For the second consecutive summer the Du Quoin State Fair races will be contested at Hawthorne Race Course.
Last year it was a steady diet of rain that eventually made it necessary for ICF stake events to be moved. This time around it’s a more somber issue, the Cover-19 epidemic that kayoed both State Fairs and necessitated the shift to Hawthorne.
Six state-bred championships are on the line tonight, sprinkled throughout a 16 race program and all are for either colts and geldings of both gaits. Four more ICF championships, strictly for the gals, will be decided on Saturday.
For most of the freshman going postward tonight this will be their fourth start of the month and in some cases, their fifth as they rapidly continue the march to Hawthorne’s Night of Champions on Saturday, September 19th.
One of those horses going to gate tonight for a fifth time in August is the red-hot home-bred Bobalou, trained by his driver Curt Grummel and owned and bred by Dr. Patrick Graham. Bobalou definitely will be the public’s choice when he puts his five race winning streak on the line that began at Springfield in late July.
Grummel has done a skillful job of developing the Lou’s Legacy freshman who was plagued with breaking problems early in his first season. Bobalou has put more than $27,000 on his card in August with $14,720 coming from last week’s State Fair championship. Tonight the youngster can pad his bank account with another good showing in tonight’s $29,500 Darn Safe trotting stake.
Well Done: As usual, the ICF two-year-old colt and gelding pacing division has had its twists and turns with last weekend’s freshman State Fair champion Well Basically perhaps moving to the head of his class for trainer Erv Miller and Illinois owners Anthony Lombardi and Marty Engel. The Sagebrush gelding seeks his fourth successive winner’s circle visit in tonight’s $27,000 Governor’s Cup.
Former Illinois circuit driver Marcus Miller last week came in from Pennsylvania to give Well Basically (pp 5) a ground-saving inside journey and got the youngster out at the right time to gain a three-quarter length triumph in1:56.4. Tonight Atlee Bender gets the catch drive behind the 5-2 programmed morning line second choice. Frontier Charley (pp 1, Todd Warren) opens at 2-1.
The steadily improving Diamond Diesel (Kyle Wilfong), second best a week ago, Frontier Charley (Todd Warren), a two-time ICF stakes champion, and Ideal Big Guy (Casey Leonard), a front-stepping State Fair elimination victor two weeks ago, all appear to be very formidable threats.
Also going to the gate in the fourth race stake are Partyamosasplace (Ridge Warren), Ashlees’s Fine Guy (Kyle Husted) and Prince Of Style (Travis Seekman).
Stepping Up: After playing second fiddle to his more renowned Mike Prink stable-mate Crooked Creek, a week ago On Higher Ground (Kyle Wilfong) got the best of his Mike Brink trained “roommate” and also the three-year-old colt trotting division leader Fox Valley Quest in the $30,000 State Fair championship.
That Illinois bred trio, plus five more ICF sophomore trotters tangle in the $29,500 Pronto Don (race seven).
Crooked Creek will leave from post three while his main rivals On Higher Ground and Fox Valley Quest landed the outside eight and nine slots, respectively.
Never Any Better: After a five-plus length romp last weekend in the three-year-old male pace final He’zzz A Wise Sky ($2.40, Bobby Smolin) will unquestionably be bet down to low-end odds once more in tonight’s $29,500 Dudley Hanover stake
The Don Filomeno owned and trained colt was more than five lengths the best in 1:52.1, a new lifetime mark. He’ll be tested by RG’S Tracer (Travis Seekman), Bagman (Todd Warren), Western Perch Kyle Wilfong), Chick Magnet (Kyle Husted), Illini Force (Ridge Warren), Ryans Ambassador (Casey Leonard) and Mighty Tony Hall (Cordarius Stewart).
Repeats Expected: Also to be decided are Du Quoin’s ICF aged colt and gelding pace (race 16) and trot (race 10) championships where Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard) and Lousraptor (Juan Franco) are favored to repeat last weekend’s State Fair victories.