Click below for more information on the July County Fair races now being held at the Springfield State Fairgrounds.
By Mike Paradise
How competitive have the Illinois bred sophomore trotting categories been thus far? Well, so competitive that both the filly division as the colt and gelding class has produced three different winners in as many stake events.
Last weekend’s Cardinal trot went to the Mike Brink stable’s Crooked Creek after the first leg of the Erwin Dygert Mempria; saw the Tom Simmons trained Fox Valley Quest and Desert Sheik, another Brink trainee, come out on top.
In the opening round of the Beulah Dygert Fox Valley Extacy nailed down her maiden victory in the filly’s first start under the care of trainer Hector Herrera.
On the other hand, in the recent Violet trot divisions it was Steve Searle’s Bee Cee and Celone Hall, yet another Brink trainee who took co-championships.
Just what trotters this time around will prevail in Sunday’s second round of the two Dygert stakes is anyone’s guess.
Sunday’s Erwin Dygert was split into a pair of $12,500 divisions carded as races two and three last year’s Night of Champions winner Crooked Creek (Mike Oosting) a likely heavy favorite in the first split off his game 1:57.4 win a week ago.
Crooked Creek will be challenged by Twin Cedars Rocket (Travis Seekman), Fox Valley Kobe (Kyle Husted), Lou Paschal (Cordarius Stewart), East EO (Tyler Sheehan) On Higher Ground (Kyle Wilfong) , Lous Paisano (Scott Robbins) and Coach Cougar (Juan Franco).
The Tom Simmons Fox Valley Quest (Casey Leonard) is the trotter too beat in the second division when he seeks his twelfth victory in 17 career starts. Desert Sheik (Brandon Bates), a first round winner of the Erwin Dygert, should also get good play.
Eying an upset Sunday are Ramblin Cougar (Tyler Shehan), Mr Red Thunder (Richard S Finn), Louisnuit (Kyle Husted), Fox Valley Briton (Todd Warren), Cassy Chip (Mike Oosting) and Frazier (Jerome Daniels),
There are also two $12,000 second legs of the Beulah Dygert to be contested tonight for sophomore state-bred fillies. The Violet one-two finishers Bee Cee (pp 1, Kyle Husted) and Tropical Rosie (pp 4, Cordarius Stewar) head-up the sixth race second division, a state-bred stake you can watch and bet on.
It’s too bad you can’t watch and wager on the first division.
The first Beulah Dygert division is going as a non-wagering race before the regular betting program and is only available to be viewed by “essential” backstretch license horsemen. The only owners currently allowed on the backside are those who are also the horse’s caretaker.
So we’ll all miss seeing Princess Poprocks, She’s Got Moxy, Fox Valley Extacy, Lous Abigail, El Oh Govner and Celone Hall slug it out. Also hidden from view will be the initial legs of the ICF two-year-old trotting stakes, the $17,500 Fox Valley Flan for fillies and the $17,500 Kadabra for colts and geldings, both seven horse freshmen fields.
I’m deducing the track’s decision makers don’t see the trio of Illinois bred stakes as “wager worthy” enough has some of the fuller fields of open company events on the 14 race betting card.
Since Sunday’s three non-betting ICF only races begin at 6:30 pm, couldn’t we have kept that same first post time and made it a 17-race wagering program? The distributed purse money would be the same and the start and finish times wouldn’t change, either
Does anybody really believe keeping current owners from watching and wagering on their young Illinois bred equine investments is going to help the future of Illinois harness racing?
Strong Debut: The Jamaica Patton trained two-year-old filly Connie On The Go, nicely handled by Ridge Warren, came on in the lane to capture the $17,500 Incredible Tillie ICF freshman stake last night.
Princess Mooss (Kyle Wilfong) also closed with a rush to be second, beaten a half-length while the pace-setting Cleary The Bomb held on for third.
Connie On The Go is a home-bred daughter of Sportsmaster owned and bred by Ron Phillips (Athens, IL) and John Carver (Rock Island, IL).
The prohibitive three-year-old favorites Sleazy Gal ($2.20, Casey Leonard) and Fox Valley Exploit ($2.20, Kyle Husted) won their second round $12,500 divisions of the Plum Peachy.
The Merv Chupp Racing Stable’s Pine Dream ($3.80), driven by Todd Warren, went wire-to-wire in 1:55 flat in the $10,500 Open Trot. Casey Leonard and Kyle Wilfong drove seven winners between them on the 13-race program with Casey bagging four and Kyle taking three,
By Mike Paradise
We’ll see our first appearance of ICF two-year-old filly pacers tonight when eight of initial crop of freshmen go postward in the first leg of the Incredible Tillie stake series.
A purse of $17,500 is on the line for the young pacing gals as they begin their march to Hawthorne’s Night of Champions on September 19. It’s just the start of the juvenile racing season and we’ll probably see more NOC hopefuls by the time the second Incredible Tillie round comes around on July 10.
Despite what the Hawthorne morning line might indicate, Saturday’s Incredible Tillie is a take-your-pick affair. These
“green” fillies are just taking “baby steps” on their way to becoming race horses so let the learning process begin.
From the pole position out you’ll find Ryans Secret (Cordarius Stewart), Age Of Sage (Casey Leonard), Connie On The Go (Ridge Warren), Ryansmajesticrose (James Molitor), Kandi’s Fortune (Freddie Patton Jr.), Princess Mooss (Kyle Wilfong), Dandy’s Duchess (Jamaica Patton) and Clearly The Bomb (Todd Warren).
Ryans Secret, the younger sister of Roshun Trigg’s Ole Slot Machine (1:58), already has four starts at Springfield resulting in a trio of wins and a second.
Age Of Sage was an $16,000 yearling purchased by trainer Jim Eaton and Casey Leonard chose to drive her over the fillies Connie On The Go (Ridge Warren), the 2-1 morning line favorite, and Princess Mooss (Kyle Wilfong), a Gary Rath trainee who sold for $31,000.
Ryansmajesticrose, a Flacco Family Farms home-bred, is a daughter of Caribe Royale, making her the full sister of Royale Rose (1:50) and Royale Big Guy (1:51.4).
Clearly The Bomb is an Angie Coleman and Rob Rittoff home-bred with two encouraging qualifiers prepping for tonight’s debut.
Freddie Patton Jr’s Kandi’s Fortune benefits from a three Springfield starts. The filly was bought for $9,000 as a yearling.
On the other hand Dandy’s Duchess, trained by his driver Jamaica Patton brought a price of $40,000 at the Illini Classic Sale. She’ll open at surprising 30-1 programmed odds after she made an equipment break a few days competing at Springfield.
Plum Peachy Duels: Before the ninth race Incredible Tillie field goes to the gate we’ll know the outcome of the two $12,500 second round divisions of the Plum Peachy three-year-old pace events. They’ll go as races three and five with prohibitive favorites in each.
Sleazy Gal (Casey Leonard), the Violet bridesmaid, is listed at 4 to 5 from the two-post and those odds sound about right. Her opposition is Ashlee’s Fine Girl (Todd Warren), Amazon Princess (Ridge Warren), Dancin Eyes (Cornelius Cavett), Fox Valley Nia (Kyle Wilfong) and Mollie Hotspur (Cordarius Stewart).
Meanwhile the Kyle Husted stable’s Fox Valley Exploit so far has been much the best in the state’s second season filly class. After winning the first leg of the Plum Peachy series, she dominated last week’s Violet Pace, drawing off by more than four lengths on a sloppy rain-soaked track.
Fox Valley Exploit (pp 3) will also be at 4-5 first flash odds (I made her 3-5 in my line) after her two strong recent victories. Style And Spirit (Kyle Wilfong), Sign Her Up (Juan Franco), Castielle (Casey Leonard), Double Parked (Travis Seekman) and June Dale Gram (Cordarius Stewart) will provide the competition.
Take Your Pick: The $10,500 Open Trot returns as tonight’s second race with a six horse field. The Merv Chupp stable’s Pine Dream (Todd Warren) was assigned the outside six-slot by the Hawthorne Race Office. Posts one through five were drawn.
Louzotic (Kyle Husted) landed the rail with two more state-bred trotters—Louscardamon (Casey Leonard) and Annas Lucky Star (Kyle Wilfong–getting the two and three. She’s Got Bling (Travis Seekman) has the four post and another ICF trotter, Lourhianon (Tyler Shehan) drew the five.
Lourhianon finished first in last week’s Open raced in the rain on a sloppy track however the 77-1 longshot went inside some pylons in the first turn and was disqualified to second with Louzotic awarded her third victory in six season starts for trainer Steve Searle.
It’s a well-balanced field of trotters and you could make a case for any horse in it to come out on top.
On Big Baby Step: The Flacco Family Farms home-bred Ryans Loan Shark proved best in the first round of the Incredible Finale stake series for ICF colts and geldings.
Nicely rated by his driver Cordarius Stewart Ryans Loan Shark ($9.60) went wire-to-wire in his pari-mutuel debut, covering the mile in 2 :0.21 on a sloppy racing surface. Partyatmosaplace (Ridge Warren) put on a late burst to be second, beaten by almost two lengths. Prince Of Style (Kyle Wilfong) was third.
Chalk It Up: The heavy favorites Fox Valley Ren (Casey Leonard) and He’zzz A Wize Sky (Bobby Smolin) were easy winners in their respective second round divisions of the Robert F Carey Memorial stakes.
The 1 to 9 Fox Valley Ren ($2.10) won by more than eight lengths in 1:54.1 while He’zzz A Wise Sky ($2.40) powered past in the late going to be almost three lengths better than RG’s Tracer with a 15:3.4 clocking.
Another Gem: Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard) used a 26.3 last quarter to capture his third straight Open Pace victory at Hawthorne, this one in 1:53.3. Castle Flight was scratched due to the sloppy race track conditions.
By Mike Paradise
We’re only a few days away from the start of July, one of the hottest months of the year, however the parade of ICF stake races have already been sizzling at the Hawthorne meet and this weekend they could boil over in sheer numbers.
Not only will there be stake races contested for three-year-old state breds for a third consecutive week but we’ll also get our first look at the ICF freshman class with the opening rounds of the juvenile Night of Champions series.
Some of those babies are on display tonight in the first leg of the $17,500 Incredible Finale stakes series for pacing colts and geldings.
The eighth race two-year-old stake consists of Partyatmosaplace (Ridge Warren), Ashlee’s Fine Gal (William Patrick De Long), Ideal Big Guy (Casey Leonard), Prince Of Style (Kyle Wilfong), Frontier Charley (Kyle Husted), Ryans Loan Shark (Cordarius Stewart) and Sagebrush Skip (Ryan Anderson).
We have some information on tonight’s juvenile field that is worth noting:
Ashlee’s Fine Guy sold for $36,000 and is a half-brother to Special Joe (1:49.4, $415,617) and Raging Cam (1:50.4) and a full bro to Ashlee’s Fine Lady (1:53.2).
Frontier Charley sold for $24,000 as a yearling and her dam Cuzurinittowin’s first foal was a 1:49.2 pacer who had almost $700,000 in career earnings.
Ideal Big Guy, one of two Terry Leonard trainees in the race, was bought for $19,000 and his brother is Ashlee’s Joy (1:54.2) while his stablemate Partyatmosaplace (pp 1) is the Watson Stable home-bred brother of Mimosa Party (1:52.3).
One advantage this year’s crop of ICF two-year-olds will have over past freshmen classes is that they won’t be bothered by the distraction of crowd noises since now a days we have no spectators.
Nevertheless some of these youngsters could be skittish as they go postward in a pari-mutuel race for the first time. So expect the unexpected, especially at this time of the year, for these babies who have a lot to learn racing-wise.
Not This Time: The current top two ICF three-year-old male pacers Fox Valley Ren and He’zzz A Wise Sky have already given us two classic battles this season and while they’ll be in action Friday night, it won’t be against each other.
Fox Valley Ren and He’zzz A Wise Sky landed in different Robert F. Carey divisions. Fox Valley Ren (Kyle Wilfong) has the five-slot in the sixth race six horse field while He’zzz A Wise Sky (Bobby Smolin) ended up with the five in the ninth race second $12,500 Carey split. Both will be heavy favorites.
The Nelson Willis stable’s Fox Valley Ren (Kyle Wilfong) is two-for-two after again holding of last year’s Night of Champions winner He’zzz A Wise Sky, last time in their Cardinal match-up.
It’s Back: The top Open Pace returns tonight and that means Illinois champion Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard) and two-time Open meet winner Castle Flight (Kyle Wilfong) will knock heads for the fourth time of the meet.
Thus far the score is two to one in favor of Castle Flight, from the barn of Derek Burklund, but it was all Fox Valley Gemini when the pair met two weeks ago. The pride of the Terry Leonard finished more than two lengths ahead of his rival who changed tactics and came from out of it and finished third after winning his two March Open’s on the front-end.
Fox Valley Gemini (pp 7) is programmed at 7-5 while Castle Flight (pp 6) is at 9-5 first flash odds. Inside of them are (from the one post out) Account Rollover (Scott Robbins), On Duty (Jim Lackey), American Chrome (Todd Warren), Backstreet Lawyer (Kyle Husted) and Bass Player (TravisSeekman).
Now under the care of trainer by Steve Searle, Backstreet Lawyer last competed in Illinois in 2018. He was the third place finisher in the Carey championship racing for the Tom Simmons stable.
Early Post: With a larger than normal 15 race betting card first post tonight has been moved up to 6:30 pm.
The 2020 IHHA Board of Directors election will take place at it’s annual meeting on Saturday, August 22, 2020, at 12:00 noon at the IHHA office located at 15 Spinning Wheel Road, Suite 432, Hinsdale, Illinois.
Five (5) directors will be elected to serve terms of three (3) years each. The following six (6) candidates filed petitions to be placed on the ballot for election to the board: David Brink, Clark Fairley, Juan Franco, Craig Grummel, Kyle Husted, Hosea Williams.
Ballots will be mailed to all IHHA members (in good standing as of June 30, 2020) on July 24, 2020 through the offices of Legacy Certified Public Accountants, which have been retained as the election supervisor in conjunction with Article III of the IHHA By-Laws.
By Mike Paradise
One more, or less, entry into an ICF stake race can make a huge difference for an owner, a trainer, and those fans who like to wager on Illinois racing.
Don’t think so?
Well consider for the second consecutive Sunday an important state-bred trotting stake event— which there aren’t many now a days—will not offer wagering and probably won’t be seen by most of the owners of those participating trotters. Owners are currently not allowed on the backstretch unless they are an essential caretaker for a horse.
And don’t look for the result of the race tomorrow on the Hawthorne web-site because its posted charts don’t display non-wagering races. What’s more at least some ADW platforms, such as Express Bet (the one I use), do not make available these early stake events without betting on their “Replays,” so you can’t even view them later for handicapping purposes .
At a time we’re at an all-time low of ICF yearlings in our state do we really want to do anything that discourages owners from investing in our industry?
I think not.
Since it’s possible we won’t have any spectators allowed at Hawthorne for the entire meeting, maybe it’s a good idea to see if we can make all the rest of our ICF stake races wagering affairs, at least for this season so they can be available on ADW platforms.
At this crucial time the need for more races on a nightly program is very much necessary. The working people in our industry have been hit hard by the Covid-19 shutdown and additional races will give them the more needed racing opportunities to try out a living .The devastating virus has produced a lengthy lockdown, costing Illinois horsemen close to 40 days of racing and doing much the same to the other racing venues nation-wide.
The Hawthorne race office entry box has been overflowing every week since we’ve been back racing. It’s the same elsewhere in the country as well. The Meadowlands Friday and yesterday had huge 18-race programs while Northfield had an abundant 16 contests. The Pennsylvania tracks racing this Sunday have 14 race cards.
A possible solution to this problem on the local scene is to race ICF stakes with less than full fields early with wagering making for some 15-race Sunday betting cards. The second round for the three-year-olds march to the Night of Champions is back on the agenda next weekend and the ICF two-year-olds stakes begin on July 10. For that matter, from July 10 to the end of that month there are state-bred stakes every weekend, perhaps some again with not very large fields.
During these extraordinary and troubling times perhaps Hawthorne management and the IHHA could get together and agree and request the Illinois Racing Board an earlier 6:30 Sunday post for 15-race wagering programs until August. I’m thinking a likely sympathetic IRB would probably grant their wishes.
It’ll make for a long day at the track for some horsemen but long days are commonplace for most who work in our industry. For example today many drivers and trainers have to be at the track in the early afternoon with seven qualifiers for two-year-olds set to be run off starting at 3:30 pm. The last Sunday wagering race will go off after 11:30.
Problems have solutions, so let’s quickly get our current dilemma fixed.
Worth Watching: With one less horse (11) in tonight’s Cardinal trotting stake than last week’s first leg (12) of the Erwin Dygert stake series, the three-year-old event for male trotters goes for a pot of $45,900 and as Sunday’s tenth race. Last week’s Opening round on the road to the Night of Champions quietly went off non-betting around 6:30 pm.
The Tom Simmons Stable’s Fox Valley Quest will try to make it back-to-back stake victories after winning his division a week by almost six lengths in 1:57.4. However, last year’s ICF freshman male trotter of the year landed the eight-slot in the 11-horse field, so he could have his work cut out to repeat.
Desert Sheik (Brandon Bates) who had a game neck triumph (1:59) in his Dygert division didn’t draw much better with the seven. Desert Sheik is one of four Mike Brink trained trotters in the Cardinal. Stable-mate Crooked Creek (Mike Oosting), a 2019 Night of Champions winner has the two-post after going off a stride a week ago. Brink also sends our Fox Valley Briton (pp 3, Todd Warren) and On Higher Ground (pp 11, Kyle Wilfong).
Rounding out the Cardinal trot are Easy EO (Tyler Shehan), Fox Valley Kobe (Kyle Wilfong), Mr Red Thunder (Richard S Finn), Lou Pascal (Cordarius Stewart), Lou Merlin (Jerome Daniels) and Fitchey For Fun (Juan Franco).
Not for Viewing: What most us will miss watching Saturday’s two early non-wagering divisions of the $21,650 Violet trots. The first consists of Tropical Rosie (Cordarius Stewart), Princess Poprocks (Freddie Patton Jr.), Bee See (Kyle Husted), Really Railee (Bobby Smolin), Lous Cover Girl (Mike Rogers) and Reign And Shine (Juan Franc).
The second $21,650 split brings out the first four finishers in last week’s Beulah Dygert—Fox Valley Extacy (Brandon Bates), Fox Valley Lush (Kyle Wilfong), Lous Abigail (Casey Leonard) and Celone Hall (Mike Oosting). The field also has El Oh Govenor (Mike Rogers) and Lous Flashy Dancer (Tyler Shehan).
Sound like a very good race to watch and wager on.
Unfortunately you can’t.
No Surprises: Saturday night’s Cardinal and Violet stakes for ICF 3-year-old pacers went to RG’s Tracer (Travis Seekman), Fox Valley Ren (Kyle Wilfong) and Fox Valley Exploit (Kyle Husted).
RG’s Tracer ($3.40) won his $21,450 Cardinal division I front-end fashion as did Fox Valley Ren ($4.20) in his 1:53.3 split. The latter went unchallenged through slow middle quarters (29.4 and 30.1) and finished with a sizzling 25.2 last panel to hold off the same fast closing time of runner-up He’zzz A Wise Sky (Bobby Smolin) in the 1:53 flat mile.
Fox Valley Exploit ($2.80) overtook the pace-setting Sleazy Gal (Casey Leonard) in the lane and drew off by four-plus lengths in her 1:55.2 Violet triumph for driver and trainer Kyle Husted. The Violet and other later races were contested on a sloppy surface after rain pelted the racetrack about mid-way of the 13-race card.
By Mike Paradise
Saturday evening’s Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Cardinal stake will provide the anticipated rematch between the reining top two ICF three-year-old pacing colts and geldings Fox Valley Ren and He’zzz A Wise Sky.
And if last weekend’s opening leg of the Robert F. Carey Jr. stake series is any indication, tonight’s fourth race first $21,450 division of the Cardinal pace is “Must-See TV” for Illinois harness racing fans.
The two talented state-bred pacers put on quite a show last week and in the end the 2019 Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year Fox Valley Ren, skillfully driven by Kyle Wilfong, got past the front-stepping betting favorite He’zzz A Wise Sky (Bobby Smolin), in deep stretch to gain some revenge for his loss to the Don Filomeno home-bred in last year’s Night of Champions freshmen showdown.
Wilfong smartly had Fox Valley Ren sprint out from post five and took a quick lead last week while Smolin had to work harder with his pacer who was sent out from the 10-hole. He’zzz A Wise Sky eventually took over command soon after a 28.2 first panel while Fox Valley Ren enjoyed a covered-up pocket trip during a pair of rather slow 29.1 quarters.
Wilfong waited until his Sportsmaster pacer was inside the eighth pole to pull-out and try to overtake the 1 to 2 favorite and Fox Valley Ren did just that with a quick 26.3 last quarter, hitting the finish wire in 1:53.2 for trainer Nelson Willis. It was the good-looking pacer’s ninth win in 12 career starts for the Megan Rogers Racing Stable of Chicago.
He’zzz A Wise Sky defeat by less than one length snapped a six-racing winning streak for the Yankee Skyscraper homebred. However he could turn the table on his rival in tonight’s Cardinal. The youngster received a huge beneficial change in posts, shedding the 10-hole for the two-slot. Meanwhile Fox Valley Ren landed the six in the seven horse field.
Illinois Force (Todd Warren) drew nicely with the one. Posts three through five will be manned by Chick Magnet (Kyle Husted) and RJ Wulfy (Tyler Shehan). Longshot L L Gram (Cordarius Stewart) has the outside seven post.
The first $21,450 Cardinal division will go as race two with six Illinois bred sophomores going to the gate: RG’s Tracer (Travis Seekman), Sassy Lil Thing (Cornelius Cavett), Canadian Mountie (Casey Leonard) Patton Plus (Cordarius Stewart), Mighty Tony Mac (Kyle Wilfong) and Bag Man (Todd Warren).
Gals Share Spotlight: The Cardinal pace will have to share the Saturday public interest with the Department of Agriculture’s $43,300 Violet, the first major stake of the year for second season state-bred pacing fillies.
The nine horse field goes as race seven with a $43,300 purse on the line.
The filly to beat is last year’s Night of Champions titleholder Fox Valley Exploit (Kyle Husted), who went on to be named the division’s ICF freshman filly pacing champion. Another Sportsmaster product, Fox Valley Exploit came out raring to go as the three-year-old filly rallied to take last week’s first leg of the Plum Peachy in 1:55 flat.
Trained and co-owned by her driver, “Exploit” drew the pole position a second straight time tonight. The Plum Peachy bridesmaid Sign Her Up (Juan Franco) is also in great shape with the two-slot. Last year’s Violet freshman champ Sleazy Gal, who was a close-up third last week, has the seven. Casey Leonard takes over the driving chores on the Erv Miller trainee now that Mike Oosting is back at Hoosier Park except for Sundays.
Spirit And Sprint (Kyle Husted), Ashlees Spur (Ridge Warren), Castielle (Travis Seekman) and Ashlees Fine Girl (Todd Warren) manned posts there through six, in that order, Mollie Hotspur (Cordarius Stewart) and Fox Valley Nia (Scott Robbins) leave from the seven and eight.
Will Justice Prevail? The $10,500 Open Trot will precede the Violet pace. Posts one through seven were drawn while last week’s winner Call for Justice (Casey Leonard) was assigned the outside seven-hole. His competition is Lourhianon (Tyler Shehan), Louscardamon (Scott Robbins), Louzotic (Kyle Husted), the six-year-old debut of former ICF champion Anna’s Lucky Star (Kyle Wilfong), along with Bo Nanza Chip (Travis Seekman), Classic Venture (Bobby Smolin) and Double A Cash Call.
A trio of Late Closers Finals is also on the 13-race card. The very competitive $10,600 Dave Magee showdown is race three, Rock It Out (Casey Leonard) will be a prohibitive favorite to sweep the $12,800 Walter Paisley (race five) while Toxic Rock (Ridge Warren) figures to be a heavy public’s choice to make it 6-for-6 this season in the $14,600 Bob Larry Final.
15 Spinning Wheel Road
Hinsdale, IL 60521