By Mike Paradise
Springfield based trainer Mike Brink will ship in five youngsters for Hawthorne’s Night of Champions Saturday night and three of his ICF horses will very likely get a lot of play at the betting windows.
Illinimight (Casey Leonard), is the 7-5 morning line favorite in the $83,696 Erwin F. Dygert Memorial 3-year-old male trot. Allbeastnobeauty (Mike Oosting), is expected to be the post time favorite in the $125,140 Plum Peachy Championship for 3-year-old pacing fillies and Maui Mama (Casey Leonard), is the 5-2 second early choice behind in the $99,032 Beulah Dygert Memorial 3-year-old filly trot.
I had an opportunity to get some insight from Brink on his three leading candidates on the Night of Champions.
Springfield champion Illinimight has captured 3 of his last 4 starts after having just one win in his first 11 trips postward. The Cassius gelding ended his freshman campaign for owners Keith and Kevin Miller of Arthur, Illinois with a Night of Champions triumph in the Kadabra final.
“It was my intention to have Illinimight at his best for August and September and it has turned out that way, said Brink. “He’s a nice little horse who really has been good all year. There never has been anything wrong with him. I was a bit surprise with his 1:54.4 winning time at Springfield. I kept his hobbles tight this summer to keep him trotting. But I let them out an inch last week and Casey (Leonard), told me he could notice the difference. The horse raced really well. Casey has driven him all summer long and knows the horse. Not having to switch drivers all the time is a good thing. “
Albeastnobeauty has had a very productive sophomore season, winning 8 of 14 outings, while raking in over $62,000 for the partnership of Josh Carter (Williamsville, IL), Mark Brown (Chatham, Illinois), Larry Crawford (Port St. Lucie, Florida) and Brink.
Allbeastbeatnubeauty finished third in last week’s final leg of the Plum Peachy, snapping a four race winning streak that included neck victories in both the Springfield and Du Quoin State Fair championships.
Brink added,“Allbeastnobeaurty is a grinder. She’s a big filly who can get lazy. She’s been sound all year with no lameness issues. Last week’s winner (The New Americana), didn’t do much all year until that race. I was expecting her to get a bit tired on the front, but she paced a 27 and change third quarter and that pretty much ended my horse’s chances. Allbeastnobeauty is at her best in the third quarter, but she wasn’t going to gain any ground last week in it with those fractions. With the big purse this week, they should be racing harder up front in the early going and if they do, that will help my horse. If the race goes like it did last week, she could be in trouble. We’ll just have to see how things unfold.”
Maui Mama zipped to the top of the Beulah Dygert stakes point standings wins in her first two series leg with Casey Leonard. Since then she has gone winless, nevertheless, the Cassis filly has finished second or third in all of her last seven tries, including the last four, to the Steve Searle’s sharp filly Trotting Grace, the 3-2 programmed favorite, who rattled off a sweep at Springfield, a Windy Skeeter victory at Du Quoin and a fourth straight win in last week’s leg four of the Dygert.
“Maui Mama has been a consistent filly all season long,” said Brink. “She could be a surprise horse on the Night of Champions if some things can go her way. (Steve Searle’s) filly (Trotting Grace), is sharp, but she’s not a real good finisher. If we can get a 2 or 3-hole trip with some decent fractions up front, my filly could be right there. Casey didn’t want to race her first up last week and we got shuffled back. Maui Mama hasn’t had any real issues all year, but I had some vet work done to her this week and she should be fresh and ready. She does have a good late kick.”
Maui Mama owns a 50 per cent career winning record going into the Night of Champions, with 9 victories in 18 starts. Thus far, she has banked $117,205 for her Morton, Illinois owner Bill Wright.
First post on the Night of Champions has been moved up to 7 pm