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By Mike Paradise
Trainer Steve Searle has been coming to Springfield on a regular basis for the past three decades and the 2017 meet will certainly go down has the most successful and memorable one for the veteran Illinois horseman.
Searle sent out 10 horses at the Springfield meet and five of them ended up in the winner’s circle. All of his 10 starters earned a check and two, The New Americana and Ants Iner Pants, captured Illinois State Fair Colt Stakes Championships.
Does Steve remember having a Springfield meet anywhere as fruitful as this year’s?
“Not even close,” answered the 59-year-old resident of Grant Park, Illinois. “I’ve been consistently racing horses at Springfield for the past 24 years and never had a meet anywhere near the success we’ve had at this one. It was unbelievable”
Searle’s five winning horses were second best to Mike Brink’s seven in the Springfield trainer standings. However, Steve’s 50 per cent winning clip was far and away tops among the leading trainers.
Searle’s horses also had two seconds, one third, and two fourths and raked in over $58,000 in purse money at Springfield.
“Did we really? I had no idea it was that much,” said the 59-year-old Wisconsin native.
“With so many of the big and successful stables leaving Illinois for a number of years now it’s opened things up for some of the smaller barns to make some good money with Illinois bred horses. Obviously I’m thrilled to do so well at Springfield.
“We aren’t doing anything different with our horses. We just have better stock now that some of the bigger stables have left,”
What about Du Quoin?
“I’ll have all of my Springfield horses there except for The New Americana,” answered Steve. “I kind of want to protect her. I think she could do well on Hawthorne’s Night of Champions so I won’t be sending her down to Du Quoin. I don’t want to overdue things with her.”
Searle was elated with the freshman trotter White Pants Fever’s romping victory in an IDOA race last Wednesday. The Lou’s Legacy filly drew off by an overwhelming 22-plus lengths in 1:57.4 without any urging from her driver Mike Oosting. The filly previously won 3 of 5 races on the Illinois County Fair Circuit.
White Pants Fever is owned by her breeders Flacco Family Farms and Searle. She’s by Lou’s Legacy out of the SJ’s Caviar broodmare Olives and Caviar.
“She had some health problems earlier that hopefully are behind her,” continued Searle. “We’ve brought her around slowly. She won her first start (July 1 at Knoxville) in only 2:17.
“She’s been getting sounder and sounder and I told Dr. Flacco, who has been so patient with her, maybe it’s time to give her a try at Springfield. If she does well there we’ll take her to Du Quoin and if she does well again, then its Hawthorne for their stake series. Maybe she has the talent to make the final there.”
Searle has also had a very enjoyable time driving on the Illinois Fair Circuit as well. He’s taken 27 horses to the gate and has 7 firsts, 7 seconds and 4 thirds, to earn a lofty Universal Driver Rating System mark of .531. His next driving win will be No. 1,300 of his career
Upset in Trot: Big Expense, driven by his trainer Kyle Husted, knocked off the 2 to 5 favorite Bankers Volo (Kyle Wilfong) in last night’s $13,500 Open Trot. Husted gave the 12-1 longshot a two-hole trip behind Bankers Volo who sprinted out from the assigned 10-slot in the six horse field and cut the fractions.
Big Expense ($26.80) rallied past in the late going for a neck victory in 1:56.2 and snatched his second straight win for Michigan owner David Brigham. Pridecrest (Jared Finn) finished strong for third, beaten by one length.
By Mike Paradise
Friday night’s $13,500 Open Trot brings out a solid half-dozen field of horses with one common denominator: They all have made at least one recent trip to the winner’s circle.
The second race posts were drawn by groups with Banker Volo assigned the outside six-slot and deservedly, so. The trotter has chalked up 18 victories over the past two seasons and has been particularly effective at Running Acres in Minnesota.
Earlier in the summer Banker Volo rattled off four straight wins at the Minnesota track, all in Opens. He then extended his winning streak to five with an easy front-end victory in Hawthorne’s July 30 Open Trot.
All together this season Banker Volo was 8-for-12 at Running Acres. In 2015 the trotter had a five race winning streak there. Banker Volo tried the top trotters at Hoosier Park a week ago and saw his streak come to an abrupt end with a last place finish in their $21,000 Invite.
The talented trotter shot out from the five slot and tried to sting the prohibitive 1 to 9 favorite in that race who had the seven-post and in doing so he also trotted a bruising 26.4 first quarter. Despite a two-hole trip, the winner I Know My Chip went on to an easy 1:53.4 victory while Banker Volo threw in the towel.
Banker Volo will open as the 2-1 first flash favorite tonight for trainer Angie Coleman and will likely seek and probably get command of this field.
The winner of 28 lifetime races could be pushed in the early going by Held In Balance (pp1, Tim Curtin), a 1:57 flat winner in late July; Bo I See Time (pp2, Chad Yoder) with back-to-back triumphs racing up-close; Pridecrest (pp3, John D Finn) who has left in his most recent starts and was second best to Banker Volo when they met; Big Expense (pp4, Kyle Husted), a 1:57.3 Open III victor two weeks ago, and All About Cowboys (pp 5,Brian Carpenter), a front-end winner two starts back.
Obviously not all six horses will be gunned out at the start but it’s a safe bet that Banker Volo will probably have to work hard to clear to the top where he’s been very successful.
Grinnell, Iowa owner Dan Roland acquired Banker Volo in early November of 2015. Banker Volo, now six, raced out of the Erv Miller stable as a 2, 3 and 4-year-old and made almost $118,000 in his freshman campaign. The trotter was bought for $85,000 as a yearling.
No Problem: Being assigned the 10-slot in last night’s 8-horse Open Pace field wasn’t much of a deterrent to Let’s Drink On It (Travis Seekman). The Joe Seekman trained pacer overpowered his foes again for his third consecutive Hawthorne victory.
Let’s Drink On It came from out of it a second straight time to draw off by four and one-half lengths over A Bettors Wish (Kyle Wilfong) in a 1:50.4 mile. The pace-setting Trashytonguetalker (Mike Oosting) was third in the $13,500 Friday night feature race.
A Bullseye: The single “Mike’s Price Shot” on last night’s card popped at $14.80 when Greg Farina’s All In No Out won Hawthorne’s eighth race.
By Mike Paradise
While the lyrics of the old Rolling Stones hit “We Got A Good Thing Going” don’t apply, the song title certainly does for the owners and trainers of the likely three favorites in Friday’s $13,350 Open Pace.
That would be Let’s Drink On It (pp 8, Travis Seekman), A Bettors Risk (pp 6, Kyle Wilfong) and Coal Hanover (pp 7, Kyle Husted).
The trio will take on Sunset Dreamer (Cliff Bell), Trashytonguetalker (Mike Oosting), Kelly D (Tim Curtin), ER Zack Attack (Ridge Warren) and Mystical Walter (Casey Leonard), in Friday’s featured fourth race with posts one through five, in that order.
The Open posts were drawn by groups (1-5) (6-7) with the ten assigned to Let’s Drink On It, winner of the first two Opens raced this month at Hawthorne.
Let’s Drink On It, a 6-year-old son of Art Official, has put $50,710 on his season card for owners Tina Seekman (Gaston, IN.), Larry Bond (Frankfort, IN.), Hal Hewitt (Versailles, KY.) and Vince Boido Jr (White Lake, MI.). The first $25,090 came in eight starts at Hoosier Park for trainer Joe Seekman.
Let’s Drink On It has added another $25,620 to that total in just five Hawthorne outings, since the pacer made his initial Chicago circuit trip to the gate on June 30th. That’s an average of slightly over $5,000 per Hawthorne start.
A Bettors Risk, a 4-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight, has over $57,000 in season purse earnings with much of that coming in Pennsylvania for his Canadian owner Robert Hamather.
A Bettors Risk didn’t arrive locally until July, nevertheless, he has averaged $4,750 in earnings for trainer Payton Ode. In his four local contests, the pacer has three first place finishes with a pair coming in Opens.
Coal Hanover, a 5-year-old son of Dragon’s Again, is competing at Hawthorne for a second straight year for trainer Jim Ellison. The pacer made eight starts on the mile track in 2016, all before last July, and picked-up a couple of victories.
With no winter meet this year at Hawthorne, Coal Hanover raced in Ohio and Indiana in 7 of his first 8 season outings without much success. The horse banked a little less than $7,000 in those out-of-state races before making Hawthorne his home base in May.
Subsequently, Coal Hanover has pulled down over $32,000 in purse money racing only at Hawthorne for Illinois owners Anna Ellison (Park Forest, IL.) Steve Collins (Crete, IL.), George Dremonas (Oak Lawn, IL.) and Robert Onysio (Brookfield, IL.).
This year in 11 tries on the local scene Cole Hanover has recorded three wins and four seconds with the great majority of those races coming in Open Paces. The gelding has averaged almost $3,000 per start at Hawthorne.
Trashytonguetalker and Mystical Walter are both trained by Terry Leonard and they know their way to the Hawthorne’s winner’s circle. Trashytonguetalker has made four stops there at this meet and two came earlier in Open Paces. Mike Oosting will drive him for the first time tonight.
Stable-mate Mystical Walter has won twice this season at Hawthorne and while neither came in the Open, the 7-year-old ICF pacer did capture a pair of Hawthorne Opens in 2016.
As a 3-year-old Mystical Walter proved best in both the Springfield and Du Quoin State Fair stakes, as well as Balmoral’s $173,000 Langley Final on Super Night 2013 when he raced out of the Erv Miller Stable. His Illinois driver that year was Casey Leonard.
The secondary feature on Friday is the ninth and last race on the card, a $9,000 conditioned pace with the likely favorite Herman Wheeler’s Major Bliss (Bobby Smolin), from post six. The horse has won 8 of 10 stars in his first season of racing at the age of six and earlier this month captured a $25,000 Open at Scioto Downs in a quick time of 1:51 flat.
The Tom Simmons Stable’s Aimo Hanover was entered for the race but was scratched out by his trainer after his monstrous winning 1:49 flat mile Tuesday at Springfield. It would have been the gelding’s second start in three days. Instead Aimo Hanover got some much deserved time off.
By Mike Paradise
The weatherman’s projected thunderstorms never materialized at the Illinois state capitol and eight Illinois State Fair Colt Stakes champions were crowned for the 2017 meeting.
Here’s how those $50,000 championships races went:
Two-Year-Old Filly Trot: The showdown between division leaders and elimination winners Maui Mama (Casey Leonard) and Trotting Grace (Kyle Husted), turned out to be a resounding victory for the Mike Brink Stable’s Maui Mama with her first season best time of 1:56.1.
Trotting Grace ended up third behind the pocket trip trotter Lous Silver Star (Mike Oosting), who was beaten two lengths.
Casey sent Maui Mama ($3.00) to the front in good shape, however, the filly never got a breather there. The heavy 1 to 2 favorite was taken on in the early going by the 80-1 longshot Fox Valley Persia and it took a 28.2 first quarter and a 57.1 half to put that filly away.
Trotting Grace came on to make her challenge in the last turn, but in the lane Maui Mama was simply just too strong, pulling away by two lengths for Morton, Illinois owner Bill Wright, for her fourth win in five career starts.
Two-Year-Old Filly Pace: Nicely rated by her driver Mike Oosting, the Steve Searle trained The New Americana rolled to her third convincing victory in the freshman filly pace final, knocking almost a full second off her previous best mile with a 1:53.1 clocking.
Fox Valley Jazzy and Rollin Coal raced second and third behind the winning daughter of Yankee Skyscaper throughout and finished behind her the same way.
After a snappy 27.3 first quarter, Oosting was able to back The New Americana ($3.60) down with a 28.4 second quarter and followed with a 29.3 third quarter breather. The filly was full of pace in the lane, coming home in 27.1 for Illinois owners Chris Mroz (Norridge), Dave Falzone (Chicago) and Jim Molitor (Oak Lawn).
Two-Year-Old Colt Trot: The betting public sent Vic’s Pizza off at low-end odds of 1 to 2 and while the Mike Brink trained freshman did reward his many backers, it was a far from a walk-in-the-park for the son of Pizzazzed. It took a game, hard-fought effort for Vic’s Pizza to take the championship and make it three wins in a row for owners Mark Brown (Chatham), Josh Carter (Williamsville) and trainer Mike Brink (Springfield).
The 65-1 longshot, Talk About Valor (Bran Carpenter), shot out from the rail and driver Mike Oosting had to drop Vic’s Pizza (pp 6) into third in the first turn. Vic’s Pizza was pulled at the first quarter (28.3), but he couldn’t clear Talk About Valor and Oosting had to tuck his youngster back behind the pacesetter who hit the half in 58.1.
Vic’s Pizza ($3.00) again came out in the turn for another try at Talk About Valor and this time he zipped past and then held off a the late charge of his stable-mate Illinimight by three-parts of a length. Talk About Valor broke near the finish, was placed fourth behind the awarded third place trotter Cruzen Cassi.
Two-Year-Old Colt Pace: The Terry Leonard Stable’s Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard), stayed unbeaten through six career starts and he did it in a spectacular come-from-behind fashion as the prohibitive 1 to 5 favorite.
Casey was contend to take Fox Valley Gemini (pp 6), back at the start as Mykonos sped to a quick 26.4 first quarter and took the field to a 55.1 first half. Leonard bided his time and heading into the last turn followed-up stable-mate Fox Valley Hijinx, who was second over, behind Backstreet Lawyer.
Mid-way down the stretch Fox Valley Gemini found his best stride and blew past the new leaders for Atwater, Illinois owner Jim Ballinger, with a new mark of 1:52.2. Fox Valley Hijinx grabbed the second place money of the $50,000 pot, while Hart To Heart took the third place share.
Three-Year-Old Filly Trot: The parade of winning favorites continued, as Annas Lucky Star ($2.20) stayed unbeaten against other fillies with a 1:53.3 victory, more than two full seconds off the home-bred’s previous fastest winning mile.
Annas Lucky Star, aptly driven by Kyle Wilfong for trainer Nelson Willis, is now 12-for-14 lifetime, with her only two losses coming to open company male trotters.
Wilfong pulled Annas Lucky Star out of the pocket after the 27.4 first panel and gave the Danny Graham owned and bred filly a pair of moderate 29 third quarters. The daughter of Cassis had both the pocket-horse Daisy Lou Duke and Lous Credit Report, who raced in third, come at her in the lane, but to no avail as she refused to be passed, winning by 1 and 1/2 lengths.
Three-Year-Old Colt Trot: Division leader Louscipher took advantage of a covered-up trip near the front and then came on with a rush in the lane for Casey Leonard to notch his sixth season win, this one in 1:58.1.
Owned and bred by Flacco Family Farms of Alexis, Illinois, the Roshun Trigg Stable’s Louscipher had to get past a very valiant effort from Picky Picky Valor (Brian Carpenter), who went off stride leaving and fell behind the field.
The Gerald Hansen trained Picky Picky Valor came back and caught the field at the half (1:01) and went on to power his way to the front in the lane before giving his opposition about an eight-length head start took its toll. He still finished second best for his Monee, Illinois owner Shelly Steele.
Three-Year-Old Filly Pace: A heady drive from Kyle Wilfong played a key role in Boogie On Down extending her winning streak to four in a row by taking the filly sophomore pace championship in wire-to-wire fashion.
Boogie On Down ($9.80), the 7-2 second choice, as expected, left in a hurry from the two-post and quickly took the lead. The 25-1 longshot Beamer N Bud sprinted out hard from the nine-hole to grab the hole behind her. The second tier horse Fox Valley Maya at 99-1 tucked-in third.
After first half quarters of 28 flat and 28.3, Kyle opened up in the field in the final turn with the longshots her closest pursuers and that proved to be the winning strategy. Boogie On Down had plenty of daylight at the top of the stretch between her and the rest of the field and won by almost four lengths with a lifetime best 1:52.4 mile.
“It was my game plan to try to go four quarters with her on the front end. I thought that she could win the race that way and she did,” said Kyle in the winner’s circle.
Fox Valley Charliz was second and Fancy Creek Jolene rallied for third.
Three-Year-Old Colt Pace: The biggest stunner of the eight championships came in the finale when the 13-1 longshot Captain Rhett (Kyle Husted), paced a 1:49.4 winning mile, the fastest by an Illinois bred at this year’s Springfield meet.
Trained by Jim Horvath for Illinois owners Harvey Grieff (Odell) and Robert Verdun, Captain Rhett ($29.40), came into the final with one victory in 12 starts and that was a 1:54 mile at Hawthorne in mid-July.
The Duneside Perch gelding had been the runner-up on six occasions, nevertheless, Captain Rhett was the crème de la crème when it counted today.
Taking advantage of very fast fractions of a 26.1 first quarter by Causway and a 53 flat half by Ima Skydancer, driver Kyle Husted followed-up a strong move from Gabe Henry, overtook that horse at the top of the lane, and went on for a persuasive victory and more than doubled his prior season earnings.
Mississippi Rabbit came on for second and Fox Valley Herbie was third best on this afternoon.
Casey Leonard and Mike Brink both repeated as the Springfield meet’s leading driver and trainer, respectively.
By Mike Paradise
The curtain comes down on the 2017 edition of harness racing at Springfield Wednesday but not before eight Illinois State Fair Colt Stake Championship races are decided. The 15 race card gets under way at 10 o’clock in the morning and is scheduled to end around 3 pm.
What last Saturday stake eliminations have again reminded us is that there are no certainties in horse racing. Upsets will occur and it’s likely we’ll see some of those surprises Wednesday.
Few of us expected the two-year-old’s True Detective, the Cardinal and Kadabra second leg winner, or Good Design, a two-time Fox Valley Flan leg champion, to compete in consolation races instead of their respective finals. Or the ICF 3-year-old pacing colt and gelding division leader Fox Valley Nemitz to be racing for an $11,000 purse in a consolation instead of a $50,000 championship pot.
Nevertheless, all three of those standout ICF horses made a break in their elimination event and will miss out for a chance to go for the glory of a Springfield championship and a lot more money.
All eight of Wednesday’s ICF Championships got a late purse boost for its finals and will go for $50,000 each instead of the previously announced purses of either $48,000 or $44,000.
.If last Saturday’s prep race is any indication the 3-year-old pace filly, the 14th race on the card, should be a dandy to watch. The first four finishers in the sophomore filly prep were separated by a half-length at the finish when Boogie On Down nosed-out A Real Doozie with the favorite Lady’s Party just a neck behind. The fourth place horse Razzleme Dazzle was another neck behind.
In fact the seventh place finisher Fancy Creek Jolene, who made a late break, ended up only 2 ad 1/2 lengths behind in the 1:54.4 mile.
The 2-year-old filly trot elimination stake winners Trotting Grace (Kyle Husted) and Maui Mama (Casey Leonard) will have will have long-time horse owner and former breeder Bill Wright of Morton, Illinois rooting for both youngsters. Wright owns Violet champion Maui Mama, from the Mike Brink barn, and shares ownership of four-time season winner Trotting Grace with Mystical Marker Farms and that filly’s trainer Steve Searle.
The eight Illinois championships will go the last eight races on the 16-race program. When handicapping keep in mind that even though Springfield and Hawthorne are both one mile ovals, they are very much different.
For instance according to the USTA Trotting and Pacing Guide Hawthorne’s stretch is 1,320 feet long while Springfield’s is only 510 feet. That 810 feet difference can be very beneficial for horses racing on or close to the front and at times not-so-much for horses who strictly come from far out-of-it.
The turns at the two Illinois tracks are not the same and racing in the daytime than at night the times for the mile are often faster. Springfield is an all dirt track. Hawthorne’s isn’t. In Hawthorne’s winter meet it mostly a limestone based track. That is changed to principally clay for its summer meet.
Trainers often change the shoeing on their trotters for Springfield. In fact, in some cases they’ll race a trotter without any shoes, especially if they’ve trained a horse on the Springfield oval that way. All things being pretty equal handicapping-wise, I’ve always given a slight edge to a trotting horse from a Springfield based trainer than one that shipped in from the Chicago area.
Also remember it’s not what a horse did a month ago, it’s how a horse is racing right now. Some horses hit their peak form early while others are just starting to reach their potential later in the season. Horses can tail off for a variety of health issues just as they can get going in the right direction when those health problems are behind him or her.
A move to an inside post can be huge at Springfield, especially for a horse that races off the pace. He or she could have much better striking position this time around.
What’s your guess on how many of the 19 winners on Saturday’s double header cards came from seventh, eighth or ninth at the half to win their race?
If your answer was zero, you’re correct.
On the other hand 13 of the 19 first place finishers were either first, second or third at the half-mile pole. Horses who were in the top three spots at the three-quarter pole won 17 of those 19 races.
Only two horses, the freshmen Fox Valley Hijinx and Fox Valley Gemini, came from fourth to prevail and both were less than two lengths off the leader at the three-quarters and “Gemini” uncorked a speedy 26.3 last panel to stay thus far unbeaten (6-for-6) in his first season.
Attention Horsemen: Because of a possibility that Wednesday’s races at Springfield could get rained-out the Hawthorne Race Office has announced that entries for Sunday will be taken Wednesday morning at 9 am instead of Thursday. Also some and or/all of Sunday’s races could be carded on Saturday.
Aimo Hanover Sizzles: Clinard Properties’ Aimo Hanover paced the fastest mile of 2017 Springfield’s meeting Tuesday with a 1:49 clocking for driver Casey Leonard. The Tom Simmons trained 5-year-old gelding worn down the 1 to 5 favorite Tookadiveoffdipper in the lane and drew away by two lengths, knocking a full second off the winner’s previous best time.
The sizzling mile came in an Illinois Topline event Tuesday afternoon. Both Tookadiveoffdipper and Aimo Hanover were sprinted away quickly from the gate with the latter taking the two-hole when driver Mike Oosting took the Mike Brink trainee to a sizzling 25.3 first panel.
Tookadiveoffdipper zipped to the half in a speedy 53.1 and hit the three-quarter pole (in the middle of the last turn) in a quick time of 1:21.2 with Aimo Hanover right behind pace-setter . Leonard tipped Aimo Hanover ($15.60) out for the stretch drive and the pacer had plenty left in the tank, flying home in 27 flat quarter for his Mount Sterling, Illinois owner.
MIKE PARADISE’S SPRINGFIELD SELECTIONS
For Wednesday, First Post 10 am
1—White Pants Fever, Princess Ashley, Drinks On Betsey
2—True Detective, Majistic Caprice, Freddie Da Fox
3—Buster Moon, Kid Rocky, Vitality
4—Good Design, New Queen, J Cougar
5—Fox Valley Zola, Sheincrediblenasty, Allbeastnobeauty
6—Bootleg Island, Not Me Gram, Molina
7—Fox Valley Nemitz, Slzburgerslzburger, Uptown Sleaze
8—Maui Mama, Trotting Grace, E L Miss Kaibra
9—The New Americana, Fox Valley Jazzy, Rollin Coal
10—Vic’s Pizza, Cruzen Cassi, Illinimight
11—Fox Valley Gemini, Mykonos, Fox Valley Hijinx
12—Anna’s Lucky Star, Lou’s Credit Report, Daisy Lou Duke
13—Louscipher. Picky Picky Valor, Trixie’s Jethro
14—A Real Doozie, Lady’s Party, Boogie On Down
15–Fox Valley Reggie, Fox Valley Herbie,Captain Rhett
Mike’s Solid Plays
True Detective (2nd race)
Buster Moon (3rd race)
Good Design (4th race)
Fox Valley Gemini (11th race)
Mike’s Price Shots
Fox Valley Zola (5th race)
Fancy Creek Jolene (14th race)
By Mike Paradise
It was a long but sunshine filled day of racing Saturday at the Springfield State Fair with two programs (19 races) of elimination races or preps for the Illinois State Fair Colt Stake finals, a number of ICF Aged Division Championships, and a couple of Illinois Department of Agriculture contests.
The morning card got off to a predictable start when Danny Graham’s Anna’s Lucky Star ($2.20, Kyle Wilfong) showed she’s fit and ready for next week’s $44,000 3-year-old filly trot State Fair championship by speeding to a lifetime best time of 1:55.4 in a prep race.
Daisy Lou Duke was second behind the low-end 1 to 9 favorite who is now 11 for 13 lifetime for trainer Nelson Willis and her Salem, Illinois owner.
However, the $6,000 prep event for ICF sophomore trotting colts and geldings didn’t go as expected.
Brian Carpenter took Picky Picky Valor ($13.00) at 5-1 odds to the front, nicely rated the Gerald Hansen trained trotter through easy-going middle quarters of 31 flat and 30.2 after a 28.2 first panel, and the son of Yankee Valor was never headed in his 1:57 mile for Monee, Illinois owner Shelley Steele, trotting home in 27 flat.
Trixie’s Jethro took second while the 4-5 favorite and division leader Louscipher couldn’t overcome a very sluggish start and ended up third.
The Illinois State Fair Colt Stake eliminations began with race three and ended with race nine. In each case the first five finishers advanced to next Wednesday’s 2-year-old $48,000 championships.
Trotting Grace (Kyle Husted) and The New Americana (Mike Oosting) a pair of Steve Searle trained fillies, were much the best in their respective elimination divisions of the freshmen filly trots.
Husted didn’t take any chances with the 3-5 favorite Trotting Grace in the first freshman trotting split, quickly putting her on the front where she cruised to her 1:59 flat victory for owners Bill Wright (Morton, IL), Mystical Marker Farms (Valparaiso, IN) and Steve Searle (Grant Park, IL).
Oosting let the 99-1 longshot The Sis Master (Tim Curtin) set a blistering pace in the initial juvenile filly pacing division with first half fractions of 26.2 and 54.3 before powering past with the bettor’s 4-5 choice The New Americana in 1:55.4, almost 6 lengths the best for Illinois owners Chris Mroz (Norridge), Dave Falzone (Chicago) and Jim Molitor (Oak Lawn).
The much anticipated duel between Violet champion Maui Mama and two-time Fox Valley Flan leg winner Good Design didn’t materialize when the public’s choice Good Design went off stride before the start of the second freshman filly trot.
Maui Mama ($6.40) made a big move for driver Casey Leonard soon after the first half and she won rather easily in 1:57.2, knocking almost two full seconds off her previous best mile. The Mike Brink trainee has now won three of her first four lifetime starts for Morton, Illinois owner Bill Wright.
Also moving on to the 2-year-old filly trot final were EL Miss Kaibra, Fox Valley Persia, G T Holliday, Fox Valley Winnie, Lou’s Silver Star, Fox Valley Unleash, Powerful Temtrist and Undeniable Motion.
The even-money favorite Fox Valley Jazzy (Ridge Warren) got the lead in the second freshman filly pace division and wasn’t seriously threaten, prevailing in 1:55.3 trainer Dale Kanitz and owner Cathy Finn-Kanitz of Olney, Illinois.
Also advancing to the freshman filly pace final were Rollin Coal, The Sis Master, Ryan’s Mistress, Lex Two, Skeeter Machine, Red Hot Packerette, Shelly On My Mind and Fox Valley Catwalk.
Trainer Mike Brink was back in the winner’s circle after the seventh race, the first freshman male trot division when his heavy 1 to 5 public’s choice Vic’s Pizza ($2.40) breezed to an almost nine length victory in 2:01.1. Talk About Valor took the second place share of the purse.
Vic’s Pizza is owned by Brink (Springfield, IL), Mark Brown (Chatham, IL) and Josh Carter (Williamsville, IL).
The stunner of the first card came in the second division of the juvenile trot for males when the overwhelming 1 to 5 favorite True Detective (Casey Leonard) went off stride on the lead in the lane after setting a slow 1:01.3 first half as the winner Cruzen Cassi (Jared Finn) flashed past and so did Illinimight, Krispy K , Fox Valley Strpwr and Aqua Man, the first five finishers in the 2:01.3 mile.
Casey Leonard steered both division winners in the 2-year-old colt and gelding pace eliminations, first with the Tom Simmons Stable’s Fox Valley Hijinx ($6.40) and then with Jim Ballinger’s Fox Valley Gemini from his father’s Terry Leonard Stable, at 1 to 5 odds.
Fox Valley Hijinx came off the pace to win in 1:55.1 and was all out to hold off the late flying 26-1 longshot Al’s Briefs. Fox Valley Gemini also came from out of it to stay unbeaten in five career starts for his Atwater, Illinois owner.
Fox Valley Gemini, Fox Valley Hijinx and Al’s Briefs will be joined in that $48,000 championship by Sheriff Coffey, Talk About It, Beach Shootingstar, Hart To Hart, Backstreet Lawyer, Mykonos and Big Boy Frasier.
The early portion of Saturday’s second program saw a trio of $8,000 Illinois State Colt Fair Stake Championships for older state bred horses decided.
Ants Iner Pants ($6.20, Kyle Husted) took the filly and mare pace crown in 1:58.2 to give trainer Steve Searle his third winner of the day. Primed N Powerful ($5.60, Freddie Patton Jr.) captured the aged male trot title in his typical front-end fashion with a 1:55.3 clocking. The Ray Hanna Stable’s Cole Heat ($19.80, Ridge Warren) came out on top in the aged male pace showdown at surprising 8-1 odds. The 9-year-old veteran was the only pacer in the seven-horse field to own a winning sub 1:50 mile.
The first of the two stake eliminations for ICF 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings turned out to be a good one. Mississippi Rabbit (Kyle Wilfong) raced outside of the even-money favorite Fox Valley Herbie (Mike Oosting) going into the last turn and still eked out a game 1:53.4 victory for the Nelson Willis Stable.
Mississippi Rabbit ($6.40), a home-bred son of Richess Hanover, is owned by Rick Barbre of Graysville, Illinois. Also moving on to the final from the first division were Decent Lawyer, Causway and Ima Scrappy Scaper.
Another even-money favorite went down to defeat in the second division as Fox Valley Reggie ($8.80) came on with a rush to win it for driver-trainer Freddie Patton Jr. in 1:53. Captain Rhett was second and Gabe Henry third.
Fox Valley Nemitz (Casey Leonard) on the inside and Gabe Henry on the outside battled on the backside to a 56.3 first half and while Gabe Henry eventually held on for third, Fox Valley Nemitz was on empty in the lane and ended up a tiring eighth and last. Also advancing from the second split were Ima Skydancer and Sullivan
Fox Valley Reggie is owned by Ron Phillips of Athens, Illinois and Sherry Boledovich, Colorado.
No eliminations were needed for the 3-year-old filly pace division and instead a prep with 11-horses (two trailers) went to the post for the finale.
After six hours of racing the first day of the Springfield meet ended the same way it started: with Kyle Wilfong in the winner’s circle. This time it was the Wilfong family’s home-bred Boogie On Down extending her winning streak to three in a row for the 26-year-old driver. A Real Doozie was only a nose short at the end of the 1:54.3 mile.
Mike Oosting had four winning drives Saturday while Kyle Wilfong and Casey Leonard both bagged three.
By Mike Paradise
Mother Nature didn’t cooperate for the scheduled Friday opening of racing at the Springfield State Fair so instead we’ll double up today with two Saturday programs.
The postponed Friday card due to a rain-soaked track will instead get under way at 10 in the morning and the scheduled Saturday Springfield card will follow. Hopefully there will be plenty of sunshine.
I don’t know about you but I will be glued to my computer watching Springfield races today for what likely will be several hours of entertainment. Plenty of coffee and snacks will be consumed, that’s for sure.
While the first card of racing at Springfield pretty much is fixed on ICF 2-year-old, the second will be focused on sophomores and older pacers and trotters. Since we spent yesterday’s column on the freshmen events today is devoted to three-year-olds and up
With 15 state bred pacing colts and geldings entered for Saturday’s Illinois State Colt Fair Stakes, a pair of $6,000 elimination races were needed. The top five finishers in each will move along to Wednesday’s $44,000 Final.
The Tom Simmons Stable’s Fox Valley Herbie (Mike Oosting), last year’s freshman colt pace champ, is the 6-5 morning line choice in the seventh race first division. The son of Yankee Skyscraper is a two-time winner of Hawthorne’s Kadabra stake series and landed the advantageous one-post.
Inside of him are Mississippi Rabbit (Kyle Wilfong), Causay (Bobby Smolin), Decent Lawyer (Casey Leonard), Ima Scrappy Scaper (Tim Curtin), Slzburgerslzburger (Juan Franco) and Odd Job (Kyle Husted).
Fox Valley Nemitz (Casey Leonard), the 5-2 morning line betting favorite in the eighth race second split, also secured the rail. The Nick Giberson trained gelding made a break in the third leg of the Carey stake however he captured his first two series starts and took the $27,400 Cardinal.
Also looking to move on to the championship are Gabe Henry (Ridge Warren), Captain Rhett (Kyle Husted), Fox Valley Reggie (Freddie Patton Jr.), Sullivan (Mike Oosting), Uptown Sleaze (Bobby Smolin), Zone Blitz (Kyle Wilfong) and Ima Skydancer (Tim Curtin).
No eliminations were needed for the 3-year-old Springfield filly stake when 11 pacers passed the entry box. Instead the ninth race prep will have a crowded field with two horses, Fox Valley Maya (Freddie Patton Jr.) and Fox Valley Dandy (Tim Curtin) starting in the second tier with slots 10 and 11.
All starters are eligible to come back for next Wednesday’s $44,000 championship.
Here’s how the front nine will line-up in Saturday’s ninth and final race: Boogie On Down (Kyle Wilfong), Lady’s Party (Casey Leonard), Beamer N Bud (Bobby Smolin), Razzleme Dazzleme (Ridge Warren), A Real Doozie (Mike Oosting), San Antonio Rose (Kyle Husted), Dee Tumbleweed (Cornelius Cavett), Fox Valley Charliz (Jamaica Patton) and Fox Valley Jolene (Matt Avenatti).
A quartet of $8,000 Illinois State Colt Fair Stake championships in the aged division will be decided and all of last year’s champions are back to defend their crowns: Macie Rae in the mare trot, Rock Hollywood in the male trot, Dinky Dune in the male pace and Fox Valley Charm in the mare pace, a non-wagering event.
Entries are being taken Sunday morning (10 am) at the Hawthorne Race Office for Wednesday’s Springfield program. Eight Illinois State Fair Colt Stake Championships will be decided on the final day of racing of this year’s Springfield meeting.
A Thirst-Quencher: Let’s Drink On It ($3.80, Travis Seekman) came roaring down the stretch last night and overtook the pacesetting Coal Hanover (Kyle Husted) for his second straight $13,500 Open Pace victory.
The Joe Seekman trained gelding unleashed a 26 flat last quarter in his 1:52.4 mile for his seventh win in 13 season starts.
The Kim Roth trained ERE Zach Attack ($8.80) captured the $9,000 Open III a few races later for driver Ridge Warren. Vintage Babe was second, beaten 1 and 1/4 lengths in the 1:51.4 mile.