By Mike Paradise
With most of the attention thus far at the Hawthorne meeting going to the Night of Champions stake series and the two-time Illinois champion Fox Valley Gemini, there have been some under-the-radar endeavors that deserve recognition as well.
For instance, the four-year-old ICF pacing mare Rollin Coal, owned by her veteran trainer Hosea Williams.
Many Hawthorne watchers may be a bit surprised to learn that before the month of July Rollin Coal already won five races at the meet.
In fact, the Sagebrush mare out of the Cole Muffler broodmare Emission Control, has quickly risen to Hawthorne’s filly and mare Opens where Rollin Coal has proven she can more than hold own with top open-company mares on the grounds.
Two weeks ago the pride of the Hosea Williams Stable powered past an Open field with a career best mile time of 1:51.2. Last week her handicapped eight-slot had her too far back for a shot of collaring the Open winner Boogie On Down who benefited from modest middle quarters of 28.2 and 28.3.
Rollin Coal did make up six lengths on the winner in the last half mile when she took runner-up honors.
Tonight posts 5 through 9 were drawn and Rollin Coal landed the six with regular driver Juan Franco, with Boogie On Down April Deo and the Ohio invader Ask Me Ifi Care to her right. Post five went to Sweetshadyshark who loves Hawthorne and her draw tonight was her best since May, so respect her chances
The first four slots in the seventh race feature belong to Over Speeding, Bugatti Beauty, Unbroken Circle and Fox Valley Jazzy.
Rollin Coal burst on the scene as a freshman and became one of the best ICF 2-year-old pacing fillies in 2017. She won 5 of 14 starts, with 5 seconds and a trio of thirds. She never missed a check and raked-in over $90,000.
Expectations were high for her sophomore season and the filly did okay but not as well as anticipated. Rollin Coal made $28,703 in an up and down campaign. Despite capturing a pair of Plum Peachy series legs, she tailed off at the end of the season and ended up a disappointing eighth on the Night of Champions.
“She just wasn’t right as a 3-year-old,” explained Hosea. “She had some good races but she had some that weren’t very good like on the Night of Champions. She developed an ulcer last year and wasn’t herself at times.
“We continued to treat her ulcer over the winter. I sent her to Miami Valley in Ohio to start this year but she didn’t any good there. I took her to Springfield in late April and she won there and she’s been excellent since.”
I would say excellent and then some. In eight trips postward the mare has made five stops at Hawthorne’s winner’s circle. Rollin Coal has banked over $30,000 thus far at Hawthorne, already exceeding all of what she earned in er sophomore season.
Rollin Coal’s current fortunes also coincided with Juan Franco taking over as her regular driver. The Guatemala native did so in late May and since has guided the mare to three victories and a fast-closing second in her last five starts
More Than Adequate Stand-In: With the Illinois pacing star Fox Valley Gemini taking a Saturday off before heading up to Minnesota for the Dan Patch Championship at Running Aces, his Terry Leonard stable-mate Stuckey Dote filled-in nicely for him last night.
Stuckey Dote powered past in the lane with driver Casey Leonard to take the $12,000 Open Pace Handicap with a quick mile time of 1:51.2.
The 3-5 betting favorite was assigned the outside seven-slot in the fourth race feature but the 6-year-old gelding clearly didn’t mind the starting point at all.
Casey ducked Stuckey Dote ($3.40) when the gate sprung open and was satisfied to race his horse in last in the early going as Royale Rose (Juan Franco) took the field to a 28.1 first quarter. Kyle Husted hustled Dash Of Danger out of third and to the front before the 55.3 half while the first-over Caviart Midnight (Kyle Wilfong) was providing live cover to Stacey Dote through the middle panels.
Leonard swung Stuckey Dote to the outside lane at the three-quarters (1:24.2) and by the eighth-pole it was apparent the Minnesota champion was going to rally past and he did just that with a brisk 26.2 last quarter for Rock Valley, Iowa owner Merlin Van Otterloo.
Dash of Danger held on for second beaten one length while Lincolnjames (Luke Plano) came on well to be third.