By Mike Paradise
The first of two $25,000 Late Closer Finals for strictly ICF horses kick-off the weekend of harness racing at Hawthorne Friday night.
Thanks to the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Standardbred Breeders Fund Advisory Board tonight’s Carl Becker Pace championship and Saturday’s Tim Wilson Sr. Pace Final are worth $10,000 more than the open company series showdowns on the same programs.
After the first two series legs of the Carl Becker, the Jamaica Patton Stable’s Fox Valley Reggie has emerged as the state-bred pacer to beat. The 4-year-old son of Yankee Skyscaper has taken each division with Pat Curtin in the bike.
The Carl Becker series is for ICF male pacers without three wins at extended meets or $30,000 in earnings through last October 1st. While Fox Valley Reggie won nine races last year only two came at extended meetings for the Freddie Patton Jr. Stable and his owners Ron Phillips of Athens, Illinois and Sharry Boledovich of Lakewood, Colorado.
Jamaica is the 37-year-old nephew of Freddie Patton Jr.
“My uncle turned Fox Valley Reggie over to me when he left to go back to Mississippi for the winter,” said Jamaica. “I turned the horse out after his Springfield starts last fall and then trained him back to get him ready for this series. I really like “Reggie.” I think he can become a good open horse.
“I gave Pat (Curtin) a chance with the horse because I thought he would have a good feel for the horse and he has taken advantage of that chance. He’s driven him well.
Jamaica acknowledged the horse did have a tougher trip last week that his past performance might indicate. Was he concerned with Fox Valley Reggie drifting out in the stretch in his latest win?
“No,” he answered “because he kept his momentum going. If he’s out in front he does like to drift but when he races off another horse’s back he won’t drift out as much.
“I’m not too worried about the draw for the final,” said the Jackson, Mississippi native who now resides in Rochester, Illinois.” I would like a decent draw but this horse likes to hunt down other horses so he can come out of it. He doesn’t have to race up-close.”
Fox Valley Reggie did land a good post with the four. The three state-breds inside of him are last week’s third place finisher Daddy Let Me Drive (Casey Leonard), Causway (Matt Avenatti) and Frontier Fred (Juan Franco). Slots five through nine will be manned by Mr. Big W (Kyle Wilfong), Zone Blitz (Mike Oosting), runner-up in both series eliminations, along with Sleazy Joe (Brandon Bates), Fox Valley Brutus (Sam Widger) and One More Trick (Tim Curtin.
Fox Valley Reggie will compete through the current meet and then enjoy some R&R.
“When this meeting ends I’ll give him some time off and then get him ready for Hawthorne’s summer meet,” added Jamaica,
The first Late Closer Final (#5) saw only four challengers for the Zack Miller Stable’s Mojoto Hanover (pp2, Todd Warren). The Well Said gelding was much the best in leg one, earning him a week off. He’ll carry a three-race winning streak into the third race and no doubt will be a prohibitive favorite.
Herehecomesarockin (pp 3, Jared Finn), a dominating second leg winner after his runner-up role in round one, appears to be the obvious main threat, My Friskie Boy (Kyle Wilfong), E R Vincent (Juan Franco) and Sharkfire (Mike Oosting) are the other Late Closer hopefuls.
Friday’s card also has a $10,000 Open I with a field of eight pacers. The seventh race was drawn by groups. In posts one through five you’ll find Gibbs, Fox Valley Nemitz, Winning Is Sweet, Tookadiveoffdipper and Holdingallthecards. Post six was assigned to Somestarsomewhere.
Best Man Hanover and Firedrake, the meet’s previous Open winners, were allocated the seven and eight, the two outside starting slots.