Illinois Champ Won’t Mind Second Job/in Mike Paradise /by Mike Paradise
By Mike Paradise
The 2022 ICF Champion Aged Horse Pacer He’zzz A Wise Sky saw his winter plans change but I’m sure the former two-time Illinois Horse of the Year doesn’t mind.
“I was going to race him throughout the winter,” said his trainer, John Filomeno. “However, I decided to give him a long rest instead. He really didn’t have a lengthy break last year and I thought he could use it.
“Besides, the horse will have some stud duty coming up. He’ll breed to a handful of mares. In the past he didn’t seem to have any interest in being a stud but last season there were times on the racetrack he showed that he did.
“I’ve got information about breeding to He’zzz A Wise Sky on our web-site (https://triplezzzstable.com).”
Owned and bred by Triple ZZZ Stable of Beecher, Illinois, He’zzz A Wise Sky had another terrific year racing as a five-year-old, banking $202,784, no small feat for an Illinois bred pacer these days, while lowering his lifetime mark to $1.48.3
Of his 28 starts last season, 11 came in his home state of Illinois and He’zzz A Wise Sky won 10 of them, most often handicapped with the outside post. The 2020 and 2021 Illinois Harness Horse of the Year’s lone in-state loss came in the $62,000 Robert S. Molero Memorial on Hawthorne’s Night of Champions to Fox Valley Gemini, who wore the same prestigious Illinois crown in 2018 and 2019.
“He beat us in the last stride,” said his trainer. “Fox Valley Gemini is a great Illinois bred horse and he always comes up strong in the biggest ICF stakes.”
Outside the prairie-state He’zzz A Wise Sky picked-up four more victories to go along with six second place finishes, and captured Opens in Ohio and Kentucky.
In his four seasons of racing, the Yankee Skyscraper pacer, out of the stable’s Four Star Shark’s homebred mare Gimmeazzzmooch, has raked in over a half million dollars ($522,315) for Triple ZZZ stable owners Donald, Joann, John and Charisse Filomeno, and David Miller and Toni Presto.
“I’ll probably try to qualify him in early April and like I’ve said in the past, I won’t over race him,” added Filomeno.
The horse has made 78 starts in four years of racing and has finished third or better in 66 of them, winning 36 times and usually against the upper echelon foes in the Midwest.
“I’m thinking about maybe taking him to Minnesota this summer for the Dan Patch at Running Aces. That’s a long way off, so we’ll see how he’s doing and make that decision later.”
Meanwhile, the Illinois pacing champion is enjoying some much-needed rest and getting ready for his new upcoming second job.
Somestarsomewhere had Sparkling First Crop/in Mike Paradise /by Mike Paradise
By Mike Paradise
There are few out-and-out “locks” in harness racing however when it came to naming the 2022 Illinois Pacing Sire of the Year it looked to be “slam dunk” decision last month for USTA District 5 member voters.
They awarded the honor to the Fox Valley Standardbred’s sire Somestarsomewhere, producer of an outstanding first crop of state-bred freshmen including both the ICF two-year-old colt pacer of the year Fox Valley Langley (1:52.0, $57,480) and the freshman Illinois bred filly pacer of 2022 Fox Valley Kia (1:51.2, $131,052).
The Jamaica Patton trained Fox Valley Langley never missed a purse check in 11 season starts and came away with seven first place finishes including a Cardinal stake division victory and the fall’s Incredible Finale Consolation at Hawthorne, along with a pair of runner-up state-bred stake efforts.
Fox Valley Kia was no worse than second in her last nine first season starts, winning seven of 13 times going to the gate for either trainer Phil Knox or Dan Nance. The filly came up strong at the right times, taking the $185,000 Incredible Finale showdown last fall on Hawthorne’s Night of Champions. Earlier “Kia” nailed down the Springfield State Fair freshman filly pacing championship.
There was a wealth of other Illinois stake winners sired by Somestarsomewhere that came away with significant championships as well in their first season of racing.
In the ICF freshmen colt and gelding pacing category, the Midwest Division of the Erv Miller Stable’s Fox Valley Jasper, another son of Sometarsomewhere, swept both Hawthorne’s summer Incredible Finale final and Springfield’s Illinois State Fair Colt Stakes eliminations and finals with driver Atlee Bender.
Fox Valley Steeler (1:53.1), from the barn of trainer Tom Simmons, captured the second division of last summer’s Director’s Cup at Du Quoin while Simmons’ Fox Valley Cayman (1:53.4) earlier won a division of the Cardinal.
Fox Valley Landen (1:55) proved best in the summer’s Incredible Finale Consolation for conditioner Amy Husted while the Nelson Willis trained Fox Valley McKee (1:53.4) took the fall’s Incredible Finale stake elimination.
In the distaff grouping, besides Fox Valley Kia, Somestarsomewhere promising two-year-old offspring included Some Dancing Star (1:55.1) One R Andis Star (1:55.2) and Senorita Mouse (1:56.2).
Altogether, Somestarsomewhere first harvest of racehorses earned over $607,000, winning 20 races, six in 1:55 or better.
Somestarsomewhere is by Somebeachsomewhere out of the Art Major mare Lovely Assistant and stands at Fox Valley Standardbred with a $4,000 stud fee.
Somestarsomewhere was originally a $110,000 yearling buy for the Ron Burke stable at the 2011 Harrisburg Sale. He went on to become first two-year-old colt pacer to go a sub 1:50 mile when he won his Breeders Crown elimination at Pocono Downs in 1:49.4.
At the end of his three-year-old campaign the horse was bought by veteran Springfield based trainer Tom Simmons for Clinard Properties for $90,000 at the 2013 January Meadowlands Sale.
Somestarsomewhere made over $200,000 in four seasons of racing for the Simmons stable before being acquired in January of 2019 by Walker Standardbreds of Sherman, IL
When Simmons bought Somestarsomewhere he said he did so because “Dave (Clinard) wanted another good horse and hopefully he’ll have it in Somestarsomewhere.” Simmons also pointed out at the time that he thought the horse “could go on to be a good Illinois stallion.”
Simmons certainly hit the bullseye on that assertion.
Funky Wiggle’s Season Not Over/in Mike Paradise /by Mike Paradise
By Mike Paradise
The Illinois bred three-year-old filly trotter with the funny name and overflowing with talent will be Indiana bound later this month. The Curt Grummel stable’s record-breaking champion Funky Wiggle will compete in a trio Hoosier Park stake races sponsored by the Hambletonian Society.
“She deserves a chance to race against some of the good open fillies in her division,” said Grummel. “If I knew she would be as good as she is, I would have nominated her in more stake events.
“She’s been special, doing even more than what I could have hoped for.”
Funky Wiggle, a “lock” to capture her division honors and a strong candidate to go on and be named 2022 Illinois Harness Horse of the Year, was to race in last week’s Open Trot at Springfield but was scratched due to sickness.
“I put her in to keep her sharp, but she got sick,” continued Curt, who also shares ownership of Funky Wiggle with his father Leo and his brother Craig. “There’s been a bug going around the barn. She’s still sick but I’ve got almost four weeks to get her ready for the Pegasus (stake) at Hoosier on the 28th.
“She’ll go next in the track’s Crossroads (Nov. 4th) and again in their Thanksgiving Classic later in November.”
Funky Wiggle will carry a flashy record of nine wins and a second in 11 season starts into her next outing. She’s made $117,531 thus far in her second racing season and is closing in on $250,000 in her career.
The daughter of Lou’s Legacy, out of the Mr Cantab broodmare Hoosier Wiggles, is 17-for-23 lifetime with 4 seconds for her owner and breeder Dr. Patrick Graham Lockridge, Iowa.
Funny Wiggle stunned the Illinois harness racing community, and her trainer, when she rattled off a 1:51.4 winning mile in Du Quoin’s Windy Skeeter stake with her regular driver Kyle Wilfong in late August.
It was the fastest mile ever for a ICF trotting filly and just one fifth of a second behind Kadabra’s all-time record for any Illinois bred trotter.
“The time was totally unexpected,” said Curt. “I thought she could be a 53 trotter but to go as fast as she did was a complete surprise. I did tell Kyle (driver Wilfong) before the race that she warmed-up the best that she ever had.
“Kyle said that day he just let her trot comfortably (on the front end). I was with my dad at the draw gate watching the race.
“When she went 27 and change to the first quarter, I told dad ‘She’s trotting pretty good.’ When she went to the half in 55.2, I started to get excited. They weren’t gaining on her. When she reached the three-quarters in 1:23.2, I said, ‘Holy Moly’ and jumped up and started yelling ‘Let’s go, keep going,’ and she did, coming home in 28 and change and winning by more than nine lengths.”
“Kyle told me that when he saw me waving my arms, I looked like a third base coach waving a baserunner home.
“It was only the second time Kyle ever pulled the ear plugs on the filly. The first was in the Springfield final when she made a break before the start, fell far behind, and still came back and overtook that field.”
Going to the starting gate can be conundrum for the talented filly. In her rare losses she’s gone off stride heading to the gate.
“She’s handy but the gate’s not her friend,” said Wilfong after the filly’s Night of Champions victory.
When Funky Wiggle drew the second tier with the 11-slot in her Night of Champions elimination there was a bit of concern.
“As it turned out she handled it much better starting behind horses than going to the gate,” said Curt looking back on her five-plus length romp.
Not only did Funky Wiggle win the $85,000 Erwin F. Dygert Memorial on Hawthorne’s Night of Champions, but earlier that night her stable-mate Marvelous Mystery captured the $125,000 Fox Valley Flan two-year-old filly trot with Wilfong.
“This year has been some kind of ride,” said Curt.
And it’s not over yet.
Looking for No. 14: Defending ICF aged trotter of the year Talk About Valor is competing Saturday night in Hoosier Park’s $22,000 Open with regular driver Travis Seekman at his lines. The star of the Gerald Hanson stable has won 13 of his 20 season starts.
That’s a Wrap: With the harness racing season over in Illinois over, today’s IHHA story wraps things up for this year.
Hope to rejoin you sometime in 2023.