Another story on the return of Balmoral. Click below for more
Another story on the return of Balmoral. Click below for more
There is a wonderful story in this month’s Hoof Beats magazine about one of the best ICF trotters of all time. Click below for more.
The purse money that was owed us from the Dept. of Agriculture for the Night of Champions races and the Du Quoin State Fair have been paid and are available from the horsemen’s bookkeeper at Hawthorne. Unless you have made previous arrangements with them, they will not automatically send you a check, you need to request it. Also, all breeders awards are available in your account as well.
Rick Heidner speaks to the Village of Tinley Park about continuing forward in his plans for a racino. Click below to watch. The racino topic begins at around the 32 minute mark.
Stemming from the recent newspaper reports in the last week concerning Rick Heidner and his alleged ties to questionable past acquaintances, today the Illinois Racing Board amended their 2020 Dates Order from their September meeting by stripping “Playing in the Park” and Rick Heidner/Tim Carey of their 2020 dates. Our racing season next year will start as originally planned on Feb. 15 but will conclude when Hawthorne finishes on September 20th. We will lose those 12 racing dates in December.
We attended the meeting today and were informed that at around 11:00, an hour before the Illinois Racing Board hearing, Tim Carey and Rick Heidner were told that the State of Illinois would not be selling the plot of land to Tinley Park for the racino. Subsequently, Tinley Park couldn’t sell it to “Playing in the Park.” The racing dates originally awarded were predicated on that property being owned by “Playing In The Park,’ and so since that won’t happen the IRB had no choice but to amend their original dates order. Rick Heidner passionately testified to his lengthy career in business without a blemish of impropriety. So the big picture is that someone can still build an additional harness racino, along with Hawthorne, and whether it will be Rick Heidner, Tim Carey or someone else remains to be seen. But no matter, it will be pushed back at least another year. We’ll update as this unfolds.
By Mike Paradise
It’s been a long time, make that too long of a time, since Illinois horsemen and their owners will go into a harness racing season with the kind of optimism created by the passing of the governor’s huge gambling expansion bill.
Finally Illinois harness racing has a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not just the old low-beam variety that barely enables the industry to limp along. Instead it’s a bright sunbeam that warms of hearts of hundreds and hundreds of hard working people and gives them for a chance to make a decent living.
Let’s be clear, though. It’s not going to happen overnight.
The slow erosion came about with years and years of “Recapture” moneys taking out of the Horsemen’s Purse Account and literally given to race track management while they did a piss-poor job of marketing their product despite a yearly stream of multi-millions of dollars just for opening their doors.
When some Illinois racetracks needed more money, it almost always came out of its projected marketing budget.
Newspaper, TV, and radio advertising became virtually non-existent. The elimination of jobs at some local racetracks became the norm. It was common for a racetrack to have just one person departments.
Cleanliness at some OTB parlors wasn’t an important propriety. The over-priced nightly program saw important racing information and stories become non-existent, often replaced by the racetrack’s continuous flow of its dining and OTB promos.
I could go on and on but hopefully those kinds of industry damaging industry decisions are behind us. They cost us an entire generation of possible harness racing enthusiasts in our state.
Thumbs Up for New Track: We’ll start the next Illinois racing season with Recapture on its last leg, a much longer 2020 harness meeting at Hawthorne, and a soon to be constructed Standardbred racetrack before the end of next year in the south suburb of Tinley Park, Illinois.
Its developer Rick Heidner conveyed to the Illinois Racing Board his plans to build “the finest harness racing complex in the country,” complete with a state-of-the art Racino facility with an adjourning hotel and a snazzy restaurant overlooking the racetrack.
Construction of the racetrack surface, a paddock, and a temporary wagering facility will be completed by December. On Tuesday the Illinois Racing Board granted the Playing in the Park organization its request for a 12 night race meet (three nights a week) from December 6th through the 29th.
Hawthorne Race Course General Manager Tim Carey has partnered up with Heidner on the corporation to conduct future meetings at the Tinley Park facility, enabling the Chicago harness circuit to again have year around racing as early as 2021.
Demand for ICF Yearlings: Even though purses will remain stagnate for the upcoming season and the first substantial boost of purses for ICF stakes won’t take place until 2021, the selling of ICF yearlings shot upward at the recent Illini Classic Sale, in some cases far exceeding their expected purchase price.
The Illini Classic Sale was up over 20 per cent with the average sale price at $10,400, its highest figure in the last 20 years. The sales crowd was 400 plus, considerably larger than it has been in the last five years.
Unlike a year ago when the Indiana breds led the interest, the Illinois breds were in great demand as former buyers such as Erv Miller, the Delong’s, and others, returned to the Illinois market.
Seven ICF yearlings sold for over $30.000. The sale’s top seller, Lou’s Obsession, a son of Lou’s Legacy out of the Flacco Family Farm’s broodmare Lima Sunlight, went to Springfield based trainer Mike Brink for $52,000.
The past due endeavor to elevate Illinois harness racing’s prominence at long last is underway.
This will be my final column for this year. I’ll be back in early February. Until then, thanks for being a reader.
By Mike Paradise
The Illinois horsemen’s response to race their ICF pacers or trotters in Saturday’s Fall Reviews in Springfield turned out to be prodigious, and that’s not an overstatement, far surpassing last year’s numbers.
A total of 113 ICF horses passed the entry box Wednesday for another shot at a 2019 Illinois purse, a week after the closing of Hawthorne’s summer meeting.
With the Illinois Department of Agriculture offering $75,200 in total purse money, a surprising 21 races were carded on Saturday’s lengthy length program that begins at 11 o’clock in the morning. That comes to a $3,580 pot per race.
Since the Springfield Fall Reviews are all non-wagering events, the races can be rattled off in a timely manner with the 21st and last scheduled to go off at 3 pm. A trio of qualifiers will then follow.
Last year 75 horses entered the Fall Reviews, some 38 less than this year. Also 14 races were carded, a third less than on Saturday for just about the same purses per race. The 2018 Fall Reviews had $50,000 in purse money distributed, 25,200 fewer dollars than this time around.
Two of Hawthorne’s Night of Champions titleholders will be competing Saturday, Plum Peachy champ Fox Valley Halsey (Juan Franco) goes in race eight the second Fall Review division of the three-year-old filly pace, while the Queen of Illinois trotters Anna’s Lucky Star (Kyle Wilfong) follows her Plesac triumph with a start in Saturday’s 14th race, the single division of the Fall Review trot for aged mares.
Anna’s Lucky Star’s tenth win of the year Saturday would put the Nelson Willis trained five-year-old mare’s season purse earnings over the $90,000 plateau for Salem, Illinois owner and breeder Danny Graham.
Saturday’s second freshman colt trot division pits Kadabra runner-up Desert Sheik (Mike Brink) against the two-year-old stake’s low-end beaten favorite Fox Valley Quest (Casey Leonard) who didn’t handle Hawthorne’s sloppy racing surface and made an early break.
Last year’s ICF freshman filly pacing champ Fox Valley Torrid (Casey Leonard) heads up Saturday’s first three-year-old filly split. The Rodney Freese trainee dropped a narrow neck decision to Fox Valley Halsey in the $100,000 Plum Peachy Final.
Night of Champions Tony Maurello stake finalists Char N Marg (pp 4, Casey Leonard), Fox Valley Jazzy (pp 5, Ridge Warren) and Rollin Coal (pp 6, an Franco) are among the seven horses in the first ICF aged pacing mare split
The Maurello’s third place finisher San Antonio (pp 6, Ridge Warren) goes in the second division. Among the six mares she’ll have to battle is Susan Sage (Ridge Warren) a nine-time victor at the Hawthorne meet, and Springfield State Fair champ Boogie On Down (pp 7, Kyle Wilfong), also a two-time Open Pace winner.
There were 20 horses entered in the ICF colt and gelding pacing event for ages four and up, necessitating a split into three divisions, the final trio of races on the Fall Reviews card.
The Ray Hanna Stable’s He Gone Jack (Ridge Warren) with over $157,000 in lifetime earnings, looks hard to beat from the rail in the initial split.
You’remyhearthrob (Kyle Wilfong) who sped to a 1:49.4 clocking in her Springfield State Fair championship will have to be caught in the second.
The third looks wide-open with Youmakemyheartsing, Salvatore, Freddy B Quick, Not Me Gram, Dinky Dune, and Ricky Bobbie all slugging it out.
All of the Chicago circuit drivers will be on hand Saturday, so if you live in the Springfield, Illinois area we invite you to come out and enjoy the races.
At Today’s IRB meeting, 2020 racing dates were determined. Harness horsemen will enjoy a much longer racing season which has been extended from 71 days in 2019 to 104 in 2020. The Tinley Park Racino was approved for an organization license and will have their racetrack ready for us in December of next year.
Click here for all of the details.
Sunday was closing night for the 2019 Hawthorne harness racing season and there were two Night of Champion Consolation stake races to be decided as well an Open II trot.
It would have been nice to conclude the racing season on a balmy evening with clear skies but Mother Nature had another plan. Instead it rained a good portion of Sunday and a sloppy racing strip awaited both competing horses and their drivers.
A field of a half dozen state-bred three-year-old pacing fillies went postward for a $15,000 pot in the Plum Peachy Consolation and it was Foolishlittlegirl ($6.00) fastest in the lane with a 1:55.4 clocking, knocking two full seconds off her previous best mile.
Casey Leonard had the Rick Schrock trained filly in third, right behind the pocket horse Caroline GR (Ridge Warren), the 4-5 favorite as Yankee Joanie (Bobby Smolin) took the field to a 56.3 first half in the slop.
GR Caroline was tipped out in the final turn and Casey did likewise with Foolishlittlegirl, overtaking the public’s choice in the late going for Sherman, Illinois owner Peter Karras.
Lou, Lou and Lou: The $15,000 Kadabra Consolation for two-year-old male trotters turned out to be an easy win for the 1-2 favorite Lou Paschal ($3.00), driven by Ronnie Gillespie for trainer Roshun Trigg.
Lou Pascal shot to the front right from the get-go and was never seriously challenged, splashing his way to a 2:00.3 mile for his owners and breeders Flacco Family Farms of Alexis, Illinois who also bred the second and third place finishers Lousintuit (Kyle Husted) and Lous Paisiano (Steve Searle).
Lou Paschal’s victory was his ninth as a freshman. Earlier in the summer the son of Lous Legacy rattled off six consecutive wins.
Cashing In: The 12-1 longshot Double A Cash Hall (Luke Plano) rallied down the stretch to snatch the $10,000 Open II trot away from the even-money choice Walter White.
Three different horses at one time at another had the lead through first half (:58) before Walter White (Casey Leonard) zipped to the front and looked to be in good shape mid-way down the lane except Double A Cash Hall ($26.80) kept gobbling up ground and got past him in deep stretch.
Double A Cash Call is trained and owned by Scott Galloway of Otsego, Michigan.
Not Quite Done: Hawthorne’s Standardbred harness season is over however there’s still one start on the horizon in the state of Illinois for some ICF horses It’s Saturday Fall Classic on the Illinois State Fairgrounds at Springfield.
Races will be held for ICF horses in classes for two, three, and four-year-olds and upward with $75,200 in total purse money, divide equally, on the line.
Entries on due this Wednesday morning by 10 m. Horsemen can enter on line or by calling LeAnn Shinn on entry day at 618-783-2589. There is a $50 entry fee for a race or a qualifier.