By Mike Paradise
With the Springfield State Fair meet behind us and Du Quoin still six days away from its opener, the focus on Illinois harness racing shifts back to Hawthorne for this weekend.
It’s Saturday night and that means its front and center time for the local filly and mare colony. The $12,000 Open for distaffers is once again the headliner and this time around the feature looks more competitive with the absence of Rockin N Runnin who has been given this week off.
The Terry Leonard Stable’s Rockin N Runnin came in from Indiana a couple of weeks ago and was much the best in back-to-back Hawthorne Opens.
With Rockin N Runnin away for the weekend a pair of Brett Wilfong stablemates, It’s Time For Fun (pp 3, Kyle Wilfong) and Boogie On Down (pp 7, Casey Leonard) figure to get the lion’s share of the public’s wagering dollars.
It’s Time For Fun rattled off three consecutive wins at Hawthorne last month and two came in Opens. The four-year-old mare then became sick and missed her scheduled July 22nd start. She was a non-threating second to Rockin Runnin last week when she paced a 27.1 last quarter however was beaten by 5 and 1 /2 lengths.
Boogie On Down, her five-year-old stable-mate, captured consecutive Hawthorne Opens less than a month ago. The homebred mare then tailed off for a few starts but rebounded in a big way at Springfield when she won the aged pacing mare championship with a career fastest 1:51.4 mile. Casey Leonard will be at her lines for the first time tonight.
You can expect the Ronnie Roberts stable’s Sweetshadyshark (pp 6, Ryan Anderson) t0 also get good play. The five-year-old mare has been a consistent factor in the local Open ranks all summer long and it’s no secret she has a fondness for Hawthorne’s racing surface.
April Deo (pp 4, Kyle Husted) comes off her best race in a while with a third place finish a week ago and Skeeter Machine (pp 5, Ridge Warren) has been the model of constancy for a couple of months. The Alan Bowen trained four-year-old ICF mare has been first or second in 7 of her 8 season starts and was only a nose behind Boogie On Down at Springfield last week when she was also clocked in 1:51.4
Posts one and two were drawn with Rollin Coal (Juan Franco) landing the pole position and Fox Valley Jazzy (Robert Smolin) the two.
The often late charging Rollin Coal is a five-time winner at Hawthorne this season. The four-year-old Sagebrush mare annexed the June 22nd Open and has missed just one purse check in her 15 Illinois races this year for Chicago owner and trainer Hosea Williams.
No Passing Zone: Driver Kyle Wilfong perfectly rated Stuckey Dote ($10.20) to a front-stepping half-length victory in last night’s $12,000 Open Pace over his Terry Leonard trained stable-mate Fox Valley Gemini.
Wilfong urged Stuckey Dote out from the 8-slot and the pacer shot to the lead while the 6-5 favorite Fox Valley Gemini was floated out of the 10-hole and was dropped into seventh by Casey Leonard.
Wilfong took Stuckey Dote to a :27.4 first quarter and on his way to a :55.1 half Fox Valley Gemini was grinding out a first-over trip and taking a lot of air.
The Terry Leonard trained duo were heads apart at the three-quarters (1:23.2) and Stuckey Dote dug in and never did let his stable-mate get past, stopping the timer in 1:51.1. It was season victory No. 7 for the eight-year-old gelding owned by his Iowa breeder Merlin G. Van Otterloo.
Feelnlikearockstar (Juan Franco), the pocket horse, was another half-length back to be third.