By Mike Paradise
Illinois bred veteran trotter Talk About Valor continued his season dominance at Hawthorne while the Australian bred newcomer Im Sir Blake A, showed his Aussie back class in his local debut with a stress-free victory.
Talk About Valor, the 9-5 second choice in the wagering, is in the midst of another banner year for trainer Gerald Hanson and showed it again last night, digging in when it counted to gain a rather comfortable two-length front-end victory over the 2 to 5 favorite Jack Vernon (Todd Warren) in the $12,300 Open Trot.
Flawlessly rated by driver Travis Seekman, Talk About Valor ($5.80) shot out from the outside five slot at the start, as did Jack Vernon (Todd Warren) from the four. The 2021 ICF Aged Male Trotter of the Year made the front in the first turn as Warren was content to take the two-hole trip behind the Yankee Valor gelding.
Talk About Valor coasted to a 58 flat half with the public’s choice on his back. After reaching the three-quarters in 1:27.1, Jack Vernon came out for the stretch drive and tried to overtake the leader. However, Talk About Valor had plenty left and had no trouble putting away the bid by last night’s chief rival. Louzotic was a non-threatening third.
The victory was Talk About Valor’s 10th in 16 starts for Monee, Illinois owner Shelly Steele and the seven-year-old gelding’s 26th in 72 career starts.
On Cruise Control: Im Sir Blake A showed why he was one of the elite horses in Australia before coming to the United States a couple of years ago, blowing away a Hawthorne Open Pace field with Atlee Bender along for the ride.
The betting public had it right when they bet down the seven-year-old Aussie gelding to 2 to 5 odds. Saddled with the outside seven-post, Im Sir Blake ($2.80) had to work to grab command away from Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard), going three-wide in the first turn to do it.
After a soft 28.1 fist panel, Im Sir Blake sped to a 27.1 second quarter (55.1 half). A 28 third quarter set things up for the horse’s first his get-go on Hawthorne’s long stretch, and the winner of over $300,00 lifetime, loved it, breezing in 1:50.1 by four and one-half lengths under a firm hold.
Fox Valley Gemini was second best while Play Me Rock (Travis Seekman) came on for third.
Trained by the Erv Miller Midwest Division, Im Sir Blake was brought to this country by Shorewood, Illinois owner Dou Overhiser and has won races at Yonkers, the Meadowlands, Pocono, Saratoga, Tioga Downs, and Philadelphia over a two-year span in the U.S.A.
Monday Night Delight: It’s a very rare Monday card tonight at Hawthorne with the $12,300 Open Pace for fillies and mares as its headliner. Seven distaffers will head to the starting gate in race three with the first five finishers back from the August 20th Open, headed by its winner Late Night Date A.
As expected, the eight-year-old Australian bred from the Midwest division of the Erv Miller Stable was assigned the outside post by the Hawthorne Racing Office. She not only was a 1:52.3 winner last time out with Atlee Bender in the bike, but she did it taking a lot of air in her first-over mile.
With her win in the Hawthorne Open a week earlier on her card, she’ll be looking for her third consecutive victory on the local scene. The Blissful Hall mare does face a solid field of mares, so she has her work cut out tonight from the outside slot.
From the rail out its Marys Pretty Girl (Brandon Bates), Primo Extremo (Todd Warren), the tornado surviving mare Rock It Out (Casey Leonard), Tiaogonedancen (Travis Seekma), Scorecard Dandy (Kyle Wilfong), and the New Zealand bred mare Eliza Dushku N (Kyle Husted), second best to Late Night Date nine days ago.
A win Monday night would push Late Night Date’s season earnings over the $50,000 mark for Illinois owners Douglas Overhiser (Shorewood), Dandy Farms Racing (Glenview) and Ft Racing Stable (Glenview).
Enjoyable Ending: We went one-for-one on Mike’s Price Shots Sunday night when Farewell Tour (Kyle Wilfong) won at a nice mutuel of $16.00 in the 12th and last race on the card