By Mike Paradise
It was a long but sunshine filled day of racing Saturday at the Springfield State Fair with two programs (19 races) of elimination races or preps for the Illinois State Fair Colt Stake finals, a number of ICF Aged Division Championships, and a couple of Illinois Department of Agriculture contests.
The morning card got off to a predictable start when Danny Graham’s Anna’s Lucky Star ($2.20, Kyle Wilfong) showed she’s fit and ready for next week’s $44,000 3-year-old filly trot State Fair championship by speeding to a lifetime best time of 1:55.4 in a prep race.
Daisy Lou Duke was second behind the low-end 1 to 9 favorite who is now 11 for 13 lifetime for trainer Nelson Willis and her Salem, Illinois owner.
However, the $6,000 prep event for ICF sophomore trotting colts and geldings didn’t go as expected.
Brian Carpenter took Picky Picky Valor ($13.00) at 5-1 odds to the front, nicely rated the Gerald Hansen trained trotter through easy-going middle quarters of 31 flat and 30.2 after a 28.2 first panel, and the son of Yankee Valor was never headed in his 1:57 mile for Monee, Illinois owner Shelley Steele, trotting home in 27 flat.
Trixie’s Jethro took second while the 4-5 favorite and division leader Louscipher couldn’t overcome a very sluggish start and ended up third.
The Illinois State Fair Colt Stake eliminations began with race three and ended with race nine. In each case the first five finishers advanced to next Wednesday’s 2-year-old $48,000 championships.
Trotting Grace (Kyle Husted) and The New Americana (Mike Oosting) a pair of Steve Searle trained fillies, were much the best in their respective elimination divisions of the freshmen filly trots.
Husted didn’t take any chances with the 3-5 favorite Trotting Grace in the first freshman trotting split, quickly putting her on the front where she cruised to her 1:59 flat victory for owners Bill Wright (Morton, IL), Mystical Marker Farms (Valparaiso, IN) and Steve Searle (Grant Park, IL).
Oosting let the 99-1 longshot The Sis Master (Tim Curtin) set a blistering pace in the initial juvenile filly pacing division with first half fractions of 26.2 and 54.3 before powering past with the bettor’s 4-5 choice The New Americana in 1:55.4, almost 6 lengths the best for Illinois owners Chris Mroz (Norridge), Dave Falzone (Chicago) and Jim Molitor (Oak Lawn).
The much anticipated duel between Violet champion Maui Mama and two-time Fox Valley Flan leg winner Good Design didn’t materialize when the public’s choice Good Design went off stride before the start of the second freshman filly trot.
Maui Mama ($6.40) made a big move for driver Casey Leonard soon after the first half and she won rather easily in 1:57.2, knocking almost two full seconds off her previous best mile. The Mike Brink trainee has now won three of her first four lifetime starts for Morton, Illinois owner Bill Wright.
Also moving on to the 2-year-old filly trot final were EL Miss Kaibra, Fox Valley Persia, G T Holliday, Fox Valley Winnie, Lou’s Silver Star, Fox Valley Unleash, Powerful Temtrist and Undeniable Motion.
The even-money favorite Fox Valley Jazzy (Ridge Warren) got the lead in the second freshman filly pace division and wasn’t seriously threaten, prevailing in 1:55.3 trainer Dale Kanitz and owner Cathy Finn-Kanitz of Olney, Illinois.
Also advancing to the freshman filly pace final were Rollin Coal, The Sis Master, Ryan’s Mistress, Lex Two, Skeeter Machine, Red Hot Packerette, Shelly On My Mind and Fox Valley Catwalk.
Trainer Mike Brink was back in the winner’s circle after the seventh race, the first freshman male trot division when his heavy 1 to 5 public’s choice Vic’s Pizza ($2.40) breezed to an almost nine length victory in 2:01.1. Talk About Valor took the second place share of the purse.
Vic’s Pizza is owned by Brink (Springfield, IL), Mark Brown (Chatham, IL) and Josh Carter (Williamsville, IL).
The stunner of the first card came in the second division of the juvenile trot for males when the overwhelming 1 to 5 favorite True Detective (Casey Leonard) went off stride on the lead in the lane after setting a slow 1:01.3 first half as the winner Cruzen Cassi (Jared Finn) flashed past and so did Illinimight, Krispy K , Fox Valley Strpwr and Aqua Man, the first five finishers in the 2:01.3 mile.
Casey Leonard steered both division winners in the 2-year-old colt and gelding pace eliminations, first with the Tom Simmons Stable’s Fox Valley Hijinx ($6.40) and then with Jim Ballinger’s Fox Valley Gemini from his father’s Terry Leonard Stable, at 1 to 5 odds.
Fox Valley Hijinx came off the pace to win in 1:55.1 and was all out to hold off the late flying 26-1 longshot Al’s Briefs. Fox Valley Gemini also came from out of it to stay unbeaten in five career starts for his Atwater, Illinois owner.
Fox Valley Gemini, Fox Valley Hijinx and Al’s Briefs will be joined in that $48,000 championship by Sheriff Coffey, Talk About It, Beach Shootingstar, Hart To Hart, Backstreet Lawyer, Mykonos and Big Boy Frasier.
The early portion of Saturday’s second program saw a trio of $8,000 Illinois State Colt Fair Stake Championships for older state bred horses decided.
Ants Iner Pants ($6.20, Kyle Husted) took the filly and mare pace crown in 1:58.2 to give trainer Steve Searle his third winner of the day. Primed N Powerful ($5.60, Freddie Patton Jr.) captured the aged male trot title in his typical front-end fashion with a 1:55.3 clocking. The Ray Hanna Stable’s Cole Heat ($19.80, Ridge Warren) came out on top in the aged male pace showdown at surprising 8-1 odds. The 9-year-old veteran was the only pacer in the seven-horse field to own a winning sub 1:50 mile.
The first of the two stake eliminations for ICF 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings turned out to be a good one. Mississippi Rabbit (Kyle Wilfong) raced outside of the even-money favorite Fox Valley Herbie (Mike Oosting) going into the last turn and still eked out a game 1:53.4 victory for the Nelson Willis Stable.
Mississippi Rabbit ($6.40), a home-bred son of Richess Hanover, is owned by Rick Barbre of Graysville, Illinois. Also moving on to the final from the first division were Decent Lawyer, Causway and Ima Scrappy Scaper.
Another even-money favorite went down to defeat in the second division as Fox Valley Reggie ($8.80) came on with a rush to win it for driver-trainer Freddie Patton Jr. in 1:53. Captain Rhett was second and Gabe Henry third.
Fox Valley Nemitz (Casey Leonard) on the inside and Gabe Henry on the outside battled on the backside to a 56.3 first half and while Gabe Henry eventually held on for third, Fox Valley Nemitz was on empty in the lane and ended up a tiring eighth and last. Also advancing from the second split were Ima Skydancer and Sullivan
Fox Valley Reggie is owned by Ron Phillips of Athens, Illinois and Sherry Boledovich, Colorado.
No eliminations were needed for the 3-year-old filly pace division and instead a prep with 11-horses (two trailers) went to the post for the finale.
After six hours of racing the first day of the Springfield meet ended the same way it started: with Kyle Wilfong in the winner’s circle. This time it was the Wilfong family’s home-bred Boogie On Down extending her winning streak to three in a row for the 26-year-old driver. A Real Doozie was only a nose short at the end of the 1:54.3 mile.
Mike Oosting had four winning drives Saturday while Kyle Wilfong and Casey Leonard both bagged three.