By Mike Paradise
Winning a Springfield State Fair championship with a two-year-old ICF trotter has to be a very satisfying feeling for a trainer after all the long hours and hard work spent to even get a young horse to the races.
So imagine how rewarding it must be for a horseman to have not one, but both the filly and colt freshman trotting champions crowned on the same Springfield program.
That was the case last week when first Maui Mama (Casey Leonard), drew off in the $50,000 Illinois State Fair Colts Stake for 2-year-old trotting fillies and a couple of races later her Mike Brink trained stable-mate Vic’s Pizza (Mike Oosting), did the same in the final for 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings.
“It was very gratifying to win both Springfield trots and a lot of fun, too,” said Brink who has specialized in the successful development of young Illinois bred trotters.
In recent years the Springfield based horseman has developed such Prairie State champions as Rock Hollywood, Vaporstar, Tour Hall, Hail Caesar, Pastor Clint and the 2013 Illinois Horse of the Year King Mufasa.
Brink especially enjoys ringing along 2-year-old trotters.
“It’s more of a challenge for a trainer and I like that,” said Mike.
Both Vic’s Pizza and Maui Mama didn’t make their first start until early July and missed the initial leg of their respective Hawthorne stake series events.
“I won’t rush these young trotters to the races,” continued Brink. “In the case of Vic’s Pizza we had some issues with him early that we had to address and that wouldn’t allow him to be ready in June. So I took a little more time with him.”
“I wanted the filly Maui Mama to be good late. I think you can only have these horses tip-top for so long and I wanted it to be later rather than sooner for her. I thought that she was good enough to stay away early and then pick up enough (stake series) points later on to make the final.”
Maui Mama captured her Violet elimination and the $22,350 Final in her first two starts for owner Bill Wright of Morton, Illinois. The filly is a daughter of Cassis out of the Andover Hall broodmare Elegant Hanover, her second foal.
Vic’s Pizza by Pizzazzed out of the Valley Victory broodmare Yankee Victory OM, making him a full brother to Illinois champions Fox Valley Veto (1:54.3) and Fox Valley Yoko (1:55.2). He’s owned by Mark Brown (Chatham, IL), Josh Carter (Williamsville, IL) and Brink.
Vic’s Pizza made a break in his July 2nd debut in a Cardinal elimination, but still got the fourth place check to advance to the final where he finished second a week later.
Brink drove the horse in his first two outings before turning the lines over Mike Oosting, who steered the youngster to a second place finish in a Kadabra series leg two weeks later.
Brink confirmed that both of his Springfield freshman champions will be going to Du Quoin State Fair (August 29th and 30th).