STONEBORO PA – Chatty Vanessa paced the fastest mile, 1:59.3, during a Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes two-day session at the fairgrounds in this northwest Pennsylvania borough on Friday and Saturday, while another pair of sophomore pacers, one male and one female, became the first performers to post two triumphs in “A” Sire Stakes competition.


Chatty Vanessa, a daughter of Captain Ahab trained and driven by Shawn Johnson for Dr. Bill Solomon, had been second behind the fast Showboat Hanover in the circuit’s fast stop at Butler earlier in the week. With that rival not entered in Sunday’s Stoneboro action for sophomores, Chatty Vanessa, who recently won from the outside post nine in 1:56 at The Meadows, got to exhibit her talents fully.


The two three-year-old pacers turning the double were the If I Can Dream gelding Dry Ridge Erie, who four days after lowering Butler’s all-time standard to 1:59 came back to win in 2:00, also driven by Shawn Johnston, trained by Gary Johnston, and owned by Randy Ringer; along with the Sweet Lou filly Sonadora, a 2:03 winner for driver Aaron Johnston, trainer Nathan Bresnahan, and owner Matthew Miller. (In all, on 15 occasions did the name “Johnston” show up as the driver or the trainer of a Stoneborowinner.)


As impressive a race as might have been seen all weekend was the 2:00.3 mile put in by the trotting filly Little Town Road, owned, trained, and driven by Roger Hammer. The daughter of Fordham Road was the division’s Fair Sires Stakes Championship winner last year, and showed she may be difficult to dislodge from her throne.


During Friday’s races for two-year-olds, the two fastest times were turned in by pacing fillies, both of them trained and driven by Aaron Johnson: the Captain Crunch distaff Its Written, a 2:03.1 winner for owners Jennifer Johnston, Chris Oluvic, and Midnight Shadow LLC; next in line was the Heston Blue Chip – Tremor Hanover filly Don’t Touch My T, successful in 2:04.3, with Jennifer Johnston also owning this precocious miss.


Fastest trotter was the Cantab Hall – Maple Grove Karen colt Cantab Zette, a winner in 2:06.1 for trainer Susan Callihan, also co-owner with Gregory Callihan, Nichole Buchleitner, and Amber Setzenfand, and driven by … Aaron Johnston.


Top drivers for the meet were Eric Neal and Shawn Johnston with five trips to the winners circle, with Aaron Johnston only one behind them. On the training side, Tom Loughry Jr. harnessed three winners to lead the training colony, followed by six trainers with two wins, half of them having the surname “Johnston.”


And belated congratulations to Jesse Barnard, an 18-year-old provisional driver who scored his first sulky victory with Dig Deep, a filly he also trains and owns, at Butler – and decided he liked it so much he came back four days later to win with her again at Stoneboro!


The Pennsylvania fair season continues in high gear with a two-day event at the Crawford County Fair in Meadville PA on Friday (4 p.m. post time) and Saturday (first post 1 p.m.)


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