Finally a Gem of an Open Pace

By Mike Paradise

It took 13 weekends to get the long awaited rematch we were waiting for in Hawthorne’s No 1 Open Pace. Tonight the meet’s current overnight event champion Castle Flight finally takes on Illinois most popular state-bred pacer Fox Valley Gemini in Friday’s headliner.

The last time Castle Flight (Kyle Wilfong) raced at Hawthorne was a chilly night in the first week of March. The Derek Burklund gelding breezed on the front end for the second Open Pace in a row, thus earning the horse a visit to the track’s “Penalty Box”.

Little did any of us know that three lengthy plus months would pass before Castle Flight would make another Hawthorne start.

Castle Flight (Kyle Wilfong) has waited 13 long weeks to try and make it three Hawthorne Open victories in a row. (Four Footed Fotos)

Castle Flight (Kyle Wilfong) has waited 13 long weeks to try and make it three Hawthorne Open victories in a row. (Four Footed Fotos)

Of course no one saw the Covid-19 coming, putting harness racing nation-wide on hold for the entire spring. But the fact that Castle Flight got written out of competition because he had the audacity to win TWO consecutive Hawthorne races, thus securing an unwanted vacation, did come as a surprise.

Yes, we want good horses to come and race on the Chicago Circuit but it seems those in control don’t want those good horses to be “too good”.

Friday’s seventh race feature will have full field 10 field pacers handicapped by groups. As expected, Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard) and Castle Flight (Kyle Wilfong) was allocated the two outside posts with “Gemini” drawing the nine and Castle Flight the 10.

The John Hughes stable’s Steve Said (Cordarius Stewart) was assigned the pole position. Slots two through six were drawn and they went to Account Rollover (Brandon Bates), Lying In Cash (Ridge Warren), Parklane Official (Mike Oosting), Bass Player (Todd Warren) and Feelnlikearockstar (Kyle Husted).

Bold And Brassy (Travis Seekman) and Parklane Eagle (Juan Franco) complete the very nice field with post seven and eight, respectively.

 Two-time ICF Harness Horse of the Year Fox Valley Gemini is looking for some revenge in Friday’s Open Pace headliner. (Four Footed Fotos)

Two-time ICF Harness Horse of the Year Fox Valley Gemini is looking for some revenge in Friday’s Open Pace headliner. (Four Footed Fotos)

Our Handle Skyrockets: Last Friday I wrote the headline “Chomping at the Bit?” You Bet!” for my story and that turned out to be an accurate statement.

Saturdays’ 13 race program handled $1,000, 371 and Sunday’s card with the help of less competition shot up to $1,499,680. That’s a two-day total was $2,500,117. All those competitive 10-horse fields on 13 races cards were certainly major reasons for the huge uptick in money wagered at Hawthorne.

Wrong or Right: It pays to be wrong . . . or should I say it pays to be right.

Last Sunday your author said that the Open Pace mare Windsun Brooklyn had no chance at going off as the third longest shot in the sixth race and at double-digit odds, writing that the chances of that happening were the same as me fitting in my graduation suit from 60 years ago.

As it turned out yours truly badly missed the mark on comprehending just how many Hawthorne players would be duped by the USTA’s computer generated line because Windsun Brooklyn (Casey Leonard) was indeed the third choice and at 46-1.

On the other hand I hope you saw in my way because I rightly had the mare second in my line behind my top choice the winner Tempus Seelster and a $2 exacta ticket paid $223.90. Since my third and fourth horses were also in correct order, we also hit the 50 second trifecta ticket for $199.60 along with the 20 cent Superfecta for a rewarding $609.76.

So for $2.70 in gimmick wagers we gave you 1,033 dollars in winning sixth race tickets and that’s more than enough to purchase an entire new ensemble.

More Fairs Kayoed: The Illinois Department of Agriculture has posted on its web-site the addition cancellation of the following County Fairs in July: Schuyler at Rushville, Knox at Knoxville, Marshall-Putnam at Henry and Champaign at Urbana. August Fairs thus far called off are Brown County at Mt. Sterling and Boone County at Belvidere.