By Mike Paradise
A multitude of Late Closer Series get under way this week at Hawthorne beginning with first round action for a pair of events on Thursday evening.
Thursday’s non-winners of two races or $10,000 lifetime series for strictly Illinois breds saw the entry box stuffed in the Hawthorne Race Office with 24 trotters entered, requiring a trio of eight-horse opening round divisions to be carded. They’ll go as races one, three and four.
The Late Closer Series for male pacers with a $5,000 claiming tag enticed 18 entrants with the first leg split into two divisions of nine horses and have assigned races six and eight.
The open company non-winners of two trot series will go in one 11-horse division as the eleventh race.
On Friday five Late Closer Series events get started for strictly filly and mare pacers, two more series openers are slated Saturday for colt and gelding conditioned pacers. Three more Series events will be sprinkled throughout the first Sunday card of the meet.
All together 13 different Late Closer Series will commence in the first full week of the summer meet with opening round purses listed between $7,000 and $8,000.
Brother vs. Brother: It’s very rare to see siblings racing on the same card. It’s even more extraordinary to see two brothers competing against each other in the same race.
Nevertheless that’s the case in Thursday’s second race.
The luck of the draw saw both the 4-year-old trotter Just Like Paradise and his younger 3-year-old brother Hail Caesar land in the second Late Closer division series for non-winners of two races.
Both are sons of the very fruitful Walker Standardbreds broodmare Love You More. Just Like Paradise was a $50,000 yearling buy for Illinoisans Jim Bafia (Minooka) and Gene White (Chicago) when his name was Fox Valley Lovrboy. He’s trained by Dirk Simpson.
Hail Caesar (Travis Seekman) sold for $22,000 at the 2014 Walker Sale to H.W. Wright of Marion, Illinois as Fox Valley Luke.
Hail Caesar is just one of eight trotters competing in the series for Springfield based trainer Mike Brink. Prince Simba (1st) Fox Valley Diamo (1st), Chocolate Hare (3rd), Pass The Plate (3rd) Awfully Emotional, Powerful Father and Praise Singer, all in race four, are the others.
Praise Singer is shown in the postedR.E.B. Photo winning at Balmoral Park last year with trainer Mike Brink at her lines. The filly went on to nail down stake triumphs at both the Springfield and Du Quoin State Fairs.
The broodmare Love You More, a daughter of Conway Hall, has had several of her sons or daughters with successful racing careers in Illinois.
Her first was Fox Valley Love Ya (1:57.1) who competed for trainer Joel Smith. He also had her half-sister Fox Valley Lover (1:55, $285.588), the Springfield and Du Quoin champion at two, and Fox Valley Legend (1:55.3, $132,119).
The 2008 Lady Lincoln Land victor Fox Valley Luxury,1:57.2) and her sisters Fox Valley Lexus (1:57.4) and Springfield champ Fox Valley Lotus (1:57.3) all raced out of the downstate Grummel Stable for owner Dr. Patrick Graham of Pittsfield, Illinois.