By Mike Paradise
Its showdown time this weekend at Hawthorne for eight State Fair Championships.
The cream of the two and three-year-old ICF male pacers and trotters will duke it out tonight for division bragging rights while the same class of state-bred fillies and mares of both gaits square off on Saturday evening.
One thing last weekend’s eliminations or preps did tell us: There are no guarantees in our sport especially when first season horses are concerned.
After back-it-back stake victories in the first leg of the Incredible Finale series and the Cardinal, Frontier Charley had to settle for second best behind the developing Terry Leonard freshman pacer Ideal Big Guy (Casey Leonard).
Ideal Big Guy, a $19,000 yearling buy, started out his juvenile season without much success but that’s all behind him now.
Ideal Big Guy won his elimination division by a half-length, pacing 1:56.3 in his maiden win. A full brother to the ICF aged mare pacer Ashlee’s Joy, Ideal Big Guy went off stride in his first two starts but since the first break was on a sloppy track, the freshman pacer avoided re-qualifying.
Casey kept Ideal Big Guy flat in the second Incredible Finale leg, ending up a non-threating fifth. Nonetheless, the gelding finished with pace. The youngster also demonstrated improvement in his August 2nd race, showing gate speed and ending up third on a sloppy racing surface.
Last week the money showed (2-1, after being at double digit odds in his past two outings) and Ideal Big Guy rolled, coming out of the pocket soon after the first quarter and getting away with a leisurely 59.3 half. Frontier Charley (6-5) came home in snappy 27.1 however Ideal Big Guy wasn’t going to be denied his first winner’s circle visit young career.
Tonight in the race four championship they’ll line-up, from the rail out: Diamond Diesel (Kyle Wilfong), Prince Of Style (Travis Seekman), Ryans Loan Shark, (Cordarius Stewart) Ashlee’s Fine Guy (Kyle Husted), Well Basically (Marcus Miller), Mekkas Big Guy (Tyler Shehan), Partyatmosasplace (Ridge Warren), Frontier Charley (Todd Warren), Ideal Big Guy (Casey Leonard) and Bombay Bobby (Juan Franco).
Is the Sky Falling? Sent off as a prohibitive 2-5 public’s choice He’zzz A Wise Sky (Bobby Smolin) was supposed to come out on top in last week’s ICF three-year-old prep on the other hand Western Perch and his driver Kyle Wilfong had another outcome in mind.
The 29-year-old Wilfong gave Western Perch a heady pocket journey behind the pacesetter RG’S Tracer and the Nicole Agosti trained 11-1 longshot held off the fast-closing (26.4) He’zzz A Wise Sky by a half-length in 1:53.2, a new fastest winning time for the Duneside Perch gelding.
The ninth race three-year-old championship has He’zzz A Wise Sky (Bobby Smolin) inside with the two slot with RG’S Tracer (Travis Seekman) on his left. On his right are Western Perch (Kyle Wilfong), Chick Magnet (Kyle Husted), Ryans Ambassador (Casey Leonard), Bagman (Todd Warren) and Illini Force (Ridge Warren), in that order.
On a Roll: Dr. Patrick Graham’s Bobalou has come a long way since his disappointing finishes in the home-bred’s first two races, the Cardinal and a leg of the Kadabra. Bobalou will bring a four race winning streak, all with his trainer Curt Grummel in the sulky. Into tonight’s contest. Last week’s elimination saw the son of Lou’s Legacy draw off by eight and one-half widening lengths for his Pittsfield, Illinois proprietor and breeder.
Bobalou drew nicely for his fifth race championship with the two-slot. Emsroscopcoletrian Cornelius Cavett) acquired the pole position.
The Steve Searle trained Rndmnunpredictable exhibited again last weekend that he can be a force in the freshman male trot division for Flacco Family Farms when he minds his racing manners, taking his elimination by a comfortable four lengths with Casey Leonard at his lines for the first time.
The draw wasn’t kind to Rndmnunpredicable who drew the 10-hole. Post three through nine went to Shady Maple Spirit (J D Finn), Salute The Hero (Cordarius Stewart), Lousrolando (Kyle Husted), E L Big Game (Mike Rogers), Loyz Say When (Marcus Miller) Shady Maple Valor (Freddie Patton Jr.) and Fistfullofdollars (Mike Brink), respectively.
Worth the Wait: You’ll have to wait until the 13th race tonight for the $32,000 Illinois State Championship for male sophomore trotters and another showdown between the division’s current top pair of three-year-olds, Fox Valley Quest (Casey Leonard) and Crooked Creek (Todd Warren).
The post advantage went to last week’s runner-up Crooked Creek with the two while Fox Valley Quest will look to make it five in a row from the eight-post.
They’ll be challenged by Fox Valley Kobe (Ridge Warren), On Higher (Kyle Wilfong), Cassy Chip (Juan Franco), Easy Lo (Travis Seekman), Lous Paisano (Scott Robbins), Desert Sheik (Marcus Miller), Lou Paschal (Cordarius Stewart) and Coach Cougar (Kyle Husted).
Welcome Back: Former Illinois based driver Marcus Miller is back in his home state tonight and Saturday to handle four of his father Erv Miller’s trained horses. The now 31-year-old Miller is behind Well Basically in Friday’s fourth race. On Saturday he’ll guide the stable’s Myonly Sin in the first, Pure Sin (fourth) and Sleazy Gal (fifth).
Early Post: With a larger than normal 15-race program, Friday’s first post has been moved up to 6:30.