By Mike Paradise
Saturday night’s second leg of the Incredible Finale Stake Series for ICF 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings was split into a trio of very crowded 11-horse divisions. All three events should be quite a cavalry charge going into the first turn.
With 33 entries I expected a trio of eight-horse divisions and a nine-horse field for these “green” first season youngsters but Hawthorne took the shortsighted route.
They instead made them 11 horse fields of freshman pacers and moved them back in the program raced 8, 9 and 10, in an effort boost its Pick Five pool and for its west coast players.
While more money will likely be bet on an 11-horse field rather than an 8 or 9 horse one they didn’t give much thought about the owners of these very inexperience youngsters with just two starts on their card and both coming in the daylight.
Didn’t they think that an owner who puts up a $1,250 nomination fee to compete in this stake series and then writes a $200 starting fee check for each leg his youngster competes in would expect at least have his or her horse on the starting gate.
The owners who have horses with the 9 or 10 slots could be in for an unhappy journey as well in these $12,500 events. If their horses don’t leave they’ll drop in 10 or 11th and be a dozen or more lengths off the pacesetter going in the first turn.
If their horses do go out will they find a hole or will they be hung out? They could end-up being be parked-out much of the way and trapping some of the public’s betting choices stuck inside.
A Saturday race wouldn’t have had to be added to the card if four divisions were contested instead of three. One of the cheap races and could have been moved to Sunday.
Would a 10-horse cheap field handle more than an eight-horse field if?
A case could be made for either outcome. However whatever small gain is accomplished on the Saturday handle with 11 horse fields of inexperienced 2-year-olds, many with only 1 or 2 stars under their belt, it will be more than off-set with the track’s decision to assist in continue the eroding of the long suffering Illinois breeding program that has seen its numbers drop dramatically in the last decade.
Why would an owner spend want to pony-up $2,000 in nominations and starting fees for an ICF stake Series with “trailers” who have almost no shot of winning and only a slim possibility of picking up a purse check
In other Midwest venues their state-breds freshman will race for 2 or 3 times the money and without “trailers.”
While Illinois Racing Board rules do allow for a racetrack to have an 11-horse field in a stake race, having inexperience 2-year-olds this early in their season doing so, is just a lousy idea.
Besides, the Illinois Racing Act of 1975 stipulates in it the State will:
(b) Ensure that Illinois’ horse racing industry remains competitive with neighboring states;
(e) Encourage the breeding of thoroughbred and Standardbred horses in this State;
So how does a slap in the face to some of owners of Saturday’s 2-year-olds stake hopefuls accomplish any of those two stipulations?
Trio of 1st Time Winners: Four divisions of the Incredible Tillie stake series for ICF freshman filly pacers were contested Friday night and the first three saw the winners all record their maiden victory.
The Ron Phillips trained filly Just Doit Queeny ($10.80, James Lackey) had easy time in the second division, drawing off by five-plus lengths with a 1:58 clocking for New Jersey owner Howard Jacobs.
The betting public had it right in the third split when Fox Valley Charliz ($5.00, Dale Hiteman) battled the first starter Rousey Ronda down the length of the stretch before taking a head decision in 1:58.2. Trainer Clark Fairley of Lena, IL, shares ownership of the Sportsmaster filly with Marsha Combs-Skinner and Larry Skinner of Newton, IL.
My Kind Of Dance ($6.60, Casey Leonard) put on a strong stretch rush and nailed Princess Sage at the wire in the fourth division. It took a 1:56 mile for the Alex Adam filly to get her repeat victory for owner and breeder Adrian Adam of Beecher, IL.