Friends and family join in the Winners Circle on Wednesday for a fine race remembering a fine lady as Princess Rougarou takes her Ohio Fair Racing Conference stake.
Friends and family join in the Winners Circle on Wednesday for a fine race remembering a fine lady as Princess Rougarou takes her Ohio Fair Racing Conference stake.
By Thom Pye for the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association

PAULDING – The Paulding County Fair wrapped up its 2018 Ohio Fair Racing Conference Season with a fine evening of stakes, fun and weather on Wednesday. Under a bright blue sky that made you "squint when you look at it" the Speed Committee offered nine locally-sponsored races over the well-manicured oval.

The OFRC $3,225 3-year-old filly pace division first race was won by Bard and Tena in 2:03.2h as Ryan Holton catch drove the daughter of Feelin Friskie-Breathless Beauty for owner Mandy Jones of Greenville.

The second division, in memory of beloved resident Marie Davis, was taken by George Hensley's Princess Rougarou as last minute pilot Art Mc Ilmurray hopped aboard the Bob Ward-trained filly by Big Bad John and snapped off a mile in 2:04 flat.

The 3rd OFRC filly pace division went to George Mijal's Believe in Waco (Believeincriuser-Waco Sharon) in a quick time of 2:02.2h as Michigan teamster Art Mc Ilmurray brought the Steve Novak-conditioned lifetime winner of $140,000 plus home in 1:00.3 to hold off Eden's Lucky Charm (Big Bad John) and Beau Brown.

Pierce Henry got the seat on Steve Bateson/Jason Brewer's JL Striking Firefly in the $3,215 OFRC 3-year-old filly trot and took the Jeff Brewer-trained daughter of Winning Fireworks to a new lifetime mark of 2:05.3 - last quarter in :30.2 - in her seasonal debut and illuminated the toteboard with a nice payoff of $51.60 to win.

Trainer and part owner Jim Mullinex of Wauseon rocked a maiden conditioned race with Absolut Rocks as he drove the 3-year-old Rockin Image gelding in 2:03.1h for his premier appearance of 2018.

The Paulding County Free For All Pace was testament to what an excellent job everyone connected to the track did as owner/trainer Gary Gilliland of Malinta, Ohio's 10-year-old Arizona Dawn and catch-driver Cameron McCown sizzled the timer with a mile in 1:58.3h. Out For A Rip (Roy Burns) was second as Light Up The Sky (Luke Hanners) was third … but there was not one cent bet to win on Arizona Dawn!

And in the season's finale the Ohio Ladies Pace Series was a dawn of a new day as owner, trainer, driver 25-year-old Mariah Wright of Defiance Ohio deftly guided her gelding Star Chaser to victory in 2:03.4h (last half in :59.4) and scored her very first win in her very first driving attempt. Royal Delta with veteran Emily Hay was second as Casimir Opree (Mandy Jones) rounded out the top three. Mariah paid a hefty $68.00 to win too... now that is the Wright stuff.

It was a great time for all as we saw some quality racing, met new and old friends, and learned even more for this trivia-laden head of ours when a determined 9-year-old pointedly corrected me: "It's Pauldin'."

There are 67 County Fairs in the Great State of Ohio that have harness racing ... the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association hopes to see you again.