Rath Finishes Strong At Hawthorne

Gary Rath and Romantic Warrior team up for victory. Read more at Harness Racing Update. https://harnessracingupdate.com/2022/03/27/gary-rath-i-wish-i-had-a-whole-bunch-of-them-like-romantic-warrior/

Wilfong Edges Leonard As Leading Driver

Kyle Wilfong dethroned perennial winner Casey Leonard as leading driver for this year’s Hawthorne winter meet. Read more at Harness Racing Update. https://harnessracingupdate.com/2022/03/25/kyle-wilfong-dethrones-casey-leonard-as-hawthorne-winter-meet-ends/


Kyle Wilfong: Getting It Done

Kyle Wilfong was the leading driver at this year’s winter Hawthorne meet. Click here for more.  http://ustrottingnews.com/wilfong-happy-to-be-home-after-hawthorne-success/


Kizzzmelikeumissme Smacks of Future ICF Stardom

By Mike Paradise


Triple ZZ Stable’s Kizzzmelikeumissme passed her first major sophomore test with a convincing victory in Saturday night $30,000 ICF event for three-year-old pacers.


Nicely handled by the meet’s leading driver Kyle Wilfong, the John Filomeno trained home-bred used a different tactic to secure her third career victory in five starts by getting the job done this time on the front end.


Kizzzmelikeumisssme shot out of the three-hole on the backside once Pattycake Moose (Todd Warren) cleared to wrestle the lead away from the early pacesetter Rollnrozz (Archie Warren).



Kizzzmelikeumissme (Kyle Wilfong) was a compelling winner of last night’s $30,000 event for ICF three-year-old pacing fillies. (Four Footed Fotos).

With one big move Kizzzmelikeumissme ($4.00) powered her way into command and when asked for more in the lane, the Yankee Skyscraper filly did so, putting away a bid by freshman ICF filly champion Apple Valley (Joe Seekman), pacing a 28 second last panel on a wet-soaked racing surface, winning by almost two lengths.


Apple Valley was a late charging second best in her first start since the filly’s Incredible Tillie championship back in September of 2021. Pattycake Moose took the third-place money for trainer Gary Rath.


Kizzzmelikeumissme will likely get a well-deserved rest after five consecutive career weekend starts after skipping her freshman season. The upcoming future star of the state-bred sophomore division will carry a $28,496 bankroll for her Beecher, Illinois owners going into Hawthorne’s summer meet that gets under way On Friday, June 20th.


   Rath Trainee Prevails: The 4-5 favorite Romantic Warrior proved to be fastest in the lane and captured the $30,000 tor for ICF three-year-old. Driven by his trainer and co-owner Gary Rath, the Cassius gelding trotted the mile in 1:59.3 and a sloppy racing surface.


Lous Lancelot (Casey Leonard) rallied nicely to be second while Mr Mizzou was a close-up third.


Rath used his trotters pole position to carve out the winning journey. He hustled Romanic Warrior ($3.80) out, took the hole behind the second betting choice  Mr Mizzou in first tun, and then settled into third when Killyjoy, making his debut, came up to take over the lead near the half, reached in 1:00 flat in the slop.



Romantic Warrior (Gary Rath) rallied to capture Saturday’s night $30,000 Illinois bred trot over a sloppy racing surface, (Four Footed Fotos)

In the lane Rath swung Romanic Warrior out to the middle of the track, popped the horse’s earplugs, and rallied his trotter to his third win in his last four starts, last nights by three parts of a length. The Marengo, Illinois horseman shares ownership of Romantic Warrior with Bobby Beggs, also of Marengo.


Another Romp: A couple of races earlier Talk About Valor continued his dominance of the Open trot division, this time with a no-double-about-it victory in 1:56.3 on the sloppy surface.


Travis Seekman was content to race the Gerald Hansen trotter in the two-hole behind Magic Night (Todd Warren) through a 58.3 first half and then dashed to the front and pulled away to a seven and one-half length before being hand driven to the finish wire.


Talk About Valor’s win was the 21st in 65 starts for his Monee, Illinois owner Shelly Steele.  Muscular Babe (Kyle Wilfong) came on nicely in the lane for runner-up honors while Magic Night faded to third.


Heads-Up Drive: Fox Valley Exploit ($7.20) took advantage of an excellent trip provided by her driver, trainer, and co-owner Kyle Husted to take the Open for filly and mare pacers.


Fox Valley Exploit, the 5-2 third wagering choice of the betting public, worked hard in the early going, shooting out from the six-slot to gain a pocket trip behind the pacesetting Rollin Coal (Juan Franco), who set a quick fraction of 28 flat on a rather unsightly looking racing surface.


Husted kept the six-year-old ICF pacer in the two-hole until they turned for home, then powered to the lead and went onto hold off a late rush by the ground-saving Racing Forthe Mark (Joey Putnam), the bridesmaid finisher.


David Bingham of Concord, Michigan shares owners with Husted of Fox Valley Exploit.


A Wilfong First: We’ll have to wait until Sunday’s two racing cards to be contested for it to be made official. but it appears that Kyle Wilfong has ended Casey Leonard’s six-year streak as Hawthorne’s leading driver. The 30-year-old Watseka, Illinois native goes into Sunday with 51 winners at the meet, seven more than Casey.


Veteran horseman Terry Leonard has successfully defended his title as the meet’s leading trainer with 26 winning horses, 10 more than Gerald Hansen and Brittany Dillion, tied for second with 16 each,


The first Sunday card, originally slated for last Friday, will begin at 4:30 pm. The regular Sunday scheduled program will follow at 7:15 pm.


 Today’s column will do it for a while. I’ll take a couple of months hiatus and be back for Hawthorne’s summer meet that begins on the last day of June. The upcoming Springfield meeting with its race dates still to be determined, also will covered right here at www.harnessillinois.com, likely sometime in late June.

Don’t Kiss Off This Saturday Night

By Mike Paradise


The last Saturday program of Hawthorne’s winter meet is a good one with a pair of $30,000 ICF events, the Open Trot, the Open for filly and mare pacers, and with six of the eight races being offered boasting five-figure purses.


If I had to single out of the most captivating race on the card, I would select the eighth race $30,000 event for ICF filly and mare pacers.


It pits a likely upcoming star of the division Kizzzmelikeumissme, unraced as a two-year-old, against two of the very best in the freshman class, Night of Champions winner Apple Valley and Rollnroz, an 11-time first season winner including a series division of the Incredible Tillie.


Kizzzmelikeumissme has made only four career starts however she’s look very good in each of them for Triple ZZZ Stable of Beecher, Illinois, winning two and a game second in the other pair, and she’s a full sister to two-time ICF Horse of the Year He,zzz A Wise Sky.


“She’s green but she is coming along very well. She reminds me a lot of her brother,” said her trainer, John Filomeno.


“Kizzzmelikeumissme showed ability as a two-year-old, but she wasn’t ready to race last year. She did a lot of growing and she’s a big filly now. I’m looking forward to her racing against some of last year’s better Illinois bred fillies.”


Triple ZZZ Stable’s Kizzmelikeumissme (Kyle Wilfong) will career the role of the favorite in Saturday’s $30,000 event for ICF pacing fillies. (Four Footed Fotos)

Kizzzmelikeumissme (listed at 7-5) drew nicely for regular driver Kyle Wilfong with the two slot. Apple Valley (3-1) landed four with her new driver Travis Seekman) while Rollnroz (4-1) leaves from the five with regular reinsman Archie Buford.


Both fillies haven’t competed in a pari-mutuel race since last September and each qualified last weekend. The question is: How tight are they for tonight’ $30,000 event?


Apple Valley came on strong at the end of her juvenile season of trainer John Molitor and was named the 2021 Illinois Three-Year-old Filly Pacer of the Year for Glenwood, Illinois owner Michael Perrin after hauling in over $80,000 in purse money.


Gary Rath’s Pattycake Moose, programmed at 4-1) also figures to be in the thick of the race. The Major Bombay filly won a pair of Hawthorne races in early February before being scratched sick on Feb. 19. After a month off she obviously needed last week’s outing.


Sweet Sweet Connie (Mike Oosting) and Eris (Juan Franco) are the longshot aspirants of the co-featured eighth race.


The fourth race $30,000 ICF trot is a compact five-horse field headed up by Romantic Warrior (pp 1, Gary Path) and Mr Mizzou (pp 4, Brandon Bates). Both sophomores come off victories in their last start and look primed for big efforts.


Their opposition consists of Lous Lancelot (Casey Leonard) and a pair of first-time starters—Good Boy (Kyle Husted) and Killjoy (Kyle Wilfong). Both are sons of Lou’s Legacy,


Good Boy was a $10,000 yearling purchase at the 2020 Illinois Classic Sale by trainer Erv Miller. Killjoy is a Curt Grummel home-bred and a full brother to Curt’s 2018 Erwin Dygert Bight of Champion victor Big Lou. Killyjoy is bred and owned by Dr. Patrick Graham and Lockridge, Iowa and will race with totting hobbles.


A Pair of Opens: Shirley Steele’s Talk About Valor (Travis Seekman) guns for his fifth Open Trot triumph of the winter meet and was allocated the outside five-slot after his romping victory a week ago.


The Gerald Hansen trained ICF star has Louscardamon (Casey Leonard), Muscular Babe (Kyle Wilfong), Reign And Shine (Brandon Bates) and Magic Night (Todd Warren) starting inside of him, in that order.


The sixth race $13,700 filly and mare Open pace has been topsy-turvy all meeting long with seemingly a different weekly winner tonight’s is another competitive affair.


My Uptowne Girl (Travis Seekman) and Fox Valley Exploit (Kyle Husted) drew for the five and six slots with Exploit landing the outside post.


From the pole position out you’ll find Rojo Caliente (Casey Leonard), Rollin Coal (Juan Franco), Perch (Gary Rath), and Racing For the Mark (Joey Putnam).


So, grab your favorite beverage, have some snacks on hand, and sit back and enjoy the show.


  Last night’s Hawthorne races were cancelled due to poor track conditions. The Friday program will come back in full on Sunday at 4:30 PM followed by the originally scheduled Sunday card at 7:15 PM.


“Ozzy” Aims to Keep State Bred Slate Perfect


Fox Valley Ozzy and driver Casey Leonard will team up again in tonight’s $30,000 sixth race headliner for ICF three-year-old male pacers. (Four Footed Fotos)

By Mike Paradise


The 2021 ICF freshman champion Fox Valley Ozzy looks to pick-up where he left off last year against strictly other state-bred pacers.


The Gary Rath trained pacer was perfect as a two-year-old at Hawthorne, going eight-for-eight and after observing his two prep races prior to tonight’s $30,000 Illinois bred affair you have to like is chances of keeping his gaudy record intact.


Rath had to be pleased with both of “Ozzy’s” races as a four-year-old and they came against older more seasoned open company pacers.


Last weekend the World of Rocknroll sophomore was fourth, with Rath at his lines, beaten two lengths by the one-two finishers Yankee Bounty and Ima A Real Ladys Man, both boast marks lifetime under 1:50 with $1.1 million in purse earnings between them.


A week earlier “Ozzy” was a game second while pacing in 1:53.3, coming home in a quick 26.3, and it was his first outing since last September.


Fox Valley Ozzy’s only two losses in his first season for Marengo owners Steve Mc MacKin and David Samuelson came at Springfield when the pacer dropped neck decisions to Kyle Husted’s Get E Up who we will see later in the summer meet.


Nevertheless, “Ozzy” more than made up for those blips on his juvenile past performance lines by beating his rival in each of the four NOC Series legs and in the $138,000 Incredible Finale showdown on the Night of Champions, all with Casey Leonard driving.


With only four state-bred sophomore foes taking on Fox Valley Ozzy in tonight’s sixth race $30,000 headliner. “Ozzy” figures to be a heavy favorite. Getting away from the three-slot in the five-horse field gives driver Casey Leonard options, although I expect an early move from the 44-year-old Harvard, Illinois native.


Looking to pull off an upset against the morning line 4-5 programmed choice are Frontier Bombay (Kyle Wilfong), Likely Blue Bayou (Richard S Finn), Cole Thornton (Travis Seekman) and Magazine Theme (Brandon Bates).


Gemini Sighting: The Friday card also has a $11,700 Open II Pace on the nine-race program.


With He’zzz A Wise Sky written out of the event, the post time favorite figures to be Fox Valley Gemini, who has thrived at Hawthorne in his six racing seasons with 43 of his 47 lifetime wins coming on the Cicero, Illinois mile oval, all with Casey Leonard in the bike.


“Gemini” went over the $600,000 plateau in career earnings in his latest win on March 4th for Atwater, Illinois owner Jim Ballinger. The Yankee Skyscaper gelding has never missed a check in any of his Hawthorne starts and has a lifetime mark of 1:49.2, taken at last year’s local meet.


Taking on Fox Valley Gemini are Yankee Bounty (Todd Warren), the Ohio invader Street Boy (Brandon Bates) and Three Card (Joey Putnam) in posts one through three, in that order, along with Fox Valley Ren (Mike Oosting) and Northern Angle (Kyle Wilfong), from posts five and six.


He’zzz in Ohio: Illinois star He’zzz A Wise Sky was back in Ohio last night with his sights set on a second consecutive victory in the $28,000 Open I at Miami Valley Raceway.


He’zzz A Wise Sky (26.2) came up second best last night, beaten about three lengths by the 4-5 favorite Sectionline Bigtry who paced a winning 1:49.1 mile.


The John Filomeno ICF pacer was parked out to a 26.2 first quarter leaving from the outside handicapped eight post. He’zzz A Wise Sky did get a 28.3 second quarter breather however he needed a 27.1 third quarter to keep the lead and eventually tired in the lane.



Hansen, Seekman Double Up in Opens

By Mike Paradise


It was one cold Saturday night for racing (20 degrees); however, the Gerald Hansen Stable and driver Travis Seekman didn’t mind. They were red-hot when it counted.


To say that Talky About Valor romped to his fourth Open trot victory last night isn’t an overstatement. The seven-year-old star of the Gerald Hansen Stable showed his heels to his foes in the $13,700 second race co-feature, an event where the outcome wasn’t in doubt after the first quarter.



Talk About Valor and driver Travis Seekman were all by themselves at the finish of last night’s $13,700 co-feature Open Trot. (Four Footed Fotos)

Driver Travis Seekman hustled Talk About Valor out from the assigned outside five slot. The 2021 Illinois Aged Trotter of the Year got command midway through the first turn and proceeded to a dominating five length triumph for Monee, Illinois owner Shirley Steele, the gelding’s 20th win in 84 lifetime starts


The 13-1 longshot Lousraptor (Juan Franco) came on in the lane to be a non-threatening second. Beaten five lengths, last week’s Open trot victory Magic Night was only third best on this night.


Talk About Valor opened a four-length lead at the first quarter (29 flat). The gutsy trotter was a comfortable two and one-half lengths ahead at the half (57.4) and by the three quarters (1:26.2) was five lengths ahead with Seekman enjoying the ride.


Hold All Tickets: The third race filly and mare Open Pace followed, and the outcome was more much suspenseful.


n  The Hansen trained, Seekman driver 11-1 longshot My Uptowne Girl made a late dash to finish first, but his supporters had to sweat out a long inquiry by the track stewards before the race was official.


My Uptowne Girl (No. 2) bumped wheels in the early going with Scorecard Dandy, but it was determined it was the No. 1 horse who came out some heading into the first turn.


My Uptown Girl wasn’t in the ballgame through most of the race and was sixth and last coming out of the final turn.


But that was before the eight-year-old Ideal Towne homebred exploded in the outside lane and went on to gain a one and one-half length victory, her fifth of the season in nine tries for the transplanted Oregon, Illinois couple of Bernie and Deb Paul, now residents of, Tylertown, Mississippi.


It’s Time for Fun (Kyle Wilfong) and Seventimesacharm (John De Long) traded the first half leads, reached in 57.4. Rollin Coal (Juan Franco), the eventual second place finisher, came out of fifth and rallied strong in the lane but brought up My Uptown Girl who rallied even stronger with a 28 flat last panel a sub-freezing night.