Who Will Claim the Series Top Prize?

By Mike Paradise


With the emphasis last weekend on the opening legs of the three-year-old Night of Champions stake events another series on the Saturday card was probably overlooked by many Chicago circuit harness racing fans.


You can count me among those.


Hawthorne’s Cicero Claiming Series that started off a few weeks ago with $10,000 price tags has brushed aside the likely spider webs on the track’s Claiming Box and instead has produced a high dosage of actively.


In fact, of the ten starters in tonight’s final for male pacers, six of them have changed ownership at least once and in some instances, horses have been claimed in back-to-back starts at a higher amount.


The reason: A shot at lucrative $20,000 pot and nowadays in Illinois harness racing that is an alluring monetary prize.


Both of tonight’s eighth race starters Et Tu Brute Gary Rath) and Canthelpbutwin (Kyle Wilfong) were claimed back for $2,500 more by the same owners who lost them in the series opening leg.


In both instances, the higher tag wasn’t a loss for either of those owners since Et Tu Brute made $5,860 in his first two series starts for Bernie and Deb Paul of Tylertown, Mississippi while Canthelpbutwin claim back was a “wash” for David and Adams Brooks of Cambridge, Illinois because the pacer earned $2,500 in his first series round.


Gold Star Lambeau (Ridge Warren) was taken for $10,000 on May 15 by trainer Gene Gilerman for Richard Barone and the horse promptly put $6,000 on his card with a second-round victory a week ago for his Rosemont, Illinois owner.


And then there is the now nine-year-old veteran Trashytonguetalker (Travis Seekman) who was claimed in his last start at Cal-Expo before coming back to his favorite track. He was taken in leg one for $10,000 by his former Terry Leonard stable and then preceded to show his heels to his series foes a week ago in with quick 1:50.2 clocking when he was plucked by trainer Nathalie Tremble at a $12,500 price tag for new owner Maryann Plano


Here’s how they’ll line-up for the eighth race claiming final for colts and geldings: Et Tu Brute, DJ Lance, P H Hippie, Uncle CI, BR Ezliksndymornin, Adele’s Big Party, Canthelpbutwin, Sports Hero, Gold Star Lambeau and Trashytonguetalker with the outside 10-hole.


The $20,00Sports Cicero final for mares follows in race nine. From the rail out you’ll find Unbroken Circle, A Sham Of Amber, Blissful Pansy, Sweetshadyshark, Roaring Home, Charlotte Royal N, Dune Dame, Spoxy’s Girl, Fox Valley Sierra and OK Jewel.


Looking for Revenge: The Todd Warren stable’s Maggie Rhee saw her three-race winning streak snapped in last weekend’s filly and mare Open pace when Rock It Out from the barn of trainer Donna Holt gained a head decision in a 1:51.4 mile.


They’ll meet again in Saturday’s sixth race in the $12,000 event with Maggie Rhee handicapped with the outside eight-slot with Rock It Out starting from the seven with new driver Kyle Husted. Last week’s driver winning Kyle Wilfong will instead guide the Wilfong family’s It’s Time For Fun (pp 3).


Inside of It’s Time For Fun are Swinging Jenny (Tyler Shehan), Golden Paradise (Casey Leonard) and Better Days Ahead (Atlee Bender), in that order.


Last week’s third place finisher Tempus Seelster (Travis Seekman) leaves from the five while newcomer Priceless (Cordarius Stewart) is to her right. The latter has been competing in Hoosier Park Opens for trainer Kevin Miller and is the Hawthorne programmed favorite.


   He’zzz the Best: Triple ZZZ Stable’s He’zzz A Wise Sky ($.260) proved best again in the $12,000 Open with another front-end victory, this one in 1:51.2 with Kyle Wilfong at his lines on a sloppy racing surface.


Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard) got the two-journey trip behind the He’zzz A Wise Sky but the four-year-old John Filomeno trained public’s choice ad plenty left with a one and one-quarter winning margin for his Justice, Illinois owners.