Toss-Up for ICF Juvenile Pacing Honors

By Mike Paradise


When USTA District 5 members make their upcoming selections for the 2022 year’s Illinois harness racing division honors they won’t have an easy task in the ICF two-year-old colt and gelding pacing category.


It seemed that when one state-bred freshman pacer would power his way to the top spot, another would come along and knock him down a notch and take over.


The major Illinois bred stakes winners and their purse money were pretty much spread out among four youngsters—(in alphabetical order: Fox Valley Jasper, Fox Valley Langley, Ghost Shark, and Illini Jetset—and a case can be made for any of the talented foursome of pacers to take the division award.


Fox Valley Jasper (Atlee Bender) won his first six starts as a two-year-old for the Midwest Division of the Erv Miller stable. (Four Footed Fotos)

Bred by Fox Valley Standardbreds, Fox Valley Jasper, a son of Somestarsomehwere out of the Yankee Cruiser dam Subway Hanover, won the first six of his eight season starts and banked almost $56,000 for the Midwest Division of the Erv Miller Stable and Illinois owners Bowie Racing LLC (Shorewood) and Engle Stable LLC (Northbrook).


Fox Valley Jasper (Atlee Bender) swept Hawthorne’s $50,000 Summer Incredible Finale stake series and his Illinois State Fair Colt Stakes elimination and the final at Springfield where he took his mark of 1:52.3.


Nevertheless, “Jasper’s” winning streak ended with a fourth-place finish in a division of Du Quoin’s Director’s Cup and he was a disappointing sixth in his Incredible Finale elimination and failed to advance to its lucrative final on Hawthorne’s Night of Champions.


Fox Valley Langley, a Somestarsomewhere offspring from the Art’s Conquest dam Red Hot Lady, rattled off five consecutive victories to start his career for Illinois owners Lyle Liles (Springfield) and Melvin Schonoweis (Petersburg) including a division of the Cardinal before the Jamaica Patton trained juvenile dropped a head decision in July’s first Incredible Finale showdown.


Fox Valley Langley (Kyle Wilfong) had five consecutive victories among his eight freshman wins for trainer Jamaica Patton. (Four Footed Fotos)

Fox Valley Langley fastest mile of 1:52 flat came in his Springfield elimination. He was fourth in the final. The gelding was second best by a head in his Director’s Cup division at Du Quoin. Fox Valley Langley made a break in his Incredible Final Night of Champions elimination and missed the championship.


The Fox Valley Standardbred freshman did rebound with a victory in the stake’s consolation to reach $57,480 in earnings and a record of seven wins and a pair of seconds in 11 trips to the starting gate.


The Tim Roach trained Ghost Shark, driven exclusively by Travis Seekman, came on strong in the latter part of his two-year-old season and finished with $63,958 on his card.


Ghost Shark’s (Travis Seekman) 1:51.3 win in a division of Du Quoin’s Director Cup was the fastest among this season’s ICF freshmen male pacers. (Four Footed Fotos)

A son of Revenge Shark out of the Well Said dam Give Up The Ghost was at his best coming from behind, getting his initial victory in late August in a division of Du Quoin’s Director Cup stake with a season’s best mile time of 1:51.3. He followed it by winning his Incredible Finale elimination at Hawthorne a week later.


In the Night of Champions two-year-old final Ghost Rider was sent off as the 4-5 public’s choice, had the lead in the stretch however ended up second best by less than one length.


Ghost Shark made nine starts for owners Kyle Larner of Warren, Michigan and Brian Hochman of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, with two wins, two seconds and three thirds.


Illini Jetset, another Evn Miller trained two-year-old only had two victories in 10 first season starts but one came on Hawthorne’s Night of Champions in the $154,000 Incredible Finale Final with Todd Warren at his lines.


Illini Jetset (Todd Warren) proved best on Hawthorne’s Night of Champions by winning the $154,000 Incredible Finale final. (Four Footed Fotos)

The Travel Playlist gelding, from the Real Artist broodmare Ty’s Artist, was just $569 from banking a division high $100,000 in his initial campaign with $69,300 coming in his final race of 2022 for owners Erv Miller Stable (Windcap (PA), Bowie Racing LLC (Shorewood, IL) and Sara K. Miller (Stroudsburg, PA).


Illini Jetset’s other triumph came in a division of the Cardinal in early July. The youngster was the runner-up in the Springfield championship, one of his five second place finishes of his 10 starts. He never missed a check in any outing


As you can see, it’s a toss-up for division honors.

Chupp’s Trotter Rocking at Springfield

By Mike Paradise


When the Merv Chupp Stable’s veteran trotter Pine Dream was retired prior to the 2022 racing season, his owner and conditioner faced a tough assignment replacing who I called the barn’s “money-making machine.”


Acquired for $27,000 at the 2018 Blood Horse Sale, the now 10-year-old Pine Dream raked-in over $300,000 for Merv and his wife Kelly, more than 10 times what they dished out for the Pinetucky trotter who Merv calls “probably the best sale buy I ever made.”


Pine Dream ended his racing career with 48 first place finishes, a mark of 1:53.1 taken at the age of six at Ohio’s Miami Valley Raceway, and earnings of $458,144, with much of that amount for the Chupp’s.


The Chupp Racing Stable’s elite 10-year-old trotter Pine Dream (shown here) was retired earlier this year and has been replaced with Rock Party, gunning for his third consecutive win today at Springfield. (Four Footed Fotos)

“The horse went through a surgery and a long layoff, and it was just time to retire him,” said Marv. “He’s earned it.”


Merv might have hit another sale goodie with last fall’s $14,000 purchase of the trotter Rock Party who will bring a three-race winning streak into Friday’s Open trot at Springfield.


The five-year-old son of Cantab Hall, out of the Muscles Yankee dam Scream And Shout (1:53.1, $302,734), has been perfect for the Chupp family on the Illinois State Fairgrounds dirt track with its sweeping turns, going 4-for-4 there this year.


Thus far in his first season for the Crete, Illinois based stable, Rock Party is a seven-time winner, mostly in Midwest track Opens, and is nearing the $50,000 plateau in purse earnings.


“Rock Party is a good trotter, but I don’t think he’s another Pine Dream,” added Merv. “He’s hard-headed but he has been better lately.”


Rock Party made just under $100,000 in his first three racing seasons and was highly regarded as a yearling, going for $90,000 at the 2017 Lexington Select Sale, so his successful 2022 campaign for Chupp isn’t exactly a bolt from out of the blue.


“I’m concerned about him after Springfield closes though,” continued Merv. “He’s not good in the turns. Hawthorne and Springfield are mile tracks that suit him.”


It Won’t Be Easy: Rock Party’s winning streak at Springfield landed him the assigned outside eight-post in today’s fifth race $12,300 Open and there are plenty of tough foes starting inside of him.


Night of Champions winners Talk About Valor (Travis Seekman) has the six-slot while the Carl Becker Memorial winner Annas Lucky Star (Cordarius Stewart) starts from the seven.


A surprise starter is the talented three-year-old Illinois bred filly Funky Wiggle, a strong candidate of the state’s 2022 Harness Horse of the Year award with her gaudy record of 9 wins in 11 starts and a 1:51.4 mile at Du Quoin, the second fastest ever for any ICF trotter. The streaking (eight in a row) Curt Grummel trainee was assigned the one-post against a field of older and more seasoned horses.


The two through five slots belong to Louzotic, Loulita, Cash Hit, and Heath Bar. All six figure career earners.


Dygert Replay: The Steve Searle stable’s Lousdobb (Casey Leonard) is making his first start today since winning his fifth consecutive race in the September 10th Erwin F. Dygert Memorial championship at Hawthorne.


The “lock” for this year’s ICF 3-year-old male trotting honors will take on a small but solid field that includes the Dygert runner-up Fox Valley Cairo (Kyle Wilfong) and Reign And Shine (Travis Seekman), who drops out of Illinois Opens.


That’s It: The curtain comes down on harness racing in Illinois for this season today and it won’t return to the Land of Lincoln for nine long months. When it does in June of 2023 it will be at Springfield for another non-wagering meeting.


The return to Hawthorne and pari-mutuel betting in Illinois unfortunately won’t take place until next September.

Scorecard Dandy One Virtuous ICF Mare

By Mike Paradise


A horse’s four-year-old campaign is often a pivotal one. Many horses don’t do as well the first go around against older horses as they did as a three-year-old. Some do. Rarely are they even better.


Gregory Kain’ Scorecard Dandy is one of those rare exceptions. If consistency is a virtue, then Scorecard Dandy is one virtuous Illinois bred mare.


“Scorecard Dandy hasn’t had a bad race all year. The mare is always up to the challenge,” said trainer and part-owner Gregory Kain.


After making $35,622 as a freshman and over $60,000 as a sophomore, the Sportsmaster mare out of the Artiscape broodmare Mahna Mahna as added $123,090 to her card at four, finishing third or better in 24 of 31 starts with ten victories.


The four-year-old ICF mare Scorecard Dandy (Kyle Wilfong) has been a model of consistency for trainer Gregory Kain. (Four Footed Fotos).

Scorecard Dandy has missed only one check in her nine-month campaign that started in early January at Hawthorne, making her a candidate for ICF aged pacing mare division honors along with its defending champion Fox Valley Exploit, the pride of the Kyle and Amy Husted stable.


“I really wanted to beat (Kyle) Husted’s horse on the Night of Champions,” said Gregory. “We had the lead in the stretch, but she got us at the wire. That’s how it goes in racing. We did beat her in the first Maurello final earlier in the summer, so we split the two ICF mare championships.


Scorecard Dandy will be after for her third consecutive win in today’s opener on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Assigned the outside eight-slot. The mare is in pretty tough.


“She’s up against a good field Thursday, especially with Late Night Date back in Illinois for it. That mare was really good at Hawthorne, but we did beat her earlier in the season at Hoosier, so we’ll just see how things playout in Thursday’s race,” said the Green Acres (Beecher, IL) proprietor who shares ownership of Scorecard Dandy with Mike Klimas of Oak Lawn, IL.


From the rail out, today’s $12,300 filly and mare Open Handicap is comprised of My Uptowne Girl (Travis Seekman), Tiamogonedancen (Kyle Husted), Eliza Dushku N (Cordarius Stewart), Rojo Caliente (Casey Leonard), Late Night Date A (Atlee Bender) and Scorecard Dandy (Kyle Wilfong).


Scorecard Dandy’s race today at Springfield will be her last for the 2022 season.


“I’m going to give her a deserved time off after Springfield closes” continued Kain.  “She’s been at it all year and I want to turn her out while the weather is still warm. I want to bring her back as a five-year-old and give her the opportunity to be even a little bit better next year.”


Scorecard Dandy has had no extended time off all season long.


The mare made10 starts at Hawthorne’s winter meeting that started in January, winning twice and then went straight to Hoosier Park in late March where she made nine more trips to the starting gate, with three victories including the $22,000 Mike Weller Memorial Final in 1:52.1 with Mike Oosting driving at 13-1 odds, beating Late Night Date with a new lifetime mark.


Scorecard Dandy went two-for-two in June at Springfield with Juan Franco at her lines. When Franco chose a different mare for the summer’s $50,000 Tony Maurello Memorial prep and final, Kyle Wilfong took over the driving chores in early July, winning with the mare three times to go along with a pair of second place finishes and a trio of thirds.