By Mike Paradise
Hawthorne won’t have the Illinois harness racing spotlight all to itself this week. Racing at the Springfield State Fair begins on the weekend with a bevy of ICF 2 and 3-year-old stake eliminations for both sexes and gaits. There was no shortage of entries for Friday’s opening day card at Springfield, producing an 11-race program.
Both the ICF 2-year-old filly and colt trot stake events and the freshman filly paces will have eliminations with two divisions while the first season pacing colts and geldings needing three splits when 23 youngsters passed the entry box. A third place finish or better assures a berth in that colt final with a drawing among the trio of fourth place finishers determining the 10th finalist.
The 3-year-old filly trot division will go nine a single 11-horse division with the first 10 finishers moving on to the championship. From the pone-post out are Powerful Princess, Swift Cougar, More Than Likely, Ryleigh Marie, Awfully Emotional, Praise Singer, Rockinprincessabbie, Roma Falls, HS Karissa, Surviver DI and Fox Valley Mirage. The latter has the eleven-post in the second tier.
Nine trotting sophomores entered the 3-year-old stake for male trotters, negating an elimination race. However all nine will square off in an Illinois State Fair Colts Stakes Prep. The field is Powerful Father, Pass The Plate, Dr. Venkman, Speedy Rendezvous, Primed N Powerful, Bans Ariston, Hail Caesar, Storm Winds and PB Boy, in that order.
A fifth place finisher or higher is needed in the freshman trots and the 2-year–old filly pace to advance to their respective finals.
Streaks End: Chalk players took it on the chin in Sunday’s two $10,000 Open Paces with first Mr. Coolie in the colt division and then Seeyouatthefinish in the filly and mare event didn’t hit the board. Both pacers ended up seventh in their respective races.
Mr. Coolie came into last weekend with three consecutive Open wins while Seeyouatthefinish had captured the mare event the last two times it was raced and on four occasions this year at Hawthorne.
Both of Sunday’s Open up-setters turned out to be ICF pacers.
Smolin hustled the 8-year-old son of Park Place away from the starting gate and out-sprinted Fort Silky for the front-end. Fivekknuckleshuffle went first half quarters of 28 flat and 28.3 while the eventual runner-up Mystical Walter was racing seventh and last, some 10 lengths behind.
Mystical Walter didn’t get into high gear until mid-way through the last turn The ICF six-year-old pacer flew down the stretch but even his 26.3 last panel wasn’t enough to keep Fiveknuckleshuffle from his fourth season win for the Brink Stable.
Next Whiskersonkittens showed up her elders in the filly and mare open. The Party At Artsplace filly was the only three-year-old in the race.
Warren urged Whiskersonkittens away from the pole position and the Kim Roth trained filly took a quick lead. She gave it up at the first quarter pole (28.3) to the co-favorite Feetonthedashboard (Dale Hiteman.
Whiskersonkittens stayed in the pocket as Feetonthedashboard go to the half in a modest time of 57.1 and stayed there until mid-stretch when the Warren saw an opening on the inside and took his filly there.
Whiskersonkittens dug in and proved best by a neck over OK Heavenly who came from next to last. Her very quick 26 flat last quarter wasn’t quite good enough to keep Whiskersonkittens winning for the fifth time as a sophomore for Anna, Illinois owner Ron Knupp.
Four lengths separated Whiskersonkittens from the eighth and last place filly. There were only four lengths from first to last in the male Open Pace.