Springfield Driver Race was a Cliffhanger

By Mike Paradise
The curtain came down on the 2016 Springfield meeting Thursday afternoon with a quartet of $7,000 Illinois State Fair Colt Stake Championships and a driver’s race that went down to the last event on the final program.
The first $7,000 aged stake was for four-year-olds and up trotters, a non-wagering race before the regular betting card with only three horses going postward. It quick became a two-horse race Captain Greedy went off stride and didn’t make the gate.

  Casey Leonard

Casey Leonard

Casey was contend to race the Mike Brink Stable’s Rock Hollywood in the pocket behind the pacesetting Riet’s Kid (Robert Decker) who costed to a slow three-quarter’s time of 1:33.4. When Leonard pulled Rock Hollywood out for the stretch drive the 9-year-old Brink home-bred powered past with ease (26.4 last panel), winning by three lengths in 2:01.1.
Casey didn’t wait long to put the Rodney Freeze 4-year-old on the lead in the Aged Mare Pace stake, the opener on wagering program. The Yankee Skyscraper filly got there at the first quarter pole in 28 seconds. After leisurely middle quarters of 28.3 and 28 flat Fox Valley Charm went into high gear and drew off by almost six lengths.
The 1:51.2 mile was a new barn for the mare owned by Peter Karras of nearby Sherman, Illinois.
Last summer’s 3-year-old State Fair champion Dinky Dune came motoring down the lane to take the Aged Pace for males in a career best time of 1:51.1 for regular driver Pat Curtin.
The now 4-year-old Duneside Perch gelding raced third throughout the four horse field until he was tipped out for the stretch drive where his 27 last quarters was good enough to overtake Dixie’s Boy and Fiveknuckleshuffle, the second and third place finishers, in that order.
Dinky Dune is owned by his trainer Dane May of Newton, Illinois.
The ninth race Aged Trot final for fillies and mares turned out to be a key winning drive for driver Ridge Warren behind the Mike Rogers trained 5-year-old mare Macie Rae, owned by Stephanie McKinnon of New Berlin, Illinois.
The victory was Ridge’s No. 6 of the Springfield meet, putting the 27-year-old driver into a tie for the top spot in the driver standings with Casey going into the final race of the State Fair meeting.
   Mike Brink

Mike Brink

In the 10th and last race, a Topline event, Casey drove the Tom Simmons trainee Somestarsomewhere to the fastest mile of the meet, a 1:50.1 clocking and it gave Casey his seventh meet winner, to earn him the top for the Springfield driver honors.
After making the three-plus hour drive from Springfield to Hawthorne Leonard drove the first four winners on Thursday night’s card.
The Springfield trainer’s race turned out to be a hometown win for Mike Brink, who is based in the State’s capitol. Brink had six winners at the meet. Nelson Willis was next with four.