By Mike Paradise
Its front and center time for this season’s crop of ICF 2-year-old trotters when the first round legs of the Fox Valley Flan and Kadabra stake series go to the starting gate Sunday evening at Hawthorne.
First up is the $12,000 Fox Valley Flan opening round with a jam-packed field of 11 first season fillies battling it out in the third race. With the entire field making their pari-mutuel debuts and No. 11 Frontier Jackie (Richard S Finn) starting in the second tier with 10 gals strung across in front of her, it’s anyone’s guess who will come out on top.
Some of the juvenile Fox Valley Flan gals have had brothers or sisters with past success in Illinois trotting stakes.
The John D Finn Stable’s Sunny Sasha (pp 8, Jared Finn) is the baby sister to former state-bred stake champions Captain Greedy (1:55.4) and Trixie’s Jethro (1:57.4) while the Mike Roger Stable’s Undeniable Emotion (pp 4, Ridge Warren) is the younger sister of Totally Pazzazzed.
The free legged trotter Fox Valley Persia (pp 9, Kyle Husted) is a full sister to Fox Valley Qatar (1:56) a multi-stakes champion a few years ago for the same Herman Wheeler Stable.
The competitive third race Fox Valley Flan field also lured Good Design (Kyle Wilfong), E L Miss Kaibra (Mike Oosting), Lous Silver Star (Jamaica Patton), Powerful Temtrist (Gary Rath), Fancy Ferge (Freddie Patton Jr.), Fox Valley Sunrise (Dale Hiteman) and Fox Valley Winnie (Casey Leonard).
Two races later a full field of 10 ICF trotting colt and geldings all make their first pari-mutuel starts in the initial round of the Kadabra stake series.
One of the likely favorites is Dr. Patrick Graham’s True Detective (pp 8, Casey Leonard) from the barn of trainer Curt Grummel. The Lou’s Legacy colt won his Springfield qualifier in 2:03 flat. His dam Maple Grove Glide gave us the 2011 Super Night champion Maple Grove Shaelyn (1:54.4) and the productive trotting mare Powerful Princess (1:58.2).
True Detective’s stable-mate Big Lou (pp 6) is another Lou’s Legacy colt. He is the third foal of Fox Valley Luxury who captured Balmoral’s $100,000 Lady Lincoln Land and the $50,000 Fox Valley Flan, as well as the $50,000 Springfield Championship in 2011.
True Detective and Big Lou will race uncoupled when they take on Majistic Caprice (Paul Cavett), Fox Valley Strpwr (Cornelius Cavett), Cruzen Cassi (Jared Finn), Loustat (Jamaica Patton), Krispy K (Ridge Warren), Freddie Da Fox (Freddie Patton Jr.), Legal Entry (Kyle Husted) and Two News (Mike Rogers).
Sharing the Sunday spotlight at Hawthorne is the $15,000 Open Trot, drawn by groups (1-4) (5-8) and (9). It’ll go as the second race.
Not surprisingly the Jim Eaton’s stable Walter White was assigned the outside nine-slot by the Hawthorne Race Office. The 5-year-old gelding is having a strong year for owner Bob Silberberg who acquired the one-time Jimmy Takter trained trotter near the end of 2015.
Walter White banked $67,257 last year for Silberberg and already has almost $65,000 on his card for 2017. Two of the trotter’s four season victories came in $22,000 Open Trots at Ohio’s Miami Valley Raceway and another in a $21,000 Hoosier Park Invite in late April.
Walter White has no easy task tonight leaving from the nine-slot with a nice field of trotters inside of him. The first four slots will be manned by Nashville Holiday (Mike Oosting), Rever Ever (Don Harmon), Big Expense (Kyle Husted) and I Could Care Less (Keith Crawford), gunning for his fourth in a row at Hawthorne.
Posts five through eight belong to Charles VII (Bob Smolin), Pridecrest (Jared Finn), Topville Avatar (Dale Hiteman), a two-time Open Trot winner at the meet, and Fox Valley Veto (Casey Leonard) who proved best in last Sunday’s $15,000 Open.
Sounds Greek To Me: Tripoli Stable’s Mykonos ($7.80), nicely handled by Casey Leonard, shot up the inside to nail down a victory in his debut with a neck decision in the first $12,000 division of the Incredible Finale stake series for ICF 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings.
Not Me Gram (pp 1, Ridge Warren), Mykonos (pp4) and Shooting Straight (pp9, Bob Smolin) all went out and battled for the lead. On the backside it was Shooting Straight on top, with Mykonos in the pocket and Not Me Gram a close-up third.
Shooting Straight was backed down and took the field to a 1:01 first half, bunching up the nine-horse field and when Not Be Gram powered out of third in the turn Mykonos and Leonard suddenly lacked racing room as they came down the lane.
Casey found it when he took the Tom Simmons trained freshman to the inside lane, squeezed through a narrow opening, and the homebred son of Corner Blitz did the rest, going on for 1:59 victory for his Norridge, Illinois owner.
Not Me Gram was third, beaten a half-length while the 4-5 favorite Beach Shootingstar another Simmons trained freshman, made up six-plus lengths in the lane to be fourth, less than two lengths off the winner.
Casey was back in the winner’s circle after the second Incredible Finale division was over, this time with John Barnard’s Heza Real Shooter $13.00).
Despite a tough trip Heza Real Shooter worn down the pacesetting 3-5 favorite Molina (Kyle Husted) in the stretch and posted a half-length victory with a 1:59.2 mile raced on a “good” racing surface.
Big Boy Frazier (Tyler Shehan) was third behind the winning Bill Crone trained 2-year-old.
OK Heavenly ($2.80) stayed perfect in the meet’s filly and mare Open Pace by taking the $15,000 co-feature in 1:52.3 with Leonard again at her lines. The Angie Coleman trainee is 4-for-4 at Hawthorne this year.
Hipnumberone (Mike Oosting) had a big effort to be second best, three-quarters of a length behind the 5-year-old mare owned by Illinoisans Dandy Farms and Mark Winship.
Casey Leonard ended Saturday evening with six winning drives. Juan Franco has a driving double.