By Mike Paradise
They say figures don’t lie so here are some facts and figures from last weekend’s Night of Champions that may surprise you.
***The total handle on the Night of Champions was $1,163,938 with 13 races. In 2017 the handle was $1,210,346 with only 12 races. That’s a net decline this year of $48,408 despite having one more race.
***This year’s added two $25,000 Invitational races saw the trot event handle $59,318 while the pace brought in $57,846. That’s counting win-place-slow, exacta, trifecta and superfecta on each. Other than a $50 starting fee, totally only $1,000, the $50,000 in purse money for the invites came from the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Purse Account.
***The Beulah Dygert final for ICF 3-year-old filly trotters that preceded the Invitational Trot handled 70,335 or $11,017 more.
***The Incredible Tillie 2-year-old filly trot that went a couple of races earlier brought in $95,123 or $35,809 more than the Invite trot.
***The Erwin Dygert 3-year-old male trot, the last race on the card, had $75,657 bet on win-place-show and its gimmicks, about $20,000 higher.
***The Robert Molaro Pace that went before the Invitational Pace raked-in $90,779, almost $33,000 more than the Invite. The Robert Carey 3-year-old colt pace that followed the two Invites had $92,667 bet on it, nearly $35,000 larger.
***In 2017 a $10,000 six horse field Open Pace was the initial event on the NOC and it had $42,694 wagered on it. This time round the $136,142 Incredible Finale championship for 2-year-old male pacers went first and it handled $58,992. Last Saturday’s Daily Double pool was only about $2,000 more than last year.
***On the other hand, the first NOC Pick Five in 2017 saw $11,053 bet into the pool while the first Pick Five pool this year was almost 2 and 1/2 times greater with $28,639 wagered on it.
***While there were some nice horses in the NOC’S $25,000 Invites the previous night Hoosier Park lured the country’s cream of the crop of older horses with its $200,000 Caesars Trot and the $177,000 Hoosier Park Pacing Derby when it hosted Grand Circuit Night, the Indiana facility’s annual blockbuster evening of racing held at this same time every year.
Fall Classic Today: Harness racing in Illinois for 2018 isn’t quite over for many ICF paces and trotters. Saturday is the Fall Classic at the Springfield Fairgrounds.
A total of 18 non-wagering races will be contested with the first event going off at 11:00 in the morning. The first 14 Springfield races, all with $3,751 purses, are for state-bred two or three-year-olds horses. Four IHHA sponsored affairs for older Illinois breds will then follow.