By Mike Paradise
The Illinois horsemen’s response to race their ICF pacers or trotters in Saturday’s Fall Reviews in Springfield turned out to be prodigious, and that’s not an overstatement, far surpassing last year’s numbers.
A total of 113 ICF horses passed the entry box Wednesday for another shot at a 2019 Illinois purse, a week after the closing of Hawthorne’s summer meeting.
With the Illinois Department of Agriculture offering $75,200 in total purse money, a surprising 21 races were carded on Saturday’s lengthy length program that begins at 11 o’clock in the morning. That comes to a $3,580 pot per race.
Since the Springfield Fall Reviews are all non-wagering events, the races can be rattled off in a timely manner with the 21st and last scheduled to go off at 3 pm. A trio of qualifiers will then follow.
Last year 75 horses entered the Fall Reviews, some 38 less than this year. Also 14 races were carded, a third less than on Saturday for just about the same purses per race. The 2018 Fall Reviews had $50,000 in purse money distributed, 25,200 fewer dollars than this time around.
Two of Hawthorne’s Night of Champions titleholders will be competing Saturday, Plum Peachy champ Fox Valley Halsey (Juan Franco) goes in race eight the second Fall Review division of the three-year-old filly pace, while the Queen of Illinois trotters Anna’s Lucky Star (Kyle Wilfong) follows her Plesac triumph with a start in Saturday’s 14th race, the single division of the Fall Review trot for aged mares.
Anna’s Lucky Star’s tenth win of the year Saturday would put the Nelson Willis trained five-year-old mare’s season purse earnings over the $90,000 plateau for Salem, Illinois owner and breeder Danny Graham.
Saturday’s second freshman colt trot division pits Kadabra runner-up Desert Sheik (Mike Brink) against the two-year-old stake’s low-end beaten favorite Fox Valley Quest (Casey Leonard) who didn’t handle Hawthorne’s sloppy racing surface and made an early break.
Last year’s ICF freshman filly pacing champ Fox Valley Torrid (Casey Leonard) heads up Saturday’s first three-year-old filly split. The Rodney Freese trainee dropped a narrow neck decision to Fox Valley Halsey in the $100,000 Plum Peachy Final.
Night of Champions Tony Maurello stake finalists Char N Marg (pp 4, Casey Leonard), Fox Valley Jazzy (pp 5, Ridge Warren) and Rollin Coal (pp 6, an Franco) are among the seven horses in the first ICF aged pacing mare split
The Maurello’s third place finisher San Antonio (pp 6, Ridge Warren) goes in the second division. Among the six mares she’ll have to battle is Susan Sage (Ridge Warren) a nine-time victor at the Hawthorne meet, and Springfield State Fair champ Boogie On Down (pp 7, Kyle Wilfong), also a two-time Open Pace winner.
There were 20 horses entered in the ICF colt and gelding pacing event for ages four and up, necessitating a split into three divisions, the final trio of races on the Fall Reviews card.
The Ray Hanna Stable’s He Gone Jack (Ridge Warren) with over $157,000 in lifetime earnings, looks hard to beat from the rail in the initial split.
You’remyhearthrob (Kyle Wilfong) who sped to a 1:49.4 clocking in her Springfield State Fair championship will have to be caught in the second.
The third looks wide-open with Youmakemyheartsing, Salvatore, Freddy B Quick, Not Me Gram, Dinky Dune, and Ricky Bobbie all slugging it out.
All of the Chicago circuit drivers will be on hand Saturday, so if you live in the Springfield, Illinois area we invite you to come out and enjoy the races.