Fifty-five year-old Todd Warren reached a major driving milestone last night when he brought home his 5,000th career winner. The Mattoon, Illinois native joined an exclusive driver club by rallying Tappin Outasmessage to a first place finish in the ninth race.
Warren began his driving career back in 1981 and has had 21 years of driving 100 or more winners in a season. He has surpassed 200 season winners eight times and delivered over 300 on three occasions with his best year coming in 2010 with 344,
Warren, who resides in Manhattan, Illinois, also surpassed $26 million in career driving earnings this weekend.
Saturday’s Wrap Up: The ICF three-year-old pacers and trotters competed last night in their final series legs prior to next Saturday’s Night of Champion showdowns.
The first of a pair of $15,000 Plum Peachy sophomore filly confrontations saw the 2-5 favorite Sign Her Up ($2.80) zoom from last to first in the final quarter of the mile for driver Juan Franco. The Charles Arthur smallish filly was a half-length better than Sleazy Gal in the 1:55.3 mile (26.3 last panel) paced on a sloppy racing surface.
A few races later Fox Valley Exploit ($2.20) showed she’s more than ready for next Saturday’s Plum Peachy championship with a strong victory in the second ICF filly pacing division. Driven by her trainer Kyle Husted, the Sportsmaster filly accelerated in the lane and easily overtook her field with a 1:55 flat clocking. The four length win was Fox Valley Exploit’s seventh in eight season starts.
The Mike Brink trained Crooked Creek (Todd Warren) was hammered down by the betting public and won like an overwhelming 1 to 9 choice should in the first Kadabra trotting leg, drawing off by six lengths in his 1:59.3 mile.
The Tom Simmons trained Fox Valley Quest ($2.60, Casey Leonard) had no trouble winning the second Kadabra divison, going right to the front and pulling away to a four-length romp in 1:57.4
Casey Leonard had the Flacco Family Farm’s Lous Abigail on cruise control when the sophomore trotting filly crushed her opposition in the second Beulah Dygert Memorial split. It was the Steve Searle trained filly’s fifth consecutive victory and her sixth in 10 trips to the gate on the year. Without any urging the last eighth of her 1:59.3 mile on the rain-soaked track “Crabby Abbie” ended up almost 10 lengths ahead of the second place trotter Reign And Shine (Jordon Patton).
Driver Travis Seekman had his whip tucked under his right arm when Fox Valley Extacy ($3.80) flashed across the finish line first in the initial Beulah Dygert series division. The Hector Herrera training trotting filly covered the mile in 1:59.3 for season victory No. 5.
In Saturday’s finale He’zzz A Wise Sky, another 1 to 9 low-end favorite, easily won for the third time in a row in his leg of the Robert F. Carey Memorial. The Don Filomeno trained three-year-old home-bred was nearly four lengths ahead at the end of his 1:53 mile.
Will Lay Off Hurt? The five-year-old mare Lily Grace returns to the races after more than a month on the sidelines. The mare’s target tonight is another victory in the Open filly and mare division and her seventh consecutive win at Hawthorne.
However there has been a notable change since Lily Grace last competed.
The sixth race $10,500 feature will be her first trip postward in 41 days and that’s a significant gap between starts. Lily Grace was slated to go in the August 22nd Open but was be scratched because her trainer at that time went under suspension. The mare has since been relocated to the Terry Leonard Stable in Harvard, Illinois by her Trot & Pacing Racing Michigan owners.
The Leonard’s also have two of her stablemates in tonight’s Open, Lilly Von Shtupp (pp 6, Juan Franco) and Cracklin Rosie (pp 7). When Casey Leonard chose to drive the latter tonight, Ridge Warren got her first opportunity to handle Lily Grace who took her mark of 1:51 back on August 2nd on a sloppy Hawthorne racing surface.
Notice that tonight Lily Grace has been assigned the 10-hole in the nine-horse field and for a mare that prefers to race on the front-end, that’s not a good thing.
The solid field also lured Mary’s Pretty Girl (Todd Warren), Black Jack Pat (Kyle Wilfong), Model (Cordarius Stewart), Velocity McSweets (Kyle Husted), Valar Morghulis (Brandon Bates), and Tempus Seelster (Travis Seekman), winner if the distaff Open two weeks ago.
Both Lilly Von Shtupp and Valar Morghulis, from the Nelson Willis stable, had to take required byes into next week’s Tony Maurello Memorial final for ICF aged pacing mares and instead of racing for a $15,000 pot in last Friday’s Maurello elimination, they had to compete for tonight’s $10,500 purse ($4,500 less) or miss a week of racing with only two weekends left.
Illinois bred three-year-old pacers and trotters will be the focus of attention Saturday night when they tangle for the last time prior to next week’s Night of Champions, Hawthorne’s yearly showcase evening of their harness racing meeting.
Most of the starting berths in the ICF sophomore championships have been locked up but there are still a few spots still to be decided so a high placing in tonight’s final series legs with $15,000 pots could go a long way to advancing to a final.
The Plum Peachy series final leg will go in two divisions with ICF stake winners Sign Her Up (pp 2, Juan Franco) and Sleazy Gal (pp 4, Atlee Bender) and Double Parked (pp 5, Travis Seekman) slugging it out in the second race first split while the division’s top earner Fox Valley Exploit (pp 6, Kyle Husted), will undeniably be the prohibitive choice in the fourth race second split.
Leg four of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial trot is also in two divisions with the stakes top two point and money earners Crooked Creek (Todd Warren) and Fox Valley Quest (Casey Leonard) going their separate ways tonight before next Saturday’s major showdown.
With 11 entries in the final round of the Beulah Dygert Memorial trotting series, another split was necessary. Thus far the Steve Searle stable’s Lous Abigail has been dominating the division, winning her four last starts, including both recent State Fair championships raced at Hawthorne. She’s at 2 to 5 in my line.
The first Beulah Dygert grouping (race six) is very much a wide open event with Bee See (Kyle Husted), Oh Govenor (Mike Rogers), Tropical Rosie (Cordarius Stewart),Fox Valley Extacy (Travis Seekman), Fox Valley Lush (Todd Warren)and Lous Flashy Dancer (Kyle Wilfong) all going to the gate in the middle of Saturday’s program.
A single $15,000 series leg division of the Robert F. Carey Jr. Memorial will take place as the twelfth and final race on the card with last year’s freshman male champion He’zzz A Wise Sky (Bobby Smolin) figuring to get a huge chunk of the public’s wagering money.
The Don Filemeno owned and bred colt ended July with a victory in a Carey series leg and finished off August with both State Fair titles added to his résumé.
Todd Sweeps Double: In last night’s $20,000 final legs of the Night of Champions two-year-old stake series, Frontier Charley (Todd Warren) came up the inside lane to nip Well Basically (Atlee Bender) in the second race single division of the Incredible Finale series for juvenile male pacers.
The victory by the Jim Eaton trained freshman put driver Todd Warren just three away from career win No. 5,000.
Todd also drove Allbeastnobeauty to her triumph in Friday’s opener, the Tony Maurello Memorial elimination of aged state-bred pacing mares. Failing to advance to that final were the ninth and tenth place finishers, Boogie On Down and Fancy Creek Jolene.
Loulita Keeps Cruising: The Flacco Family Farms home-bred Loulita ($2.60) continued her dominance of the Fox Valley Flan division for first season trotting fillies with her fifth consecutive victory, drawing off in a season best time of 2:01 flat for driver Casey Leonard and trainer Steve Searle and her Alexia, Illinois owners.
Chalks Prevail: The final series legs of the Kadabra trots were raced in two divisions with the first going to the fast improving 3-5 favorite Lousrolando, driven by his trainer Kyle Husted in 2:01.1, more than a half dozen lengths ahead of the runner-up I’mnotalocaldude.
In the second Kadabra split it was Fistfullofdollars ($2.60), driven by Kyle Wilfong, getting his maiden victory in front-end fashion. The Mike Brink trainee trotted the mile in 2:02.1.
He’s Back: Al’s Hammered $4.40), trained and driven by Bobby Smolin, continued his comeback at the age of 11, by winning the Robert S. Molero Memorial elimination in 1:52.2. Eliminated from the championship were Mykonos and Master Sage.
A Dandy Win: The Incredible Tillie stake series took another turn when the 2-1 second choice Scorecard Dandy (Juan Franco) nailed down her first leg win for trainer Gregory Kain with a 1:55. 3 mile. Princess Moose and Bootsy Bombay were second and third best, in that order.
A Star Falls: In the 12th race Friday finale Annas Lucky Star was upset in the Plesac prep by Louzotic (Kyle Husted). The two ICF mares fought down the lane with the Steve Searle trained Louzotic ($15.60) coming out on top by a head for Flacco Family Farms of Alexis, Illinois.
By Mike Paradise
This Friday and Saturday at Hawthorne could be signified as
“D-Days” for a number of two and three-year-old Illinois bred pacers and trotters.
In this particular case the “D” stands for the word “Designate.”
For some horses their finish in one of this weekend’s final legs of Hawthorne’s Night of Champions series will either designate that their subsequent start will be in a lucrative stake final next Saturday evening or in one of the ICF stake consolations races on the ensuing Sunday card.
Interestingly, Hart’s Heart, the recent winner of both the $30,000 State Fair championship and the $29,000 Director’s Award showdown, won’t be competing in the $85,000 (est) Incredible Tillie final on the Night of Champions.
Hart’s Heart was entered for Friday’s final series leg but was declared by the Hawthorne Race Office not to be eligible to race in it. It turns out the talented freshman was never nominated to the Incredible Finale and a look at the stake’s nomination listings on the Hawthorne web-site does verify the ruling is correct. It also opens the door for one or more freshman fillies to gain the stake championship
With the Incredible Tillie’s first two series leg winner Connie On The Go also not competing, tonight’s race third series leg will likely have Bootsy Bombay (Travis Seekman) and Princess Mooss (Kyle Wilfong), the two-three finishers behind Hart’s Heart in her recent State Fair championships, has the tenth race favorites.
Tonight’s first race opener is a $15,000 elimination race for next Saturday’s $45,000 Tony Maurello Memorial Final. The first eight finishers in the 10-horse field will move on. Awaiting them will be Lilly Von Shupp and Valar Morghulis who received unwanted byes based on having the most season earnings at strictly the Hawthorne meeting.
The 8-5 morning line Maurello elimination favorite is Allbeastnobeauty, the 2019 Illinois Aged Pacing Mare of the Year who spent most of the season in Ohio. She came to Illinois at the end of July and joined the Todd Warren stable.
Allbeastnobeauty has breezed in her last three outings that include a pair of ICF State Fair events for older ICF mares and a Hawthorne Open. Her $54,000-plus season earnings is more than “the bye” mares Lilly Von Shupp and Valar Morghulis have made this year combined.
The Steve Searle stable’s two-year-old filly trotter Loulita will bring a four-race winning streak into the third leg of the Fox Valley Flan while freshman male state-bred stake August champions Well Basically (Atlee Bender), Ideal Big Guy (Casey Leonard) and Frontier Charley (Todd Warren) will duke-it out in the second race Incredible Finale series leg.
The last round of the Kadabra stake series had 11 juvenile colt or gelding trotters entered, making it necessary to split the race into two divisions (races six and seven). The Curt Grummel stable’s Bobalou, victorious this summer in six consecutive races, is taking a well-deserved night off to prepare for next week’s championship.
Fox Valley Gemini and Salvatore received byes into the Robert Molaro Memorial Final for older state bred pacing colts and geldings and they’ll be joined by their first eight finishers in tonight’s ninth race $15,000 elimination.