Another Wolverine Futurity is now history. The storied event that began in 1942 and has been a mainstay at the Ottawa County Fair in Holland, Mich., since 1980 featured a stellar night of racing and entertainment on Tuesday in front of another large and very enthusiastic grandstand crowd. All the pieces came together and we couldn't be more pleased with the result.
The racetrack itself was beautifully conditioned by veteran trackman/horseman Jerry Seekman. Some were heard to say it was in the best condition seen in years. This had to be partially responsible for the great racing that had fans on their feet during several wild and heart pounding stretch drives.
The eight race Futurity program saw Brad Kramer steer home three winners that included Kameron P, trained by Greg West, in the 2-year-old colt trot; the fastest horse of the night, Kayla Grace (1:59.2), trained by Kevin St. Charles in the 3-year-old filly pace; and Beastly, a Kelly Goodwin trainee, in the 3-year-old colt pace.
The "King of The Fairs”--driver Carl Putnam Jr.--scored a driving double starting with She B Jeebeez in the 2-year-old filly pace and Scrappy Alex in the 3-year-old colt trot.
Other winners included the classy Lady Windsor, who exploded in the stretch for driver Darrell Wright to win the 3-year-old filly trot; Onlythetuffsurvive, driven by Charles Taylor in the 2-year-old colt pace; and the winner of the opening race on the card, PT Kaye, driven by Marshall Makin in the 2-year-old filly trot.
The closest finish that took several minutes to sort out after the judges closely reviewed the photo finish had to be the race for second, third and fourth in the seventh race won comfortably by Kayla Grace. Three horses flashed under the finish line so close that only inches separated their noses and for third place it had to be a scant whisker. In that one, Charles Taylor stormed up on the outside to snare second place over Peter Otten's steed on the inside and Larry Lee Smith was between them.
In addition to the races, professional musician, announcer and bugler James Witherite (Tioga Downs) entertained the large number of fans in the stands and the mascot of Michigan Racing "Happy Horse” pleased many fans with photo opportunities.
Professor Brian Nielsen of MSU was fully decked out as a Spartan Gladiator as he steered retired pacer Ever Dangerous hooked to a Chariot. Three drivers, including Keith Crawford, Charles Taylor and Tim Driver, showed strong arms as they hurled t-shirts into the stands that stated "County Fair Harness Racing” where it all began.
The Fair Board also provided a tribute to long-time caretaker Vivian Johnson who, as she told the crowd, is "94-1/2 years young.” Viv and her late husband Charlie were harness racers for many years and came to work at the Fair and lived on the grounds some 40 years ago. Vivian retired this year but still manages to take in numerous garage sales in her spare time. She was presented with a bouquet of roses and was joined by family and friends in what had to be one of the largest winner's circle presentations ever at the Ottawa County Fair. (Ottawa County Fair)