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By Mike Paradise
You’ve read countless times on just how important the draw for post position can be in a major race. On the other hand it’s rare that you’ve seen much about another significant draw that can take place in a horse race and that’s the drawing of multiple divisions, when a series has to be split.
That’s the case tonight, when 25 Illinois bred 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings passed the entry box for the opening legs of the Night of Champion Series for Robert F Carey Memorial.
The final field for the $85.000 (est.) championship on Saturday, September 24th, will be made up of the 10 highest point earnings in the four legs of the series. A first place finisher earns 50 points, then it’s 25 for a second, 12 for a third, 8 for a fourth, 5 for a fifth and 1 point for starting.
Obviously, a series leg victory can go a long way to making the Carey championship, so there’s no doubt some trainers were very happy with the draws for Friday’s three Carey series divisions. While some others I’m sure weren’t grinning from ear to ear.
The pre-Carey heavy favorite will be Fox Valley Gemini from the Terry Leonard Stable, unbeaten in 11 career starts, including nine straight as a freshman, when he was named the 2017 Illinois Harness Horse of the Year.
So far in his second season, Fox Valley Gemini has been bet down to overwhelming 1 to 9 odds in each start and was much the best in both ICF 3-year-old preps. The son of Yankee Skyscraper was a front-end winner (26.2 last quarter), in his May 12th season debut and then one week later, came off the pace with a wicked 26 flat last quarter and a 1:53 flat mile with something left in the tank.
Regular driver Casey Leonard will be back at his lines in the eighth race, third division, of the Carey series opening leg and facing the dauntless task of trying to knock off the ICF champion are Talk About It (Kyle Husted), Yougotitfiguredout (Cliff Bell), Bootleg Island (Ryan Anderson), Sagebrush Shocker (Kyle Wilkfong), Hart To Heart (Tim Curtin), Fox Valley Jalen (Gary Rath) and Heza Real Shooter (Robert Smolin).
Fox Valley Gemini hauled in $157,570 for his Atwater, Illinois owner Jim Ballinger and did it in 9 first season starts. In comparison, his eight challengers tonight earned a combined $20,000 less last year in a total of 72 trips postward,
The other pair of $12,500 Carey series divisions will go as five and six, both look very competitive with a number of ICF sophomores looking capable of coming away with the 50 points awarded to each winner.
The fifth race will line-up (from the one slot out), with Molina (Tim Curtin), Fox Valley Hijinx (Kyle Husted), Dandy Dune (Ridge Warren), Frontier Frank (Travis Seekman), Mykonos (Ryan Anderson), JB’s Engima (Casey Leonard), Fox Valley Sinful (Kyle Wilfong) and Sports Creek (Tyler Shehan).
In race six second split, you’ll find Al’s Briefs (Travis Seekman), with the pole position and to his right are Shooting Straight (Casey Leonard), Backstreet Lawyer (Kyle Husted), You’remyhearthrob (Kyle Wilfong), Fox Valley Hangten (Juan Franco), Ernie The Mooss (Gary Rath), Herecomesmagotta (Tim Curtin) and Perky Pipsqueak (Tyler Shehan).
Can They Take Out the Trash? A $10,000 Open I Handicap Pace headed up by the Leonard Stable’s Trashytonguetalker (Casey Leonard), will also spice-up the 11-race card. After a dominating 1:52.1 victory two weeks ago in his first start back in three months, Trashytounguetalker was assigned the outside 7-slot in the fourth race secondary feature.
In seven season starts, all at Hawthorne, Trashytonguetalker has made five stops at the winner’s circle while banking over $18,000.
The Jim Eaton Stable’s Caviart Midnight, who owns a 1:51 flat clocking at Ohio’s Miami Valley Raceway among his four wins, was assigned the six-post.
The first five Open Pace slots will be manned by: Southwind Indy, Bettor’s Promise, He Gone Jack, I’m An Athlete and Terror Of The Night.
Also to be decided Friday night, is a pair of $10,000 Cicero Claiming Series finals. The colt and gelding division is the second half of the early Daily Double, while the ninth race showdown for fillies and mares starts tonight’s Pick Three.
By Mike Paradise
With the bevy of Late Closer series championships getting most of the attention last week and the opening legs of the Night of Champion stake series certain to be in the limelight this weekend, the on-going Cicero Claiming Series has been virtually ignored by many Hawthorne followers.
I plead guilty to being one of them.
There have been some spirited battles in the first two legs of both the distaff and male divisions at two different two levels to decide this weekend’s finalists. In one event, a clear-cut final favorite has been determined, but in the others just who will be the public choices at post time is anybody’s guess.
The Angie Coleman Stable’s Sweetshadyshark, has stepped up in a big way in the $8,000 to $10,000 claiming series finals for fillies and mares. She’s captured both of her series legs and did so in different fashions with driver Travis Seekman.
On May 12th, Seekman took her from sixth to first in the second quarter and she held on for a narrow 1:54.4 decision.
Last Saturday the 5-year-old mare was even more impressive. She raced outside of the favorite Char N Marg, through the third quarter and calmly drew off to a career fastest 1:53.1 victory, knocking almost a full second of her previous best time for owners RTW Racing of Schaumburg, Illinois and Wisconsinite’s Gabe Wand and Ric Rinker.
The colt and gelding division of the same Cicero Claiming series, saw the Frank Petrelli Stable’s Canthelpbutwin (1:52.2, Kyle Husted), provide an upset win at 11-1 odds in its first leg.
Four Staces (Kyle Wilfong), from the barn of Terry Leonard, pulled off an even bigger upset last Saturday, when he got his nose in front of the 8-5 betting favorite JK Hall, another Leonard trainee, at the end of the 1:52.3 mile and paid and even $55.00.
Both of this Saturday’s Cicero Series Finals carry a $16,000 purse.
The Cicero Claiming Series for pacers starting off with $5,000 price tags has seen three different mares come out on top in its three series legs.
First Skyway Dusty (Ridge Warren), cruised in her first round leg for trainer Ronnie Roberts in 1:55.2 as the public’s choice. That same May 11th night, the Leonard stable’s Her Royal Highness (Casey Leonard), set off at 6-5 odds, eked out a narrow triumph over Summer Party also in 1:552.
However, last Friday, when those same three fillies all met in the same second leg race, it was Summer Party (Kyle Husted), proving best by a half-length for trainer Matt Mac Kenzie. Her time of 1:54 flat was a lifetime best for the 9-year-old ICF mare.
Also last Friday, in the second filly and mare split Shewon’tdaliaround ($13.00), ended a long 24 race losing streak with Juan Franco at her lines in 1:55.2 for conditioner Ronnie Roberts.
As far as the male division of this claiming series, Electric Albert (Casey Leonard) , another Petrelli trainee, won rather easily by almost two lengths in the May 11th first leg, but was the runner-up last weekend in round two.
The front-stepping Electric Albert looked to be in good shape turning for home, but the 12-1 price shot R Duneshine (Tim Curtin), overtook him in the land and drew off by almost five lengths for trainer Vince Accardo. At the age of seven, R Duneshine’s time of 1:52.4 was full three seconds faster than any of his previous 13 career wins.
Friday’s Cicero Claiming events that started out with $5,000 price tags, will offer a $10,000 pot in their respective finals.
Stake Series Time: The road to Hawthorne’s Night of Champions begins this weekend, with first round action in all four stake series events for three-year-olds of both gaits and sexes.
The Robert F. Carey Memorial for ICF sophomore colts and gelding are the Friday night headliners. The opening rounds of the Plum Peachy for state-bred filly pacers will highlight the Saturday card, while Sunday’s program will be headed up by the initial legs of the Beulah Dygert (fillies) and the Erwin F. Dygert (males) Memorial stake series.
Races will be held at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Saturday, June 9th at 12:00 p.m. Conditions for the races are for Illinois bred 2-year olds with sub races for Illinois bred 3-year olds. Total purse payout for the day will be $50,000. If there are a sufficient number of 2 year old entries, 3 year old races will not be held. Colts/fillies will race separately if at least 4 entries of each. Entries will be taken on TUESDAY, June 5th. To enter, contact LeAnn Shinn by 10 a.m. at 618-783-2589. Horsemen can also enter online. Entries are being taken on Tuesday so that horsemen can enter on Wednesday at Hawthorne if the races for 3 year olds are not held. Qualifiers will also be held. Entry fees for purse races and qualifiers will be $50 per horse. Scratched horses will be responsible for their entry fee. All scratches must be reported to race office in a timely manner. All horses need a negative coggins within 1 year and EHV vaccine within 6 months. If you have questions, please contact Tina Schrock at 217-416-0006.
By Mike Paradise
Sunday’s Hawthorne headliners, a pair of Late Closer Series Finals and an Open III trot, each has one significant detail in common: All three of those morning line favorites will be driven by the meet’s leading driver Casey Leonard.
The 40-year-old Harvard native has captured the last four Hawthorne driver titles and the way he has started off this summer’s meet another No. 1 finish looks to be in the cards.
Casey comes into Sunday’s program winning at over a 30 per cent clip and I don’t see that blistering pace diminishing any after the completion of tonight’s 11 race program.
Leonard will again guide the Rick Schrock Stable’s Star Of Our Show in the $11,000 Tony Salvaro series showdown. The 3-year-old filly has won her first two legs rather easily and last week’s 1:55.4 mile was a new lifetime mark for the Indiana bred filly. She’s listed at 6-5 odds in the program.
Her strongest rivals tonight appear to be My Kind Of Terror (pp 1, Mike Oosting) with two third place finishes in the series, Deo’s Perfectsound, a fast closing second a week ago, and ICY IYQ (pp 7, Issac Love) who made a break before he came back with a 27.2 last quarter.
The Salvaro longshots hopes are Rosebud’s First (Tim Curtin), Theresareason (Kyle Wilfong) and First Official.
Casey will be in the bike for the first time behind Dale Knox’s Pop Speed in the sixth race $11,200 Phil Georgeff, the even-money morning line choice.
Pop Speed was an comfortable winner at 4-5 odds in the Georgeff first leg but got nailed in the final strides as the overwhelming 1 to 9 choice last week by the fast closing Fort El Said (Tyler Sheehan).
To say that race didn’t unfold as most horseplayers thought it would is unquestionably an understatement.
First the 60-1 longshot Forsumoddreason blasted out for the early lead (:27.4) and then Party Jet’s at 48-1 took out of second to get to the front, a good idea since Forsumoddreason did indeed eventually go into retreat and was beaten 24 lengths.
Driver Tim Curtin certainly didn’t want to race his prohibitive favorite in third behind two longshots pacing fast fractions so he took Pop Speed out and rolled for the top but to get there the Dale Knox trainee had to get to the half in a quick time of 55 flat while pacing a sub 27 second quarter.
That second quarter had to sting Pop Speed and even though the pacer was still ahead by two lengths with a quarter of a mile to go he was noticeably shorting his stride while the late charging Fort El Said was lengthening his, going on to win in 1:54 flat.
Pop Speed has the four slot tonight with Casey tonight while Fort El Said (5-2) has the seven. Interestingly, last week’s fast starting longshots Forsomeoddreason (25-1, Tim Curtin) and Party’s Jet (20-1, Gary Rath) drew the two inside posts.
Makin’ A Move (Kyle Wilfong), Tarasenko (Ryan Anderson) and Turner Image complete the Georgeff final field.
Take Your Pick: The fifth race Open III Trot was drawn by groups with last Sunday’s Open III victors vying for posts 6 and 7 with Picky Picky Valor receiving the six and the lone mare in the race Annas Lucky Star landing the seven.
Picky Picky Valor is in top-notch form, winning in easy fashion in both summer meet outings, the last in a 1:54.1 career best time. Casey took over the driving chores this summer behind “Picky” for the 4-yar-old ICF gelding ‘strainer Gerald Hansen.
Annas Lucky Star (Kyle Wilfong) dominated the ICF filly trotting ranks as a 2 and 3-year-old and won the division honors both years for her owner and breeder Danny Graham of Salem, Illinois.
Annas Lucky Star left the filly and mare ranks in last week’s 4-year-old debut and trainer Nelson Willis certainly had her ready as she sped to a 1:55.2 front-end clocking. She’s only about $6,000 short of the $200,000 plateau in purse earnings and has a remarkable career record of 16 wins in 23 career starts.
The pair has trotting talent starting inside of them with the likes of Louscipher (Juan Franco), Primed N Powerful (Ryan Anderson). Schwarber (Tim Curtin), Patton (Frank Petrelli) and Bo I See Time (Kyle Wilfong)
The Surprises Keep On Coming: Skyway Fireball provided the biggest shocker on Saturday’s card when he popped at 37-1 odds in the $13,800 Bob Larry Series Final thanks to a heady drive from Tyler Shehan.
The Dave Brooks trained pacer got away quickly from the pole position and settled in third behind the 18-1 pace-setting longshot Jaded Truth and the 6-5 favorite You’remyhearthrob through a quick 55 first half.
Skyway Fireball, owned by David and Adam Brooks of Cambridge, Illinois, then proved best in the lane with a career fastest 1:52 flat mile and rewarded his supporters with a $76.00 payoff. You’remyhearthrong was second, beaten three-quarters of a length. Beach Shootingstar rallied for third.
Two races earlier Sports Analyst ($12.00) overcome the nine-hole and captured the $12,200 Mike Paradise Final with a 1:54.2 clocking for driver-trainer Jamaica Patton and his Athens, Illinois owner Ron Phillips.
Sports Analyst blasted out from the 9-slot at the start and grabbed the two-hole behind the 50-1 longshot U Makin Me Wait who cut the fractions. Patton bided his time with his Sportsmaster gelding before tipping his pacer out in the last turn and powering past for a one and one-quarter length victory.
Fox Valley Sinful was second and Herecomesmogotta came a long way to take third.
By Mike Paradise
One of the great things about horse racing is its unpredictably. You just never know what’s going to happen in a race and a perfect example was last week’s second leg of the Mike Paradise Late Closer Series.
I had the winner Fox Valley Sinful buried in my line. He was a non-threating fourth in the first leg, his first race since last June, only his second career start and he drew the outside 10-hole in an 11-horse field.
The pacer didn’t figure to leave from the 10-slot with several horses inside of him likely doing so (and he didn’t). Coming from 10th or 11th to win it all also didn’t seem in the cards so I wrote him off as a contender.
Most of the Hawthorne horseplayers saw it the same way as I did and that’s why Fox Valley Sinful went off at 70-1 odds and when the 3-year-old filly was a far back tenth heading in to the last turn and some ten lengths off the leader, it seemed most of us were right. . . except we weren’t.
Instead the Sportsmaster filly came on like gangbusters in the lane for driver Kyle Wilfong and nipped the betting favorite Sports Analyst in the final strides of a 1:55.3 mile to the delight of some longshot players who got a generous $142.20 return on their two dollar winning ticket.
I asked his trainer Joel Smith if he was as surprised as I was with Fox Valley Sinful’s victory.
“No not really,” replied the veteran Indiana based horseman. “The horse trained well all winter the winter. He hadn’t been out in a long time (about 10 months) so I told Kyle to race him easy in his first start and get the horse around the track safely which he did.
“The horse was very immature as a 2-year-old. He was sore and he couldn’t go so we quit with him. I gave him all the time off he needed to get ready for the Hawthorne.
“I didn’t like drawing the 10-hole at all,” continued Joel. ”I told Kyle he could leave with the horse if he thought he could get him up closer but it seemed like everybody left so Kyle had to take the horse back.
“I had some very good years with his sisters and I was impressed with last week’s win He really raced well.”
Those “sisters” are the past ICF champions Fox Valley Touche and Fox Valley Amanda, so the breeding is there for the possibility that Fox Valley Sinful might also develop into another top-notch state-bred pacer for his owners Paula Smith (Anderson, Indiana), James Runyan (Lake Villa, Illinois) and Lynwood Romano of Delaware.
Fox Valley Sinful is the eighth foal of the Cole Muffler broodmare Thongundrcolrsoops, and two of her daughters were major ICF stake for the Joel Smith Stable. Sinful’s full sister Fox Valley Touche (Dale Hiteman) was the 2010 winner of the $218,000 Filly Orange and Blue Final on Super Night.
Fox Valley Touche went on to win career 29 races, earn over $528,000 and end her racing career with a mark of 1:50.4.
A few years later Smith had Fox Valley Amanda, a daughter of Yankee Skyscraper out of the same dam as “Sinful” and “Touche” and was the runner-up on Super Night 2013 at Balmoral in the $200,000 O&B filly championship. As a 3-year-old Fox Valley Amanda annexed the $89,000 Maywood Filly Pace Final, again with Dale Hiteman. She retired as a race horse with a mark of 1:53.3 and earnings of over $200,000.
The draw went much better for Fox Valley Sinful in Saturday’s $12,200 Paradise final when he landed the four post in the 10-horse field. The Kim Hamilton trained 3-year-old is listed the 3-1 second program choice behind first series leg winner Special Sauce, the early 5-2 favorite with his new driver Casey Leonard.
The Jamaica Patton Stable’s Sports Analyst, another first round winner, is next at 4-1 from the 9-slot.
The other Paradise aspirants are I Makin Me Wait (Issac Love), Dandy’s Phoenix (Travis Seekman), Ricky The Flash (Robert Smolin), Sagebrush Sharp (Juan Franco), Fox Valley Brutus (Ridge Warren), Fox Valley Jalan
(Gary Rath) and Herecomesmagotta (Tim Curtin).
The $13,600 Bob Larry series final will go two races later as the ninth event on the card and it has had four different winners in the first two legs, Beach Shootingstar (Jamaica Patton) and Sagebrush Shocker (Casey Leonard) first round victors while You’remyheartrob (Kyle Wilfong) and Et Tu Brute (Robert Smolin) came out on top last week.
They’ll be challenged by Skyway Fireball (Tyler Shehan), Renegade Express (Travis Seekman), Jaded Truth (Richard S Finn), Intuitive Writer (Kyle Husted), Lyons King (Tim Curtin) and Rocknroll High (Ridge Warren).
Friday’s Series Wrap-Up: Walk On Water Racing’s Princess Oshie ($8.40) came up with a gutsy winning performance in last night’s $12,200 Walter Paisley Final. The 4-year-old ICF mare, driven by her trainer Richard S Finn, raced first-over soon after the first quarter pole and still had a quick 27 flat last quarter in her to prevail in 1:55.4.
C Far gave Princess Oshie all she could handle before settling for second, beaten one length while the 70-1 pacesetting longshot Beamer N Bud (Ryan Anderson) ended up third.
Earlier Ryan’s Mistress completed a sweep of the Dave Magee series with driver Juan Franco and again came from far behind to do it. The Roshun Trigg trained 3-year-old ICF filly was eighth and last at the half but stormed past the field in the lane and drew off for owners Flacco Family Farms of Alexis, Illinois.
Tempest Heart (Kyle Wilfong) was second best, beaten almost four lengths wile Little Adaline, who cut the fractions, was third.
Both of the trotting Late Closer series showdowns resulted in upsets.
The 10-1 longshot White Pants Fever ($22.20) was given a patient drive in the Bea Barber by his trainer Steve Searle racing in third as Totally Pazzazzed and Lous Silver Star battled each other throughout in the 1:56 mile.
Searle swung White Pants Fever out for the stretch drive and the Lou’s Legacy filly rolled past in the middle of the track for her third win in four season starts for owners Flacco Family Farms and Steve Searle (Grant Park, Illinois),
An even bigger surprise occurred a couple of races later in the Daryl Busse when Sunny Sasha popped at 19-1 odds for Brownstown, Illinois owner Chares Doehring.
The front-stepping Broadway Mojo (Isaac Love) kept the heavy 3-5 favorite Never Say That (Kyle Wilfong) parked out much of the way in the 1:57.4 mile while driver Jared Finn had Sunny Sasha right behind the leaders waiting for the stretch drive.
A late surge in deep stretch by Sunny Sasha saw the first-time Lasix user gain a neck victory over Never Say That. The Heather Stell trained winning filly paid $41.60.
By Mike Paradise
When the Walter Paisley Late Closer Series got under way two weeks ago, Princess Oshie came into it as an “under the radar” mare.
Unraced as a freshman and with only modest success as a 3-year-old, the Richard S. Finn trained mare didn’t get a lot of attention going off at 20-1 odds in her initial series leg. The Always A Virgin mare had only two victories in 28 starts in 2017 and banked a little over $11,000.
Meanwhile pre-Walter Paisley favorite, Fox Valley Catwalk, carried a four racing winning streak into the Paisley series, that included a sweep of the Doc Walker winter series. November Rain was another chief threat, taking her Late Closer in mid-February and C Far captured two legs of the same series, was another serious Paisley contender.
Nevertheless, Princess Oshie did race well during the winter, winning a Late Closer series leg and picking up a check in every start for her owners, Walk On Water Stable of Beecher, Illinois. The mare went to Hoosier Park after her layoff and collected two more purse checks.
In her first Paisley start Princes Oshie, closed a ton and dropped a photo to Fox Valley Catwalk. Last week she came from even further back (10 lengths in the lane), to pop at 14-1 odds, with a strong last quarter burst in her career fastest 1:54.4 mile.
“She’s much more mature now than she was as a 3-year-old,” explained her driver and trainer Richard S. Finn. “She was a small immature 2-year-old, so we took her time with her. She’s still a small filly but she’s maturing and has really come around. Now she has the desire to be a racehorse. She really likes to fight it out with other horses down the stretch. I couldn’t be happier with her. She’s had big efforts in both of her series starts. We were in a bad spot last week behind poor cover but she kept digging in.”
Princess Oshie has already made about $3,000 more this year than in her 3-year-old campaign and she could make a substantial deposit to her purse account in the’s $12,200 Paisley final, one of four Late Closer championships on the line Friday.
Tonight she gets a rare start from the inside, when she leaves from post two in a 10-horse field. Fox Valley Catwalk (Tim Curtin), has the six slot, while November Rain (Casey Leonard), had the bad luck to draw the 10-hole.
The one slot belongs to Rockinaroundheaven (Jim Lackey). The three through five posts will be manned by: Island Campaign (Travis Seekman), C Far (Gary Rath) and Real Sheila (Tyler Shehan). Angel Dance (Juan Franco), Wimple’s Dimple (Kyle Wilfong) and Beamer N Bud (Ryan Anderson), have the 7, 8 and 9, respectively.
Three other Late Closer finals are on the second card, with the six-horse field $12,200 Bea Farber going as the second race. Second and first leg winners Totally Pazzazzed (Tim Curtin) and Lous Silver Star (Tyler Sheehan), have the one and two slots, while the three through six, will be manned by Dr Spengler (Curt Grummel), True Detective (Casey Leonard), White Pants Fever (Steve Searle) and Southern Appeal (Juan Franco).
The Brett Wilfong Stable’s Never Say That (pp4, Kyle Wilfong), looks to run the table in the fifth race $12,200 Daryl Busse trot series. The Hoosier Park invader opens at programmed odds of 6-5, when he’s challenged by Big Lou (Casey Leonard), Whata Cantabulous (Kyle Husted), Broadway Mojo (Issac Love), Sunny Sasha (Jared Finn), Casino Cash (Tyler Shehan) and Lous Misty Blue (Tim Curtin).
Also, looking for a series sweep, is the Roshun Trigg Stable’s Ryans Mistress (Juan Franco), in the seventh race Dave Magee championship. The 3-year-old filly secured the outside seven-slot, but she’s come from seventh place in both of her series wins and will be at 9-5 first flash odds.
From the pole position out, you’ll find Ruby Doobie (Gary Rath), Jazzy Bern (Cliff Bell), Fox Valley Eurofic (Jerome Daniels), Frontier Red (Kyle Wilfong), Tempest Heart (Kyle Wilfong), Little Adaline (Ryan Anderson) and Piana (Casey Leonard), in the $12,200 Magee final for 3 or 4-year-old ICF pacing fillies.
The four Late Closer finals will be supported by the ninth race $7,200 Open III Handicap Pace, with a very solid field made up of: I’m An Athlete, Buff’s Image, American Dreamer, Major Bliss, Bettor’s Promise, Terror Of The Nite, He Gone Jack, Best Man Hanover, last week’s Open III winner Gabe Henry and the Open I dropper Feelikearockstar.
“Price Shot” Hits: Thursday’s sixth race 14-1 longshot winner Powerful Temtrist was a Mike Paradise “Price Shot” selection, paying $30.60. Jamaica Patton drove the Gerald Hansen trained trotter, who went off as the second highest odds among the eight starters.
By Mike Paradise
Eight Late Closer champions will be crowned at Hawthorne this weekend and after the first two series legs, it’s clear that the Brett Wilfong Stable has a major threat in a pair of them, both with Kyle Wilfong in the bike.
In Friday’s $11,200 Daryl Busse trot series finale, the Wilfong Stable’s 4-year-old trotter Never Says That, is expected to be a prohibitive favorite and taking the first two legs of the series and in each he started from the furthest outside post in each.
The Trenton Watson Stable’s Broadway Mojo looks to be ever Never Say That’s primary threat, after racing first over to the Wilfong trainee in the last quarter of the mile last week, when the Issac Love driven trotter dropped a photo decision.
On Saturday’s $13,800 Bob Larry showdown, Wilfong has You’remyhearthrob going to the gate in search of back-to-back wins. The family’s homebred 3-year-old pacer lost a narrow head verdict to Sagebrush Shocker in the first leg, but held off his rival in comfortable fashion in round two, with a career best time of 1:54.4.
Et Tu Brute (Bobby Smolin), from the barn of Gerald Hansen, stepped up in his Bob Larry leg last Friday, with a 1:55.3 clocking a new fastest mile for the 4-year-old ICF gelding pacer and showing he could be a force to be reckon with in this Friday’s final.
The 26-year-old Wilfong, also has a live drive in Saturday’s $12,200 Mike Paradise championship after steering the 70-1 longshot Fox Valley Sinful to his huge upset and doing so despite the Joel Smith trainee leaving from the 10-hole with an 11-post trailer.
Kyle also drives the 3-year-old filly Tempest Heart, from the barn of trainer Dave Rowney, in Friday’s $12,200 Dave Magee final.
N.O.C. Candidates Named: The nominations have been posted on the Hawthorne web-site by the Race Office for the Night of Champions ICF stakes. They can be found at www.hawthorneracecourse.com under the “Horsemen” category.
The Robert F. Carey stake for 3-year-old state-bred pacing colts and geldings tops the list with 39 nominations, followed closely by the Plum Peachy for sophomore pacing fillies with 34. The 3-year-old Beulah Dygert for fillies has 22 eligible trotters, while the Erwin F. Dygert for trotting males lured 19 candidates.
The numbers for the 2-year-old stakes are respectable. As expected, the freshmen pacing events are the highest. There were 35 nominees for the Incredible Finale (males) and 30 eligible fillies for the Incredible Tillie.
The 2-year-old trots came up with adequate nominees as well. The Fox Valley Flan stake for fillies has 29 applicants while the Kadabra for colts and geldings saw 27 trotters nominated.
The first legs of the Night of Champion stakes will be contested next weekend, with the Carey divisions going on Friday, May 25th, the Plum Peachy divisions on Saturday, May 26th and the two Dygert events on spread out on the Sunday, May 27th program.
Casey on Fire: After the first two weeks into the summer meet, driver Casey Leonard is off to a sizzling start. The 40-year-old Harvard, Illinois native, has brought home 23 first place finishers in 68 drives, that’s a 33 per cent winning clip. No other driver at the meet as yet to reach double figures.