“Maggie” Gets Thumbs Up to Return

By Mike Paradise


In what appears to be an effort to mimic the socialist dream of “Spreading the Wealth”, the pacing mare Maggie Rhee was banished from competing at Hawthorne almost the entire month of August for the ghastly sin of being “too good.”


You might remember that about a month ago I wrote that the star of the Todd Warren stable was on a three-week Hawthorne hiatus after winning four consecutive local Opens for fillies and mares,


After three weeks in her “time-out” stall, she was invited back to compete in the August 7th Open, but the talented mare had the audacity to go out and win her fifth straight and her seventh in nine Open starts at the Hawthorne meet.


Not surprisingly, Magee Rhee was “written out” of the Chicago circuit and after more two weeks later she showed up a $22,000 distaff Open at Hoosier Park where she finished third.


Magee Rhee (No. 6), driven by Todd Warren) and My Uptowne Girl, handled by Todd’s son Ridge, were the one0two finishers a month ago when “Maggie” last raced, and won for the fifth straight time, at Hawthorne. (Four Footed Fotos)

Now two more weeks later she has returned to Hawthorne and was dispersed to the outside seven slot in Sunday’s co-featured sixth race where she’ll take on a couple of new faces in the local Open—the longshot Rollonbeauty (assigned post one, Kyle Wilfong) and the red-hot Vel Donna (pp 3, Kyle Husted) from the Dean Eckley stable.


Vel Donna was claimed for $6,000 (plus F & M allowances) back on July 24th and after the mare dropped a photo in her first outing for her new connections, she has rattled off three victories in a row, all new lifetime marks, the last in 1:51.2, for West Bloomfield, Michigan owner Clifford Grundy.


Also looking to pull off an upset in the distaff Open are Dune Dame (Casey Leonard), Look Kimbo (Atlee Bender, Eliza Dushku N (Cordarius Stewart) and My Uptowne Girl (Ridge Warren).


Trot Favorites Outside: Later Sunday evening the $12,000 Open for trotters will reappear and it has a full 10-horse field with the three pre-race favorites allocated the outside posts—Annas Lucky Star (pp 8, Kyle Wilfong), Pine Dream (pp 9, Todd Warren) and Talk About Valor (pp 10, Travis Seekman).


The first seven slots will be staffed by Reign And Shine (Cordarius Stewart), Justa Nother Bag (Wyatt Avenatti), Rockyroad Aldo (Casey Leonard), Walter White (Ridge Warren), Louscardamon (Kyle Husted), Cash Hit (Atlee Bender) and Lousraptor (Kyle Wilfong).


Health issues have prevented Talk About Valor from making only eight starts as a six-year-old, but the Gerald Hansen trainee has made the most of his opportunities, winning five times and that includes his last four in a row. Prior to his two easy ICF aged horse titles at the Springfield and Du Quoin state fairs, the son of Yankee Valor captured the July 18th Open, and six weeks earlier the June 6th Open for Monee, Illinois owner Shelly Steele.


Annas Lucky Star (46) and Pine Dream (48) boast a total of 92 lifetime victories between them, including a multitude of Open triumphs on the Chicago circuit.


The Merv Chupp stable’s “money making machine,” better known as Pine Dream, proved best in Hawthorne’s August 22nd Open with regular driver Todd Warren. Four days alter the now nine-year-old trotter picked up the fourth-place check in a $22,000 Open on the Greenfield fair track in Ohio, located midway between Cincinnati and Columbus.


“Chalk” Haven: With three wends of racing left at this year’s Hawthorne meet, favorites have won at a high rate of 46.3 per cent. That’s about five per cent higher than at Hoosier (41.6) and The Meadowlands (41.6),


Horses leaving from post five at Hawthorne have the highest winning percentage at 15.3. The same post five is also delivering the highest rate at the Indiana and New Jersey big tracks.


You might think Hawthorne’s 10-hole is last percentage wise as far as winning horses, but you would be wrong. It’s at 9.4%, higher than the eight at 8.7% or the low-end nine at 7.5%. Surprisingly, the seven-slot is producing only one per cent higher at 10.4 than the ten post.

What! It’s September Already

By Mike Paradise


You’ll never get an argument from me that “the older you get, the faster time flies.”


Can it be we’re already in the month of September and we’re in n the homestretch of the 2021 Hawthorne meeting? Yes, and yes is the answer.


We’re only three more weekends away from Hawthorne’s Night of Champion (September 25th) and closing night is just one live racing program later.


With this season’s Springfield and Du Quoin State Fair meetings in the history book, it’s the right time to see where we’re at in the ICF two and three-year-olds divisions pf both gaits.


In some cases, not much has changed but in others they have, and in a big way in a couple of cases.


Sumbodygetdisfool (outside, Todd Warren) nailed Coco D’Lascito (inside J D Finn) at the wire of the Springfield final and vaulted up the ladder in the Kadabra point standings. (Four Footed Fotos)

I n the three-year-old colt and gelding trotting division prior to the State Fairs to looked like a two-horse race between Coco D’Lascisto from the barn of John D Finn and the Steve Searle stable’s Rndmnunpredictable for the division honors.


Each had victories in two legs of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial stake series but then Sumbodygetdisfool (Todd Warren) mowed them down at Springfield and then went to Du Quoin and won the Pronto Don stake, also in come-from-fashion as well for conditioner Roshun Trigg, the leading trainer again this year on the Illinois Country Fair Circuit.


Archie Buford took the top spot as the leading driver in 2021 at the state’s county fairs.


The Rick Schrock trained Iwannarocknroll (Travis Seekman) only had 13 points in the Incredible Tillie Point Standings going into Springfield. Now the two-year-old filly has 63, thanks to her victory at the Illinois State Fair.  and has moved all the way up to fifth in that stake’s standings behind Rmissashlee (100), Lady Bombay (87), Dandy’s MNM (75) and Rollnroz (74).


Lady Bombay and Dandy’s DMN each won a division of the Director’s Award stakes at Du Quoin. While no points are given out from victories at the southern Illinois meet it does indicate that both fillies will be genuine threats come the Night of Champions.


The Mike Brink Stable’s Fox Valley Cairo (Ridge Warren) delivered the goods at both Springfield and Du Quoin and right now looks like the three-year-old male trotter too beat when the Kadabra showdown arrives.


Scorecard Dandy (Juan Franco) upset three-time Plum Peachy leg winner Hart’s Heart in their Springfield final and raises the hopes of her owners and trainer Gregory Kain for a championship blanket on Saturday, September 25th.


Ryan’s Loan Shark (Travis Seekman) rebound victory in the Dudley Hanover at Du Quoin has the three-year-old IKCF pacer in top form at the right time. (Four Footed Fotos)

The Robert F. Carey Memorial stake series for three-year-old male pacers has been a crapshoot all season with Partyatartsplace, Ideal Big Guy and Bombay Bobby all winning one of the three series legs contested thus far, and things didn’t get any clearer after the state-fair


The Terry Leonard Stable’s Ideal Big Guy took the Springfield crown but faded to third at Du Quoin while the Springfield beaten favorite Ryan’s Loan Shark, from the barn of trainer Jim Molitor, came roaring down the Du Quoin stretch and made amends by coming home with the Dudley Hanover title.


Loulita came to Springfield with seven season wins in nine starts and left with losses at both Springfield and Du Quoin to Breeze At Sunset (Atlee Bender), right now the sharpest ICF filly trotter in the state with victories in five of her last six trips postward.


Kyle Husted’s Get E Up has rounded into top form at the right time, first ending the six-race winning streak of the Fox Valley Ozzy, from the stable of Rath Rath, in the Springfield championship, and then taking Du Quoin’s Governor Cup while the “Ozzy”, the Incredible Finale leading point earner (125), didn’t make the trip to the Southern Illinois state fair meet.


Awesome Aussie: The Australian-bred Braeview Bondi A ($5.00), patiently handled by driver Atlee Bender, made his Hawthorne debut an impressive one with a comfortable victory Friday night with a snappy time of 1:49.4.


Bender dropped the Erv Miller trained seven-year-old gelding into fourth in six-horse $12,000 Open Pace field in the early going and Casey Leonard smartly left enough from the outside post with Fox Valley Gemini to take the hole behind the 3-2 second choice.


Bobcat Bay (Ridge Warren) cut the fractions of 28 flat and 55.3 and midway on the backside Bender pulled Braeview Bondi out of fourth and the highly regarded pacer gradually gained ground on the leader with the 4-5 betting choice Fox Valley Gemini right behind him.


However, as they straitened out for the stretch drive Atlee pulled the ear plugs on the Aussie invader and Braeview Bondi responded, pulling away from the field and ending up more than one length ahead of “Gemini” at the finish line for his Shorewood, Illinois owner Bowie Racing LLC.

No Open and Shut Friday Feature

By Mike Paradise


The always popular Open Pace returns to Hawthorne Friday but this time with some very meaningful changes in its field.


The 2020 Illinois Harness Horse of the Year He’zzz A Wise Sky won’t be defending is Open crown Friday night, instead the four-year-old speedball is taking some time off, and deservingly so after competing five straight weekends at a high level.


The ICF star pacer had a big effort a week ago against the best aged pacers at Hoosier Park with a $22,000 pot on the line.


The Triple ZZZ Stable owned pacer was a close second last Friday in Indiana while being clocked in 1:49.3 on a “sloppy” racing strip after the John Filomeno trainee was pushed to a sizzling 53.3 first half.


A few weeks earlier the gifted state-bred pacer won a $51,000 Invite at Hoosier Park in 1:49.1 and he did it parked out the first half (53.3) from the eight-hole in a field with two trailers.



Here’s the Erv Miller Stable’s Braeview Rondi A winning his U.S. debut in a Tioga Downs Open with a 1:49.3 clocking. Tonight, the Australian bred gelding makes his first start at Hawthorne in the fifth race Open Pace feature with Atlee Bender at his lines. (Fred Brown Photo)

It’s a “lock” that we’ll He’zzz A Wise Sky return to Hawthorne before the meet ends. In just three weeks it’s the $45,000 (estimate) Robert S. Molero Night of Champion stake for aged ICF pacers and its $12,000 prep or eliminations will be raced a week earlier.


Meanwhile, let’s see if the former Illinois Harness Horse of the Year Fox Valley Gemini can bounce back tonight after four consecutive local Open losses.


Owned by Jim Ballinger of Atwater, Illinois, the six-year-old ICF star pacer was assigned the outside seven-slot tonight and will open as the warranted  9-5 favorite since most of the gelding’s 41 career victories have come on Hawthorne’s mile track.


Even with He’zzz A Wise Sky’s absence the fifth race Friday feature is no “slam-dunk” for Fox Valley Gemini. Both No. 4 and No. 6 Bobcat Bay own summer victories in Hawthorne Opens over the pride of the Leonard stable.


And then there’s the Australian bred Braeview Bondi A (pp 5, Atlee Bender) making his Hawthorne debut.


Who’s he? You might ask.


“He” is a seven-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding purchased in early March by Bowie Racing LLC (Douglass Overhiser) of Shorewood, Illinois after making over $142,000 in four racing seasons, a lot of dough for a pacer racing “Down Under.”


 (It only took a little bit of research on the internet for your author to find a video tape of Braeview Bondi winning impressively in a Western Australia event where he went from last to first in the latter the portion of the race and did so with a huge five-wide without cover move, circling at least 10 other horses). https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=353194449338541


In Braeview Bondi’s U.S debut under the care of trainer Erv Miller, the good-looking gelding sped to a 1:49.3 win in a $9,000 Tioga Downs Open to earn a trip to the “greener” facilities of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Downs and New York’s Younker’s Raceway.


After joining the Midwest Division of the Erv Miller Stable, the horse was sent to Hoosier Park where he was second (clocked in 1:48.3) and third in a pair of Open 2 events, followed by fifth place finish in last week’s Open 1 headliner.


Interestingly, in that race the “Aussie” pacer was only beaten two lengths by He’zzz A Wise Sky despite not having any racing room in the stretch and had to be taken off the inside lane to the outside path by driver Mike Oosting in the last sixteenth of the mile.


Braeview Bondi A is listed as the 3-1 programmed second choice tonight


The first four posts will be manned by Commentariat (Travis Seekman), Fox Valley Ren (Juan Franco) and On Duty (Todd Warren), in that order.