By Mike Paradise
The ICF three-year-old colony of pacer and trotters this weekend will past the midway point on their march to what their owners and trainers hope will be a starting berth in a Night of Champions final on September 19th.
The state’s top sophomore pacing colts and geldings squared off Friday evening in round three of the Robert F. Carey Memorial series with He’zzz A Wise Sky and Bagman coming out on top. Last night the third round winners of the Plum Peachy were crowned as the heavy favorites Fox Valley Exploit (Casey Leonard) and Double Parked (Travis Seekman) each prevailed in comfortable fashion.
The still murky picture of the second season ICF trotters should get more into focus after the competition of Sunday’s Dygert Memorial’s, the Beulah for the gals and the Erwin F. for the guys. Both three-year-olds stakes were separated into a pair of $15,000 contests.
In the case of the Beulah Dygert, the first three stake winners—Fox Valley Extacy (Brandon Bates), Bee See (Kyle Wilfong for the sidelined Kyle Husted) and Lous Abigail (Casey Leonard) all drew into the same seventh race division. That first split also landed Celone Hall (Mike Oosting), winner of one of the recent Violet trot championships. Bee Cee captured the other $21,650 Illinois Department of Agriculture state-bred stake.
Needless to say, the first Beulah Dygert should be quite a horse race and the winner will move to the head of this year’s class of three-year-old Illinois bred filly trotters.
El Oh Govner (Mike Rogers) and Reign And Shine (Juan Franco) are the longshot hopefuls.
Take-Your-Pick: With the first Beulah Dygert packed with all the early leaders in the stake’s point standings, it leaves the ninth race second split a wide-open event with the winner’s 50 points shooting that particular trotting mare into a virtual lock to gain the Night of Champions final.
From the pole position out you’ll find Lous Cover Girl (Brandon Bates), Lous Flashy Dancer (Bobby Smolin), Tropical Rosie (Cordarius Stewart), High Queen Annie (Mike Oosting), Really Railee (Tyler Shehan), Fox Valley Lush (Todd Warren) She’s Got Moxy (Scott Robbins).
Stablemates Tangle: The luck of the draw saw the Mike Brink stable’s current top two sophomore male trotters Crooked Creek (Mike Oosting) and Desert Sheik (Brandon Bates) both end-up in the first $15,000 Erwin F. Dygert Memorial stake series while last season’s ICF Two-Year-Year-Old Colt Trotter of the Year Fox Valley Quest found a softer spot in the eighth race second split for trainer Tom Simmons.
Trainer Steve Searle will send out pair of his three-year-old male trotters to take on Crooked Creek (programmed at 4-5) and Desert Sheik (listed at 5-1Bates), the longshot Cassy Chip (Casey Leonard) and Lou Paisano (Scott Robbins), a three-time winner at the meet. The first Erwin Dygert division is rounded out with Lou Paschal (Cordarius Stewart) and Easy EO (Tyler Shehan),
In Quest of Another: Fox Valley Quest (Casey Leonard) has been victorious in 12 of his first 18 career starts and will be a heavy favorite to make another winner’ circle stop after the second Erwin Dygert is over. He’ll open at odds of 4-5.
Two more Mike Brick trained sophomore trotting geldings, Fox Valley Briton (Todd Warren) and On Higher Ground (Kyle Wilfong) are among the six second division challengers. On Higher Ground was a runner-up in his first two legs of the Erwin Dygert.
Fox Valley Kobe (Mike Oosting), from the Jim Eaton Stable, has had some encouraging efforts when he’s stayed flat. Only a neck separated “Kobe” from the winner Desert Sheik in a first round Erwin Dygert contest back in mid-June.
Frazier (Jerome Daniels), Louisintuit (Juan Franco) and Mr Red Thunder (Richard S Finn) complete the eighth race field and each is looking for their first victory as a three-year-old.
Fox Valley Quest sits atop the “Erwin” standings with 100 points, accumulated with series division victories in the first two series legs.
“Lily” on a Roll: The circuit’s Open Pace for fillies and mares returns Sunday night after a week’s absence. The Frank Petrelli stable’s Lily Grace (pp 7, Casey Leonard) puts a four race winning streak on the line against seven other distaffers, including Tempus Seelster (pp 8, Travis Seekman), a two-time Hawthorne Open victor.
The tenth race Open was drawn by groups with the first three posts going to Delightfully Wild (Ryan Anderson), Hoosier Park invader Velocity McSweets (Mike Oosting) and Dee Rocks (Jamaica Patton). Pretty Image (Brandon Bates) landed the four while Black Jack Pat (Tyler Shehan) received the five. Over Speeding (Todd Warren) will leave from the six in search of her fifth Hawthorne win.