Not all ICF Stakes Worthy of Watching?
By Mike Paradise
How competitive have the Illinois bred sophomore trotting categories been thus far? Well, so competitive that both the filly division as the colt and gelding class has produced three different winners in as many stake events.
Last weekend’s Cardinal trot went to the Mike Brink stable’s Crooked Creek after the first leg of the Erwin Dygert Mempria; saw the Tom Simmons trained Fox Valley Quest and Desert Sheik, another Brink trainee, come out on top.
In the opening round of the Beulah Dygert Fox Valley Extacy nailed down her maiden victory in the filly’s first start under the care of trainer Hector Herrera.
On the other hand, in the recent Violet trot divisions it was Steve Searle’s Bee Cee and Celone Hall, yet another Brink trainee who took co-championships.
Just what trotters this time around will prevail in Sunday’s second round of the two Dygert stakes is anyone’s guess.
Sunday’s Erwin Dygert was split into a pair of $12,500 divisions carded as races two and three last year’s Night of Champions winner Crooked Creek (Mike Oosting) a likely heavy favorite in the first split off his game 1:57.4 win a week ago.
Crooked Creek will be challenged by Twin Cedars Rocket (Travis Seekman), Fox Valley Kobe (Kyle Husted), Lou Paschal (Cordarius Stewart), East EO (Tyler Sheehan) On Higher Ground (Kyle Wilfong) , Lous Paisano (Scott Robbins) and Coach Cougar (Juan Franco).
The Tom Simmons Fox Valley Quest (Casey Leonard) is the trotter too beat in the second division when he seeks his twelfth victory in 17 career starts. Desert Sheik (Brandon Bates), a first round winner of the Erwin Dygert, should also get good play.
Eying an upset Sunday are Ramblin Cougar (Tyler Shehan), Mr Red Thunder (Richard S Finn), Louisnuit (Kyle Husted), Fox Valley Briton (Todd Warren), Cassy Chip (Mike Oosting) and Frazier (Jerome Daniels),
There are also two $12,000 second legs of the Beulah Dygert to be contested tonight for sophomore state-bred fillies. The Violet one-two finishers Bee Cee (pp 1, Kyle Husted) and Tropical Rosie (pp 4, Cordarius Stewar) head-up the sixth race second division, a state-bred stake you can watch and bet on.
It’s too bad you can’t watch and wager on the first division.
The first Beulah Dygert division is going as a non-wagering race before the regular betting program and is only available to be viewed by “essential” backstretch license horsemen. The only owners currently allowed on the backside are those who are also the horse’s caretaker.
So we’ll all miss seeing Princess Poprocks, She’s Got Moxy, Fox Valley Extacy, Lous Abigail, El Oh Govner and Celone Hall slug it out. Also hidden from view will be the initial legs of the ICF two-year-old trotting stakes, the $17,500 Fox Valley Flan for fillies and the $17,500 Kadabra for colts and geldings, both seven horse freshmen fields.
I’m deducing the track’s decision makers don’t see the trio of Illinois bred stakes as “wager worthy” enough has some of the fuller fields of open company events on the 14 race betting card.
Since Sunday’s three non-betting ICF only races begin at 6:30 pm, couldn’t we have kept that same first post time and made it a 17-race wagering program? The distributed purse money would be the same and the start and finish times wouldn’t change, either
Does anybody really believe keeping current owners from watching and wagering on their young Illinois bred equine investments is going to help the future of Illinois harness racing?
Strong Debut: The Jamaica Patton trained two-year-old filly Connie On The Go, nicely handled by Ridge Warren, came on in the lane to capture the $17,500 Incredible Tillie ICF freshman stake last night.
Princess Mooss (Kyle Wilfong) also closed with a rush to be second, beaten a half-length while the pace-setting Cleary The Bomb held on for third.
Connie On The Go is a home-bred daughter of Sportsmaster owned and bred by Ron Phillips (Athens, IL) and John Carver (Rock Island, IL).
The prohibitive three-year-old favorites Sleazy Gal ($2.20, Casey Leonard) and Fox Valley Exploit ($2.20, Kyle Husted) won their second round $12,500 divisions of the Plum Peachy.
The Merv Chupp Racing Stable’s Pine Dream ($3.80), driven by Todd Warren, went wire-to-wire in 1:55 flat in the $10,500 Open Trot. Casey Leonard and Kyle Wilfong drove seven winners between them on the 13-race program with Casey bagging four and Kyle taking three,