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Due to a shortage of horse population, the Illinois State Fairs and other County Fairs, Hawthorne has requested and received permission from the Illinois Racing Board to vacate the following Thursdays in August: August 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th. We have been assured that during these three day weeks Hawthorne will conduct as many races as possible, with the hope that with sufficient entries, we can race at least 35 or 36 races during this time period. We have been averaging about 39 races per week recently.
Today’s (Sunday) races at the Logan County Fair in Lincoln have been postponed due to rain until tomorrow (Monday). They will begin that card at 11 am, followed by the regularly scheduled Monday card immediately after.
By Mike Paradise
The third legs of Sunday’s two Dygert stakes for ICF 3-year-old trotters should answer some questions in both Night of Champion series events.
Who will emerge as the sole leader in the Beulah Dygert Memorial Series? After two rounds Good Design (Kyle Wilfong) and Maui Mama (Casey Leonard) share the top spot in the filly standings with 100 points each, secured when both fillies won their respective races in the first two legs contested.
With only a single division needed for Sunday night this will be the first time the two talented fillies will meet this season in a Beulah Dygert series round, however they did knock heads a week ago in a prep race and Good Design came out on top by a diminishing half-length in the 1:57.1 mile.
Both trotting fillies were locked-in last week’s first half of the mile with longshots parked-out alongside. Each had to wait until the final turn to shake loose with The Brett Wilfong trained Good Design getting out first and opening up a two length lead on Maui Mama in the stretch and then holding off the Mike Brink trained filly in the late going.
Good Design has the five-slot tonight while Maui Mama is further out with the 8-post in a 11-horse field that has a trailer. You can expect both fillies to be on the move early. In fact, the same can be said for some tough foes like White Pants Fever (pp 3, Ridge Warren) and Trotting Grace (pp 4, Kyle Husted) as well, both from the barn of Steve Searle.
Good Design has $19,325 banked for Indiana owner Mr. Lynn Wilfong while Maui Mama has about a thousand dollars more on her card for Morton, Illinois owner H.W. Wright. Both fillies have career earnings of over $100,000:
Longshots Fox Valley Unleash (Robert Smolin) and Frontier Jackie (Tim Curtin) will scoot out from the one and two slots, respectively. Lou’s Silver Star (Brandon Bates) and Audrey Grace (Ryan Anderson) have posts 6 and 7, while the 9 and 10 trotters are Powerful Temptist (Travis Seekman) and New Queen (Juan Franco). No. 11 Shadow Copy (Mike Oosting) starts in the second tier.
In the fifth race Erwin F. Dygert stakes series for ICF second season trotting colts and geldings we’ll find out if Big Lou (Kyle Wilfong) will continue to put his breaking problems behind him and if division leader Majistic Caprice can resume his earlier winning ways with the help of the bleeder medication Lasix.
After his first Dygert series triumph back in May Big Lou went off stride on a regular basis for the Curt Grummel stable, however he has stayed flat in his last two Hawthorne starts and breezed in both. Kyle Wilfong will take over his lines tonight while trainer Curt Grummel will drive his stable-mate True Detective, winner of the Cardinal in between a third and second place finish in the Dygert,
Majistic Caprice has 62 series points, earned with a third place finish in his first Dygert and a victory in his second, was put on Lasix by trainer Roshun Trigg after a non-threatening fifth place finish a couple of weeks ago and went on to dominate a race (by 38 lengths) at the Urbana County Fair in 2:08.3 on an “off track.” The trotter had a 1:56.4 victory in mid-June at Hawthorne.
Only eight ICF male trotters will go postward in the Erwin Dygert and with the top 10 point earners eligible to compete in the September 22nd final, so you’re pretty much looking at the championship field tonight.
Fly The W (Tim Curtin) has the two-slot in race five while Cruzin Cassi (Jared Finn), Don’t Be Cheeky (Brandon Bates) and Two News (leave from the 4, 5 and 6, in that order. Last year’s Night of Champions winner Illinimight (Casey Leonard) landed the outside eight-hole.
Peachy Favorites Beaten: Saturday night’s third legs of the Plum Peachy produced some mild surprises when Party Belle (Travis Seekman) got her first season win in race seven and The Sis Master (Michele Morgan) held off the 4-5 favorite Rollin Coal in the second division.
Seekman gave Party Belle ($10.40) a two-hole trip behind Skeeter Machine (Kyle Wilfong) and the Tyler George trained filly responded with a winning 1:55 mile for owners Bryan Brown of Du Quoin, Illinois and Ladavie Spann of Anderson, Indiana.
Skeeter Machine was second best, one length behind while JB’s Shooting Star was third in the 1:53.4 mile.
The Sis Master ($5.40), trained by her driver Michele Morgan, made the front at the 28.2 first quarter, got a 29 second quarter breather, and went on to gain a head victory for Wright City, Missouri owners Bel-More Stables over Rollin Coal. The New Americana (Steve Searle) was third, beaten less than a length.
The front-stepping Picky Picky Valor ($5.40), driven by Casey Leonard for trainer Gerald Hansen, made it two consecutive victories in Hawthorne’s $10,000 Open Trot with a 1:54.4 clocking. The fast closing Anna’s Lucky Star (Kyle Wilfong) was second best, beaten three-quarters of a length by the Shelley Steele owned winner.
Casey was back in the winner’s circle a few races later after rallying Char N Mar ($5.20) to her victory in the Open II for filly and mare pacers. The 5-year-old ICF mare uncorked a sizzling 26 flat last panel in her 1:53.4 winning mile when she was a neck better than the pace-setting Boogie On Down (Kyle Wilfong).
By Mike Paradise
The only thing definite thus far in the Night of Champions Plum Peachy series is that that after two legs of the ICF 3-year-old filly pacing a stick out has not has emerged.
Thus far a case can be made for five or six fillies to go on and be crowned the champion and of course one way or another that could change Saturday tonight after two third round divisions are in the history book.
In the first two legs four different second season fillies and posted a series win: Rollin Coal and Allbeastnobeauty in round one and The Sister Master and Skeeter Machine in round two after both of those fillies skipped in the series opening leg.
Two $12,500 Plum Peachy events will be raced Saturday evening with The Mike Brink Stable’s Allbeastnobeauty(Tim Curtin), who also won a division of the Violet in May, as the 7-5 morning line favorite with the two-slot and the 2-1 second programmed choice Skeeter Machine (Kyle Wilfong) from the barn of trainer Alan Bowen, with the outside seven-slot as she tries to make it 5 wins in 6 season starts.
JB’S Shooting Star (pp. 1, Casey Leonard) is the 4-1 third choice, with Party Belle (pp 4, Travis Seekman) next at 9-2. The other seventh race hopefuls are Fox Valley Miranda (20-1, Ridge Warren), Shelby Rae (20-1, Gary Rath) and Yank’s Rendezvous (15-1, Jamaica Patton).
The Hosea Williams Stable’s Rollin Coal (Casey Leonard) will be at even-money first flash odds in the eighth race second Plum Peachy split with The Sis Master, trained by her driver Michele Morgan) next at 5-2 followed by The New Americana, trained and driven by Steve Searle, on the rail at 4-1.
That trio will be challenged by likely longshots Sparkle And Dazzle (Ridge Warren), Lilac Laurey (Kyle Wilfong), Frontier Ginger (Juan Franco) and Frontier Cuzin (Kyle Husted).
Two Opens: Hawthorne’s Saturday card got a nice boost with the addition of two Opens on the 10-race card, the second race $10,000 Open I Trot and the fifth race $8,800 Open II for pacing fillies and mares.
Picky Picky Valor (pp 4, Casey Leonard) and Anna’s Lucky Star (pp 5, Kyle Wilfong), a pair of ICF 4-year-olds, will renew their rivalry in the Open Trot. Picky Picky Valor turned the table on Anna’s Lucky Star a week ago with a 1:54.1victory after the Nelson Willis trained mare beat the star of the Gerald Hansen stable three consecutive starts in June.
Big Expense (Kyle Husted), Primed N Powerful (Jamaica Patton) and Totally Pazzazzed (Tim Curtin) are the other Open Trot aspirants.
Char N Marg, from the stable of Terry Leonard, will open as the 8-5 betting choice in the fifth race Open II distaff pace, drawn by groups. Casey Leonard will take her to the five-slot on the starting gate while Boogie On Down (3-1, Kyle Wilfong) will be on her left and Rocknroll Hoochcoo (9-2, Tim Curtin) on her right.
The first three posts belong to Filly Forty (Kyle Husted), Fox Valley Audrey (Juan Franco) and Triple Lane Melody (Ridge Warren).
Sweet 16 in the Bag: The unstoppable 3-year-old IC F pacing star Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard) stayed unbeaten in Friday night’s $12,500 third leg of the Robert F. Carey stake series with his 16th victory in a row.
The pride of the Terry Leonard stable came rolling down the lane and posted a 1:52 flat winning mile, finishing one and one-half length ahead of Backstreet Lawyer (Kyle Husted). You’remyhearthrob (Kyle Husted), who took the field to a quick 55.1 first half, held on for third.
Fox Valley Gemini ($2.60), owned by Jim Ballinger of Atwater, IL), has earned $208,120 in his first 16 winning starts.
Al’s Briefs ($13.60), nicely rated by his driver Travis Seekman, was a front-end winner in Friday’s second Carey division for Illinois owners Anthony Somone (Willow Springs), Dave Mc Caffrey (Burr Ridge) and trainer Clark Fairley (Charleston).
Seekman urged Al’s Briefs away from the starting gate and the first time Lasix user worked his way to the front at the 27.4 first quarter and to a 55.4 first half. The Party Artsplace gelding opened up on the field in the lane and held on by a nose over the fast closing Cool Casper (Tim Curtin) who was disqualified to ninth for stretch interference.
M T Gunslinger (Casey Leonard) was awarded second place and Herecomesmagotta (Juan Franco) was moved up to third.
By Mike Paradise
By now the 3-year-old ICF pacer Fox Valley Gemini might be thinking that when his race is over a stop for a winner’s picture is automatic before he gets to go back to a stall for some well-earned rest.
After all in each of his 15 career starts the pride of the Terry Leonard stable as done exactly that, get his picture taken in a winner’s circle alongside Atwater, Illinois owner Jim Ballinger and his happy entourage before driver Casey Leonard takes state-bred star pacer back to the paddock.
Tonight Fox Valley Gemini puts his perfect two-season record on the line in the eighth race first $12,500 division of Hawthorne’s Robert F. Carey stake series for Illinois bred sophomore pacing colts and geldings. Nine of “Gemini’s” division rivals will line-up to try and prevent No. 16 from happening tonight.
After five consecutive victories by an average winning margin of 3 and 1/2 lengths, two weeks ago Fox Valley Gemini notched his 15th in a row by less than one length to You’remyhearthrob (listed at 4-1) who figures to be hustled out by his driver Kyle Wilfong from the outside nine-slot.
Nevertheless Fox Valley Gemini paced the mile in a new lifetime mark of 1:51 flat, showing no signs of any crack in his armor. The talented pacer has the eight-post tonight and Casey has a few options knowing his horse is versatile and can get the job done racing up close or from out of it.
Last week’s the unbeaten “Gemini” paid $2.40 at 1 to 5 odds. That may sound like a small mutuel but in the horse seven previous victories went off at 1 to 9 with a $2.20 payoff. He’s listed at 7-5 in Hawthorne’s morning line.
This will be Fox Valley Gemini’s seventh outing as a 3-year-old after going a perfect 9-for-9 in his juvenile campaign when he was named the 2017 Illinois Harness Horse of the Year. A16th consecutive to tonight would boost the pacer’s earnings over the $200,000 plateau.
Fox Valley Gemini’s 100 series total points ties him with Backstreet Lawyer (programmed 7-2, Kyle Husted) for the top spot. The Tom Simmons trainee also won his first two Carey series outings.
Friday’s first Carey division also lured Dandy Dune (Ridge Warren), Heza Real Shooter (Robert Smolin), Talk About It (Tim Curtin, Sagebrush Shocker (Juan Franco, Beach Shooting Star (Travis Seekman) and Ernie The Mooss (Gary Rath).
Second Carey Wide-Open: With the top three Carey point earners all tangling in the eighth race the tenth race second split is there for the taking with no clear-cut standout. Frontier Frank (Kyle Wilfong) is programmed at 5-2. With first-time Lasix user Al’s Briefs (Travis Seekman) at 3-1, Cool Casper (Tim Curtin) at 7-2 and M T Gunslinger (Casey Leonard) at 5-1.
Also heading to the gate in the second Carey division are Herecomesmagotta (Juan Franco), first leg winner Fox Valley Hijinx (Kyle Husted), along with Molina (Ridge Warren), Mykronis (Jamaica Patton), Fox Valley Jalen (Gary Rath) and Shark Flipper (Ryan Anderson).
Seeing Stars: Sandwiched in between Friday’s two Carey series showdowns is a nine-horse Open Pace with posts drawn by groups. The red-hot Somestarsomewhere (Kyle Husted) was assigned the outside eight-slot after three straight rather easy victories for trainer Tom Simmons.
The first grouping, posts one though three, went to Adios Amigos (Ridge Warren), Fresh Cut (Ryan Anderson) and Dakota Roadster (Travis Seekman), in that order.
Posts four through seven were drawn separately and will be manned by Fox Valley Reggie (JamaicaPatton), Tookadiveoffdipper (Kyle Wilfong), He Gone Jack (Tim Curtin), and Account Rollover (Casey Leonard), another Open starter seeking his fourth in a row at Hawthorne.
By Mike Paradise
We reached the half-way point last weekend in the race for a starting berth in the Night of Champions 2-year-old stake series. There’s still two more legs to go to reach a final Hawthorne’s show case evening of racing on Saturday, September22, so a lot of things can change in the next eight-plus weeks before the freshmen showdowns.
Let’s take a look on how at the point standings for the four juvenile stake divisions after two series legs. A series win is worth 50 points, then its 25 for a second, 12 for a third, 8 for a fourth, 5 for a fifth and one for starting. The championship fields are limited to the top ten point earners in each stake division.
Second round victories by Perch and Brienne The Beauty boosted each filly to into a tie third and fourth place in the Incredible Tillie standings with 50 points each. Both youngsters weren’t ready to make their pari-mutuel debut in the June 30 first legs won by Yankee Joanie and Fox Valley Halsey,
The unofficial Incredible Tillie leading point earners through leg two: Yankee Joanie (75 points), Fox Valley Halsey (62), Perch and Brienne The Beauty (50 each), Fox Valley Lil Kim (37), Fox Valley Hotcake and Fox Valley Torrid (26 each), Grace Ann (20), Foolishlittlegirl (17) and Winter Gram (16).
The point totals in the 2-year-old Incredible Finale colt and gelding series shows five ICF youngsters within 12 points of each other for the top spot.
The Bucket’s victory last Saturday boosted the Ken Rucker trainee to 62 points, the same as first leg winner Meyer On Fire. Meanwhile The Bucket’s stable-mate Maximus shot up to fourth place with his second round victory.
Here a look at the Incredible Finale standings after two rounds: The Bucket and Meyer On Fire with 62 points, followed by Frontier Muffler (58) Maximus (55), Viola (50), Coming Up and Ryan Racketeer (26) and then a long jam with 13 points each for Cooter Luke, Holden Steady, Riley The Mooss and Fox Valley Julius.
The Nelson Willis Stable’s Fox Valley Pisaco has distanced himself from the others in the Kadabra series for freshman ICF trotting colts and geldings when he followed his earlier first leg victory with another Sunday.
Fox Valley Pisaco is on top of the Kadabra standings with a perfect score of 100 points. First leg champion Trixie Turbo made a costly break Sunday but managed to come from 22 lengths behind to be third and is second with 62 points.
Then its last Sunday’s division winner Lopurhianon with 50, followed by Prince Cassis (37), Foxvalleyrushhour (33), Frontier ManGarcia Vegas (25), Fox Valley Cruise (20), Crackerjack Bill (17) and Captainblacksparrow and Lous Endeavor tied for 10th and 11th with 13 points apiece.
With back-to-back Fox Valley Flans series triumphs E L Game On from the barn of Mike Rogers sits atop the 2-year-old filly trotting division with her flawless 100 point score.
Encantado and Louzotic are in great shape with 75 points each after they have traded series victories and second place finishes with each other. Heidi High is all alone in fourth with 37 points, then its Notanangel (26), Lousslataire (24), Lous Scion Lou (17), Skippmalou (16) and Puddin Cheeks and Joe Joes Violet both withe 9.
Sophomores Take Over: It’s round three this weekend for ICF sophomore pacers and trotters on their march to the Night of Champions. The Robert F. Carey division for freshman pacing colts and geldings will go on Friday evening.
On Saturday the gals will fight it out in likely two pacing divisions of the Plum Peachy and Sunday the second season trotters take over the spotlight with matchups in the Beulah Dygert for fillies and Erwin F. Dygert for their Illinois bred male counterparts.
With The Springfield and Du Quin State Fair meets the Illinois Standardbred industry’s center of attention during the month of August, the third leg of the freshman Night of Champion series won’t take place at Hawthorne until September 7th and 8th.