Don’t Overlook Those Gals

By Mike Paradise


While “the boys” Open division has been grabbing much of the attention thus far at the Hawthorne meeting, there has also been some ding-dong battles going on with “the gals” as well.


Tonight the $12,000 Open Pace for fillies and mares will take center stage for the fifth time at the meet and after four rounds both Maggie Rhee (Todd Warren) and Rock It Out (Kyle Wilfong) have posted two victories each.


Maggie Rhee captured the first two local Opens under the care of trainer and driver Todd Warren, but she had to settle for the bridesmaid role the last two Saturdays as Donna Holt’s Rock It Out pulled off back-to-back upsets.


To say that the for-year-old mare Rock It Out has a liking for Hawthorne would be an understatement. The Rockin Image pacer has made 13 starts in her career at Hawthorne and visited its winner’s circle nine times afterward.



Maggie Rhee (outside, Todd Warren) and Rock It Out (inside with Kyle Wilfong) will duke it out again in tonight’s $12,000 Open Pace for fillies and mares. (Four Footed Fotos)

As a two-year-old trainer Donna Holt started her filly once on the Chicago circuit and the pacer came away with her maiden victory with Cliff Bell in the bike. Most of Rock It Out’s 18 first season starts came on the Indiana Fair Circuit or at Hoosier Park, since her “daddy” is an Indiana sire.


Last year Rock It Out split her time competing in Indiana and at Hawthorne. While she was good at Hoosier often racing in Indiana Sire stakes, she was been even better at Hawthorne.


Rock In Out started off her three-year-old campaign with a sweep of Hawthorne’s Walter Paisley Series. Later she captured a pair of high-level conditioned races at the meet. This season she’s three-for-three on the local scene putting almost $16,000 on her card for D&R Racing Stable of Benton, Kentucky. In 2020 the filly hauled in over $80,000 for Holt.


Maggie Rhee, owned by Illinois the Wilson Racing Stable

Of Martinsville, Norman Neff of Roselle, and Mark Eichberger of Chicago, made just under $80,000 last racing season.


After four starts earlier this year Maggie Rhee was sent to trainer Todd Warren who has done a masterful job with the now four-year-old daughter of Jeremy’s Jet. The mare has already banked nearly $30,000 at Hawthorne with more than three months of racing still left at the meet.


Maggie Rhee will leave from the seven post while Rock It Out has the outside eight slot in the third race of the night.


From the rail out you’ll find Better Days Ahead (Artie Dick), Charlotte Royal N (Atlee Bender), Primo Extremo (Kyle Husted), Tempus Seelster (Travis Seekman), Hathorne newcomer U’ll Learn (Ridge Warren) and Golden Paradise (Casey Leonard).


What A Battle! Last night’s $12,000 Open Pace was an epic battle between two terrific Illinois b red pacers with this time Fox Valley Gemini coming out on top.


Casey Leonard gave the three-time Illinois Harness Horse of the Year Fox Valley Gemini a chance at the victory and the game eight-year-old Terry Leonard trainee did what he came to do.


Six of the eight starters sprinted 0ut from the start and as six of them dropped into their respective places, Fox Valley Gemini and He’zzz A Wise Sky continued to race parked through a 27.2 first quarter.


Once “Gemini” cleared to the front, Kyle Wilfong kept He’zzz A Wise Sky going until he made the top before a sizzling 54.1 first half with a 26.3 second panel.


After their 27.4 third quarter breather, Casey took Fox Valley Gemini ($7.20) out for the stretch drive and the Jim Ballinger owned pacer got past his formidable foe in deep stretch, gaining a half-length victory in 1:50 flat.


Casey drove four winners on the Friday card.

Sunday (June 13) Hawthorne Program

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Hawthorne Saturday (June 12) Program

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Race Date Change for Fulton County

There has been a change in the race date for the Fulton County Fair in Lewistown. The correct date should be Tuesday, July 27th at 5 pm.

Getting a Handle on Matters

Kyle Wilfong comes into Friday’s races with 28 first place finishes, just one behind Casey Leonard in the current Driver Standings at Hawthorne. (Four Footed Fotos)

By Mike Paradise


If you are a resident of the Chicagoland area you certainly have noticed a spike lately in the weather. While summer doesn’t official arrive until June 22 it has come about on the local scene weeks earlier.


And the weather isn’t the only thing has warmed up in recently in Illinois. I’m happy to report that the nightly Hawthorne mutuel handle has taken a upward surge as well.


On the recent Sunday May 30th program, the one million mark in handle was reached for the first time at the meet when $1,097,607 was wagered.


You might say that’s no big deal since most other tracks in the country don’t race on Sundays, however the next live racing card at Hawthorne also went over the one-million-dollar level as well.


Last Friday’s June 4th card saw $1,095,502 stream through the Hawthorne mutuel system. The previous Friday programs in May were in the $750,000 range, so that was a substantial jump handle-wise.


Last Saturday’s handle was only about $35,000 below the seven-figure mark and it was followed by a Sunday card that raked in $1,154,812 in wagers.


Obviously a larger than normal 14-race program helped that handle but Hawthorne’s move to a 6:30 first post, 40 minutes earlier than it had been for the first month of the meeting, no doubt hurt the horsemen’s purse account, at last weekend.


Sunday’s first race (6:36 first post) handle was only about $44,000. The second (6:59 post) did not fare much better with $52,089 bet. Compare that to the third race trot, off at 7:30 pm. It had over $90,000 bet on the race, and it was followed a by $4,000 claimer with a seven-horse field that saw its handle mushroom to over $113,000.


After a month of the meet with a 7:10 Sunday first post, I’m sure I wasn’t the only person in the dark concerning Sunday’s important switch to a 40 minute move up on Hawthorne’s first race starting time.


I’m still looking for the Hawthorne press release on the move to an earlier Sunday post.


Nothing at the USTA site. Ditto for the “press release” news button at www.hawthorneracecourse. There was a promo ad on the track’s website but when was it placed there?  By chance I saw that announcement last Sunday morning.


I have no problem with a 6:30 first post on Sundays. Balmoral had it and it worked out successfully for them. But fellas, let’s do a better job of informing the public when something as important as a 40 minute earlier first post is invoked.


The rise in mutuel handle coincides with the dark cloud of the Covid-19 catastrophic at long last being lifted. While normalcy isn’t quite here just yet, it’s getting closer, and many people just want to go out and enjoy themselves after being bombarded for over a year with doom and gloom narratives.


Is this the start of a summer romance of local sporting events?


I like to think so.


Another Go Around: The $12,000 Open Pace returns tonight with past meet winners He’zzz A Wise Sky (Kyle Wilfong) and Fox Valley Gemini slugging it out for a fourth consecutive time.


Round one on May 8 went to “Gemini” however in their last two meetings He’zzz A Wise Sky has prevailed for trainer John Filomeno and owners Triple ZZZ Stable of Justice, Illinois.


Posts were drawn for groups in the eight horse sixth race feature with He’zzz A Wise Sky landing the outside eight-hole and the stat of the Terry Leonard Stable getting away one post further inside.


Upsets do happen and looking to do just that tonight are (from the pole position out) Primo Giovanni (Ridge Warren), Allmyx’sliventexas (Todd Warren), General Dolan (Tyler Shehan), Fox Valley Ren (Ridge Warren), Dash Of Danger (Kyle Husted) and My Buddy Ninkster (Travis Seekman).



Friday (June 11) Hawthorne Program

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