By Mike Paradise
With a highly successful lunching of its Juneteenth Celebration race last year this season’s go around moves to Springfield and a day early because of racing being Dark on Sunday, June 19th.
The inaugural Juneteenth Celebration event was the first pari-mutuel harness race in Illinois history to feature an entire field of Standardbred horses driven exclusively by African-American horsemen.
The initiative to spotlight participation by minorities in the historic sport was championed by the Illinois Harness Horsemen Association and the initial Juneteenth Celebration event was well received by the national media.
Today’s Juneteenth Celebration race is an $5,000 Invite with five horses entered, all driven by African-American horseman. It’s carded as race eight on the 10-race program.
Hosea Williams, an Illinois Harness Hall of Fame inductee for lifetime service and dedication to the industry, some 40 plus years ago was the first minority horseman to become a “regular” on the Chicagoland harness racing circuit and was proud to be a part of last year’s inaugural event.
“Seeing a race full of Black drivers steering horses down the homestretch makes it easier for the next generation of horsemen to imagine themselves as integral to the success of this industry,” said Hosea Williams, a board member of the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association after last year’s initial Juneteenth race. “When I started racing horses here, I was the only Black driver; now there are many more of us. This is about representation and visibility, and I’m really thankful to Hawthorne and my fellow horsemen for supporting this.”
This year Hosea has the pride of his stable going post in the second rubbing of the Juneteenth event. She’s Rollin Coal, the seven-year-old mare with lifetime earnings of over $257,000, mostly banked by taking on the top open company pacing mares on the circuit.
Hosea will drive Rollin Coal away from the outside five slot when she takes on Tymal Torch (Cordarius Stewart), Heavy Pressure (Archie Buford), Rock Steady Ron (Jamaica Patton) and Incredible Bombay (Jerome Daniels).
Jamaica Patton drove last year’s Juneteenth winner Todd’s Party and the Mississippi native will steer one of the race favorites in Ron Steady Rock. The seven-year-old Patton trainee paced a winning 1:49.4 mile at Lexington last year and his $49,090 earned thus far this season is tops in the Invite field.
Good Looking Trot: Saturday’s Hawthorne card at Springfield is headed up by the seventh race trot fort ICF three- and four-year old’s. It’s a solid field with two of last year’s division champions, the Kadabra Final winner and the Fox Valley Flan bridesmaid among its six starters.
Night of Champions victor Lousdobb, fresh off a 1:59.4 victory a few weeks ago at Springfield takes on Illinois Two-Year-Old Colt of the Year Fox Valley Cairo, who also romped on May 29th in 1:59 flat.
With Casey Leonard opting to drive Steve Searle’s Lousdobb, trainer Mike Brink will guide Fox Valley Cairo today, the winner of six of 11 outings as a freshman with over $95,000 banked.
Rndmnnpredictable, another Searle trainee, leaves from the five spot between Lousdobb and Fox Valley Cairo. Juan Franco handles last season’s ICF Aged Trotter of the year.
Armbro Lark, the Fox Valley Flan 2021 runner-up, will use her gate speed from the rail to be in the thick of today’s contest. She made over $78,000 as a juvenile and has Terry Skinner in her bike today.
Emsroscopcoletrian (Cornelius Cavett) and I’mnotalocaldude (Archie Buford) complete the competitive trotting field.
By Mike Paradise
The road to Hawthorne’s Night of Champions in mid-September begins Friday at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield for pacers and trotters ages three and up.
It began a couple of two days ago for two-year-olds on the same racetrack when the Summer Classic unfolded for the freshman colony.
In recent years the road to the championships got under way with the beginning of Hawthorne’s summer meet but with Arlington tossing in the towel on horse racing in this state and Hawthorne now standing alone as a Standardbred facility, the jammed up 2022 racing schedule at Hawthorne made for a later start for a harness meet, eliminating multiple legs to the championship finals but opening the door for additional racing in Springfield.
Actually, more racing at Springfield is way overdue.
With Balmoral and Maywood racing a thing of the past, another harness racing venue is badly needed. For now, Springfield provides at least the partial answer.
What’s holding things back is a multi-purpose racetrack, some sprucing up of the state capitol grandstand, and improvements to the barn area, lights if we conduct racing at night and of course, permission from the Illinois Racing Board.
You would think a few million dollars investment from the state legislators would take care of more racing at Springfield throughout the year with a racing surface that doesn’t shut down the racing program when it rains. After all, for years the state has reeled off incentives to businesses to remain in Illinois.
Why not invest to save the whole horse racing industry. Can we really afford to lose even more people to out-of-state venues?
I think not.
Racing at Springfield for today, tomorrow, and two days next week are non-wagering. Why not spend the dough to make them pari-mutuel events for the next go around? The state makes some money, the racetrack does better, its more dough for the horsemen’s purse account, and fans want to come to the races to Watch and Bet.
Has far as the argument that Springfield won’t provide revenue like the Chicagoland tracks, don’t be too sure. Over 85 per cent of the handle comes from off track betting. For years now, basically, betting on horse racing is a little more than a TV show for fans on their computers and telephones. With needed enhancements, free admission, and a dollar program, the on-track attendance at Springfield could rival that of Hawthorne’s.
And if ever a Racino was built at its facility, things could really take off.
Motoring Home: Wednesday’s Summer Classic for ICF pacers and trotters is in the history books. The fastest freshman mile was recorded by the Jamaica Patton trained gelding Fox Valley Langley, who won in 1:57.3 with a quick 26.2 last quarter.
The Somestarsomewhere youngster was a $21,000 buy at last year’s Walker Sale by Patton for Illinois owners Lyle E. Lipe (Springfield) and Melvin A. Schoneweis of Petersburg.
By Mike Paradise
When the 2022 Summer Classic for ICF two-year-old horses were announced for June 15th there was no scarcity of sceptics that a shortage of horses being entered was possible because of the early date
Those doubters proved to be off base, and by a wide margin.
No less than 83 freshman state-bred pacers or trotters passed the entry box for today’s 2022 Summer Classic, making it necessary to card 14 races with four divisions for juvenile colt and filly pacers and three each for freshman trotters of both sexes.
The surprising large numbers of entries did slice deep into the purse money available ($20,000), dived up equally per race, to a lowly sum of $1,428 pots.
Nevertheless, most horsemen entered their youngsters not with purse money in mind, but an opportunity to get in a start, or maybe two, gaining welcome racing experience before Hawthorne opens (June 30th) and rolls out the two-year-old Violet and Cardinal stakes the weekend of July 8th and 9th, less than four weeks away.
The busiest person at the Illinois State Fairgrounds today will be trainer Roshun Triggs, who comes off his most successful yseason with 118 winners in 2021. The 44-year-old Mississippi native sends out 13 horses among the 14 races going to the gate.
Hope to has lots of help on hand.
Worth Eying: Looking at my past performance and breeding proofs, some horses that caught my eye include Al Beals Harleys The Moose (race 1) from the Gary Rath stable. The Somebeachsomewhere filly of by Panfastic (her dam was the Illinois Hall of Fame horse Panic Attack), making Panfastic a half-sister to six pacers with marks of 1:51 or faster including the 2009 Illinois Horse of the Year and O & B Super Night champion Power The Moment, the winner of over $751,000.
The second race’s My Daddy’s Revenge is a Mike Brink trainee with a quick 1:57.3 qualifier on her card. The Revenge Shark filly is by Hope Lane Hanover who has two siblings racing with marks of 1:52.2 and 1:53.1.
Kyle Husted’s Fox Valley Landen is a $22,000 Walker sale buy for trainer Amy Husted in race six, and a trio in race seven are the $55,000 Walker purchase Fox Valley Steeler the stable of Springfield based Tom Simmons, Sunmaster, a $27,000 Illini Classic buy for trainer Amy Husted, and the $21,000 Walker sale acquisition Fox Valley Langley from the Jamaica Patton barn.
The Nelson Willis stable’s Fox Valley Mckee in event eight is a half-sister to Fox Valley Lolo (1:53.1) and was acquired for $21,000 at the Walker Sale.
The two-year-old filly trotters Mariah Lou and Fox Valley Adira bear watching. The former is a full sister to Illinois stakes champion Lou’s Abigail. She’s trained by Steve Searle for Flacco Family Farms. Fox Valley Adira, a Gary Rath trainee, is a half-sister to Fox Valley Illiad (1:52, $283,181).
Another Lou Lou? A stick out breeding wise is the Steve Searle trained Zena Lou (Casey Leonard). She’s by Lou’s Legacy out of Fox Valley Lexus, making her a full sister to multiple stakes champion Louzotic (1:54.3, $336,212), and Lous Xandu (1:58.3). Also going out in race eleven is Mike Brink’s Can’t Afford Love, a half-sister to the Fox Valley colony of “Lover”, “Luxury”, “Lexus”, “Legend”, “Lotus”, and Hail Caesar.
In race 12 conditioner Herman Wheeler will start the $40,000 Walker buy Fox Valley Corso, a full brother to Night of Champions winner Fox Valley Quest (1:55.1, $192,020)
In race 13 there is Brink’s Dox Adams who’s dam Tropical Caprice gave us several productive ICF trotters including Majestic Caprice, winner of 47 lifetime races. Also meriting a look is Mr King Cougar, one of trainer Gerald Hanson’s Yankee Valor sired collection. He’s the brother of Hansen’s filly Lucky Valerie.
In the last race Lous Andiamo, another Trigg trainee, is the third foal of the dam And Word Hanover. Her first two are Lous Pisano and Lou Lou Lamour.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Smilin Lou in race 14. Afterall, the Lou’s Legacy colt is by Hoosier Wiggles, making him a full brother of 2021 Illinois Two-Year-Old Filly Trotter of the Year Funky Wiggle (1:56, $130,478).
Unique Sibling Happening: If it’s a rare occurrence to see two full brothers or sisters compete and both prevail on the same racing program, how about a pair of siblings doing it on the same card?
It occurred on the May 29th Springfield Preview when the Steve Searle Stable’s Lous Monamie won her three-year-old filly trot in the opener and Louscardamon, trained by Curt Grummel, later captured the ICF horse and gelding trot. Both trotters are by Lou’s Legacy out of the SJ’s Caviar mare Olives and Caviar.
Soon after Lous Monamie’s triumph, Searle’s Lous Xanadu, a daughter of Lou’s Legacy out of the Vaporize broodmare Fox Valley Lexus, took her division of the state-bred sophomore trot. Later her older sister, the six-year-old Louzotic, also from the Searle barn, proved best in the ICF four-year-old and up event, defeating the long-time Illinois trotting queen Annas Lucky Star. It was Louzotic’s 30th career victory in 82 lifetime trips to the gate.
That wasn’t the only unusual event on the May 29th Springfield card: The first four winning horses all had the same driver, trainer, owner and sire, something that I don’t ever remember happening in my 49 years of covering Illinois harness racing.
Casey Leonard did the driving, Steve Searle was the trainer, Flacco Family Farms the proprietors and Lou’s Legacy was the winning sire.
Casey would go on to bring home SEVEN first place finishers while Juan Franco was behind three winning horses on the 14-race program.
Watch Them Live: Hawthorne races at Springfield are on tap this Friday, June 17th and Saturday, June 18th. They are non-wagering events for ICF horses of both sexes and gaits.
While simulcasting is not available for these programs the races will be shown live on the Illinois County Fair Harness Racing page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1966047640194826)
There will be also Hawthorne racing at Springfield on Friday, June 24th and Saturday, June 25th.