Click on the picture at the right for access to the Springfield State Fair Replays. We will be adding the DuQuoin replays as soon as we can. Enjoy!
By Mike Paradise
The fourth and final legs of the ICF stakes series for 2 and 3-year-olds of both gaits and sexes are this week at Hawthorne and for a number of youngsters and their owners it’s the last chance to be a the pretender or a contender in their respective divisions.
Securing a starting berth in each 10-horse division final of the September 10 Night of Champions card is determined on an accumulative point basis and most of the top horses in each division have locked-up berths in their championships by now.
For plenty of others, that’s not the case and a good showing in a stake series final leg is needed to make the Top Ten series purse earners and a shot at the winner’s share of a $100,000 purse or a Consolation event for less than half that amount.
Let’s examine Thursday’s two Dygert Series Stake races.
The Ervin S. Dygert Memorial for ICF 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings has Fear and Hail Caesar already “in” with 101 points earned. Wrightwood (52 points), Mr. Strata (60) and Primed N Powerful (45) appear to be in good shape. Bands Ariston (38) and Powerful Father (34) chances look favorable.
However, the current eight, ninth and tenth place vote earners—Psychic Survivor (17), PJ Boy (17) and Dr. Venkman (13)—are in shaky positions.
HS Karissa (6), Recovery Mode (5) and Praise Singer (2) all are in striking position to crack that Top Ten.
In the Kadabra for freshman trotting males, Matt Q (150), Trixie’s Jethro (125), Cassisandfifth (62), Louscipher (58), and Totally Piazzazed (55) all are good to go. Bands Houdini (38), Marching To Zion (29) and New Pay (25) chances for the final look favorable.
Swiss Bank (13) and Polar B (13), the current ninth and tenth place horses could be in trouble unless they come up with a high finish Thursday night.
The 2-year-old filly trot Fox Valley Flan has Lou’s Credit Report (105), She’s Savvy (100), Dandy’s ESP (70) and Sis’s Ellie Mae (7) wrapping up a final berth. You can “pencil-in” Beatrice (51), Fox Valley Elasa (42) and Lou’s Game N Match (37).
Ninth place now belongs to Lucy Quaider (27) and tenth to Daisy Lou Duke (25) and their owners have a right to be nervous going into Thursday’s last leg of the “Flan” stake series.
We’ll find out Thursday night just how this all plays out. Then it’s the final legs for the two and three-year-old ICF pacing fillies on Friday’s card and for freshmen and sophomore colt or gelding pacers on Saturday in their respective stake series finales.
One thing you can bet on is that it will be an interesting week for racing fans, and for some trainers and their owners, a nerve-racking one.
Good luck to all the participants.
Doubling Up: Congratulations are extended to Jamaica Patton who won Du Quoin State Fair meet’s driver title and to Roshun Trigg, the meet’s leading trainer.
Patton and Trigg, both Mississippi natives, were also honored last weekend at Du Quoin by the I.H.H.A. as this year’s leading driver and trainer on the Illinois County Fair Circuit.
As many of you already know, Hawthorne Racecourse has submitted their date’s application to the Illinois Racing Board for 2017. In that application they requested 80 nights of harness racing, four nights per week, from May 11 through September 24. That schedule is down from 102 nights that we anticipate racing this year. It also means that we would have no live harness racing in Illinois for over a seven month period, starting from when we end this year in four weeks. From as far back as most could remember, there has never been such a lapse in our Illinois harness schedule. With the understanding that Hawthorne also races a Spring and Fall thoroughbred meet, the opportunity to increase our racing opportunities is a very difficult task. We have reached out to Hawthorne, trying to get them to amend their date’s application to include a winter harness meet, similar to this year, so far, to no avail. Racing dates for 2017 are scheduled to be made official at the September 27, IRB meeting. Until that time we will continue to discuss, debate and argue our dire predicament with Hawthorne in an attempt to persuade them to host a winter meet in order to try and salvage what is left of our future. We will update everyone as this issue unfolds.
By Mike Paradise
Sunday afternoon’s second and last racing card at the 2016 Du Quoin State Fair is in the history books with its fastest mile of the meet coming in the final race.
It was delivered in the $21,000 Dudley Hanover stake for state-bred three-year-old fillies by Nicole Potts’ Royale Rose and his driver Matt Krueger. The winning time of 1:51.2 also shaved a full second off the gelding’s previous best mile for the son of Ashlee’s Big Guy, trained by Lyle Scurlock.
Royale Rose came to Du Quoin with only one win in 10 season starts but had five second place finishes and with some better racing luck could have made a stop at a winner’s circle a few more times.
Yesterday Krueger raced Royale Rose in third most of the way while He Gone Jack cut the fractions. Matt tipped Royale Rose out not long after the half was reached in 57.1, and his pacer overpowered He Gone Jack, and in the lane put away a bid by the pocket horse and eventual runner-up Caffeine Kid who ended up one-plus lengths behind/
With a little over a dozen 2-year-old pacing colts or geldings passing the entry box for Sunday’s Governor’s Cup the stake was split into a pair of $`11,500 divisions.
Gabe Henry got back on the winning track in the first one, taking advantage of a not-to-hasty front-end trip provided from driver Todd Warren that saw the Tom Graham Jr. trained freshman pacer stroll to a slow 59.3 half mile time.
The six-horse field bunched-up with a modest 29 third quarter however Gabe Henry had no trouble holding on at the end of a 1:56 flat mile for Salem, Illinois owner and breeder Carol Graham. The son of Henry Clay won for the sixth time in eight career starts.
Causway came up the inside to be second.
The second split of the Governor’s Cup was a lot more exciting and the outcome a lot more rewarding for those who had a winning ticket when the 9-1 longshot Fox Valley Reggie, trained and driven by Freddie Patton Jr. for owners Ron Phillips and Erica Pechin, pulled off a surprising victory
The race nine favorite Fox Valley Inferno took the field to a 59.3 half but didn’t have it down the lane. Instead it was Fox Valley Reggie who had his motor running full throttle, powering past the early leaders and winning in 1:55.3 at a $20.20 mutuel.
Fox Valley Herbie came on for second and Tiny Jim rallied for third.
The Yankee Skyscraper freshman Fox Valley Reggie won for the fourth time this season and stamped himself as a threat for the this Saturday’s fourth leg of the Incredible Finale Series at Hawthorne and a possible starting berth in the $100,000 Championship on September 10.
After her four-race winning streak was snapped at Springfield Trixie’s Jethro may have started a new one with an easy front-stepping victory in the $23,000 Darn Safe stake for ICF freshman trotting colts and geldings.
Driver Jared Finn moved the heavy favorite to the front at the 28.4 first quarter and backed things down in a big way by getting the son of Cassis to the half in an unhurried time of 1:01 flat.
Another soft third quarter, this one in 31.3, enabled Trixie’s Jethro to pretty much coast to a 2:00/2 winning mile for owner and breeder Charles Doehring of Brownstown, Illinois. Trixie’s Jethro, a half-brother to Saturday’s stake champion Captain Greedy, is now 7-for-9 in his first campaign for the John D Finn Stable.
The $7,000 ICF Aged Male Pace Championship turned out to be a quarter of a mile dash for the cash with the pacesetting Cole Heat holding on by a long nose over the favorite Dinky Dune thanks to the winner’s very rapid 26.1 last panel.
Driver Ridge Warren took advantage of leaving from the rail with Cole Heat and put the Ray Hanna trainee on top and nicely rated the 6-year-old gelding to a rather soft 58.3 half, hoping the Huge Lake Lacey owned and bred pacer would have a lot left for the stretch drive.
Cole Heat did and he needed to because the pocket-horse Dinky Dune (Pat Curtin) was also full of pace and just missed at the end of the 1:53.3 mile.
The $7,000 Aged Mare Pace showdown went the same way as it did at Springfield with Fox Valley Charm proving best but this time it wasn’t a seven-length romp but a much closer half-length decision.
Casey took Fox Valley Charm to the front at the 29.3 first quarter and was on cruise-control to the half, reached in a modest time of 58.3, The second half of the mile went much quicker, almost four second faster (54.3), and the Rodney Freeze trained 4-year-old mare needed a swift 26.4 last panel to hold off a game effort by Incredible Filly (Pat Curtin).
The 1:53.2 mile was the fourth season win for the Yankee Skyscraper mare owned by Peter Karras of Sherman, Illinois.
By Mike Paradise
It didn’t take long on the opening day of racing at the Du Quoin State Fair to produce a stunning upset among its seven ICF stake championships. It came in the $23,000 Directors Award stake for 2-year-old pacing fillies, the first of the “majors” on the 12-race betting card.
Cavett got the catch drive behind the Freddie Patton Jr. trainee when Freddie opted to drive Fox Valley Maya, another Ron Phillips and Erica Pechin owned filly in the race who Patton trains.
Cavett, who tuned 29 less than two weeks ago, patiently waited for racing room in the lane with Dee Tumbleweed and when he found it, the Sagebrush filly responded in a big way.
Giftfrommyheart and A Real Doozie finished in a dead-heat for second.
There was no such surprise in the next stake, the $23,000 Shawnee for freshman trotting fillies as Anna’s Lucky Star stayed unbeaten in five career starts for owners and breeder Danny Graham of Salem, Illinois.
Driver Kyle Wilfong got the Nelson Willis trained filly to the top coming out of the first turn and from there the daughter of Cassis showed her heels and her tail to the rest of the field, winning in 1:58.1. Fox Valley Elana (Dale Hiteman) settled for the bridesmaid role, beaten two lengths by the prohibitive 2 to 5 favorite.
The $21,000 Time Dancer for ICF 3-year-old pacing fillies was supposed to be a battle between division leader Char N Marg (Casey Leonard) and Springfield champion Bucklegirl Bobette (Kyle Wilfng) and it was until about midway down the stretch when under the urging of driver Dale Hiteman LK’s Nancy Lee zipped past at odds of 11-1 and captured the stake in a time of 1:55.2, knocking more than four seconds off her previous best time.
Bucklegirl Bobette and Char N Marg took turns on the front–end, with the former there through the first quarter and the taking the pocket when Char N Marg took over command through the next two quarters,
All the while LK’s Nancy Lee was saving ground, mostly in third, and when Hiteman called on the Joel Smith trained filly, she was ready to roll, coming home in 28.1 for her fourth win of 2016 for Hobart, Indiana owner Lawrence Carp Jr.
If you’re a regular reader to this column you might remember that in Friday’s preview of the opening day card I wrote that the Ray Hanna trained filly Roma Falls was a price shot to consider in the $21,000 Windy Skeeter for 3-year-old trotting fillies.
For those who were at Du Quoin Saturday and did take my advice, they received an $18.40 winning mutuel when the fifth longest shot in the race at 8-1 came roaring down the lane with driver Matt Kruger to win in 1:56.1.
Surviver DI ended up second and Rockinprincessabbie was third.
Roma Falls, can deliver a big late kick when she’s right and the daughter of High Falls certainly was right Saturday afternoon for owners and breeders Mary Lee Jeffers (Mcallen, Texas) and Adele Jeffers Everett of Flat Rock, Illinois.
The Mike Roger Stable’s PJ Boy made it a sweep of the State Fair 3-year-old male trot champions when he followed his Springfield win with another in the $21,000 Pronto Don, again driven by Ridge Warren.
Cardinal champion Hail Caesar looked to be in good shape coming down the stretch with Casey Leonard but he went off stride and Speedy Rendezvous, who had the lead at the top of the lane, faded.
“Mike (trainer Rogers) has done a nice job of conditioning this horse and he’s gotten him good at the right time.” said Ridge in the Victory Lame.
A pair of $7,000 ICF Aged Trotting Championships were contested with the first a non-wagering event for colts and gelding. If this had been betting race another’s public’s choice would haven bitten the dust.
Springfield champion Rock Hollywood was expected to also capture the same stake at Du Quoin however Captain Greedy, who went off stride at the first State Fair event, proved best Saturday, pulling away by 2 and 1/2 lengths at the end of his 1:56.4 mile.
Driver Jared Finn was content to race the winning 4-year-old gelding in third in the three-horse field while Rock Hollywood trotted leisurely fractions of 29.4, 29.1 and 28.
When it came down to the stretch drive the John D Finn trainee had more in his tank, drawing away with a 28.4 last quarter for his fourth season win for breeder Charles Doehring and J D who shares ownership of the Yankee Valor trotter.
The Aged Mare Trot also didn’t go as expected either when the favorite Macie Rae broke before the start fell and some 20 lengths back. Even though she rallied to catch the field, she was a tired trotter in the lane.
It was Ants Iner Pants (Kyle Husted) who got an overdue first season win (1:56.1) for trainer Steve Searle of Grant Park, Illinois who shares ownership of their home-bred 7-year-old mare with fellow Michigander Tom Wisniewski.
Ants Iner Pants went into the race with a career bankroll of $238,878 but was winless in her first dozen outings this season.
“She had a little bloodwork problem and she’s seven now but she always goes out and gives you all she’s got,” said Searle in Victory Lane.
Final Card: Du Quoin’s two-day racing meet concludes Sunday afternoon. First post is 12 noon.
By Mike Paradise
The brief 2016 two-day racing meet at the Du Quoin State Fair gets under way Saturday afternoon with a 12 noon first post.
In yesterday’s column I reviewed the seven ICF championships to be contested today, so let’s take a look at the last five state-bred pari-mutuel finals which will be decided Sunday afternoon, races six through eleven.
Aged Mare Pace
Casey Leonard is back in the bike behind Fox Valley Charm who races out of the barn of Rodney Freese.
Mike’s Pick: Fox Valley Charm
Aged Horse and Gelding Pace
Unlike the mare division, the male category is very much a toss-up with a field comprised of Cole Heat (Ridge Warren), in from Hoosier Park, Springfield champ Dinky Dune (Pat Curtin), Citizen Kane (Jared Finn), recent Hawthorne Open Pace winner Fiveknuckleshuffle (Bobby Smolin), and Springfield runner-up Dixie’s Box (Casey Leonard).
Cole Heat has been taking on some rugged open company horses in Indiana and the Ray Hanna trained 6-year-old is the only horse in the race ever to win under 1:50 doing so with a 1:49.4 mile last year at Balmoral.
Cole Heat may be asked to play try and catch me and Dinky Dune could get a two and three-hole trip and do just that. Fiveknuckleshuffle could battle Cole Heat for control or he might seek and get the pocket this time.
Mike’s Pick: Cole Heat
Governor’s Cup (First Division)
Two-Year-Old Male Pace
I would have been great to see if Gabe Henry could avenge his loss in Springfield to Fox Valley Inferno but the draw didn’t work out that way.
Instead Gabe Hall (Todd Warren) in in the first division and with the rail should get to the top and start a new winning streak after his five race string was snapped at Springfield.
The Tom Graham Jr. trained home-bred earlier swept through the first three legs of the Carey Stake Series and has his sights set on the $100,000 Final on Hawthorne’s Night of Champions on Sept.10.
Mike’s Pick: Gabe Hall
Governor’s Cup (Second Division))
Two-Year-Old Male Pace
Fox Valley Inferno (Casey Leonard) looked very good winning his Springfield State Fair elimination and then overtaking Gabe Henry in the final. The Nelson Willis trainee drew nicely Sunday with the three-post in a seven horse field for owners Quaid Racing of Chicago,
Tiny Jim (Dale Hiteman) was hurt by a sluggish start at Springfield and he’ll have to avoid another to get the job done in this division. The Joel Smith trainee has finished worse than third only once in seven career starts.
Fox Valley Reggie (Freddie Patton Jr.) was shuffled out of contention at Springfield and did finish full of pace, He could get a spot up-close in the early going again and do more with the position it this time.
Mike’s Pick: Fox Valley Inferno
The Darn Safe
Two-Year-Old Male Trot
The Charles Doehring home-bred gelding had to battle through the first three quarters at Springfield and didn’t have enough left in the tank to hold off the winner Polar B, absent at Du Quoin, and runner-up Louscipher.
Trixie’s Jethro should get control in good shape Sunday and that will make it difficult for his seven foes to pull off an upset.
Louicipher, who has been first or second in 8 of his 10 freshman starts for trainer Roshun Trigg, drew the two-slot and driver Jamaica Patton would love to get a pocket trip behind the likely heavy favorite and he may do just that.
Mike Pick: Trixie’s Jethro
The Dudley Hanover
Three-Year-Old Male Pace
The luck of the draw can play a big part in any stake race and it just might in this ICF sophomore stake.
Royale Rose (Matt Krueger) and Dan D Dune (Casey Leonard) switch starting positions for tomorrow’s Du Quoin stake. Royale Rose had the seven at Springfield and now has the one. Dan D Dune had the rail and now has the seven.
The draw also went much better for Goinduneside who broke leaving from the eight at Springfield and now has the five with Lewayne Miller who will come in from Indiana to drive him Sunday.
Springfield champion BS Tyriffic didn’t make the trip to southern Illinois but Caffeine Kid (Dale Hiteman), second best at that State Fair did and he again drew the two-slot where another up-close journey might be in the works.
Mike’s Pick: Royale Rose
15 Spinning Wheel Road
Hinsdale, IL 60521