Tough Call for Casey in Distaff Open

By Mike Paradise

After a three week absence the Open I for filly and mare pacers return to Hawthorne Friday night and there’s no shortage when it comes to quantity and quality in the $15,000 feature.

Nine mares will go postward in the fifth race headliner and all nine have at least one victory in their last three starts with four of the distaffers—Phyllis Jean (pp 4), Kyle’s Secret (pp 6), Fresh Squeezed (pp 7) and OK Heavenly (pp 9)—victorious in two of those three outings.

The Open Pace was drawn by groups (1-3) (4-6) (7-8) with No. 9 assigned to the Angie Coleman Stable’s OK Heavenly, winner in comfortable fashion of both top-level Open events in May.

OK Heavenly and Kyles Secret, who captured the Open II event at Hawthorne on May 27, are back from Indiana where they didn’t fare well in last weekend’s Hoosier Park Invite, ending up sixth and seventh, respectively.

The meet’s leading driver Casey Leonard was listed on Phyllis Jean, Ryleigh’s Lilly, Fresh Squeezed and OK Heavenly, and had to make the difficult choice of picking one to steer in tonight’s distaff Open.

 Casey Leonard will be in the bike again behind OK Heavenly when the Angie Coleman trained mare goes postward in tonight's $15,000 Open for filly and mare pacers. (Four Footed Photo).

Casey Leonard will be in the bike again behind OK Heavenly when the Angie Coleman trained mare goes postward in tonight’s $15,000 Open for filly and mare pacers. (Four Footed Photo).

The 39-year-old Harvard, Illinois native chose OK Heavenly the 3-1 morning line favorite despite her outside post. The 5-year-old Sportswriter mare is a six-time winner this season with four of those victories coming earlier at Pompano Park for Illinois owners Dandy Farms Inc. (Glenview) and Mark Winship (Canton).

OK Heavenly took her lifetime mark of 1:50.2 at Vernon Downs last year. Four of her nine 2016 wins came at Hawthorne, two in Open Paces.

The new face in this Hawthorne filly and mare Open is No. 8 Hipnumberone (Mike Oosting) currently trained by Brittany Dillon. The five-year-old has been a regular at Yonkers Raceway where she banked over $27,000 for her Sheridan, Michigan owner Gregory Gardner.

Hipnumberone owns a 1:51.2 mile recorded last year on the quick five-eighths oval at Pocono Downs. Interestingly, the American Ideal mare has gone to the gate 70 times in her career but never on a mile track.

How will she handle Hawthorne’s very long stretch tonight?

It’s your call.

Kyle Husted picked-up the catch drive on Al Beal’s ICF pacer Phyllis Jean who proved to be much the best in Hawthorne’s recent Walter Paisley Series.

Ridge Warren will take over the lines on Fresh Squeezed, a $6,000 claim earlier in the meet. She comes off a pair of romping wins at higher claiming levels for trainer Darren Taneyhill who has sent out 11 horses at Hawthorne and seven have visited the winner’s circle through Thursday night.

Chicago circuit fans are very familiar with John Barnard’s Ryleigh’s Lilly. Bob Smolin takes over for Leonard on the now 7-year-old ICF mare. Smolin drove her at various times as a 3 and 4-year-old. Ryleigh’s Lilly is the defending Tony Maurello champion for trainer Bill Crone.

Kyles Secret (Tyler Shehan) is a three-time winner at the Hawthorne meet for the Chupp Racing Stables. Last season as a 5-year-old she nailed down no less than 13 victories.

The longshot aspirants of the race are the 1, 2 and 3 horses—I Dance U Prance, Kyle Wilfong), Jetting Around (Kyle Husted) and Rocknroll Hoochcoo (Shawn Simons)—all listed at double digit program odds.

Trashytonguetalker (Casey Leonard) held off the late-charging 50-1 longshot (Bob Smolin) in Friday's $15,000 Open Pace. (Four Footed Photo).

Trashytonguetalker (Casey Leonard) held off the late-charging 50-1 longshot (Bob Smolin) in Friday’s $15,000 Open Pace. (Four Footed Photo).

Talk About Close: Friday night’s $15,000 Open Pace figured to be a very competitive feature race and it turned out to be just that. The Terry Leonard Stable’s Trashytonguetalker ($9.00) made it three in a row and needed it all at the end of the 1:51.2.

Aptly handled by Casey Leonard, Trashytonguetalker turned a second over trip into a head victory over the 50-1 longshot Tyler The Terror (Bob Smolin) who followed up the winner and nearly pulled off a huge upset.

The eight horses in the Open Pace were separated by only a little more than three lengths at the finish.

The third place horse Hot Rod Dylan, who led through the middle fractions of 56. and 123.4, ended up only a half-length behind the Trashytonguetalker

There was a dead-heat for fourth between Feelnlikearockstar and Account Rollover, both beaten by 1 and 1 /2 lengths while the sixth place finisher Yankee Bounty came within a whisker of making it a triple dead heat for the fourth place money.

Front End Fashion: In Friday’s secondary feature, the $10,000 Open III Pace, Mike Oosting effectively rated Best Man Hanover ($5.40) to a wire-to-wire victory in 1:52.1 through fractions of 27.2, 56.1, 124.4 and 152.1.

It was the first win of the meet in three starts for the Perry Smith trained nine-year-old gelding owned by Sawgrass Farms of Lemont, Illinois. Skim The Top was second best, beaten a little less than one length. Mobile Big John took third.

Well Done: Casey Leonard had another notable night with four winning drives. Kyle Wilfong and Ridge Warren each had a driving double.