Stepping Up for His Stable-Mate

By Mike Paradise

In Major League baseball when a player goes down with a season ending injury he’s put on the Disabled List, his manager says “next up” and a another player is expected to step up and do a good job filling-in for his incapacitated teammate.

The same can be presumed in harness racing.

It certainly was for the Mike Brink Stable. His star ICF 2-year-old trotter Vic’s Pizza suffered a season-ending injury in the Sept. 9th leg of the Kadabra stake series and last Saturday stable-mate Illinimight stepped up big-time, pulling off an upset in the fourth leg of the series with Brink in the bike.

“Illinimight has been getting better and better and I told the guys if they messed up on the race track this horse could end up beating them,” said Brink.

Champions Night LogoWith Vic’s Pizza, the winner of both the Springfield and Du Quoin championship in the ICF freshman make trotting division on the sidelines, Illinimight took advantage of some “messing up” by the series favorite’s True Detective and Cruzen Cassi, and notched his maiden victory in his tenth season start.

First Cruzen Cassi started running soon after the start, although he did come back to be a game second in last Saturday’s Kadabra. Then the heavy favorite True Detective went off-stride on the lead coming into the stretch, creating an opportunity for Illinimight, and the Cassi gelding took advantage of it for Arthur, Illinois owner, Kevin Miller.

“Illinimight has gotten good at the right time,” continued his Springfield based conditioner. “Anything can happen in a trot race, especially with 2-year-olds. We’ll just see how things play out in the final.  Vic’s Pizza broke a sesamoid (bone) in his Kadabra race, so he’s done for this year. That’s too bad because I thought he was as good as any trotter in his division. We’ll do what’s necessary to get him healed-up and ready for his 3-year-old season.”

Besides Illinimight Brink has eight other horses going postward in Saturday’s Night of Champions finals. Don’t be surprised if one or more of them of them steps-up and hits a home run for their injured stable-mate.

A Winning Promotion: When was the last time a Chicago circuit race track gave out over $16,000 on a single night to some of its patrons? I’m not talking about some giveaways of dusty left-overs from its storage room. I’m asking about real greenbacks and over $16,000 of it at that.

Can’t remember? I can’t either.

Suffice  it to say it’s been a long, long time, but that all changed last Saturday when some lucky Hawthorne patrons cashed-in, and in a big way, on the track’s “Fantasy Horse Owner” marketing gem.

I’ll let Hawthorne’s Publicity Director Jim Miller fill you in on this unique and highly successful on-track promotion:

“The premise of the ‘Fantasy Horse Owner’ contest was to draw some interest in the week leading up to Night of Champions by drawing some new fans to the track through our social media platform.  The contest was free to enter through our Facebook page, as we randomly drew four winners.  After reaching out to our winners, three replied and came out with friends and family Saturday night. We treated them to dinner, a visit to the paddock, and rides in the starting car.  For the contest, each contestant was given one of the $16,000 (stake series) legs to choose their horse from. Whatever the horse earned, was the amount the winner earned. Unfortunately, for the first contestant, their horse broke at the top of the lane, but we still gave them $500 for the contest. The remaining two winners chose the winner, so each got $8,000. Overall we gave away $16,500.  The contest was a big hit! I fully expect we will do more of this in the future. It drew new fans to the track and each said they will return this upcoming weekend.”

Kudos to Hawthorne for spending the kind of dough they did in a genuine effort to get new people to the race track.

What I saw last Saturday, were good-size groups of people in the Hawthorne’s winner’s circle for some contest legs having a great time. They no doubt went and told their friends of their fun-filled and rewarding evening at the races.

And that’s the best kind of promotion or advertising for any business.