Eight $50,000 State Fair Championships on the Line

By Mike Paradise

The curtain comes down on the 2017 edition of harness racing at Springfield Wednesday but not before eight Illinois State Fair Colt Stake Championship races are decided. The 15 race card gets under way at 10 o’clock in the morning and is scheduled to end around 3 pm.

What last Saturday stake eliminations have again reminded us is that there are no certainties in horse racing. Upsets will occur and it’s likely we’ll see some of those surprises Wednesday.

2017 LogoFew of us expected the two-year-old’s True Detective, the Cardinal and Kadabra second leg winner, or Good Design, a two-time Fox Valley Flan leg champion, to compete in consolation races instead of their respective finals. Or the ICF 3-year-old pacing colt and gelding division leader Fox Valley Nemitz to be racing for an $11,000 purse in a consolation instead of a $50,000 championship pot.

Nevertheless, all three of those standout ICF horses made a break in their elimination event and will miss out for a chance to go for the glory of a Springfield championship and a lot more money.

All eight of Wednesday’s ICF Championships got a late purse boost for its finals and will go for $50,000 each instead of the previously announced purses of either $48,000 or $44,000.

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Only a half length was the difference between last Saturday's ICF 3-year-old filly pace prep between the winner Boogie On Down (No. 1) and the fourth place finisher Razzleme Dazzleme (No. 4). (Four Footed Photo)

Only a half length was the difference between last Saturday’s ICF 3-year-old filly pace prep between the winner Boogie On Down (No. 1) and the fourth place finisher Razzleme Dazzleme (No. 4). (Four Footed Photo)

If last Saturday’s prep race is any indication the 3-year-old pace filly, the 14th race on the card, should be a dandy to watch. The first four finishers in the sophomore filly prep were separated by a half-length at the finish when Boogie On Down nosed-out A Real Doozie with the favorite Lady’s Party just a neck behind. The fourth place horse Razzleme Dazzle was another neck behind.

In fact the seventh place finisher Fancy Creek Jolene, who made a late break, ended up only 2 ad 1/2 lengths behind in the 1:54.4 mile.

The 2-year-old filly trot elimination stake winners Trotting Grace (Kyle Husted) and Maui Mama (Casey Leonard) will have will have long-time horse owner and former breeder Bill Wright of Morton, Illinois rooting for both youngsters. Wright owns Violet champion Maui Mama, from the Mike Brink barn, and shares ownership of four-time season winner Trotting Grace with Mystical Marker Farms and that filly’s trainer Steve Searle.

The eight Illinois championships will go the last eight races on the 16-race program. When handicapping keep in mind that even though Springfield and Hawthorne are both one mile ovals, they are very much different.

For instance according to the USTA Trotting and Pacing Guide Hawthorne’s stretch is 1,320 feet long while Springfield’s is only 510 feet. That 810 feet difference can be very beneficial for horses racing on or close to the front and at times not-so-much for horses who strictly come from far out-of-it.

The turns at the two Illinois tracks are not the same and racing in the daytime than at night the times for the mile are often faster. Springfield is an all dirt track. Hawthorne’s isn’t. In Hawthorne’s winter meet it mostly a limestone based track. That is changed to principally clay for its summer meet.

Trainers often change the shoeing on their trotters for Springfield. In fact, in some cases they’ll race a trotter without any shoes, especially if they’ve trained a horse on the Springfield oval that way. All things being pretty equal handicapping-wise, I’ve always given a slight edge to a trotting horse from a Springfield based trainer than one that shipped in from the Chicago area.

Also remember it’s not what a horse did a month ago, it’s how a horse is racing right now. Some horses hit their peak form early while others are just starting to reach their potential later in the season. Horses can tail off for a variety of health issues just as they can get going in the right direction when those health problems are behind him or her.

A move to an inside post can be huge at Springfield, especially for a horse that races off the pace. He or she could have much better striking position this time around.

What’s your guess on how many of the 19 winners on Saturday’s double header cards came from seventh, eighth or ninth at the half to win their race?

If your answer was zero, you’re correct.

Mississippi Rabbit (no. 2, Kyle Wilfong) nosed-out Fox Valley Herbie (inside, Mike Oosting) in their elimination division for ICF 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings. (Four Footed Photo)

Mississippi Rabbit (no. 2, Kyle Wilfong) nosed-out Fox Valley Herbie (inside, Mike Oosting) in their elimination division for ICF 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings. (Four Footed Photo)

On the other hand 13 of the 19 first place finishers were either first, second or third at the half-mile pole. Horses who were in the top three spots at the three-quarter pole won 17 of those 19 races.

Only two horses, the freshmen Fox Valley Hijinx and Fox Valley Gemini, came from fourth to prevail and both were less than two lengths off the leader at the three-quarters and “Gemini” uncorked a speedy 26.3 last panel to stay thus far unbeaten (6-for-6) in his first season.

Attention Horsemen: Because of a possibility that Wednesday’s races at Springfield could get rained-out the Hawthorne Race Office has announced that entries for Sunday will be taken Wednesday morning at 9 am instead of Thursday. Also some and or/all of Sunday’s races could be carded on Saturday.

The Tom Simmons Stable's Aimo Hanover (Casey Leonard) paced a sizzling 1:49 mile Tuesday. (Four Footed Photo)

The Tom Simmons Stable’s Aimo Hanover (Casey Leonard) paced a sizzling 1:49 mile Tuesday. (Four Footed Photo)

Aimo Hanover Sizzles: Clinard Properties’ Aimo Hanover paced the fastest mile of 2017 Springfield’s meeting Tuesday with a 1:49 clocking for driver Casey Leonard. The Tom Simmons trained 5-year-old gelding worn down the 1 to 5 favorite Tookadiveoffdipper in the lane and drew away by two lengths, knocking a full second off the winner’s previous best time.

The sizzling mile came in an Illinois Topline event Tuesday afternoon. Both Tookadiveoffdipper and Aimo Hanover were sprinted away quickly from the gate with the latter taking the two-hole when driver Mike Oosting took the Mike Brink trainee to a sizzling 25.3 first panel.

Tookadiveoffdipper zipped to the half in a speedy 53.1 and hit the three-quarter pole (in the middle of the last turn) in a quick time of 1:21.2 with Aimo Hanover right behind pace-setter . Leonard tipped Aimo Hanover ($15.60) out for the stretch drive and the pacer had plenty left in the tank, flying home in 27 flat quarter for his Mount Sterling, Illinois owner.

MIKE PARADISE’S SPRINGFIELD SELECTIONS
For Wednesday, First Post 10 am
1—White Pants Fever, Princess Ashley, Drinks On Betsey
2—True Detective, Majistic Caprice, Freddie Da Fox
3—Buster Moon, Kid Rocky, Vitality
4—Good Design, New Queen, J Cougar
5—Fox Valley Zola, Sheincrediblenasty, Allbeastnobeauty
6—Bootleg Island, Not Me Gram, Molina
7—Fox Valley Nemitz, Slzburgerslzburger, Uptown Sleaze
8—Maui Mama, Trotting Grace, E L Miss Kaibra
9—The New Americana, Fox Valley Jazzy, Rollin Coal
10—Vic’s Pizza, Cruzen Cassi, Illinimight
11—Fox Valley Gemini, Mykonos, Fox Valley Hijinx
12—Anna’s Lucky Star, Lou’s Credit Report, Daisy Lou Duke
13—Louscipher. Picky Picky Valor, Trixie’s Jethro
14—A Real Doozie, Lady’s Party, Boogie On Down
15–Fox Valley Reggie, Fox Valley Herbie,Captain Rhett

Mike’s Solid Plays
True Detective (2nd race)
Buster Moon (3rd race)
Good Design (4th race)
Fox Valley Gemini (11th race)

Mike’s Price Shots
Fox Valley Zola (5th race)
Fancy Creek Jolene (14th race)