By Mike Paradise
Have you been watching “Battle of the Titans?”
Naw, I don’t mean the movie.
I’m referring to the classic battles going on this season in Hawthorne’s Opens between the two ICF standout pacers He’zzz A Wise Sky and Fox Valley Gemini.
Tonight its clash No. 6 of the meet. If you haven’t been keeping score it’s currently He’zzz A Wise Sky three, Fox Valley Gemini two, as they go into the Friday headliner.
The recent tie was broken a week ago when the Triple ZZZ Stable’s He’zzz a Wise Sky breezed on the front-end in 1:50.2 while his rival was too far behind and did very well to rally to be second best.
Fox Valley Gemini beat his adversary in their previous meeting with a two-hole trip, something his driver Casey Leonard had hopes of duplicating last week.
“I don’t like to drive Fox Valley Gemini like that all the time (buzzing the pacer out from the start) but I thought about doing it last week until he took a “funny” step going to the gate, so I took a hold of him.”
Being more than nine lengths behind at the three-quarter pole (1:22.3) pretty much sealed “Gemini’s” fate, even with a 26.3 final quarter,
Instead, it was the Running Aces Open champ SB Bodacious who was used extremely hard (27 flat first panel) to gain a pocket trip. After a 54.3 first half, He’zzz a Wise Sky, continued to a quick 1:50.2 mile while SB Bodacious, the 2-1 programmed favorite who went off at 12-1, proceeded to go into a hasty retreat in the stretch and ended up last, some 24 or so lengths behind the winner.
“SB Bodacious got trip I wanted but it didn’t work out very well for him,” added the perennial leading driver at Hawthorne.
Casey went on to praise the accomplishments of He’zzz A Wise Sky.
“He’s a very good horse and he’s doing it as a four-year-old against older horses. A lot of times successful three-year-old’s don’t fare as well at four, but he has been an exception.
This year Illinois native Kyle Wilfong has been driving the John Filomeno trained star pacer.
“(Kyle) Wilfong has been driving the horse much more aggressively. In the past He’zzz A Wise Sky usually was a one brush horse.”
Posts were handicapped by groups for the $12,000 Open with Bobcat Bay (Ridge Warren) assigned the pole position.
The two through eight slots were drawn and will be manned by Dash Of Danger (Kyle Husted), Primo Giovanni (Todd Warren), My Buddy Ninkster (Travis Seekman), General Dolan (Juan Franco), the Michigan invader Normandy Beach (Atlee Bender), Fox Valley Ren (Cordarous Stewart), and Rockin M (Artie Dick), in that order.
Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard) was allocated the nine while He’zzz A Wise Sky (Kyle Wilfong) was delegated the 10-hole.
The large Open field undoubtedly will affect the strategy of the outside horses’ drivers, nevertheless it’s almost certain He’zzz A Wise Sky will be the pacer too catch.
You can bet they will, or they won’t.