By Mike Paradise
Most times when we look in the program at the past performances line of a feature race, the morning line favorites are near the bottom of the page.
However, since stake races can’t be handicapped like Opens, Invites or Free For Alls, the opposite can come into fruition and that’s what occurred for Friday night’s third leg of the Robert F. Carey Memorial stake series
The top three point earners in the ICF 3-year-old colt and gelding Night of Champions series snared the first three posts in Friday’s $15,000 headliner.
Maximus (Kyle Wilfong), with 75 points earned by a series win and a second place finish, landed the pole position for trainer Ken Rucker. The Erv Miller stable’s Meyer On Fire (Kyle Husted), also with 100 points with his win and a runner-up finish, has the two and Fox Valley Triton (Casey Leonard), who beat the above in round two of the Carey has the three-post. The Terry Leonard sophomore missed the series’ first leg and is third in the current standings at 50 points.
Post four through 10 will be manned by the likely longshots: Fox Valley Julius (Dale Knox), Smash N Sagebrush (Larry Plank), The Bucket (Travis Seekman), Coming Up (Ridge Warren), Ryan Racketeer (Ronnie Gillespie), Master Sage (Juan Franco) and Frontier Muffler (Freddie Patton Jr).
All three of the third leg Carey favorites had to race in at least one open company event to get ready for Friday’s fifth race.
Maximus beat Meyer On Fire by a head, in a Hawthorne conditioned race on July 7th with a new career mark of 1:53.1, avenging an earlier loss to the 2018 Illinois Two-Year-Old Colt Pacer of the Year, when they met in the first leg of the Carey.
Maximus also finished ahead of Fox Valley Triton by a neck in a division of the Cardinal at the end of May. Meanwhile, Fox Valley Triton was almost three lengths better than Meyer On Fire in round two of the Carey.
In other words it’s a take-your-pick kind of race among the likely three Carey betting favorites tonight.
Oh Brother: It’s a rare sight when you see full brothers competing on the same race card so it’s extremely unusual to see two full brothers slugging it out in the same race.
This unique happening will come about in tonight’s third race, conditioned pace, when Royale Big Guy, a 5-year-old from the barn of Lyle Scurlock, takes on his one year older bro Royale Rose (Travis Seekman), from the Perry Smith stable.
Both ICF pacers were sired by Ashlee’s Big Guy and are out of the Sportsmaster broodmare Caribe Royale. Thus far the 6-year-old Royale Rose has had the most success of the two brothers, banking over $281,000 in his 120 career starts to $92,884 for Royale Big Guy in his 100 trips postward.
Nicole Potts of Grant Park, Illinois owns Royale Big Guy and was the proprietor of Royale Rose, when the pacer won the Cardinal and Hanover stakes as a freshman and Du Quoin’s Dudley Hanover as a 3-year-old.
Royale Rose was claimed for $25,000 by trainer Charles Stewart in mid-September of 2017 and then taken by trainer Perry Smith for $35,000 in June of 2018.
Tonight’s Open is Open: Friday’s secondary feature is the $12,000 Open Pace drawn by groups. He’s A Real Diamond was assigned the one-slot. Posts two, three and four were drawn and went to Terror Of The Night (Kyle Husted), Feelnlikearockstar (Travis Seekman) and Northern Angle (Kyle Wilfong), in that order.
An indication on just how competitive this Open shapes up to be, is that posts five through eight were also drawn with four recent Hawthorne Open winners: Ponda’s Prospect (Casey Leonard), Stuckey Dote (Kyle Wilfong), Lincolnjames (Luke Plano) and Rising To The Top (Travis Seekman), acquiring slots 5, 6, 7 and 8 respectively.
Merv Chupp’s When You Dance (Luke Plano), a $30,000 acquisition at Harrington Raceway a month ago, has the outside nine-hole.