By Mike Paradise
The first Saturday program of the 2017 Hawthorne harness racing meet offers an attractive variety of enticing wagering events sprinkled throughout its 11-race card.
The headliner is the seventh race Open Pace for fillies and mares, handicapped by groups with a $15,000 pot on the line. The secondary feature is the third race $10,000 Open III Trot, also with posts drawn by groups.
A pair of Late Closer Series, the Mike Paradise and the Bob Larry, get under way for distaff pacers and later it’s the Cicero Claiming Series with $10,000 price tags.
The two outside posts in the F & M Open Pace went to Seeyouatthefinish and OK Heavenly and deservedly so. Each mare is having an excellent season and both did very well last year at Hawthorne.
Seeyouatthefinish is reunited with Kyle Husted who drove her to eight Hawthorne wins in 2016 and four came in Open Paces. The Deb Paul trained mare then went to The Meadows and won three more events, and added another three this year to put over $23,000 on her season card. As a 6-year-old she made $82,885 and had back-to-back identical seasons in 2015 and 2016 with 11 wins in 32 starts.
The much traveled OK Heavenly started off last season at New York tracks before coming to the Midwest. The now 4-year-old mare captured a quartet of Hawthorne Opens and added a victory in a Hoosier Park Invite, finishing the year with nine first place finishers and over $77,000 in earnings. She was an Open II winner for trainer Angie Coleman last month at Pompano Park.
Hawthorne’s Tony Maurello champion Fox Valley Charm (Mike Oosting), Rocknroll Hoochcoo (Kyle Wilfong), Young American (Frank Petrelli) and Gypsy Bellevue (Tyler Shehan) shouldl provide stern competition for the likely co-favorites.
Coleman also trains M T Ur Pockets (Casey Leonard) the probable post time favorite in Saturday’s Open III trot. The 10-year-old veteran mare was a four-time victor in Florida including a 1:54.1 mile when she took an Open III event there in April. M T Ur Pockets knows how to find the winner’s circle. She’s made 37 stops there in her racing career and was assigned the outside seven-slot by Hawthorne the Race Office.
The first six posts will be manned by Big Expense (Kyle Husted) , Political Cash (Frank Petrelli), Rock Hollywood (Mike Brink), Quantum Uptown Boy (Trenton Watson), Ants Iner Pants (Mike Oosting) and Fox Valley Veto (Casey Leonard), now racing out of the Terry Leonard Stable. All are seeking their initial win of the year.
With 15 entries for Leg One of the Mike Paradise Series the Late Closer was split. The seven-horse first division will see Frontier Fred (Richard Finn), Daddy Let Me Drive (Trenton Watson), Kid Rocky (Kyle Wilfong), Fox Valley Scampi (Gary Rath), Ima Skydancer (Mike Oosting), In Your Eye (Ridge Warren) and Zone Blitz (Casey Leonard) battle it out in tonight’s second race.
The fourth race second grouping has eight ICF 3-year-olds looking to advance to the $10,000 added Paradise final on May 27: Ima Scrappy Scaper (Cornelius Cavett) , Jo Jay Dee (Kyle Wilfong), Causway (Mike Oosting), Commondiscourtesy (Casey Leonard), Trail Blazer (Ridge Warren), Et Tu Brute (Brian Carpenter), Silver Romeo (Juan Franco) and Sullivan (Mike Brink).
The draw for posts wasn’t kind to the pre Bob Larry Series favorite Hot Rod Dylan. The Nelson Willis trained 4-year-old gelding landed the outside nine-slot in the fifth race single division of the Late Closer. However if asked he can leave in a hurry. Hot Rod Dylan paced a quick 26.2 first quarter in his last Ohio start where he earlier had a seven-race winning streak for Illinois owner Shirley Le Vin.
Hot Rod Dylan easily won a $17,500 Late Closer Final at Miami Valley Raceway back in March with Mike Oosting who returns to his lines tonight.
Seven of the eight other Bob Larry starters are Illinois bred pacers. The lone exception is No. 8 All In No Out (Steve Searle). Returning to Hawthorne for another racing season are ICF pacers Fourboltmane (Tim Curtin), Slzburgerslzburger (Bob Smolin), He Gone Jack (Ridge Warren), Bowedfortyova (Kyle Husted), Sports Redhot (Shawn Simons), Uptown Sleaze (Kyle Wilfong) and Fox Valley Nemitz (Casey Leonard).
As two-year-olds Sporty Redhot won a leg of Hawthorne’s Incredible Finale Stake Series on four occasions. Cardinal runner-up Fox Valley Nemitz notched a pair of leg wins in legs and Uptown Sleaze captured his initial series leg.
Plenty of Surprises: Account Rollrover ($14.20) took advantage of a two-hole trip given to him by driver Kyle Wilfong and rushed past the heavy 1-5 favorite Evergreen Elite in deep stretch to take Friday’s Open Pace in a snappy 1;51.1 for trainer Jim Eaton.
More upsets came in the single Late Closer Series trotting divisions. First Daisy Luke Duke (Kyle Husted),popped at $36.80 in the Bea Farber with a new lifetime mark of 1:57.1. BC’s Da Winner was second, almost two lengths behind the Steve Searle trainee.
In the Daryl Busse Series the Gerald Hansen Stable’s Picky Pick Valor (Brian Carpenter) got his head in front at the finish line to beat the even-money favorite Bands Houdini in the 1:59.1 mile. The $27.80 winner is owned by Shirley Steele of Monee, Illinois.