A Hawthorne First on This Special Day

By Mike Paradise

 

Saturday night’s ninth event is the Juneteenth Celebration Race, and it’s a special and unique event for Hawthorne to proudly host.

 

 

It’s the first parimutuel harness race in Illinois history to feature an entire field of Standardbred horses driven exclusively by African Americans.

 

The initiative to spotlight participation by minorities in the historic sport was championed by the Illinois Harness Horsemen Association and is expected to grow in future years as Hawthorne reinvigorates Illinois horse racing with the addition of casino-style gaming at the track as part of a $400 million redevelopment.

 

A dapper-looking Hosea Williams.

“Seeing a race full of black drivers steering horses down the homestretch makes it easier for the next generation of horsemen to imagine themselves as integral to the success of this industry,” said Hosea Williams, a Board member of the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association.

 

“When I started racing horses here, I was the only black driver, now there are many more of us. This is about representation and visibility and I’m really thankful to Hawthorne and my fellow horsemen for supporting this.”

 

 

Drivers participating in the race include Jamaica Patton, Archie Buford, Herman Wheeler, Jamaal Denson, Jordan Patton, Marcus Turner, Hosea Williams, Cornelius Cavett, Terry Skinner and Freddie Patton Jr.

 

   No Certainty Here: Hawthorne’s filly and mare Open Pace is becoming g more captivating each week.

 

   First it was the Todd Warren stable’s Maggie Rhee appearing to dominate the division by taking the first two distaff Opens. However, she’s currently a three-time beaten favorite looking to shed her recent bridesmaid role.

 

Then it was the Donna Holt trained Rock It Out putting together back-to-back triumph against the cream of the crop of Hawthorne’s pacing mares. That modest streak came to a halt last week with a disappointing sixth place finish.

 

A week ago, it was U’ll Learn, a recent addition to the Hector Herrera stable who lowered the boom and disposed of seven rivals in the six-year-old’s very first start at Hawthorne.

 

Those three mares drew for the outside three slots in tonight’s Second race $12,000 headliner with U’ll Learn getting the six, Rock It Out (Kyle Wilfong) the seven, and Maggie Rhee (Todd Warren) the outside eight.

 

Posts one through five were drawn separately and they will be manned by Charlotte Royal N (Atlee Bender), Tempus Seelster (Travis Seekman), Heythere Lisamarie (Juan Franco), Primo Extremo (Casey Leonard) and the former ICF champion Fox Valley Exploit (Kyle Husted), in that order.

 

After dropping her first three races as a four-year-old, the two-time Night of Champions winner Fox Valley Exploit has strung together a trio of victories for her driver, trainer and co-owner Kyle Husted.

 

Fox Valley Exploit, the 2020 Illinois Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year has hauled in $234,341 for Husted and Michigan co-owner David Brigham in her first 27 lifetime starts.

 

Casey on the March: The countdown is under way for Casey Leonard to reach the 3,000 level in dash winners. The 43-year-old Harvard, Illinois native goes into Saturday’s card only 20 winners shy after bringing home a trio of first place finishers Friday night.

Newlyweds Vie for Bragging Rights

By Mike Paradise

 

During my 48 years of writing about Illinois harness racing I thought I saw all there was to see about our sport.

 

Wrong.

 

Tonight, for the first time I’ll get to watch newlyweds drive against each other in a pari-mutuel race for “family bragging rights.”

 

The sixth race conditioned pace brings together a pair of Erv Miller trained three-year-old’s with Erv’s son-in-law Atlee Bender leaving from post six with the pacer Certifiable while the Illinois Hall of Famer’s daughter Hanna Miller is at the lines of TE’s Raider going out alongside from the six slot.

 

Atlee and Hanna tied the knot in late March and one thing they’ve certainly have in common is their love of horses and harness racing,

 

Hanna Miller looks to best her husband Atlee Bender in tonight’s sixth race at Hawthorne/ (USTA Photo)

They’ve been around horses most of their young lives and currently run Erv’s Midwest Division at the Indianapolis, Indiana Fair Grounds where they are responsible for “about 50 horses.”

 

I asked Atlee who had the idea was it to race against each other and he replied sheepishly: “It was my wife’s,” as I detected a bit of a laugh coming from the phone. Hanna answered the same question quite differently. “No, I think it was my husband’s.”

 

No matter who tossed down the gauntlet to determine “bragging rights” it was a great idea because both have proven to be a top-notch driver.

 

Atlee is visiting the Hawthorne winner’s circle at a 19.2 per cent clip, good for sixth place in the driver standings with 15 winners and recently had four first place finishes on a single card at Hawthorne.

 

Hanna certainly has the pedigree to be an outstanding horseman and she’s been just that.

 

Her father Erv is a nationally renowned trainer closing in on 6,000 career winners. The Arthur, Illinois native’s horses have earned over $90 million dollars.

 

Hanna’s brother Marcus, now 32, was a perennial Top Five driver on the Chicago circuit for years before heading out to Pennsylvania. Marcus has notched over 3,700 career wining drives.

 

Their “Uncle Andy” (Miller) is a former multiple Illinois driver champion who most likely will get his 10,000th lifetime winner sometime later this year.

 

Meanwhile “Aunt Julie” has sent out over $2,000 winners as a trainer including many national prominent pacers and trotters.

 

Hanna took amateur driving circuit by storm and in 2015 became the first woman to be named the National Amateur Driver Champion and it was a unanimous vote by the United States Harness Writers Association.

 

Hanna also won the same award the next year when the young lady represented the USA in the World Amateur Driving competition in Hungary in 2016 where she finished second.

 

 

Atlee Bender knows it’ll be a very long ride home back to Indiana if he finishes behind his wife Hannah in tonight’s sixth race. (USTA Photo).

Tonight, Atlee’s sixth race drive Certifiable is listed as the 3-1 favorite while his wife is steering a 12-1 morning line longshot TE’s Raider II.

 

Atlee didn’t agree with the big difference in their horse’s first flash odds.

 

“The two horses are much closer than that,” said the 29-year-old Goshen, Indiana native. Hanna agreed. “Toss out that last line on my horse when he made a (likely speed) break. The horse was full of go”, replied his 28-year-old wife.”

 

It ought to be an interesting 200-mile drive back from Hawthorne to Indianapolis for the newlyweds.

 

One of them figures to do most of the talking.

As Promised Illinois Trotting Queen is Back

By Mike Paradise

 

Right on schedule Illinois Trotting Queen returns to the races tonight.

 

The Nelson Willis stable’s Annas Lucky Star, is back in action in Sunday’s fifth race after about three months of R & R. The protagonist seven-year-old mare isn’t quite ready yet to bring to a close her racing career and start a new one as a broodmare according to her breeder and owner Danny Graham.

 

The Salem, Illinois native was pleased with his home bred mare’s efforts earlier in the year in Ohio Opens and wants to give his prize trotting mare opportunities to add on to some of her already impressive career statistics, starting with Sunday evening’s $12,000 Open Trot.

 

The Open saw 11 trotters entered and 10 will go to the gate in the fifth race headliner. By date, recent Open winner Lousraptor is listed as an also eligible” for trainer Steve Searle.

 

 

Illinois long-time trotting queen Annas Lucky Star returns to races tonight at Hawthorne. (For Footed Fotos)

Drawn by groups, Annas Lucky Star landed in the middle group (posts four through eight) with the six slot with new driver Juan Franco.

 

Getting Serious (Roman Lopez) and Silverhill Volo (Jim Lackey and Primed N Powerful (Jared Seekman) will man the first three slots, in that order.

 

Recent Hawthorne winners Cash Hit (Travis Seekman) and Louscardamon (Casey Leonard) have the four and five, respectively, while Walter White (Ridge Warren) and Muscular Babe (Kyle Wilfong) start from posts seven and eight.

 

The third grouping of the race has the month of May’s Open conquerors Never Say Uncle (Kyle Husted) and Pine Dream (Ridge Warren) getting away from the outside nine and ten posts.

 

Last week’s Open winner Talk About Valor is taking the week off.

 

A week ago, it looked like a Calvary charge going into the first turn with several horses shooting out looking for early position. Pine Dream finally made the top but was parked out a good portion of the first half (58.4) and didn’t have much left in the tank for the late going. The same could be said for Never Say Uncle who also took a lot of air in the race.

 

Will we see more of the same tonight?

 

Time will tell.

 

Annas Lucky Star is looking for career victory No. 41. The daughter of the ICF sire Cassis, out of Graham’s successful broodmare Queen Jamie, acquired her first 40 victories in just her first 85 starts. With a career bankroll of $429,682 on her card, the half million plateau in earnings is within the mare’s reach before her racing days are over.

 

Another ICF stakes champion returning to action Sunday night is last year’s Incredible Tillie winner Bootsy Bombay (Travis Seekman), The James Greer owned state-bred filly makes her three-year-old bow in race 11, a conditioned pace event. She is now under the care of trainer Desiree Seekman.

 

Bootsy Bombay made over $57,000 in her freshman campaign for her Peoria, Illinois proprietor.

 

Quite a Local Debut: Under the patient handling of driver Ridge Warren, U’ll Learn (8.20) made her first appearance in a Chicago circuit filly and mare Open pace a fruitful endeavor.

U’ll Learn, a six-year-old Real Desire mare, trained by Hector Herrera, came from the back of the pack to capture Saturday night’s feature by almost two lengths over the 6-5 favorite Maggie Rhee, driven by Ridge’s father Todd.

 

The 26-1 longshot Primo Extremo (Kyle Husted) took third.

 

U’ll Learn raced in seventh in the eight-horse field for the first half mile that went in 55.2 with Maggie Rhee making the top. Ridge then followed up Golden Paradise (Casey Leonard) and the second over journey paid off for River Grove, Illinois owner James Scuba when his mare motored home in 26.3 in her Hawthorne debut.

 

Don’t Overlook Those Gals

By Mike Paradise

 

While “the boys” Open division has been grabbing much of the attention thus far at the Hawthorne meeting, there has also been some ding-dong battles going on with “the gals” as well.

 

Tonight the $12,000 Open Pace for fillies and mares will take center stage for the fifth time at the meet and after four rounds both Maggie Rhee (Todd Warren) and Rock It Out (Kyle Wilfong) have posted two victories each.

 

Maggie Rhee captured the first two local Opens under the care of trainer and driver Todd Warren, but she had to settle for the bridesmaid role the last two Saturdays as Donna Holt’s Rock It Out pulled off back-to-back upsets.

 

To say that the for-year-old mare Rock It Out has a liking for Hawthorne would be an understatement. The Rockin Image pacer has made 13 starts in her career at Hawthorne and visited its winner’s circle nine times afterward.

 

 

Maggie Rhee (outside, Todd Warren) and Rock It Out (inside with Kyle Wilfong) will duke it out again in tonight’s $12,000 Open Pace for fillies and mares. (Four Footed Fotos)

As a two-year-old trainer Donna Holt started her filly once on the Chicago circuit and the pacer came away with her maiden victory with Cliff Bell in the bike. Most of Rock It Out’s 18 first season starts came on the Indiana Fair Circuit or at Hoosier Park, since her “daddy” is an Indiana sire.

 

Last year Rock It Out split her time competing in Indiana and at Hawthorne. While she was good at Hoosier often racing in Indiana Sire stakes, she was been even better at Hawthorne.

 

Rock In Out started off her three-year-old campaign with a sweep of Hawthorne’s Walter Paisley Series. Later she captured a pair of high-level conditioned races at the meet. This season she’s three-for-three on the local scene putting almost $16,000 on her card for D&R Racing Stable of Benton, Kentucky. In 2020 the filly hauled in over $80,000 for Holt.

 

Maggie Rhee, owned by Illinois the Wilson Racing Stable

Of Martinsville, Norman Neff of Roselle, and Mark Eichberger of Chicago, made just under $80,000 last racing season.

 

After four starts earlier this year Maggie Rhee was sent to trainer Todd Warren who has done a masterful job with the now four-year-old daughter of Jeremy’s Jet. The mare has already banked nearly $30,000 at Hawthorne with more than three months of racing still left at the meet.

 

Maggie Rhee will leave from the seven post while Rock It Out has the outside eight slot in the third race of the night.

 

From the rail out you’ll find Better Days Ahead (Artie Dick), Charlotte Royal N (Atlee Bender), Primo Extremo (Kyle Husted), Tempus Seelster (Travis Seekman), Hathorne newcomer U’ll Learn (Ridge Warren) and Golden Paradise (Casey Leonard).

 

What A Battle! Last night’s $12,000 Open Pace was an epic battle between two terrific Illinois b red pacers with this time Fox Valley Gemini coming out on top.

 

Casey Leonard gave the three-time Illinois Harness Horse of the Year Fox Valley Gemini a chance at the victory and the game eight-year-old Terry Leonard trainee did what he came to do.

 

Six of the eight starters sprinted 0ut from the start and as six of them dropped into their respective places, Fox Valley Gemini and He’zzz A Wise Sky continued to race parked through a 27.2 first quarter.

 

Once “Gemini” cleared to the front, Kyle Wilfong kept He’zzz A Wise Sky going until he made the top before a sizzling 54.1 first half with a 26.3 second panel.

 

After their 27.4 third quarter breather, Casey took Fox Valley Gemini ($7.20) out for the stretch drive and the Jim Ballinger owned pacer got past his formidable foe in deep stretch, gaining a half-length victory in 1:50 flat.

 

Casey drove four winners on the Friday card.

Getting a Handle on Matters

Kyle Wilfong comes into Friday’s races with 28 first place finishes, just one behind Casey Leonard in the current Driver Standings at Hawthorne. (Four Footed Fotos)

By Mike Paradise

 

If you are a resident of the Chicagoland area you certainly have noticed a spike lately in the weather. While summer doesn’t official arrive until June 22 it has come about on the local scene weeks earlier.

 

And the weather isn’t the only thing has warmed up in recently in Illinois. I’m happy to report that the nightly Hawthorne mutuel handle has taken a upward surge as well.

 

On the recent Sunday May 30th program, the one million mark in handle was reached for the first time at the meet when $1,097,607 was wagered.

 

You might say that’s no big deal since most other tracks in the country don’t race on Sundays, however the next live racing card at Hawthorne also went over the one-million-dollar level as well.

 

Last Friday’s June 4th card saw $1,095,502 stream through the Hawthorne mutuel system. The previous Friday programs in May were in the $750,000 range, so that was a substantial jump handle-wise.

 

Last Saturday’s handle was only about $35,000 below the seven-figure mark and it was followed by a Sunday card that raked in $1,154,812 in wagers.

 

Obviously a larger than normal 14-race program helped that handle but Hawthorne’s move to a 6:30 first post, 40 minutes earlier than it had been for the first month of the meeting, no doubt hurt the horsemen’s purse account, at last weekend.

 

Sunday’s first race (6:36 first post) handle was only about $44,000. The second (6:59 post) did not fare much better with $52,089 bet. Compare that to the third race trot, off at 7:30 pm. It had over $90,000 bet on the race, and it was followed a by $4,000 claimer with a seven-horse field that saw its handle mushroom to over $113,000.

 

After a month of the meet with a 7:10 Sunday first post, I’m sure I wasn’t the only person in the dark concerning Sunday’s important switch to a 40 minute move up on Hawthorne’s first race starting time.

 

I’m still looking for the Hawthorne press release on the move to an earlier Sunday post.

 

Nothing at the USTA site. Ditto for the “press release” news button at www.hawthorneracecourse. There was a promo ad on the track’s website but when was it placed there?  By chance I saw that announcement last Sunday morning.

 

I have no problem with a 6:30 first post on Sundays. Balmoral had it and it worked out successfully for them. But fellas, let’s do a better job of informing the public when something as important as a 40 minute earlier first post is invoked.

 

The rise in mutuel handle coincides with the dark cloud of the Covid-19 catastrophic at long last being lifted. While normalcy isn’t quite here just yet, it’s getting closer, and many people just want to go out and enjoy themselves after being bombarded for over a year with doom and gloom narratives.

 

Is this the start of a summer romance of local sporting events?

 

I like to think so.

 

Another Go Around: The $12,000 Open Pace returns tonight with past meet winners He’zzz A Wise Sky (Kyle Wilfong) and Fox Valley Gemini slugging it out for a fourth consecutive time.

 

Round one on May 8 went to “Gemini” however in their last two meetings He’zzz A Wise Sky has prevailed for trainer John Filomeno and owners Triple ZZZ Stable of Justice, Illinois.

 

Posts were drawn for groups in the eight horse sixth race feature with He’zzz A Wise Sky landing the outside eight-hole and the stat of the Terry Leonard Stable getting away one post further inside.

 

Upsets do happen and looking to do just that tonight are (from the pole position out) Primo Giovanni (Ridge Warren), Allmyx’sliventexas (Todd Warren), General Dolan (Tyler Shehan), Fox Valley Ren (Ridge Warren), Dash Of Danger (Kyle Husted) and My Buddy Ninkster (Travis Seekman).

 

 

Team “Lou” has a Good Thing Going

By Mike Paradise

 

It is very early in the 2021 Illinois harness racing season nevertheless another Steve Searle trainee could take a major step tonight and follow the hoof steps of two of her current stable-mates towards earning another Illinois Filly Trotter of Year title.

 

That would be Loulita, the programmed even-money favorite in tonight’s $44,500 Violet trotting stake, Last year’s division champ drew nicely with the two-slot in an 11-horse field for driver Casey Leonard and history tells us she will be very difficult to beat,

 

As a freshman the Flacco Family Farms homebred banked almost $90,000 while winning six of nine starts that included the Fox Valley Flan final on Hawthorne’s Night of Champions.

 

 

The Flacco Family Farm’s Lolita (Casey Leonard) aims to stay on top of her ICF filly trotting division in tonight’s $44,500 Violet stake. (Four Footed Fotos)

This year Lolita’s only blemish came a few weeks ago when she went off stride prepping for the first leg of the Beulah Dygert series, an event the daughter of Lou’s Legacy won easily with a new career mark of 1:57 flat. Last week she romped by almost five lengths in 1:57.3, beating some of the best ICF second season colt and gelding trotters along with Lucky Valerie, likely her main threat in the third race Violet.

 

Loulita has gone over the $100,000 plateau in career earnings and that total will likely grow immensely before her second season ends.

 

Loulita is owned by Flacco Family Farms of Alexis, Illinois and Dr. Patrick Graham of Pittsfield, Illinois, the breeder of Searle’s star trotting mare Louzotic, a 27-time winner with over $283,000 on her card.

 

Then there’s the Searle trained, Lous Abagail with 13 lifetime wins and almost $170,000 in purse earnings. And yes, she’s another Flacco Family Farms bred and owned Illinois bred trotting champion.

See a pattern here?

 

When Loulita is warming up before the start of tonight’s initial major ICF showdown the filly might notice some familiar faces doing the same thing. That’s because Searle has three other hopefuls—Lou Lou Lamour (Juan Franco), Lous Voodoo Woman (Kyle Wilfong) and Lous Vivia (Kyle Husted)—going to the gate in the Violet.

 

Did I mention that all were bred by Flacco Family Farms in western Illinois?

 

Looking to put an end of the “Lou’s” dynasty, at least for tonight, are Breeze At Sunset (Alan Bender), Lucky Valarie (Travis Seekman), and BBR Lady (Freddie Patton Jr.)

 

The other Violet challengers are Rock N Sandra Lou (J D Finn), Myonly Sin (Jamaica Patton), BC’s Rose (Curt Grummel) and Ting Ting (Todd Warren), and unsurprisingly they are all daughters of Lou’s Legacy as well.

 

 

Emsroscopcoletiran, trained by his driver Cornelius Cavett, looks to make it back-to-back wins when he goes to the gate in the first of two $22,250 Cardinal stakes for ICF three-year-old male trotters. (Four Footed Fotos)

Cardinal in Two Divisions: A total of 14 ICF colts or geldings passed the entry box for tonight’s Cardinal trot making it necessary for the stake to be split into a pair of seven horse divisions, both with $22,500 pots.

 

The fifth race first division will see the first leg of the Erwin F. Dygert stake series winners tangle for the first time this year.  Rndmnupredictable (Casey Leonard) another Searle trainee, leaves from the seven slot, while the other earlier Dygert winner Emsroscoletrain (Cornelius Cavett) has the five,

 

They’ll be confronted by Imotalocaldude (Kyle Husted), Conway Cassy (Kyle Wilfong), Salute The Hero (Ridge Warren) and Release Cassis (Terry Skinner).

 

The second Cardinal split (race seven) has the 8-5 morning line favoritism going to Coco D’Lascito, making his season debut with trainer J D Finn in the bike, The colt was 2-for-4 in a shorten season because of some health issues and made just under $20,000.

 

Coco D’s Lascito has the pole position and to his left will be Mystical Murray (Jamaica Patton), Fistfullofdollars (Todd Warren), Sudden Approach (Cliff Bell), Loyz Say When (Mike Rogers), Shady Maple Spirit (Ridge Warren) and Shady Maple Valor (Kyle Wilfong).

 

It Was a Dandy: Saturday night’s Violet pacing filly stake lived up to its billing. When the dust settled it was Scorecard Dandy (Juan Franco) winning head decision over the heavy 1-9 favorite Hart’s Heart (Kyle Wilfong).

 

Esther’s Delight, driven by her trainer Gary Rath, was a fast closing third in only the three-year-old filly’s third lifetime start, beaten less than one length.

 

After a few lead changes in the early going Hart’s Heart took command on the backside with Scorecard Dandy in striking position racing third.

 

Franco waited until his Gregory Kain trained filly was about midway in the last turn to come out and go after Hart’s Heart. They battled as a team down the long stretch and a last second surge by Scorecard Dandy ($14.60) saw her head get in front at the end of a 1:54.4 mile

 

The Secret is Out: Hawthorne is going with a new Sunday post time of 6:30 pm, effective tonight.

 

Tonight’s Violet Pace Could be a Dandy

Hart’s Heart (Kyle Wilfong) and Scorecard Dandy (Juan (Franco), the one-two finishers in the recent first leg of the Plum Peach, will slug it out again in Saturday’s $40,000 Violet stake for sophomore state-bred pacing fillies. (Four Footed Fotos)

 

By Mike Paradise

 

Tonight’s $44,000 Violet, the first major stake event of the season stake for ICF three-year-old pacing fillies could be a dandy in more ways than one.

 

The Mike Brink Stable’s Hart’s Heart (Kyle Wilfong) was bet down in her first leg of the recent Plum Peachy and didn’t let down in many supporters who sent her off at 40 cents on the dollar, posting a career best 1:54.4 winning mile.

 

The good-looking filly, owned and bred by Illinoisans Donna Crebs and Judy Conzo, is listed at even money in the morning line and it is highly likely she will go off at those type of low odds.

 

However, there are eighth other Prairie state sophomore gals who will have a say in tonight’s outcome, particularly the Plum Peachy bridesmaid Scorecard Dandy (Juan Franco).

 

The Gregory Kain trained filly came up with a very game effort in the Plum Peachy. Scorecard Dandy was parked every step of the way leaving from the nine-hole in an 11-horse field and was still coming on at the end, beaten by less than a length.

 

Scorecard Dandy’s determination in the Plum Peachy and tonight’s significant post shift to an inside post (the three) makes her a must consideration in tonight’s seventh race headliner,

 

And don’t count out the ultra-consistent Gary Rath trainee Princess Mooss (Ridge Warren). She went on Lasix in the Plum Peachy and finished third and was a game second last week prepping for the Violet. The filly drew well with the four post.

 

The longshot hopes in the Violet are Esther’s Delight (Gary Rath), Cleary The Bomb (Kyle Husted), Connie On The Go (Jamaica Patton), Ryans Secret (Todd Warren), Dandy’s Duchess (Jordan Patton) and Kandi’s Fortune (Freddie Patton Jr.).

 

It should be pointed out Hart’s Heart had to work in the early going to make the top in her Night of Champion series triumph. The filly left from the seven-slot and was parked out the entire 29.2 first panel before settling in on the front end.

 

Hart’s Heart wasn’t nominated for last year’s Night of Champions series or her first season earnings of $35,223 probably would have been much higher. The bulk of her freshman bankroll came with convincing victories in the Springfield championship and the Director’s Award showdown, both raced at Hawthorne instead of the State Fairs because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Scorecard Dandy’s grit and determination in last month’s Plum Peachy should not have come as a complete surprise to those who have followed the Sportsmaster filly, owned by Green Acres LLC (Beecher, IL) and Mike Kilmas (Oak Lawn, IL).

 

Scorecard Dandy was a late bloomer in her first season. She didn’t make her debt until mid-July and went unplaced in a round leg of the Incredible Tillie. Less than two months late she won a later leg of the Incredible Tillie series and then raced without cover when she was second in the $80,000 championship.

 

A No Doubter: Ideal Big Guy proved to much the best in last night’s $44,000 Cardinal stake for ICF three-year-old male pacers. Nicely handled by Casey Leonard, the Terry Leonard trained gelding pulled away to a five and one-half length victory in 1:55 flat, a new career mark.

 

Casey sprinted out Ideal’s Big Guy from the two-slot and was content to take the hole behind Bombay Bobby in the early going. However, after a modest 29.1 first quarter, Ideal’s Big Guy was taken out of the pocket and into command where he was never seriously threatened.

 

Bombay Bobby won the battle for second over Ryan’s Loan Shark.

 

Ideal Big Guy is owned the Illinois quartet of Dandy Farms Racing (Glenview), Terry Leonard (Harvard), Peter Kouchis (Palos Heights) and Martin Buckey (Plainfield).