By Mike Paradise
The 2019 Springfield harness racing meeting got under way Friday afternoon and it didn’t take long for the first upset on the card and the failure of one of the pre-stake favorites to gain next week’s championship.
It came about in Friday’s second race, the first division of the Illinois State Fair Colt Stakes elimination for two-year-old pacing fillies when the 10-1 longshot Sign Her Up ($22.20), nicely handled by driver Juan Franco came roaring down the stretch for the fillies’ first pari-mutuel victory in 1:54.1.
The Sagebrush freshman, owned by Mississippians RB Rober and trainer Ms Fabian Dancer finished four-plus lengths ahead of Sleazy Gal. Also advancing were Amazon Princess, Locked On It and Jimmy’s Girl, the third, fourth and finish place horses.
However the heavy 1 to 2 favorite, Fox Valley Exploit (Kyle Husted), an Incredible Tillie stake series winner in her last outing, made an early break and never was a factor.
Double Parked ($3.60, Travis Seekman) made it six wins in seven lifetime starts for trainer and owner Leroy Hunt of Jackson, Tennessee in the second freshman gals pace with a career best 1:55 clocking.
The second through fifth place finishers, Ashlees Fine Girl, Tropical Fruit, Castielle, and Guru Vee Girl, in that order also made the filly pace final.
There were no surprises in the two-year-old filly trot divisions as both of trainer Steve Searle’s earlier Fox Valley Flan series leg champions Lous Abgail ($3.20), Casey Leonard) and Bee See ($3.40, Kyle Husted) won in easy fashion. Lous Abgail trotted in 1:59.2 for the Flacco Family Farms of Alexis, IL and Bee Cee in 1:59 flat for his proprietors Molly Baldes (Urbana, IL) Michael Paloma (Chicago), Chris Paloma, Cedar Rapids, IA) and Searle (Grant Park, IL)
With Fox Valley Extacy a late scratch in the second division, all ten juvenile pacing filly starters made next Thursday’s $32,500 championship.
Driver Ridge Warren gave the Mike Brink stable’s On Higher Ground ($4.40) a two-hole trip and the Cassis gelding poured it on the lane to take the first division elimination for ICF freshman male trotters in 1:58.4, his initial pari-mutuel win for Illinois owners Bill Wright (Morton) and Brink (Springfield)
In the second colt and gelding trotting split the 2-5 prohibitive public’s choice Fox Valley Quest ($2.80, Casey Leonard) worn down Desert Sheik in the late going to prove best for the sixth time in seven starts. The 1:57.4 mile was a new mark for the Tom Simmons trained winner owned by Illinoisans Carl Lacey (Athens) and Benita Simmons (Springfield).
Also advancing to that freshmen final were Fitchey For Fun, Fox Valley Briton, U S Patriot and Lousinit from the first division and Desert Sheik, Twin Cedars Rocket, Deememorymaker and Fox Valley Kobe from the second elimination.
The front-stepping Canadian Mountie ($6.60, Casey Leonard), from the barn of Terry Leonard held off a furious stretch charge from Chick Magnet (Kyle Husted) and captured the first two-year-old male pace elimination. Only a nose separated the pair in the 1:58.2 mile.
As expected, the Megan Rogers Racing Stable’s Fox Valley Ren ($2.10, Kyle Wilfong) was never headed in the second colt elimination posting a career fastest 1:53.2 mile for trainer Nelson Willis and the horse’s Chicago, Illinois owners.
The last two races on Friday afternoon were three-year-old trotting preps. The fillies went first and the 2-5 choice Louzotic didn’t disappoint her backers, putting away a couple of challenges before pulling away to a 1:56.1 victory to give trainer Steve Searle his third winner of the afternoon.
Louzotic is owned by Flacco Family Farms and so was the colt and gelding sophomore trot winner Lousraptor ($13.80, Casey Leonard), trained by Roshun Trigg. The second, third and fourth place horses—Prince Cassis, For Trots Sakes and Super Betcha—all are from Mike Brink stable.
Casey had four winning drives on the afternoon.
Next Up: Day two of the Springfield meet gets under way at 12 noon Saturday.
The vast majority of elimination races to determine to next Thursday’s Illinois State Fair Colt Stake Championships fields were decided Friday afternoon, however there’s one 3-year-old pace elimination still to go on Saturday.
It’s for ICF colt and gelding for sophomore pacers and with 11 entries only one horse won’t make the $32,500 final and that will come in the seventh race first division two-time Carey series champion Maximus (pp 5, Kyle Wilfong) heads up a field of six pacers: Frontier Muffler, Master Sage, Fox Valley Stuart, Fox Valley Oscar and Fox Valley Julius.
The ninth race second elim consists of The Bucket, Brother John Finn, last year’s Springfield champ Meyer On Fore, Coming Up, and the July 10th Carey series winner Fox Valley Triton. All five male pacers will move along to Thursday final.
Four $7,000 ISFCS champions for older horses are also on the line Saturday. Two are on the pace and a pair on the trot.