By Mike Paradise
It’s round one of the Plum Peachy stake series for ICF 3-year-old pacing fillies Friday night. With 21 of the gals passing the Hawthorne entry box, the first leg was split into two divisions.
They’ll be 10-across in the sixth race first division, where the 2016 Illinois Harness Horse of the Year Princess Sage makes her season debut with Freddie Patton Jr. at her lines.
Speed is last year’s ICF freshman champ’s game and Princess Sage will very likely be winging out from the five-slot tonight and have to be caught. Princess Sage hasn’t gone postward since her Violet championship last September 25th but it appears Freddie didn’t want to waste any of her bullets and start his talented filly before the Plum Peachy.
As it turned out Princess Sage showed plenty prepping for this outing. She pulled away to a 1:57.4 clocking in her first qualifier on May 16 at Springfield beating the likes of ICF 3-year-olds Gabe Henry and Dee Tumbleweed and nine days later she came to Hawthorne and was seven widening lengths the best, this time in 1:55.3 for her Clinton, Mississippi driver and trainer.
Princess Sage ended her freshman campaign with 8 wins in 11 tries including victories her last three—the Incredible Tillie Final on the Night of Champions, her Violet elimination and the Violet Final. She banked over $90,000 for Freddie and co-owner Keli Jo Bell of Windsor, Illinois.
Trying to reel-in Princess Sage Friday night will be Frontier I Won It (Kelsey Perymond), Boogie On Down (Kyle Wilfong), Dee Tumbleweed (Cornelius Cavett), November Rain (Marcus Turner), San Antonio Rose (Ridge Warren), Ashlees Cocktail (Mike Oosting), My Mona Me (Casey Leonard), Dandy’s Dududidudu (Kyle Wilfong) and Fancy Creek Jolene (Matt Avenatti).
Just how the second Plum Peachy division will play out is anybody’s guess. The deserving tenth race early favorite is Lady’s Party, fresh off a sweep of the Dave Magee Series where she got her nose in front at the wire of the final despite a wide mile from the 10-hole.
However, things could be even more problematic for the Mike Titus filly tonight because Lady’s Party landed the 11-slot requiring her to start from the second tier. She won’t be able to utilize her good gate speed and sprint out with a wall of horses in front of her, so it’ll be interesting to see how her driver Casey Leonard handles the sticky situation.
Casey may have a lot of bobbing and weaving to do to get Lady’s Party to the front unless he elects to race her from behind and hope the filly can overcome some likely traffic problems.
While Lady’s Party likely starts behind the one-horse Filly Forty she is not compelled to do so. Casey can start her anywhere in the second tier with no other horses to his right.
For instance he could start Lady’s Party behind the No. 2 filly Rousey Ronda who has shown gate speed at times or even in back of the last year’s Violet runner-up (No. 5) Razzleme Dazzleme.
Starting inside of Lady’s Party (from the rail out) are Filly Forty (Jamaica Patton), Rousey Ronda (Ridge Warren), Angel Eyes (Kyle Wilfong), Razzleme Dazzleme (Kyle Husted), Windian (Bob Smolin), Fox Valley Charliz (Mike Oosting), C Far (Gary Rath), Rosebud’s First (Tim Curtin), Little Adaline (Larry Plank) and Beamer N Bud (Brian Carpenter).