By Mike Paradise
Opening night of Hawthorne’s summer harness racing starts up in just one week and a look at the first condition sheet indicates the early portion of the meet will put the emphasis on the Late Closer Series.
The draw for the May 4th opener will be this Monday (April 29), with entries due by 10 am. The initial weekend conditioned sheets are available on the Hawthorne web-site at https://www.hawthorneracecourse.com/horsemen/csheet/
Four of the eight opening legs of Late Closer Series events will be raced on the first Friday’s first card—the $8,500 Walter Paisley and the $8,000 Dave Magee filly paces and the $8,500 Bea Farber and $8,000 the Daryl Busse for trots.
The $8,500 Bob Larry for colts and geldings and the $8,000 Mike Paradise for strictly ICF male pacers will get under way on the Saturday May 5th program, while the first round of the $8,000 Tony Salvaro for pacing fillies and the $8,000 Phil Georgeff colts and geldings are expected to head-up the first Sunday card.
ICF Sophomore Stake Nominations Out
The nomination list of 3-year-old ICF pacers and trotters currently eligible for the upcoming summer stake series leading up to the Night of Champions has been released by Hawthorne’s Race Secretary Robin Schadt.
Heading the nom’s list of 39 state-bred colt or gelding pacers for the Robert Carey Memorial Series is last season’s Illinois Horse of the Year Fox Valley Gemini ($157,970).
The Terry Leonard trainee was a perfect nine-for-nine with driver Casey Leonard on his way to dominating the ICF freshmen division capped by a victory in the $195,000 Incredible Finale Championship for Atwater, Illinois owner Jim Ballinger.
The Plum Peachy for ICF 3-year-old filly pacers has 34 nominees, including the 2017 Illinois 2-Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year Fox Valley Jazzy, owned by Cathy Finn-Kanitz and trained by Dale Kanitz of Olney, Illinois. The $175,000 Incredible Tillie champion finished her first campaign with four consecutive victories and earnings of $130,365.
Other notable Plum Peachy eligible fillies include: Violet titleholder Rollin Coal, from the barn of Hosea Williams and the Rodney Freese owned and trained pacer Fox Valley Catwalk, currently riding a five-race winning streak as a 3-year-old after sweeping the Doc Walker Late Closer Series at the Hawthorne winter meeting.
As far as ICF sophomore trotters, 19 fillies were submitted to compete in the Beulah Dygert Memorial Series, while 22 colts and geldings have been designated as eligible to race in the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial series.
The 2017 Fox Valley Flan Night of Champions victor, Good Design (Kyle Wilfong) is Beulah Dygert, bound for trainer Brett Wilfong and owner Mr. Lynn Wilfong. The Illinois freshman filly trotting champion won half of her 10 starts in 2017 and earned $94,187.
The Mike Brink Stable’s Maui Mama ($81.280), the Violet freshman victor with a gaudy record of 7 wins in 9 starts, and Trotting Grace, ($64,782), a five-time winner in 2017 for trainer Steve Searle, are also Beulah Dygert stake series eligible.
This summer’s Erwin Dygert stake series should be a dandy with the likes of Illinimight, Vic’s Pizza, True Detective, and Cruzin Cassi, all returning as 3-year-olds after strong first season campaigns.
Illinimight ($84,330), a Mike Brink trainee, won his last four 2017 starts including Hawthorne’s $115,000 Kadabra Final on the Night of Champions.
Vic’s Pizza ($53,455), was named the 2017 Illinois 2-Year-Old Colt Trotter of the Year, despite being sidelined in early September. The Brink stable-mate of Illinimight won both the Springfield and Du Quoin State Fair championships before his season-ending injury in the September 9th leg of the Kadabra series.
The Curt Grummel trained True Detective ($37,195), captured the Cardinal Final and two series divisions of the Kadabra, while Cruzen Cassi ($59,256), from the John D Finn Stable, was third or better in 10 of 12 freshman starts and the runner-up in the Kadabra showdown.
A complete list of the summer’s ICF 3-year-old stake nominees can be found on the Hawthorne web-site. Click on the “Horsemen” category.
Last Saturday’s Springfield Spring Review, saw Hawthorne’s three-time defending driver champion Casey Leonard bring home 6 of his 15 drives on the 21 race card and they all came in the last 11 events. Casey also had a pair of second place horses and a trio of third place finishers.
Three trainers—Tom Simmons, Curt Grummel and Roshun Trigg—sent out three winners on the Springfield card. Jamaica Patton had a driving triple.
The fastest winner was a 1:54.3 clocking, by the Jamaica Patton trained 4-year-old colt Fox Valley Reggie, who uncorked a 26.3 final panel in his first start since mid-February.
The Bob Walker 5-year-old trainee Bucklegirl Bobette, was a romping 13 and one-half length victor in her division, with a 1:54.4 mile on the front-end, pacing the last half in :54.4 with a 27 flat final quarter.