Freshmen Class Step Forward

By Mike Paradise

There will be some nervous owners and trainers Thursday night when the first pari-mutuel race for strictly 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers takes place at Hawthorne’s summer meet in race four of the 11-race card.

Nine of the 10 freshmen going postward had their owners dish out a $1,250 check to make their “babies” eligible to the upcoming Incredible Finale stake series events that gets under way in two weeks.

The only freshman in Thursday’s fourth race with a start under his belt is the 10-horse Ima Scrappy Scaper (Kyle Wilfong) who had an unsuccessful debut four nights ago for trainer Bob Phillips who will also end out Fox Valley Cortez (pp 1, Cliff Bell) and Romeo Rocks (pp 6, Pat Curtin).

Romeo Rocks is a son of Sportsmaster out of the Broadway Express broodmare Rock N Roan and that makes him the sister of the successful mare Just By Design, an 31-career winner with a mark of 1:51.3 and almost $310,000 in purse earnings.

Other siblings to Romeo Rocks that have are past winners on the Chicago circuit include Schmatie (1:53.3), Rip N Rock (1:52), Rockin Cassinova (1:55.1) and Exclusive Design (1:58.1).

One of the possible fourth race favorites is the Freddie Patton Jr. Stable’s Fox Valley Reggie, who breezed in his 1:59.4 qualifying race at Springfield last week. A $4,600 yearling purchase by Ron Phillips (Athens, Illinois) and Erica Pechin (Platteville, Colorado) he is out Ron’s Girl, a very prolific racehorse before becoming a productive broodmare.

You might remember Ron’s Girl (1:49.3, $576,458). She raced out of the Joe Anderson Stable in 2000 and that year went on to capture the Breeders Crown Aged Mare Pace for Illinois owners John Leahy and Robert Ranquist Jr. and their partner Gregg Pistochini of California.

Ron’s Girl’s first foal was Western Tsunami, a 1:50.1 pacer who had amazing70 victories as a racehorse. Ron’s Girl was acquired by Fox Valley Standardbreds in late 2004. Her first foal for her Sherman, Illinois owners was Fox Valley Ruler (1:53.1). She later gave us MJ’s Bid (1:50.4).

Another youngster who will get plenty of play at the betting windows is Sork (Todd Warren) co-owned by his namesake Ernie Sork and his partner Noreen Kay Nessa, both of Fairfield, Illinois. Sork had a very fast 27 flat last panel in his Hawthorne qualifier and it came on a racing strip listed as sloppy.

The Nelson Willis Stable’s Fox Valley Sparty was raced easy in the same qualifier before he closed in 27.3. His dam Fox Valley Lianna also produced Girls Hunt Too (1:56).

Other first time freshman starters in the race are Bigtime So N So (Jamaica Patton), the lone freshman not Incredible Finale eligible, Gabe Henry (Travis Seekman), Vitality (Charles Arthur) and Captain Rhett (Kyle Husted) who won his qualifier in 2:004 in the slop.

Post night nightly at Hawthorne’s summer meet is 7:35 p.m.

Todd and Casey Nearing Milestones

By Mike Paradise

Todd Warren had the hot hand in last week’s races at Hawthorne with 11 winning drives, highlighted by a four-bagger on Saturday night.

The meet’s leading driver Casey Leonard wasn’t far behind with nine first place finishers. The 38-year-old Harvard, Illinois native is closing in on 2,000 career wining drives. He’ll go into Thursday program with 1,982.

Warren (pictured) isn’t far off a major achievement himself. Horses Todd has driven have banked only $117,988 short of $20 million in earnings. The next winning drive for 51-year-old who resides in Manhattan, Illinois will be No. 4,400.

It was also a good week for Kyle Husted who made four stops at Hawthorne’s winner’s circle. Matt Kruger, Kyle Wilfong and Tim Curtin all had three each. The 58-year-old Curtin bagged his trio of winners in just 12 opportunities.

Freshmen to Debut: The initial races for the season for 2-year-old pacers are on this week’s conditioned sheets with freshman colts and geldings slated for Thursday and fillies for Friday.

The first legs of the 2-year-old ICF stake series is only two weeks away for both pacers and trotters.

The Fox Valley Flan for 2-year-old ICF filly trotters acquired 33 nominations while the Kadabra for freshman colts has 30 youngsters available for its stake series. The Incredible Finale for state-bred juvenile colt pacers came up strong with 61 noms however the Incredible Tillie for first season filly pacers did even better, landing 72 young distaffers to its eligible list.

A one-time $1,250 nomination fee was needed to make a 2-year-old IOF trotter or pacer eligible to all four legs of their respective stake series, along with its final or consolation event.

Rolling in the Dough

By Mike Paradise

The Robert F. Carey Memorial stake series got under way Saturday night and its ICF 3-year-old colt division went pretty much as expected.  However the $12,500 second split didn’t . . . at least for most players.

  Jesse and Austin De Long’s Holdonwe’rerolling came from far out of it for driver Todd Warren and overtook the favorite Royale Rose in deep stretch at 53-1 odds, and paid $108.00.

  (Four Footed Photo)

The Clinton, Wisconsin owners, trainer Bob Rittof and Warren weren’t the only ones with smiles on their face after the 1:54.1 victory. I had to admit I had a grin on mind as well.

Holdonwe’rolling was a “Mike’s Price Shot” selection in my line. His victory wasn’t a huge surprise but his price certainly was. The pacer had a 1:54.4 win at Hoosier in early May and looked very good taking his Hawthorne debut a week ago in 1:554.4.

The horse’s breeding was also selling point for me. He’s by Party At Artsplace out of the Big Towner mare Maura Hanover. That makes him a full brother to 2011 Super Night champion Party Hangover (1:51.1, $371,608) who was trained by his co-owner Jesse De Long.

Party Hangover is currently racing out east for the Ken Rucker Stable and boasts 35 career wins.

Warren ducked Holdon’werolling at the start of Saturday’s sixth race while the 2 to 5 favorite Royale Rose took over the lead on the backside. After a modest 57.4 half things didn’t look good for Warren and Holdonwe’reolling who was in eighth, eight-plus lengths off the pacesetter and behind three other horses in the outer flow.

Warren got Holdonwe’rerolling out and rolling in the final turn, taking the gelding five deep and once the Rittoff trainee straighten out for the stretch drive he suddenly became a factor. The horse was still almost nine lengths behind at the three-quarters (1:26.3) but was flying. He paced the last quarter in a very quick 26 flat for his longshot backers.

Royale Rose was second best while JB’s Hero took third.

When the pre-race favorite Dan D Dune, last year’s Orange and Blue Colt champion, was scratched a second week due to sickness in the first Carey division, the red-hot Caffeine Kid was hammered down to 4-5 odds and ended up a comfortable front-end winner, his fourth straight at Hawthorne, this one in 1:55.2.

Trained by Rodney Freese for Sherman, Illinois owner Peter Karras, Caffeine was also driven by Todd Warren who had four winners on the card.