By Mike Paradise
Having quality and quantity is a good thing, especially with horses, and there’s no doubt that trainer Perry Smith as both going for him in the Late Closer Series for $5,000 male claimers.
The veteran conditioner has the morning line favorite in both divisions of tonight’s opening rounds with the former Illinois stakes champion Mystical Walter (Todd Warren) in the sixth race first split and the 11-year-old pacer Dontgetbyme (Ridge Warren) in the eighth.
In fact Perry might have the second morning line favorites in each series event and perhaps even the third betting choice as well.
That’s because the Pennsylvania native sends out Charley’sfastcat (Kyle Wilfong), Krusty The Clown (Ridge Warren) and Dunside Art (Travis Seekman) along with stable-mates Bossa Nova Baby (Todd Warren) and Twinkle Like Astar (Seekman) in race eight.
All seven series hopefuls are also owned by Perry and will slug it out for the winner’s share of a $7,000 purse and finish high enough to gain points to earning a start in the series $9,000 Final slated for Thursday, May 6.
With the coupling of horses in a harness race seemingly a thing of the past on the Chicago circuit you’ll have to determine which one of Perry’s horses will prevail, or for that matter, which other non-Smith trained starter will prove best.
A second $7,000 round of the series is slated next Thursday. With the final field determined by money earned in the series, a victory tonight would lock-up a starting berth in the finale.
Did Perry foresee having four of his horses competing against each other in one and race three more in another?
“That wasn’t my plan when I nominated them,” he answered. “I was hoping there would be more than two divisions but that didn’t materialize. Maybe we’ll get more horses entered in for the second round.
“With $7,000 purses for a $5,000 claimer and a $9,000 final, it was worth the gamble ($200 entry fee) to make all seven of my horses eligible.”
In 2014 Perry annexed the leading trainer titles at both Balmoral and Maywood Parks. Last year he went over the 1,500 plateau in career trainer victories.
Not to be outdone, Springfield based trainer Mike Brink “one-up” Perry with right horses among the three divisions of tonight’s opening round of the series for ICF trotters who are non-winners of two races as of April 1, 2016 or $10,000 lifetime.
Brink’s Prince Simba (Pat Curtin) is the 5-2 favorite in race one in my line where he’ll be joined by stable-mate Fox Valley Diamo (6-1, Casey Leonard). I’ve listed Brink’s Hail Caesar (Seekman) 7-2 behind Surviver DI (Steve Searle) at 5-2 in race three. He’ll drive his Chocolate Hare (8-1) in race 3 and assigned Pass The Plate (8-1) to Matt Krueger,
In race four I’ve got Brink’s filly Awfully Emotional (Seekman) at 7-2 while barn-mates Powerful Father (Todd Warren) is at 4-1 and Praise Singer (Pat Curtin) is at 6-1.