To go to the “Big Dance” you need an invitation. Likewise, to get into Hawthorne’s Night of Champions finals you need to pass your elimination test to be invited.
In some cases, that’s easier said than done.
For example, to be assured to advance to the Incredible Finale championship a freshman pacing colt must finish third or higher in one of Friday’s eliminations. A drawing for the three fourth place finishers will complete the list of finalists.
That means that a number of good two-year-olds won’t be racing for a $150,000 pot, especially some in tonight’s second elimination field.
The likely sixth race favoritism should be divided between multi-ICF stakes champion Fox Valley Jasper (pp 6, Atlee Bender) and his capable rival Fox Valley Langley (pp 2, Kyle Wilfong). The Erv Miller trained “Jasper” came out on top in the summer’s $50,000 Incredible Finale showdown and Springfield’s Illinois State Fair Final.
However, both horses had to take a back seat last week in a division of Du Quoin’s Director’s Cup to the late rusher Ghost Shark (Travis Seekman) who paced a quick 1:51.3 mile, the fastest thus far this year by a state-bred juvenile pacer. The Tim Roach trained youngster is in a great spot tonight with the pole position.
That trio will have to deal Fox Valley Cayman pp5, Casey Leonard), a Cardinal division champion earlier; Fox Valley Landen (pp 7, Kyle Husted), the summer’s Incredible Finale Consolation winner; Kage Daniel (pp 4, Todd Warren), an earlier Incredible Finale summer elimination winner, and Major Harley (pp 3, Cordarius Stewart), who got his maiden victory last weekend.
The first race first Incredible Finale elimination division is headed up by the Erv Miller Stable’s Illini Jetset (Todd Warren) who takes on Bombay Buddy (Jamaica Patton), Fox Valley Falcon (Atlee Bender), Frozen Shark (Cordarius Stewart), Fox Valley Treason (Wyatt Avenatti), Fox Valley McKee (Kyle Wilfong) and County Fair Challenge champ Midnight Chrome) Travis Seekman).
The wide-up third elim (race eight) will see Fox Valley Presley (Kyle Husted), Super Taco (Juan Franco), Fox Valley Patriot (Atlee Bender), Deputy Dawg (Kyle Wilfong), Unhynged Speed (Wyatt Avenatti), Mystic Revenge (Cordarius Stewart), Mister Sleaze (Travis Seekman) and Fox Valley Steeler (Casey Leonard) slug it out.
Fifth or Better: The Kadabra eliminations for freshman trotting colts and geldings are both eight horse fields (races five and eight) and only a fifth-place finish or higher is necessary to make that $140,000 Final.
If you horse can’t be fifth or better does, he really belong in the championship? Just asking.
Of course, we’re dealing with juvenile trotters in the Kadabra so anything can happen and sometimes it does.
The recent Du Quoin Governor’s Cup two-year-old showdown was supposed to be another terrific battle between Illinois bred stakes champions Niko Man and Goomster but it never materialized. Instead, both youngsters went off stride at the start and fell far back.
Actually, Niko Man was getting a second chance in the race. He was unmanageable going to the gate causing a recall. Problem was the young trotter was just as uncontrollable the second time around and Kevin Miller’s Ain’t No Mojo popped at 10-1 for Atlee Bender to toss his hat in the ring for the Kadabra championship title.
Sprinkled throughout the card are four state bred prep events, the Molero for older male pacers, the Carey for strictly three-year-old pacing colts and geldings, the Plesac for male trotters, and the Erwin Dygert for colt and gelding sophomore trotters.