Unusual ICF Trot on the Sunday Card

By Mike Paradise

 

Next weekend’s Violet and Cardinal stakes races, the first major events for ICF three-year-old trotters and pacers, brought about a unique event on Sunday’s card.

 

Tonight’s third race will see second season state-bred trotters of both sexes tangle, maybe for the only time this year. The seven-horse field lured the winners of the first round of their respective Night of Champions stake series.

 

Sunday’s $9,200 third race is a prep for the Violet and Cardinal trots that will be contested a week from today. The Illinois Department sponsored added money events are the first major stakes of the season for ICF pacers and trotters.

 

The Terry Leonard Stable’s DJ Lance (Casey Leonard) captured last night’s $20,000 Cicero Claiming Series Final. (Four Footed Fotos)

The Illinois bred sophomore filles were allowed to draw inside and that enable last week’s Beulah Dygert victor Loulita (Casey Leonard) to grab the pole position for trainer Steve Searle. The Flacco Family Farms home-bred was much the best a week ago, drawing off by almost three lengths in 1:57.1.

 

Beulah Dygert runner-up Lucky Valarie (Travis Seekamn) has the two-slot.

 

Posts three through seven belong to colts and geldings. The Roshun Triggs trained colts Notalocaldude (Kyle Wilfong) and Sumbodygetdisfool (Jamaal Denson) landed the three and four slots, respectively.

 

The 2020 Illinois Two-Year-Old Colt Trotter of the Year Fistfullofdollars (Todd Warren) leaves from the five while his Mike Brink trained stablemate Salute The Hero (Ridge Warren) will be on the outside looking in with the seven.

 

Rndmnudpredicbtle, a first over winner in a division of the Erwin F.  Dygert Memorial opening leg with Casey Leonard, leaves from the six with trainer Steve Searle after Casey opted to guide his stablemate Loulita tonight.

 

Loulita, last year’s ICF filly trot champion, will open as the prohibitive even-money favorite. The filly has won her last seven starts against strictly other state-breds and another triumph tonight will put her over the $100,000 plateau in her first 12 career starts.

 

Loulita, a daughter of Flacco Family Farms broodmare Olives And Caviar, is a full sister to two other successful Illinois bred trotters, former NOC winner White Pants Fever and Louscardamon, a multiple ICF stakes champion from the barn of conditioner Steve Searle.

 

Recent Plum Peachy first round champion Hart’s Heart (Kyle Wilfong) will stay sharp for next Saturday’s Violet filly stake championship with a start in Sunday’s fourth race for the Brink stable.

 

Connie On The Go (Ridge Warren) also preps in the same race for the Violet pace showdown for trainer Jamaica Patton.

 

  Oldie a Goodie: The Terry Leonard Stable’s DJ Lance ($4.60) came away with the top prize in last night’s $20,000 final of the Cicero Claiming Series for colts and geldings.

 

Casey Leonard gave the DL Lance and second over journey and the 12-year-old veteran responded by wearing down a game effort by the pace-setting Gold Star Lambeau (Ridge Warren) by a half-length in 1:52.3.

 

DL Lance is owned by Ohioan Tyler George and Charles Groen of Indiana.

 

One race later the 8-1 longshot Spoxys Girl ($18.80) posted a victory for trainer Dean Eckley in the $20,000 filly and mare division of the Cicero series in 1:52.3. The win was the third of the night for driver Kyle Wilfong.

 

Husted Shines: It was Kyle Husted who was the driving star of the Saturday program. The 29-year-old Altamont, Illinois native guided five winning horses that included Rock It Out’s triumph in the $12,000 filly and mare Open Pace.

 

Rock It Out ($27.60) was sent off at 13-1 odds from the seven slot in an eight-horse field however Husted hustled her out and got a pocket trip behind the front-stepping Priceless.

 

The Donna Holt trained winner proceeded to hold off a fast-closing Maggie Rhee (Todd Warren) by a half-length in 1:52 flat. It was the third straight first place finish for Rock It Out, owned by D & R Racing Stable of Kentucky.

Who Will Claim the Series Top Prize?

By Mike Paradise

 

With the emphasis last weekend on the opening legs of the three-year-old Night of Champions stake events another series on the Saturday card was probably overlooked by many Chicago circuit harness racing fans.

 

You can count me among those.

 

Hawthorne’s Cicero Claiming Series that started off a few weeks ago with $10,000 price tags has brushed aside the likely spider webs on the track’s Claiming Box and instead has produced a high dosage of actively.

 

In fact, of the ten starters in tonight’s final for male pacers, six of them have changed ownership at least once and in some instances, horses have been claimed in back-to-back starts at a higher amount.

 

The reason: A shot at lucrative $20,000 pot and nowadays in Illinois harness racing that is an alluring monetary prize.

 

Both of tonight’s eighth race starters Et Tu Brute Gary Rath) and Canthelpbutwin (Kyle Wilfong) were claimed back for $2,500 more by the same owners who lost them in the series opening leg.

 

In both instances, the higher tag wasn’t a loss for either of those owners since Et Tu Brute made $5,860 in his first two series starts for Bernie and Deb Paul of Tylertown, Mississippi while Canthelpbutwin claim back was a “wash” for David and Adams Brooks of Cambridge, Illinois because the pacer earned $2,500 in his first series round.

 

Gold Star Lambeau (Ridge Warren) was taken for $10,000 on May 15 by trainer Gene Gilerman for Richard Barone and the horse promptly put $6,000 on his card with a second-round victory a week ago for his Rosemont, Illinois owner.

 

And then there is the now nine-year-old veteran Trashytonguetalker (Travis Seekman) who was claimed in his last start at Cal-Expo before coming back to his favorite track. He was taken in leg one for $10,000 by his former Terry Leonard stable and then preceded to show his heels to his series foes a week ago in with quick 1:50.2 clocking when he was plucked by trainer Nathalie Tremble at a $12,500 price tag for new owner Maryann Plano

 

Here’s how they’ll line-up for the eighth race claiming final for colts and geldings: Et Tu Brute, DJ Lance, P H Hippie, Uncle CI, BR Ezliksndymornin, Adele’s Big Party, Canthelpbutwin, Sports Hero, Gold Star Lambeau and Trashytonguetalker with the outside 10-hole.

 

The $20,000 Sports Cicero final for mares follows in race nine. From the rial out you’ll find Unbroken Circle, A Sham Of Amber, Blissful Pansy, Sweetshadyshark, Roaring Home, Charlotte Royal N, Dune Dame, Spoxy’s Girl, Fox Valley Sierra and OK Jewel.

 

Rock It Out (inside) ended the Hawthorne filly and mare Open winning streak of Maggie Rhee (Todd Warren) last week. They’ll duel again in Saturday night’s $12,000 Open. (Four Footed Fotos)

Looking for Revenge: The Todd Warren stable’s Maggie Rhee saw her three-race winning streak snapped in last weekend’s filly and mare Open pace when Rock It Out from the barn of trainer Donna Holt gained a head decision in a 1:51.4 mile.

 

They’ll meet again in Saturday’s sixth race in the $12,000 event with Maggie Rhee handicapped with the outside eight-slot with Rock It Out starting from the seven with new driver Kyle Husted. Last week’s driver winning Kyle Wilfong will instead guide the Wilfong family’s It’s Time For Fun (pp 3).

 

Inside of It’s Time For Fun are Swinging Jenny (Tyler Shehan), Golden Paradise (Casey Leonard) and Better Days Ahead (Atlee Bender), in that order.

 

Last week’s third place finisher Tempus Seelster (Travis Seekman) leaves from the five while newcomer Priceless (Cordarius Stewart) is to her right. The latter has been competing in Hoosier Park Opens for trainer Kevin Miller and is the Hawthorne programmed favorite.

 

   He’zzz the Best: Triple ZZZ Stable’s He’zzz A Wise Sky ($.260) proved best again in the $12,000 Open with another front-end victory, this one in 1:51.2 with Kyle Wilfong at his lines on a sloppy racing surface.

 

Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard) got the two-journey trip behind the He’zzz A Wise Sky but the four-year-old John Filomeno trained public’s choice had plenty left with a one and one-quarter winning margin for his Justice, Illinois owners.

 

Who Will Claim the Series Top Prize?

By Mike Paradise

 

With the emphasis last weekend on the opening legs of the three-year-old Night of Champions stake events another series on the Saturday card was probably overlooked by many Chicago circuit harness racing fans.

 

You can count me among those.

 

Hawthorne’s Cicero Claiming Series that started off a few weeks ago with $10,000 price tags has brushed aside the likely spider webs on the track’s Claiming Box and instead has produced a high dosage of actively.

 

In fact, of the ten starters in tonight’s final for male pacers, six of them have changed ownership at least once and in some instances, horses have been claimed in back-to-back starts at a higher amount.

 

The reason: A shot at lucrative $20,000 pot and nowadays in Illinois harness racing that is an alluring monetary prize.

 

Both of tonight’s eighth race starters Et Tu Brute Gary Rath) and Canthelpbutwin (Kyle Wilfong) were claimed back for $2,500 more by the same owners who lost them in the series opening leg.

 

In both instances, the higher tag wasn’t a loss for either of those owners since Et Tu Brute made $5,860 in his first two series starts for Bernie and Deb Paul of Tylertown, Mississippi while Canthelpbutwin claim back was a “wash” for David and Adams Brooks of Cambridge, Illinois because the pacer earned $2,500 in his first series round.

 

Gold Star Lambeau (Ridge Warren) was taken for $10,000 on May 15 by trainer Gene Gilerman for Richard Barone and the horse promptly put $6,000 on his card with a second-round victory a week ago for his Rosemont, Illinois owner.

 

And then there is the now nine-year-old veteran Trashytonguetalker (Travis Seekman) who was claimed in his last start at Cal-Expo before coming back to his favorite track. He was taken in leg one for $10,000 by his former Terry Leonard stable and then preceded to show his heels to his series foes a week ago in with quick 1:50.2 clocking when he was plucked by trainer Nathalie Tremble at a $12,500 price tag for new owner Maryann Plano

 

Here’s how they’ll line-up for the eighth race claiming final for colts and geldings: Et Tu Brute, DJ Lance, P H Hippie, Uncle CI, BR Ezliksndymornin, Adele’s Big Party, Canthelpbutwin, Sports Hero, Gold Star Lambeau and Trashytonguetalker with the outside 10-hole.

 

The $20,00Sports Cicero final for mares follows in race nine. From the rail out you’ll find Unbroken Circle, A Sham Of Amber, Blissful Pansy, Sweetshadyshark, Roaring Home, Charlotte Royal N, Dune Dame, Spoxy’s Girl, Fox Valley Sierra and OK Jewel.

 

Looking for Revenge: The Todd Warren stable’s Maggie Rhee saw her three-race winning streak snapped in last weekend’s filly and mare Open pace when Rock It Out from the barn of trainer Donna Holt gained a head decision in a 1:51.4 mile.

 

They’ll meet again in Saturday’s sixth race in the $12,000 event with Maggie Rhee handicapped with the outside eight-slot with Rock It Out starting from the seven with new driver Kyle Husted. Last week’s driver winning Kyle Wilfong will instead guide the Wilfong family’s It’s Time For Fun (pp 3).

 

Inside of It’s Time For Fun are Swinging Jenny (Tyler Shehan), Golden Paradise (Casey Leonard) and Better Days Ahead (Atlee Bender), in that order.

 

Last week’s third place finisher Tempus Seelster (Travis Seekman) leaves from the five while newcomer Priceless (Cordarius Stewart) is to her right. The latter has been competing in Hoosier Park Opens for trainer Kevin Miller and is the Hawthorne programmed favorite.

 

   He’zzz the Best: Triple ZZZ Stable’s He’zzz A Wise Sky ($.260) proved best again in the $12,000 Open with another front-end victory, this one in 1:51.2 with Kyle Wilfong at his lines on a sloppy racing surface.

 

Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard) got the two-journey trip behind the He’zzz A Wise Sky but the four-year-old John Filomeno trained public’s choice ad plenty left with a one and one-quarter winning margin for his Justice, Illinois owners.

 

 

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Round 3 Tonight for ICF Pacer Supremacy

By Mike Paradise

Hawthorne is rolling out the big guns for its Open Pace as the heavyweight battle between the circuit’s top two ICF pacers heads into round three tonight.

You’ll have to wait until the tenth race to watch and bet on the $12,000 slugfest that has grown to nine starters making the task a little more difficult for the very likely post time favorites He’zzz A Wise Sky (pp 10, Kyle Wilfong) and Fox Valley Gemini (pp 9, Casey Leonard) when they continue to duke it out and determine this season’s Illinois kingpin pacer.

If you are keeping score this season between these two state-bred pacing stars, it’s one winning round each for each horse.

Despite not having a pari-mutuel start this year going into the May 8th first encounter, Fox Valley Gemini uncorked a 26 last quarter and overtook the pacesetting He’zz A Wise Sky in 1:50.4 mile for trainer Terry Leonard and the six-year-old gelding’s owner Jim Ballinger of Atwater, Illinois.

He’zzz A Wise Sky (Kyle Wilfong) shows his powerful winning stride. The Triple ZZZ Stable owned ICF pacer looks for another win in tonight’s tenth race Open Pace.

However, it was a different outcome when they tangled again on May 16. He’zzz A Wise Sky sizzled on the front-end with a winning 1:49.1 mile for trainer John Filomeno and Justice, Illinois owners Triple ZZZ Stable.

It turned out to be “no contest” after Fox Valley Gemini suffered an interference mishap trying to avoid a breaking horse coming out of the last turn. At that time in the race, “Gemini” was on the move fifth, about eight lengths beind. He’zzz A Wise Sky went on to pace a 27 flat quarter so he may have very well held his chief rival off anyway.

We’ll never know for sure, so that takes us to tonight’s third encounter.

Friday’s Open was handicapped by groups (1-2) (3-5) (6-7) and (8-9) with Hez’zzz A Wise Sky getting the nine slot and Fox Valley Gemini the eight.

The first six posts will be manned by Allmyx’sliventexas (Todd Warren), On Duty (Jim Lackey), American Chrome (Alan Bender), My Buddy Ninkster (Travis Seekman), Fox Valley Ren (Kyle Husted) Castle Flight (Ridge Warren) and General Dolan (Tyler Shehan), in that order.

Castle Flight and He’zzz A Wise Sky are “locks” to be sprinting out and it’s likely some other inside horses will do the same to protect their post position. I anticipate more sooner than later He’zzz A Wise Sky will have command and cutting some quick fractions.

If Fox Valley Gemini is ducked, he’ll probably be last in the early going maybe some nine or ten lengths off the leader. . . not a good spot with his main rival on the front-end.

So, I expect Casey to leave with his star-studded pacer and hope to find a hole up close or maybe somewhere in the middle of the pack where “Gemini” might then have to take a lot of air to advance on the pacesetter.

Who will prevail this time around? Will it be Hez’zzz A Wise Sky, the 2020 Illinois Harness Horse of the Year or Fox Valley Gemini, the same titleholder in 2017, 2018 and 2019, or is there an up setter on the horizon?

You can bet that you know the answer.

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