By Mike Paradise
Friday’s $27,500 Cardinal stake divisions for ICF male pacers are loaded with the likes of, 2017 Illinois Harness Horse of the Year Fox Valley Gemini, a romping winner in his opening Carey series, the Tom Simmons Stable’s Backstreet Lawyer, who raised some eyebrows with his 1:50.4 expeditious mile in his Carey division, and the narrow but game winning effort from Fox Valley Hijinx in his series split.
Trainer Jamaica Patton, knows he’ll be in his familiar underdog role when his 3-year-old pacer Sports Analyst returns to the races after a brief two-week layoff, following the Ron Phillips owned pacer’s strong triumph in the Mike Paradise Late Closer Series Final.
The Paradise showdown was a nice field of ICF 3-year-old pacers, but his Friday’s second division Cardinal foes, are a step up to the cream of the crop in the Illinois bred sophomore division.
“Anything can happen in a horse race,” said Jamaica, and off course the 37-year-old Mississippi native is absolutely right.
On Super Night 2008, Jamaica guided trainer Herman Wheeler’s 40-1 My Birthday, to her surprising win in the Lady Ann Reed Final at Balmoral and three years later, he had his second Super Night champion with the Joseph Mullins home-bred Maplegrove Shaelyn, also, in the Lady Ann Reed trot.
Last year at Du Quoin the betting public didn’t give the freshman filly Party Belle much of a chance in the $31,000 Director Awards stake, but Jamaica rallied the 19-1 longshot to victory over Violet champion Rollin Coal.
Two weeks ago, Jamaica’s fast improving Sports Analyst showed he was best in the Paradise Final. The youngster won an earlier leg of the Paradise and was second in the other, but drawing the nine-slot in the 10-horse field final made the task in the series showdown, a difficult one.
And to make Friday’s Cardinal division an even more arduous undertaking, Jamaica had the bad luck to have Sports Analysis land the outside 10-hole. Nevertheless, that hasn’t damped the optimism of the likable Springfield based horseman.
“Sports Analyst just keeps getting better and better” said Jamaica. “He only made two starts as a 2-year-old for my uncle (Freddie Patton Jr.), and came to my barn late in the year.
Jamaica had the horse ready for the winter meet as Sports Analyst grabbed his maiden victory in his third start of the year. At the summer meet, Sports Analyst has picked up is game a notch and Jamaica thinks the horse will keep getting better and better.
The ICF breeding is there to perhaps prove Patton right.
Sports Analyst is a half-brother to the former illustrious ICF pacer, Well To Do Guru, who ended his career five years ago with 41 career wins, a mark of 1:49.3 and $726,359 in purse earnings for owners Marilyn and Frank Gorman of Schaumburg, Illinois, under the care of conditioner, Terry Leonard.
Both horses are out of broodmare Guru’s Girl. Well To Do Guru was sired by Richess Hanover, while Sports Analyst is a son of Sportsmaster.
Starting inside of Sports Analyst in the tight race Cardinal division are Al’s Briefs, Fox Valle Hangten, Shooting Straight, Herecomesmagotta, Yougotitfiguredout, Backstreet Lawyer, Molina, Heza A Real Shooter and Fox Valley Hijinx.
Unbeaten Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard), heads-up the fifth race first $27,100 Cardinals split, in search of his 13th consecutive triumph.