By Mike Paradise
It was a year ago that veteran Illinois based trainer Steve Searle had his “dream come true” evening, when three of his trotters proved best on Hawthorne’s Night of Champions.
The long-time Grant Park, Illinois resident has been in the harness racing business for over 40 years and “never had anything close to that kind of night.”
Searle sent out the two-year-old filly trotting champion Louzotic, the three-year filly trot winner Trotting Grace and calmly drove his aged ICF trotter Spirit O’Mar to his Plesac championship at a $108.80 mutuel.
Saturday night, the 60-year-old Searle, will have seven of his horses going to the starting gate in Night of Champions finals. While some are indeed longshots to take home the winner’s share of a lucrative purse, Steve does have a trio of state-bred trotting fillies that are strong candidates in two of Saturday’s championships.
Louzotic (Kyle Husted), is back again on the Night of Champions and she has been atop the Beulah Dygert sophomore trotting division all season long. The daughter of Lou’s Legacy will carry a three race winning streak into the $95,000 championship. Her only recent blemish came in late July, when she dropped a narrow nose loss to Heidi High (Juan Franco).
Louzotic will bring a gaudy season record of 10 wins, three seconds and one third in 14 starts into the sixth race championship. The filly has earned $95,530 this year and $191,809 in less than two racing campaigns for her owners and breeders Flacco Family Farms LLC of Alexis, Illinois.
Searle will send out the strong one-two punch of Bee See and Lous Abgail in this year’s $82,000 Fox Valley Flan championship. The pair finished on top of the freshman filly trot standings with 155 points for the former filly and 150 for the latter.
Bee See (Kyle Husted), a Cassis filly, has won 3 if her last 4 starts, including last week’s final leg of the Fox Valley Flan. She’s 5 for 9 as a freshman and is closing in on $50,000 in earnings for owners Mandy Baldes (Urbana, IL), Michael Paloma (Chicago, IL), Chris Paloma (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) and Searle (Grant Park, IL).
Lous Abgail (Casey Leonard), has finished first or second in all nine of her first season starts, victorious in six of them. The Lous Legacy filly thus far, has banked over $40,000 for Flacco Family Farms, her owners and breeders.
“Bee See won her race last weekend, but only came home in 31.2,” said Searle. “So we scoped her and found out she was sick. We treated her and got her cleared up and she’ll race on Lasix for the first time Saturday.
“Bee See is like a big awkward kid out there. She has the ability of a good horse, but not the manners of one,” Steve continued. “She wants and needs plenty of attention, unlike her stable-mate Lous Abgail who is just the opposite.
“Lous Abgail acted like a pro from day one. She does her work, eats her food and doesn’t want any attention. We have windows in our stalls and she is content to look outside throughout hers all day and just be left alone.”
Bee See (Travis Seekman), drew nicely in the Fox Valley Flan championship with the two-post however, Lous Abgail (Casey Leonard) didn’t, the filly landed the 10-hole and clearly will have her work cut out on Saturday’s Night of Champions.
No Earlier Post: Unlike in most past Super Night type programs Hawthorne will not have an earlier post time Saturday’s Night of Champions. They’ll stick their regular 7:20 pm first post. The 12th and final race on the Night of Champions is scheduled to go off at 11:44 pm.
About an hour before Saturday’s first race you and can “Meet and Greet” the Hawthorne drivers. They’ll be on hand near the winner’s circle to sign autographs and chat with the fans starting at 6:30 pm.