By Mike Paradise
It’s the Fall Review Two, at the Springfield State Fair Grounds this Saturday after last weekend’s first go-around proved to be a rousing success for Illinois horsemen and their owners.
Over 100 pacers or trotters went postward and vied for $100,000 in purse money provided by the Illinois Department of Agriculture with the assistance of the Standardbred Breeders Fund Advisory Board.
There’s $85,000 more on the line this Saturday, when the first of another 17 divisions of strictly ICF racing events gets under way at 11 am. Each race carries a $5,000 purse.
(Due to inclement weather this Saturday’s Springfield Fall Review was cancelled and will be raced next Saturday, Oct. 14, with a 12 noon first post. Entries may be made online through the United States Trotting Association online platform (ustrotting.com), or by calling LeAnn Shinn at 618.783.2589. Entries close at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. (October 11)
The second Fall Review concludes harness racing in Illinois for 2017.
Two of the most successful Springfield based stables for many years have been the barns of Mike Brink and Tom Simmons, long-time strong proponents of the ICF Standardbred program and supporters of the Springfield Fall Review. Between them they sent out a dozen young horses last Saturday.
“We were going to turn-out our 2-year-olds after Hawthorne closed, but I wanted to promote this Fall Review that I thought would help some Illinois owners and horsemen,” said Brink who was the leading trainer at this year’s Hawthorne summer meeting. What’s the difference if we turn them out a couple of weeks later? Heck the weather has been nice. This way we can keep things going on a little longer in our state. I raced a whole bunch of them last week and will again this Saturday.”
Purses will have the normal 50-25-12-8-5 split to the top five finishers, and again Saturday a horse finishing sixth or seventh will receive a stipend of $100.
“I liked the fact that they paid $100 out to the horses that finished worse than fifth,” continued Brink. “I know it’s not a lot of money but it was something for the people who did participate. I have to admit I was very surprised by the number of horses (107) that did race last Saturday. I thought maybe they would be lucky to have 8 or 10 divisions. I never thought they would have 20.”
Brink will have nine 2 or 3-year-olds competing this Saturday, including last week’s Fall Review freshman pacing winners: Hart To Heart (race one) and Allbeastnobeauty (race two) and the $115,000 Night of Champions Kadabra Trot victor Illinimight (race five).
With the number of harness racing dates in Illinois for 2017 at its lowest number since the late 1940s, some 67 years ago, maybe it shouldn’t have been so surprising to many of us that the horsemen’s response to the Fall Reviews was so huge.
“There aren’t any more opportunities to race in Illinois this year now that the Hawthorne meet is over and every little bit helps.” said trainer Tom Simmons.
Like so many other harness horsemen in our state, Simmons was pleased to see there will be more racing opportunities in Illinois in 2018.
“I was glad to see we’ll have winter meet next year at Hawthorne. You know these owners don’t want to be paying a training bill without a chance to race their horses and you can’t blame them.”
One of Simmons two winners last Saturday, was the 2-year-old pacer Backstreet Lawyer. The other was the 3-year-old Fox Valley Herbie, last year’s Illinois freshman colt pacer of the year.
An exception is Backstreet Lawyer, the runner-up on the Night of Champions in the $170,000 Incredible Finale 2-year-old colt pace final. “A lot of my two-year-olds are about done, they’re tired,” continued Simmons. “I had a little problem up there (at Hawthorne) in his last couple of starts. He was kind of running into his hobbles in the last turn. I’m not sure why. I took them up a little bit and he raced well Saturday. I hoping Backstreet Lawyer will be even better as a 3-year-old. He’s a not a monster horse but he is a good-sized horse. He should fill out some over the winter but he does look good right now.”
Backstreet Lawyer (Mike Oosting), owned by the Illinois trio of the (Marty) Engle Stable (Buffalo Grove), Jerry Graham (Salem) and Benita Simmons (Springfield), landed into a solid the first race field of freshman pacers with Sheriff Coffey, Sports Creek, Talk About It and Hart To Heart, drawing inside of him.
Du Quoin’s Dudley Hanover’s champ Fox Valley Herbie (Mike Oosting), landed the rail in this Saturday’s ninth race first 3-year-old colt pace division, where he’ll be challenged by Slzburgerslzburger, Commondiscourtesy, Fox Valley Reggie, Ima Skydancer, and Fox Valley Nemitz
Springfield Qualifiers: Weather permitting qualifiers will be held this Saturday (Oct. 7), on the mile track after the Fall Review races. Entries can be made online or by phone today (Friday) from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m. by calling LeAnn Shinn at 618-783-2589.