By Mike Paradise
Under cloudy skies and the threat of rain eight Illinois State Colt Fair Stakes champions were crowned Wednesday afternoon.
It wasn’t until the tenth and final race of the Springfield program that the predicted raindrops started to fall and they couldn’t put a damper on an exciting 2-year-old colt and gelding championship won by You’remyheartrob with a quick 1:50.3 mile, driven by Kyle Wilfong.
The Brett Wilfong trained freshman was sent off as the 3-1 second choice behind the 1 to 2 division leader Fox Valley Gemini and again, just like he did in their elimination, You’remyhearthrob got the best of his rival.
Driver Kyle Wilfong wanted the front with You’remyhearthrob and got it with a bruising 26.3 first quarter. Kyle didn’t try to slow things down. In fact he kept his foot on the gas pedal throughout the mile, taking the Some Heart Throb home-bred to a very quick 53.2 half and a 1:21.3 time at the three-quarters with Fox Valley Gemini in quick pursuit.
However You’remyhearthrob wasn’t going to be denied and stated to pull away. Backstreet Lawyer proved to be second best and Al’s Briefs edged out Fox Valley Gemini for third.
The first of the Illinois State Fair Colt Championships saw the Jim Eaton Stable’s Encantado (Casey Leonard) capture the $27.200 2-year-old filly trot with authority, winning by 2 and 1/2 lengths. The 1:54.2 mile was almost five full seconds off the filly’s best previous best time.
Casey made what turned out to be the winning move soon after the first quarter, clearing ahead of the 1 to 2 favorite Louzotic and taking the field to a 56.2 first half. Encantado ($7.80) got a 29.3 third quarter breather and pulled away from Louzotic in the lane. It was the Encanto’s third win in five career starts for Illinois owners Phil Langley (Frankfort), John Swartz (Wooddale) and trainer Jim Eaton (Crete).
Puddin Creeks had a big try from the outside Niobe-hole to be third.
Casey was back in the winner’s circle a race later when he rallied Fox Valley Halsey ($12.60) to her half-length 1:53.2 victory, a track record for a ICF 2-year-old pacing filly in that $27,500 championship.
Trained by Nelson Willis for Illinois owners Cynthia Kay Willis (Beecher) and Ronnie and Jerry Graham (Salem), Fox Valley Halsey had to fight off the eventual second and third place finishers Perch and Fox Valley Lil Kim in the lane to nail down her second lifetime win in eight tries.
The winning Sportsmaster filly has been third or better in all of her first season starts.
Winning a stake race from the second tier is no easy task nevertheless driver Ronnie Gillespie did just that with Lousraptor ($9.40) in the 2-year-old colt and gelding final for trainer Roshun Trigg and owners Flacco Family Farms of Alexis, Illinois.
Gillespie made a wise decision with L:ousraptor from the 10-post, choosing to put his trotter behind the No. 2 horse Trixie’s Turbo at the start rather than the No. 1 Foxvalleyrushhour who ended up going off right from the get-go.
Gillespie had Lousraptor in fourth through much of the first half, followed up Big Garcia Vega when the 2-1 favorite took after the front-stepping Trixie’s Turbo, and then wore down the leaders in the stretch in the 1:56.4 mile for season win No. 7. His first five came on the Illinois County Fair circuit.
Trixie’s Turbo held off Big Garcia Vega for second place.
He 8-1 longshot Meyer On Fire (Mike Oosting) rebounded from some previous breaking problems and pulled off an upset victory in the 2-year-old colt pace, handily defeating the 1 to 2 overwhelming favorite The Bucket.
Oosting settled Meyer On Fire ($18.80) into fourth position in the early going. The Sagebrush freshman raced first over on the backstretch and through the last turn with The Bucket on his back, collaring the pacesetting Mr P M near the top of the lane and drawing off for trainer Erv Miller and the his Buffalo Grove, Illinois owner Engel Stables.
The 3-year-old championships were next and the $25,000 final for ICF 3-year-old trotting fillies turned out to be an easy victory for the 4-5 favorite Trotting Grace nicely rated by driver Kyle Husted.
Trotting Grace ($3.80) shot away from the starting gate from the two-post and into a quick lead with the second betting choice Maui Mama taking the pocket. A 28.2 second quarter was followed by a modest 29.3 second panel. Husted let Trotting Grace out a notch after a 58.1 first half and she gradually pulled away from her foes, winning in 1:54.2, a new lifetime mark.
Her Steve Searle stable-mate White Pants Fever was second best while Maui Mama had to settle for third.
Illinimight, sent off at 6-1, picked the right time to turn his sophomore season around when he proved best in the lane for driver Casey Leonard and posted his first pari-mutuel win of the season in the 3-year-old colt and gelding trot final.
The Mike Brink trainee came away in a hurry and took a quick lead, trotting a rapid 27.2 first panel. Casey was content to give up the lead with Illinimight to the 3 to 5 favorite Majistic Caprice and instead took the two-hole trip to the 56.4 half. Illinimight came out for the stretch drive against Majistic Caprice and they were joined by Big Lou.
Illinimight ($15.60) took command in mid-stretch and held on for winning Arthur, Illinois owners Keith and Kevin Miller. The Cassis gelding had just one win in his first 11 season starts and that came at the Carrollton Fair earlier in the summer.
Majistic Caprice ended up second and Big Lou was third.
The best stretch duel of the afternoon came in the $25,000 sophomore filly pace showdown when Allbeastnobeauty (Tim Curtin) and Fox Valley Jazzy (Ridge Warren) duked it out the last quarter of the mile with the 6-5 favorite Nobeastnobeauty getting her head in front at the end of a 1:52 mile.
The winning Mike Brink trained filly came out fourth on the backside took over command at the half (:56.) and then was all out to hold off a game effort by Fox Valley Jazzy. Rollin Coal won for photo for third.
Allbeastnobeauty ($4.60) is now 6 for 11 in her second season of racing for trainer mike Brink (Springfield), IL Josh Carter (Williamsville, IL), Mark Brown (Chatham, IL) and Lawrence Crawford (Port St Joe, FL).