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By Mike Paradise
There’s an old idiom that “One Makes a Difference and it sometimes does. It might be one person who made that difference, or maybe one vote that changed an outcome.
This weekend at Hawthorne the one difference was the one more entry in Sunday’s first leg of the Erwin F. Dygert colt and gelding trot, changing things in a big way for those owners and trainers with horses in the race.
Both Friday’s opening round of the Carey series for ICF male pacers and last night’s Plum Peachy filly pace saw 11 horses entered and both fields went to the gate in single divisions with a $12,500 purse on each.
However, with an even dozen passing the entry box for Sunday’s Erwin Dygert, the added money event had to be split into a pair of six-horse fields with $12,500 divisions on each, as mandated by the stake series rules. So instead of six starters not getting a check like in the Carey and Plum Peachy, only one Dygert split horse in each won’t, while the winning owners of the two trotters will haul-in the $6,250 first place share of the purses.
They’ll go as races three and four on Sunday’s 11 race card.
The first division is headed up by the 7-5 morning line favorite, Trixie’s Turbo (pp 3, Tim Curtin), last season’s Illinois 2-Year-Old Colt Trotter of the Year. The Jill White trained Trixie’s Turbo make a break in last week’s prep after a dominating win, the first time on Lasix, against a similar field.
Trixie’s Turbo boasts a career bankroll of over $100,000 and an impressive record of eight first place finishes in 14 lifetime starts.
Lousraptor (pp 1, Casey Leonard), a seven time freshman winner, and Frontier Manard (Freddie Patton Jr.), a strong second a week ago, appear to be the biggest threats. The longshot hopes are Prince Cassius (Ridge Warren), Swaneelou (Curt Grummel) and Captainblacksparrow (Kyle Wlfong.
The fourth race second split has last year’s Springfield champion Louscardamon (pp 6, Kyle Husted) at opening odds of even-money. The Steve Searle trained gelding went 5-fo-9 in his first season while earning $43,333.
Going to the gate against Louscardamon are For Trots Sake (Casey Leonard), Super Betcha (Ridge Warren), Lous Endeavor (Juan Franco), Fox Valley Cruise (Travis Seekman) and Big Garcia Vega (Ronnie Gillespie).
A field of nine will tangle in the sixth race Beulah Dygert for second season filly trotters with last year’s champ Louzotic (pp 2, Kyle Husted) certain to get the lion’s share of the public’s wagering.
Starting inside of the star of the Steve Searle stable is E L Game On Kyle Wilfong). Posts three through nine will be manned by Fox Valley Elicit (Tim Curtin), Count On It (Tyler Shehan), Puddin Cheeks (Jared Finn), Skippymalou ( Ryan Anderson), Joe Jo’s Violet (Casey Leonard), Ivanka (Travis Seekman) and Heidi High (Juan Franco).
Late Closer Finales : Three more Late Closer series championships will also be decided tonight, the Mike Paradise (race two), the Tony Salvaro (race four), and the Phil Georgeff (race eight) where Roshun Trigg’s Captain Mulzac, trained and driven by Ronnie Gillespie, has been much the best in that series’ first two legs.
The Terry Leonard stable’s Fox Valley Triton (pp 3, Casey Leonard) is a prohibitive 4-5 programmed favorite in the Paradise, while Image Cruisingaway (pp 1, Tim Curtin) is a low-end 7-5 early choice in the Salvaro.
Long Time Coming: The 5-year-old ICF mare Anna’s Lucky Star ($7.40) went from last to first with driver Kyle Wilfong and overtook the 6-5 favorite Pine Dream in deep stretch to take last night’s $12,000 Open Trot in 1:54.1, equaling the track record for an aged trotting mare, set some 17 years ago.
It was career victory No. 25 for Anna’s Lucky Star, trained by Nelson Willis for Salem, Illinois owner Danny Graham. Picky Picky Valor came on well to finish third.
She’s on Top: Perch (Kyle Wilfong) overcame a start from post 11 in the second tier rallid past Fox Valley Torrid (Casey Leonard) to gain a head decision in Saturday’s $12,500 first leg of the Plum Peachy stake series for ICF pacing fillies.
The Dunseide Perch filly, trained by Jay Garrels, covered the mile in 1:53.3 for her seventh career triumph in 13 starts.
Now That’s Close: Earlier in the night the Bob Larry series final figured to be a very competitive showdown and it was just that when less than one length separated the first place finisher Hart To Heart (Ridge Warren) from the fourth place horse Salvatore (Casey Leonard).
Rock Steady Ron (Jamaica Patton) was a game second, beaten a head in the 1:52 flat mile, while Heza Real Diamond was third, only a neck behind the Mike Brick trained winner owned by Illinoisans Donna Crebs (Cantrall) and Judy Conzo (Lincoln).
By Mike Paradise
Last season’s Illinois freshman filly pacing champion Fox Valley Torrid begins defense of her reigning crown tonight. Unlike some of her expected stronger challengers, the Rodney Freese trained gal did draw well in a bigger-than-normal 11 horse field.
Fox Valley Torrid and her regular driver Casey Leonard will leave from the three-slot in the $12,500 opening round of the Plum Peachy stake series for ICF sophomore pacing fillies. Valar Morghulis (Juan Franco), the bridesmaid in the 2018 Incredible Tillie final, also drew nicely with the two post for trainer Nelson Willis. Both fillies have gate speed and it’s likely they’ll use it to gain early position,
The Incredible Tillie third place finisher Perch (Kyle Wilfong) starts in a precarious position with post eleven from the second tier. Her journey could go well if the one and two horses, longshots Yankee Joanie (Ryan Anderson) and Fox Valley Lolo (Tyler Shehan) scoot out fast enough to put Perch in decent early position.
However, traffic woes are always a possibility when you start behind your 10 foes, so the talented Jay Garrels trained filly needs some racing luck. Perch banked over $45,000 in her juvenile campaign.
Springfield and Du Quoin champ Fox Valley Halsey (Kyle Husted) got the worse of the draw for posts. She’s saddled with the 10-hole. Another Nelson Willis trainee, her $62,770 in first season earnings was second only to the $85,225 Fox Valley Torrid hauled in for owners and breeders Fox Valley Standardbreds of Sherman, Illinois.
Fox Valley Torrid and Perch share the early favoritism with opening odds of 2-1 and 5-2, respectively. Fox Valley Halsey is at 4-1 first flash odds, followed by Valar Morghulis at 5-1. The other seven starters are strictly longshots, according to the Hawthorne program with odds ranging from 15-1 to 30-1.
They are Yankee Joanie (Ryan Anderson), Fox Valley Lolo (Tyler Shehan) Winter Gram (Todd Warren), Dream A Dance (Juan Franco), Fox Valley Lil Kim (Tim Curtin), Grace Ann (Gary Rath) and Brienne The Beauty (Travis Seekman)
Competitive Group: The $14,400 Bob Larry series final for 3 and 4-year-old male pacers will be decided tonight. The second race Late Closer showdown has a six-horse field with four of its starters listed at odds of 4-1 or lower.
Hart To Heart (pp 2, Ridge Warren) is at 2-1 and carries a three-race winning streak into the fray. The Mike Brink trained gelding is fresh off a 1:52.2 new lifetime mark.
The Terry Leonard stables Salvatore (pp 1, Casey Leonard) opens at 3-1 after making up eight lengths in the last half with a 26.2 last panel when he finished third. The gelding paced a 25.2 sizzling last quarter a week earlier.
Heza Real Diamond (pp 3, Tyler Shan), the runner-up to Hart To Heart in the Larry’s first two series legs, is at 7-2, while first round victor Rock Steady Ron (pp, 4 Jamaica Patton) is at 4-1 after racing without cover a week ago.
Sheriff Coffey (pp 5, Juan Franco) and Fox Valley Hoss (pp 6, Kyle Husted) have their sights set on an upset.
The fourth race $12,000 Open trot, drawn by groups, lured Moonshine Runner (Tyler Shehan), Justlikehim (Tim Curtin) ,Judy The Beauty (Ryan Anderson) and Another Breath (Kyle Husted) in one group, post one through four, respectively, with Picky Picky Valor (pp 5, Casey Leonard) Pine Dream (pp 6, Travis Seekman) and Anna’s Lucky Star (pp 7, Kyle Wilfong) in the other.
Just Warming Up: Meyer On Fire ($5.40) started off his Hawthorne sophomore campaign the same way last season’s 2-year-old colt champion finished his first, with a victory. It came with a convincing three length romp in last night’s first leg of the Robert F. Carey stake series. The Erv Miller trained colt posted a 1:53.1 mile with Tim Curtin, his fourth driving victory on the card.
Favorites Coast: Chalk up a big night for the heavy favorites in last night’s Late Closer series finals.
Dreams And Schemes ($2.80) had an easy time on the front-end in the Walter Paisley final when the pre-race favorites Bankin’ On You and Lilly Von Stupp both were scratched sick. The 1:55.3 Rick Schrock trained winner only had to beat two other horses in the undersized field.
Three races later Lourhianon (Tim Curtin) made it four in a row at the meet for trainer Kennedy Lindsey with a 1:59.1 mile in the Daryl Busse trot at a $2.60 mutuel.
Later in the evening the Terry Leonard stable’s Fox Valley Minka ($2.80) was under wraps at the end of the Dave Magee final, paced in 1:56.1 with driver Casey Leonard.
By Mike Paradise
Should they stay or should they go.
In this circumstance, we’re talking about some ICF 3-year-olds competing this weekend at Hawthorne and the dilemma their connections faced, as to where to enter them.
Some sophomore horses are skipping the first $12,500 legs of either the Carey stake series for colts and geldings, the Plum Peachy for fillies, or Sunday’s two Dygert trots, one for the girls and the other for the boys.
Instead, their connections have decided to race them in Friday’s Late Closer finals that offer pretty much the same, or a bit better, pots.
Saturday’s Plum Peachy eligible filly pacers like Fox Valley Minka and Fox Valley Hotcake, each won a $9,000 leg of Paisley series and are the likely favorites in tonight’s $13,200 tenth race final.
Lourhianon dominated in his two legs of the Daryl Busse series and I have him listed at even-money in tonight’s $14,200 final, so it’s not surprising he’ll pass on Sunday’s first round of the Ervin F. Dygert for trotting colts and geldings.
It’s more of a gamble for Friday’s Busse finalists Banner Blue (Erwin Dygert), She’s First Class (Beulah Dygert) and Lou Scion Lou (Beulah Dygert), but keep in mind the 10 highest point earners in each stake series make the Night of Champions finals and there are three more legs after this weekend to earn those points.
Moreover, there’s no guarantee your horse will be in tip-top shape, when the other stakes legs are contested later on. He or she is healthy now, so going for some decent dough at this time makes sense, especially if your horse is one of Late Closer finalist betting favorites.
A one or two week earlier start of Hawthorne’s summer meeting would have a long way to avoiding these type of racing predicaments for horse owners and trainers.
There are only 21 weekends between the start of Hawthorne’s harness meet and the September 21st Night Of Champions. That may sound like a lot but it isn’t. It’s like trying to fit 10 pounds of you know what into a five bound bag.
When all of the stakes series legs were planned out for the month of August with the Springfield and Du Quoin State Fair meets had to be skipped, and the next weekend had to be tossed out to accommodate the upcoming Cardinal and Violet stakes for both gaits and sexes.
There are four legs of the 3-year-old Night of Champions stakes series to be raced, one each in the months of May, June, July and September to be fit in.
The ICF 2-year-old stake series that usually begin in mid-June, also, has four legs to be squeezed into the Hawthorne harness meeting puzzle.
If the Hawthorne’s Late Closers could have started, say on April 27th, there wouldn’t have been conflict between those series finals and the initial legs of the Night of Champion series.
A week earlier start for the spring thoroughbred meeting ,would have given the runners the same amount of racing dates for the year and there usually isn’t much of a difference weather-wise for the second or third week of March. It’s always a gamble in March or for that matter in April, as well in the Chicagoland.
AquaWeather history statistics show that the average Chicago area temperatures for March 8th and 9th is 44/28 degrees and for March 15th and 16th is 47/31 degrees.
Hawthorne’s winter meet this year ran through the weekend of January 11th and 12th and the temperature never got about freezing (32 degrees) either that last Friday or Saturday.
Besides, in my 25 years at Sportsman’s Park, we always began the thoroughbred meet a month earlier in mid-February, a month earlier than now days.
I’ll get off my soapbox and get back to Friday’s card.
In race nine tonight, last season’s ICF freshman colt champion Meyer On Fire, makes his 3-year-old debut in the opening leg of the Carey stake series with Tim Curtin taking over his lines. The Erv Miller trainee landed the eight slot in a bulky 11-horse field however the dangerous Ken Rucker trained pair of Maximus (Kyle Wilfong) and The Bucket (Casey Leonard), the second and third place finishers in the 2018 Incredible Finale championship, didn’t draw any better. Maximus has the seven and The Bucket the nine.
The first six slots belong to: Coming Up, Viola, Master Sage, Smash N Sagebrush, Old Swamp Master and Cooter Luke. Frontier Muffler owns the 10-hole, while Fox Valley Julius is in the second tier with the 11-post.
The second race $13,600 Dave Magee Final brings out last week’s first five finishers: Bankin’ On You, Lilly Von Shtupp , Frontier Elsa, Dreams And Schemes and Angel Dance, in that order.
Lourhianon (Tim Curtin) and Trouble For All (Larry Lee Smith), easily victorious in each of their first two Daryl Busse series legs, meet for the first time in the $14,200 final, race five.
The Dave Magee series winners: Fox Valley Minka (pp 1, Casey Leonard) and Fox Valley Hotcake (pp 4, Kyle Wilfong), should get most of the play in the tenth race $12,200 final. They’ll be challenged by Ernie The Moose, Frontier Lola, Flipfloppinflossoe, Syrna, Roberts New Life, She’s So Funny, and Shabazz.
The horse racing industry (minus Arlington Park, who is currently wavering in their support of a gaming bill), is in agreement on the horse racing language portion of an anticipated major gaming package. This bill still does not have an official number yet and is still being debated at the leadership level (Governor, Speaker of the House, Senate President). However, if allowed to move forward, this bill ensures harness racing a bright future. I wish I could be more specific with details, but there is simply too much uncertainty at this time. As issues unfold, and they will in the next 1-8 days for better or worse, I’ll update everyone as quickly as possible. Tony Somone, Executive Director – IHHA.
By Mike Paradise
There’s plenty on the plate at Hawthorne this holiday weekend for both players and horsemen.
Nowadays in Illinois it’s rare to see so many races going for five-figures purses, unless it’s the Night of Champions, or the stake showdown programs at the State Fairs in Springfield or Du Quoin. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what is on tap for the Memorial Day weekend at Hawthorne.
No less than fifteen races offering five figure pots will be scattered throughout the next three days of racing starting with four of those contests on Friday evening.
Eleven Illinois bred sophomores entered the initial leg of the Carey including the one, two, three finishers in last season’s two-year-old championship—Meyer On Fire, Maximus and The Bucket in that order, and the draw for posts didn’t go well for any of the likely favorites.
Maximus (Kyle Wilfong), landed the seven slot, Meyer On Fire (Tim Curtin), the eight, and The Bucket (Casey Leonard), the nine and remember with 11 starters there’s a trailer in the second tier. For Friday, it’s Fox Valley Julius (Kyle Husted).
Round one of Friday’s Carey will go as race nine on the 11 race program.
On Saturday, the ICF sophomore filly pacers grab the spotlight with a single $12,500 Plum Peachy opening round division with 11 starters. It’s race 11 on a 13-race card. The co-feature, is the fourth race $12,000 Open Trot, with posts for the eight horse field drawn by groups. Preceding the trot is the third race $14,400 Bob Larry championship for 3 and 4-year-old male pacers.
On Sunday there are five more inviting purses on the card headed up by the initial leg of the Beulah Dygert Memorial Trot (fillies) and two divisions the Erwin F Dygert Trot (colts and geldings). The trio of ICF 3-year-old stake events all carry a $12,500 purse.
They’ll be joined by three more Late Closer showdowns for pacers: The $13,200 Mike Paradise, the $13,000 Phil Georgeff and the $12,200 Tony Salvaro.
Better Card, Better Handle: If you’re curious how well last weekend’s stronger-than-normal Sunday program did with two good size Opens went, the answer is: very well. It produced the first million dollar handle of the meet when $1,034,011 was wagered on its 11 races.
When You’re Hot . . . Sunday’s seventh race winner Aunt Percilla (Kyle Husted), was a Mike Paradise Price Shot selection at $23.60. It followed the $18.80 longshot shot pick My Muddy Buddy from Saturday’s card. Kyle Husted drove both winners.
By Mike Paradise
The third Sunday program of Hawthorne’s harness racing meeting has a new look . . . make that a better look.
The track’s $12,000 Open Pace and Open Trot are both on tonight’s 11-race card, giving it a much more attractive program to wager on. Additionally, both Opens have increased in field size since the last time they were raced.
The fourth race Open Trot, drawn by groups (1-3) (4-6) (7-8) grew from five horses two weeks ago, to eight horses for tonight and the additions are significant.
Joining last year’s aged male trotting champion Picky Picky Valor (pp 6, Casey Leonard), in the ICF contingent is the 2018 Illinois Aged Trotting Mare of the Year Anna’s Lucky Star (pp 4, Kyle Wilfong) and Louscipher, (pp 2, Juan Franco), a former two-time Illinois trotting titleholder now racing out of the Steve Searle stable.
A couple of polished invaders, Double A Goldrush (pp 5, Ross Leonard), and Another Breather (pp 6, Ridge Warren), will make their local debuts in the race and take on the first Open winner of the meet Pine Dream (pp 8, Travis Seekman).
Double A Goldrush is a 5-year-old Elegant Man gelding who swept the Bessinger series at Ohio’s Miami Valley Raceway in February, when it was contested at three different distances. The trotter went unplaced in a Hoosier Park Open last week, his first race back in about three months.
Another Breath is one of two Kyle Husted trained trotters in the fray. Big Expense (pp 2, Kyle Husted), is the other. Another Breath, listed 7-1 in the program, shouldn’t be overlooked. The 6-year-old trotter comes in from The Meadowlands where the Ohio bred gelding battled some good trotters. He has a mark of 1:53.1, taken at Miami Valley last year, and over $360,000 in career earnings.
Justlikehim (pp 1, Brandon Bates), fresh off an easy 1:58 win last week in a conditioned trot, completes the co-feature that shares the Sunday limelight with the third race Open pace, a six horse field eight days ago compared to nine horses across this time around.
The 9-5 first flash favorite, is the two-time Illinois Horse of the Year Fox Valley Gemini (pp 6, Casey Leonard), after he zipped past with a 26.2 last quarter in his 1:51.1 victory over many of the same horses he’ll take on tonight.
The race was drawn by groups (1-4) and (5-9) so landing the six slot isn’t a bad thing for the star of the Terry Leonard stable with now over $300,000 in career purse earnings on his card.
The 7, 8 and 9 posts belong to Royale Rose (Tim Curtin), Skyway Boomer (Brandon Bates) and Hot Rod Dylan (Juan Franco), in that order. The five slot went to Feelnlikearockstar (Travis Seekman), the second place finisher to Fox Valley Gemini.
The first grouping has Buff’s Image (Ryan Anderson), Terror Of The Nite (Kyle Husted), Bright Future (Ridge Warren) and You’remyhearthrob (Kyle Wilfong), who beat Fox Valley Gemini twice last summer at Springfield.
And There’s More: Supporting the co-feature Opens are the second legs of the Mike Paradise and Phil Georgeff pacing series.
The second race Paradise, limited to ICF 3 and 4-year-old pacers, is a rematch between Waymore (Brandon Bates) and Fox Valley Triton (Casey Leonard), the one-two finishers respectively in last week’s opening round when they were separated by just a neck at the end of a 1:57.2 mile on a sloppy track.
Roshun Trigg’s Captain Mulzac (pp 6, Ronnie Gillespie), figures to be heavily bet down in the Phil Georgeff, after more than a three length triumph a week ago in leg one, the 3-year-old colt’s pari-mutuel bow.
Plenty of Heart: The Mike Brink Stable’s Hart To Heart ($5.60), stayed perfect at the Hawthorne meeting when driver Ridge Warren rallied the ICF pacer to a new lifetime mark of 1:52.3 in last night’s second leg of the Bob Larry Series.
The 4-year-old gelding, owned by Donna Crebs of Cantrall, Illinois and Judy Conzo of Lincoln, Illinois was almost one length better than Heza A Real Diamond (Tyler Shehan), when he notched his third straight victory.
Pricy Pick: Saturday’s sixth race winner My Muddy Buddy, driven by Kyle Husted, for trainer Matt Rodriguez, was a Mike Paradise Price Shot selection that paid $18.80.
By Mike Paradise
Tonight’s second leg of the Bob Larry Late Closer series is one of these races where the betting favorite likely won’t be determined until just before the starting gate pulls away for the featured race.
Hawthorne’s morning line rarely has a luke-warm 7-2 favorite but it does for Saturday’s tenth race and this time it appears the USTA generated computer calculations is spot-on.
The Mike Brink stable’s Hart To Heart (Ridge Warren), two-for-two at the meet, is programmed at 7-2. Listed right behind the 4-year-old ICF pacer at 4-1 is Salvatore from the barn of Terry Leonard, a first-over winner two weeks ago who was locked-in before he stormed home with a very rapid 25.2 final quarter.
Then there’s Rock Steady Ron at 9-2, trained and driven by Jamaica Patton, an easy front-stepping winner in his first leg of the Bob Larry, pacing a 26.2 final panel on the end of his 1:55.2 mile for Illinois owners John Carver (Rock Island) and Ron Phillips (Athens).
Any one of this trio could be the betting favorite in the 10-horse field.
The 4-year-old Rockin Image gelding Rock Steady Ron can come up with some big miles at times. And for that matter, he can go off-stride on occasion as well.
“The horse doesn’t have any health issues but sometimes he interferes with himself and makes a break,” said Jamaica. “He doesn’t hit his knees. His problem is just below his knees, a tough area to work on. He wears knee spreaders and taping that area has helped.
“He always has been a fast horse with a big heart. My uncle Freddie (Patton Jr.) had the horse as a two-year-old and I’ve always like Rock Steady Ron. He’s fast and he tries hard. I had him n last year when he won in 52.”
Rock Steady Ron put all together a week ago. The horse had to work some to make the top, pacing a 28.3 first panel on a track listed “good. The 38-year-old Mississippi native was able to rate him nicely through softer middle quarters of 30.1 and 29.4 and Rock Steady Ron was full of pace for the stretch drive.
Also likely to get good play in the Bob Larry are Youmakemyheartsing (4-1, Kyle Wilfong), making his first appearance in the series, and Heza Real Diamond (5-1, Tyler Shehan), a 1:54 Hawthorne winner two weeks ago.
Looking to pull off an upset are Adele’s Big Party (Travis Seekman), Sheriff Coffey (Juan Franco), Fox Valley Hoss (Kyle Husted), Ernie The Mooss (Gary Rath) and Et Tu Brute (Tim Curtin).
Pocket Perfect: Two favorites went down to defeat in last night’s Late Closer series and in both cases Kyle Wilfong gave the wining horses pocket trips.
Wilfong had Bankin’ In You ($6.60) behind the 2-5 betting choice Lilly Von Shtupp and the Bret Wilfong home-bred trained filly zipped past to take the second leg of the Walter Paisley in 1:54.2 while the track was fast,
Three races later, after a downpour turned the surface to sloppy conditions for the second leg of the Dave Magee, Kyle’s two-hole trip with Fox Valley Hotcake ($14.40) paid off with a half-length victory over the prohibitive 2-5mfavorite Fox Valley Minka in 1:59.3 for her trainer Kim Roth.
There were no surprises in either of the two divisions of the Daryl Busse trot as the Kennedy Lindsey trained Lorhianon ($2.60) came thundering down the stretch to capture the first split in 1:57.3 and Trouble For All ($4.00) breezed on the front-end with a 2:03.2 mile on the rain-soaked track for driver and trainer Larry Lee Smith.
By Mike Paradise
We’ve seen it countless times, horses that did very little racing as 2-year-olds later turn things around in a big way at the age of three. While the reasons vary as to why, in the case of the ICF trotter Lourhianon, his Grant Park, Illinois trainer Kennedy Lindsey, points to what he says is two significant changes:
1. The horse is no longer interested in geese.
2. Alternative Medicine.
“Last year Lourhianon was a stud. This year he isn’t,” said the veteran trainer. “As a two-year-old he wanted to go out to the (Hawthorne infield) pond and play with the geese. After we gelded him he’s got his mind on working instead.”
While it was a steep price to pay for the trotter, it has been financially rewarding for Lourhianon’s owner, C. Lawrence Burney, also of Grant Park, IL. His horse went winless as a freshman in 13 starts and made less than $6,500. However, he’s two-for-three this year, with already $10,030 in purse earnings.
After a third place finish in early April at Hoosier Park in a needed start, his first in five months, Lourhianon raced first over and in his initial race of the Hawthorne meet and still nailed his maiden win in 1:59.3. Last week the son of Lou’s Legacy rallied with a quick 27.1 final quarter to take the first round division of the Daryl Busse series, this time in 1:59 flat for his newest driver Tim Curtin.
“I’ve always liked Tim’s driving. He’s especially good with trotters, so I was happy to get him to drive Lourhianon last week,” continued Lindsey, a native of Mississippi. “Tim did a good job of getting Lourhianon through the first turn and that’s where the horse has had some past problems . . . but not since we gelded him.”
We’ll be seeing a lot of Lourhianon through the summer months. “He’s staked to everything in Illinois,” said Kennedy. “The Night of Champions, Springfield, Du Quoin. Everything.”
As for alternative medicine factor, I’ll let Kennedy fill you in:
“I’ve gone to using acupuncture and chiropractic on Lourhianon and my other horses. I believe it has made a difference. They’re less sore and seem to be surer of themselves out there on the racetrack.”
While it’s a small sample, he has the early results to prove it’s working. Going into Friday night, Kennedy has started seven horses at Hawthorne and has come away with four wins and two second place finishes and his horses have banked over $20,000.
“The other night (Sunday), I had two horses in one race (Justlikehim and Moonshine Runner), and they finished one, two,” said the 56-year-old horseman.
Friday night Lourhianon has his work cut out after landing the outside slot in Hawthorne’s opener, the first division of the Daryl Busse Series. Awaiting him in round two of the series is: She’s First Class, John Swan, Jenas Art Ofvalor, My Dreamweaver, Joe Joe’s Violet and Captainblacksparrow.
The fifth race, second division, of Friday’s Busse series is headed by Larry Lee Smith’s Trouble For All, a 2:01.1 first leg winner. Drawing the one-slot should be a big plus for his Michigan owner and trainer. Posts two through seven, belong to Need To Focus, Lou Scion Lou, JL Dollarbill, Ivanka, Pauline’s Ashley and Banner Blue.
Leg two of the Walter Paisley filly and mare series has last week’s series victor Lilly Von Shtupp, starting out from the two-slot with driver Travis Seekman. Brienne The Beauty is inside the Yankee Skyscaper filly while Angel Dance, Frontier Elsa, Bankin’On You and Dreams And Schemes have posts two through six, in that order.
Unbeaten Fox Valley Minka (pp 6, Casey Leonard), from the Terry Leonard Stable, no doubt will grab a good portion of the betting dollars in the Dave Magee series (race six) after her rather easy back-to-back Hawthorne wins.
Flipfloppinflossie, Syrna, Roberts New Life, Fox Valley Hotcake, She’s So Funny, Frontier Lola and Genie The Mooss are Fox Valley Minka’s challengers.
By Mike Paradise
Fox Valley Minka’s easy victory in the first leg of the Dave Magee Late Closer has jump-started the Terry Leonard Stable youngster into the role as the favorite in the series for ICF 3 and 4-year-old pacing fillies.
Unraced at two, the Sportsmaster filly out of the Incredible Finale broodmare Yankee Blue is already two-for-two at the meet and cruised in both of her career starts with Casey Leonard at the lines.
Fox Valley Minka coasted to 1:57.3 win on opening night and last week it was a three-length romp in the park in 1:57 flat under wraps.
While it’s just two starts into her racing career, Fox Valley Minka may just be on her way following in the hoof steps of some of her highly successful older ICF brothers, all bred by Fox Valley Standardbreds of Sherman, Illinois.
Their broodmare Yankee Blue only had one full racing season for the late trainer Doug Hamilton and that was back in 2001 when she won 5 of 27 starts and made a little over $23,000 in a campaign cut short at the end of that August.
Three months later Yankee Blue was purchased by Fox Valley Standardbreds and has since produced an impressive list of ICF pacers.
All nine of Yankee Blue’s sons or daughters made it to the races and all visited winner’s circles, three on Super Night’s. Two of her sons had lifetime marks under 1:50, Fox Valley Tribal (1:49) and Fox Valley Yukon (1:49.4), while Mystical Walter won in 1:50 flat at Balmoral Park as a 3-year-old.
Fox Valley Tribal, the $300,000 Orange & Blue Colt champion on Super Night 2005, had a spectacular career, winning 48 races and hauling in over $1.2 million dollars.
The gelding Fox Valley Yukon took the 2011 Pete Langley 3-year-old consolation stake for trainer Rob Rittof. The pacer went on to put more than $245,000 in lifetime earnings on his card.
As a 3-year-old in 2013 Mystical Walter rattled off victories in a Balmoral Hanover stake, the Springfield championship, and Balmoral’s $173,000 Pete Langley Super Night Final, all with Casey Leonard in the bike for trainer Erv Miller. Mystical Walter ($385,745) would join the Leonard stable at age six and post 7 wins in 13 trips in two seasons of work at Hawthorne.
Other offspring of the dam Yankee Blue that you might remember are Fox Valley Sosa (1:54.3), Fox Valley Jondra (1:54.1), Fox Valley Azure (1:53.2) Uncle Ugly (1:51.2) and Fox Valley Jeter (1:52.3).
Friday night is the second leg of the Dave Magee Series and we’ll see Fox Valley Minka leave from an outside post at Hawthorne for the first time. She drew the 7-slot in the sixth race eight horse field for her Indiana owners John McGill (Albion) and Brian Carsey (Connersville) and is the prohibitive 4-5 morning line favorite.
Posts one through six will be Flipfloppinflossie (Jamaica Patton), Syrna (Kyle Husted), Roberts New Life (Tim Curtin), Fox Valley Hotcake (Kyle Wilfong), She’s So Funny (Matt Avenatti) and Frontier Lola (Richard S Finn). Genie The Mooss (Gary Rath) landed the eight-hole.
Also on tap Friday evening are two second round divisions of the Daryl Busse trot series (races one and five), along with a single second leg division of the Walter Paisley for filly and mare pacers (race two).