By Mike Paradise
The adage “What a Difference a Year Makes” sometimes applies to racehorses and that’s certainly the case of the filly Hart’s Heart, the heavy favorite in tonight’s third leg of the $15,000 Plum Peachy stake.
A little more than a year ago the Mike Brink trained home bred made her two-year-old debut in a low-end conditioned pace at Hawthorne while the top-level ICF freshman pacing fillies had already competed in two legs of the Incredible Tillie Night of Champions series and the Violet state-bred stakes.
A season later Hart’s Heart has risen to the top of the Plum Peachy stake series with back-to-back series wins and the morning line even-money choice is expected to pad her bankroll for her Illinois owners and breeders Donna Crebs (Cantrall) and Judy Conzo (Lincoln).
Hart’s Heart did get a chance last year to race against the best of her state bred class in the Springfield final and the DuQuoin showdown, both held at Hawthorne because of the Covid-19 lockdown, and she came away with both championships.
Hart’s Heart, a daughter of Major Bombay, has earned a purse check in all four of her season starts, however she did finished second to Scorecard Dandy (pp 4, Juan Franco) in their Violet confrontation, reversing the Gregory Kain trained filly’s bridesmaid finishes to her rival in the first two rounds of the Plum Peachy.
Princess Mooss (Ridge Warren) was third best in both earlier Night of Champion stake series and she drew nicely in tonight’s $15,000 headliner with the pole position.
Hoping to pull off a surprise victory in tonight’s third Plum Peachy leg are Clearly The Bomb (Kyle Husted), Bootsy Bombay (Travis Seekman), Kandi’s Fortune (Freddie Patton Jr), who won her last five races on the Illinois County Fair Circuit, and Asah Da Pacea (Todd Warren).
No “Maggie” Tonight: After three consecutive weeks of racing, all first-place finishes in Hawthorne’s filly and mare Open Pace, the mare Maggie Rhee was due for a week off. As it turned out the talented Todd Warren trained pacer got one whether her conditioner or owners wanted it because she was written out of tonight’s $10,000 Open II.
The ninth race co-feature carries a $10,000 purse, $2,000 less than the Open I, and not eligible are fillies or mares with two or more Open wins since July 1st.
So, with Maggie Rhee getting some R & R in her stall, ten other solid distaffers are going postward in a “take-your-pick” event with no clear favorite. It’s Hawthorne’s version of “sharing the wealth”, and there are those who say, in this case, it’s not a bad thing.
After all, Maggie Rhee has hauled in $45,000 in nine Hawthorne starts, while none of her rivals are close to earning that kind of dough. There was a stretch of three local Opens from May 22nd to June 12th where “Maggie” finished second to either Rock It Out or U’ll Learn, who were allotted the nine and ten posts tonight.
The Open II was drawn by groups. The one and two posts went to Dirtylittlelies (Cordarius Stewart) and Cassie Marie’s T T (Ridge Warren).
Three to six were also drawn and they’ll be manned by Allbeastnobeauty (Todd Warren), Look Kimbo (Juan Franco), Fox Valley Exploit (Kyle Husted, the 7-2 morning line choice), and Lilly Von Shtupp (Casey Leonard), respectively.
Tempus Seelster (Atlee Bender) and Primo Extremo (Matt Avenatti) obtained the seven and eight slots, in that order.
Rock It Out, a two-time Hawthorne Open winner in May, and U’ll Learn (Travis Seekman), second best last weekend when she lacked late racing room, round out the very competitive field.
Lots of dough on the Line: There’s a mandatory payout on tonight’s twelfth race (20 cent) Jackpot High Five wager. The carryover has grown to a pool of almost $200,000 and is expected to reach $500,000 tonight.
It’s a well-balanced field in tonight’s finale since it’s strictly for pacers without a victory this year and winners of over $450 per start in 2021 are not eligible, so the track record is not in jeopardy.
Let the guessing game begin.
It’s Party Time: Todd Warren gave Partyatmosasplace ($5.20) a ground saving inside trip and the three-year-old gelding took advantage of it and came on to win a narrow head victory in the third leg of the Robert F. Carey Jr. Memorial ICF stake series.
Ryans Loan Shark (Travis Seekman), almost 10 lengths off the lead at the three-quarter pole, put on a furious late rally to finish second for trainer Jim Molitor in the $15,000 Night of Champions event.
Partyatmosaplace’s Terry Leonard stable-mate Ideal Big Guy (Casey Leonard) sprinted out from the outside seven-slot to grab a quick lead and Bombay Bobby (Kyle Wilfong) did the same from the three-post. The pair were raced one-two through a 56.4 first half while Warren had Partyatmosasplace (pp 1) in third.
Todd pulled Partyatmosasplace out coming out of the last turn, swept past the early leaders, and then had to go all out with the Watson Stable homebred to hold off Ryans Loan Shark. Ideal Big Guy held on for third.
Partyatmosasplace had gone winless in her first eight starts of her sophomore season but now has back-to-back victories for Illinois owners Watson Stable (Fairfield). Peter Kouchis (Palos Park) and trainer Terry Leonard (Harvard).