By Mike Paradise
The talented ICF trotter Picky Picky Valor went through some tough times as a 2-year-old and for a long while he wasn’t able to get the job done in the major 3-year-old state bred stakes. However, that all changed on last year’s Night of Champions in the $115,000 Erwin F. Dygert Final.
In fact, right now the star of the Gerald Hansen stable has been so good against the top trotters on the grounds at Hawthorne that he’s been handicapped by the race office with a start from the 10-hole in Sunday’s six horse Open trot field.
The now 4-year-old Yankee Valor trotter has made over $24,000 in 2018 for owner Shelly Steele of Monee, Illinois and will carry a four racing winning streak into Sunday’s $10,000 feature. The gelding is 4-for-4 since Casey Leonard took over the driver chores and has lowered his mark three times (down to 1:54 flat) during the current meet.
Health issues prevented “Picky” from making his 2-year-old debut until mid-July. He did win his very first race with Leonard but didn’t hit the board in his seven other freshman starts and made a modest $5,792.
The horse bled early in his 3-year-old campaign and went on Lasix but got a bad reaction to the medication that caused him to get dangerously dehydrated and “lost 100 pounds” according to his owner.
“Picky” bounced back from that serious health issue and went on to rake in some nice purse checks as a sophomore but when Dygert Series, and the Springfield and Du Quoin finals arrived he was often close but kept getting beat by his ICF sophomore nemesis Louscipher.
Nevertheless when the richest and most prestigious stake race in his ICF division came around, the $115,000 Dygert final, “Picky” delivered the goods when it counted, and deposited $51,750 of his $96,370 season earnings to his card.
Now as a 4-year-old he’s really put it all together and will open as the 7-5 programmed choice when he takes on (from the one-slot out) Held In Balance (Tyler Shehan), Lous Credit Report (Brandon Bates), Overandovervictory (Kyle Husted), Primed N Powerful (Ryan Anderson) and Anna’s Lucky Star (Mike Oosting).
Primed N Powerful is having an excellent summer at Hawthorne. He’s won 2 of his 5 last races and was the runner-up to Picky Picky Valor in all three of his second place finishers.
The Jamaica Patton trained trotter was saddled with the 10-hole in last week’s Open III trot and still got his nose in front at the wire to nip Anna’s Lucky Star. The 5-year-old Primed N Powerful (5-2) took his mark of 1:54.2 on the first Saturday card of the summer meet.
The Nelson Willis trained Ann’s Lucky Star (3-1) is another chief threat in Sunday’s Open. She has finished worse than third only three times in her 25 lifetime starts and has hauled in over $197,000 in earnings in a little more than two dozen starts.
The 4-year-old mare finished third to “Picky” the lone time they met at the meet ( May 20th) when Anna’s Lucky Star was raced from the back of the pack for the first time and was seventh, and last, turning for home. She was flying in the late going but was blocked in deep stretch and ended up beaten less than a length.
Hard Fought Win: The 11-1 front-stepping longshot Velocity Layla, driven by her trainer Kyle Husted, battled the 9-5 favorite Yoga Pants (Casey Leonard) the length of the stretch and put the 8-5 favorite away in the final yards to gain a half-length victory in 1:53 flat in Saturday’s Open III pace for fillies and mares.
Velocity Layla ($24.00) had to work hard to get the lead from the eight hole and was parked out to a 27.2 first quarter getting there. Husted was able back the pace down with a 29.1 second quarter and a 28.4 third quarter. The New York owned winner came home in 27.3 for her second Hawthorne victory.
Pretty Image (Tim Curtin) came from far out of it to be a fast closing third, pacing the last panel in 26.3.