CLEARFIELD – Special Character\’s fifth win in a row Thursday afternoon at the Driving Park capped another special Clearfield County Fair harness racing meet for driver Steve Schoeffel of Evans City.
The victory was the second of the day and the ninth of the week for Schoeffel, who claimed the Charles \”Buster\” DiSalvo Memorial Trophy for the fourth time in seven years.
This is the 25th year for the award that goes to the meet\’s winningest driver in honor of the longtime Clearfield County Fair racing fan.
Schoeffel also took home the big trophy in 2002, 2003 and 2006.
Most of his wins were with horses owned by members of his family.
\”We brought 10, and we had seven wins, two seconds and a third,\” said Schoeffel, who was unable to defend his title last year.
\”I wasn’t up here that much,\” he explained. \”I was down in Philadelphia racing a two-year-old in a big sire stake Monday, and I had to go to New York twice.
Schoeffel did wind up as the top driver on the 2007 fair circuit, though, beating out DiSalvo Trophy winner Dave Brickell of Smicksburg in the final meet at Bloomsburg in September.
Special Character, the No. 1 three-year-old Pennsylvania Sire Stakes colt pacer on the fair circuit, made the second division of the Jay Master Memorial Pace an easy trip for Schoeffel, beating Native American and driver George Heit III across the finish line by 1-3/4 lengths in 2:04.4.
Purchased for $2,000 at the Morrisville (N.Y.) College sale last year, the brown gelding has turned into a special horse for his owners, Schoeffel\’s wife, Kathy, his mother, Virginia, and his mother-in-law, Marian Schilling,
Special Character has won six of his seven fair starts, placing second behind Native American at Butler on June 27.
In 10 races this year, he has seven wins, two seconds and two thirds for nearly $30,000 in earnings, boosting his lifetime total to $45,986. Special Character has finished among the top three in all but two of his 27 starts, winning 14.
The only explanation Schoeffel had for the bargain price purchase was, \”No one else bid! For me, that\’s what I like to pay for them. My luck. Their loss.
\”He\’s a very good horse.\”
Schoeffel added that he went as high as $15,000 in bidding for other horses.
Special Character raised his PASS points total to 34 and maintained a three-point lead over Schoeffel\’s other winner, Firebreathn Dragon.
A bay gelding owned by Patricia Daumit of West Newtown and Martin Frank Baxendell of Belle Vernon, Firebreathn Dragon covered the last quarter in a blistering :28.2 to finish two lengths ahead of Winston Lineweaver\’s Sfumato in the Jay Master Memorial\’s first division.
Firebreathn Dragon\’s time, 2:01.3, was the fastest of the three divisions and was rewarded with the race\’s cooler blanket.
DVC Early Sunrise came from behind to set a new lifetime mark in pacing a 2:04 mile for driver-owner Chris Shaw in the third division. The brown gelding rushed past Brickell\’s SB Quents Knight in the stretch for a three-length victory, his second in 29 lifetime starts.
Allamerican Swift and Tea Room Artist were the winners in the Crawford Williams Memorial Pace for PASS three-year-old fillies.
Lineweaver guided Allamerican Swift to a 2:00.4 trip that was the fastest of the day and earned the bay filly the first Jerry \”Killer\” Krisher Memorial Trophy as well as the cooler blanket. Owned and trained by Bill Kreutzer of Rural Valley, Allamerican Swift edged Joe Offutt\’s Blissfull Doll by a half length for its second win in 12 races this year and fifth in 25 lifetime starts.
Brickell placed DVC Elegant Beauty third, and those three points were enough to give the sophomore pacer owned by Anne S. McDonald of Alexandria, Va., the lead in the PASS 3YO filly standings.
The second division had only three entries but produced another exciting finish for the biggest crowd of the week. Tea Room Artist, driven by co-owner Chris Offutt, crossed the line three-quarters of a length ahead of Favin Hanover. She scored in 2:04.2, her third win in 11 starts for trainer and co-owner Joey Offutt, Chris\’ father. Favin Hanover had dropped to last after going off gait on the lower turn during the first time around the half-mile oval, but Schoeffel brought her back to trail by only a length at the top of the stretch, setting up a stirring duel down the straightaway.
In the program opener, the Auto Mart Pace for winners over $6,000, Chris Offutt had Future Art on the lead at the starting gate, and the four-year-old bay gelding responded with a swift 2:01.3 trip that was only three-fifths of a second off the track record for aged pacers.
Future Art, owned by Joey Offutt and his wife, Karen, won by three lengths over Picasso Wynwood, a six-year-old brown gelding with 91 lifetime starts. Future Art\’s win was his second in 12 starts this year and seventh in 51 lifetime starts.
The Offutts also wound up with the biggest share of the purse in the lone Quaker State event, the Richie Salvatore Memorial Pace, as Joey Offutt guided Pure Dixie to her first win, by six lengths, for a 2:02.2 lifetime mark. The three-year-old bay filly, making her 15th start after not racing last year, also is owned by Offutt and his wife.
Thursday\’s results in order of finish, with the horse\’s name, post position in parenthesis and driver\’s name:
Auto Mart of Clearfield Pace for Winners Over $6,000 (Purse $1,225)
1. Future Art (1), C. Offutt; 2. Picasso Wynwood (4), S. Schoeffel; 3. It Aint Thunder (2), C. Flickinger; 4. Rama\’s Pretty (5), A. Johnston. Time: 2:01.3. Scratched – Mr Fitness (3).
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Richie Salvatore Memorial Quaker State 3-Year-Old Pace (Purse $2,389)
1. Pure Dixie (1), J. Offutt; 2. DVC Easy Does It (2), C. Offutt; 3. Triple T Ladonna (3), D. Brickell; 4. Peanut Brittle (5), C. Shaw; 5. Top Flight Jet (4), A. Johnston; 6. S A Miss Nikki (6), S. Schoeffel. Time: 2:02.2.
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Crawford Williams Memorial Pennsylvania Sire Stakes 3-Year-Old Filly Pace
First Division (Purse $5,051) – 1. Allamerican Swift (4), W. Lineweaver; 2. Blissfull Doll (1), J. Offutt; 3. DVC Elegant Beauty (2), D. Brickell; 4. Joe\’s Lady Luck (3). Time: 2:00.4.
Second Division (Purse $5,001) – 1. Tea Room Artist (3), C. Offutt; 2. Favin Hanover (1), S. Schoeffel; 3. Crazy Hart (2), C. Shaw. Time: 2:04.2.
* * * * *
Jay Master Memorial Pennsylvania Sire Stakes 3-Year-Old Colt Pace
First Division (Purse $3,476) – 1. Firebreathn Dragon (2), S. Schoeffel; 2. Sfumato (1), W. Lineweaver; 3. Sound Dragin (5), C. Shaw; 4. Here\’s Bubby (3), R. Rougeaux; 5. Nitroglycerine (4), S. Libengood.
Second Division (Purse $3,476) – 1. Special Character (3), S. Schoeffel; 2. Native American (2), George Heit III; 3. RT Coolart (5), R. Rougeaux; 4. Stillabigtherapy (4), W. Lineweaver; 5. Hotel California (1), C. Shaw. Time: 2:03.4.
Third Division (Purse $3,426) – 1. DVC Early Sunrise (1), C. Shaw; 2. Dark Lightning (3), S. Libengood; 3. SB Quents Knight (4), D. Brickell; 4. Jeremy\’s Chaser (2), S. Schoeffel.