By Mike Paradise
July of 2022 is one month Illinois trainer Curt Grummel will never forget. The 50-year-old horseman sent out not one but two of the recent $50,000 summer champions at Hawthorne.
His three-year-old filly trotter Funky Wiggle was much the best in the Beulah Dygert Memorial trot a couple of weeks ago and stable-mate Marvelous Mystery stayed unbeaten with a triumph in last week’s Fox Valley Flan showdown.
You might think since both fillies comes from the same stable, they would be a lot alike. You would be wrong.
“The two fillies are the opposite to each other,” revealed Grummel. “They don’t have much in common.”
They are both driven by Kyle Wilfong and both trotters like to win races,” I interjected.
“Yes, you’re right about that,” replied Curt. “I had Marvelous Mystery’s mother (Catrain Hall, 1:54, $353,421), and she was a good solid mare. Marvelous Mystery is a lot like her.
“The filly is very consistent. She has a little soundness problem, so I like to take it easy on her. Her best days are ahead of her. We’ve haven’t seen the bottom to her yet.”
Funky Wiggles hasn’t got funky in a race for Curt very often, instead she’s pretty much ruled over her division as a two-year-old and is well on her way of doing the same thing at the age of three.
“The only time she went off stride last year was when I raced her with hind shoes,” said Curt. “I had been racing her without them. I thought now that she’s bigger and stronger this year she matured out of that problem, but she hasn’t. When you saw her not make the gate a few weeks ago and start pacing it was because I put her hind shoes back on again. She obviously didn’t like it.”
When the Beulah Dygert summer championship rolled around Curt made the necessary shoe change on the filly and the result was a dominate winning performance from the Funky Wiggle, almost seven lengths the best.
Grummel wants to keep Funky Wiggle sharp for next Friday’s Illinois State Fair sophomore filly trotting eliminations (or prep event), so he put her in Hawthorne’s entry box for this weekend.
The winner of over $165,000 in a season and a half of racing goes postward in Saturday’s second event from the pole position, a race strictly for three-year-old trotters. She’ll open as a 6-5 heavy favorite. Funky Wiggle will use it as a prep for the Springfield meet that starts next Thursday afternoon.
Classy Newcomer in Open Trot: Saturday’s headliner is the $12,500 Open Trot where the red-hot Talk About Valor is back after a couple of weeks rest and has a “new face” to take on and she’s a good one.
She’s Big City Pearl (Atlee Bender), an Erv Miller trainee who was competing in the rugged open Graduate Series at The Meadowlands in May and June.
Big City Pearl, assigned the seven-slot with Talk About Valor allocated the right, was a $82,200 yearling purchase. Now four, the mare has over $225,000 in lifetime earnings and took her mark of 1:53.2 on sloppy surface at Hoosier in June when she captured an Open 3 event.
Lining up with posts one through five, in that order, to challenge Talk About Valor and Big City Pearl are Reign And Shine (Jamaica Patton), Louscardamon (Kyle Husted), Swan Of Dreams (Todd Warren), and Louzotic (Casey Leonard), along with Illinois trotting queen Annas Lucky Star (Kyle Wilfong), appointed the five post by the Hawthorne Race Office.
Ho-Hum: Proving once again he’s the best horse racing in Illinois, He’zzz A Wise Sky ($2.40) last night rolled to his ninth consecutive victory this year at Hawthorne in the $12,300 Open Pace.
Aptly driven by Kyle Wilfong, the star of the John Filomeno stable showed his heels to seven foes, this time in 1:49.4, almost one length better than the 20-1 longshot Rock N Republic (Atlee Bender). Hidden Assassin (Travis Seekman) was a game third.
He’zzz A Wise Sky wouldn’t be denied the lead and hit the first quarter marked in a rapid 26.3. He went to the half in :54.3 and reached the three-quarter pole in 1:22 flat and more than enough left to hold off his challengers.
The five-year-old home bred is now 12 for 19 on the year and is closing in on $150,000 in season earnings for Triple ZZZ Stable Beecher, Illinois.