By Mike Paradise
With the second legs of the two-year-old Night of Champion stakes series this weekend, we’ve already reached the half-way point for ICF freshman pacers and trotters to earn their way to the finals, when Hawthorne’s showcase evening of racing comes about on Saturday, September 22nd.
A high finish in Friday’s Incredible Finale races for first season pacing colts and geldings, Saturday’s Incredible Tillie for pacing fillies and Sunday’s two Dygert Memorial trots, the Beulah Dygert for the gals and the Erwin Dygert for the guys, will go a long way towards achieving a starting berth in their respective Illinois bred championships.
Fifty points are awarded to a Night of Champions series winner, with 25 for a second, 12 for a third, 8 for a fourth and 5 for a fifth place finisher. A starting horse that ends up sixth or worse in a series race does get a single point. Only the 10 highest point earners in each series advance to its final.
Take Note: There were a couple of notable first place finishes by ICF juvenile pacers last weekend preparing for this week’s Night of Champion events.
On Saturday night Fox Valley Exploit (1:56.2), powered past her 2-year-old filly rivals Fox Valley Vixen and Sleazy Gal with a rapid 27 flat last panel for driver Kyle Husted, who shares ownership of the Sportsmaster filly with David Brigham of Concord, Michigan. Fox Valley Exploit was a $22,000 yearling buy at the 2018 Illinois Classic Sale.
The previous night Fox Valley Ren, another Sportsmaster freshman, motored to a 1:55.4 clocking with driver Casey Leonard while prepping for Friday’s second leg of the Incredible Finale stakes series.
Fox Valley Ren, who raced first over, brought the most money at the last September Illini Classic Sale, when he was taken for $43,000 back to his breeders Fox Valley Standardbreds of Sherman, Illinois. The youngster was subsequently acquired in early June by the Megan Rogers Racing Stable of Chicago.
Incredible Finale Split: The draws are out for Friday’s the second round of the Incredible Finale series and the Nelson Willis trained Fox Valley Ren (pp 4, Casey Leonard), landed in the first $17,500, where he’ll take on first round winner and Cardinal champ RJ Wulfy (pp 2, Ryan Anderson), unbeaten in three starts for trainer Ronnie Roberts.
Sassy Lil Thing (Cordarius Stewart), has the pole position, with Ryans Ambassador (James Molitor), starting from the three. The two outside slots belong to L L Gram (Juan Franco) and first leg Incredible Finale victor Illini Force (Ridge Warren), in that order.
The Terry Leonard stable’s Canadian Mountie (pp 3, Casey Leonard), who romped in his Cardinal division, is the freshman to beat in the second $17,500 Night of Champions division.
Kbtwo (Juan Franco), Patton Plus (Jamaica Patton), RG’S Tracer (Travis Seekman), Hello Rooster (Kyle Wilfong) and Chick Magnet (Kyle Huste), are the other fourth race starters.