By Mike Paradise
Sunday night’s second legs of the Terry Hunt Late Closers will likely determine the betting favorite for the upcoming $25,000 final of the ICF Series.
First round action saw the heavy public’s choices Frontier Frank (Mike Oosting) and Sumpun Great (Casey Leonard) pretty much cruise in their respective divisions. This time around they’ll tangle in the sixth race second division of the Hunt Series for 3-year-old state-bred pacers without a victory or $10,000 in earnings in their freshman campaign.
The Rick Schrock Stable’s Sumpun Great had a disappointing freshman season. The Yankee Skyscraper gelding out of Incredible Finale broodmare Iwantsumpun was winless in 10 starts and banked a modest $5,220 for Illinois co-owners Norman Thompson (Jacksonville) and breeder Jodi Peacock of Cantrall.
However Sumpun Great has begun his sophomore campaign in a much different direction. The ICF pacer already has made more money ($6,232) in his first four 2018 outings than he did all of last year. He’s been third or better in all four starts at the meet and made his first stop at a winner’s circle last week in front-stepping fashion with a 1:58.3 mile.
“Sumpun Great had some maturing to do when I stopped with him last year,” said his trainer Rick Schrock. “He has done some growing up since and has more growing up to do. He’s still a green horse. I thought he would be better than he was as a 2-year-old but this year he does look like he’s coming around. I was very pleased with last week’s race.”
Frontier Frank, a Tom Simmons trained pacer, didn’t go postward as a freshman for his previous owners and breeder Frontier Farms.
Frontier Frank is a son of Sagebrush, out of the successful ICF mare Faith Leigh (1:51.1), a multi-stakes victor for the Erv Miller Stable from 2006 through 2008. Her son Frontier Frank is currently owned by the Illinois trio of Jerry Graham (Salem), (Marty) Engel Stable (Buffalo Grove) and Benita Simmons (Springfield).
Frontier Frank picked-up checks in each of his first three career starts and they came last month in another Late Closer Series at a higher level than tonight’s event. The gelding took his mark of 1:57.3 last week on a chilly (18 degrees) night of racing.
Another strong challenger in the second Hunt split is Sagebrush Shocker (Brandon Bates) from the barn of trainer Kim Roth. Sagebrush Shocker has been second in each of his three season starts at Hawthorne and in between ventured to Miami Valley Raceway in Ohio where he breezed in 2:00.2 on its five-eighths oval.
Likely longshots Completely Serious (Kyle Wilfong), Herecomesmagotta (Tim Curtin) and Adele’ S Big Party (Gary Rath) complete Sunday’s first Hunt division field.
The fourth race first Terry Hunt division is expected to see Special Sauce (pp 2, Tim Curtin) from the barn of trainer Kim Hamilton collect a high percentage of the betting public’s money.
The Kim Hamilton’s Special Sauce won his 3-year-old debut on opening weekend of the Hawthorne meet. The 10-hole kept him out of position to contend the next time out and he was second best in his last January start.
A Sagebrush gelding, Special Sauce missed last week’s opening leg of the Terry Hunt Late Closer when he came up sick and had to be scratched. He’ll open as the prohibitive 6-5 favorite.
The 3-1 second programed favorite is Vegas Bomb (pp 5, Kyle Wilfong). The Ideal Towne gelding from the barn of Chris Banks has strung together three nice efforts as he continues to gain racing experience. Vegas Bomb didn’t race as a 2-year-old.
Rounding out Sunday’s fourth race Hunt series pace are Dune Might (Todd Warren) , Sagebrush Sharp (Casey Leonard), Fox Valley Hangten (Juan Franco) and Ruby Sage (Mike Rogers).
Good for Another: The 2 to 5 favorite Fox Valley Catwalk (Tim Curtin) made it back-to-back victories in another Doc Walker Late Closer Prep last night, this time in front-stepping fashion. Owned by her trainer Rodney Freese the 3-year-old ICF filly was almost a length better than Listentoyourheart in the 1:59 mile.
Casey Leonard and Sam Widger each had a driving triple on the 14-race card while Brandon Bates and Mike Oosting both drove two winners . . . Thursday and Friday’s severe snow storm continued to have an impact on the races. Ten horses were scratched last night for transportation reasons.