michael Myers, while Friskie By Design found victory lane for John Ryan Melsheimer.
Eric Nesselroad was named Trainer of the Day, while the Anderson-McDaniel Funeral Home fast time was posted by Bill Long, Jr. at 2:06:01.
Sponsors for the event included Quality Print Shop, Home National Bank, Farmers Bank, Southern Local Schools, The Daily Sentinel, The Appliance Man, Holzer Clinic of Meigs County, McDonald’s of Pomeroy, Anderson-McDaniel Funeral Homes, Auto Options in Mason, WV, the Lions Club of Pomeroy, Shade River Ag Service, General Tire, Aerie 2171 of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Brooks Sayre Stables, Swatzel Stables, The Spencer Family, Meigs County Fair Board, and The Daily Sentinel.
The popular Don Spencer was the local favorite. The Pomeroy native placed third in Race One with Patty Lavec. Dance with Molly and Bryan Weaver was the winner with Inejia and Ryan Holton second.
The Summary: Meigs County Fair Harness Racing
The Southern Valley Colt Circuit, Thursday, August 16, 2012
Key: Horse Name/Rider-Driver/Trainer/Owner/Hometown
Three Year Old Fillies
1 — Dance With Molly, Bryan Weaver, Bryan Weaver, Donna Jean Anderson, Stoutsville, Ohio; 2 — Inejia, Ryan Holton, Eric Nesselroad, Fred C. Polk, Zanesvile, Ohio; 3 — Patty Lavec, Don Spencer, Don Spencer; Don Spencer, Pomeroy, Ohio; 4 — Classy Power, Bill Long, Jr. Steve Baker, Steven C. Baker, McConnelsville, Ohio; 5 — Decatur Star, Michael Swatzel, Michael. S. Swatzel, Little Hocking, Ohio. Time 2:10:0
Free For All
1 — Pat’s Flash, Charlie Schoonover, Ed Davis, David D. Self, Waverly, Ohio; 2 — Littleworth Sport, Paul Goddard, Paul Goddard, Lee Roy Akers, Pedro, Ohio; 3 — Morningsailer, (scratch) Aaron Hamilton, Aaron Hamilton, Frederick E. Hummel, Kingsport, Ohio. 2:17:0
Two Year old Fillies
1 — Bellastwilghtstar, Ryan Holton, Eric Nesselroad, Fred C. Polk, Zanesville; 2 — Elizabeth J, Michael Myers, Michael Myers, Michele P. Meyer, Commercial Point, Ohio; 3 — Softy’s Tigerilly, Ty VanRhoden, Ty VanRhoden, Larry Cleland,, Bainbridge, Ohio. Time 2:19:0
Three Year-old Colts and Geldings
1 — Blue Rock Mo, Ed Rider, Aaron Hamilton, Kari L. Gibbs, Crooksville, Ohio; 2 — Eldon Murray, Aaron Hamilton, Kari L.Gibbs, Crooksvile, Ohio. Time 2:11:04
Two Year Old Colts And Geldings
1 — Whattchamadogie, Charlie Schoonover, Charlie Schoonover, Al Childs, Athens, Ohio; 2 — Sunrise Hero, Bill Long, Jr., Eric Nesselroad, James Alan Coan, Marietta, Ohio; 3 — All About Harold, Ryan Holton, Steven Swatzel, Michael S. Swatzel, Little Hocking; 4 — I’m Right Here, Ty VanRhoden, Ty VanRhoden, Ty L. VanRhoden, Washington, Ohio. Time: 2:14:00
Two Year-old Fillies
1 — Soprospurus, Charlie Schoonover, Eric Nesselroad, Samuel C. Clark, Beverly, Ohio; 2 — Rambling Reegan, Ty VanRhoden, Frank Johnson, Frank Johnson, Hamden, Ohio; Time: 2:09:0
Free For All
1 — Royal Sugar, Hallie Nesselroad, John Ryan Melsheimer, Mel Rose Stable, Hopewell, Ohio; 2 — Littleworth Spider, Paul Goddard, Paul C. Godard, Patriot, Ohio; 3-Decatur Star, Michael Swatzel, Michael Swatzel, Michel S. Swatzel, Little Hocking . Time: 2:13:02
Three Year Old Fillies
1 — Airie Feelin, Bill Long, Jr., Chancie Love, Charles S. Johnson, Ironton, Ohio; 2 — Shall I Fly, Ty VanRhoden, Ty VanRhoden, Marcia Massie, Washington Court House, Ohio. Time 2:06:01
Three Year-Old Colts And Geldings
1 — Rose Run Newsman, Michael Myers, Michael Myers, Michael Myers, Williamsport, Ohio; 2 — Rex Bod, Ryan Holton, Richard Householder, Richard L. householder, Junction City, Ohio; 3 — Armada, Ed Rider, Christine M. Dreascher-Barnes, Thornville, Ohio; 4 — H H Homer, Ty VanRhoden, Ty VanRhoden, Thomas C . Stubbs, Aledonia , Ohio; 5 — Standard Not Poor, David G. Morgan, David G. Morgan, Bryan E. Jackson, Canyon, Texas. Time 2:10:02
Two Year-Old Colts and Geldings
1 — Friskie By Design, John Ryan Melsheimer, John Ryan Melsheimer, Karen McGrew, Pickerington, Ohio, 2 — Baywood Patches, Charlie Schoonover, Ed Davis, David C. Self, Waverly, Ohio; 3 — Derek’s Flash, Ty VanRhoden, Ed Davis, David C. Self, Waverly, Ohio; Time: 2:09:03