Jamaica’s Plans No Longer on Hold

By Mike Paradise

Like every other Illinois horseman all trainer Jamaica Patton could do was prepare his horses and await the word for the long overdue announcement that Hawthorne can restart its 2020 harness meet.

The go-head message from the Governor’s office to resume racing in Illinois the first week of June came a few days ago, after a two and a half month shutdown brought about by the devastating Covid-19 Pandemic, putting a halt to harness racing nation-wide.

Horsemen like Springfield based trainer Jamaica Patton persevered the best they could under the extraordinary circumstances that clearly brought about economic hardships to many in our industry.

During the long mandated work stoppage, Jamaica had his plans on hold for horses he has stabled at Hawthorne, youngsters at his Springfield headquarters mostly pointed for the County Fair circuit, and aspirations for others to compete at the State Fairs at Springfield and Du Quoin.

Now those plans can became a reality.

“All horsemen could do is get their horses ready and just wait it out,” explained the 39-year-old Mississippi native who now that the shutdown has ended can be found from one end of our state to the other.

Patton splits his summers on the Illinois County Fair Circuit, at Hawthorne and at Indiana’s Hoosier Park. “I’ve got horses I want to race at our fairs but so far there haven’t been any.”

One by one this year’s Illinois County Fairs have been picked-off by the Covid-19 Pandemic. With the recent announcement by the Illinois Department of Agriculture that the June 30th Schuyler County Fair at Rushville has been call off, the entire June fair schedule is either cancelled or postponed.

The Newton Fair in Jasper Country slated in June will be moved to August. June’s Greene County Fair at Carrollton will be raced at a date yet to be announced.

The Jamaica Patton Stable’s Fox Valley Reggie (right) is shown with driver Kyle Wilfong proving best in an Hawthorne race, (Four Footed Fotos)

The Jamaica Patton Stable’s Fox Valley Reggie (right) is shown with driver Kyle Wilfong proving best in an Hawthorne race, (Four Footed Fotos)

Patton has some talented older horses ready for the reopening of Hawthorne next weekend, including the talented Indiana bred mare Dee Rocks, a winner of a local Open back when snow was still on the ground in early March.

“She can hold her own in the Opens at Hawthorne and she likes Hoosier, too,” continued Jamaica. “She can fly off the gate but she’s really a versatile filly and you can race her anyway you want.”

The five-year-old daughter of Rockin Image has over $300,000 in career earnings on her card in a little more than three seasons of racing with $196,750 coming in her freshman campaign for co-Illinois owners Ron Phillips (Athens) and John Carver (Rock Island).

Under the care of trainer Dossier Minor, Dee Rocks was a disqualification away from a 12-race winning streak and another $40,000 in purse earnings as a two-year-old. She won her first six races and finished first in an $80,000 Indiana Sire Stake final only to be placed tenth for interference. The filly went on to capture five more consecutive Indiana bred stakes before a second place finish in another $80,000 championship. Dee Rocks ended the year winning 11 of 14 starts and then added nearly another $100,000 in money won in her 2018 sophomore campaign.

Jamaica has the well-rested ICF stalwart Fox Valley Reggie preparing to return to Hawthorne. An Open winner last summer at Hawthorne, “Reggie” wasn’t himself in a trio of starts early on at the meet.

“He didn’t do well,” continued Jamaica. “There was some sickness going around and I think he might have gotten some of it. I’ve given him three months off and he should be back to his old self for the summer.”

The six-year-old Yankee Skyscraper gelding owns a mark of 1:51.2, taken at two Ohio tracks, in 2018 at Daytona Raceway and last season at Miami Valley, and in his 2018 Springfield the Illinois State Fair Aged Pace championship win where he beat the likes of He Gone Jack and Fox Valley Nemitz.

Also in training for Patton is the now seven-year-old Illinois bred productive trotter Primed N Powerful, closing in on 50 career victories for owners Ron Phillips and Sharry Boledovich of Lakewood, Colorado, also the proprietors of Fox Valley Reggie. The Psychic Spirit trotting gelding has competed in Illinois and Ohio Opens the past couple of years and will begin his 2020 campaign with purse earnings of nearly $265,000.

Double Draw Wednesday: Entries for reopening of Hawthorne’s meet must be declared by 9 a.m. Wednesday morning. Both the Saturday (June 6th) and the Sunday (June 7th) will be drawn on Wednesday (June 3rd). Online entries are encouraged.

Qualifying Updates: Hawthorne Qualifiers are scheduled for Monday, June 1st and also on Wednesday, June 3rd. Horses that raced at Hawthorne between Friday, March 6 and Sunday, March 15, need not qualify. They can but it’s not mandatory.

Tuesday at Springfield: Races will be held at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield this Tuesday (June 2nd) at 12:00 p.m. Conditions for the races are for Illinois bred 2-year olds, 3-year olds and 4- year olds and up. Total purse payout for the day will be $50,000. No spectators are allowed, only officials or personnel (with face masks) involved with horse care are permitted on grounds.

Three-for-Three: Trainer Dale Knox sent out three horses in Friday’s qualifiers at Springfield and they all proved best. The Hillsboro, Illinois drove Talk About It to a 1:57.2 clocking, then followed with Rocknroll High (1:58.40 and Brysen (1:57.4) to their respective first place finishes.

(With the resumption of live racing at Hawthorne Mike Paradise’s new posted stories will revert back to the Friday, Saturday and Sunday format).

Safety Protocols Announced

With live racing right around the corner, please take a look at the new safety rules that will be enforced and that we will follow at Hawthorne.

COVID19 Horse Racing Guidelines 5.28.20

Simmons had Constant Maywood Menace

By Mike Paradise

After the renowned Taser Gun’s domination at Maywood Park during the turn of this century, another ICF pacer came along to win over the hearts of Chicago circuit’s half-mile patrons and that would be Constant Change.

The star of the Tom Simmons Stable had a fabulous racing career in the first decade of the 2000s with 38 lifetime victories and almost $600,000 in purse earnings and while Constant Change did very well on the all tracks in Illinois, he really shined on Maywood Park’s smaller oval.

Constant Change went to the gate 60 times at Maywood Park with the vast majority of those outings in Free for All’s, Opens, and ICF stake races and racked up 23 victories, a 33 per cent winning clip. The gelding was third or better at Maywood Park an amazing 75 per cent of the time.

And don’t think Constant Change’s opposition at Maywood Park wasn’t as tough as nails in the mid-2000s.

Constant Change (Dale Hiteman) is shown winning one of his many races earlier this century at Maywood Park. (R E B Photos)

Constant Change (Dale Hiteman) is shown winning one of his many races earlier this century at Maywood Park. (R E B Photos)

At one time or another the Cole Muffler gelding posted Maywood Park Free for All victories against such talented pacers as Taser Gun, Fox Valley Devious, Parklane Powerful, Color Me Best, Frontstreet Marty, King Johnny and Sagebrush.

A $32,000 yearling acquisition by Benita Simmons (Springfield, Illinois), Hunt Harness (Big Rock, Illinois) and Helen Logan (Nowata, Oklahoma) at the 1998 Cottonwood Farm Sale, Constant Change was a late-bloomer.

The son of Cole Muffler out of the Bret Hanover broodmare Flashing By, wasn’t raced as a freshman and only had limited success as a three-year-old earning less than $27,000. Constant Change’s four-year-old season was also moderate, banking a little more than $33,000.

It was at the age of five that Constant Change took off as an ICF pacing star. He was a 13-time winner that season with earnings of $239,424. Seven of his 2003 triumphs came at Maywood with $20,000 added to his money won total from the track’s incentive award to the horse with the most points earned in its Maywood Park Pacing Series that encompassed the Cook County, Egyptian and Associates Illinois sired stake events.

That same year (2003) Constant Change sliced two full seconds off his previous best winning mile time when he sped to a 1:50.2 clocking in an early November Free For All at Balmoral Park.

It was as a six-year-old that Constant Changed zipped to his lifetime mark of 1:49.4 and it came at the Springfield State Fair with a classic match-up against the celebrated Illinois kingpin Taser Gun. The event was the Illinois State Fair Colt Stakes Aged Horse and Gelding Championship. The purse was $10,000 but it was raced as if there was another “Zero” was on the line. Both ICF stars went off at even-money in a five-horse field.

Mike Lachance shot Randolph Duke out from the five-slot to take the lead with a quick 27.1 first quarter time. Dave Magee protected the rail with Constant Change and was second, two lengths behind. Andy Miller ducked Taser Gun and was fourth another three lengths further back. Magee had Constant Chance on the move on the backside making the front with a very quick 27 flat second quarter, with Taser Gun some six and a half lengths behind.

Magee got a 28.3 third quarter breather for Constant Chance at the same time Taser Gun was taking in air while closing the gap to one and a quarter lengths. As it turned and the Bob Walker trained luminary wouldn’t get much closer despite a 26.3 last panel because Constant Change also came home in the same rapid time. For that matter so did the third and fourth placed horses Randolph Duke and Honest Lawyer.

A lot has changed in our industry in the 16 years since that memorable Springfield match-up. Unfortunately it hasn’t been all good for our Illinois harness racing industry.

Live racing, Qualifiers Update: Hawthorne’s meeting will resume on Saturday, June 6th and Sunday, June 7th.

Hawthorne Qualifiers are scheduled for Monday, June 1st and also on Wednesday, June 3rd. Monday’s qualifier entries must be declared by 9 am Sunday, May 31st. Wednesdays entries are due Tuesday, June 2nd, also by 9 a.m. Online entries are encouraged.

Horses that raced at Hawthorne between Friday, March 6 and Sunday, March 15, need not qualify. They can but it’s not mandatory.

Also, Qualifiers are scheduled on Friday and Saturday at the Springfield State Fairgrounds, weather permitting. Springfield qualifiers will be held Friday and Saturday at 11:00a.m. Entries can be made online or by phone Thursday (May 28) and Friday (May 29) from 7-10 a.m. by calling LeAnn Shinn at 618-783-2589.