By Mike Paradise
There was enthusiasm in the voice of Racing Secretary Robin Schadt when I asked her about the upcoming harness racing meet at Hawthorne Race Course.
“I’m excited about Hawthorne,” said Robin who takes over reins as the track’s new racing secretary after serving as the assistant last year. “I’m optimistic about this year’s meet. We have a nice purse schedule out there to offer horsemen and while I don’t have any concrete numbers yet to determine how many horses we’ll have available I’m confident we’ll be in good shape.
“Any state bred program is going to prop up a racing secretary’s options. It’s bad out here in California. They registered only nine foals. We’re in a much better situation in Illinois. While it’s not anywhere near as good as it was when I first started, the ICF program still has enough of a foundation to get your overnight races going,” said Schadt from her residence in Sacramento, California where she’s the Director of Racing at the Cal-Expo harness meet.
One of the reasons for the Oak Lawn, Illinois native’s optimism is the amount of 3-year-old ICF stake nominations she has received for the 2017 Hawthorne meet.
“We have 111 nominations for the 3-year-old stakes. That’s 11 more than we had last year. The 2-year-old ICF stake nominations are due April 15th, so I don’t have those numbers yet, but I expect they’ll be good as well.”
Nominations for Hawthorne’s Late Closer Series are due on April 1st, while the nomination fees for the Cicero Claiming Series must be postmarked by April 24th.
All the Late Closer Series races will have new titles this time around, compliments of Robin: There’s the Bea Farber and the Daryl Busse for trotters, the Walter Paisley (fillies and mares) ; the Robert Larry and the Phil Georgeff (colts and geldings) for open company pacers; the Peter Galassi for 3-year-old open company filly pacers; the Dave Magee for ICF fillies and the Mike Paradise for ICF colts and geldings.
The Late Closers have a $300 nomination fees, due April 1, and consist of two legs and either a $10,000 or $11,000 added money final in late May (27 or 28).
Lackey Returning: Robin also confirmed that veteran horseman Jim Lackey will be back at Hawthorne when Cal-Expo concludes its meet the first week of May. The 65-year-old Californian is Cal Expo’s fifth leading driver and also ranks sixth in the trainer standings. Lackey came to Hawthorne last year and steadily picked-up drives as they meet went on, finishing among the leaders in the final driver standings. “Lackey’s driving style reminds me of Jim Curran’s,” continued Robin, “he’s patient out there and excels on a mile track.” Lackey is having another first-rate meeting this year at Cal-Expo where he is currently the meet’s fifth leading driver, winning at better than a 16 per cent clip. Last weekend he brought home six winners, four on Friday and two on Saturday.
Stake Info: All four of the 2-year-old ICF Night of Champions stakes have a single $1,250 nomination fee, due April 15th. The four qualifying legs, with purses ranging from $12,000 to $16,000, will carry a $200 starting fee.
The Incredible Tillie for freshman filly pacers and the Incredible Finale for 2-year-old colts and geldings have an estimated $125,000 added purse final, along with a $20,000 Consolation.
The Fox Valley Flan for filly trotters and the Kadabra for male trotters are estimated to be $75,000 championships and $20,000 Consolations. All those 2-year-old ICF stake championship purses figures will be firmed up once the final tally of nominations are received by the Hawthorne Race Office.
Better Than Expected: The 3-year-old Plum Peachy for filly pacers was estimated to have at $100,000 final but increased to a projected $105,000 pot when 35 distaffers were nominated.
The Robert F. Carey for sophomore colts and geldings saw 38 pacers nominated boosting its estimated $100,000 Final to a now anticipated $112,000 championship.
More Than Okay: The Illinois owned and trained 5-year-old mare OK Heavenly notched her fourth season victory Wednesday at Pompano Park in the $10,000 Open Pace for filly and mare pacers. The season best mile of 1:51.3 came in first-over fashion and boosted her 2017 earnings just under $30,000 for owners Dandy Farms Inc. (Glenview, IL) and Mark Winship (Canton, IL). Angie Coleman (Channahon, IL) trains OK Heavenly.
The 2015 Springfield State Fair 3-year-old champion Tricky Nick was a 1:55.1 front-end winner in Wednesday’s $18,000 featured Preferred Trot at The Meadows. The now 5-year-old son of Band’s Gold Chip has 20 career victories in 71 trips postward.