By Mike Paradise
A pair of Opens are the center of attention for the first Saturday card of the summer meet with likely post time favorites looking to start the new session in the same manner they left the winter meeting, with a victory.
Kyle Husted Fox Valley Exploit shapes up to get a lot of play in the sixth race $12,300 filly and mare open after a strong campaign at the Meadowlands where she more than held her own against some very good distaffers.
The five-year-old daughter of Sportsmaster went to the gate in New Jersey 10 times, mostly in high level conditioned paces, and never missed a check. “Exploit” banked over $33,000 in her Meadowlands campaign for owners Kyle Husted (Altamont, IL) and David Bringham (Concord, MI).
Fox Valley Exploit has been a winner in 25 of her 58 lifetime starts and three of those victories have come on the Night of Champions—The Incredible Tillie at two, the Plum Peachy at three and last year sweeping of the Tony Maurello Memorial at four.
The star of the Husted stable goes into tonight’s race with over $355,000 on her lifetime card and boasts a pair of Open triumphs at the Hawthorne winter session.
Fox Valley Exploit leaves from post six in a seven-horse field with Double Parked (Kyle Wilfong), Dune Dame (Casey Leonard), Ashlee’s Joy (Atlee Bender), Bluewater Beach (Kyle Wilfong), and Rollin Coal (Juan Franco) to her right and Eliza Dushku N (Cordarius Stewart) on her left.
More to Come? The Gerald Hanson stable’s star Talk About Valor (Travis Seekman looks to continue his supremacy in the Open Trot ranks in Saturday’s finale.
The Yankee Valor gelding ended his Hawthorne winter campaign with coasting to victories in the meet’s last two Opens, first by five lengths and then by more than three lengths. After a couple of months of R&R Talk About Valor came back to crush an ICF Open field at Springfield about a week ago by three and one-half lengths in 1:54.2.
The seven-year-old ICF trotter owns a mark of 1:54.1, established at Du Quoin last summer. Not surprising Talk About Valor was assigned the outside eight-slot by the Hawthorne Race Office.
Five of the seven trotters who start inside the very likely post time favorite are ICF horses—Lous Abigail (Juan Franco), Heath Bar (Jamaica Patton), Reign And Shine (Cordarius Stewart), Louzotic (Casey Leonard) and Louscardamon (Kyle Husted).
The two “outsiders” in the field are Aunt Percilla (Kyle Wilfong), from the barn of Jim Eaton, and trainer Merv Chupp’s newest trotting hopeful Rock Party who looked very good at Springfield.
The six-year-old Cantab Hall gelding breezed in both downstate starts with 1:56.3 and 1:57 clocking’s and was allocated the seven slot tonight. Disregard the 12-1 morning line odds on Rock Party. He is one of the major to Talk About Valor. Atlee Bender gets the catch drive on the Chupp Racing Stable aspirant.
Worth Remembering: Reader Rich Hoffman conveys that yesterday (July 1st) was the golden anniversary (fifty years) of Albatross setting the world record of 1:54.3 for a 5/8’s mile track at Sportsman Park. It is one of the great moments in Illinois harness racing history. Rich should know, he was fortunate to be there that night.