By Mike Paradise
Sometimes a horse seemingly comes out of nowhere to earn the role as the betting favorite in a feature race. That’s the case tonight in the $22,000 Winter Wonderland trot series final.
Going into late January I never heard of the four-year-old mare Sly Little Fox, owned, and bred by Bambi Fox of Paducah, Kentucky. A month later the homebred could be sent off at even-money, or lower, when she leaves from the pole position with driver Mike Oosting.
The Swan For All Mare out of Bambi’s broodmare On Center Stage, goes for a sweep of the trotting series and quite frankly she’s been much the best in the first two rounds that combined fillies and mares and “the boys” in a single grouping.
Since the Race Office deemed that fillies and mares draw inside, the very likely post time favorites, Sly Little Fox (programmed at 6-5) and Spice-It-Up (Casey Leonard at 9-5), were fortunate enough to land the one and two posts, respectively and that’s not a good thing for the other seven starters.
Looking for an upset in Sunday’s fifth race feature are Swans Mission (Kyle Husted), Vidi Victus (Juan Franco), She Loves Tojiggle (Brandon Bates), Lous Skywalker (Archie Buford), Male Man (Kyle Wilfong), Romantic Warrior (Gary Rath) and Ramblin Cougar (Travis Seeman).
Honest Response: I called Jim Eaton earlier this week to get more information on Sly Little Fox since all I had to go on was her four season 2022 starts, three of which were victories.
“Jim, I don’t much about your new trotting mare.”
“Either do I, “he replied laughing.
“I got a call one day from a woman in Kentucky who asked me if I was interested in racing her mare,” Jim continued “We talked a while and I said yes, and the next day Sly Little Fox was here.
“I haven’t done a thing with the mare. The weather and the track have been bad, so I’ve only been able to train her a few times since I’ve got her. Of course, like the rest of my horses she gets jogged every day.
“She’s raced good in every one of her starts and fits well from the rail for Sunday’s final. But like I said I don’t know much about her.”
A little research did help fill in some of the blanks.
Sly Little Fox raced out of the barn of Mike Hollenback as a three-year-old and came away with three wins, two in Indiana and one in Ohio. She only started once as a freshman, finishing third at Hoosier under the care of trainer J D Finn.
Sly Little Fox’s first two season earnings were $19,400, well below the $25,000 maximum needed to compete in the Hawthorne Late Closer. She’s already hauled in $18,925 in 2022 and has an excellent chance to pad that total substantially tonight
Like the Name Too: A first-time starter that we’ll have to keep our eye on is Kizzzmelikeumissme in tonight’s seven race. She’s by Yankee Skyscraper out of the Triple ZZZ Stable’s broodmare Gimmeazzzmooch and that makes her a full sister to Illinois champion He’zzz A Wise Sky.
Insufficient: Sunday’s Open Trot was a “no-go” after only three horses—Burrow, Simply Swan and Talk About Valor—were entered.
Long Stretch Lovers: A pair of late rushers dazzled in the stretch to capture their respective divisions of Saturday’s $22,000 Winter Wonderland Series Championships.
Feeling Like A Ten (Kyle Wilfong) made up almost six lengths in the final quarter of a mile to take the colt and gelding division by a head for trainer Nicole Agosti, who shares ownership of the home bred four-year-old with Brett and Candice Wilfong.
Advance Man (Brandon Bates) had a big effort to be second and Walkin Papers got up for third in the 1:54.2 mile.
A race later Donald Laufenberg’s Johnnys Gal June ($7.80) went from last to first in the final panel to win the filly and mare grouping with driver Casey Leonard in 1:56.1 for her Wisconsin owner and breeder.
The five-year-old Sportsmaster mare rattled off a quick 26.3 last quarter for trainer Terry Leonard. Sharia (Richard S Finn) finished strong to be second while Dilly Dilly Time (Brandon Bates) was third best. Johnnys Gal June was nine lengths behind at the head of the stretch.
Pre-race favorite Pattycake Mooss came up sick and was scratched from the $22,000 championship.