By Mike Paradise
Harness racing at the Springfield State Fair gets under way Friday afternoon with those oh-so-important elimination races for ICF two-year-olds of both sexes and gaits that will determine the finalists for their respective championships.
Next Wednesday’s state-bred stake finals will go for purses between $30,000 and $35,000 but first things first.
The first ten races on Friday’s 11-race card are stake eliminations. The last event is a prep race for ICF 3-year-old male trotters with the 7-5 favorite Hail Caesar (Casey Leonard) gunning for his third in a row for the Mike Brink Stable.
The freshman filly trot division is often the most unpredictable group and this year is no different.
Youngsters like Lou’s Credit Report, Sis’s Ellie Mae, She’s Savvy, Dandy’s ESP and Beatrice all have taken turns winning legs of Hawthorne’s Fox Valley Flan Series and then there’s the Nelson Willis Stable’s Anna’s Lucky Star, the 9-5 morning line favorite in Friday’s first Illinois State Fair Colt Stake
The home-bred hasn’t raced in the Fox Valley Flan stake series but she is two-for-two starting off her career for breeder and owner Danny Graham of Salem, Illinois and she beat some three-year-olds in her first two tests at Hawthorne with Friday’s driver Kyle Wilfong
Anna’s Lucky Star, a daughter of Cassius out of the broodmare Queen Jamie, uncorked a quick 27.4 last quarter in a 2:01 flat winning mile last week at Hawthorne. Among her siblings are such ICF standouts as Anthonyskywalker (1:54), Powerful Anthony (1:56.2) and Rocknprincessabbie (1:58.3).
Anna’s Lucky Star will have her hands full to stay unbeaten Friday with the foes such as Sis’s Ellie Mae (Jared Finn), Lou’s Match Game (Steve Renard) and Betsy B Breeze (Casey Leonard), among others,
A fifth or higher finish is needed for a trotting filly to move along to next week’s championship.
The programmed favorites in the second race second filly trot division are Lou’s Credit Report (2-1, Jamaica Patton) and She’s Savvy (5-2, Matt Krueger),
Lou’s Credit Report has tasted defeat just once in her first five career starts and that was in the second leg of the “Flan” when she finished fifth. She won her first leg racing without cover and then rattled off three more victories for trainer Roshun Trigg after her only loss including a four-plus length romp in the third “Flan” leg.
She’s Savvy captured her second stake series leg in front-end fashion for trainer Lyle Scurlock and then was only a neck short to Beatrice in the third “Flan” leg.
The daughter of Photo Color was sent to Illinois and trainer Jim Eaton by her breeders and owners Erv Miller (Wind Cap, PA) and Illinoisans James Geis (Chicago) and Leland Mathias (Bethany) for the 2016 ICF stake season.
Eaton is quite sure yet what kind of a filly trotter he has in Beatrice.
“She had some bad luck right from the start when an equipment break caused her to go off-stride in her first race. Then she was forced wide in the first turn in her second but sill came on to (2:02 flat).
“She isn’t the calmest filly on the racetrack,” said Eaton with a bit of a laugh. “She’s perfect here at the farm but she gets real nervous when it comes to racing I think that’s why she made a break last week at the Lincoln Fair.
“When she gets more experience she’ll be find but right now she’s is skittish when it comes to racing.”
Let’s see if Beatrice can calm her nerves enough Friday to work her way into next Wednesday’s $35,000 championship.
First post for Friday’s initial Springfield racing card is 12 noon.