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The IHHA wrote letters of support to the Illinois Racing Board for next year’s proposed harness schedule as applied for by Hawthorne and Rick Heidner. Today was the annual dates hearing when this decision was to be made. However, after all of the testimony concluded, a motion was made to delay this decision by one week, until next Tuesday. The point of contention was that some members of the IRB were concerned about Arlington Park and their seemingly lack of commitment to horse racing in Illinois. Representatives from Arlington Park were there but no one from Churchill Downs. The IRB wants to take this week to re-examine the proposed schedule and decide if any changes should be made. They have to decide if awarding racing dates to Arlington Park, who has stated that they cannot commit to horseracing beyond 2021 and that they believe this is not the right economic conditions for them to build a casino, and that they may consider moving their racetrack to another location (which really upset some members of the IRB for a myriad of different reasons) is in the best interest of horse racing for next year. We will stay in touch with all involved and try again next week to get some absolute clarity on next year’s schedule.
Trainer Don Filomeno’s late-blooming He’zzz A Wise Sky did what he had to do last night to get a shot at the winner’s share of an estimated $125,000 pot in the Incredible Finale showdown on next Saturday’s Night of Champions at Hawthorne.
Patiently driven by Bobby Smolin, the overwhelming 1 to 9 favorite was settled into fourth in the first Incredible Finale series division while RJ Wulfy (Ridge Warren) had it all his own way through a 58 flat first half. Smolin took He’zzz A Wise Sky out of fourth on the backside and the home-bred grind his way next to RJ Wulfy as they turned for home.
He’s A Wise Sky ($2.20) looked his foe in the eye at the three-quarters (1:26 flat) and then showed his tail to RJ Wulfy as if to wave bye-bye, drawing off by almost 13 lengths at the end of the 1:54.1 mile, his fourth straight victory. It was only six weeks ago that the winning colt made his debut for Justice, Illinois owners Triple ZZZ Stable.
He’zzz A Wise Sky only had eight series points because his late start and only a first place finish Saturday night, worth 50 points, in the third and final round of the Incredible Finale would clinch a starting berth in the juvenile colt final.
Among those awaiting He’zzz A Wise Sky will be the second Incredible Finale division winner Fox Valley Wren who won on cruise-control with driver Kyle Wilfong in 1:55.2.
Another Nelson Willis trainee, the 3-5 favorite took over command on the backside, went to the half in 57.4 and was hand driven to the wire for the Megan Rogers Racing Stable of Chicago, IL. Western Perch (Ridge Warren) came on well to take the runner-up role, some four lengths off the winner.
Fox Valley Quest had little trouble maintaining his top spot in the ICF freshman colt and gelding trotting with a very easy victory in the first division of the Kadabra series. Once driver Casey Leonard got command from the one-slot with the Tom Simmons trained two-year-old and was able to coast through consecutive 29.1 quarters, the race wasn’t in doubt.
Casey had his whip tucked under his arm when Fox Valley Quest crossed the finish wire in 1:57.4, more than three lengths to the good. It was the third win in a row for the Pizzazzed gelding and his ninth in eleven first season starts for Illinois owners Carl Lacey (Athens) and Benita Simmons (Springfield).
The second Kadabra division also went to the favorite with the 1-2 choice Crooked Creek (Ryan Anderson) a front stepping winner by two lengths over Mr Red Thunder (Richard S Finn) in a modest winning time of 2:02 flat, more than four seconds slower than Fox Valley Quest’s conquest.
Crooked Creek ($3/00) is trained by Mike Brink for owner and breeder Ed Teefey of Mount Sterling, Illinois.
Earlier on the card Casey Leonard drove both end of the Daily Double when he guided Fox Valley Standardbreds Fox Valley Torrid ($4.00) to a come-from-behind triumph in the initial Plum Peachy series division for Illinois bred sophomore filly pacers.
Valar Morganhulis (Jim Pantaleano) cut the fractions as the two favorites Perch (Kyle Wilfong) and Fox Valley Torrid raced in fourth and fifth through the final turn. In the last quarter of a mile dash-for-cash it was the even-money choice Fox Valley Torrid finishing the fastest in the 1:54.2 mile.
The winning Rodney Freese trained filly will have a record of 7 for 15 in her second season when she goes to the gate in the $85,000 (est.) Plum Peachy Final.
Perch finished second while Valar Morghulis held on for third.
It was another “Fox Valley” coming out on top in the second Plum Peachy division when Fox Valley Halsey (Juan Franco) prevailed in 1:53.2 for trainer Nelson Willis.
Franco kept “Halsey” in third until midway in the last turn as her stable-mate Lilly Von Shtupp led throughout. When they came out of the turn Fox Valley Halsey ($3.80) accelerated, zipped to the front and remained there through the wire for Illinois owners Cynthia Kay Willis (Beecher) and Ronnie and Jerry Graham (Salem).
Fox Valley Lil Kim (Kyle Husted) finished well to be second, beaten less than two lengths.
Louzotic (Kyle Husted) continued her domination of the three-year-old ICF filly trotting division in the last leg of the Beulah Dygert Memorial series with her fourth consecutive triumph. The 1:58 winning mile was the Steve Searle’s sixth in her last seven outings for owners Flacco Family Farms of Alexis, Illinois.
The out-of-state invaders Fox Valley Charm ($13.80), driven by Travis Seekman, and Whiskersonkittens ($7.40), with Luke Plano in the bike, captured their respective Tony Maurello Memorial elimination races.
They’ll be joined in the $45,000 (est.) championships by last night’s second through fifth place finishers—Boogie On Down, Pretty Iris, San Antonio Rose and Skeeter Machine from the first division and Rollin Coal, Char N Marg, Fox Valley Jazzy and Shelly On My Mind from the second.
Fox Valley Charm is trained by Dirk Simpson for Sherman, Illinois owner Peter Karras. The Kim Roth trained Whiskersonkittens is owned by Ronald Knupp of Anna, Illinois.
By Mike Paradise
If you want to go to the “Big Dance” you need an invite.
In this case the “Big Dance” is next Saturday’s Hawthorne’s Night of Champions and an invite for a horse to compete in a lucrative Night of Champions final comes about with a Top Ten point standing finish for two and three-year-olds or by advancing in the aged divisions through elimination races.
This Saturday has no less than nine Night of Champions series events or eliminations among its 13 race card. While most of the top ICF youngsters have already clinched a starting berth in a Night of Champion final, there are some openings to a championship that still are to be decided.
The opportunity is there for the Triple Zzz Stable’s late-blooming freshman colt He’zzz A Wise Sky (Robert Smolin) to secure a spot in the Incredible Finale showdown. However with only eight series points earned thus far, good for 14th place, a win or a second place finish is likely needed for the Don Filomeno home-bred to gain the $120,000 (est.) two-year-old male pace final.
Standing in the way of He’zzz A Wise Guy’s proceeding to the championship are (in post-position order) Arty Party (Travis Seekman), RJ Wulfy (Ridge Warren), first time Lasix user Hello Rooster (Jim Pantaleano), Canadian Mountie (Casey Leonard) and Ryans Ambassador (James Molitor).
Since the first four point earners in the Kadabra trot series—Fox Valley Quest (Casey Leonard with 125), Desert Sheik (Mike Brink, 12), On Higher Ground (Ridge Warren, 87) and Fox Valley Kobe (Kyle Wilfong 63)—are all in the first division of the stake series for state-bred freshman trotting males, the winner of the seventh race second Kadabra split could vault into starting spot in the final and possibility the second place finisher as well.
It will depend on who the one-two finishers are and how Twin Cedars Rocket (Robert Smolin) and Fitchey For Fun (Randall Finn), currently eighth and ninth in the point standings, fare in tonight’s opener.
The second Kadabra split consists of, from the one-post out, Fox Valley Briton (Juan Franco, 32 points), Deememorymaker (Jamaica Patton, 42), Mr Red Thunder (Richard S Finn, 1), Crooked Creek (Ridge Warren, 5), Cassy Chip (Casey Leonard, 5), Lous Paisano (Steve Searle, 2), Easy Bo (Luke Plano, 1) and Lousintoit (Kyle Husted, 13).
With the owners of 16 state-bred pacing mares writing a $500 starting fee check, The Tony Maurello stake for older ICF distaffers was split into two $20,000 divisions, races eight and ten on the card.
The first five finishers in each of the Maurello elims will move along to next Saturday’s $45,000 (est.) championship.
The eighth race first Maurello elimination lists JB’s Shooting Star (Casey Leonard, 9-5), Skeeter Machine (7-2, Ridge Warren) and Fox Valley Charm (Travis Seekman) as the pre-race favorites.
Fox Valley Charm is the defending Maurello champion for owner Peter Karras of Sherman, IL and former Illinois based trainer Dirk Simpson.
Also aspiring from the eighth race to go to the starting gate for the Maurello showdown is Ashlee’s Joy (Juan Franco), San Antonio Rose (Kyle Husted), Boogie On Down (Kyle Wilfong), Pretty Iris (Jim Pantaleano) and Beamer N Bud (Robert Smolin).
San Antonio Rose, now five, was the 2017 Plum Peachy 3-year-old titleholder.
The quartet of Char N Marg (Casey Leonard), Whiskersonkittens (Luke Plano), Rollin Coal (Juan Franco) and Fox Valley Jazzy (Ridge Warren) are expected to get the most play from the betting public in the second Maurello elimination.
State Street Liz (Kyle Wilfong), Shelly On My Mind (Travis Seekman, My Kind Of Dance (Cordarius Stewart) and Fancy Creek Jolene (Robert Smolin) are the other Maurello hopefuls.
The final Night of Champions event on Saturday’s card is race eleven, leg four of the Beulah Dygert for ICF sophomore trotting fillies. Flacco Family Farms Louzotic (Kyle Husted) is the 7-5 programmed choice to extend her winning streak to four straight.
Another Gem: As expected two-time Illinois Harness Horse of the Year Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard) showed he’s the horse to beat in next week’s Robert S. Molaro Championship for aged ICF pacers with a strong victory in last night’s $20,000 prep.
The four-year-old ICF gelding again proved fastest in the lane as he motored past with a 27 flat last quarter at the end of a 1:51.1 mile, his third win in a row for trainer Terry Leonard and owner Jim Ballinger of Atwater, Illinois,
Perry Smith’s Dakota Roadster (Travis Seekman) also finished full of pace to be second. Last year’s Molaro champ Unlocked (Jim Pantaleano) was a non-threatening fifth in his first start in two months, beaten more than seven lengths,
“Abigail” Upset: In other Night of Champions stake series Friday evening the Steve Searle trained Bee See ($3.00, Kyle Husted) was an easy front-end winner in the first Fox Valley Flan division but her stable-mate, the heavy 1-2 favorite Lous Abigail (Casey Leonard) couldn’t overtake the 8-1 longshot Fox Valley Lush ($19.40, Kyle Wilfong) in the second Flan split, falling a head short of the winning Jim Eaton trainee.
Maximum Effort: The Ken Rucker trained Maximus (Kyle Wilfong), who was still fourth at the eighth pole, came flying in the late going and overtook both the pace-setting Fox Valley Triton (Casey Leonard) and the first-over Meyer On Meyer (Kyle Husted) to capture the final leg of the Robert F. Carey Memorial stake series for state-bred sophomore male pacers.
Fox Valley Triton ended up second best in the 1:54.1 mile while Meyer On Fire, who took a lot of air, hung tough for third. Maximus ($7.80) had a dazzling 26.1 last quarter.
Coming a Long Way: Sign Her Up (Juan Franco) came from ninth, some nine lengths behind at the 58.4 half, and zoomed past the field to take the last leg of Incredible Tillie freshman filly pace series.
The winning Sagebrush filly, trained by Fabian Johnson, was two lengths better than the 3-5 favorite Fox Valley Exploit (Kyle Husted) in the 1:56 flat mile.
By Mike Paradise
There are a number of significant final legs of Night of Champions series on Friday night’s Hawthorne racing card and in some events a check earning finish could be the difference for a horse competing next weekend in a lucrative ICF series final, or for a much smaller purse in a stake consolation.
However, perhaps more of the public’s attention will be on the $20,000 Robert S. Molaro prep race, the fifth event on tonight’s 10-race card. That’s because the stake’s defending champion Unlocked is here and many of us don’t know what to expect from the veteran gelding this time around.
The now nine-year-old Unlocked, with over $600,000 in lifetime earnings, recently joined the stable of veteran Illinois based trainer Nelson Willis, with only one unsuccessful start in the last two months, a ninth place finish at Northfield Park on July 6th.
Unlocked had a 1:56.1 winning qualifier at The Meadows about a month later for trainer Norm Parker, but was scratched sick in his scheduled August 17th race in Pennsylvania. The Duneside Perch stud bounced back with a 1:54.4 qualifier at The Meadows five days later, indicating that maybe this season’s health issues are behind him.
It should be noted that Unlocked’s July 6th race also followed a two-month layoff. Tonight’s race will be his 15th of the year and the horse has banked less than $29,000 in 2019 for owners of Megan Rogers Stable of Chicago.
On the other hand his regular driver Jim Pantaleano didn’t come all the way here from Pennsylvania to chalk up some airline bonus miles.
Unlocked has a career fastest mile time of 1:49 flat, taken as a 5-year-old on the five-eighths western Pennsylvania racetrack. At the age of three, the colt was an easy winner of the Pete Langley Memorial Championship at Balmoral Park on Super Night 2014.
Unlocked landed the outside seven-slot tonight and opens at 5-1, while the pre-race favorite Fox Valley Gemini (7-5, Casey Leonard), gets away from a rare middle-of-the-pack slot with the five.
There are no push-overs among the remaining five challengers—Royale Rose (Travis Seekman), Dakota Roadster (Luke Plano), Yourmakemyheartsing (Kyle Husted), He Gone Jack (Ridge Warren) and You’remyheartrob (Kyle Wilfong).
The Molaro prep will be preceded by the second race $20,000 third leg division of the Fox Valley Flan, where starters Bee See (Kyle Husted), Lauren Hall (Mike Brink) and Lous Flashy Dancer (Casey Leonard), have locked up a starting berth in the ICF freshman filly trotting championship.
The same goes for the even-money second Fox Valley Flan division favorite Lous Abgail (Casey Leonard), and the 3-1 early second choice Celone Hall (Ridge Warren), in race six. Both share the top spot in the “Flan” standings with 125 points.
The seventh race, final leg of the Robert S. Carey Memorial series, brings out all the leading point leaders who have sewed up a championship start: Maximus (175 points), Meyer On Fire (150), Fox Valley Triton (87), Coming Up (43), The Bucket (37) and Fox Valley Julius (32).
Smash N Sagebrush (25) and Frontier Muffler (22), look to be in good shape to advance while tonight’s three other starters: Master Sage (11), Old Swamp Master (6), and Sporty McGrew (1) will likely battle it out for the last two starting positions in the Carey final.
The last series round of the Incredible Tillie two-year-old pacing stake for fillies is next up on the card. Five of its ten starters tonight are championship bound: Double Parked (225 points), Sign Her Up (63), Fox Valley Exploit (63), Ashlees Fine Girl (62) and Sleazy Gal (50).
Still to be determined are the other five Incredible Tillie championship fillies. Among the other eighth race starters hoping to be one of those finalists are: Dancin Eyes, Amazon Princess, Mollie Hotspur, Ashlees Spur and Fox Valley Nia.
Star Performer: The overwhelming 1 to 10 favorite Anna’s Lucky Star ($2.10), was given a winning pocket trip from driver Kyle Wilfong and proved to be two lengths the best in last night’s Plesac stake prep for ICF aged trotters.
Talk About Valor (Casey Leonard), took the field five horse field to a modest 28.4 first quarter and strolled through 29.1 and 29 flat middle quarters, before Anna’s Lucky Star came out at the eighth pole and powered past. The Nelson Willis trained five-year-old mare trotted a quick 27.1 final panel in the 1:54.3 mile to finish two lengths ahead of Gerald Hansen trainee.
Anna’s Lucky Star is owned by her breeder Danny Graham of Salem, Illinois.
By Mike Paradise
Months ago when Hawthorne announced its 2019 harness racing stakes schedule, many of us expected that when the Night of Champions came about in mid-September the Plesac stake would be a confrontation between Illinois Trotting Queen Anna’s Lucky Star and the ICF Trotting King Picky Picky Valor.
Sadly, less than a month into the meeting that anticipated showdown wasn’t possible. Picky Picky Valor got violently ill after his May 25th race and died shortly after.
The horse’s untimely death at the age of five hit the horse’s trainer Gerald Hansen and owner Shelley Steele hard.
“Shelley was very upset by the news of “Picky’s” death,” said Hansen who by the sound of his voice was very much distraught by it as well. “Picky” was my buddy. I would go out on the field and he would play with me. He was a great horse to be around. I miss him.”
Almost four months have passed since and a $20,000 prep race for the Plesac will be contested Thursday night ahead of next Saturday’s $45,000 Final on Hawthorne’s Night of Champions.
Only four older ICF trotters will take on Anna’s Lucky Star and perhaps it is only fitting one of those is the Hansen stable’s Talk About Valor, a four-year-old, also owned by Shelley Steele of Monee, Illinois.
Talk About Valor is a full brother of Picky Picky Valor. Both were sired by Yankee Valor and are out of the successful broodmare Heather Doreen. She also had Talk About Cowboys (1:53.3, $229,182), an Indiana sire trotter, making him a half-brother to “Picky” and Talk About Valor.
Going into this season Talk About Valor was a longshot, at best, to be a threat in the Plesac, but that all changed this summer. We’ll let Hansen fill you in on the details:
“When Talk About Valor was a three-year-old he got a fracture of his cannon bone in a freak stall accident, so that put him way behind the other horses in his division. The horse didn’t qualify until early August and only made about a dozen starts last year. He did okay as a 3-year-old ($17, 264 in earnings), but it wasn’t until the horse raced a few times as a four year-old that he really began to come around. The horse’s improvement coincided with the death of his brother. It was like he knew “Picky” was gone. From that time on Talk About Valor has just gotten a little better with every start.”
Indeed he has.
Talk About Valor has risen this summer from the non-winners of two races lifetime ranks, to an Open Trot starter and hasn’t been worse than third all year, a consistency his older brother also possessed. Last year “Picky” finished one, two or three in 22 of his 24 trips to the starting gate earning over $71,000 and taking a mark of 1:54 flat.
Thus far, Talk About Valor has lowered his lifetime mark this season to 1:55.1, but Hansen won’t rule out that the trotter won’t eventually surpass his older brother’s lifetime best mile.
“Will he go faster than Picky? I don’t know, but like I said he just keeps getting better.”, stated Hansen.
Wise Investment: Thursday’s Plesac prep will go as race two. Anna’s Lucky Star (Kyle Wilfong), leaves from post two while Talk About Valor (Casey Leonard,) has the five-slot.
While the remaining starters, Majistic Caprice (Robert Smolin), Primed N Powerful (Jamaica Patton) and Fox Valley Strpwr (Ridge Warren), are longshots, their owners will come out ahead no matter where their horse finishes tonight and on the Night of Champions.
Those owners put up a $500 starting fee for the Plesac, however there are only five horses in the field and a fifth place check is worth $1,000, that’s $500 to the good for tonight. The $45,000 Final means fifth place is worth $2,250, so the worse an owner can do is turn a profit of $2,750 from his or her horse’s two Plesac starts.
By Mike Paradise
It’s unusual to have three different horses on the same card with extended winning streaks of five or more races nevertheless that’s the circumstances Sunday night at Hawthorne.
Horses winning streaks can begin for a variety of reasons. They could come about with a barn switch, an equipment change, different racing tactics, the right classification, or in the case “green” 2-year-olds, gaining racing experience and maturing.
Whatever the reason or reasons, the common denominator with all horses rattling off victory after victory is “Confidence”. In some cases it comes to a point where these winning horses expect to finish ahead of their foes and they often do.
Sunday night the five-year-old mare Susan Sage carries a five race unbeaten streak into the first race, the six-year-old pacing mare Backwoods Barbie is also looking for her sixth straight visit to the winner’s circle in the fourth race, while the freshman trotter Lou Paschal is gunning for his seventh consecutive victory in race three.
Among the red-hot trio, the Roshun Trigg trained Lou Pascal faces the most difficult task of lengthening his winning streak. The Flacco Family Farms homebred takes on the likely Kadabra final favorite Fox Valley Quest (Casey Leonard), listed at 4-5 tonight, and the Mike Brink stable’s fast improving Swan Of Dreams (2-1), an Indiana bred with his own three race victory streak.
Lou Pascal started his first season of racing making breaks in the first leg of the Kadabra and the Cardinal and a non-threating fifth in round two of the Kadabra. Roshun took him to the Illinois County Fair Circuit against softer foes and he youngster picked-up a pair of wins and two seasons in his next four starts. Lou Pascal’s season best 1:58.1 victory at Springfield in a stake consolation kicked off the son of Lou’s Legacy six consecutive successes in a row.
Backwoods Barbie (Kyle Wilfong) is the 3-2 program favorite in the fourth race for $4,000 and $5,000 claimers. She has always been a good purse earner in her first three years of racing and even started her 2018 campaign competing in Hawthorne Opens. However last summer after winning a low-end conditioned pace at Lexington, the Lis Mara mare proceeded to lose her next 28 races.
A little more than a month ago she was claimed by her current trainer Dean Eckley on the night breezed on the front end in a $4,000 claimer. She hasn’t loss since and each triumph was accomplished while on the lead. Interestingly most of mare’s past conquests came about in come-from-behind fashion.
The five-year-old mare Susan Sage (Ridge Warren) is the 9-5 first flash choice to keep returning to the winner’s circle in Sunday’s opener. She won one of her first four starts and it came in a non-winner of two races with a $9,000 price tag. After that June 16 victory the current Dale Kanitz trainee changed barns when the mare was acquired by Cathy Finn-Kanitz of Onley, Illinois.
Susan Sage has been on a roll since for the Kanitz stable, victorious in 7 of 10 races including the last five, lowering her mark to 1:53.1, and banking over $29,000 this summer at Hawthorne, almost three times more money than she earned in her previous three seasons.
Chalk Up Another: Rockin N Running (Casey Leonard) uncorked rapid 25.4 last quarter and stayed perfect at Hawthorne in the $12,000 filly and mare Open Pace last night. The 1:52.4 winning mile was the five-year-old mare’s fourth consecutive win since joining the Terry Leonard stable in late July.
Rockin N Running ($2.80) finished one length ahead of the ICF mare Skeeter Machine (Ridge Warren) with It’s Time For Fun (Kyle Wilfong) another half-length bend to b third.
By Mike Paradise
A couple of filly and mare pacing events Friday night have implications on the upcoming Night of Champions Tony Maurello stake for ICF pacing mares, ages four and up..
Both Saturday’s ninth race $12,000 filly and mare Open Pace and a conditioned event that follows will likely see some of its participants enter next week’s Maurello eliminations.
A $500 starting fee is necessary to compete in the stake’s $15,000 elimination and earn a berth in its $45,000 final on the September 21st Night of Champions.
The Terry Leonard stable’s streaking Rockin N Runnin (Casey Leonard) is the 9-5 early favorite to extend her local winning streak to four in a row in Saturday’s distaff Open despite being handicapped with the 10-slot in a full field of pacers.
However Rockin N Runnin and the race’s second choice It’s Time For Fun (3-1, Kyle Wilfong) are Indiana bred mares, making them ineligible for the Maurello.
On the other hand tonight’s Open aspirants Skeeter Machine (9-2, Ridge Warren, Char N Marg (8-1, Ryan Anderson), Fox Valley Jazzy (12-1, Robert Smolin) and Boogie On Down (20-1, Luke Plano) are older ICF mares, making them conceivable Maurello candidates if their owners desire to write a $500 starting fee check.
The tenth race conditioned pace has a number of ICF mares competing and two of them, Whiskeronkittens (Luke Plano) and JB’s Shooting Star (Travis Seekman) are possibly Maurello bound. Both mares spent their season out-of-state and came back to Illinois to compete last week and tonight most likely preparing for the Maurello,
Whiuskeronkittens, now six and in the care of trainer Kimberly Roth, has had a very solid racing career for Anna, Illinois owner Ronald Knupp with $263,186 in purse earnings in less than five seasons of racing. The Party At Artsplace mare’s next win will be her 30th.
Whiskeronkittens most successful season came as a three-year-old when she won Hawthorne’s $100,000 Plum Peachy championship. She started off her sophomore campaign with a sweep of a Late Closer series during Hawthorne’s 2016 winter meet and later won an Open in the summer session.
Last year Whiskersonkittens finished second in her Maurello elimination but make a break in the championships and was disqualified from fourth to ninth.
JB’s Shooting Star raced as a four-year-old in Ohio and Indiana until she was laid off in mid-May. The Straight Shooting mare obviously needed her Hawthorne start a week ago after being on the sidelines for three and one-half months. The mare won a $25,000 Open at Miami Valley Raceway back in late January.
In 2018 JB’s Shooting Star had a big effort on the Night of Champions, dropping a neck decision to The New Americana in the $125,000 Plum Peachy showdown for trainer Bill Crone.
When the Illinois racing season concluded in late September the mare made 10 more starts, in Indiana or Ohio, and didn’t miss a purse check for Illinois owner John Barnard. JB’s Shooting Star ended last year with a triumph in the $18,000 distaff Open at Ohio’s Dayton Raceway while competing out of the barn of trainer Jace Sundeen.
Another possible Maurello starter from tonight’s tenth race is Hosea Williams Rollin Coal (Juan Franco). The mare has blossomed as a four-year-old by banking $43,359 for her Chicago owner and trainer. Among her seven season victories was Hawthorne’s June 23rd Open with a career fastest mile of 1:51.4. She went on to collect a check in her next seven consecutive Chicago circuit Open starts.
By Mike Paradise
With rather comfortable back-to-back Open Pace victories on his list of recent successes Hawthorne’s kingpin Fox Valley Gemini is getting a well-deserved week off to prepare for next weekend’s Night of Champions Robert S. Molaro stake eliminations.
If elimination races aren’t necessary a prep race will most likely be offered on the $45,000 Molero showdown for ICF pacing colts and geldings ages four and upward, one of ten ICF state-bred contests to be decided on the Saturday, September 21 Night of Champions.
With Fox Valley Gemini absent Friday night and last week’s second place finisher Granite back in Indiana, tonight’s Open Pace was shelved and instead a high-end $9,500 conditioned pace will be the feature attraction on a nine-race card.
Three pacers in last week’s Open—Hot Rod Dylan (Juan Franco), Parklane Eagle (Ryan Anderson) and Crash And Burn (Jim Lackey) are among the eight horses in Friday’s headliner. Two others, the Perry Smith pair pf Dakota Roadster (Luke Plano) and Rising To The Top (Travis Seekman), competed in the previous raced Hawthorne Open.
The remaining three starters in tonight’s fifth race headliner—He Gone Jack (Ridge Warren), Royale Rose (Kyle Wilfong) and Parklane Official (Casey Leonard)—also have gone to the gate at the meet in Opens.
Parklane Official (pp 8,), one of a trio of Nelson Willis trained pacers in the field, is listed as the 3-1 programed favorite, followed closely by Rising To The Top at 7-2.
The Ray Hanna trained He Gone Jack (pp 1) comes off a season best 1:51.4 victory in last week’s Department of Agriculture stake for aged ICF male pacers, beating Yourmyhearthrob, the 2018 Springfield champion as a three.-year-old. Both horses are possible starters in the upcoming Molaro stake at Hawthorne
Looking Ahead: It seems like every year the Night of Champions Molaro $45,000 aged pacing stake and its $15,000 elimination lure some top-notch ICF horses from out-of-state.
In 2018 the one-two finishers Unlocked and Stonedust came to town and took a hefty portion of the stake’s purse money.Both horses are eligible to return and compete again but it’ll take a $500 entry fee to do so.
Unlocked has a history of competing on Chicago circuit Super Night type programs for his Chicago, Illinois owners, the Megan Rogers Racing Stable who purchased the horse after his first two career two starts (both wins) in June of 2013.
As a three-year-old Unlocked was a dominating 11 and 1/2 length conqueror of the Pete Langley Memorial Final at Balmoral Park with Dave Magee at the lines for trainer Erv Miller.
The winner of over $600,000 lifetime Unlocked finished fourth in Balmoral’s Tony Maurello aged pace championship as a 4-year-old however he came back to Illinois at the age of five and captured Hawthorne’s inaugural Robert Molaro Memorial championship in 2016 with Jim Pantaleano driving for trainer Norm Parker.
At six, Unlocked was sidelined from late April on and missed the 2017 Molaro but the talented ICF pacer came back to his home state in 2018 and held off Stonedust by a neck at the end of a 1:51.1 mile in the Molaro championship.