By Mike Paradise
By now the 3-year-old ICF pacer Fox Valley Gemini might be thinking that when his race is over a stop for a winner’s picture is automatic before he gets to go back to a stall for some well-earned rest.
After all in each of his 15 career starts the pride of the Terry Leonard stable as done exactly that, get his picture taken in a winner’s circle alongside Atwater, Illinois owner Jim Ballinger and his happy entourage before driver Casey Leonard takes state-bred star pacer back to the paddock.
Tonight Fox Valley Gemini puts his perfect two-season record on the line in the eighth race first $12,500 division of Hawthorne’s Robert F. Carey stake series for Illinois bred sophomore pacing colts and geldings. Nine of “Gemini’s” division rivals will line-up to try and prevent No. 16 from happening tonight.
After five consecutive victories by an average winning margin of 3 and 1/2 lengths, two weeks ago Fox Valley Gemini notched his 15th in a row by less than one length to You’remyhearthrob (listed at 4-1) who figures to be hustled out by his driver Kyle Wilfong from the outside nine-slot.
Nevertheless Fox Valley Gemini paced the mile in a new lifetime mark of 1:51 flat, showing no signs of any crack in his armor. The talented pacer has the eight-post tonight and Casey has a few options knowing his horse is versatile and can get the job done racing up close or from out of it.
Last week’s the unbeaten “Gemini” paid $2.40 at 1 to 5 odds. That may sound like a small mutuel but in the horse seven previous victories went off at 1 to 9 with a $2.20 payoff. He’s listed at 7-5 in Hawthorne’s morning line.
This will be Fox Valley Gemini’s seventh outing as a 3-year-old after going a perfect 9-for-9 in his juvenile campaign when he was named the 2017 Illinois Harness Horse of the Year. A16th consecutive to tonight would boost the pacer’s earnings over the $200,000 plateau.
Fox Valley Gemini’s 100 series total points ties him with Backstreet Lawyer (programmed 7-2, Kyle Husted) for the top spot. The Tom Simmons trainee also won his first two Carey series outings.
Friday’s first Carey division also lured Dandy Dune (Ridge Warren), Heza Real Shooter (Robert Smolin), Talk About It (Tim Curtin, Sagebrush Shocker (Juan Franco, Beach Shooting Star (Travis Seekman) and Ernie The Mooss (Gary Rath).
Second Carey Wide-Open: With the top three Carey point earners all tangling in the eighth race the tenth race second split is there for the taking with no clear-cut standout. Frontier Frank (Kyle Wilfong) is programmed at 5-2. With first-time Lasix user Al’s Briefs (Travis Seekman) at 3-1, Cool Casper (Tim Curtin) at 7-2 and M T Gunslinger (Casey Leonard) at 5-1.
Also heading to the gate in the second Carey division are Herecomesmagotta (Juan Franco), first leg winner Fox Valley Hijinx (Kyle Husted), along with Molina (Ridge Warren), Mykronis (Jamaica Patton), Fox Valley Jalen (Gary Rath) and Shark Flipper (Ryan Anderson).
Seeing Stars: Sandwiched in between Friday’s two Carey series showdowns is a nine-horse Open Pace with posts drawn by groups. The red-hot Somestarsomewhere (Kyle Husted) was assigned the outside eight-slot after three straight rather easy victories for trainer Tom Simmons.
The first grouping, posts one though three, went to Adios Amigos (Ridge Warren), Fresh Cut (Ryan Anderson) and Dakota Roadster (Travis Seekman), in that order.
Posts four through seven were drawn separately and will be manned by Fox Valley Reggie (JamaicaPatton), Tookadiveoffdipper (Kyle Wilfong), He Gone Jack (Tim Curtin), and Account Rollover (Casey Leonard), another Open starter seeking his fourth in a row at Hawthorne.