Day At The Track

Forecasting the Illinois Pacing Champions

04:37 AM 11 Jan 2015 NZDT
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Earndawg, harness racing
Earndawg and driver Todd Warren
David Baum Photo

The 2014 Illinois champions will be announced at next Saturday’s USTA District 5 Awards Banquet in Springfield on Saturday, January 17. Here are my predictions for their pacing divisions.

My trotting choices were posted on Thursday.

Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer

Mr Leland’s Filly

She looks like a shoo-in for the honor. Trained by Erv Miller for Illinois owners Paymaq Racing (Long Grove) and Leland Mathias (Bethany) this Sportsmaster filly out of the broodmare Incredible Katie pulled own $177,243 in her freshman season.

Mr Leland’s Filly won 6 of 10 starts and only lost once against strictly ICF competition. She annexed the $43,500 Loyal Opposition and Filly Orange and Blue Finals at Balmoral, and also took of the division’s Springfield and Du Quoin championships.

Casey Leonard was her regular driver.

Two-Year-Old Colt Pacer

Earndawg

This was a no-brainer.

After playing second fiddle to his Roger Welch stable-mate King Of The Swamp and winning only 1 of his first 6 career starts, Earndawg went on to dominate this division for owners Bo De Long (Clinton, WI), Pat De Long (South Beloit, IL) and Earnest Miller Jr.. (Mount Horeb, WI) raking in $217,015.

The son of Sportsmaster, out of the dam Pacific Sister K, captured 7 of his last 9 starts that included both his Orange and Blue elimination and its $186,000 Final, the $43,500 Cardinal; and a pair of open company stakes—Maywood Park’s $57,100 Abe Lincoln and Hoosier Park’s $40,300 Madison. He was also second in the $86,000 American National.

Todd Warren was his customary driver.

Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer

My Little Bit

She gets my support by winning a third (6-for-18) of her starts including Balmoral’s $48,500 Ann Vonian and the $52,000 Springfield Final, and earning the most money ($155,557) in her division.

Trained by Erv Miller for Quaid Racing of Evergreen Park, she was also second in the $89,000 Maywood Filly Pace and the $142,000 Grandma Ann on Super Night and third in Du Quoin’s Time Dancer.

Another daughter of Sportsmaster (out of Parade Of Love), she was driven by Casey Leonard.

Three-Year-Old Colt Pacer

Unlocked

He was simply a notch ahead of rest of this ICF division for trainer Erv Milller and owners Megan Rogers Racing Stables of Chicago, Illinois. His only losses in 2014 against strictly state-bred competition came at Maywood.

The son of Duneside Perch out of the Fighting Major dam Miss Major Power breezed in Balmoral’s $48,000 Incredible Finale and the $145,000 Langley on Super Night, and in both State Fair Finals at Springfield and Du Quoin, putting over $178,000 on his card and taking a mark of 1:49.1..

Dave Magee was Unlocked’s Illinois driver.

Aged Mare Pacer

Let’s Go Higher

Spent almost all of last year on the east coast where she competed in high-level mostly at Yonkers and Saratoga and did very well for owner Jesse De Long of Clinton, Wisconsin and his trainer Heidi Rohr. The nare won 5 Opens at Saratoga, 2 at Yonkers and another at Vernon Downs.

The daughter of Cole Muffler came back to her home state in September and proved best in her Lorna Propes elimination and its $118,000 Super Night Final. The 13-time season winner put over $200,000 on her 5-year-old campaign card.

Aged Male Pacer

Al’s Hammered

This son of Droppinthehammer came back from serious tendon problems in 2013 to have a brilliant 2014 season as a 5-year-old for Crete, IL owner and trainer Bob Phillips.

Al’s Hammered was the King of the Hill in Balmoral invites, winning 7 of them. He also had triumphs in the ICF division on Super Night in the $112,000 Tony Maurello Final, both the Broadway Preview and Rambling Willie stakes, and at Springfield.

The horse was sold to Harry Von Knoblauch at the end of October and went on to face some of the best open pacers in the country at The Meadowlands. He ended last year with 15 wins in 27 starts and earnings just under $200,000.

Illinois Harness Horse of the Year

Earndawg

You can make a case for a number of division winners to get this honor and wouldn’t get much of an argument from me.

However, Earndawg did make more money ($217,015) than any of the other likely 2014 division winners and ventured out of state-bred competition and came away with stake championships in Maywood’s Abe Lincoln and a division of Hoosier’s Madison. He was also was the American National runner-up at Balmoral Park.

The youngster won added money events on three different size ovals, a half, a seven-eight’s, and a full mile track to earn my vote.

by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

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