By Mike Paradise
The Illinois bred racing situation may be shell of what it once was but there are still some bargain buys at the yearling sales that come along yo become good money-makers for those willing to take, in most cases a small risk.
The two-year-old Fox Valley Herbie, one of the favorites in tonight’s $29,550 Cardinal Pace Championship has turned out to be one of those “steals” for veteran horse Tom Simmons.
The Springfield based trainer spent only $2,800 at the 2014 Walker Sale for the Yankee Skyscraper colt who has banked $66,719 in his first season with a chance to pad that total in tonight’s Cardinal.
“A couple of the girls that work for Walker’s were begging me to come and look at the horse. I did and he’s a big good-looking colt. He is a good body horse so I thought I’d take a chance on him,” said Simmons who has over 3,300 wins as a driver and is closing in on 1,700 as a trainer.
Fox Valley Herbie has had some big last quarters in him but in the Incredible Finale final he wasn’t taken back. Instead he was used early and raced on the front where he ended up a nose behind the winner Gabe Henry. Herbie didn’t have is usual big late quarter, coming home in 28.1 in the championship.
Was the plan going into the race to change tactics with the horse?”
“No, answered Simmons. “I forgot to tell Mike I didn’t think he was very good on the front. He moved him and it worked out pretty well but I still think he’s much better racing with cover.”
Fox Valley Herbie went win-less in his first five starts and then got his maiden victory at Charleston in the Illinois Stallion Stake for 2-year-olds with Simmons at his lines. Two starts later he won at Hawthorne and has been one of the top ICF freshman colts since.
“The horse had a bad start. I qualified him and he qualified well but that’s where I saw he wasn’t real good on the front. I started him at Hawthorne and he got a whip or something in his face and made a break.
“I qualified him again the next day at Springfield and he came home in 26 and a piece. The following start (the first leg of the Incredible Finale Series) he bled, so it took him a little while to get put it together. Like I said I don’t think he’s a front-ender. He’s a horse that needs to come off the pace.
“He’s made over $66,000 and that’s very good money for a 2-year-old in the Illinois bred climate of racing that we have today.”
In his Cardinal elimination less than two lengths separated the first four horses and tonight’s final figures to be another very close and exciting finish.
Fox Valley Herbie (Mike Oosting) has the pole position. In posts two through ten are Uptown Sleaze (Ridge Warren), Fox Valley Jeter (Kyle Wilfong), Fox Valley Sparty (Kyle Husted), Fox Valley Reggie (Freddie Patton Jr.), Gabe Henry (Todd Warren), Fox Valley Nemitz (Pat Curtin), Fox Valley Hoss (Matt Krueger), Fox Valley Inferno (Casey Leonard) and Slzburgerslzburger (Bobby Smolin).