By Mike Paradise
To get a shot at the winner’s share of the $85,000 (est.) Robert S. Carey Final on the Night of Champions an ICF 3-year-old colt or gelding pacer has to earn it.
The ten top point earners in the stake series four legs go for the big pot. The next top ten point finishers will compete on that September 24th night for a sizeable lesser purse of $15,000 in the stakes consolation.
Fifty points is awarded to a horse winning a Night of Champions stake series event. Then it’s 25 for second, 12 for third, 8 for fourth, 5 for fifth and 1 for starting.
Therefore it wasn’t that surprising to see leg two of the Carey series end up with three divisions. However, what was a bit of a revelation was the number of 28 entries, ensuring that the three $12,500 Carey divisions will have a pair of 9 horse fields and a 10-horse field.
Unbeaten.in 14 career starts and the 2016 Illinois Horse of the Year Fox Valley Gemini (pp 3, Casey Leonard) landed in the sixth race third Carey division and again looks like a stick-out.
Having the bad luck of drawing into that division are Ernie The Mooss (Gary Rath), Talk About It (Ridge Warren), Song Cycle Senese (Kelcey Perymond), Beach Shooting Star (Mike Oosting), Herecomesmagotta (Tim Curtin), Sheriff Coffey (Ryan Anderson), Dandy Dune (Ridge Warren) and Sagebrush Shocker (Kyle Wilfong).
The fourth race first Carey division looks to be very competitive with really no-clear cut favorite. The Hawthorne program lists You’remyhearthrob (Kyle Wilfong) at 9-5, probably based on the pacer’s consistency. The home-bred has been third or better in all seven season starts.
However, Al’s Briefs (Travis Seekman) should get a lot of play as well, despite drawing the 10-hole. After his third place finish in the first Carey leg the Clark Fairley trainee has rattled off three consecutive wins, capturing a Cardinal division on June 1st, coming from 10th and last to win a conditioned event nine days later, and then four nights ago breezing in a division of the Downstate Classic affair at Carrollton.
It’ll be interesting to see what the betting public does with the Hoosier Park invader M T Gunslinger (pp 1, Casey Leonard). You might remember him from last summer. The horse won in 1:55.1 in his freshman debut for trainer Charles Arthur and was sold two weeks later to Little Bapa LLC of Sacramento, California. M T Gunslinger ended his freshman season racing at Lexington.
M T Gunslinger is winless in his first seven starts this year with the first two coming at Pompano Park for conditioner Dwayne Minor and the last 5 in Indiana for trainer Rick Plano.
Also going postward in the first Carey group is Frontier Frank (Mike Oosting), Hart To Heart (Tim Curtin), Sports Creek (Ryan Anderson), Bootleg Island (Kyle Husted), Not Me Gram (Ridge Warren) and Heza Shooter (Tyler Shehan).
The Tom Simmons Stable’s Backstreet Lawyer (pp 4, Mike Oosting) is the 9-5 morning line favorite in the second Carey division and he deserves it. The Sagebrush gelding paced a quick 1:50.4 winning mile in his initial Carey leg and was a strong second in his Cardinal split.
Nevertheless upsets happen every racing night and there’s a number of 3-year-olds that could pull off a surprise victory among the other 9 starters: Special Sauce (Ryan Anderson), Fox Valley Sinful (Kyle Wilfong), Cool Casper (Tim Curtin), Yougotitfiguredout (Ridge Warren), Shark Flipper (Tyler Shehan), Shooting Straight (Casey Leonard), Fox Valley Jalan (Gary Rath), Fox Valley Hijinx (Kyle Husted) and Molina (Robert Smolin).
Crowded Dygert Field: Round two of the Erwin F. Dygert trotting stake series is the eighth race Sunday and it’s a jam packed field off 11 colts or geldings tangling. The early favoritism is divided between Majestic Caprice (programmed 3-1, Tyler Shehan) True Detective (7-2, Curt Grummel) and Vic’s Pizza (4-1, Mike Oosting).
True Detective was a romping winner in a division of the Cardinal trot earlier this month after being upset by his Curt Grummel stable-mate Big Lou (pp 10, Tim Curtin) in the first leg of the Dygert.
Majistic Caprice has really come on well as a 3-year-old for trainer Roshun Trigg with four victories in his last six starts. The Malabar Aqua trotter has 11 wins in his first 30 trips career trips to the gate.
Vic’s Pizza, the 2-year-old division champ for trainer Mike Brink, was second to True Detective in the Cardinal however it was his first race in nine months after sustaining a leg injury last September. Brink also has last season’s Night of Champions victor Illinimight (pp 8) in tonight’s Dygert with Casey Leonard at his lines for the first time.
The other Dygert hopefuls are Fly The W (Ridge Warren), Freddie Da Fox (Cornelius Cavett ), Cruzen Cassi (Jared Finn), Two News (Travis Seekman), Fox Valley Strpwr (Freddie Patton Jr.) and Don’t Be Cheekie (Ronnie Gillespie) in the second tier with post 11.
Repeats in Beulah Dygert: Good Design (Kyle Wilfong) and Maui Mama (Casey Leonard) were convincing winners in their respective second leg divisions of the Beulah Dygert stake series for state-bred 3-year-old trotting fillies.
Good Design ($5.00) went right to the front, opened a six length lead at the first quarter pole, and cruised to a 1:55.4 clocking for trainer Brett Wilfong, three and one-half lengths ahead of runner-up Trotting Grace (Kyle Husted). New Queen (Casey Leonard) was third. Good Design also won her first leg of the series on the front-end.
The Mike Brink Stable’s Maui Mama ($3.00) proved fastest in the lane as she came on in the late going for her second consecutive Beulah Dygert series win. Sunny Sasha (Jared Finn) came on in the late going to nip White Pants Fever (Steve Searle) for second, both beaten almost two lengths in the 1:57.3 mile.
The second round of the Plum Peachy series provided an upset in both $12,500 divisions when The Sister Master (Michele Morgan) popped at $17.60 and Skeeter Machine (Kyle Wilfong) eked out her win at $28.20.
The Sis Master, trained by her driver Michele Morgan, was parked-out the first quarter of the mile getting command from the outside nine-post and went on to a one and one-half length triumph in 1:53.4 over the 3-5 favorite Fox Valley Jazzy (Ridge Warren) who was given a two-hole trip.
Skeeter Machine was tipped-out of third in the last turn by Wilfong and the Alan Bowen trained filly steadily made up ground in the lane. A surge in deep stretch saw her nip the 2-1 second choice Rollin Coal in the final strides of the 1:54.1 mile.