By Mike Paradise
Right on schedule Illinois Trotting Queen returns to the races tonight.
The Nelson Willis stable’s Annas Lucky Star, is back in action in Sunday’s fifth race after about three months of R & R. The protagonist seven-year-old mare isn’t quite ready yet to bring to a close her racing career and start a new one as a broodmare according to her breeder and owner Danny Graham.
The Salem, Illinois native was pleased with his home bred mare’s efforts earlier in the year in Ohio Opens and wants to give his prize trotting mare opportunities to add on to some of her already impressive career statistics, starting with Sunday evening’s $12,000 Open Trot.
The Open saw 11 trotters entered and 10 will go to the gate in the fifth race headliner. By date, recent Open winner Lousraptor is listed as an also eligible” for trainer Steve Searle.
Drawn by groups, Annas Lucky Star landed in the middle group (posts four through eight) with the six slot with new driver Juan Franco.
Getting Serious (Roman Lopez) and Silverhill Volo (Jim Lackey and Primed N Powerful (Jared Seekman) will man the first three slots, in that order.
Recent Hawthorne winners Cash Hit (Travis Seekman) and Louscardamon (Casey Leonard) have the four and five, respectively, while Walter White (Ridge Warren) and Muscular Babe (Kyle Wilfong) start from posts seven and eight.
The third grouping of the race has the month of May’s Open conquerors Never Say Uncle (Kyle Husted) and Pine Dream (Ridge Warren) getting away from the outside nine and ten posts.
Last week’s Open winner Talk About Valor is taking the week off.
A week ago, it looked like a Calvary charge going into the first turn with several horses shooting out looking for early position. Pine Dream finally made the top but was parked out a good portion of the first half (58.4) and didn’t have much left in the tank for the late going. The same could be said for Never Say Uncle who also took a lot of air in the race.
Will we see more of the same tonight?
Time will tell.
Annas Lucky Star is looking for career victory No. 41. The daughter of the ICF sire Cassis, out of Graham’s successful broodmare Queen Jamie, acquired her first 40 victories in just her first 85 starts. With a career bankroll of $429,682 on her card, the half million plateau in earnings is within the mare’s reach before her racing days are over.
Another ICF stakes champion returning to action Sunday night is last year’s Incredible Tillie winner Bootsy Bombay (Travis Seekman), The James Greer owned state-bred filly makes her three-year-old bow in race 11, a conditioned pace event. She is now under the care of trainer Desiree Seekman.
Bootsy Bombay made over $57,000 in her freshman campaign for her Peoria, Illinois proprietor.
Quite a Local Debut: Under the patient handling of driver Ridge Warren, U’ll Learn (8.20) made her first appearance in a Chicago circuit filly and mare Open pace a fruitful endeavor.
U’ll Learn, a six-year-old Real Desire mare, trained by Hector Herrera, came from the back of the pack to capture Saturday night’s feature by almost two lengths over the 6-5 favorite Maggie Rhee, driven by Ridge’s father Todd.
The 26-1 longshot Primo Extremo (Kyle Husted) took third.
U’ll Learn raced in seventh in the eight-horse field for the first half mile that went in 55.2 with Maggie Rhee making the top. Ridge then followed up Golden Paradise (Casey Leonard) and the second over journey paid off for River Grove, Illinois owner James Scuba when his mare motored home in 26.3 in her Hawthorne debut.