Research has now shown that Roger Hammer is made of the same materials as are used to build airplane data recorders. Less than 24 hours after a brief hospital stay which resulted from a Wednesday morning traffic accident, "The Hammer" was parading back to the Great Stoneboro Fair winner's circle with the fastest two-year-old in the history of the northwest Pennsylvania oval.
The colt's name? A OK Hanover.
A OK Hanover's victory was not unexpected – the Yankee Cruiser colt was undefeated in three previous fair starts, and his next race is in the $40,000 Stallion Series Championship next Friday at Pocono after amassing the series prelims' third-highest point total – but the 2:00.4 time, bettering by a tick the old mark set five years minus one day earlier by Stately Art, was just an exclamation point punctuating the chaotic-but-ultimately-triumphant last few days of Hammer, an 8-time North American UDR champion. In all, Hammer won three times on the card, and posted a .514 UDR for the day – not bad for somebody who drove into the fairgrounds wearing a neck and upper back brace.
Both records for two-year-old pacers fell during this day of freshman action at Stoneboro, as 30 minutes later the Dragon Again filly TSM Maija Star teamed with hot-driving Todd Cummings to win a Sire Stakes cut in 2:01.4, again knocking a fifth off the existing mark, this one set by Argument Hanover two years ago. Bob Krenitsky Jr., also on a tear as of late, conditions the new standardholder for owner/breeder Ted Tomson.
On the trotting side, Whitey Lauxmont ran his fair record to 8 for 8 by winning the fastest division of the 2TC in 2:05.4.The Oh So White gelding is owned, trained, and driven by Dave Brickell.
There are many other storylines that could be written about from this sprawling 18-race card at Stoneboro, but it probably was the improbable comeback of Roger Hammer that had the most people shaking their heads.
Even if Hammer couldn't.--By Gerry Connors