By Mike Paradise
With one ICF stake events after another taking place since racing resume at Hawthorne at two Cicero Claiming Series has gotten very little exposure.
Well, that will change tonight.
Since both the male and female Cicero claiming showdowns are presenting $20,000 purses on Saturday’s card let’s give the two-leg series finalists their due.
Musical Barns: The first race Cicero final for fillies and mares has some interesting notes. The finalist Jazzie Babe will compete tonight for her third different barn and owners in as many series starts.
The now eight-year-old mare was nominated and raced for trainer and owner Perry Smith in her winning round one contest a few weeks ago and was claimed by trainer Hosea Williams for her original proprietor Wayne Temple and Joe Sollars.
Jazzie Babe went off stride early in last Saturday’s second leg and was distanced when she was claimed again, this time by trainer Nelson Willis for the Megan Rogers Racing Stable of Chicano, Illinois.
Despite the fact that Jazzie Babe is racing for yet another new barn, Travis Seekman has remained the six-year-old mare’s driver in every series round.
Unbroken Circle switched barns after a third place finish in the opening leg when the veteran mare was plucked by trainer Terry Leonard for Shorewood Illinois owner OB Stables at a price of $11,000. The new Leonard addition also finished third in round two last weekend.
Last Saturday’s first of two Cicero Claiming Series legs saw Barley Nation win for the third time in her last four Hawthorne starts in front-end fashion with Kyle Wilfong for trainer Derek Burkland. She’ll open up as the 8-5 programmed favorite.
Jazzie Babe (pp 4, Travis Seekman), Barley Nation (pp 3, Kyle Wilfong) and Unbroken Circle (pp 6 Casey Leonard) no doubt will get the majority of the public’s wagering money when they’ll be tested by Rue Hanover (Jim Lackey), Helen’s Girl (Todd Warren), Rushing Reba (Tyler Shehan), Fox Valley Sierra (Ridge Warren), Dads Filly (Frank Petrell) and Blissful Pansy (Matt Krueger)
More Stable Switching: The ninth race Cicero $20,000 claiming series final for horses and geldings also saw some moving around of horses prior to tonight’s showdown.
The six-year-old pacer Salvatore, who started the year in the Terry Leonard stable, was claimed in mid-February by trainer Eugene Gilleman for $7,000. In his first leg of the Cicero Series the Illinois bred broke on the move and was taken for $10,000 by trainer Derek Burkland for Michigan owner Britney Dillion. The Sagebrush gelding did well to be third leaving from the second tier (pp 11) last week and now gets a huge help in his starting point with the pole position tonight. He’s the early 2-1 second choice.
Last Saturday’s second round winner was Youmakemyheartsing (pp 6, Kyle Wilfong) a five-year-old home-bred of the Wilfong family. Earlier at the meet Youmakemyheartsing raced in consecutive Hawthorne Open III events, so he was well placed in this series. With a second and a first the five-year-old son of Some Heart Throb has made $8,500 the past two weeks and will be the 8-5 first flash favorite.
First leg winner Fox Valley Hijinx (4-1, Kyle Husted) drew well with the two-slot after last week’s third place finish.
Buff’s Image (Todd Warren), Donegal Jim (Tyler Shehan), Mitch Mc Bluegrass (Matt Krueger), Meethedragon (Juan Franco) and Gold Star Lambeau (Cordarius Stewart).
Open Trot Grows: Also on tap Saturday night is the circuit’s Open Trot and tonight’s field grew to eight starters from last week’s six with Scott Galloway’s Double A Cash Call (pp 4, Todd Warren) back in action and the arrival from the Meadowlands of the veteran trotter Very Very Fast, now under the care of trainer Rob Rittoff for Shorewood, Illinois owners OB Stables.
While Very Very Fast didn’t perform well in his first two starts back following the Covid 19 layoff, the 11-year-old French bred trotter did secure a pair of $50,000 claiming events at The Big M earlier in the year.
Very Very Fast didn’t come to the United States until the age of nine. He’s earned the bulk of his $529,318 career bankroll in Europe however the gelding did put over $132,000 on his card in 2019, his second year in our country. He has added almost $43,000 more in 2020 with only nine outings.
Handicapped and drawn by groups (1-4) (5-6) and (7-8), the first four slots tonight belong to Bo Nanza Chip (Juan Franco), Lourhianon (Tyler Shehan), Louscardamon (Kyle Husted) and Double A Cash Call (Todd Warren),
The five and six posts will be manned by Very Very Fast (Travis Seekman) and the ICF champion mare Annas Lucky Star (Kyle Wilfong). Call For Justice (Casey Leonard) drew the seven while last week’s front-end victor Pine Dream (Todd Warren) will have to sprint out from the outside eight-slot.
In Peak Form: The Terry Leonard stable’s ICF kingpin Fox Valley Gemini ($3.20) roared down the stretch with driver Casey Leonard to make it three consecutive victories in the $10,500 Open Pace. The five-year-old gelding uncorked a 26 flat last panel at the end of his 1:50.4 mile.