Bob Larry Final is Up for Grabs

By Mike Paradise


It’s the weekend of Hawthorne’s “Summer Series” finals.  Two were decided last night, another, the Bob Larry, is Saturday’s headliner, and two more five figure showdowns will be determined on Sunday evening.


Saturday’s sixth race Bob Larry carries an inviting $17,500 pot and there is no clear-cut favorite.


Elimination winners Play Me Rock (Travis Seekman) and Pianno Roll (Cordarius Stewart) will no doubt get plenty of play and so will last week’s runner-up’s Bobcat Bay (Ridge Warren) and Mighty Tony Mac (Todd Warren) who raised some eyebrows with his 26.4 last quarter.

Driver Travis Seekman looks to get a repeat victory with Perry Smith’s Play Be Rock in tonight’s $17,500 Bob Larry series final. (Four Footed Fotos)

When the gate springs open the public choice could very well be the beaten favorite Yankee On The Move who was sent off at 30 cents to the dollar but gave way in thee late going and finished third. The Dean Eckley trained four-year-old was making his first pari-mutuel start since last November,


The Yankee Skyscraper offspring spent the summer of 2020 competing on fair tracks in Iowa and did the same in his two-year-old campaign where was a consistent money-earner. Late last summer the gelding was purchased by Floridian Cliff Grundy and joined the Eckley stable.


Yankee On The Move then went to Oak Grove in Kentucky and made almost $12,000 in five starts, winning four of them with tonight’s driver Kyle Wilfong, while lowering his career mark to 1:52.1.


Yankee On The Move gets away from the six slot tonight in a 10-horfse field with Readyforthelays, Play Me Rock, Silverstar’s Flash, Mighty Tony Mac and Straight Munro inside of him and Bobcat Bay, Holden Steady and Patton Plus to his left.


Play Me Rock is the 5-2 program favorite after a strong 1:54.4 victory last week with tonight’s driver Travis Seekman. The Perry Smith owned, and trained pacer has made over $30,000 as a three-year-old racing at Ohio’s Miami Valley Raceway and Indiana’s Hoosier Park. The horse is certainly well placed for this series and landing the two-post in the Larry final undoubtedly helps his chances of being successful tonight.


Pianno Roll (pp 6, Cordarius Stewart) and Bobcat Bay (pp 8, Ridge Warren) are from the Springfield based Tom Simmons stable. Pianno Roll was bred by his Stockton, Illinois owner Larry Breed and owns a mark of 1:52.1. Bobcat Bay spent 2020 competing in conditioned claimers for Nancy and Donald Musillami of Lemont, Illinois and banked nearly $28,000, winning 7 of 19 trips to the starting gate.


Mighty Tony Mac (Todd Warren), one of two ICF pacers in the Larry finale, was the runner-up in last season’s Cardinal stake at Hawthorne for trainer Tim Roach and Michigan owner Kyle Larner.


Look At Dat Kat (Larry Lee Smith) was one-length the best in the $18,000 Daryl Buse trotting championship. His stablemate Skyway Bebop (Tyler Shehan) was second in the 1:52.2 mile.

Friday’s Highlights: Two of Friday tonight’s three Summer Series finals were decided by a neck.


Kim Roth’s (Rockyroad Aldo), the 3-2 favorite, held off a fast-closing Reign And Shine (Jordan Patton) to take the $18,500 Bea Farber trot final with a 1:56 .3 clocking.


Casey Leonard gave Wildcat Delight ($7.00) a perfect pocket trip behind the pacesetting Nora Tova (Kyle Wilfong) and the Dean Eckley trainee responded with a fast 26.2 last quarter to win the $16,000 Walter Paisley in 1:53.3


Trainer Larry Lee Smith had to be all smiles after the $18,500 was concluded. Smith drove Look At Dat Kat ($14.80) to one-length victory over stable-mate Skyway Bebop (Tyler Shehan) in 1:57.2. Smith trains both trotters owned by Suellen Smith of Ostego, Michigan.

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Limelight on Profitable Series Finals

By Mike Paradise


A trio of five figure “Summer Series” finals are the center of attentions on Friday’s 12 race Hawthorne card.


The $16,600 Bea Farber trot final will go as race seven, two races later it’s the $18,500 Daryl Busse trot showdown and that’s followed by the $16,300 Walter Paisley championship for filly and mare pacers.


The Bea Farber trot final brings together last week’s elimination winners Reign And Shine (Jordan Patton) and Rockyroad Aldo (Kyle Husted), along with the second through fifth place horses in each elimination.


Horses will be off and pacing, or trotting, in a trio of Summer Series finals tonight at Hawthorne. (Four Footed Fotos)

The Bea Farber elimination conquerors got to the winner’s circle in much different circumstances. Reign and Shine, driven by 23-year-old “P” driver Jordan Patton, had to come from far out of it while Rockyroad Aldo (Kim Roth) had a much easier time drawing off on the front end for driver Kyle Husted,


Reign And Shine was in sixth most of the way and turning for home looked to be too far back however the home-bred put on a strong stretch drive and knocked a full second (1:58.3) off his previous fastest mile.


Beaten one-length, the second-place finisher Really Renee (Tyler Shehan), was stuck inside, got out late and had to regain his best stride.


Interestingly, while Reign And Shine was sired by the Illinois based trotter Cassis, the Mr. Carroll and Diane Hays owned, bred and trainer mare’s dam Faith And Trust was a pacer, as was her sire Ft Apache Hanover.


One race later Husted put the Kim Roth owned and trained Rockyroad Aldo on the lead and the slender driver watched as one by one, several other trotters go off stride. By the head of the stretch the outcome wasn’t in doubt only the winning margin, which turned out to be over 10 lengths at the end of the 1:57.2 mile.


Friday’s Farber showdown lines up, from the pole position out, thusly: Lousintut, Justa Nother Bag, Fox Valley Elicit, Joe Joes Violet, Reign And Shine, Lous Voodoo Woman, Pilgrim Caviar, Really Railee, Rockyroad Aldo and Easy EO.


Three for Erv: Three different Erv Miller trained trotters gained the Busse final and all drew well. The Papa Bear (Kyle Husted) has the rail with stable-mate Fox Valley Specter (Travis Seekman), to his right. Allforone Hanover (Atlee Bender) leaves from the five.


Last week’s Busse elimination winners RSVP (Kyle Wilfong) and Skyway Beebop (Tyler Shehan) landed the two outside posts, the nine and ten, in that order, making their task of a return trip to the winner circle more difficult. However, both have shown in the past that they have gate speed when it is called upon.


The other Busse hopefuls are The Black Beauty, Look At Dat Kat, Awaysbmygg and She Loves To Jiggle.


Paisley is Wide Open: Favoritism in the tenth race Paisley championship will likely be divided behind three distaffers–Nora Tova (pp 5, Kyle Wilfong) and Wildcat Delight (pp 9, Casey Leonard), both victorious in their respective elims, and beaten favorite Cassie Marie’s T T (pp 4, Todd Warren).


Looking to light up the board at expected double-digit odds in the Paisley are Dirtylittlelies, Ashlees Fine Girl, Dancin Eyes, Pootie Cat, Yankee Joanne, Style And Spirit and Sister Said.

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HHI Extends Scholarship Application

Due to the many interruptions and limitations that have been caused by the COVID-19 crisis HHI’s Board of Directors has extended the deadline for Jerome Hauck Scholarship applications to June 15, 2021. The application and all additional information must be complete and submitted by the deadline. The application can be found at our website,

Illinois Trot Queen Won’t Abdicate Throne

By Mike Paradise


Illinois’ long reining trotting queen Annas Lucky Star will be back to compete as a seven-year-old during the current Hawthorne meeting.


“Over the winter I was thinking about retiring her as a racehorse and starting her new career as a broodmare but I’ve decided to give her one more year of racing,” said her owner and breeder Danny Graham.


“I also changed my mind about her last year and let her race and she gave me another very good season against the top-level trotters here in Illinois and in Indiana and Ohio.”



Anna’s Lucky Star (Kyle Wilfong). Four Footed Photo

The daughter of Cassis, out of Danny’s highly productive broodmare Queen Jamie, was a six-time winner in 2020, banking over $63,000. Her current purse earnings stand at $429,682, with an impressive 40 lifetime wins and a mark of 153.1, taken as a four-year-old at Springfield.


While “Anna’s” 47 per cent winning clip certainly is impressive, the talented mare’s performance racing in Illinois is “off the charts.” In her home state she has gone to the post on 55 occasions and followed with 39 stops at a winner’s circle, an astonishing 67 per cent success rate.


“Anna” raced at the Miam1 Valley meeting Ohio earlier this year and earned $6,800 in some rugged $20,000-plus Opens with a second and fourth place finish. The mare then went unplaced in her next two races.


“She got sick,” revealed Danny, “so I stopped with her and brought her back home (Salem Illinois) to get well and rested up. I sent her to Nelson (trainer, Willis) late last month. He’ll have her ready to race at Hawthorne around the beginning of June.”


  Solid Open Trot on Tap: The first Open Trot will be the center of attention for Sunday’s program. It’s an interesting field, handicapped by groups with the likely three favorites Never Say Uncle (Kyle Wilfong), Pine Dream (Todd Warren) and the Australian import Needabacardi A (Casey Leonard) ending up with the 4, 5 and 6 slots, in that order.


Lous Paschal (Juan Franco) and 2020 ICF Three-Year-Old Filly trotter of the Year Lous Abgail (Kyle Husted), a pair of Steve Searle trained trotters, were awarded the one and two posts, respectively. Jim Lackey’s Silverhill Volo was assigned the three.


Pine Dream (Todd Warren), an Open winner at Hawthorne last summer, is back for tonight’s $12,000 Open in search of career victory No. 45.

Never Say Uncle, winner of 2 of his last 3 starts at Hoosier for trainer Brittany Dillion will open as the 9-5 favorite.  Pine Dream (Todd Warren) from the Merv Chupp stable is listed next at 2-1 after back-to-back wins in Indiana.


Pine Dream, who does his best racing on or close to the front, isn’t a stranger to Hawthorne, having won Opens on the local scene for the past couple of years. A win tonight would be the nine-year-old’s 45th of his career.


Silverhill Volo, owned, trained and driven by Jim Lackey, comes here after a successful meeting at Cal-Expo and the now 10-year-old also has had past success at Hawthorne.


The question mark is Needbacardi A., a new addition to the strong Terry Leonard stable. He made over $100,000 campaigning in Australia, and he did qualify well after being on the sidelines the last three-plus months. The chestnut gelding has been racing at longer distances and I’m thinking he’ll like tonight’s shorter mile event.


How Sweet It Is: Showing plenty of guts and determination, the three-time ICF Horse of the Year Fox Valley Gemini came roaring down the stretch to overtake the 3-5 favorite He’zzz A Wise Sky and win last night’s $12,000 Open Pace by a half-length.


Listed at laughable 12-1 odds in the morning line, Fox Valley Gemini was sent out at 3-2 from the six slot and was dropped into third in the early going by driver Casey Leonard as (No. 7) He’zzz A Wise Sky (Kyle Wilfong) took the seven-horse field to fractions of 27.2, :55.4 and 1:24 flat with Brysen (Dale Knox) in the two-hole.


Casey swung the Terry Leonard trained winner out at the top of the lane and Fox Valley Gemini ($5.00) came roaring home with a quick 26 flat last panel at the end of a 1:50.4 mile in his 2021 season debt for Atwater, IL owner Jim Ballinger.