By Mike Paradise
Harness racing swings into action today at the Springfield State Fair, with the first of a ten race card going postward at 12 noon. At stake in a number of ICF events is a starting berth in one of the eight two-year-old Illinois State Fair Colt Stake championships next Thursday.
In some cases, such as the two divisions of the freshman filly trotters, getting into a final won’t take much. Eleven fillies entered making it necessary for a two division split. All five fillies in the first race will move on to the final, while in the third race second division, only one of the six starters will be eliminated.
However, it’s going to be a lot tougher to gain the ICF two-year-old colt and gelding trot showdown. With 17 horses passing the entry box, there’s an eight horse field in one division and nine young trotters heading to the starting to the gate in the other.
Just the top five finishers in each make the final and the seventh- race second male trot division, landed both multi-stake victors Fox Valley Quest (pp 1, Casey Leonard) and Desert Skeik (pp 9, Mike Brink), with eight wins in 10 season starts between them, along with recent Kadabra champion, Fox Valley Kobe (pp 4, Kyle Wilfong).
Twin Cedars Rocket (Robert Smolin), Deememrymaker (Jamaica Psatton), Rambling Cougar (Ridge Warren), Cassy Chip (Kyele Husted), Lous Paisano (Steve Searle) and Crooked Creek (Brandon Bates) are the other seventh race final aspirants.
The ICF juvenile filly pace saw 15 Illinois bred youngsters entered entry box, meaning five of the gals won’t advance to that $32,000 championship next Thursday afternoon.
The second race first filly pace division, a seven horse field, is headed up by Fox Valley Exploit (pp 6, Kyle Husted), who took her second leg of Hawthorne’s Incredible Tillie series on July 13th, and Sleazy Gal (pp 7, Kyle Wilfong), this year’s freshman Violet champion.
Likely to get a good portion of the public’s wagering in the fourth race – second filly split are Double Parked (pp 8, Travis Seekman) and June Dale Gram (pp 2, Casey Leonard).
Double Parked, owned by her Tennessee native trainer Leroy Hunt, breezed in both of her first two Incredible Tillie series legs and is 5-for-, in her initial campaign season. Nevertheless, June Dale Gram overtook her in their Violet match-up for trainer Tom Graham Jr. in just the filly’s second lifetime start. The home-bred, Carol Graham owned, June Dale Gram hasn’t been postward since.
While Friday’s tenth and last race doesn’t have anything on the line, except its $6,000 purse since all 3-year-old male trotters advance to next week’s $29,000 championship, it appears to be the best betting race of the program.
The trotting quartet of Lourhianon (pp 1, Luke Plano), Louscardamon (pp 2, Kyle Husted), Trixie’s Turbo) pp 5, Kyle Wilfong) and Lousraptor (pp 10, Casey Leonard), have combined between them to capture every major ICF stake thus far this season.
And don’t be deceived by the 10-post today on two-time stakes winner Lousraptor. They line up nine across at Springfield, so Lousraptor starts right behind Lourhianon in today’s prep. For that matter, Casey can choose to put the Roshun Trigg trainee right behind any other horse in the race since there are no other “trailers.”
Scheduled post time on the last Springfield race is 2:15 pm and hopefully it will go off on time. First post at Hawthorne tonight is 7:20 pm. While the drive back to Chicago is normally a little more than three hours, with Illinois annual summer-time expressway construction and the likely heavy traffic between 3 and 7 pm, it could get a little hairy for horsemen to return to Hawthorne on time.