It’s been an extraordinary summer for the De Long family and it isn’t over yet. They have three of their horses in Super Night championships Saturday, energizing the whole Wisconsin based clan of horsemen.
drove Let’s Go Higher to an impressive 1:50.4 clocking when the mare was eight lengths the best in her Lorna Propes elimination, propelling her to the 5-2 second choice behind Mystical Victress (programmed 9-5) in that $130,000 Championship.
The 24-year-old De Long was second with both Party Hangover Two and Kiwi Party in their Orange and Blue Filly elims, moving each of his father Jessie De Long trained freshmen into that $200,000 Final.
“John and I were so proud to have a Super Night winner last year (Party Hangover). It was a dream that came true,” said Jesse. “Now to have three of our horses in finals this year has the whole family pretty excited.”
Let’s Go Higher spend most of the year out east under the care of trainer Heidi Rohn, posting 7 wins and over $66,000 in earnings, before coming back to the Clinton, Wisconsin Farm for a shot at a Super Night stake.
“Heidi and her people did a phenomenal job with Let’s Go Higher,” said Jesse. “The mare is on fire right now. She came back to us just super-sharp.
“We had a heck of a (super night elimination) weekend and John drove really well. He was bringing everybody’s horses’ home.”
The proud papa was right-on with that statement.
Besides the De Long three finalists John brought home six other horses (Monopoly Man, Cole Heat, Uncle Smoothie, Schmatie, Fox Valley Van and I Bizel The Shizel) into Super Night championships with either a second or a third place finish.
During the spring Jesse wasn’t sure which of his yearling filly purchases, Party Hangover Two or Kiwi Party, would be bound for the Illinois fair circuit and which would compete on the Chicagoland tracks.
“We bought Party Hangover Two privately and we bought Kiwi Party at a sale,” continued Jesse. “Kiwi trained better all spring. At that time Party Hangover Two was a little behind her and we had a decision to make. It was a toss-up as to what to do. One filly was going to race on the Chicago circuit and the other on the fair circuit. It was a tough decision and it turned out really well for us.
“My son John took his time with Party Hangover Two and the filly has gotten just better and better.
“My son Austin did a great job with Kiwi Party on the fair circuit. She won a number of races including the County Fair championship at Springfield and she showed last weekend she’s good enough to race in the Orange and Blue championship.
“I have four boys and all have had a great summer.
“My youngest Eric goes to Iowa and he just had the 2-year-old champion there which is awfully good for a 17-year-old. My son Ben (19) pretty much campaigned our horses up in the Minnesota fairs and had three of his horses went on to win championships on closing night at Running Acres.
“Austin (23), who also owns a part of Kiwi Party, takes care of all three our horses who are racing in Super Night championships and of course, John is driving just great. He went up to Minnesota and drove the winner in four championships there and has done a terrific job with our Chicago horses.
“I’m proud of them all.”
A “Super” ending would put an exclamation point on this memorable summer for the De Long family.
By Mike Paradise
The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association