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With the opening rounds of the Night of Champions stake series for freshmen pacers behind us it’s time to turn our attention to the first crop of ICF two-year-old trotters with aspirations to make their way to either the Fox Valley Flan or Kadabra championships in mid-September.
Obviously trying to figure out just how a race for 2-year-old trotters will unfold in a pari-mutuel event for the first time is strictly anyone’s guess. A Wiji Board might help some but probably not any more than tossing darts.
In tonight’s stake races, the qualifiers aren’t much help for handicapping purposes. Staying on stride was the priority, not a quick qualifying time. In most cases youngsters got down to the half in leisurely fractions, so the final mile time wasn’t going to be much.
Instead bloodlines can play more of a role in unscrambling these 2-year-old trotting stakes.
The second race first $17,500 Fox Valley Flan division has a trio of fillies with successful siblings—Fox Valley Lush (pp 2, Ryan Anderson), Lauren Hall (pp 3, Mike Brink) and Lous Abigail (pp 4, Casey Leonard). Olympic Hopeful (Travis Seekman) and EL Govner (Kyle Wilfong) are this stakes other hopefuls.
Fox Valley Lush is out of the dam Love You More who had a number of successful Illinois bred trotters such as Fox Valley Lover (1:55), Fox Valley Luxury, Fox Valley Lexus, Fox Valley Legend and Fox Valley Lotus).
Lauren Hall is a half-sister to Tour Hall (1:55.2), a former multi-stakes winner for the Brink stable and Cassisandfifth 1:55.3). Lous Abigail’s brother is Louscipher (155.1, $194,129), the 2017 Illinois 3-year-old trotter of the year.
In the second Fox Valley Flan split there’s Majistic Caprice’s younger sister Tropical Rosie (pp 2, Tyler Shehan) and Fox Valley Extacy (pp 6, Juan Franco), a sister to Wrightwood and My Dreamweaver. The likely post-time favorites are Cekone Hall (pp 3, Casey Leonard) and Bee See (pp 4, Kyle Husted),both easy winners in their recent Hawthorne qualifiers. Lous Flash Dancer (Kyle Wilfong) and Really Railee (Brandon Bates) also make their debuts.
The third race Kadabra division has a couple of freshman colts with interesting breeding. The Tom Simmons Stable’s Fox Valley Quest (pp 2, Casey Leonard) is out of Fox Valley Strata and her first foal was the former ICF stakes winner Mr Strata. Fox Valley Kobe (pp 6, Kyle Wilfong) is a Jim Eaton trainee out of the 2001 Illinois Harnes Horse of the Year Fox Valley Diva.
Both “Quest” and “Kobe” drew off in their latest qualifiers and are likely get a good portion of the public’s wagering dollars. They’ll be challenged by On Higher Ground (Ridge Warren), Lous Merlin (Tyler Shehan), Deememorymaker (Jamaica Patton) and Lonnie’s Jet (Juan Franco).
The fifth race Kadabra stake starter Desert Sheik (pp 5, Mike Brink) is by Pizzazzed, out of the King Couch dam Armbro Bahrain, the same bloodlines as Fox Valley Qtar (1:56) who ran away with the 2014 freshman division honors for his owner and trainer Herman Wheeler.
The other Brink trainee in the race Fox Valley Briton (Ridge Warren) is the younger brother of Fox Valley Cruiser. Lous Paisano, a winner in his qualifier for trainer Steve Searle, is the first foal of the well-bred dam Any Word Hanover, a son of Donato Hanover, the one-time 1:50.2 trotter with almost $3 million in career earnings.
Lou Pascal (Kyle Wilfong), Mr Red Thunder (Brando Bates), Twin Cedars Rocket (Robert Smolin) and U S Patriot (Kyle Patriot) are the other Kadabra candidates.
Front End Winners: The $17,500 opening rounds of the Incredible Tillie sake series for ICF 2-year-old pacing fillies went to A Girl Named Jim, trained by her driver Jamaica Patton and the overwhelming 1 to 5 favorite Double Parked, steered by Travis Seekman.
A Girl Named Jim was perfectly rated to a front-end victory in her winning debut for Illinois owners Ronald Phillips (Athens) and Louis Leinberger (Springfield) when the Sportsmaster filly beat the even-money favorite Fox Valley Vixen in the1:57.3 mile.
Jamaica hustled A Girl Named Jim ($6.00) away from the three-post and into the lead in the first turn. Casey Leonard was content to take the pocket trip with the public’s choice Fox Valley Vixen through times of 30.1, 59.4 and 1:29.3 on a “good” racing surface.
In the stretch Fox Valley Vixen had dead-aim on the winner but A Girl Named Jim had plenty left and had no trouble holding on in her winning debut, proving best by one and 1/2 lengths while under a hold
The “chalk” players evened the score in the second Incredible Tillie s stake split and again it was accomplished in front-end fashion. Seekman left with Double Parked from the outside six-slot and made the top with the Sagebrush filly at the end of the first turn.
Double Parked ($2.60) effortlessly paced a 1:00.1 first half. After a 29.1 third quarter Seekman asked the freshman filly for another gear and she obliged, pulling away to a prodigious 12 length victory in her initial pari-mutuel start for trainer and owner Leroy Hunt of Jackson, Tennessee.
Ashlees Fine Girl (Casey Leonard) came on for second, overtaking Jimmy’s Girl (Jamaica Patton), the beneficiary of a two-hole journey.
Two for Two: Both Saturday winners Rollin Coal ($8.20) in race six and Jetting Around ($15.40) in race twelve were Mike Paradise “Price Shot” selections.
By Mike Paradise
The opening legs of the Incredible Tillie stakes for I CF 2-year-old pacing fillies will see all 11 youngsters in a pair of $17,500 divisions go postward for the first time in a pari-mutuel race.
While on paper there appears to be two clear cut favorites in each division, A Girl Named Jim (Jamaica Patton) in the third race and Double Parked (Travis Seekman) in the fourth based on both fillies winning their respective qualifiers in comfortable fashion, remember these are 2-year-olds just beginning their racing career.
Sometimes they can get distracted by seeing a crowd of people on the apron, or louder noises than on a morning training mile or on qualifying day, so proceed with your wagering with more caution.
Other than their qualifying lines and their bloodlines, there isn’t much else to go on. It would have be great if Hawthorne provided video on qualifying races as Balmoral did for years, but that has never been offered on its web-site and this is season four since Hawthorne got back hosting harness races. The track doesn’t even make available free video of their pari-mutuel races. You need to have an account with and an ATW company to view past replays.
So maybe I can lend some assistance concerning the breeding on some of these ICF fillies.
In the first $17,500 Incredible Tillie Fox Valley Vixen (pp 1, Casey Leonard) is a full sister to the talented ICF filly Valar Morghulis (1:53.2). No. 2 Mollie Hotspur’s dam Native Hot Spur was a two-time Super Night champion when she competed for veteran Illinois trainer Nelson Willis.
A Girl Named Jim (pp 3) is the fifth foal of Kyra Revrac. Her second was Boys Around Here ($147,917) who has a mark of 1:51.1 Fox Valley Exploit (pp 4, Kyle Husted) is a full sister to Allbeastnobeauty (1:52, $172,428) a past ICF multi-stakes champion, and a half-sister to Allbeef N Nobull (great name), a 1:49.2 performer in Pennsylvania with a $438,277 career bankroll. Castelle (pp 5, Juan Franco) is the second foal of long-time Illinois based mare Little Sweetheart. Her first is Tempest Heart.
In division two, Ashlee’s Fine Girl (pp 1, Casey Leonard) is a foal of Specially Fine who produced past Illinois pacers Special Joe (1:49.4), Raging Cam (1:50.4) and the current racing mare Ashlee’s Fine Lady (1:53.3). Good Gaud Gerty (pp 2, Gary Rath) is the younger sister of Burry Me Inthesand (1:54.1), a starter tonight in race eleven.
Jimmy’s Girl (pp 3, Jamaica Patton) is the sixth foal of the Broadway Express broodmare Basic Brown and three never won a pari-mutuel race while her other two combined for 10 lifetime wins and about $40,000 in earnings. Sign Her Up (pp 4, Cordarius Stewart). Is the 12th foal of Lives To Dance and her first two, bred to Dragon Again, did quite well: Disco Dragon (1:50.3, $372732) and The Dragon Dances (1:51.4, $168, 560) and combined for 73 lifetime victories.
Ryan’s Allegra (pp 5, Kyle Wilfong) is the sixth foal of the Jate Lobell broodmare So Happy Together and her first for Flacco Family Farms. None of her earlier foals bettered 1:55.1 in their career wins. Double Parked (pp 6, Travis Seekman), is a Sportsmaster filly out of the broodmare Parkedontheroad and that makes her a half-sister to Perry Smith’s very good ICF pacer Dakota Roadster (1:51.1, $243,992), a Hawthorne winner last night.
First Easy, Second Not: Friday opening round of the Incredible Finale stakes for ICF 2-year-old make pacers saw the first $17,500 split strictly no contest but the second was a fight to the finish to determine the winner.
Bet down to 2 to 5 odds RJ Wolfy ($2.40) didn’t disappoint his many supporters as the Ronnie Roberts trained freshman drew off to almost an even dozen length victory in the $17,500 first split. Driver Casey Leonard was along for the ride in the 1:57 flat mile.
Casey had RJ Wulfy three-wide in the first turn to get to the front. After a soft 30.3 first quarter and a moderate 29.2 second quarter, Casey let the Party A Artsplace 2-year-old out a notch and his 28.1 third panel separated the winner from the rest of the field, and the final outcome wasn’t in doubt.
RF Wulfy is owned by Illinoisans Brian and Robert Wulfy, Randy lderks and J J Fraher.
Chick Magnet was second best and Hello Rooster took third.
Illini Force, nicely handled by driver Ridge Warren, showed a lot of determination as he fought off the challenge of the 1-2 favorite Canadian Mountie and took the second Incredible Finale division to gain a three-quarter length decision in the 1:59.1 mile
Illini Force grabbed the early lead but with a slow 32 first quarter Kyle Wilfong took Bagman out of second and to the front and went to a 1:01.1 half. Meanwhile Casey Leonard had the public’s choice a close-up third. When Casey tipped Canadian Mountie out in the last turn, Warren did the same, taking Illini Force out of the pocket.
The fight was on Illini Force hanging tough on the lead the length of the stretch.
Illinois Force, a son of Sagebrush out of the 46-lifetime winning mare Bob’s Minute Maid, is trained by Kelvin Miller and owed by Allen, Kevin and Keith Miller, and Glen Otto, all of Arthur, Illinois.
The Du Quoin State Fair in southern Illinois is dropping a $2 entry fee.
The admission fee for people 13 and older was started in 2016. Fair manager Josh Gross and John Sullivan, the head of the Illinois Agriculture Department, said they heard many complaints.
Sullivan says he’s “thrilled” to make the fair free again. The Southern Illinoisan reports that parking at the fairgrounds will be $15 while parking near the Southern Illinois Center will be $10.
Sullivan and Gross also announced more than $500,000 in improvements and repairs at the Du Quoin fairgrounds. Mayor Guy Alongi says the fair is an “economic engine” for southern Illinois.
By Mike Paradise
A number of ICF 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings will go to the starting gate for the first time in a pari-mutuel race Friday night, when the first leg of the Incredible Finale stake series is contested.
However, all it takes is a quick glance at Hawthorne program’s second race, the first $17,500 Night of Champions series division, and RJ Wulfy’s last past performance line will grab your attention, and then some.
RJ Wulfy not only got a race under his belt last week, but the Ronnie Roberts freshman beat a field of older horses and did it in a quick mile of 1:55.3 rather convincingly.
“The horse got a great drive from Casey Leonard,” said veteran trainer Ronnie Roberts. “I wanted him to race RJ Wulfy inside like he did in his qualifier. He did just that and when Casey was able to find an opening in the stretch, the horse just took off.”
RJ Wulfy was seventh at the half, seven-plus lengths from the pacesetter, and still was sixth at the three-quarter pole, six and half-half lengths behind.
A snappy 27.1 last quarter got the job done and saw the son of Party At Artsplace, out of the Prize Sarnel broodmare Nice Prize, make a winner’s circle stop for Illinois owners Brian Wulfy (Grayslake), Robert Wulfy (Plainfield), Randy Alderks (Plainfield) and J J Fraser (Grayslake).
When I handicapped RJ Wulfy’s race last week, the freshman bloodlines looked familiar, so I did a little research and realized he is the younger brother of Prize Art, a terrific pacer for Roberts some 11 years ago. I made RJ Wulfy my “Price Shot” for the night but didn’t get much of a price. He paid $8.20, so plenty of other people did their homework as well.
Prize Art had a heck of a 2008 season as a 3-year-old for Roberts, winning 11 of 24 starts and earning over $123,000.The horse was particularly good at Hawthorne, finishing first there in 5 of 6 starts, including a sweep of the Booze Cruzin Night of Champions series and taking his mark of 1:50.2.
Prize Art went on to win his Pete Langley elimination at Balmoral and finished fourth in the Super Night final. Roberts took Prize Art to the Meadowlands, where the pacer won a pair of $24,000 Preferred events, his last two starts that year.
“Prize Art was a great horse for me and my good friend Reed Remley,” continued Roberts. “The horse brought us lots of joy. Unfortunately, Reed passed away a couple of months ago so he never saw Prize Art’s brother (RJ Wulfy) race. Every time this colt goes out I’m sure I’ll be thinking of Prize Art and Reed.”
Even with RJ Wulfy’s stunning 1:55.3 debut Ronnie didn’t want to get hopes up too high on the freshman.
“He’s a two-year-old and you just don’t know how things will play out with 2-year-olds. One day they’re on top and another day they can be on the bottom.”
I have more than hunch Ronnie will be looking a lot more upwards this summer when it comes to RJ’s Wulfy.
The first three posts inside of RJ Wulfy tonight will be manned by Jetting Ahead (Kyle Husted), L L Gram (Ridge Warren) and Chick Magnet (Travis Seekman). Slots five through eight belong to Richie’s My Mooss (Gary Rath), Hello Rooster (Kyle Wilfong), Kbtwo (Kelsey Perymond) and Patton Plus (Dale Knox).
Casey will also be behind the likely second Incredible Finale division favorite Canadian Mountie (pp 2), beaten less than one length in a 1:59.4 qualifier.
Bagman (Kyle Wilfong), makes his debut from the pole position while Scoobie Doobie (Gary Rath), Ryans Ambassador (Jim Molitor), Illini Force (Ridge Warren), Sassy Lil Thing (Kyle Husted) and Shane’s Legacy have posts three through eight, in that order.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture is adding an additional $10,000 to the 3 year old only Downstate Classic races being hosted this year in Carrollton at the Greene County Fair on Tuesday, June 18. With the added money total purses for the Downstate Classic will total $46,000 with entry fees of $200 added to this purse. To enter call Tina Schrock at 217-416-0006 or 217-299-0180. Entries will close Saturday morning at 10 am.
By Mike Paradise
Summer may not start officially until next Friday (June 21) but on the other hand in this industry most of us agree it’s already here when the first crop of 2-year-olds go to the starting gate.
This weekend are the opening rounds of the four added money ICF stakes that will eventually determine what juveniles will go on to compete on Hawthorne’s Night of Champions in mid-September.
Those trainers and their owners’ expectations are obviously high at this time of the year, as they should be. Some of them will stay that way throughout the summer series. As we know all too well, others will face disappointments.
That’s the reality of our sport. It’s full of ups and downs. But for now there are no valleys, just peaks that every owner of a 2-year-old racehorse has aspirations to reach.
First up is Friday’s first leg of the Incredible Finale stake series for ICF freshmen pacing colts and geldings. There were ample entries to split the stake into two $17,500 divisions.
Race two will line up with Jetting Ahead (Kyle Husted) with the pole position, followed by L L Gram (Ridge Warren), Chick Magnet (Travis Seekman), RJ Wulfy (Casey Leonard), Richies My Mooss (Gary Rath), Hello Rooster (Kyle Husted), Kbtwo (Kelsey Perymond) and Patton Plus (Dale Odds).
Expect the Ronnie Roberts trained youngster RJ Wulfy to be a prohibitive favorite at post time after his sparkling 1:55.3 win when he debuted last week against older horses. We’ll have more on RJ Wulfy in Saturday’s column.
The second Incredible Finale split (race four) will have Bagman (Kyle Husted), Canadian Mountie (Casey Leonard), Scoobie Doobie (Gary Rath), Ryans Ambassador (Jim Molitor), Illini Force (Ridge Warren) and Shane’s Legacy (Juan Franco), from the rail out.
Saturday the 2-year-old gals on the pace get their chance to show what they’ve learned all those mornings spent on a training track. The Incredible Tillie also was divided into a pair of ICF filly contests each worth $17,500.
On Sunday the ICF juvenile trotters step forward for the first time in a pari-mutuel race. The $17,500 Fox Valley Flan first legs for fillies are the second and fourth races while the $17,500 Kadabra’s opening round contests for colts and geldings will go as the third and fifth on the 11-race program.