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By Mike Paradise
Hawthorne is trotting out a pair of Night of Champions stake series contests and its Open Trot Sunday night.
The first co-feature on the card is the third leg of the $15,000 Beulah Dygert Memorial series and what’s very noticeable about the ICF stake event for 3-year-old trotting fillies is the short field. Only six sophomores are going postward.
Last year’s division champion Louzotic (Kyle Husted) and second round Dygert champ Heidi High (Juan Franco) are sure to get the vast majority of the public’s wagering money. They’ve traded victories with each other the last two times they met. The Steve Searle stable’s Louzotic will be at low end 4-5first flash odds while Charles Arthur’s speedster Heidi High is programmed at 3-1.
Louzotic is a double-stakes winner this year and has six season victories, all at Hawthorne. Her five foes combined have six pari-mutuel wins in 2019 combined.
Skippymalou (Casey Leonard), Lou’s Paramour (Steve Searle) Joe Joe’s Violet (Kyle Wilfong) and Puddin’ Cheeks (Ridge Warren) are tonight’s Beulah Dygert longshot hopes.
Time to Square Off: The third round of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial for second season trotting state bred colts and geldings has a full field of 10 horses its two division leaders—Lousraptor (Casey Leonard) and Louscadamon (Kyle Husted)—will it out in an ICF stake for the first time this year.
Lousraptor, from the barn of trainer Roshun Trigg got the better of the draw when he landed the three-slot while the Steve Searle trained Louscardamon will start from the seven. Flacco Family Farms of Alexis, Illinois owns Lousraptor and it shares proprietorship of Louscardamon with Dr. Patrick Graham of Pittsfield, Illinois.
Both trotters have 100 series points after they each captured their respective first two legs of the Erwin Dygert and very likely will be co-favorites when the starting gate springs open for race six tonight.
Charles Doehring’s Trixie’s Turbo (pp 4, Kyle Wilfong) from the barn of trainer Jill White bested Louscardamon when they met in a Cardinal stake division on June 2nd and is listed as Hawthorne’s 2-1 pre-race favorite by the USTA’S computer generated, sometimes embarrassing, morning line.
Lourhianon (Luke Plano), winless in his last seven starts, is the 7-2 programmed second choice. Division series leaders Lousraptor and Louscardamon are listed next at unforeseen odds of 4-1 and 5-1, respectively.
Also looking to knock off the series division leaders are Super Betcha (Brandon Bates), My Dreamweaver (Ridge Warren), For Trot Sakes (Jim Lackey), Swaneelou (Juan Franco), Prince Cassis (Ryan Anderson) and Fox Valley Cruise (Travis Seekman).
Newcomer in Open: The weekly $12,000 Open Trot has been decided by a couple of noses the last two times with Illinois champ Anna’s Lucky Star (pp 5, Kyle Wilfong) and 30-time career winner Pine Dream (Casey Leonard) trading narrow victories.
This time around they’ll be tested by the former Ron Burke trained veteran trotter Call For Justice (pp 2, Kyle Husted), purchased recently by the Illinois trio of Dandy Farms Racing (Glenview), FT Racing Stable (Glenview) and OB Stables (Shorewood).
Now under the care of trainer Rob Rittof, Call For Justice has lifetime earnings of over $590,000. A good portion of his 43 career wins came in the last few years in Preferred events at The Meadows, where the horse equaled his mark of 1:52.4 on July 5.
Scramble Camp (Luke Plano), Kristy’sgingergal (Ryan Anderson) and Mandeville (Robert Smolin) complete the 6-horse Open trot field.
Sunday’s appearance isn’t Call For Justice’s Hawthorne debut. The classy trotter was the runner-up trotter in a $25,000 Invitational on the 2018 Night of Champions program. The 7-year-old is a well- bred stud. He’s sired by Justice Hall out of a S J’s Caviar broodmare, so maybe we’re looking at a future Illinois trotting stallion.
Time will tell.
Surprise, Surprise: Both of the 1-5 prohibitive Plum Peachy division favorites went down to defeat last night when first Lilly Von Stupp and then Valar Morghulis. a pair of Nelson Willis trained and Megan Rogers Stable owned 3-year-old fillies, pulled off surprise victories.
Travis Seekman drove both winning filly pacers.
In the first $15,000 division the heavy favorite Fox Valley Halsey (Casey Leonard) had to go to a 55.4 first half to keep the 25-l longshot Fox Valley Lil Kim (Kyle Husted) from clearing, enabling the inside third place pacer Lilly Von Shtupp ($13.2) to zip past in the lane with a new lifetime mark of 1:53.3.
A few races later stable-mate Valah Morghulis was in her familiar front-end spot turning for home when the heavy favorite Fox Valley Torrid (Casey Leonard) was pulled out of third and went off stride coming out of the last turn. Valar Morghulis ($13.20) went on to coast to a 5 and 1/2 length victory in 1:53.2, also a career best mile for the Sportsmaster filly.
Sweet: The seventh race filly and mare Open Pace winner Sweetshadyshark (Ryan Anderson) was this author’s “Price Shot” winner of the night at a $15.20 mutuel. The Ronnie Roberts trained mare went wire-to-wire and bested Skeeter Machine by one length in 1:52 flat.
By Mike Paradise
If last week’s Plum Peachy prep race is any indication the third legs of tonight’s ICF stake for 3-year-old pacing fillies ought to be doozies to watch.
The 2018 ICF freshman champion Fox Valley Torrid and Fox Valley Halsey who made the second most money in her division put on quite a show a week ago with the Rodney Freese stable’s “Torrid” uncorking a wicked 26.2 last quarter to edge the Nelson Willis trainee by a head in 1:53.1.
Casey Leonard drove Fox Valley Torrid. Leonard also had “first call” on Fox Valley Halsey.
The good news for Casey is that tonight those two fillies drew into different $15,000 Plum Peachy divisions, so the meet’s annual leading driver will guide both talented Illinois bred fillies.
However the split into two divisions is sad news for us fans who were looking forward to these two fillies slugging it out again tonight. We’ll have to wait for another time, or place like Springfield, for that next match-up.
Nevertheless, Fox Valley Halsey, programmed at even-money, does have five nice fillies taking her on tonight and that includes the Jay Garrels stable’s Perch (Kyle Wilfong) who is perched atop of the Plum Peachy standings with 100 series points via first place finishes in the first two series rounds.
Lily Von Shutpp (Travis Seekman) another gifted state-bred filly from the barn of Nelson Willis also should get good play with the shift to the pole position. Caroline GR (Ridge Warren), Fox Valley Lil Kim (Kyle Husted) and Yankee Joanie (Ronnie Gillespie are the other third race first division combatants.
Awaiting Fox Valley Standardbreds Fox Valley Torrid, listed at 4-5 in the sixth race second Plum Peachy event, is a couple of more “Fox Valley” participants, “Lolo”, driven by Ridge Warren and “Hotcake” with Kyle Wilfong at her lines.
The speed should come from the third Nelson Willis Plum Peachy trainee Valar Moghulis (Travis Seekman) who will very likely sprint out from the outside seven-slot. Brienne The Beauty (pp 4, Jamaica Patton), Dream A Dance (pp 5, Juan Franco) and Winter Gram (pp 6, Ryan Anderson) are the longshots aspirants of the race.Time Out: The $12,000 filly and mare Open Pace took a hit when It’s Time For Fun, victorious two Saturday features and the likely post-time favorite, was a programmed vet scratch.
On the other hand you won’t see any tears coming from the trainers and their owners of the seven distaffers that will go to the gate in the seventh race: Skeeter Machine (Kyle Husted), April Deo (Travis Seekman), Fox Valley Jazzy (Ridge Warren), Magnifique (Luke Plano), Sweetshadyshark (Ryan Anderson), Rollin Coal (Juan Franco) and Boogie On Down (Kyle Wilfong), in that order.
Heads-Up Drive: The even-money favorite Maximus (Kyle Wilfong) was the front-stepping winner of last night’s third leg of the Robert F. Carey stake series for ICF three-year-old pacing colts and geldings.
Wilfong made the winning move with the Ken Rucked trainee when he took Maximus ($4.00) out of the two-hole after the first quarter, reached in a modest time of 29.1 by The Bucket, and to the front.
Wilfong kept the 30-1 longshot Master Sage (Juan Franco) parked-out to the 57.2 half while rival Meyer On Fire (Kyle Husted) was stuck fourth on the inside. A slow 29.2 third panel gave Maximus a breather and the Sportsmaster gelding was able to hold off Meyer On Fire by a half-length in the 1:54.2 mile.
The Brown County Fair has picked up an additional IHHA race that was originally scheduled for the Menard County Fair in Petersburg. That race was rained out so it is now re-scheduled for Sunday at the Brown County Fair in Mt. Sterling. This race will be a pace, estimated purse is $2,600.
By Mike Paradise
Most times when we look in the program at the past performances line of a feature race, the morning line favorites are near the bottom of the page.
However, since stake races can’t be handicapped like Opens, Invites or Free For Alls, the opposite can come into fruition and that’s what occurred for Friday night’s third leg of the Robert F. Carey Memorial stake series
The top three point earners in the ICF 3-year-old colt and gelding Night of Champions series snared the first three posts in Friday’s $15,000 headliner.
Maximus (Kyle Wilfong), with 75 points earned by a series win and a second place finish, landed the pole position for trainer Ken Rucker. The Erv Miller stable’s Meyer On Fire (Kyle Husted), also with 100 points with his win and a runner-up finish, has the two and Fox Valley Triton (Casey Leonard), who beat the above in round two of the Carey has the three-post. The Terry Leonard sophomore missed the series’ first leg and is third in the current standings at 50 points.
Post four through 10 will be manned by the likely longshots: Fox Valley Julius (Dale Knox), Smash N Sagebrush (Larry Plank), The Bucket (Travis Seekman), Coming Up (Ridge Warren), Ryan Racketeer (Ronnie Gillespie), Master Sage (Juan Franco) and Frontier Muffler (Freddie Patton Jr).
All three of the third leg Carey favorites had to race in at least one open company event to get ready for Friday’s fifth race.
Maximus beat Meyer On Fire by a head, in a Hawthorne conditioned race on July 7th with a new career mark of 1:53.1, avenging an earlier loss to the 2018 Illinois Two-Year-Old Colt Pacer of the Year, when they met in the first leg of the Carey.
Maximus also finished ahead of Fox Valley Triton by a neck in a division of the Cardinal at the end of May. Meanwhile, Fox Valley Triton was almost three lengths better than Meyer On Fire in round two of the Carey.
In other words it’s a take-your-pick kind of race among the likely three Carey betting favorites tonight.
Oh Brother: It’s a rare sight when you see full brothers competing on the same race card so it’s extremely unusual to see two full brothers slugging it out in the same race.
This unique happening will come about in tonight’s third race, conditioned pace, when Royale Big Guy, a 5-year-old from the barn of Lyle Scurlock, takes on his one year older bro Royale Rose (Travis Seekman), from the Perry Smith stable.
Both ICF pacers were sired by Ashlee’s Big Guy and are out of the Sportsmaster broodmare Caribe Royale. Thus far the 6-year-old Royale Rose has had the most success of the two brothers, banking over $281,000 in his 120 career starts to $92,884 for Royale Big Guy in his 100 trips postward.
Nicole Potts of Grant Park, Illinois owns Royale Big Guy and was the proprietor of Royale Rose, when the pacer won the Cardinal and Hanover stakes as a freshman and Du Quoin’s Dudley Hanover as a 3-year-old.
Royale Rose was claimed for $25,000 by trainer Charles Stewart in mid-September of 2017 and then taken by trainer Perry Smith for $35,000 in June of 2018.
Tonight’s Open is Open: Friday’s secondary feature is the $12,000 Open Pace drawn by groups. He’s A Real Diamond was assigned the one-slot. Posts two, three and four were drawn and went to Terror Of The Night (Kyle Husted), Feelnlikearockstar (Travis Seekman) and Northern Angle (Kyle Wilfong), in that order.
An indication on just how competitive this Open shapes up to be, is that posts five through eight were also drawn with four recent Hawthorne Open winners: Ponda’s Prospect (Casey Leonard), Stuckey Dote (Kyle Wilfong), Lincolnjames (Luke Plano) and Rising To The Top (Travis Seekman), acquiring slots 5, 6, 7 and 8 respectively.
Merv Chupp’s When You Dance (Luke Plano), a $30,000 acquisition at Harrington Raceway a month ago, has the outside nine-hole.
By Mike Paradise
The center of attention this week will be on the ICF 3-year-old divisions of both sexes and gaits.
With the third legs of the Night of Champions stake series coming up on the weekend, we will have passed the half-way point to determine the 10 finalists in each ICF stake championship.
The Robert F. Carey Memorial series for sophomore pacing colts and geldings will head up Friday’s program, while the second season state-bred filly pacers will tangle in round three of the Plum Peachy on Saturday.
Sunday’s card is highlighted by both Dygert Memorial trotting events, the Beulah Dygert for fillies and the Erwin F. Dygert for colts and geldings.
Stake series points are determined by the order of finish in each leg with 50 awarded for first, 25 for second, 12 for third, 8 for fourth, 5 for fifth and 1 for starting. The 10 highest point earners after four rounds, earn a berth in their respective championship field.
Listed below are my unofficial standings in each 3-year-old ICF divisions after the first two rounds:
ROBERT F. CAREY MEMORIAL
(ICF 3-Year-Old Pacing Colts and Geldings)
Horse Trainer Pts
Maximus Ken Rucker 75
Meter On Fire Erv Miller 75
Fox Valley Triton Terry Leonard 50
Coming Up Steve Searle 37
Smash N Sagebrush Luke Plano 20
The Bucket Ken Rucker 17
Frontier Muffler Freddie Patton Jr 9
Ryan Racketeer Roshun Triggs 8
Old Swamp Master Ronnie Gillespie 6
Fox Valley Julius Dale Knox 5
(ICF 3-Year-Old Pacing Fillies)
Horse Trainer Pts
Perch Jay Garrels 100
Fox Valley Torrid Rodney Freese 75
Valar Morganhulis Nelson Willis 37
Lili Von Shtupp Nelson Willis 25
Brienne The Beauty Clark Fairley 17
Fox Valley Halsey Nelson Willis 16
Fox Valley Lolo Dale Kanitz 13
Fox Valley Hotcake Kim Roth 8
Fox Valley Lil Kim Kim Roth 6
Winter Gram JD Lewis 6
BEULAH DYGERT MEMORIAL
(ICF 3-Year-Old Trotting Fillies)
Horse Trainer Pts
Heidi High Charles Arthur 75
Louzotic Steve Searle 75
Fox Valley Elicit Demarrio Brown 20
Skippymalou Roshun Trigg 12
Puddin Cheeks John Finn 9
Joe Joe’s Violet Roshun Triggs 6
Lous Paramore Steve Searle 5
ERWIN F. DYGERT MEMORIAL
ICF 3-Year-Old Trotting Colt and Geldings
Horse Trainer Pts
Loucardamon Steve Searle 100
Lousraptor Roshun Trigg 100
Frontier Mannard Freddie Patton Jr 30
Swaneelou Curt Grummel 30
Big Garica Vega Roshun Trigg 25
Loushianon Kennedy Linsey 25
Super Betcha Mike Brink 24
For Trots Sake Mike Brink 20
Captainsblacksparrow Mike Rogers 16
Trixie’s Turbo Jill White 13
My Dreamweaver Steve Searle 8
Fox Valley Cruise Jim Eaton 6
Prince Cassis Curt Grummel 6
By Mike Paradise
When you take a look at Sunday’s program at Hawthorne you’ll find one prominent name not listed: the Chicago circuit’s perennial leader driver Casey Leonard. Actually Casey is driving Sunday night but it’s not at Hawthorne. Instead the 41-year-old Harvard, Illinois native is up in Minnesota to steer the two-time Illinois Harness Horse of the Year Fox Valley Gemini in the $50,000 Dan Patch Free For All Championship at Running Aces.
By the looks or the draw and last week’s disappointing finish in his Dan Patch elimination Fox Valley Gemini probably would welcome any help the 4-year-old pacer can get when he goes postward against nine rugged foes. As it turns out the draw couldn’t have gone any worse for “Gemini.” The star of the Terry Leonard stable landed the outside nine-hole and there’s a trailing horse with the 10-post. A fifth place finish or higher was needed in last week’s two eliminations to advance to the Dan Patch Final and Fox Valley Gemini squeaked into the championship when he ended up fifth. Nevertheless, in a blanket finish, the pacer was less than to two off the winning 1:51 flat pacer.
With Casey at Hawthorne last Sunday to drive a number of ICF freshman trotters in the Night of Champions stakes, Steve Weissman was at the lines of Fox Valley Gemini for Atwater, Illinois owner Jim Ballinger.
Since this Sunday’s Hawthorne card is absent of any ICF stakes and the Open Trot didn’t fill, Casey made the decision to go to Minnesota and join up with Fox Valley Gemini who is the 9-2 programmed fourth choice in the race. We wish Casey and all of Fox Valley Gemini’s connections the best of luck tonight.
Just Having Fun: It’s Time For Fun made it back-to-back-to back filly and mare Open victories last night and four straight at Hawthorne for trainer Brett Wilfong. The even-money favorite, driven by Kyle Wilfong, rallied from eighth and last in her 1:52.2 mile. Rollin Coal (Juan Franco) came on to nip Sweetshadyshark (Ryan Anderson) for second. Both mares finished one-length behind the winner. It’s Time For Fun went winless in her first nine season starts at Hoosier Park for Kentland, Indiana owner Mr. Lynn Wilfong however the 4-year-old home bred mare has risen to the top of the local pacing mare ranks since her arrival at Hawthorne on June 22nd.
By Mike Paradise
It’s Saturday at Hawthorne and that means the spotlight turns to fillies and mares. The usual $12,000 Open Pace for distaffers has a different twist and the secondary feature is comprised of ICF 3-year-old fillies bound for the upcoming Plum Peachy stake series.
What’s unusual about this week’s distaff Open, drawn by groups, is that the last two Saturday feature conquerors both hail from the same barn and share the same breeder and owner.
Landing the seven slot is It’s Time For Fun who won for fun on the front end a week ago in 1:52 flat with driver Kyle Wilfong. The 4-year-old bred made a Hawthorne debut two weeks ago in a conditioned pace and demolished that field by 13 and one-half lengths.
The Indiana bred is owned and bred by Mr. Lynn Wilfong, the father of trainer Brett Wilfong, who also sends out the 5-year-old ICF mare Boogie On Down, gunning for her fourth and her third straight win in a Hawthorne Open.
Lynn and Brett Wilfong bred Boogie On Down and share ownership of the Sky Hanover mare with their wives Barbara and Candice. When Kyle chose to drive his grandfather’s filly It’s Time For Fun, Kyle Husted got the catch-drive on Boogie On Down, who lowered her lifetime mark to 1:52.1 on June 22.
It’s Time For Fun was lightly raced as a 2-year-old starting six times at Hoosier Park where she won a pair of races and banked a modest $9,105 in her first season.
As a three-year-old the filly blossomed and at the right time. It’s Time For Fun mostly competed in Indiana sired 3-year-old filly events and won the division‘s big one, the $220,000 Indiana Super Final, last mid-October at 11-1 odds with Kyle at her lines.
The $100,000 winner’s share of that Hoosier Park huge purse pushed the filly’s sophomore bankroll to $200,840 for 2018. It’s Time For Fun established her career mark of 1:51.1 in an earlier ISS elimination.
It’s Time For Fun went winless in her first eight outings as a 4-year-old in Indiana. On the other hand she’s 2-for-2 at Hawthorne and the 5-2 programmed favorite to nail down a third local victory in Saturday’s fifth race feature.
The two Wilfong owned and trained distaffers will be tested by Skeeter Machine (Kyle Husted), Magnifique (Luke Plano), Over Speeding (Casey Leonard), Sweetshadyshark (Ryan Anderson), Rollin Coal (Juan Franco) and April Deo (Travis Seekman), with posts one through six, in that order.
The $9,500 eighth race for ICF 3-year-old pacing fillies could be a preview of next Saturday’s third leg of the Plum Peachy Stake series with implications of a starting berth in the Night of Champion final.
Slugging it out tonight are (from the pole position out): Fox Valley Lil Kim (Kyle Husted), Valar Morghulis (Luke Plano), Perch (Kyle Wilfong), Fox Valley Lolo (Ridge Warren), Fox Valley Halsey (Juan Franco), Lilly Von Shtupp (Travis Seekman) and Fox Valley Torrid (Casey Leonard). The latter was the ICF division’s two-year-old champion for owners and breeders Fox Valley Standardbreds of Sherman, Illinois and their trainer Rodney Freese.
The fillies Valar Morgulis, Fox Valley Halsey and Lilly Von Shtupp are all trained by Nelson Willis. The Jay Garrels trainee Perch has already wrapped up a starting berth in the Night of Champions showdown by winning the first leg of the Plum Peachy and a division of the stake’s second round. Fox Valley Torrid won the other June 22nd Plum Peachy split.
No Doubt About It: Perry Smith’s Rising To The Top ($5.80) left no doubt he was the best in last night’s $12,000 Open Pace as the 6-year-old gelding finished first in a convincing manner with driver Travis Seekman. Rising To The Top made the top right at the 56.2 half and drew away by six lengths in the lane before he was hand driven to the wire in the 1:51.2 mile. Ponda’s Prospect was second best, beaten two and one-half lengths at the wire, while Dash Of Danger came on for third.