By Mike Paradise
With opening night of Hawthorne’s summer harness racing meet two weeks away Saturday’s Spring Review at the Springfield State Fairgrounds offered Illinois circuit horsemen a chance to pick-up some purse money before that May 4th opener.
It turned out to be an opportunity the majority of Hawthorne and Illinois County Fair trainers just couldn’t pass up.
Saturday’s Springfield races strictly for ICF pacers and trotters age three and upward saw a much more than expected 123 horses entered enabling an abundant total of 21 races to be programmed.
With $50,000 in purse money set aside by the Illinois Department of Agriculture for the Saturday April 21st program, purses for each event will be at $2,831 per race.
First post Saturday will be at 11 am with the last event scheduled some five horse later at 4 pm. Races are slated to be run-off every 15 minutes,
For many of the ICF3-year-old and up horses who haven’t been in action since the end of the Hawthorne winter meet Saturday’s Springfield non-wagering races will serve as a helpful prep for the upcoming summer session on the Stickney, Illinois one mile track.
Four divisions for both the ICF 3-year-old fillies (22 entries) and colts (27 entries) were warranted and they’ll go as the first eight races on Saturday’s card.
Four divisions were also needed for the ICF male pacers ages four and up when 23 horses passed the entry box and will be conducted as races 13 through 16 and lured such familiar names as Cole Heat and Fox Valley Reggie in division one, Fox Valley Nemitz and Cuinthepurplerain in split two, Slezburgeslzburger, He Gone Jack, Gabe Henry and Dinky Dune in the third group and Et Tu Brute and Ricky Bobbie in the fourth.
The Robert Walker Stable’s Bucklegirl Bobette, winner of Hawthorne’s $50,000 Tony Maurello Final on her way to being honored as the 2017 Illinois 4-Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year, landed the outside seven slot in the second older mare pacing division, the 14th event.
The 16th race for state-bred 3-year-old male trotters will see Hawthorne’s Night of Champions Kadabra titleholder Illinimike, from the Mike Brink Stable, take on Cardinal champion True Detective, trained by Curt Grummel.
There’s only one division of the ICF 4-year-old and up filly trotters (race 19) and while it came up shorter on quantity it didn’t lack on quality with a field of Anna’s Lucky Star, the 2017 Illinois 3-Year-Old Filly Trotter of the Year, along with Fox Valley Elana, Lou’s Credit Report, Lou’s Game N Match, Lou’s Misty Blue and Fox Valley Shout.
The last two events on the program, races 20 and 21 are for ICF male trotters age four and up with Primed N Powerful, Trixie’s Jethro, Totally Pazzazzed, Dr Spengler and Band’s Houdni tangling in the first split while current Erwin F. Dygert Memorial stake champion Picky Picky Valor, last season’s ICF 3-Year-Old Colt Trotter of the Year Lousciper, Coffee Toffy and Show Stopin Monkey squaring off in the second.
Five seven-horse fields of qualifiers will be contested after the 21race Spring Review card is completed, bringing the number of horses entered for Saturday at Springfield to an unexpected total of 158.
The current crop of state bred 2-year-old Standardbreds will get their chance on Saturday, June 9th at the remaining money (estimated at $50,000) allocated by the Department of Agriculture for the state’s fiscal year that concludes on June 30
Hawthorne Updates: The backside at Hawthorne will be available to horsemen on Wednesday, May 2 with the track to open for training on Thursday, May 3. The first qualifying day will be Saturday (May 5) and will take place prior to the regular wagering program.
Ready to Rumble: Veteran Illinois trainer Tom Simmons saw his horses finish first in 5 of the 6 qualifiers contested a week ago at Springfield including the stable’s “Big Three” consisting of classy sub 1:50 pacers Somestarsomewhere (1:55.3), Aimo Hanover (1:58.2) and Yankee Bounty (1:57.3).
Each was driven by Simmons for his primary Illinois owner Clinard Properties Inc. of Mt. Sterling.
All three Simmons ’horses made winner’s circle stops at Hawthorne during its winter meet and most likely will be competing at both Hawthorne’s summer meet and at Hoosier Park
The 7-year-old pacer Somestarsomewhere ($24,019) is a 23-time career winner with a mark of 1:49.2, taken as a 3-year-old at Lexington. Aimo Hanover ($232.311), a 6-year-old, has 19 lifetime victories and sped to a 1:49 flat mile last summer at the Springfield Stare Fair. Yankee Bounty ($715,097), also six, has tallied 21 wins and his fastest mile of 1:49.3 came in his sophomore campaign in Pennsylvania at The Meadows.