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Steady as She Goes for Fox Valley Exploit

By Mike Paradise


There’s an old saying that “Consistency is the Key to Success.” It certainly is in horse racing and Kyle Husted’s Fox Valley Exploit is a great example of the idiom.


The now five-year-old ICF mare is making her 22nd start of the season, mostly against high level fillies and mares, and hasn’t missed a purse check.


The ultra-consistent ICF mare Fox Valley Exploit (Kyle Husted) goes to the starting gate in Hawthorne’s second race featured Open Pace for fillies and mares. (Four Footed Fotos).

Fox Valley Exploit has been particularly tough on follow state-breds. She, and the Terry Leonard stable’s Fox Valley Gemini, are the only horses that are unbeaten with three or more starts in finals on Hawthorne’s Night of Champions.


Fox Valley Exploit captured the Incredible Tillie at two, the Plum Peachy at three, and last year’s Tony Maurello Memorial final at four.


No small achievement.


This year the Amy Husted trained mare has a legitimate rival in the ICF aged mare pacing division in Scorecard Dandy. The Gregory Kain trained four-year-old defeated Fox Valley Exploit in the recent Maurello summer championship and figures to have a big shot tonight when the two talented distaff pacers square-off in the second race $12,500 Open.


Scorecard Dandy, a daughter of Sportsmaster out of the Artiscape mare Mahna Mahna, is having a career best season with $86,693 in her bank account with six wins on the year. She’s a cinch shortly to go over the $200,000 plateau in lifetime earnings for Illinois owners Green Acres LLC (Beecher) and Mike Klimas (Oak Lawn),


Speaking of earnings, Fox Valley Exploit has already banked over $93,000 this year for Michigander David Bingham and Kyle Husted of Altamont, Illinois and is nearing the $400,000 mark in purse earnings in just three and one-half seasons of racing.


After Hawthorne’s winter meet Husted sent his prize mare to The Meadowlands to see what she could do against some stiff competition and the mare didn’t disappoint him. She made 10 starts against some very good older female pacers and put $35,875 on her card, an average of $3,875 per start.


Scorecard Dandy (Kyle Husted), who beat Fox Valley Exploit in the recent Maurello summer championship, takes on her state-bred rival in tonight’s distaff Open Pace. (Four Footed Fotos)

The ultra-consistent mare has been racing on or close to the front at the meet so drawing the two-slot in a five-horse field should bode well for Fox Valley Exploit, the likely post time favorite.


The small but competitive field also lured Late Night Date A (pp 1, Atlee Bender), Rollin Coal (pp 3, Juan Franco) and Tiamogonedancen (Travis Seekman), all strong contenders.


The Queen Rules: Illinois trotting queen Annas Lucky Star, nicely handled by driver Kyle Wilfong, continued her winning ways in last night’s $12,300 Open and the eight-year-old state-bred mare did by equaling her own track record with a 1:53.3 clocking.


Annas Lucky Star ($10.80) overtook the pacesetting Talk About Valor (Travis Seekman) in deep stretch and won by one length after a ground-saving up-close journey.


Wilfong hustled out the 4-1 third choice from the five hole and got a quick lead but the 1 to 2 favorite Big City Pearl (Atlee Bender) and Talk About Valor (7-2) were also on the move early from their assigned six and seven slots.


Big City Pearl got command at the 28.4 first quarter but Talk About Valor zipped by mid-way on the backstretch and took over the lead as Big City Pearl settled into second.


However, the Erv Miller east coast invader went off-stride before the 57 half and Anna Lucky Star moved into the two-hole. She stayed there until the stretch drive, besting Talk About Valor in the late going for Salem, Illinois owner Danny Graham for her 52nd career victory.







A July to Remember for Trainer Curt Grummel

Two-year-old filly trotter Marvelous Mystery (Kyle Wilfong), unbeaten in seven lifetime starts, will join stable-mate Funky Wiggle next week at Springfield. (Four Footed Fotos)

By Mike Paradise


July of 2022 is one month Illinois trainer Curt Grummel will never forget. The 50-year-old horseman sent out not one but two of the recent $50,000 summer champions at Hawthorne.


His three-year-old filly trotter Funky Wiggle was much the best in the Beulah Dygert Memorial trot a couple of weeks ago and stable-mate Marvelous Mystery stayed unbeaten with a triumph in last week’s Fox Valley Flan showdown.


You might think since both fillies comes from the same stable, they would be a lot alike. You would be wrong.


“The two fillies are the opposite to each other,” revealed Grummel. “They don’t have much in common.”


They are both driven by Kyle Wilfong and both trotters like to win races,” I interjected.


“Yes, you’re right about that,” replied Curt. “I had Marvelous Mystery’s mother (Catrain Hall, 1:54, $353,421), and she was a good solid mare. Marvelous Mystery is a lot like her.


“The filly is very consistent. She has a little soundness problem, so I like to take it easy on her. Her best days are ahead of her. We’ve haven’t seen the bottom to her yet.”


Funky Wiggles hasn’t got funky in a race for Curt very often, instead she’s pretty much ruled over her division as a two-year-old and is well on her way of doing the same thing at the age of three.


“The only time she went off stride last year was when I raced her with hind shoes,” said Curt. “I had been racing her without them. I thought now that she’s bigger and stronger this year she matured out of that problem, but she hasn’t. When you saw her not make the gate a few weeks ago and start pacing it was because I put her hind shoes back on again. She obviously didn’t like it.”


Beulah Dygert Memorial summer champion Funky Wiggle (Kyle Wilfong) looks to stay sharp tonight with Springfield only a week away. (Four Footed Fotos)

When the Beulah Dygert summer championship rolled around Curt made the necessary shoe change on the filly and the result was a dominate winning performance from the Funky Wiggle, almost seven lengths the best.


Grummel wants to keep Funky Wiggle sharp for next Friday’s Illinois State Fair sophomore filly trotting eliminations (or prep event), so he put her in Hawthorne’s entry box for this weekend.


The winner of over $165,000 in a season and a half of racing goes postward in Saturday’s second event from the pole position, a race strictly for three-year-old trotters. She’ll open as a 6-5 heavy favorite.  Funky Wiggle will use it as a prep for the Springfield meet that starts next Thursday afternoon.


Classy Newcomer in Open Trot: Saturday’s headliner is the $12,500 Open Trot where the red-hot Talk About Valor is back after a couple of weeks rest and has a “new face” to take on and she’s a good one.


She’s Big City Pearl (Atlee Bender), an Erv Miller trainee who was competing in the rugged open Graduate Series at The Meadowlands in May and June.


Big City Pearl, assigned the seven-slot with Talk About Valor allocated the right, was a $82,200 yearling purchase. Now four, the mare has over $225,000 in lifetime earnings and took her mark of 1:53.2 on sloppy surface at Hoosier in June when she captured an Open 3 event.


Lining up with posts one through five, in that order, to challenge Talk About Valor and Big City Pearl are Reign And Shine (Jamaica Patton), Louscardamon (Kyle Husted), Swan Of Dreams (Todd Warren), and Louzotic (Casey Leonard), along with Illinois trotting queen Annas Lucky Star (Kyle Wilfong), appointed the five post by the Hawthorne Race Office.


Ho-Hum: Proving once again he’s the best horse racing in Illinois, He’zzz A Wise Sky ($2.40) last night rolled to his ninth consecutive victory this year at Hawthorne in the $12,300 Open Pace.


Aptly driven by Kyle Wilfong, the star of the John Filomeno stable showed his heels to seven foes, this time in 1:49.4, almost one length better than the 20-1 longshot Rock N Republic (Atlee Bender). Hidden Assassin (Travis Seekman) was a game third.


He’zzz A Wise Sky wouldn’t be denied the lead and hit the first quarter marked in a rapid 26.3. He went to the half in :54.3 and reached the three-quarter pole in 1:22 flat and more than enough left to hold off his challengers.


The five-year-old home bred is now 12 for 19 on the year and is closing in on $150,000 in season earnings for Triple ZZZ Stable Beecher, Illinois.


Sunday (August 7) Hawthorne Program

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Friday (August 5) Hawthorne Program

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Rested He’zzz A Wise Sky Returns

By Mike Paradise


It’s a rare weekend at Hawthorne without any ICF stake races on the next couple of cards.


With Springfield opening six days from now much of the state-bred freshman crop are taking the week off while it’s just the opposite for some of the better three-year-old Illinois breds. They’ll be in action staying sharp for the upcoming Springfield stake eliminations and championship event.


For example: Recent Robert F. Carey Memorial summer champion Get E Up (Kyle Husted); last year’s two-year-old ICF colt champion Fox Valley Ozzie (Gary Rath) and June’s Cardinal winner Josie Rocksmyworld (Tidd Warren) will knock heads in tonight’s second race strictly for three-year-olds.


Non-state breds Corporalpunishment (Casey Leonard) and Sunny And Eighty (Jamaica Patton), both recent winners, will test the Illinois trio.



Here’s a familiar sight: He’zzz A Wise Sky (Kyle Wilfong) winning a Hawthorne Open. The John Filomeno looks to make it 9-for-9 on the local scene tonight. (Four Footed Fotos).

Friday’s feature is the third race $12,500 Open Pace where horses will try to end He’zzz A Wise Sky’s unbeaten 2022 winning streak at Hawthorne.


The Triple ZZZ Stable’s speedy hotshot took the last two weeks off for some R&R but you can be sure trainer John Filomeno will have the talented four-year-old ready to roll as he attempts to make it nine-for-nine on the local scene this year.


To the surprise of no one, Hawthorne’s Race Office assigned He’s A Wise Sky (Kyle Wilfong) the outside eight slot. His strongest threats tonight also have outside slots, last week’s Open winner Hidden Assassin (Travis Seekman) was allocated the seven-post while Hawthorne newcomer His Beats Hanover (Kyle Husted), a double Open winner at Oak Grove in Kentucky, was given the six post for his Husted stable debut.


The four-year-old His Beats Hanover is a son of Somestarsomewhere out of a Dragon Again mare and sold for a hefty $150,000 as a yearling at the Lexington Select Sale by Hanover Shoe Farms.


The horse raced out of the Ron Burke barn much of last year when he made over $80,000 and took his mark of 1:50.4 at The Meadowlands. He competed in some east coast stakes such as the Tattersall, John Simpson, and Liberty Bell.


His Beats Hanover spent the first four months of this year racing out east at Dover Downs, Harrington, and Philadelphia for trainer Jason Johnson. He was sold to his current California owner A Piece Of The Action in late April and went to Kentucky where he was handled by trainer Wayne Oke and had four first place finishes in nine trips to the starting gate.


Hidden Assassin (Travis Seekman), last week’s Open Pace winner, goes for his second in a row tonight for the Rick Schrock stable. (Four Footed Fotos)

Now four, Hidden Assassin made only one start as a two-year-old and it was a winning effort at Hawthorne. The Art Major gelding, out of the ICF mare The Assassinator, started two more times in early summer of 2021 at Hawthorne and won both of those as well.


Hidden Assassin was then sent off to upstate New York and campaigned at Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs and Yonkers through mid-September before shipping to Hoosier where he raced in a couple of Opens 3’s for trainer Michael Deters.


This year he’s been under the care of conditioner Rick Schrock, who had the talented pacer in his first three career winning starts at Hawthorne, Hidden Assassin rejoined Rick for the horse’s four-year-old campaign in mid-June and the horse has been a tiger ever since.


Hidden Assassin has been third or better in all seven starts, winning three of them. His biggest effort may have come in a third-place finish back on July 8th when the horse paced the last quarter of the mile in 26 seconds flat when he lost by a head.


What turned the horse around for his four-year-old season.?


“I think the horse just figured it out himself what it’s all about,” answered Rick.


Even though last week’s Open victory came on the front end, that’s not Hidden Assassin’s favorite way of racing.


“He likes to come from out of it and go past horses in the stretch,” said Schrock.


Warrawee Veloce (Todd Warren), second best to Hidden Assassin last week, has the four post while Primo Giovanni (Casey Leonard), the third place finisher to He’zzz A Wise Sky two weeks ago, leaves from the three


The first two posts will be manned by longshot hopefuls Hello Sweetie Boy (Cordadius Stewart)) and Rock Jagger (Atlee Bender).