By Mike Paradise
The finalists for next Saturday’s three-year-old Night of Champion events were determined last night after a quartet of $15,000 final series legs were completed, each with a $15,000 pot on the line.
First up was the Robert F. Carey Memorial stake series for sophomore pacing colts and geldings where Ideal Big Guy (Casey Leonard) led from start to finish with a new lifetime mark of 1:54.4. The 14-1 longshot BC’s Tufftiger (Archie Buford) enjoyed a pocket trip and finished second, beaten two lengths.
Ideal Big Guy’s victory was his fourth of the year for Illinois owners Dandy Farms Racing (Glenview), Peter Kouchis (Palos Hills), Martin Buckley (Plainfield) and trainer Terry Leonard (Harvard).
Ideal Big Guy ($6.40) finished on top of the final Carey standings with 136 points earned. Unofficially, also qualifying for Saturday’s $85,000 championship were Ryans Loan Shark, Partyamosasplace, Bombay Bobby, BC’s Tufftiger, Diamond Diesel, Sportsnadness, Prince Of Style and Mekkas Big Guy.
Three other pacers, Frontier Charley, Sagebrush Skip, and Ashlee’s Fine Guy tied for the 10th and final spot with a single point each.
No Contest: Next up on Saturday evening was the Plum Peachy for second season ICF pacing fillies and it was strictly no contest as the overwhelming 1 to 5 favorite Hart’s Heart won for fun with regular driver Kyle Wilfong at her lines.
Princess Moose (Ridge Warren) was a non-threatening second, beaten five lengths, while Scorecard Dandy (Juan Franco) came on for third.
Owned and bred by Donna Crebs (Cantral, Illinois) and her sister Judy Conzo (Lincoln, Illinois), the front-stepping Hart’s Heart won for the sixth time this season.
The Mike Brink trained Hart’s Hart swept all four legs of the Plum Peachy series for a total of 200 points. By my math, also eligible for the Night of Champions final are Princess Moose, Scorecard Dandy, Kandi’s Fortune, Bootsy Bombay, Ryans Secret, Asad Da Pacea, Dandy’s Duchess, Clearly The Bomb and Pure Sin.
What a Finish: The $15,000 last leg of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial stake series turned out to be a heck of a finish as Sumbodygetdisfool (Todd Warren) got up in the final stride to gain a head decision over a game Rndmudpredictable (Casey Leonard).
The 4-5 pacesetting favorite Coco D’ Lascito (J D Finn) was third best in the 2:00.2 mile.
The Steve Searle trained Rndmnunpredictable was seventh, almost 10 lengths behind at the 30 second first quarter, before he was sent after the leader, racing without cover from backside on, getting past Coco D’Lascito in the late going.
However, in the late going Todd, Warren pulled the pocket trotter Sumbodygetdisfool off the inside lane, swung the Roshun Trigg trained gelding to the outside where he won for the third time in his last four outings for Laquinton Shavers of Brandon, Mississippi.
By my calculations Coco D’ Lascito, Rndmnunpredictable and Sumbodygetthisfool can be joined in the three-year-old male trot championship by Emsroscopcoletrain, Loyn Say When, Salute The Hero, Sudden Approach, Imnotalocaldude and Shady Maple Valor. Tenth place was a tie between Fistfullofdollars and Shady Maple Spirit, both with 23 points.
A Pair of Dandy’s: It was strictly a two-horse race in the final leg of the Beulah Dygert Memorial stake series with Breeze At Sunset (Atlee Bender) holding off a late charge by Loulita (Casey Leonard).
Owed by Bowie Racing (Douglas Overhiser) LLC of Shorewood, Illinois, the Erv Miller trained Breeze At Sunset cut the leisurely fractions of 30 flat, 59.3 and 1:29.4 with Loulita racing fourth through the half-mile pole.
It was more than 11 lengths back in the 1:58 mile to the third-place horse Lous Voodoo Woman
Off the record Loulita (175) and Breeze At Sunset (153) were one-two in the filly trotting division standings followed by BC’s Rose, Lucky Valerie, Rock N Sandra Lou, Lous Voodoo Woman, Ting Ting, Lous Livia. Tied for tenth with four pint0s each are Lou Lou Lamour and My Only Sin.
By Mike Paradise
Driver Kyle Wilfong and trainer Herman Wheeler were the stars of Friday night’s bevy of ICF stake eliminations or series legs that determined next week’s finalists on Hawthorne’s Night of Champions.
Wilfong drove five winning horses on the 13-race program while Wheeler sent out four youngsters from his barn and three were first place finishers,
Here’s how it all unfolded last night.
Still the Queen: The ten combatants for next Saturday’s Plesac championship were decided and the first $15,000 elimination for ICF trotters aged three and up didn’t go quite as expected.
Talk About Valor (Travis Seekman) was hammered down to 2-5 odds after an easy win last weekend in the Open but he found Illinois trotting queen Annas Lucky Star (Kyle Wilfong) too tough.
Trained y Nelson Willis for Salem, Illinois owner Daddy Graham, the seven-year-old mare took command out of the first turn and was never headed, trotting the mile in 1:55 flat for her 47th career triumph in 98 trips postward.
Talk About Valor got an advantageous two-hole journey from Seekman however he finished almost two lengths behind Annas Lucky Star. Also moving om to next week’s Please Final from the first Plesac elimination were Louscardamon, Heath Bar and Lousraptor.
Later in the evening odd Warren drove Cruzen Cassi ($12.00) to a 1:56.4 victory in the second Plesa elimination. Also advancing to the championship were Primed N Powerful, Louzotic, Reign And Shine and Fox Valley Extacy.
Sisters Act: It was the two sisters Allbeastnobeauty (Todd Warren) and Fox Valley Exploit (Kyle Husted) that showed the way in The Tony Maurello Memorial eliminations.
The seven-year-old Allbeastnobeaty breezed in 1:53.3 while her younger four-year-old sibling Fox Valley Exploit was much the best with a 1:53.1 clocking.
They’ll be joined in the Maurello championships by Dune Dame, Shelly On My Mind, Rollin Coal, and My Uptown Girl, along with Skeeter Machine, Fox Valley Lolo, Harper, and Ashlee’s Joy, the second through five finishers in their respective elims.
Lofty Opportunities Next: The last legs of the Night of Champion series for two-year-olds of both gaits and sexes made up most of the Friday program.
The first $20,000 Incredible Finale division for first season state-bred colt and gelding pacers was the much-anticipated rematch between Fox Valley Ozzy (Casey Leonard) from the barn of Gary Rath and Kyle Husted’s Get E Up, who snapped “Ozzy’s” six-race unbeaten streak at Springfield.
The 1 to 5 prohibitive favorite Fox Valley Ozzy got his revenge with a two-length victory in front-stepping fashion over Get E Up in a time of 1:54 flat with a 26.3 last quarter,
Fox Valley Crete picked a good time to notch his maiden victory by powering past in the late going for driver Kyle Wilfong in the second Incredible Finale division. The 7-2 second choice zipped past the 2-5 public’s choice Kingofmyheart (Atlee Bender) with a 1:56/1 mile.
The $20,000 Fox Valley Flan divisions for freshman filly trotters went to the Herman Wheeler stable’s Creations Dream MV (Kyle Husted) in the first split with a 2:00.2 clocking while Funky Wiggle (Kyle Wiilfong) nosed-out Armbro Lark (Charles Arthur) at the end of a 1:58.2 mile in the second “Flan” grouping. It was the fourth consecutive win for the Curt Grummel trained filly and the Dr. Patrick Graham homebred’s seventh in 11 first season starts.
Another Herman Wheeler trainee First And Goal (Kyle Husted) was bet down to 1 to 5 in the first $20,000 Kadabra split and coasted to a 2:01.4 win against four other ICF juvenile male trotters. The Mike Brink stable’s Fox Valley Cairo (Ridge Warren) prevailed by two and one-half lengths in the second Kadabra group in a time of 1:59 flat.
Apple Valley (Kyle Wilfong), coming from sixth at the three-quarter pole, flew down the lane at 5-1 odds for trainer Jim Molitor and overtook the 2-5 Incredible Tillie favorite Dandy’s MNM (Kyle Husted) in the Incredible Tillie first division for juvenile filly pacers. The winner’s time was 1:57.1.
Swanky Diamond (Casey Leonard) gave conditioner Herman Wheeler is third winner on the card when he upset the heavy favorite Rollnroz (Archie Buford) in the second “Tillie” division that went in 1:57.3. It was the World Of Rocknroll’s maiden victory.
The Robert S. Molaro prep for aged state-bred male pacers turned out to be an easy win for He’zzz A Wise Sky (Kyle Wilfong) after the John Filomeno speedball was able to go to a comfortable 28.1 second quarter in his 1:50.2 mile.
Stick Around: It’s the $15,000 final round Saturday evening for all four Night of Champions stake series for three-year-olds of both gaits and sexes.
Plum Peachy (Kyle Wilfong) will open as the 7-5 favorite in the sixth race Plum Peachy for pacing fillies and one event earlier Springfield champion Ideal Big Guy (Casey Leonard) and Du Quoin titleholder Ryans Loan Shark (Travis Seekman) square off against eight other ICF pacing colts and geldings in the Robert F. Carey Memorial series.
The last two contests on the nine-race Saturday program are the last legs of the sophomore trotting series. The 10-horse Erwin F. Dygert Memorial for males is headed up by earlier stake winners Sumbodygetdisfool (pp 4, Todd Warren), Rndmnupredictable (pp 8, Casey Leonard), and Coco D’ Lascito (pp 9, J D Finn).
The eight-horse Beulah Dygert Memorial for fillies is another rematch between Loulita (pp 2, Casey Leonard) and Breeze At Sunset (pp 5, Atlee Bender). Between them they’ve dominated this season’s ICF three-year-old distaff trotting division.
By Mike Paradise
Except for the September 25th Night of Champions, this is the evening that we will see the best ICF pacers and trotters in action more than at any other time of the Hawthorne meeting. The entire 13-race card is made up of either Night of Champion series events, eliminations, or preps with various degrees of importance, along with some respectable purse money.
In some instances where a horse finishes in one of tonight’s final series legs will determine if his or her next start will be in a lucrative state-bred championship, or a consolation race for much less dough.
Hansen Standout: Tonight’s two Plesac elimination races for state-bred trotters, ages three and upward, look like intriguing contests. The first $15,000 is tonight’s opener while the second doesn’t come up until the tenth event.
Half of the field in the first race are Illinois breds that were frequent contestants in Hawthorne Open trots, including last weekend impressive winner Talk About Valor from the Gerald Hansen Stable.
The six-year-old had to leave from the assigned 10-hole and still breezed in 1:55.4, his fifth consecutive victory for Monee, Illinois owner Shelley Steele. Talk About Valor was one of the top contenders for the last year’s Plesac championship, however health issues compelled the Yankee Valor gelding to be scratched from competing in the 2020 Night of Champions.
Other strong Open trotters Annas Lucky Star (pp 5, Kyle Wilfong), Louscardamon (pp 6, Kyle Husted) and Lousraptor (pp 7, Juan Franco) are among the seven challengers in the initial Plesac elim with the top five moving on to next Saturday’s $45.000 (est.) championship.
Just Visiting: The second Plesac elimination (race 10) lured two recent Hawthorne Open trotters, Louzotic (pp 2, Casey Leonard) and Reign and Shine (pp 4, Cordarius Stewart), and starting in between them is the four-year-old On Higher Ground (Kyle Wilfong) who was shipped all the way from New York for a shot at the Night of Champions crown.
You might recall that On Higher Ground was a productive trotter racing as a two and three-year-old for trainer Mike Brink. The Cassis gelding made almost $48,000 in Illinois as a freshman and added another $30,000-plus last season before being sold to Nathan Cockerham of Brighton, Michigan.
On Higher Ground spent most of this year at The Meadows in western Pennsylvania before heading to New York’s Yonkers Raceway. The horse has banked over $53,000 in 2021 and is currently under the care of conditioner Walter Haynes Jr.
Worth the Wait: While the Robert S. Molaro stake didn’t need any eliminations there is a $15,000 prep for the ICF aged pacers and it’ll go on the 13th and last event on Friday’s card.
It’s another Illinois Battle of the Titans between He’zzz A Wise Sky (Kyle Wilfong) and Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard) before they knock heads again in next Saturday’s $45,000 (est.) Molaro championship.
The anticipated return match-up between the Gary Rath stable’s Fox Valley Ozzy (pp1, Casey Leonard), looking for a series sweep of the Incredible Finale series, and Get E Up (pp 6), driven by his trainer Kyle Husted, and the winner of both recent State Fair contests, snapping Fox Valley Ozzy’s unbeaten streak at Springfield.
Another dandy on the card comes in the seventh race second division of the Incredible Tillie two-year-old filly trot where the Curt Grummel trained Funky Wiggle (pp 3, Kyle Wilfong), currently riding a three-race winning streak, takes on Charles Arthur’s (pp 6) Armbro Lark, victorious six times in her first season, two in them coming in the “Flan” series.