By Mike Paradise
Like people, some horses are calm, cool and collected before competition. Many others however are not.
That’s the case with the Nelson Willis Stable’s Dan D Dune, the 2-1 morning line favorite in tonight’s $26,500 Cardinal Championship at Hawthorne. The 3-year-old ICF gelding missed back-to-back starts a month ago including the first leg of the Incredible Finale Series for state-bred male pacers.
“The horse got himself all nervous and worked up in the paddock,” said his veteran trainer. “He did it two weeks in a row so we had to scratch him, so we’ve changed the system on him. Now when he goes to the paddock he has a babysitter with him. . I’ll have one of the boys who work for me with him the whole time there”
Owned by Nelson’s wife Cynthia Kay Willis, Dan D Dune (pictured in a R.E.B. Photo)seems to be getting into top form the Cardinal after going about a month in between starts. He was third in a June 18 race and a closer third a week later in the second Incredible Final leg. In last week’s Cardinal elim Dan D Dune had game effort, finishing second-best to the winner BS Tyriffic and timed in 1:52.1.
Dan D Dune won first or second in 10 of his13 starts has a 2-year-oold, banking over $120,000 and taking home the $167,000 Colt Orange and Blue blanket on Super Night for his Beecher, Illinois owner.
Regular driver Casey Leonard is back to guide the Willis’ son of Duneside Perch away from the six-post in the seventh race headliner and two of Dan D Dune’s biggest threats are on either side of him.
Holdonwe’rerolling (Todd Warren), winner of last week’s first Cardinal elimination (1:54.2) as the five-slot and will be looking for his fifth win of the season for trainer Bob Rittof
BS Tyrrific, (Kyle Wilfong), a 1:52 flat victor in the other Cardinal elimination has the seven-post for trainer Bob Sanders and the home-bred comes into this race sharp. Two weeks ago he dropped a narrow neck decision to Royale Rose in a second leg of the Incredible Finale stake series.
The Lyle Scurlock trained Royale Rose (Matt Krueger) will have to buck the nine-hole in the 10-horse Cardinal stake field.
Looking to pull of an upset in the Cardinal are Red Dog Ryan (Ridge Warren), Wondrous Sport (Bobby Smolin), Goingdunside (Travis Seekman), He Gone Jack (Dale Hiteman), Impressive Art (Randall Finn) and Chloe’s Richess (Pat Curtin), saddled with the outside 10-slot.
The Sporsmaster filly is a perfect 4-for-4 this season against her division rivals for her Illinois owners Quaid Racing of Chicago.
Burry Me Inthesand (Gary Rath) came away from the gate in a hurry in the ninth race headliner and so did Char N Marg and driver Casey Leonard. The prohibitive 1 to 5 favorite overtook the early pacesetter coming out of the first turn.
After a modest 28.3 first panel Casey was able to give Char N Marg another soft quarter (29 flat). With a 57.3 half mile time the race was pretty much over. Ashlee’s Fine Lady came out of fourth to challenge the Nelson Willis trained filly but to no avail.
Char N Marg was well in hand to the wire, reached in 1:53.4. LK’s Nancy lee came on strong to edge Burry Me Inthesand for second.