Click here for details. 2021 Race Dates Awarded
The application for “Nick It Up” has been deferred until a later time.
Click here for details. 2021 Race Dates Awarded
The application for “Nick It Up” has been deferred until a later time.
Races will be held at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Thursday, October 1st. at 11:00 a.m. These races are rescheduled from the cancelled (rained out) races on September 1st in Du Quoin. Conditions for the races are for Illinois bred 2-year olds and 3-year olds that were nominated to the Illinois county fairs. There will also be an IHHA Pace and Trot. To enter, contact LeAnn Shinn by 10 a.m. on Monday, September 28th at 618-783-2589. Horsemen can also enter online. Qualifiers will be held if needed. Entry fees for purse races are $70 and qualifiers will be $50. All horses need a negative coggins within 1 year and EHV vaccine within 6 months. If you have questions, please contact Tina Schrock at 217-416-0006.
Fifty-five year-old Todd Warren reached a major driving milestone last night when he brought home his 5,000th career winner. The Mattoon, Illinois native joined an exclusive driver club by rallying Tappin Outasmessage to a first place finish in the ninth race.
Warren began his driving career back in 1981 and has had 21 years of driving 100 or more winners in a season. He has surpassed 200 season winners eight times and delivered over 300 on three occasions with his best year coming in 2010 with 344,
Warren, who resides in Manhattan, Illinois, also surpassed $26 million in career driving earnings this weekend.
Saturday’s Wrap Up: The ICF three-year-old pacers and trotters competed last night in their final series legs prior to next Saturday’s Night of Champion showdowns.
The first of a pair of $15,000 Plum Peachy sophomore filly confrontations saw the 2-5 favorite Sign Her Up ($2.80) zoom from last to first in the final quarter of the mile for driver Juan Franco. The Charles Arthur smallish filly was a half-length better than Sleazy Gal in the 1:55.3 mile (26.3 last panel) paced on a sloppy racing surface.
A few races later Fox Valley Exploit ($2.20) showed she’s more than ready for next Saturday’s Plum Peachy championship with a strong victory in the second ICF filly pacing division. Driven by her trainer Kyle Husted, the Sportsmaster filly accelerated in the lane and easily overtook her field with a 1:55 flat clocking. The four length win was Fox Valley Exploit’s seventh in eight season starts.
The Mike Brink trained Crooked Creek (Todd Warren) was hammered down by the betting public and won like an overwhelming 1 to 9 choice should in the first Kadabra trotting leg, drawing off by six lengths in his 1:59.3 mile.
The Tom Simmons trained Fox Valley Quest ($2.60, Casey Leonard) had no trouble winning the second Kadabra divison, going right to the front and pulling away to a four-length romp in 1:57.4
Casey Leonard had the Flacco Family Farm’s Lous Abigail on cruise control when the sophomore trotting filly crushed her opposition in the second Beulah Dygert Memorial split. It was the Steve Searle trained filly’s fifth consecutive victory and her sixth in 10 trips to the gate on the year. Without any urging the last eighth of her 1:59.3 mile on the rain-soaked track “Crabby Abbie” ended up almost 10 lengths ahead of the second place trotter Reign And Shine (Jordon Patton).
Driver Travis Seekman had his whip tucked under his right arm when Fox Valley Extacy ($3.80) flashed across the finish line first in the initial Beulah Dygert series division. The Hector Herrera training trotting filly covered the mile in 1:59.3 for season victory No. 5.
In Saturday’s finale He’zzz A Wise Sky, another 1 to 9 low-end favorite, easily won for the third time in a row in his leg of the Robert F. Carey Memorial. The Don Filomeno trained three-year-old home-bred was nearly four lengths ahead at the end of his 1:53 mile.
Will Lay Off Hurt? The five-year-old mare Lily Grace returns to the races after more than a month on the sidelines. The mare’s target tonight is another victory in the Open filly and mare division and her seventh consecutive win at Hawthorne.
However there has been a notable change since Lily Grace last competed.
The sixth race $10,500 feature will be her first trip postward in 41 days and that’s a significant gap between starts. Lily Grace was slated to go in the August 22nd Open but was be scratched because her trainer at that time went under suspension. The mare has since been relocated to the Terry Leonard Stable in Harvard, Illinois by her Trot & Pacing Racing Michigan owners.
The Leonard’s also have two of her stablemates in tonight’s Open, Lilly Von Shtupp (pp 6, Juan Franco) and Cracklin Rosie (pp 7). When Casey Leonard chose to drive the latter tonight, Ridge Warren got her first opportunity to handle Lily Grace who took her mark of 1:51 back on August 2nd on a sloppy Hawthorne racing surface.
Notice that tonight Lily Grace has been assigned the 10-hole in the nine-horse field and for a mare that prefers to race on the front-end, that’s not a good thing.
The solid field also lured Mary’s Pretty Girl (Todd Warren), Black Jack Pat (Kyle Wilfong), Model (Cordarius Stewart), Velocity McSweets (Kyle Husted), Valar Morghulis (Brandon Bates), and Tempus Seelster (Travis Seekman), winner if the distaff Open two weeks ago.
Both Lilly Von Shtupp and Valar Morghulis, from the Nelson Willis stable, had to take required byes into next week’s Tony Maurello Memorial final for ICF aged pacing mares and instead of racing for a $15,000 pot in last Friday’s Maurello elimination, they had to compete for tonight’s $10,500 purse ($4,500 less) or miss a week of racing with only two weekends left.
Illinois bred three-year-old pacers and trotters will be the focus of attention Saturday night when they tangle for the last time prior to next week’s Night of Champions, Hawthorne’s yearly showcase evening of their harness racing meeting.
Most of the starting berths in the ICF sophomore championships have been locked up but there are still a few spots still to be decided so a high placing in tonight’s final series legs with $15,000 pots could go a long way to advancing to a final.
The Plum Peachy series final leg will go in two divisions with ICF stake winners Sign Her Up (pp 2, Juan Franco) and Sleazy Gal (pp 4, Atlee Bender) and Double Parked (pp 5, Travis Seekman) slugging it out in the second race first split while the division’s top earner Fox Valley Exploit (pp 6, Kyle Husted), will undeniably be the prohibitive choice in the fourth race second split.
Leg four of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial trot is also in two divisions with the stakes top two point and money earners Crooked Creek (Todd Warren) and Fox Valley Quest (Casey Leonard) going their separate ways tonight before next Saturday’s major showdown.
With 11 entries in the final round of the Beulah Dygert Memorial trotting series, another split was necessary. Thus far the Steve Searle stable’s Lous Abigail has been dominating the division, winning her four last starts, including both recent State Fair championships raced at Hawthorne. She’s at 2 to 5 in my line.
The first Beulah Dygert grouping (race six) is very much a wide open event with Bee See (Kyle Husted), Oh Govenor (Mike Rogers), Tropical Rosie (Cordarius Stewart),Fox Valley Extacy (Travis Seekman), Fox Valley Lush (Todd Warren)and Lous Flashy Dancer (Kyle Wilfong) all going to the gate in the middle of Saturday’s program.
A single $15,000 series leg division of the Robert F. Carey Jr. Memorial will take place as the twelfth and final race on the card with last year’s freshman male champion He’zzz A Wise Sky (Bobby Smolin) figuring to get a huge chunk of the public’s wagering money.
The Don Filemeno owned and bred colt ended July with a victory in a Carey series leg and finished off August with both State Fair titles added to his résumé.
Todd Sweeps Double: In last night’s $20,000 final legs of the Night of Champions two-year-old stake series, Frontier Charley (Todd Warren) came up the inside lane to nip Well Basically (Atlee Bender) in the second race single division of the Incredible Finale series for juvenile male pacers.
The victory by the Jim Eaton trained freshman put driver Todd Warren just three away from career win No. 5,000.
Todd also drove Allbeastnobeauty to her triumph in Friday’s opener, the Tony Maurello Memorial elimination of aged state-bred pacing mares. Failing to advance to that final were the ninth and tenth place finishers, Boogie On Down and Fancy Creek Jolene.
Loulita Keeps Cruising: The Flacco Family Farms home-bred Loulita ($2.60) continued her dominance of the Fox Valley Flan division for first season trotting fillies with her fifth consecutive victory, drawing off in a season best time of 2:01 flat for driver Casey Leonard and trainer Steve Searle and her Alexia, Illinois owners.
Chalks Prevail: The final series legs of the Kadabra trots were raced in two divisions with the first going to the fast improving 3-5 favorite Lousrolando, driven by his trainer Kyle Husted in 2:01.1, more than a half dozen lengths ahead of the runner-up I’mnotalocaldude.
In the second Kadabra split it was Fistfullofdollars ($2.60), driven by Kyle Wilfong, getting his maiden victory in front-end fashion. The Mike Brink trainee trotted the mile in 2:02.1.
He’s Back: Al’s Hammered $4.40), trained and driven by Bobby Smolin, continued his comeback at the age of 11, by winning the Robert S. Molero Memorial elimination in 1:52.2. Eliminated from the championship were Mykonos and Master Sage.
A Dandy Win: The Incredible Tillie stake series took another turn when the 2-1 second choice Scorecard Dandy (Juan Franco) nailed down her first leg win for trainer Gregory Kain with a 1:55. 3 mile. Princess Moose and Bootsy Bombay were second and third best, in that order.
A Star Falls: In the 12th race Friday finale Annas Lucky Star was upset in the Plesac prep by Louzotic (Kyle Husted). The two ICF mares fought down the lane with the Steve Searle trained Louzotic ($15.60) coming out on top by a head for Flacco Family Farms of Alexis, Illinois.
By Mike Paradise
This Friday and Saturday at Hawthorne could be signified as
“D-Days” for a number of two and three-year-old Illinois bred pacers and trotters.
In this particular case the “D” stands for the word “Designate.”
For some horses their finish in one of this weekend’s final legs of Hawthorne’s Night of Champions series will either designate that their subsequent start will be in a lucrative stake final next Saturday evening or in one of the ICF stake consolations races on the ensuing Sunday card.
Interestingly, Hart’s Heart, the recent winner of both the $30,000 State Fair championship and the $29,000 Director’s Award showdown, won’t be competing in the $85,000 (est) Incredible Tillie final on the Night of Champions.
Hart’s Heart was entered for Friday’s final series leg but was declared by the Hawthorne Race Office not to be eligible to race in it. It turns out the talented freshman was never nominated to the Incredible Finale and a look at the stake’s nomination listings on the Hawthorne web-site does verify the ruling is correct. It also opens the door for one or more freshman fillies to gain the stake championship
With the Incredible Tillie’s first two series leg winner Connie On The Go also not competing, tonight’s race third series leg will likely have Bootsy Bombay (Travis Seekman) and Princess Mooss (Kyle Wilfong), the two-three finishers behind Hart’s Heart in her recent State Fair championships, has the tenth race favorites.
Tonight’s first race opener is a $15,000 elimination race for next Saturday’s $45,000 Tony Maurello Memorial Final. The first eight finishers in the 10-horse field will move on. Awaiting them will be Lilly Von Shupp and Valar Morghulis who received unwanted byes based on having the most season earnings at strictly the Hawthorne meeting.
The 8-5 morning line Maurello elimination favorite is Allbeastnobeauty, the 2019 Illinois Aged Pacing Mare of the Year who spent most of the season in Ohio. She came to Illinois at the end of July and joined the Todd Warren stable.
Allbeastnobeauty has breezed in her last three outings that include a pair of ICF State Fair events for older ICF mares and a Hawthorne Open. Her $54,000-plus season earnings is more than “the bye” mares Lilly Von Shupp and Valar Morghulis have made this year combined.
The Steve Searle stable’s two-year-old filly trotter Loulita will bring a four-race winning streak into the third leg of the Fox Valley Flan while freshman male state-bred stake August champions Well Basically (Atlee Bender), Ideal Big Guy (Casey Leonard) and Frontier Charley (Todd Warren) will duke-it out in the second race Incredible Finale series leg.
The last round of the Kadabra stake series had 11 juvenile colt or gelding trotters entered, making it necessary to split the race into two divisions (races six and seven). The Curt Grummel stable’s Bobalou, victorious this summer in six consecutive races, is taking a well-deserved night off to prepare for next week’s championship.
Fox Valley Gemini and Salvatore received byes into the Robert Molaro Memorial Final for older state bred pacing colts and geldings and they’ll be joined by their first eight finishers in tonight’s ninth race $15,000 elimination.
Races will be held at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Saturday, September 26th at 11:00 a.m. Conditions for the races are for Illinois bred 2-year olds, 3-year olds and 4-year olds and up. Total purse payout for the day will be $50,000. To enter, contact LeAnn Shinn by 10 a.m. on Wednesday, September 23rd at 618-783-2589. Horsemen can also enter online. Qualifiers will be held if needed. Entry fees for purse races and qualifiers will be $50 per horse. Scratched horses will be responsible for their entry fee. All scratches must be reported to race office in a timely manner. All horses need a negative coggins within 1 year and EHV vaccine within 6 months. If you have questions, please contact Tina Schrock at 217-416-0006.
Steve Searle stable’s Lousraptor, driven patiently by Juan Franco, came on strong in the lane to win last night’s $10,500 Open Trot and snap Annas Lucky Star’s winning streak at four in a row.
Franco had Lou raptor trotting in fifth most of the way while the assigned 10-hole certainly hurt Annas Lucky Star who raced in eighth throughout and was 10 lengths behind the front-stepping Classic Venture at the half, reached in 57seconds.
Lousraptor had a fourth length advantage over the 4-5 favorite heading into the last quarter of the mile and ended up three lengths the best in 1:54.4, winning for the fifth time this season for owners Flacco Family Farms of Alexis, Illinois.
Annas Lucky Star’s 27.2 last panel enabled her to finish a half-length ahead of the third place trotter Scramble Camp, a 60-1 longshot. Lousraptor was sent off at 7-1and paid an even $17.00
Todd Nearing 5,000th: Driver Todd Warren is closing-in on a major milestone in his profession. The 55-year-old Illinois native goes into Sunday night just 8 winners away from 5,000.
Todd is currently third in the Hawthorne driver standings. Warren had been spending his recent summers competing at Hoosier Park but made a decision earlier in the year to remain on the Chicago circuit this year to be closer to his home in the south suburb of Manhattan, IL
Casey Leonard appears to have wrapped up another Hawthorne driving title. The 42-year-old Harvard, Illinois native has 115 winning drives going into Sunday night, 12 more than Kyle Wilfong. The top five is rounded out with Travis Seekman (52), who drove four winners Friday night, and Todd’s 31-year-old son Ridge (44).
The trainer’s race likely will go down to the final weekend. With nine racing cards left Mike Brink had sent out 41 first place horses. Terry Leonard was close behind at 40 while Steve Searle was right there with 39 winners.
Five Isn’t Enough: With only five horses entered for Sunday’s scheduled Open filly and mare pace the event was scraped for this weekend. Instead a high level pace for distaffers will highlight the 12-race program.
The eighth race for non-winners of $4,000 (ICF $5,000) attracted a field of nine including former Open mares It’s Time For Fun (pp 1, Kyle Wilfong), Rock In Out (pp 6, Ridge Warren) and Brown Bunny (pp 10, Cordarius Stewart).
The three-year-old Illinois bred filly Sign Her Up (Juan Franc) will also go postward in the eighth race, her seventh start in the last six weeks for trainer Charles Arthur.
The Sagebrush filly has already locked up a starting berth in the Plum Peachy Final on the September 19th Night of Champions for her Mississippi owners and is the only horse to beat the division’s leader Fox Valley Exploit this season. A win Sunday night would boost Sign Her Up’s first two seasons of purse earnings over the $100,000 mark.
Let the Bidding Begin: The 22nd annual Illini Classic Yearling Sale will be held this Monday at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.
The Labor Day auction begins at 11 am in the Horse Show Arena, located immediately west of the Coliseum. On-Line bidding is accessible through Proxbid which will also offer live sale video.
Pedigrees of the sale horses and further information can be found at www.illiniclassic.com
By Mike Paradise
The Queen of Illinois trotters is back in action tonight and she certainly has a tough task ahead to extend her latest winning streak and keep her extraordinary record of success intact in her home state.
I’m talking, of course, about Danny Graham’s homebred trotting mare Annas Lucky Star who has been nothing short of sensational since she began racing back in 2016 as a two-year-old with her regular driver Kyle Wilfong.
Going against the best open trotters all summer at the Hawthorne meeting Annas Lucky Star has more than held her own. In her six Open outings the now six-year-old mare has chalked up a trio of victories to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes.
Those gleaming Open efforts, along with a both State Fair championships for aged ICF trotting mares assured that the Cassius mare would be assigned 10-hole in tonight’s $10,500 Open feature where another win would vault Annas Lucky Star to over the $400,000 in career earnings and would be her fifth consecutive victory.
It’s not surprising her Salem, Illinois owner wasn’t happy with his mare’s starting slot for tonight however he also had high praise for the state’s only facility with an extended harness meeting.
“I sometimes get upset with the placing my mare gets in these Opens but I thank my lucky stars we have Hawthorne,” said the Salem, Illinois horseman. “The Carey’s have been there for the horsemen and their owners and without them I would have had to race my mare out-of-state. So, thank you Hawthorne for what you’ve done for Illinois harness racing.”
While Annas Lucky Star can’t speak up and agree with her owner about Hawthorne, the mare has shown in her own way she loves competing on the track’s big mile track and, for that matter, at both of Illinois state fair ovals, as well.
While her record of 39 wins in 70 career starts is definitely spectacular if you dig a little deeper, you’ll be even more amazed to learn what Annas Lucky Star has done strictly in Illinois.
The mare has chalked up an astounding 37 victories in 55 trips to the gate in Illinois, a hard-to-believe 65 per cent winning percentage. In her 55 Illinois races she’s been worse than third just three times in a pari-mutel race and that’s with the vast majority of her Hawthorne starts through the past few years coming in rugged Open trots.
Tonight Annas Lucky Star will have nine good trotters starting inside of her. It’s one thing to be assigned the ten-hole with the first 5 of 6 slots being occupied but it’s another with all nine filled up with competitive horses.
I haven’t a clue as to Wilfong’s strategy will be tonight and for that matter, Kyle may not make up his mind until he looks inside going to the gate and maybe get an inkling of what could be unfolding for him and the likely public’s choice.
From the one-post out you’ll find Aunt Percilla (Cordarius Stewart), Louzotic (Kyle Husted), Frontier Manard (Freddie Patton Jr), Lousraptor (Juan Franco), Louscardamon (Casey Leonard), Pine Dream (Todd Warren), Scramble Camp (Travis Seekman), Double A Cash (Ridge Warren), and Classic Venture (Bobby Smolin).
Oh Hum: Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard) continued his mastery of Hawthorne’s Open Pace division with yet another victory last night, this one in 1:51.1.
The assigned 10-hole, in what ended up as a six horse field when On Duty was scratched, couldn’t keep the pride of the Terry Leonard stable from his eighth season triumph in 12 starts and the five-year-old Illinois bred pacers 38th in 54 career starts for his Atwater, Illinois owner Jim Ballinger.
Casey Leonard had Fox Valley Gemini in sixth and last as three different horses had command at various times through the first three quarters (1:24.1) but when Casey asked Fox Valley Gemini for another gear, the gelding delivered, zooming past his five foes in the lane with a speedy 26 second last panel.
Dash For Danger (Kyle Husted) also finished well to be second, one and 1/4 length behind the winner.
It’s hard to believe that it is already September and there are just three weekends of racing left at Hawthorne for the year. Nevertheless that’s the case and the of march to the Night of Champions will come about in 15 days.
It’s been one of the most memorable racing seasons in Illinois but unfortunately not for the right kind of reasons. The Covid-19 epidemic had a critical impact on our industry just as it has on so many others in our country.
An expected lengthy eight month harness racing season in Illinois was reduced by three months when our sport was shut down on a national level. It’s also been the only racing season that I can remember without fans, severely cutting into the bottom line at Hawthorne and at other major racing venues elsewhere.
A purse cut on the local scene couldn’t be avoided with no on-track handle coming in all season long and attendance at Illinois OTB parlors and its handle down substantially with many of our likely patrons simply too afraid to venture out with the possible consequence being so dire.
This year Hawthorne had no concession sales income coming in and the same can be said for any attendance money or parking revenue. And I’m sure program sales this year were at an all-time low.
I thought a second purse cut occurring was a sure thing. I’m happy to say I was wrong. A well-deserved tip of the cap goes out to Hawthorne management for holding off on another financial hit on those who depend on the Illinois racing revenue stream to make a living.
Kudos to the horsemen, Hawthorne and the state for getting together and doing what had to be done to get through the most extraordinary racing period in my 48 years of covering Illinois Standardbreds.
Time Out for Some: What you won’t be seeing this weekend at Hawthorne is the vast majority of the top level two-year-old state bred pacers and trotters in action.
After three consecutive weeks of ICF stakes in the rear view mirror and those all-important Night of Champions series final legs on tap next weekend those youngsters are enjoying a well-earned week off from racing.
Open Resumes: The circuit’s Open Pace is back tonight and that means Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard) will be on the outside looking in when the sixth race feature goes off.
Riding another three-race win streak Illinois most popular race horse, as expected, was assigned the 10-hole in a seven horse field. The five-year-old Terry Leonard trainee can go over the half-million plateau in purse earnings with a victory tonight for owner Jim Ballinger of Atwater, Illinois.
The first six posts will be manned by Rollwith Lachilan A (Kyle Wilfong), a Australia bred making his U.S. debut, On Duty (Jim Lackey), I’m An Athlete (Ryan Anderson), Allmyx’slinentexas (Travis Seekman), Dash Of Danger (Kyle Husted) and Ponda’s Prospect (Ridge Warren), a stable-mate of Fox Valley Gemini and the last horse to beat the two-time Illinois Harness Horse of the Year.
Back to Normal: Those recent 16 race programs are history now that the State Fair Illinois bred stakes shifted to Hawthorne is over. The customary 7:10 first post returns this weekend.