By Mike Paradise
Driver Kyle Wilfong had himself quite at Saturday night. The 31-year-old Illinois native steered both winning horses in a pair of $50,000 ICF Summer Championships.
It started with Annas Lucky Star who left no doubt she’s the reining trotting queen of Illinois harness racing. The now eight-year-old mare, assertively driven by Wilfong, easily disposed of her ICF rivals last night with a convincing six-plus length victory in the $50,000 Carl Becker Memorial Championship for state-bred trotting filly and mares ages three and up.
With the breeder and owner Danny Graham making the long trip from southern Illinois to be trackside to watch his start trotter, Annas lucky Star won for the fifth time for her Salem, Illinois proprietor and boosted her career earnings to $554,601 in six and one-half seasons of racing.
Hammered down to 1-9 odds The Cassius mare out of the dam Queen Jamie was hustled out at the start but so was Louzotic (Casey Leonard) and Reign And Shine (Jamaica Patton), each looking for the two-hole trip behind the heavy favorite.
Louzotic grabbed the two-hole behind Annas Lucky Star ($2.20). Patton started to take Reign and Shine back at the first quarter, reached in 29 .2 but thought better of it and instead went for the lead. Reign And Shine got it right around the 57.4 half, but Wilfong confidently took his trotter out and zipped past with her in comfortable fashion.
By the time they turned for home, the issue wasn’t in doubt only the winning margin which tuned out to be six and one-quarter lengths in the 1:55.1 mile, trotted by Annas Lucky Star without any urging from Kyle.
Louzotic settled for second and Reign And Shine held on for third.
I guess motherhood for Annas Lucky Star can be put on hold a little longer.
Perfectly Done: Wilfong was back in the winner’s circle one race later after guiding Scorecard Dandy to victory in the $50,000 Tony Maurello Memorial championships for Illinois-bred aged pacing mares,
Kyle gave Scorecard Dandy ($7.40) a perfect pocket trip and the Gregory Kain trained four-year-old mare worn down the 3-5 betting favorite Fox Valley Exploit (Kyle Husted) in deep stretch and gained a one-length victory in 1:52.4.
Ashlee’s Joy held off Rollin Coal for third place money.
Scorecard Dandy’s win snapped Fox Valley Exploit streak of seven consecutive wins at Hawthorne against strictly other state-bred fillies or mares.
Fox Valley Exploit got an easy lead from the pole position and had her own way on the front end, pacing the first panel in 29.3 and rolling to the half in 57.4. She even got a third quarter breather and had plenty of pace in the lane. Problem was Scorecard Dandy had more pace after being covered up the entire mile behind the eventual winner.
The $25,000 winner’s share of the purse propelled the Scorecard Dandy’s Green Acres LLC (Beecher, IL) and Mike Klimas (Oak Lawn, IL) season earnings to $86,530 for Illinois owners.
Double-Digit Winners: Wilfong also drove Kizzzmelikeumissme to an upset victory over Apple Valley at 13-1 odds in the Plum Peachy prep for state-bred three-year-old pacing fillies.
Kissmelikeumissme ($28.60) raced up close throughout the mile and outfought Apple Valley, bet down to 20 cents on the dollar, in deep stretch by a half-length in 1:53.3, a new lifetime mark for the John Filomeno trained filly.
Funky Wiggle (10.00), driven by her trainer Curt Grummel, got back on the winning track in the Beulah Dygert Memorial elimination with a 1:55.4 front end clocking.
Ironclad Creation took second and Lous Xanadu third in the $12,000 Dygert elim that saw Lous Monamie the lone Illinois bred sophomore filly failing to make next week’s championship.
Raking in the Dough: While He’zzz A Wise Sky has already put over $133,000 on his 2022 card and he’s been lightly raced this year.
“He’s only had 16 starts going into Friday’s (winning) race,” said He’zzz A Wise Sky’s trainer John Filomeno. “The one thing I won’t do is over race him. We’ll pick his spots.”
After the grueling summer season, the pride of the Filomeno stable will no doubt get some R & R because the horse’s winter plans will change this time around.
“I plan on racing the horse over the winter. There should be a lot of opportunities for him, and I think he’ll do well,” added Filomeno.
Ohio, with its smaller track circumferences, look like the ideal place for the speedy two-time Illinois Harness Horse of the Year.