While the outside mercury continues to drop, on the harness racing track the "Mercury" is heading in a different direction. The two-year-old state-bred pacer Fox Valley Mercury showed last week he's a force to be reckoned with in Friday night's $60.350 Cardinal Final at Maywood Park.
The Homer Hochstetler trainee might be ready to rise to the occasion in Friday evening’s ninth race championship.
Fox Valley Mercury Hall of Fame driver Dave Magee liked what he got from the youngster in his Cardinal elimination victory, the freshman’s first start on a half-miler, and feels the colt is a bona fide threat in the championship.
“I was high on this colt from the beginning and I still think he’s competitive with the best two-year-olds in Illinois,” said Magee after Fox Valley Mercury 1:55.4 elimination victory in his initial Maywood Park outing.
“He’s a good colt and he’s really quick off the gate,” continued the Green Bay, Wisconsin native with 11,286 career dash winners. “I thought he’d really shine at Maywood depending on his ability to get around its turns. He got around then fairly good in his elimination. He tossed in one bad step going into the first turn but we were going into it really fast.”
“Fox Valley Mercury has been competitive in every race no matter who he has been in with. And in most of those races he’s done most of the work. In his elimination he got a little break and took advantage of a very good trip. He did race hard for me up the backside.
“ier in the season at Balmoral when he was fortunate enough to get some good trips but at other times he was three-wide to the quarter or wide through the first turn and then got a little tired late but still outlasted most of them.”
Fox Valley Mercury drew the three-post in the $60,350 Cardinal Final and will open as the 9-2 morning line third choice.
Mini Me and Governor’s Cup champion He’s So Hot, a romping a six-plus length victory in his elimination, is the programmed 2-1 favorite with Dale Hiteman with post two, while Mack Racing Stable’s Mr. Bedrock, a comfortable three length victor in his 1:56.3 elim, is next at 5-2 odds from the seven-hole with trainer Robert Taylor.
The pole position belongs to Dixie Brush (10-1, Bob Smolin) with Little Pauli (15-1, Brian Carpenter), TJ’s Rocky (6-1, Mike Oosting), and Q Revrac (8-1, Marcus Miller) in posts 4, 5, and 6 respectively. Todd Warren will catch-drive Fox Valley Griffin (12-1) away from the outside eight-slot.
By Mike PARADISE, for the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association