By Mike Paradise
Freshman ICF pacing colts and geldings began their long journey towards a possible starting berth on Hawthorne’s Night of Champions latter on in September with the opening legs of the Incredible Finale stake series.
Right from the get-go, things didn’t go as the betting public expected.
Sork, an easy winner in his June 9 debut was hammered down to 1 to 5 odds in the first division and mid-way down the lane appeared he was going to reward his many backers. Sork got his head in front the pacesetting 12-1 longshot Uptown Sleaze past the mid-stretch marker when the winning Nelson Willis trainee looked the favorite in the eye and went bye-bye, pulling away to a 1:56.4 clocking.
The son of Sagebrush, owned by his breeder Marty Engel of Buffalo Grove, Illinois is out of broodmare Da Sleazy One, making him a full brother to two past former Engel ICF stake champions: Sleazy Does It (1:51.3, $311,381) and Thesleazyprincess (1:52.2, $290,413)
Another longshot took the second Incredible Finale split when Fox Valley Jeter ($16.40) proved fastest in the lane at 7-1 odds in his winning 1:58.1 debut for driver Casey Leonard.
The son of Sportsmasrter was a $25,000 yearling purchase by Phil Langley (Frankfort, IL), Christine Buttice (Leesburg, FL) and trainer Jim Eaton (Crete, IL). Causeway (Travis Seekman) won the photo for second over Fox Valley Reggie (Freddie Patton Jr.).
The chalk players got it right in the third $12,500 division when Sporty Redhot ($4.20), trained by Kim Roth for Berwyn, IL owner Al Beals, pulled away to a four-length victory in 1:56.2 with Todd Warren.
Todd was back in the winner’s circle after the fourth division was over when the Carol Graham’s Gabe Henry ($9.60) powered past for his first career triumph in 1:55.4. The home-bred son of Henry Clay is trained by Tom Graham Jr.
No Typical Sunday: With four divisions each of the opening legs of the ICF stake series for both filly and colt and gelding pacers sprinkled through Friday’s and Saturday’s cards, Hawthorne shifted its $10,000 Open paces to Sunday night.
Both have eight horse fields and will go as back-to-back races—7 and 8—and were handicapped by groups.
The first distaff unit (posts 1 to 3) will be manned by Feetonthedashboard (10-1), Rocknroll Hoochcoo (10-1) and Ryleigh’s Lilly (12-1). The likely post time favorites will come from the second grouping (post 4 through 8) manned by Mystical Nectar (5-1), Char N Marg (3-1), last week’s winner Seeyouatthefionish (5-2), Fox Valley Charm (4-1) and OK Heavenly (8-1).
Cole Heat (6-1), an Open winner two weeks ago and Somestarsomewhere (3-1) who proved best last week, drew for posts 7 and 8 in the eighth race $10,000 Open for male pacers with the latter getting the outside slot.
The first six posts were drawn and they ended up with the likely favorite Freedomformysoul (5-2 in my line) landing the pole position a second straight time, followed by Sunset Dreamer (8-1), Mystical Walter (6-1), Sir Mammo (12-1), Dinky Dune (5-1) and Mr Coolie (10-1).