by Nicolle Neulist
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By Mike Paradise
A trio of solid ICF pacers are back to their home state to compete tonight and interestingly the threesome of Gibbs, Dakota Roadster and Captain Rhett are all here by means of the state of Ohio
They’ll be challenged in Friday’s $9,000 sixth race by He Gone Jack (Kyle Wilfong) and Gabe Henry (Ridge Warren), both recent winners at the meet, along with Fox Valley Cupid (Sam Widger) who has hit the board in his last two tries.
Friday’s ICF pace was to be the first leg of the Dave Magee Late Closer but not enough horses were entered for the series and it had to be canceled by the Hawthorne Race Office
Tonight’s start will be Captain Rhett’s first at Hawthorne since he powered his way to the $180,000 Robert F. Carey 3-year-old ICF pace on the September 23rd Night of Champions for trainer Jim Horvath and Illinois owners Harvey Grieff (Odell)and Robert Verdun (Pontiac).
Currently under the care of trainer Mike Brown, the Duneside Perch gelding last summer notched the Springfield State Fair crown with a swift 1:54.2 mile. Mike Oosting will take over the driving chores tonight behind Captain Rhett.
Captain Rhett headed to Ohio after Hawthorne closed and competed at Northfield Park for Horvath, winning 3 of 6 starts and a neck short in another. “The Captain” boasts a 2017 campaign bankroll of $145,835 and was named last season’s ICF 3-Year-Old Male Pacer of the Year.
Gibbs, trained by Jim Eaton for Michigan owner Rick Howles, also was in the winner’s circle on the Night of Champions. The now 10-year-old Sportsmaster gelding won the $60,000 Robert Molaro for older state-bred colts and geldings last September. He was also sent to Northfield Park where he raced mostly in Open Paces.
Gibbs came back last weekend and got a needed start on Hawthorne’s big mile track with a fourth place finish in the Open here with Casey Leonard who is back at his lines tonight.
Dakota Roadster has gotten better with age. As a 2 and 3-year-old he made $26,102 and $23,804 respectively in those campaigns. At four he hauled in over $30,000. At five he was both a busy (40 starts) and very successful horse (75,544 in earnings). The now 6-year-old gelding, another son of Duneside Perch, had his fastest winning mile of 1:51.1 last year at Hoosier Park.
You might remember the Perry Smith trained and owned pacer from last summer at Hawthorne where he did much of his racing in $10,000 to $12,500 claimers. He has steadily risen up the conditioned ranks in Ohio since, first at Dayton Raceway and then at Miami Valley with some strong late rushes. Hawthorne’s longer stretch should be his cup of tea. Todd Warren will steer Dakota Roadster tonight.
The $200 nomination fee for the Dave Magee, open to any ICF male pacer, was paid by the owners of 14 horses however eight of them decided, for one reason or another not to enter. All Magee nomination fees will be returned by Hawthorne.
On the other hand Friday’s opening leg of the Terry Hunt Late Closer had 13 state-bred pacers pass the entry box necessitating a split of two $7,000 divisions that will go Friday as races three and four.
The third race first Terry Hunt division consists of Sagebrush Shocker (Brandon Bates), Adele’s Big Party (Gary Rath), Fox Valley Hangten (Juan Franco), Nocatchingme (Sam Widger), Frontier Frank (Mike Oosting), Special Sauce (Tim Curtin) and Sagebrush Sharp (Casey Leonard).
The two inside pacers, Sumpun Great (pp1, Casey Leonard) and Vegas Bomb (pp2, Kyle Wilfong) likely will gather much of the betting public’s support in the fourth race second split. Piglet (Gary Rath), Herecomesmagotta (Tim Curti), Big Brushfire (Travis Seekman) and Rudy Sage (Mike Rogers) are the other Hunt hopefuls.
Friday’s high spot event is the $10,000 eighth race Open Pace with post positions drawn in groups. Herehecomesarockin (Jared Finn) was granted the one-post. Slots two through five were drawn and went to Brooklynite (Todd Warren), Alwysbreakinhearts (Ridge Warren), Tookadiveoffdipper (Mike Oosting) and Kelly D (Sam Widger).
Fox Valley Nemitz (Brandon Bates) and Firedrake (Kyle Wilfong) ended up with the six and seven posts, in that order.
By Mike Paradise
It’s almost hard to believe the month of January is already in the rear view mirror.
It only seems like a couple of weeks ago that Hawthorne’s winter meeting got under way, but it’s now the first of February and that means there are only 14 racing programs before the thoroughbreds take over the Stickney, Illinois backstretch.
Six Late Closer Series Finals were decided last week, with the gal’s events providing major upsets, champions in 2 of their 3 showdowns, while everything went the chalk player’s way in the male divisions won by Susie’s Soul (Todd Warren), Rockin Pralin and November Rain. The latter two were effectively driven by Casey Leonard.
Tom Simmons stable Sharkfire (Mike Oosting), surprised at $19.60 in the #5 Final and Fox Valley Eli (Sam Widger), from the barn of Clark Fairley, popped at 30-1 in the #4 Late Closer to key a 20 cent Superfecta last Friday that paid $5,313.
The public’s Fox Valley Reggie (Pat Curtin), showed a lot of determination with her game victory as she completed a sweep of the Carl Becker Series for trainer Jamaica Patton.
Four more Late Closer Series for the winter meet were slated to get under way this weekend, all for strictly ICF horses. However, the Walter Paisley for ICF open mare pacers was a no-go for Saturday, when an insufficient number of horses were entered.
No word yet, if the entire Paisley series will be canceled and the nominations fees returned or the $30,000 Final will be raced later in the month with a short field.
Events #13 (the Terry Hunt) and #15 (the Doc Walker), the first for colts and geldings without $10,000 in earnings through last October 1st, and the second for pacing mares at the same conditions, will carry $18,000 purses in their finals.
There’s even more money on the line for the state-bred Open male Late Closer pace. With a lucrative $30,000 pots for the championships, some familiar faces have been lured back in town for the Dave Magee showdown on February 16th.
Coming back home for the first leg of the Dave Magee, are the 2017 Illinois 3-Year-Old Male Pacer of the Year Captain Rhett (Mike Oosting) and Dakota Roadster (Todd Warren), who banked over 75,000 last year in a bush 20-start campaign.
They’ll be challenged in the $9,000 first leg of the Magee, by He Gone Jack (Kyle Wilfong), Gibbs (Casey Leonard), Fox Valley Cupid (Sam Widger) and Gabe Henry (Ridge Warren).
With 13 ICF pacers entered for the $7,000 first round of the Terry Hunt Late Closer, that series was split into two divisions, that will go as races three and four on Thursday’s card.
Updated Standings: With wins on the last two races of Sunday’s card, Casey Leonard has increased his lead in Hawthorne’s driver standings to five over Kyle Wilfong, who has 17. Casey is winning with his drives at a 28 per cent at the meet.
Brandon Bates and Sam Widger are close behind, with 16 each, while Todd Warren rounds out the current Top Five with 13.
The No. 1 spot in trainer’s race continues to be up for grabs. Loralee Johnson and Terry Leonard each have 11 winners at the meet, followed closely by Payton Ode with 10 and Tom Simmons with 9.
Sunday Night Fever: Handle wise, Hawthorne had its best Sunday of the meeting thus far, when $1,085,180 was wagered in its 10-race January 28th program. A reminder: No racing this upcoming Super Bowl Sunday. . . Hawthorne’s .20 cent High Five on the last race continues to be an elusive wager. There’s an $85,191 Carryover going into Thursday’s program.