By Mike Paradise
Two-time defending Illinois Harness Horse of the Year He’zzz A Wise Sky returns to the races Thursday afternoon at Springfield after a two-week layoff to make his second start in the last five weeks and his first since he was upset in the $62,000 Robert F. Carey Jr Memorial on Hawthorne’s September 10th Night of Champions.
“He’s about 90 to 95 per cent healthy right now,” said his trainer, John Filomeno. “When I send him to Hoosier, I want him at 100 per cent. Let’s face it, the competition at Springfield will be a lot softer. He’ll need to be sharp to take on the better horses in Indiana. ”
The pride of Triple ZZZ Stable of Beecher, Illinois, the Illinois bred speedball was caught in deep stretch by three-time ICF horse of the Year Fox Valley Gemini as the prohibitive favorite two weeks ago after missing the Carey prep event a week earlier with a fever.
“I almost scratched him out of the Carey final,” revealed Filomeno. “I didn’t make up my mind to start him until the morning of the race. The horse was a little short on the race but don’t take anything away from Fox Valley Gemini’s win, he’s an Illinois champion and has shown time and time again to be at his best in the big races. He was the better horse that night.”
He’zzz A Wise Sky’s problems starting a few weeks earlier in a $100,000 race at Scioto Downs.
“What could go wrong did go wrong in that race,” continued Filomeno. “He had a new driver who had the horse three-wide to the first quarter (25.4), ducked him into fourth, took him out, and then parked him out the rest of the way.”
He’zzz A Wise Sky ended up with a sixth-place finish and things didn’t get better for the homebred soon after.
“My horse was running a temperature, so I had to scratch him out of the prep. The reason for the fever was an abscess in his foot. We had to get it popped and healed before he could race again.”
Competing on all dirt Springfield oval should be helpful to He’zzz A Wise Sky, and for that matter any horse with a sore foot. The dirt track isn’t as hard as the clay and limestone surface at Hawthorne, which some drivers complained was often too hard this summer.
This will be only He’zzz A Wise Sky’s third lifetime start at Springfield and the five-year-old’s first since 2020. Since then, he’s lowered his mark to 1:48.3, taken earlier this year at Oak Grove in Kentucky, while his career purse earnings are closing in on the half a million-dollar plateau ($486,677) in less than four years of competition.
With over $167,000 in season earnings, and certainly more to come before he’s finished racing this year, and a 1:48.3 mile to his credit, don’t write off He’zzz A Wise Sky’s chances of a “threepeat” for Illinois Horse of the Year honors quite yet.
“He’zzz” back and he’s ready to start rolling again.
Filemeno plans on racing He’zzz A Wise Sky through the winter. “He won’t be starting every week. Maybe every other week or so,” said the 53-year-old Melrose Park, Illinois native. “The horse can pace as fast in the turns as he can on the straightaways so the extra turns on the Ohio tracks will suit him.”