Veterans and Novices Share the Spotlight

By Mike Paradise


ICF veterans and rookies alike will share the limelight at Hawthorne this weekend.


The experience pacers and trotters will be vying in aged state-bred stake preps while the novices take aim on the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Cardinal and Violet stakes, the first added money event of the season for Illinois bred two-year-olds.


As expected, entries for the aged state-bred stakes were sparse. On the other hand, the juvenile events were abundant. So much so that the Cardinal Pace for “the boys” and the Violet Pace for “the gals” were split into three divisions each when 26 horses apiece entered.


Fox Valley Patriot (Atlee Bender) goes after his third straight victory in tonight’s $16,833 fifth race division of the Cardinal Pace. (Four Footed Fotos)

The Cardinal (18 entries) and Violet (14 entries) trots will go has two divisions each. The Cardinal trot splits will carry a $24,225 purse and are carded as tonight’s seven and ten races. The $22,675 Violet divisions for freshman trotters will be contested Saturday


Strong Opener: He’zzz A Wise Sky and Fox Valley Gemini no doubt scared away many of the older ICF horses. Only Fox Valley Ren, I Am Will and Holden Steady will challenge the Illinois Harness Horses of the Year for the past five seasons in tonight’s prep.


The Robert S Molero Memorial prep will go as race one with Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard) on the pole position with Fox Valley Ren (TBA), Holden Steady (Juan Franco), He’zzz A Wise Sky (Kyle Wilfong) and I Am Will (Archie Buford) to his right.


Fox Valley Favorites: Fox Valley Patriot, a $35,000 Walker Sale purchase, is the fifth race first Cardinal pace division favorite after two easy victories at Springfield for the Erv Miller Stable. Fox Valley Cayman (Kyle Husted), who dropped a nose decision last week at Springfield despite a wicked 25.4 last quarter, also should get plenty of play.


Another “Fox Valley” prodigy, Fox Valley Langley (pp 8, Kyle Wilfong), will open as the favorite in the second ninth race Cardinal grouping. The Somestarsomewhere gelding is three-for-three to start off his career for trainer Jamaica Patton and exploded in the lane his latest outing with a 26 second last panel.



Fox Valley Langley (Kyle Wilfong), victorious in his first three starts, heads up the ninth race division of the Cardinal Pace for two-year-old state-bred pacing males (Four Footed Fotos)

Ghost Shark (Travis Seekman), runner-up to Fox Valley Langley last week for trainer Tom Simmons, drew nicely with the two-slot and merits consideration.


The Cardinal trots morning line favorites are the Curt Grmmel stable’s Smilin Lou (Curt Gummel) in race seven, and Dennis Gardner’s Tankmetodennyland (Casey Leonard) in race ten.


Looking for Revenge: The Plesac prep is also on the card and it’s a rematch of last week’s Open trot where Heath Bar upset the 2-5 favorite Talk About Valor and did it racing first over. This time around the star of the Gerald Hanson stable leaves inside of Heath Bar with post three while the Jamaica Patton trainee has the seven, his first outside post in quite a long while.


Looking to knock off the two likely favorites are Lou Paschal (Cordarius Stewart), Louscardamon (Kyle Husted), Rndmnupredictable (Juan Franco), Majestic Caprice (Cordarius Stewart) Fronter Manard (Freddie Patton Jr.) and Lousraptor (Casey Leonard).