By John Montgomery
Fair officials may some day name a race in honor of Ryan Stahl. Chances are he'll win it.
The Republic native celebrated a rare night of work close to home Monday by winning six races, claiming second in another and earning third in three more in the Seneca County Fair's lone night of harness racing.
He ended his night driving a sulky in 11 of the 16 races, which is pretty close to a regular day's work for him.
"I drive so many horses every day of the week, going up to Cleveland and [down to] Scioto [Downs]," Stahl said. "I probably drive an average 40 to 50 horses a week, so it's easy to keep my skills sharp as opposed to a lot of people that race at the fairs; they might only race 10 to 15 times a year, and I'm driving 2,500 times a year."
He started and ended the night with victories, driving Frisky's Melody to a win in the North Central Ohio Colt Stakes 3-year-old filly pace in 2:03 3/5, and guiding Full Of Elegance to the winner's circle in 2:02 in the non-winners $5,000 in 2012 pace.
In between he drove four other horses to victory:
* Forever A Gift in the North Central Ohio Colt Stakes 2-year-old colts pace in 2:02 4/5.
* Jailhouse Robbin in the North Central Ohio Colt Stakes 3-year-old filly trot in 2:04 3/5.
* N A Jesse in the North Central Ohio Colt Stakes 3-year-old colts trot in 2:05 1/5
* Katies Dreamboat in the non-winners $5,000 in 2012 pace in 2:00 4/5.
Stahl added a second in the North Central Ohio Colt Stakes 2-year-old colts pace with Buzzen Troubador.
Thirds came in the North Central Ohio Colt Stakes 3-year-old colts pace with Kickstand, North Central Ohio Colt Stakes 2-year-old fillies pace with Ima Bella, and the open trot with Jessica Speed.
A fifth came with I Need You in the para-mutuel non-winners trot, and he even helped corral a horse on the track after it flipped a sulky holding Gerald Bookmyer, one of Stahl's friends.
"No matter who it is, you want to help with the horse, but I just wanted to make sure Gery was all right," Stahl said.
He and the horse were fine and racing resumed after a short delay.
And while Monday offered a chance to race close to home in front of friends and family, Stahl joked that it also brought a little extra pressure.
"It's nice winning races in front of family and friends," he said. "The only bad thing is, when you drive a few of the horses, [they were] first-time starters I knew weren't ready to win or step up. That's the bad thing, so many people bet [on] me here, so I catch a lot of grief when they bet down the favorite and they don't win."
But not everyone was disappointed about that.
John Konesky III and Greg Bateson each won two races, joining Stahl as the only multiple-winners.
Konesky claimed victory in 2:13 with Countonme in the North Central Ohio Colt Stakes 2-year-old filly trot, and took the open trot with This Sands Hot in 2:03 1/5.
Bateson guided Jesse's Legend to the winner's circle in 2:05 3/5 in the North Central Ohio Colt Stakes 3-year-old colts trot, and drove Jingels N Spook to a win in the North Central Ohio Colt Stakes 3-year-old colts pace in 2:01 3/5.
Dan Venier guided Chuckie B to the winner's circle by besting Stahl in the North Central Ohio Colt Stakes 2-year-old colts trot in 2:08.
Other wins came from Tyler Bates and Doowrah Omelet in 2:00 2/5 in a non-winners pace, Tom Marts Jr. and Our Little Emmy in the North Central Ohio Colt Stakes 2-year-old fillies pace in 2:07, Michael Walker and Wildfire Victory in a non-winners trot in 2:06, Mark Headworth and Eternal Reach in a non-winners pace in 2:05 3/5, and Patricia Rothhaar and Honest Mom in a non-winners trot in 2:10 2/5.