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By Mike Paradise
Tyler Shehan is in his third season competing at Hawthorne and the Kentucky native is having his best local meeting, currently in the Top Five in the driver colony.
The 35-year-old Shehan is getting more opportunities with “live” drives than he has in the past at Hawthorne. However it’s that of the year when Tyler returns to his home state and competes in Kentucky stakes. Shehan had two Kentucky bred stakes Friday at Lebanon Raceway
Nevertheless, this summer it appears Tyler will try to “have his cake and eat it too.”
“I’m going to I’ll try and make it work driving at both Hawthorne and in Kentucky,” said Tyler. “I’ve got a wife and a 19-year-old son to think about and I have family in Kentucky. I’m doing well and I’m driving some competitive horses in Illinois bred stakes so I want to be here and continue with them through the end of the meet.”
Shehan has 28 winning drives at Hawthorne’s summer meet to go along with 28 second place finishers and 24 thirds.
Preps Aplenty: Sunday’s second race for ICF 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers lured both Cardinal stake champions The Bucket (Casey Leonard) and Holden Steady (Kyle Wilfong). They’ll be joined by Frontier Muffler, a winner of an opening leg of the Incredible Finale stake series.
Trixie’s Jethro, winner of a leg of the Kadabra in his debut for trainer Heather Stell, is prepping for next week’s second leg of the Kadabra tonight. Jared Finns back in the bike behind the freshman Trotter in Sunday’s third race.
Sunday’s fourth race for 2-year-old ICF trotting fillies will be a rematch of a first leg of the Fox Valley Flan series with the one-two finishers E L Game On (Kyle Wilfong) and Heidi High (Cliff Bell) tangling again.
The Charles Arthur trained Heidi High beat E L Game On when they met in a division of the Violet on June 17 however nine days later the Mike Rogers trained filly returned the favor and overtook Heidi High in the Fox Valley Flan.
Twice as Good: Casey Leonard was in the bike behind both Open winners on Saturday’s card at 4-1 odds. The meet’s perineal leading driver gave Shelly Steele’s Picky Picky Valor ($10.20) a two-hole trip and the star of the Gerald Hansen stable responded with half-length victory (1:54.2) over Anna’s Lucky Star in the $10,000 Open Trot.
One race later Casey was back in the winner’s circle, this time with the Terry Leonard stable’s ICF mare Char N Marg ($10.60). A ground-saving inside journey put the six-year-old mare in position where her 26.3 last quarter saw her post a career fastest mile in the Open II for filly and mare pacers.
Owned by Dandy Farms Inc. of Glenview, Illinois and Peter Kouchis of Palos Hills, Illinois, Char N Marg finished a half-length ahead of Pretty Image.
By Mike Paradise
While a pair of Opens, one for trotters and the other for pacing filly and mares are the center of attention on Saturday’s Hawthorne card a number of ICF youngsters of both gaits and sexes are preparing for next week’s 2-year-old Night of Champions stake series and the 3-year-old legs the following week.
Two divisions of state-bred juvenile pacing fillies will go as races one and four on the 10-race program with Incredible Tillie series leg one winner Fox Valley Halsey (Casey Leonard) the 9-5 favorite in the fourth race and runner-up Fox Valley Torrid among the seven gals heading to the gate in the opener.
Taking on Fox Valley Halsey are Fox Valley Lil Kim (Tim Curtin) and Winter Gram (Ridge Warren), the third and fourth place finishers behind the Nelson Willis trained series winner. They’ll be joined by Cardinal Fancy (Ronnie Gillespie), first-time starter Brienne The Beauty (Travis Seekman), Ruby Ruby Ruby (Kyle Husted) and Grace Ann (Gary Rath).
Fox Valley Torrid (pp 7, Juan Franco) will meet Incredible Tillie bridesmaid Fox Valley Hotcake (Jim Lackey), Foolishlittlegirl (pp 2, Kyle Wilfong), second best in her Violet divisions. Caroline GR (Travis Seekman), Genie The Mooss (Gary Rath) and She’s So Funny (Merle Finn Jr.) are the other first race combatants.
The second race is a prep event for the upcoming third round of the Beulah Dugert stake series and most of the top ICF sophomore trotting fillies are in it including Good Design (pp 2, Kyle Wilfong), winner of two series legs, Violet champ White Pants Fever (pp 3, Steve Searle), second round Dygert winner Maui Mama (pp 5, Casey Leonard) and True Detective (pp 6, Curt Grummel), victorious in the Cardinal stake.
Trotting Grace (pp 1, Kyle Husted), second best in two Dygert series legs, and Fox Valley Strpwr (Freddie Patton Jr.) complete the field.
Saturday’s fifth race has three of the Plum Peachy 3-year-old stake series winners participating: Skeeter Machine (pp 1, Kyle Wilfong), Rollin Coal (pp 4, Casey Leonard) and Allbeastnobeauty (pp 6, Tim Curtin). Plum Peachy bound challengers in the race include The New Americana (pp 2, Kyle Husted), JB’s Shooting Star (pp 7, Robert Smolin) and Frontier Cuzin (pp 8, Gary Rath).
Saturday’s Opens will go back-to-back in races seven and eight with the 7-horse trot going first. The Jim Eaton Stable’s Walter White, a 1:54.1 winner a week ago, has been assigned the outside seven-slot with Anna’s Lucky Star from the barn of Nelson Willis, allocated the six after last week having to start from the 10-hole when her three race winning streak was snapped.
The ultra-consistent ICF trotter Pick Picky Valor, trained by Gerald Hansen, has the five with regular driver Casey Leonard while the Curt Grummel stable’s Louschipher (Travis Seekman) starts on his left,
The first three posts will be manned by Overandovervictory (Ridge Warren), Totally Pazzazzed (Tim Curtin) and Silverhill Volo (Jim Lackey), in that order.
The Chupp Racing Stable’s Kyles Secret (pp 7, Travis Seekman) goes after her third consecutive win at Hawthorne and her second in a row in an Open II filly and mare event in race five. Rodney Freese’s Pretty Image (pp 6, Tim Curtin) is the 5-2 first flash favorite.
The mares Char N Marg (Casey Leonard), Sweetshadyshark (Travis Seekman), Velocity Layla (Kyle Husted) Town Temptress (Cliff Bell) and Phyllis Jean (Ridge Warren) have the first five slots and each is capable of capturing the $8,800 affair.Doubling Up: Driver Kyle Husted was at the lines of both winning pacers in Friday night’s $10,000 Opens. First Husted rated Somestarsomewhere ($3.80) his third consecutive victory in the fourth race Open and then followed one race later by bringing home Account Rollover (1:52.)
Somestarsomewhere, trained by Tom Simmons for Clinard Properties of Mount Sterling, Illinois, finished a half-length ahead of Ponda’s Prospect in a 1:50.4 mile. The Jim Eaton stable’s Account Hanover was almost two lengths the best at the end of his 1:52.2 mile for Farmington Hills, Michigan owner Robert Silberberg. Fox Valley Reggie (Kyle Wilfong) was second.
By Mike Paradise
Back-to-back Open Pace affairs are the showcase events on Hawthorne’s Friday night program, with three stables sending out one of their top-notch horses in each and another barn with three stout candidates heading to the starting gate.
Veteran trainer Perry Smith has the Illinois bred 6-year-old pacer Royale Rose going after his third consecutive Open triumph at Hawthorne in the fourth race first $10,000 with regular driver Travis Seekman. Perry plunked down $35,000 to acquire the Illinois bred pacer on June 8th, the night Royale Rose sped to a career fastest 1:50 flat mile at Hoosier Park.
In three starts for Perry, Royale Rose has brought back a return of $12,500 to his Beecher, Illinois owner and trainer.
The fourth race open was drawn by groups, with the one slot assigned to Why Ask Why (Ridge Warren). Posts two through five were drawn and went to: Adios Amigos (Tim Curtin), Tookadiveoffdipper (Kyle Wilfong), Ponda’s Prospect (Casey Leonard) and He Gone Jack (Ridge Warren), in that order.
The outside six and seven slots were obtained separately with co-morning line favorites Royale Rose landing the six and Somestarsomewhere (Kyle Husted), the classy 7-year-old from the barn of Tom Simmons, getting the seven.
Somestarsomewhere appears to be back in top form after two very convincing victories at Hawthorne, the last by 6 and 1/2 lengths and the previous by 5 and 3 /4. Both were against much softer competition but each came from the eight-post.
Nonetheless with 27 career victories, a career bankroll over of over $450,000 and a 1:49.2 mile taken at Lexington as a 2-year-old Somestarsomewhere is certainly the class of the field.
Ponda’s Prospect annexed three straight races earlier at Hawthorne, before being hampered by outside slots in his latest trio of starts. The move to the four post should bode well for the Terry Leonard trainee.
Another Leonard stable pacer is Southern Flight (pp 7, Casey Leonard), is in the fifth race second $10,000 Open. The 4-year-old’s most recent races have been sub-par. On the other hand, he won at Hawthorne in mid-May in a quick 1:50.4, a time that equaled his lifetime mark set as a 3-year-old at Hoosier Park.
Perry Smith has both last week’s Open winner Dakota Roadster (pp 8, Travis Seekman) and the now 10-year-old Best Man Hanover (pp 5, Juan Franco), in the second Friday Open.
Best Man Hanover has made 240 lifetime starts and most have come at Balmoral or Hawthorne and so, has the majority of his 45 career wins. As a 6-year-old Best Man Hanover won in 1:48.4 at Balmoral, the fastest racing mile among the 15 horses competing in Friday’s back-to-back Hawthorne Opens. The Western Ideal gelding has made eight starts this summer at Hawthorne, picking-up a check in each while winning three times for owner Sawgrass Farms of Lemont, Illinois.
Account Hanover (pp 2, Kyle Husted), a 7-year-old gelding from the stable of trainer Jim Eaton, is the 5-2 morning line favorite after a 1:52 flat victory a week ago in a conditioned pace, coming home in 26.3. He’s a 24 lifetime winner with $243,625 on his card and a mark of 1:50 flat as a 4-year-old at The Meadowlands.
Real Peace (Tim Curtin), was assigned the pole position. Slots 3, 4 and 6 will be manned by Title Town (Robert Smolin), Saqid Hanover (Ridge Warren) and Fox Valley Reggie (Kyle Wilfong), respectively.
Ho-Hum, Another One: The Terry Leonard Stable’s Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard), made it 15 consecutive career victories without a loss last night with a 1:51 flat mile. The 3-year-old ICF 3-year-old is staying sharp for upcoming third leg of Hawthorne’s Carey stake series.
By Mike Paradise
This week’s Thursday evening Hawthorne card got a huge boost, when the Race Office moved an ICF 3-year-old colt and gelding pace to it.
With the third leg of the Night of Champions Robert F. Carey series coming in two weeks, tonight’s headliner attracted most of the cream of the division’s crop in what has turned out to be a Carey prep event.
All three of the leading Robert F. Carey point earners through two rounds, will square off including unbeaten Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard), from the Terry Leonard Stable.
If tonight’s third race feature was an ICF Open 3-year-old pace, last year’s Illinois Harness Horse of the Year would probably be leaving from the 10-hole in an eight-horse field but it’s not, and the usual draw for posts couldn’t have gone any better for Fox Valley Gemini’s boosters.
Fox Valley Gemini landed the pole position and looks to be in great shape to be 6-for-6 this season and extend his career winning streak to 15 in a row for Atwater, Illinois owner Jim Ballinger.
The Leonard Sable’s “Gem” drew off by more than five lengths in his first Carey series leg and was well in hand at the end of the 1:53.2 mile in his second, three lengths the best, when he increased his earnings to over $191,000.
Fox Valley Gemini’s lifetime mark at this time stands at 1:51.4, the same as second round Carey winner You’remyhearthrob, who leaves from the three slot with Kyle Wilfong for the Indiana based Wilfong family.
The fastest mile in Thursday’s field belongs to Backstreet Lawyer (pp 8, Kyle Husted). The Tom Simmons trained gelding uncorked a quick 1:50.4, clocking in his first Carey win and then coasted to a 1:53 mile on June 24th in his second stake series outing.
Owned by Illinoisans Jerry Graham (Salem), Benita Simmons (Springfield) and the Engel Stable (Buffalo Grove), Backstreet Lawyer was the third place finisher in a $15,000 ICF Open a dozen nights ago, when he took on older and more seasoned horses. The Sagebrush gelding is just $480 short of the $100,000 plateau in lifetime earnings.
Locking to pull off an upset in the Thursday feature is Frontier Frank (Travis Seekman), another Simmons trainee, along with Fox Valley Hipster (Robert Smolin), Song Cycle Senese (Kelcey Perymond), Yougotitfiguredout (Ridge Warren) and Shark Flipper (Tim Curtin).
Two other strong Carey aspirants, Dandy Dune (pp 1, Ridge Warren) and Al’s Briefs (pp 4, Travis Seekman) are also prepping for the upcoming third ICF stake series leg by going a different route. They’re the two morning line favorites in Thursday’s eighth and last race on the card, a $7,200 conditioned pace.
Dandy Dude (programmed at 7-2), is trained by his Newton, Illinois owner Dane May and was second best behind Fox Valley Gemini, when they met in the second Carey leg and a Cardinal division
Al’s Briefs (5-2), won his Cardinal division on June 1st, his first of three in a row that month, but was never in position to contend in his June 24th Carey start when the Clark Fairley trained pacer left from the outside slot in an eight horse field.
By Mike Paradise
Robert Silberberg’s Walter White showed his back class Saturday night in Hawthorne’s $10,000 Open Trot and put an end to the 3-5 favorite Anna’s Lucky Star’s three-race winning streak.
Driver Kyle Husted hustled the 6-year-old Walter White gelding away from the six slot and into a quick lead, taking the field to a 28.1 first quarter. With no early challengers Husted was able to back Jim Eaton trained gelding down to a 29.2 second quarter and the 5-2 second betting choice reached the half-mile pole in :57.2.
Handicapped with the 10-hole in a 7-horse field, Anna’s Lucky Star (Kyle Wilfong), was last at the first quarter, some nine lengths behind, and was still fifth, trailing by almost six lengths at the half while Picky Picky Valor (Casey Leonard) was getting a two-hole trip.
Walter White got another soft quarter, trotting the third panel in :28.4 and had more enough left in the tank to put away a stretch bid by the eventual runner-up Picky Picky Valor. Louscipher rallied strong to be third and Anna’s Lucky Star was a non-threatening fourth in the 1:54.2 mile.
The victory was Walter White’s 20th in 96 career starts. His lifetime earnings now stand at $445,378.
Anna’s Lucky Star’s fourth place finish was the first time she failed to be 1, 2 or 3 in 8 season starts as a 4-year-old. The assigned start from the 10-hole obviously put the mare in a disadvantageous situation right from get-go.
Interestingly, Picky Picky Valor’s earlier three race winning streak in Hawthorne Opens also came to abrupt end a month ago when the Gerald Hansen trainee was also saddled with an allocated 10-post. That one came in a six horse field.
Just Bobbin Along: Later Saturday evening Bucklegirl Bobette (Ryan Anderson), again showed her heels to the opposition with an easy five and one-half length victory in the Open II Pace for fillies and mares.
The 1:50.3 mile equaled the Rob Rittof trained mare’s career best time, set a week ago for Illinois owners Robert and Charles Walker, and Robin, all of Carrollton, and Hart Walker of Jerseyville. It was also the 20th lifetime victory for the 5-year-old ICF mare sired by Duneside Perch.
Bucklegirl Bobette ($4.40) sprinted out at the start from the nine-hole and was dropped into third by Anderson in the first turn. However Ryan took her out soon after the first quarter (28.2) and the mare cleared to the top. A 28 flat second quarter was followed by a 27.2 third panel. From there Bucklegirl Bobette drew away from the field down the lane, coming home in 26.4 while still well in hand.
The 19-1 longshot Town Temptress (Cliff Bell) was second best while the early pacesetter Velocity Layla was third, beaten eight-plus lengths.
By Mike Paradise
There’s no place like home for the ICF trotting filly Anna’s Lucky Star,
The 9-5 morning line favorite in Saturday night’s Open Trot feature at Hawthorne brings a gaudy record in home state of Illinois into the fourth race $10,000 feature that will see her on the outside looking in at her six foes.
The now four-year-old mare has been so dominate in her last three outings, all in Hawthorne Opens, that the Race Office has assigned her the 10-post in the seven horse field. The way the home-bred Cassis mare has been racing she may be good enough to overcome it.
Anna’s Lucky Star, owned by her breeder Danny Graham of Salem, Illinois, by margins of 4 and 1/2 lengths, 3 lengths, and almost 4 lengths, against mainly the same trotters she’ll battle Saturday night.
“Anna’s” latest win two weeks ago was a 1:54.4 season best clocking for trainer Nelson Willis. Regular driver Kyle Wilfong will be in the sulky when she takes on tonight Meadowbrook Glider (Ryan Anderson), Louscipher (Curt Grummel), Held In Balance (Tyler Shehan), Primed N Powerful (Tim Curtin), Picky Picky Valor (Casey Leonard) and Walter White (Kyle Husted).
Anna’s Lucky Star has been victorious in 19 of 28 lifetime starts. Four of the mare’s losses came at Hoosier Park at the end of her 3-year-old campaign, three in rugged open company events.
In Illinois she’s won 19 of 24 trips postward, an amazing 79 per cent winning clip. She has three seconds and two thirds in her home state. The mare’s last defeat was by a scant nose in the June 3rd Hawthorne Open.
Interestingly, Anna’s Lucky Star spent most of her 2 and 3-year-old campaigns racing on or close to the front. Her last three victories at Hawthorne have all been in come-from-behind fashion. She was named the 2014 Illinois Trotting Filly of the Year and took the same honor last season as a 3-year-old.
One of her chief rivals in the featured fourth race is the Gerald Hansen Stable’s Picky Picky Valor who saw his three-race Hawthorne winning streak snapped back on June 10 when he was the assigned 10-hole by the Hawthorne Race Office.
Another major contender is the 6-year-old trotter Walter White from the barn of trainer Jim Eaton. The Cantab Hall gelding has amassed over $435,000 in his first four and a half-season of competition and owns a mark of 1:53.4, taken at Pocono at the age of four. Walter White broke on the move in his Hawthorne season debut last week.
Later Saturday evening (race nine) another Open will be decided. This one is for strictly filly and mare purses and has been dubbed an Open II with a $8,800 purse. The 10-horse field likely won’t have a heavy betting favorite with posts draw by groups.
Expected to get the bulk of the public’s support are the four outside mares—Char N Mar (Casey Leonard,) Phyllis Jean (Ridge Warren), Bucklegirl Bobette (Ryan Anderson) and Pretty Image (Tim Curtin)—with slots seven through ten, in that order.
Looking to pop at a likely double digit mutuel are the mares with the first six posts—Town Temptress (Cliff Bell), I Dance U Prance (Kyle Wilfong), Swinging Jenny (Tyler Shehan), Velocity Layla (Kyle Husted), Sweetshadyshark (Travis Seekman) and Fancy Creek Jolene (Juan Franco).
Hawthorne’s morning line has the Rob Rittof Stable’s Bucklegirl Bobette as the 3-1 favorite after last week’s impressive 1:50.3 lifetime fastest mile. The next victory for the 5-year-old ICF mare will be her 20th.
Hawthorne’s Saturday opener lured the unbeaten 2-year-old ICF filly pacer Yankee Joanie (Ryan Anderson). The daughter Yankee Skyscraper is 3-for-3 to start off her racing career and captured her $29,925 Violet division in mid-June and a first round division of the Incredible Tillie six nights ago.
Feature Upset: The 9-1 longshot Dakota Roadster was given a picture-perfect pocket trip by driver Travis Seekman and the 6-year-old pacer took advantage of it, overtaking the pace-setting Terror Of The Nite in deep stretch in Friday night’s Open II headliner.
Dunside Roadster ($21.20) uncorked a very quick 26 last panel to gain the neck victory in 1:52.3 for trainer and owner Perry Smith of Crete, Illinois.
Kyle Husted bagged four winning drives on the 10 race program.
By Mike Paradise
The John Zawistowski Stable’s Fresh Cut, will try to buck the odds and overcome the outside nine-slot in Friday night’s headliner and get a repeat victory in the sixth race Open Pace II event.
The five-year pacer got a nifty drive from Ridge Warren a week ago and used it to pop at 8-1 when he closed in 26.3 and got his head in front at the end of a 1:51.4 mile.
The $8,800 Open II was drawn by groups with Fresh Cut among the collection of six horses who could have drawn anywhere from post four to the nine-hole. The American Ideal pacer landed the outside post.
However, Friday’s starting point is a minor misfortune compared to the adversity Fresh Cut faced earlier in his racing career. The pacer missed the entire 2017 season for Plainfield, Illinois owners Diane and Andrew Chudzik and was a longshot to make it back and ever compete again.
Fresh Cut had a superb 3-year-old campaign for former Illinois based trainer Erv Miller, raking in over $238,000 while racing in mostly New York bred stakes. The crown jewel of the horse’s sophomore campaign came with his triumph in the $240,475 Empire Breeders Classic for driver Marcus Miller.
I’ll let Fresh Cut’s trainer John Zawistowski tell you what transpired after the pacer joined the Chicago native’s barn in mid-November of 2016.
“We bought Fresh Cut at a sale for $85,000. He had a big year as a 3-year-old. I was at The Meadows when we got him and I wanted to race him just one time before giving him the winter off. However, the one-time I did race him he broke a coffin bone and it was a bad break. At the time I didn’t think he would be able to come back and ever race again. I gave him all of last year off and his injury healed up very well. I started training him back and the first time he did come back and race he came up sore. So I stopped with him again and gave him another couple of more months off. I was in Indiana and Dale Hiteman helped me out with the horse. The next time we raced him after his latest layoff he won his second start in 1:51.1 at Hoosier with Dale. Fresh Cut has raced well at Hawthorne and I’m very pleased the way Ridge (Warren) is driving him. Last week Ridge gave him a second-over trip and the horse came home (26.3) strong. Fresh Cut is a good horse. I believe he’s a 1:50 pacer. If he didn’t get hurt he probably would be a 1:49 pacer. He has some arthritis issues, but he’s still a fast horse and has shown he can race with the Open horses at Hawthorne.”
Fresh Cut is listed at surprising 12-1 odds in Hawthorne’s USTA computer generated morning line, the second highest in the field. The luke-warm 7-2 favorite is Ponda’s Prospect (pp 8, Casey Leonard).
Slots one through seven in the very competitive Open II will be manned by Dakota Roadster (Travis Seekman), Fox Valley Reggie (Kyle Wilfong), Why Ask Why (Ryan Anderson), Tookadiveoffdipper (Robert Smolin), He Gone Jack (Tim Curtin), Terror Of The Note (Kyle Husted) and Adios Amigos (Tyler Shehan).
Meyer On Fire (Kyle Husted) and Viola (Ryan Anderson), the one-two finishers in last week’s first leg of the Incredible Finale for ICF 2-year-old male paces, meet up again in Hawthorne’s first race Friday evening.