Late Closer is a Family Affair

By Mike Paradise

A half dozen Late Closer champions will be crowned at Hawthorne this weekend. The three series finals for pacing colts and geldings head-up Friday’s card, while a trio of filly and mare events will be the focus of Saturday’s program.

The two Late Closers for strictly ICF pacers, Friday’s Carl Becker Final and Saturday’s Tim Wilson Sr. showdown will get most of the attention with $25,000 purses in each on the line, but there is another intriguing event in a $15,000 open company finale as well.

It’s Friday’s ninth race, the Late Closer Series #4. It’s for paces without $20,000 on their cards through last November 1st and it’s a race that pits brother against brother and also father against son for the Leonard family bragging rights.

Dan P, a strong winner for the Ross Leonard stable last week, leaves from the rial in Thursday's series final. (Four Footed Photo)

Dan P, a strong winner for the Ross Leonard stable last week, leaves from the rial in Thursday’s series final. (Four Footed Fotos)

Dan P was the best for trainer Ross Leonard last week, in the first series division a 1:56.1victory with his brother Casey doing the driving. Ross, who shares ownership with his wife Rachel of the five-year-old Indiana bred gelding with Illinoisans Dandy Farms Inc. (Glenview) and Peter Kouchis (Palos Hills), will take back the lines on Dan P for the $15,000 final.

Wolfman’s Brother captured both of his series legs and the 4-year-old son of Real Desire did it despite a four month layoff . He’s owned and trained by Terry Leonard of Harvard, Illinois.

Ross drove Wolfman’s Brother to his first series leg victory for his father, while Casey and his family were on a ski vacation in Colorado. Casey returned to action last week and steered the pacer to a 1:56.2 in leg two and will be back in the bike Friday.

Wolfman’s Brother is out of the broodmare CJR Bogert, who won 27 races from 2002 through 2007, for Charles and Patrick Wolf, also of Harvard, Illinois. Terry acquired CJR Bogart in 2008 and two years later the mare delivered the Leonard’s Window Wiper (1:53.1), currently competing at Cal-Expo.

I asked Casey if there are any similarities between Wolfman’s Bother and his half-sister Window Wiper.

“They’re both very good gaited, but Wolfman’s Brother is a little more clean gaited,” answered Hawthorne’s two-time defending driver champion. “Wolfman’s sister would hit her knees pretty bad at times. Both of them have good attitudes. Neither one is something special, but they are both nice race horses,”

Dan P and Wolfman’s Brother can expect stiff competition from Mac Anover (Kyle Wilfong), from the barn of trainer Payton Ode. The 4-year-old son of McArdle saw his two-race winning streak at Hawthorne come to end last week with a second place finish behind Wolfman’s Brother, who did get away with slow a 30 second first and third quarters.

Mac Anover was fourth, four lengths behind at the half and the heavy 1 to 2 favorite’s 27.2 final panel did get him within one length of the winner at the finish wire.

The draw for the Friday’s ninth race Late Closer #4 final went very well for both Leonard horses. Dan P (programmed at 9-2), landed the rail for Ross, while Casey and the 8-5 morning line favorite Wolfman’s Brother leave from the four- post.

Mac Anover (listed at 3-1), had the two and one-slots in the first two series legs, but this week he ended up with the eight. Note that’s the same post he had in his initial Hawthorne start of the meeting and he rallied for a three-plus length victory that night.

The other ninth race challengers are: Shady Dream Boy (Brandon Bates), Fox Valley Eli (Sam Widger), Ima Scrappy Scaper (Pat Curtin), Who Deen E (Todd Warren), Canyouimaginethis (Gale Smith), Cruising Home (Ryan Anderson) and Frontier Frank (Mike Oosting).

Doubling Up: Brandon Bates drove both of Sunday’s $12,000 Cicero Claiming Series winners, first bringing home Another Temptation in the mare division and then steering Want Me in the male pacer category. Both horses are trained by Loralee Johnson and she added a third winner on the card, when Cuinthepurplerain took the tenth race nightcap.

Ms. Johnson’s three-bagger moved her to the top of the Hawthorne trainer standings with 10, one more than Payton Ode.

Worth a Bet: Thursday night’s tenth race .20 cent Jackpot High Five at Hawthorne has a carryover of nearly $43,000.