By Mike Paradise
The driver and trainer colony for Hawthorne’s upcoming winter meet will get a huge boost with veteran horseman Larry Stalbaum coming from in the east coast with a large stable.
A check of Hawthorne’s stall allocations for the January 5th start of the meet shows that the 54-year-old Stalbaum was allocated 20 stalls, making his barn the largest stable on the grounds for the winter meet.
The native of Valparaiso, Indiana, has racked up 0ver 5,700 dash winners since he began driving professionally in 1986. He also has trained over 1,000- winning horses.
Larry comes back to Illinois fresh off his first driving title at the Batavia (NY) meet that concluded last Saturday. Stalbaum competed in the mid-1990s on the Chicago circuit at Sportsman’s, Maywood and Balmoral Parks.
Stalbaum’s best season for winning drives came in 2004 with 421when he was one of the top drivers in Michigan. He left the Wolverine state after the 2005 season and went to the east coast where is money won total jumped by over $1 million the next year competing at tracks in the state of New York and in Pennsylvania.
Larry’s highest total in money won for a season was in 2012 with $4.38 million. The bulk of that amount came at Yonker’s Raceway in New York City.
The long-tenured horseman is no stranger to being the leading driver at a racetrack. Over his 32-year career Stalbaum has won dash honors at Northville Downs, Hazel Park, Sports Creek and Jackson Harness Raceway in Michigan, Raceway Park in Ohio, Cal Expo in California, and at New York State’s Monticello Raceway, Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs.
Through yesterday Stalbaum has driven 5,738 winners with 339 coming in 2017. Horses he’s driven in his career have earned just over $39 million in purses.
Crawford Hawthorne Bound: With no harness racing meet in Michigan until the month of March veteran horseman Keith Crawford will be coming in for the Hawthorne winter meet.
The 71-year-old Michigan native was assigned five stalls at Hawthorne. The stable his headed up by Crawford’s soon to be 6-year-old trotter I Could Care Less (1:55.3), an eight time winner in 2017 including the Bea Farber Late Closer Final on the Sticky, IL one mile oval. This year the homebred son of Glidemaster made over $46,000.
Crawford has more than 3,500 career dash winners and has conditioned over 1,000 winners in his career.
Pre-Winter Meet Qualifiers: There will be qualifying races held at Springfield Thursday, December 28th at the State Fairgrounds.
Entries can be made online or by phone on Wednesday, Dec. 27 from 8 am through 11 am by calling Le Ann Shinn at 618-783-2589. There will be NO entry fee for the qualifiers with the costs being picked up by Hawthorne Racecourse and the IHHA.
Hawthorne will conduct qualifiers on Saturday January 6 before the regular card. Horsemen must enter by 9 am on Wednesday, January 3.
Sixty Day Qualifier Exception: Speaking of qualifiers, horsemen are reminded that any horse that raced at Hawthorne last September, and hasn’t started since, can be entered and race on opening weekend without qualifying.
The Hawthorne qualifying standards for the winter meet read: “The 60 day (Qualifying) requirement shall be waived for those horses entered and start Jan. 5, 6 or 7 that last started at Hawthorne since 9/1/2017.”
First Conditioned Sheets Up: The Conditioned Sheets for Hawthorne’s opening weekend programs have been posted on both the Hawthorne and USTA Web-Sites.