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.
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.