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An ICF Stakes Packed Hawthorne Opener

By Mike Paradise

Hawthorne brings its summer session Thursday night with a unique loaded program, if you’re a fan of ICF stake races.

 

Of the nine races on the card, six are three-year-old state-bred stake events with the headliner, the $46,700 Cardinal Pace, the final race on the program.

 

It’s packed with 11-horses (one trailer), and it lured the crème de crème of the Illinois-bred sophomore division with the likes of three-year-old champion Fox Valley Ozzy, Springfield titleholder Get E Up, recent ICF Open winner Kingofmyheart and the current streaking Fox Valley Crete.

 

Get E Up (Kyle Husted), who edged Fox Valley Ozzy (Casey Leonard) in last year’s Springfield championship, will take on the 2021 freshman colt champ again in tonight’s $46,700 Cardinal stake, the final race on tonight’s card. (Four Footed Fotos)

The draw was kind to Kingofmyheart and Get E Up but not so for Fox Valley Ozzy and Fox Valley Crete. The latter pair landed the two outside posts, the nine and the ten, in that order, while the Erv Miller Stable’s Kingofmyheart (Atlee Bender) is sitting pretty with the two slot and Kyle Husted’s Get E Up is in an enjoyable spot with the three.

 

Get E Up comes off four starts at Hoosier Park where he picked up a 1:52.1 winning mile earlier this month. Kingofmyheart looked good breezing in 1:55.2 last week at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

 

Fox Valley Ozzy (Casey Leonard) has been campaigning in Minnesota where he comes off a pair of second place finishes in Open company at Running Aces. Fox Valley Crete looks like he’s going to be a force in his division after rattling off three straight triumphs at Springfield.

 

Looking for an upset in tonight’s finale are Frontier Bombay (Kyle Wilfong), Josierockmyworld (Travis Seekman), Pericles (Archie Buford), Cole Thornton (Todd Warren), Major Grin (Cordarius Stewart), Hondo (Clifton Bell) and Spoken For (Mike Brink) who starts in the second tier.

 

The $44,100 Cardinal Trot also came up with 11 starters and last season’s Night of Champions victor Lousdobb figures to get the bulk of the gambler’s money with the pole position and two impressive wins downstate in his first sophomore outings.

 

Lousdobb (Casey Leonard) was a romping nine-plus winner on May 29th and two weeks ago also breezed with a 1:57.4 clocking. The Lou’s Legacy prodigy annexed the $114,000 Kadabra in his freshman year and went on to capture division honors for Illinois owners Flacco Family Farms (Alexis) and All-Wright Stable (Morton).

 

With 13 horses entered for each of tonight’s Violet’s, it was necessary to split both the pace and trot into two divisions. The Violet Trot will carry a $23,550 pot while Violet Pace goes for a little more $24,350.

 

The likely post-time favorite in the initial trot (second race) is Lous Monamie (Casey Leonard) who hails from the barn of conditioner Steve Searle. She’ll have to overcome the outside six slot when she battles Fiftini (Kyle Husted), Loyz Singgenesing (Todd Warren), Hot Trotn Trixie (Archie Buford), Rita’s Legacy (Mike Brink) and Creations Dream MV (Jamaica Patton),

 

The other Violet trot has freshman division champ Funky Wiggle (Kyle Wilfong) in great shape with the rail in a seven-horse field. The star of the Curt Grummel Stable was impressive when she dominated the filly juvenile division last year, going 8 for 12 and raking in over $130,000 for owner and breeder Dr Patrick Graham of Lockridge, Iowa,

 

Tring to chase Funky Wiggle down will be Mailboxmoney (Todd Warren), Lous Xanadu (Casey Leonard), Armbro Lark (Kyle Husted), Jazelyn (Archie Buford) Ironclad Creation (Atlee Bender) and Fern B (Juan Franco).

 

The first Violet pace split (race four) is headed up by Merv Chupp’s Dandy’s MNM (pp 2, Kyle Husted) who puts a three-race winning streak on the line, including a 1:54.3 victory in the Kentucky Proud Series at the Oak Grove facility and last year’s Du Quoin Director Awards division winner Lady Bombay (pp 7, Atlee Bender) from the Erv Miller stable.

 

Providing the opposition are Ellis Gray (Juan Franco), Pattycake Mooss (Casey Leonard), Swanky Diamond (Archie Buford), Stardust Gram (Kyle Wilfong) and Rmissashlee (Todd Warren).

 

The second Violet pace division lured Night of Champions Incredible Tillie titleholder Apple Valley (pp 1, Jordon Ross), owned, and trained by Michael Perrin.

 

Taking on the Major Bombay filly is from the two slot out: Kizzzmelikeumissme (Kyle Wilfong), Rock Of Angels (Jamaica Patton), Rollnrozz (Archie Buford), Mommy Said Nonono (Wyatt Avenatti), Iwannarocknroll (Atlee Bender) and Fox Valley Hadley (Kyle Husted), a 1:55.2 winner last week at Springfield.

 

First post for the opener, and every other live night of racing at Hawthorne, is 7:10 pm.

Early Birds Get the Dough

By Mike Paradise

 

After a hotter than normal June weather wise, we begin July on Friday night with the weekend opening of Hawthorne’s summer meet. With a smaller than usual warm weather session, the ICF stakes schedule had to be jammed into a less than two and one-half month stretch.

 

A quartet of Illinois department of Agriculture stakes, the Violets, and Cardinals, get things under way on Thursday evening, the last day of June with $43,000 to $45,000 est. three-year-old events for both gaits.

 

Hawthorne harness racing action gets under way Thursday night as the shortened summer meet gets under way. (Four Footed Fotos)

The same amount of ICF stakes money as in the past will be available but this time around there will be two championship nights, the first in July and the last, the Night of Champions, in its usual mid-September slot.

 

With the same purse structure for both the three-year-old and older pace and trot finals and eliminations, a horse can fare just in well money-wise in July as in September, so having you horse ready to roll starting with next week’s Violet and Cardinal elims is vital for horsemen.

 

With four legs heading into the Night of Championships not a possibility with the shorter meet, it’s back to the old days with eliminations deciding the championship fields in each stake showdown. That’s puts a lot of pressure on trainers to have their steeds in tip-top shape at the right time,

 

The July version of the Night of Champion stakes confrontations is right around the corner. Eliminations are set for July 15th and 16th, just a few weeks from now.

 

The first major test for this year’s two-year-old crop is on July 8th and 9th with eliminations for the Violet (fillies) and the Cardinal (colts and geldings) for both gaits. That’s only two weeks away.

 

The Night of Champions finals in September for two-year-old all are estimated at $100,000, that’s twice as much as the $50,000 on the line for each in the July Championships. Entry fees for each stake’s elimination is $200.

 

Entry fee for the older ICF stake events rise to $500.

 

Readers Speak Out: My recent article “Why Not More Springfield” emphasizing the needs for a second harness racing venue in our state sparked a lot of interest on the IHHA Facebook page with dozens of “likes.” Some readers took the time to comment on the story. Here are a few of those replies:

 

“Excellent idea, I hope the state takes a good hard look. They must help the horsemen!  “Michelle Luce

 

“A common sense partnership with Hawthorne and Reopening Balmoral with the current owners is what should happen, can be racing there year around in 23 it’s mind blowing that this isn’t being seriously considered.” Jayme Blonde

 

“We need a 2nd track, period. Hawthorne seems unwilling or unable to progress. Illinois is a huge state, let’s utilize other areas besides the Northeast corner. Open to all possibilities.” Troy Markert

 

“Something needs to be done ASAP. More racing at Springfield or open up Balmoral for year round racing!! Like we were promised years ago!!” Jackson Loy

 

“I like MR CAREY …but this is insane ! we NEED another track owned by ANYONE !” Ira Smolin

 

Star Studded Stats: Two-time defending Illinois Harness Horse of the Year He’zzz A Wise Sky is currently campaigning at Oak Grove Raceway in Kentucky where last month he rattled off a career fastest 1:48.3 mile for his Beecher, Illinois owners Triple ZZZ Stable.

 

The John Filomeno superstar has competed in four Midwest states this year—Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and now Kentucky, going 8 for 15 in Opens while amassing over $102,000 on the way.

 

He’zzz A Wise Sky was was unbeaten during Hawthorne’s winter meet, going five for five in Opens. He also has Open victories in Ohio (twice) and Kentucky as a five-year-old and is closing in on a half-million dollars in lifetime earnings ($421, 611).

Fox Valley Crete All Business at Three

By Mike Paradise

 

The winter in between and a two-year-old horse and a three-year-old looms large in the horse racing industry.

 

You’ve read countless times how a horse “matured” over the winter or “filled out” substantially, and that’s the reason for a more successful sophomore campaign.

 

Of course, it doesn’t always come about that way. Some horses don’t grow much over the winter, and some don’t improve their mental aspect of becoming a racehorse, but for the most part the opposite is true.

 

One three-year-old to keep an eye on this summer is Fox Valley Crete who hails from the Nelson Willis stable. “Spider,” as Nelson is known affectively by his follow horseman, is one of the most respected Illinois horse conditioners and one of the most successful as well.

 

Fox Valley Crete looks like he’s ready for a strong ICF three-year-old summer campaign. (Four Footed Fotos)

Fox Valley Crete was the “sales topper” two years ago at the Illini Classic Sale, acquired for $52,000 by the Megan Rogers Racing Stable of Chicago, Illinois. The Sportsmaster gelding had an “okay” freshman season, earning over $25,000 however found the winner’ circle just once in10 starts. That victory came in a leg of the Incredible Finale series, but it came against a field without the top two juvenile colts—Fox Valley Ozzy and Get E Up.

 

In the other Incredible Finale legs Fox Valley Crete finished either second or third to the top pair.

 

Off what we’ve seem this far at Springfield, Fox Valley Crete could be giving Fox Valley Ozzy and Get E Up all they can handle this summer. “Crete” has breezed in three downstate starts with Juan Franco at his lines and should be a confident pacer heading into the opening of racing at Hawthorne next week.

 

“Fox Valley Crete uncorked a swift 26.3 last quarter in his latest win on Friday.

 

Looking ahead, Willis is optimistic on his horse’s three-year-old campaign.

 

“He’ll be a better horse this tear,” said Spider. “He had some health issues that are now behind him, and he should be able to hold his own with (Kyle) Husted’s horse (Get E Up) and (Gary) Rath’s good trotter (Fox Valley Ozzy.)

 

Will Fox Valley Crete be as good as is older brother Fox Valley Ren? Only time will tell. Both are out of the broodmare LR Dancing Dream. “Ren” has developed into a solid ICF open pacer. He raced out of Willis’ barn at two and three and part of his four-year-old season before he was acquired by the Steve Searle Stable.

 

Fox Valley Ren was claimed for $50,000 at Hoosier in late May by former Chicago trainer Ken Rucker. The horse has over $194,000 in lifetime earnings on his card and a mark of 1:50.3.

 

 

TODD WARREN…1,000 training wins.

Congats Todd: Chicago circuit-based horsemen Todd Warren sent out his 1,000th winning horse as a trainer earlier this week at Oak Grove Raceway in Kentucky when Eye on A Tiger AS won the $22.000 Open trot in 1:53.1. Todd’s son Ridge drove the milestone winner.

 

Todd, a 57-year-old, Chicago native, drove the second-place finisher Jack Vernon last Monday. The Manhattan, Illinois resident is closing on 5,200 lifetime winning drives.

 

A Golden Win: Three-time ICF Illinois Harness Horse of the Year Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard) picked up his 50th career victory yesterday at Springfield with an easy eight length romp (1:52.3) in an Open Pace. The seven-year-old star of the Terry Leonard stable now has a career bankroll that sits at over $630,000 for Atwater, Illinois owner, Jim Ballinger.

 

Springfield Entry Box Explodes

They’ll be coming down the lane 43 times at Springfield this weekend 43 times in two days of racing. (Four Footed Fotos)

 

By Mike Paradise

 

When I was printing out of past performance lines for Friday’s and Saturday’s Springfield races, I thought something went awry with my printer.

 

It just kept going and going and going.

 

Turns out there was nothing wrong with the printer, it was the number of races it had to print out. Twenty-two for Friday and 21 for Saturday.

 

Yikes!

 

An astonishing 300 horses entered the weekend Hawthorne cards on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. To say it was a surprise would be an understatement. I was shocked at the number. There was talk of a possible horse shortage for the summer meet. I think those 300 entries put an end to that discussion.

 

 

Looks like a Goodie: Thumbing through the 22 paces of horse’s lines for Friday, what stood out was the ICF Open trot, late in the program.

 

Race 19 is the ICF Open and it’s an intriguing affair.

 

The ICF Open has five sons or daughters of Lou’s Legacy taking on three others that are not and that trio is strong. It’s comprised of the 2021 ICF Trotter of the Year Talk About Valor (pp 6, Travis Seekman), the multiple Illinois trotting mare of the year Annas Lucky Star (pp 7, Kyle Wilfong) and Heath Bar (Jamaica Patton) the runner-up in last week’s state-bred Open.

 

 

Louscardamon, shown here winning with Kyle Husted at Hawthorne, goes after his third consecutive victory at Springfield today. (Four Footed Fotos)

The opposition of “Lous” consists of Lousraptor (Atlee Bender), Louzotic (Casey Leonard), Loulita (Wyatt Avenatti), Lous Abigail (Juan Franco), and Louscardamon (Curt Grummel, who is going after his third straight win and his second in ICF Open competition.

 

The Gerald Hansen Stable’s star trotter Talk About Valor qualified last week at Springfield by breezing on the front end in 1:56 flat. The seven-year-old trotter closed out the earlier meet at Hawthorne by demolishing the last two Open fields by more than three lengths and then by eight and goes into today’s action 5-for-8 on the season, all in Hawthorne Opens.

 

Easy Money: Indiana based trainer Tyler George sent a pair of his good mares to pick-up some easy dough ($3,759 winner’s share) in filly and mare Opens today and both were assigned the outside six slots for each event.

 

Moneymakehersmile (Kyle Wilfong) heads up race 15. The six Mach Three mare paced a 1:50.3 mile last year at Hoosier and comes off a 1:52 flat win at the Indiana racetrack.

 

In the following event is Sandy Sue, (Casey Leonard) a seven-year-old Shark Gesture mare with a mark of 1:50.4 last season at Hoosier and a 1:51.4 win this year at Miami Valley Raceway in Ohio. She’s been competing recently in Indiana Opens.

Springfield Races This Weekend To Be Livestreamed

The Hawthorne races that are being held this weekend in Springfield will be livestreamed at the “Illinois County Fair Harness Racing” Facebook page. Click here for the link. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1966047640194826/

 

 

Spotlight on Juneteenth Celebration Race

By Mike Paradise

 

With a highly successful lunching of its Juneteenth Celebration race last year this season’s go around moves to Springfield and a day early because of racing being Dark on Sunday, June 19th.

 

The inaugural Juneteenth Celebration event was the first pari-mutuel harness race in Illinois history to feature an entire field of Standardbred horses driven exclusively by African-American horsemen.

 

The initiative to spotlight participation by minorities in the historic sport was championed by the Illinois Harness Horsemen Association and the initial Juneteenth Celebration event was well received by the national media.

 

Today’s Juneteenth Celebration race is an $5,000 Invite with five horses entered, all driven by African-American horseman. It’s carded as race eight on the 10-race program.

 

Hosea Williams, an Illinois Harness Hall of Fame inductee for lifetime service and dedication to the industry, some 40 plus years ago was the first minority horseman to become a “regular” on the Chicagoland harness racing circuit and was proud to be a part of last year’s inaugural event.

 

“Seeing a race full of Black drivers steering horses down the homestretch makes it easier for the next generation of horsemen to imagine themselves as integral to the success of this industry,” said Hosea Williams, a board member of the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association after last year’s initial Juneteenth race. “When I started racing horses here, I was the only Black driver; now there are many more of us. This is about representation and visibility, and I’m really thankful to Hawthorne and my fellow horsemen for supporting this.”

 

This year Hosea has the pride of his stable going post in the second rubbing of the Juneteenth event. She’s Rollin Coal, the seven-year-old mare with lifetime earnings of over $257,000, mostly banked by taking on the top open company pacing mares on the circuit.

 

Hosea will drive Rollin Coal away from the outside five slot when she takes on Tymal Torch (Cordarius Stewart), Heavy Pressure (Archie Buford), Rock Steady Ron (Jamaica Patton) and Incredible Bombay (Jerome Daniels).

 

 

Jamaica Paton drove last year’s initial Juneteenth Celebration race winner and today handles his Ron Steady Rock.

Jamaica Patton drove last year’s Juneteenth winner Todd’s Party and the Mississippi native will steer one of the race favorites in Ron Steady Rock. The seven-year-old Patton trainee paced a winning 1:49.4 mile at Lexington last year and his $49,090 earned thus far this season is tops in the Invite field.

 

Good Looking Trot: Saturday’s Hawthorne card at Springfield is headed up by the seventh race trot fort ICF three- and four-year old’s. It’s a solid field with two of last year’s division champions, the Kadabra Final winner and the Fox Valley Flan bridesmaid among its six starters.

 

Night of Champions victor Lousdobb, fresh off a 1:59.4 victory a few weeks ago at Springfield takes on Illinois Two-Year-Old Colt of the Year Fox Valley Cairo, who also romped on May 29th in 1:59 flat.

 

With Casey Leonard opting to drive Steve Searle’s Lousdobb, trainer Mike Brink will guide Fox Valley Cairo today, the winner of six of 11 outings as a freshman with over $95,000 banked.

 

Rndmnnpredictable, another Searle trainee, leaves from the five spot between Lousdobb and Fox Valley Cairo. Juan Franco handles last season’s ICF Aged Trotter of the year.

 

Armbro Lark, the Fox Valley Flan 2021 runner-up, will use her gate speed from the rail to be in the thick of today’s contest. She made over $78,000 as a juvenile and has Terry Skinner in her bike today.

 

Emsroscopcoletrian (Cornelius Cavett) and I’mnotalocaldude (Archie Buford) complete the competitive trotting field.