By Mike Paradise
With the Springfield meet in the rear mirror and the Du Quoin State Fair still on the horizon, the focus on Illinois harness racing is back on Hawthorne.
Friday’s night’s program is headed up by a second race $10,000 Open Pace and it’s one of those take-your-pick events. Unlike most of the Opens at the meet, this one wasn’t handicapped by the Race Office because it’s a very evenly matched group of horses. In fact, you can make a case for a number of pacers to be the public’s choice in the six horse field.
The overdue Ponda’s Prospect (pp 1, Casey Leonard), shook loose a stride too late last week or could have very come out on top for the meet’s leading trainer Casey Leonard.
The Nelson Willis stable’s Hot Rod Dylan, (pp 2, Kyle Wilfong), scratched sick a week ago, has speed from the inside and can get to the top in good shape and remain there. The five-year-old gelding took a new mark at Hawthorne in late July with a 1:50.3 mile.
Dakota Roadster (pp 3, Cliff Bell), is a sharp ICF pacer who likes Hawthorne’s stretch and just might get up in time for a repeat victory for trainer and owner Perry Smith. The 6-year-old pacer has 21 career victories, tops in the field.
The 4, 5 and 6 posts will be manned by: Terror Of The Nite (Kyle Husted), Primo Giovanni (Travis Seekman) and Kelly D (Jamaica Patton), all capable of making a visit to the winner’s circle.
Terror Of The Nite, trained by his driver Kyle Husted, has been a model of consistency all meeting long. He previous captured a pair of Hawthorne Opens and was a couple of photos away from one or two more. The gelding was scratched sick on July 20th, so last week’s Open was his first race in five weeks and he did finish full of pace.
Primo Giovanni, a $36,000 Hoosier Park claim back in mid-July by trainer Perry Smith, has had some tough trips in both Hawthorne starts, the latest as a 6-5 favorite. He does show a 25.3 last quarter in his July 9th start and his $68,955 purse earnings are best in the field.
Kelly D had back-to-back victories at Hawthorne in July, before making repeated breaks last week. The Tom Simmons trainee paced a 1:51 flat career fastest mile three starts ago, one of his seven season triumphs.
Friday night’s tenth race co-feature, a high-level conditioned pace, brings out the return to Hawthorne of the first three finishers in last week’s Illinois State Fair Colts Stake for ICF horses and geldings ages four and up—Fox Valley Reggie (pp 8, Jamaica Patton), He Gone Jack (pp 5, Tim Curtin) and Fox Valley Nemitz (pp 1, Cliff Bell).
They’ll be confronted by Lyons King (Kyle Husted), Rising To The Top (Travis Seekman), Sir Mammo (Ridge Warren), Parklane Official (Casey Leonard) and Jewel Maker (Juan Franco).
Springfield Leftovers: Casey Leonard added another Springfield driver crown to his list of accomplishments. The 40-year-old Illinois native had 11 winning drives in the four program meet. Mike Oosting was next with nine, followed by Kyle Wilfong with seven.
The leading trainer was Mike Brink with six, followed by Steve Searle with four. Brink was also the top trainer at the 2016 Springfield meeting.