By Mike Paradise
The two-day Du Quoin State Fair gets under way Saturday afternoon with seven ICF trotting or pacing champions to be decided, one a non-wagering event. Here is how I see Saturday afternoon’s pari-mutuel showdowns playing out:
The Director’s Award
Two-Year-Old ICF Racing Fillies
Trainer Nick Prather has a double dose of trouble for the other eight freshman fillies in this stake with Springfield champion Artemesia (Todd Warren) and the beaten favorite in that race San Antonio Rose (Kyle Husted).
San Antonio Rose gets a very favorable post shift for Saturday stake going from the six-slot to the three/ The Fort Apache Hanover filly paid a dear price to get command at Springfield when she was parked out to a sizzling 26.3 first quarter and went to the half in a quick half in :54.4.
When she was empty in the lane her stablemate, the fast improving Artemesia, stormed on past with a season best mile of 1:53.3.
Kyle Husted, who was in the bike when San Antonio Rose won the third leg of the Incredible Tillie stake series at Hawthorne, will drive her Saturday.
The Mike Brink’s Stable’s A Real Doozie (Ridge Warren) who is always right there at the finish, and Dee Tumbleweed, a fast closing third at Springfield, are also possibilities.
Mike’s Pick: San Antonio Rose
Two-Year-Old Trotting Fillies
If she does falter it could be Fox Valley Elana, the Springfield runner-up, or the improving Daisy Lou Drake who might pull off the upset.
Mike’s Pick: Anna’s Lucky Star
The Time Dancer
3-Year-Old Pacing Fillies
Going into Springfield Quaid Racing’s Char N Marg (Casey Leonard) appeared unstoppable in this division but the Bob Walker Stable’s Bucklegirl Bobette proved the pundits wrong, winning by 1 and 1/2 lengths in a snappy 1:53.2 mile.
Bucklegirl Bobette does her best racing up-close and leaving from the two-post with regular driver Kyle Wilfong the filly will be there.
Char N Marg had beaten her 3-year-old rivals in all six starts before Springfield but a 27 flat last quarter only got her third at the state fair grounds. The four-slot in a small 6-horse field should bode well for her tonight.
Don’t overlook Lexington Lady (Bobby Smolin), a recent Lasix user who had her best race of the season with a second place finish at Springfield at 10-1 odds.
Mike’s Pick: Char N Marg
. The Windy Skeeter
Two-Year-Old Trotting Fillies
Which Praise Singer (Ridge Warren) will show up Saturday afternoon? The one that breezed in the Springfield elimination and final or the other that didn’t get a check in five consecutive starts at Hawthorne earlier in the summer?
The Mike Brink trainee is the second choice in the Springfield program at 3-1 behind the 9-5 favorite Powerful Princess (Casey Leonard) who didn’t care foe the surface at Springfield and went off stride in both races.
Then there’s Surviver DI, the beaten favorite at Springfield, with eight season wins and has a freshman, making her the winningest 2-year-old trotting filly in the country in 2015. The Steve Searle trained filly won Hawthorne’s Violet earlier and was second in the latest leg of the Filly Dygert to the winner Vengeful.
A price shot to consider is the overdue filly Roma Falls who did well to be second at Springfield leaving from the 10-hole. She can motor late.
Mike’s Pick: Praise Singer
The Pronto Don
Three-Year–Old Trotting Colts and Geldings
With back-to-back victories in the last two Dygert stake series for males and the Cardinal championship on his list of season accomplishments Hail Caesar is the obvious trotter to beat.
The concern: The horse has missed a month after not being 100 per cent for Springfield so trainer Mike Brink scratched him. If he’s right, he’ll race and from the three-slot looks awfully good with regular driver Casey Leonard.
The speedster Primed N Powerful, as usual, will have to be caught. He was at Springfield in deep stretch when Ridge Warren gave PJ Boy a perfect winning pocket trip. The Mike Rogers gelding moves three slots further outside to the six making his task more difficult in this stake.
Speedy Rendezvous has strung together a series of nice efforts for trainer Nick Prather and his driver Kyle Husted as to be smiling knowing he’ll leave with the gelding from the rail.
Mike’s Pick: Hail Caesar
Aged Filly and Mare Trot
Two-time Illinois division champion Trot Fudge Sundae returns to her home state for this event with over $400,000 in career earnings and will open as the 7-5 favorite in this short four-horse field.
Now under the care of trainer Mike Brink, Trot Fudge Sundae had been campaigning at Running Acres in Minnesota where the purses for a mare like her were higher than at Hawthorne. All she did there is lower the track record for her aged, sex and gait to 1:58.2.
She’s no stranger to Du Quoin. She took her freshman mark there of 1:57.1 for Minooka, Illinois owner Jim Bafia when she went on to be named Illinois 2-Year-Old Trotter of the year in 2012 when she became the first ICF trotter to win the American National 2-year-old filly trot.
Awaiting her are Sara The Spy (Pat Curtin) who is the defending champion of this stake, Ants Iner Pants, (Kyle Husted) a winner of 26 career races and close to $240,000 in earnings, and Springfield champion Macie Rae (Ridge Warren) who brings a six-race winning streak into this $7,000 stake for trainer Mike Rogers and owner Stephanie McKinnon of Berlin, IL.
Macie Rae was the Windy Skeeter champion at Du Quoin in 2014 as a 3-year-old.
Both Sara The Spy and Trot Fudge Sundae have trotted to a career best time of 1:54.
Mike’s Pick: Trot Fudge Sundae