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Harness racing at the 2021 Du Quoin State Fair concluded Saturday afternoon but not before more ICF champions were crowned after proving best in some historic stake events.
The nine-race card was conducted on a hot (92 degrees) and humid (65 %) afternoon with the Heat Index reaching 103 degrees, making the track conditions fast but obviously uncomfortable for harness racing fans, horsemen, and their horses alike.
Here is how last day of racing at Du Quoin unfolded:
Getting Even: The Jim Molitor trained Ryans Loan Shark, capably handled by Travis Seekman, came motoring down the stretch to take the $28,000 Dudley Hanover opening stake for ICF sophomore pacing colts and geldings.
Second best in a photo finish at Springfield, Ryans Loan Shark ($5.20) bounced back on a “fast” sunbaked Du Quoin racing surface with a 1:54 mile, almost two full seconds off the geldings previous fastest.
Springfield champion Ideal Big Guy cut the fractions, going to a 57 flat first half with Ryans Loan Shark in the middle of the pack. However, in the lane Ryans Loan Shark powered past with authority for his fourth season win for owners Flacco Family Farms (Alexis, IL), Dave Falzone (Chicago) and trainer James Molitor (Chicago).
The pocket horse Partyatmosasplace (Ridge Warren) finished second, beaten two and one-half lengths, while Ideal Big Gut faded to third.
Getting It Done: With trainer Kyle Husted at his lines the overwhelming 1 to 5 public’s choice Get E Up put away a stretch bid by Kingofmyheart (Atlee Bender) to win the prominent $33,000 Governor’s Cup for two-year-old state bred colt and gelding pacers.
Get E Up’s third consecutive triumph gave the freshman a sweep of the juvenile male pacing state fair stakes. The Sportsmaster gelding nine days ago won the Springfield final for his Salem, Illinois breeder Jerry Graham.
Co-owned by the trio of Husted (Altamont, Illinois), John Schwartz Jr. (Wood Dale, Illinois) and David Brigham (Litchfield, Michigan), Get E Up covered the mile in 1:52.1 after taking over the lead on the backside and going to a 55.3 half.
Cole Thornton (Kyle Wilfong) came on for third.
Oldie a Goodie: Given a golden garden trip by Casey Leonard the 11-year-old Clark Fairley trained Sadies Art ($6.60) pulled away in the lane to capture the $7,000 aged pace stake for ICF males aged four and up.
Owned and bred by Mary Alice and Tom D Tetrick of Geoff, Illinois, the “old-timer” of the field sprinted out from the starting gate and took the two-hole behind the 7-5 favorite He Gone Jack (Ridge Warren) who was able to cruise to 57 first half mile.
However, He Gone Jack weakened in the lane after being passed by Sadies Art and ended up third behind the eventual runner-up Backstreet Lawyer (Kyle Wilfong) as well.
State Fair Sweep: Fox Valley Cairo, perfectly rated by driver Ridge Warren, made it back-to-back victories at the Illinois state fairs by taking the $33,000 Darn Safe stake by more than one length over the first over Lousdobb (Casey Leonard).
The Mike Brink trained two-year-old gelding took command before the first quarter pole (30 seconds), got away with a leisurely 59.4 half and had more than enough left for the late going to hold off Lousdoob, who took air from the backside on,
Lous Di Nomite, one of five offspring’s of the Alexis, Illinois sire Lous Legacy in the seven-horse field, came on for third.
Fox Valley Cairo ($3.00), a son of Cassis, won in 1:57 flat, the same time he trotted in his Springfield championship victory for Illinois owners Charles Briggs (Altamont, Illinois), Robert Lacey (Nokomis, Illinois) and trainer Mike Brink (Springfield, Illinois).
A Surprise Ending: The last of the major ICF stakes Saturday afternoon was the $7,000 showdown for aged filly and mare pacers, and it turned out to be a four-horse blanket finish with the 6-1 Skeeter Machine, driven by Casey Leonard, coming out on top with a nose decision.
The 6-5 second choice My Uptown Girl (Ridge Warren) had the early lead but soon after a 56.1 half the 4-5 favorite Fox Valley Exploit (Kyle Husted) came at her and took command at the top of the stretch.
Meanwhile Skeeter Machine fanned out for the stretch drive and finished the fastest for trainer Alan Bowen, giving the six-year-old mare her 26th career victory. The daughter of Big Green Machine is owned by 99-year-old Francis Greer of Mt. Sterling, Illinois and James Greer of Peoria, Illinois,
The Du Quoin card wasn’t the end of harness racing in Illinois on Haturday, Hawthorne took over the Standardbred baton with a nine-race card in the evening with a 7:10 first post.
Live racing will continue at Hawthorne both Sunday (6:30 post) and Monday (7:10 post).
It was “Racing Under the Lights” as the two-day harness racing meet at the Du Quoin State Fair got under way Friday night.
Instead of sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-90’s at the southern Illinois facility, the 13-race card on the “Magic Mile” was conducted in pleasant 80-degree weather and if horses could talk, they probably all would like to say “thanks for the nighttime start.
All the major ICF stakes came in the first half of the program and he’s how things unfolded.
Talk About Breezing: The $28,000 Windy Skeeter trot for three-year-old fillies was the first of six consecutive ICF championships on the program and it turned out not to be much of a contest.
The Erv Miller stable’s Breeze At Sunset, confidently handled by Atlee Bender was much the best, drawing off by more than eight lengths in a time of 1:57.2 as the heavy 1-2 favorite.
Her main rival Loulita (Casey Leonard) did rally for second, but she never was much of a threat to win it after lagging the gate and falling far behind right from the get-go.
The victory gave Breeze At Sunset a sweep of the Illinois State Fair championships and her sixth triumph in her last seven starts for Bowie Racing LLC (Douglass Overheiser), of Shorewood, Illinois.
He’s Back! Atlee Bender was back to greet the track photographer with another of his father-in-law Erv Miller trained fillies. This time it was the two-year-old pacer Lady Bombay, a front-stepping winner of the first $16,500 division of the Director’s Award stake.
Bender hustled Lady Bombay ($12.40) out to the front from the five-slot in the six-horse field and was able to get away with a soft 59 first half with the 1 to 5 favorite Rollnrozz in fourth in the six-horse field.
By the time Rollinroz got rolling in the stretch, Lady Bombay still had plenty left and handily held her off by about two lengths in 1:56 flat, a new career mark for the Major Bombay sibling, also owned by Douglass Overheiser of Shorewood, Illinois.
Nosing Her Foe Out: The second Director’s Award division was a heck of a horse race with the two-favorites Fox Valley Captiva (4-5, Atlee Bender) and Dandy’s MNM (Kyle Husted) side-by-side for the last quarter of the mile.
The nose decision went to the Marv Chupp trained Dandy’s MNM, the 8-5 second choice, in 1:56, another new lifetime mark for the Fort Knox filly owned by A Piece of the Action LLC of Culver City, California.
Dandy’s MNM’s win ended a seven-race losing streak that included four bridesmaid finishes, the last two at Springfield. The filly earlier won a leg of Hawthorne’s Incredible Tillie stake series.
Not So Easy Does It: Springfield three-year-old filly pace champion Scorecard Dandy was scratched because of an injury a few races before the field went to the gate for the $28,00 Time Dancer stake and that left the door wide open for two-time Plum Peachy stake series winner to nail down her fifth victory of the year and she did just that for trainer Mike Brink.. . . but it wasn’t easy.
Hart’s Heart was shuffled back to fourth (and last) on the backside and needed a game last quarter of a mile to overtake the pace setting Bootsy Bombay (Kyle Husted) by one and one-half lengths at the end of the 1:55.4 mile.
The overwhelming 1 to 9 favorite Hart’s Heart, owned and bred by sisters Donna Crebs (Cantrall, IL) and Judy Gonzo (Lincoln, IL), has now thus far earned $56,803 in her second racing season
Nicely Driven: A patience drive from Kyle Wilfong paid off for the 1-5 favorite Funky Wiggle in the $33,000 Shawnee stake for ICF freshman filly trotters.
Wilfong sent Funky Wiggle out from the start and grabbed the two-hole behind the Hot Trotn Trixie (Archie Buford) who coasted to a 59.2 half. She was then challenged by Armbro Lark (Charles Arthur) and as these two fillies battled, Wilfong bided his time with his Curt Grummel trained filly.
In the lane Funky Wiggles worn down the leaders, winning by more than one length in 1:57.1. The daughter of Lou’s Legacy also captured the Illinois State Fair Championship at Springfield eight days earlier for owner and breeder Dr. Patrick Graham.
He’s No Fool: The $28,000 Pronto Don trotting stake saw Sumbodygetdisfool put on a furious stretch rally and again defeat the 3-5 favorite Coco D;Lascito (JD Finn), just as he did a little more than week ago in the Springfield showdown for state-bred three-year-old colts and geldings.
A heads-up drive from Todd Warren enabled the Roshun Trigg trained gelding to nail down his seventh season win for Brandon, Mississippi owner Laquinton Shavers.
Coco D’Lascoto had things his own way on the front end with leisurely fractions of 29.1 and 59 with Somebodygetdisfool in fourth, some five lengths behind but the Armbro Approach winning gelding was saving his best for the last quarter of the mile and got up in time once again.
As Expected: Earlier in non-wagering events Annas Lucky Star (Kyle Wilfong) was much the best in the $7,000 Aged Trot for ICF fillies and mares in 1:55.4 and Talk About Valor (Travis Seekman) also was a comfortable front-end winner in the horse and gelding division with a 1:54.1 clocking.
Afternoon Delight: Day two of the short Du Quoin State Fair harness racing meet arrives much earlier than Friday’s nighttime did with a 12 noon first post today on its 10-race card.
The prominent ICF stakes comprise the first five events on the program with mostly County Fair Challenges following,
The wide-open $28,000 First Lady Cup for state-bred three-year-old pacing colts and geldings gets things started. Springfield’s championship one-two finishers Ideal Big Guy (pp 8, Casey Leonard) and Ryans Loan Shark (pp 4, Travis Seekman) are the morning line favorites.
The $33,000 Governor’s Cup for freshman male pacers completes Saturday’s Daily Double. Since ICF multi-stakes champion Fox Valley Ozzy didn’t make the trip to Du Quoin, Springfield titleholder Get E Up (Kyle Husted) no doubt will be the heavy public’s choice.
The first of a pair of $7,000 aged pace showdowns are next with the two inside horses, He Gone Jack (pp 1, Ridge Warren) and Backstreet Lawyer (pp 2, Kyle Wilfong), the pre-race choices in the horse and gelding division.
The fifth race aged filly and mare division looks like a good one with Springfield’s one-two horses at the finish wire Fox Valley Exploit (pp 4, Kyle Husted) and My Uptowne Girl (pp 2, Ridge Warren) squaring off again with another state-fair title on the line.
In between the aged pace battles is the $33,000 Darn Safe championship for juvenile male trotters.
The Mike Brink stable’s Springfield winner Fox Valley Cairo (pp 1, Ridge Warren) will seek to make it three victories ion a row. The Cassius gelding will be confronted by five sons of the stallion Lou’s Legacy along with another Cassis offspring Hot To Trot Sparky (Archie Buford), a Kadabra leg runner-up who can be quick from the starting gate.
The Lou’s Legacy brigade is made up of Lous Barboissa (Atlee Bender), July 28th Kadabra leg winner Lousdobb (Casey Leonard), Lous Lancelot (Juan Franco), Lubbock Holiday (John D Finn) and Lou’s Di Nomite (Kyle Wilfong),
MIKE’S SATURDAY DU QUOIN SELECTIONS
First Post: 12 noon
1—Ryans Loan Shark, Ideal Big Guy, Partyatmosasplace
2—Get E Up, Kingofmyheart, Major Grin
3—He Gone Jack, Backstreet Lawyer, Sadies Art
4—Fox Valley Cairo, Lousdobb, Hot To Trot Sparky
5—Fox Valley Exploit, My Uptowne Girl, Skeeter Machine
6—Sweet Sweet Connie, Ryans Shark Attack, Shez Selfcontained
7—Pericles, Illini Storm, Luckmania
8—Mailbox Money, Cupcake Cassi, Jazkeyn
9—Aqua’s Bud, Hidalgo Howie, Blacky
10—Coming Fashion, Tucked Away, Electric Mist
Best Bet: Get E Up (2nd race)
Because of the DuQuoin State Fair we have adjusted our Hawthorne schedule. Will be racing Saturday, Sunday and Monday this week. Click here for your free Saturday (August 27) night Hawthorne program. haw0828r
By Mike Paradise
Illinois harness racing undergoes a significant change of scenery tonight with the opening of the two-day meeting at the Du Quoin State Fair.
Instead of a background of expressways and busy city streets with noisy tractor-trailer trucks whizzing past, the state’s harness racing venue will offer a view of a rural and tranquil countryside, quietly tucked away on the southern portion of Illinois, some 300 miles or so away from the hustle and bustle of the Chicago area.
Nevertheless, each year it’s remains an important visit for ICF pacers and trotters and their Prairie State horsemen with its bevy of prominent stake events for state-bred horses of both gaits and sexes.
Also sprinkled throughout the weekend Du Quoin racing programs are County Fair Challenges and Illinois Topline events for those pacers and trotters who competed on the state’s county fair circuit.
The same top drivers on the Chicago circuit will be make the six-hour or so drive to Du Quoin and that’s one of the major reasons Hawthorne is “dark” tonight and will race on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
With two Illinois harness racing programs originally scheduled at the same time Friday night, who was going to drive the Hawthorne horses that’s IF a Chicago circuit card could have even been assembled?
The official word on the “adjusted” schedule didn’t come until a week ago. It could have, and for that matter, should have, been announced months ago when Du Quoin officials made it known they would go with a 7 pm first post on their opening racing card just as they’ve done in the past.
Be that as it may, Friday evenings’ first Du Quoin program has a pair of two-year-old championships to be decided, a trio of three-year-old showdowns, and both ICF aged trots title fights, one for “the guys: and the other for “the gals.”
First Up: The $27,000 Shawnee championships for freshman filly totters goes as race two with Springfield champ Breeze At Sunset (Atlee Bender) taking on multi-Illinois bred stakes winner Loulita (Casey Leonard) and three others.
With eleven entries the Director’s Award for ICF pacing fillies had to be split into two divisions, each worth $16,500. Springfield winner Rollnroz (Archie Buford) and Incredibie Tillie second leg victor Rsmissashlee (Kyle Wilfong) figure to get the most play in race three while the second split (race four) is headed up by Fox Valley Captiva, pp 1, Atlee Bender), Springfield final runner-up Dandy’s MNM (Kyle Husted) and Iwannarocknroll (Travis Seekman), third at the Illinois State fair showdown after winning her elimination.
The 10-horse Shawnee trot for state-bred fillies is next with Springfield winner Funky Wiggle (pp 5, Kyle Wilfong) the likely post time favorite.
A a trio of earlier Fox Valley Flan leg champions—Ironclad Creation (pp 4, Ridge Warren), Louzotic’s youngster sister Lous Xanadu (pp 7, Casey Leonard) and Armbro Lark (pp 9, Charles Arthur)—are major contenders.
Springfield eliminations winners Hot Trotn Trixie (Archie Buford) and Lous Nomamie (Juan Franco), and BC’s Km (Kyle Wilfong) with the rail, also should get good play.
The $26,000 Pronto Don for ICF three-year-old trotting colts and geldings (race seven) will see Springfield up setter Sumbodygetdisfool (pp 5, Todd Warren) and runner-up heavy favorite Coco D’s Lascito (pp 4, J D Finn) go at it again.
Early Races: With a scarcity of entries for both $7,000 Aged Trots, they’ll be contested before the betting card with a 6:15 post for the filly and mare division made up of Bee Cee, Annas Lucky Star and High Queen Annie. (In that order). They’ll be followed by the aged division for male trotters and again it’s a three-horse field: Talk About Valor, Primed N Powerful and Frontier Manard).
A Wise Move: If you’re wondering what the ICF star pacer He’zzz A Wise Sky is doing this weekend the answer is that the four-year-old gelding is at Hoosier Park tonight where he was handicapped with the outside seven-slot in their 12th race $22,000 Open Pace. John De Long has the catch-driver behind the John Filomeno trained pacer.
MIKE’S FRIDAY DU QUOIN SELECTIONS
First Post 7 pm
1—Asah Da Pacea, Clearly The Bomb, Dandy’s Duchess
2—Breeze At Sunset, Loulita, BC’s Rose
3—Rollnroz, Rsmissashlee, Lady Bombay
4—Dandy’s MNM, Fox Valley Captiva, Iwannarocknroll
5—Hart’s Heart, Scorecard Dandy, Bootsy Bombay
6—Funky Wiggle, Ironclad Creation, Lous Xanadu
7—Coco D’Lascito, Sumbodygetdisfool, Emroscopcoletrain
8—Heath Bar, Majistic Caprice, Justa Nother Bag
9—Infinite Warrior, Rockin Roo, Toncredblyfastforu
10—Kelly D, Brooke’s Ocean, Skip Jive
11—I’mnotalocaldude, Loyz Say When, TE’S Game Changer
12—Yankee Bounty, Always B Mimi, Dash Around
Best Bet—Yankee Bounty (12th race)
Annually at the August board meeting, the IHHA directors elect officers for the association. This year the results were as follows: Marty Engel – President, Casey Leonard – Vice President, Clark Fairly – 2nd Vice-President, Secretary – Gerry Hansen, Treasurer – Al Beals, Assistant Treasurer – David Brink.
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