Neal Drives to Punxsutawney With First Buster DiSalvo Trophy

FIRST-TIME WINNER Eric Neal of Punxsutawney accepts the Charles “Buster” DiSalvo Trophy for the most wins in the Clearfield County Fair harness racing meet from John Spingola while holding 10-month-old daughter Hazel. Neal is flanked by Holly Waltman, his fiancé, father Randy Neal, mother Suzie Neal and grandmother Donna Neal. (Photo by Sue Kavelak)

CLEARFIELD — Three drivers entered the final day of the 2019 Clearfield County Fair harness racing meet in pursuit of the Charles “Buster” DiSalvo Trophy awarded for the most wins of the week, and Eric Neal of Punxsutawney emerged as the first-time winner with three more for a total of eight.

That trio of wins in the first five dashes on the Wednesday’s nine-race card at the Driving Park enabled the 28-year-old reinsman to edge Shawn Johnston, who finished with seven after scoring with a pair of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes three-year-old pacers.

Todd Schadel, the other trophy contender, also had two wins to wind up with six in falling short of his bid to claim the hardware for the second year in a row.

Neal, who began driving when he turned 16 and has been a regular at Clearfield ever since, took command by sweeping the second and third races of the filly A group.

Both Dancin With Rose and Sure R Lookin Good went wire-to-wire.

In the Gerald & Shirley Albert Memorial Division, Dancin With Rose was ahead by eight lengths at the end of her 2:01.3 trip. Her fourth win this summer and fifth in 19 lifetime starts jumped her winnings to $26,590 for co-owners Jamie L. Kiehl and trainer Justin Lebo of Carlisle. Dancin With Rose has the fastest mile for three-year-old pacing fillies on the Pennsylvania fair circuit, a 1:59.2 with Schadel in the sulky last week at Silver Springs Ranch last week.

In the Buster’s Sports Bar Division, Sure R Lookin Good kept Schadel from inching closer to Neal by outlasting Queen Bee Hanover by 1¼ lengths in 2:01.1 with a 59-second final half. Robert Krenitsky Jr. trains Sure R Looking Good for Julie Krenitsky of Butler. She has returned $37,298 for 30 starts, six of them victories.

Johnston made it briefly interesting with Marvalous Marg in the next dash, the first of two for the filly B group. He had her first out of the gate and pulling away from Neal and Marvalous Marley in the stretch to score by 8¾ lengths with a 2:03 clocking. Trained by Jason Shaw for owner Mason Shaw, his son, Marvalous Marg hiked her earnings to $16,045 with her second win in 26 lifetime starts and also claimed the Backstage Crew cooler blanket.

Neal came right back in the Butch Flanagan Memorial Division to restore his two-win lead by sending April Ava to the front end coming out of the first turn and guiding the sophomore trained and owned by Wayne Glessner of Ligonier to a lifetime mark of 1:59 after posting the week’s best fractions of 27.2, 58.0 and 1:27.7. The nine-length victory was the first of the year for April Ava, a winner at Clearfield last year, and gave her four wins in 19 lifetime starts for $13,860 in earnings.

Johnston’s other win came in the program’s last race, the colt and gelding B group Ticket Office Division.  He drove Aquinas, trained by Gary Johnston for owner Dr. William J. Solomon of New Freedom, to victory in 2:00.4. Way To Close, driven by Schadel, lived up to his name by closing to within one length after going off gait right before the start. Aquinas has won five of his 21 starts for a bankroll of $29,177. Way To Close owns the fastest time for three-year-old colts and geldings on the fair circuit at 1:57, set July 3 at York.

Schadel registered his wins, back-to-back, after Neal had locked up the driving crown, both with bay geldings raced into Victory Lane at the Driving Park last year.

Find One More, a winner in 1:55.2 at Pocono Downs earlier this year, claimed the Brooke Erin Yeager cooler blanket in the colt and gelding A group with a 1:59.4 trip that was best by five lengths. Schadel also trains and co-owns with his wife, Christine, and they’ve seen Find One More finish first in eight of his 28 starts and pile up $35,948 in winnings.

Motive Hanover roared from third to first down the second time down the backside on his way to victory in the Chester D. Bailey Jr. Memorial Division of the A group. He was 2¾ lengths in front when he hit the wire at 1:59.3 for his ninth win in 28 races, boosting his earnings to $29,596. Schadel is Motive Hanover’s trainer and co-owner with Cody Schadel.

Stephen White was a doublewinner, too, with bay filly Sweet Tea Baby in the Old Master Memorial Division of the A group and bay gelding Gran Torino in the Michael “Mikey” Division of the B group.

He trains and owns Sweet Tea Bay, sitting in the pocket until coming out of the final turn in front of Mitchell York’s Crew Sock Hanover and going on to score by two lengths in 2:00.3. Winless in 15 starts last year, Sweet Tea Baby is 3-for-15 this year to up her winnings to $30,851.

Gran Torino was third out of the gate, but White had him second by the quarter pole and then bided his time before sending him past Neal’s L Dees Hawkins in the stretch for his Maiden win in 2:04.2 in his seventh start.

NOTES — A Clearfield County Fair record $131,875 was paid out for the 35 races that had 143 entries… A dozen drivers made it to Victory Lane… Schadel was the trainer with the most wins, six. Roger Hammer had four to go with three driving victories.

Wednesday’s results, with horse’s name, number in parenthesis, and driver’s name:

PENNSYLVANIA SIRE STAKES THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY A GROUP PACE

Old Master Memorial Division ($4,125) – 1. Sweet Tea Baby (3), S. White; 2. Crew Sock Hanover (5), M. York; 3. Your Mom N Em (2), E. Neal; 4. Ideal Bubby (4), S. Johnston; 5. Bikini Tina (1), B. Brown.  TIME:  2:00.3.

Gerald & Shirley Albert Memorial Division ($4,050) – 1. Dancin With Rose (2), E. Neal;2. Cup Of Choice (1), S. Johnston; 3. Eliza Mae (3), B. Brown; 4. Check Hanover (5) Bryce Brocklehurst.  TIME:  2:01.3.

Buster’s Sports Bar Division ($4,050) – 1. Sure R Lookin Good (2), E. Neal; 2. Queen Bee Hanover (4), Todd Schadel; 3. Magic Speech (1), D. Brickell; 4. Tina’s Forty Fives (3), B. Brown.  TIME:  2:01.1.

PENNSYLVANIA SIRE STAKES THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY B GROUP PACE

Backstage Crew Division ($2,700) – 1. Marvalous Marg (2), S. Johnston; 2. Marvalous Marley (4), E. Neal; 3. Fair Life (3), B. Smith; 4. Rocknroll Survivor (1), R. Hammer.  TIME:  2:03.

Butch Flanagan Memorial Division ($2,700) – 1. April Ava (4), E. Neal; 2. Jukebox Hero (3), R. Hammer; 3. Shady Grey (2), Todd Schadel; 4. Darling Dear (1), B. Brown.  TIME:  1:59.

PENNSYLVANIA SIRE STAKES THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT AND GELDING B GROUP PACE

Michael “Mikey” Rowles Memorial Division ($2,650) – 1. Gran Torino (3), S. White; 2. L Dees Hawkins (1), E. Neal; 3. Northbrook Ron (2), S. Johnston.  TIME:  2:04.2.

Brooke Erin Yeager Memorial Division ($2,650) – 1. Find One More (2), Todd Schadel; 2. App Hanover (1), S. Johnston; 3. Untested Hanover (3), B. Brown.  TIME:  1:59.4.

PENNSYLVANIA SIRE STAKES THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT & GELDING A GROUP PACE

Chester D. Bailey Jr. Memorial Division ($5,375) – 1. Motive Hanover (2), Todd Schadel; 2. Stranger Things (5), B. Brown; 3. Elusive Bubble (1), B. Brocklehurst; 4. Ginger Tree George (3), S. Beegle; 5. Marvalous Sunset (4), B. Smith.  TIME:  1:59.3.

Ticket Office Division ($5,300) – 1. Aquinas (1), S. Johnston; 2. Way To Close (2), Todd Schadel; 3. Slickslidenaway (3), S. White; 4. Western Fantasy (4), B. Brown.  TIME:  2:00.4.

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