The pacing mare Shessoluvabull was never able to garner a Super Night Championship during her racing days. She finished fourth in the $166,200in 1999, and sixth in the $125,000 Ann Vonian in 2000. But this Illinois-bred daughter of -Who's Counting- has nonetheless redeemed herself by being a super-prolific
broodmare, producing three Super Night starters this year, including two full siblings and one half-sibling.
Conditionertrains the two full siblings: Iam Bonasera p,4,1:49.2 ($631,657)- Shessoluvabull's sixth foal and Auniqueaquistion p,3,1:52.2 ($252,725)-Shessoluvabull's eighth foal. The 6-year-old Iam Bonasera finished second in his $15,000 Maurello elim, clocked in 1:51 with Kyle Wilfong at the lines.
"This horse just feels tremendous," Donna noted. "I've been pointing him for Super Night ever since I got him this past April."
The gelding's 2012 campaign was his best, as he earned $191,339 and took a record of 1:49.2 in a $17,000 Balmoral Invitational last October. He has 25 wins, 11 seconds and six thirds in 63 career starts.
"When I first got him, he had a lot of back troubles," Donna recalled. "I called a local equine chiropractor and she came here and worked on him on a Wednesday and when I jogged him on Thursday, I could see a difference."
Iam Bonasera has had plenty of Super Night experience to date, having won last year's $127,000 Maurello Stake in 1:50 for Todd Warren. As a 3-year-old in 2010, he won the $174,000 Langley Memorial, clocked in 1:49.3 with Dave Magee steering. In 2009, he was second by half a length in the $240,000 Orange & Blue Final to Power Of A Moment. Bred by Cottonwood Farm, he is owned by John Carver of Bettendorf, IA and Bert Hochsprung of Elburn, IL.
"I was pretty skeptical initially, but this chiropractor made a believer out of me, with just one adjustment," Donna stressed. "He had vertebrae out of place in his neck and his left shoulder too. Once she adjusted him he started carrying his head
straight again. She's really helped him a ton. "He doesn't have any major medical stuff bothering him," she continued. "The problem was high in his back and you could see it, watching him go. He's just an old war horse. That first time she adjusted him, he was 80% better. She's made a few minor adjustments since then but nothing like that first time. He trained awfully well coming into Super Night and I'm very hopeful of his chances."
Iam Bonasera's sister, Auniqueaquistion, is hoping to avenge her narrow loss in last year's $189,000 Filly Orange & Blue Championship, when she was beaten a scant nose by Thank You Doc in 1:54.1 with Mike Oosting in the bike. Owned by John Carver, the bay filly had an outstanding freshman campaign, earning $103,010 with four wins and three second in eight starts for Donna. This season, she's already amassed $149,174 with eight victories and two seconds in 13 starts, including her 1:53 score in her $15,000 Grandma Ann elim a week ago. Oosting used come-from-behind tactics to get the job done as the filly paced her final panel in a sizzling :26.3. "She's been pure joy from the minute she walked in the door," Donna noted. "I just love her. Her only vice is that she's the worst stall-walker I've ever had, so I got her a miniature horse as a companion, and 15 minutes after I put Dora in with her, she was laying down. She's so claustrophobic and can't stand to be alone. When she's completely confined she becomes a basket case.
"Tony (trainer Alagna & Donna's son) got her ready for me as a baby and then sent her to me. You couldn't ask for a better horse to have in your barn." Donna says that while the two siblings are very similar in many ways, they look nothing alike
physically. "Bonasera is humongous and Unique is small," she chuckled. "They look nothing alike, but they act identical on the track. He's big-over 17 hands-and dark and she's refined and light bay. But on the track, if you close your eyes when you're jogging one of them, you wouldn't know the difference. They are both really playful horses and they both enjoy their work every day. Neither one of them are balls of fire when it comes to training; they're both kind of lazy, but they get the job done. "I got a chance to look at Simplyirresistibile last weekend in the paddock and she looks just like Bonasera," Donna added.
The youngest of the trio and a half-sibling byto the other two is Shessoluvabull's ninth foal, Simplyirresistible, who will be making just her sixth career start's in tonight's Filly Orange & Blue Final.
Simplyirresistible finished fifth to My Little Bit in her elim, timed in 1:55.3 for driver John Roberts and trainer Kristopher Reynolds. She won her previous start on Sept. 1 at Balmoral in a career best 1:54.4. She is owned by the Illinois-quartet of James J. Reynolds of Watseka, Richard Lee Reynolds of Monticello, Terry Rathgeber of Champaign, and James Bafia of Minooka.
Shessoluvabull also produced these winners: Love's Conquest (by) p,5,1:55.4h ($85,560); the ill-fated Cole Muffler gelding Enzo The Baker p,2,1:51.3 ($198,090); The Face Of Love (by Art's Conquest) p,4, 1:52.2F ($101,619).
Schulfer Hopes for a First with Fox Valley Absolut
For five decades, trainerhas plied his wares as a Standardbred trainer quietly, always flying under the radar of the spotlight and media. Yet the 65-year-old Lowell, Indiana native has amassed $2,697,923 during those years as a conditioner and $2,419,916 as a driver. Those statistics aren't bad for a former psychologist who worked at the Elgin State Hospital before deciding to become a harness horse trainer in 1973.
"I received my degree in psychology from Loyola University and afterwards, at the hospital, worked at helping to move troubled folks into half-way houses," Mike explained. "It really just didn't suit me and I had always liked the horses, so I quit the job at the hospital and invested in some racehorses." Mike had attended the races as a child with his father, who was a doctor and owned several harness horses. Mike had also raced harness ponies as a youngster.
"That's how I was bitten by the harness bug initially," he laughed. "Plus, I thought I could make a lot more money with the horses! Today Mike and his wife Norma-a retired school teacher-train a stable of nine horses at Balmoral. The youngest of their three children, son Hans, 29, also helps with the barn chores. "Harness racing is a business of firsts," Mike stressed. "You always remember your first win as a driver, your first win as a trainer-all those moments are special. Ever since I've been in this business, I've always wanted to win a Super Night Championship race. I've won a couple of Super Night consolations, but to win a final would be very special."
Now it appears that Mike may get another first, as last Sunday he harnessed Fox Valley Absolut to win a $15,000 Lorna Propes elim in 1:52.4 for driver. The 7-year-old daughter of has been a member of his stable since he first purchased her at the 2007 Walker Standardbred Sale for $5,000.
Under Mike's tutelage, the brown mare has amassed $368,686, racing steadily every season since she was a freshman.
"As a yearling, you couldn't find a fault with her," Mike recalled. "She trained down well and I always thought she'd be a nice horse. She would train with another horse, that horse would come in blowing its guts out, and she'd just be standing there. She's still like that."
Owned in partnership by James W. & James D. Strzalka, Norma Schulfer, and Nancy Magnus, Fox Valley Absolut's best season came in 2012, when she earned $92,359 and took a lifetime mark of 1:51.3 for these connections. "She made a lot of money last season," Mike observed. "But then this season hasn't been as fortuitous, and in fact, a few weeks before
coming into this elim, she had a five-race streak where she hadn't gotten a check. That really had me concerned, but she has really gotten good at the perfect time it seems."
Fox Valley Absolut is the 12th of 19 foals out of the Albatross mare Assailed p,3,1:56.2 ($13,728). She is a full sister to Fox Valley Assault p,7,1:52.2F ($363,537); Larry Horse p,8,1:52.4 ($220,264); Fox Valley Angie p,3,1:52.2 ($77,180); Fox Valley Backoff p,3,1:55 ($63,555); Bazooka p,3, 1:52 ($13,813) and the 2-year-old Fox Valley Ace p,2,Q1:58.4 ($11,201).
She also has half-siblings in: Pine Valley (by Jenna's Beach Boy) p,4,1:51.2 ($39,2651); Passailed (by Abercrombie) p,4,1:50.2s ($318,666); Dee Flashion (by No Nukes) p,3,1:54.2s ($45,037); Beach Assault (by Jenna's Beach Boy) p,6,1:59h ($43,850); Allamerican Aspen (by Jate Lobell) p,3,1:53.2s ($33,050) and American Pie (by Richess Hanover) p,3,1:56.4
"The cool thing about this mare is that she's made all of her money by just knocking out the checks week after week, not in big stake races. She was third in the Filly Orange & Blue at 2, but I think what has sustained her is that she is pretty sound and clean-legged." Mike says the mare has no quirks to speak of, except that she does seem to have a taste for human flesh.
"You have to be especially careful when you go to check her up. If you don't know her, she'll get you. She's a biter, and has gotten my wife and myself pretty good a number of times. Other than that, she's fine to be around." When Fox Valley Absolut goes postward in tonight's $123,000 Lorna Propes Championship, you can bet Mike and his family will be hoping that she takes a big "bite" out of the competition.
Fox Valley Camo will be Difficult to Miss Tonight
Though he finished third in his $15,000 Su Mac Lad elimination here last week, the modest trotter Fox Valley Camo will likely
have one of the biggest cheering sections in the stands tonight.
Conditioned by, the winner of $62,137 in his career was purchased privately for $5,000 shortly after the
2011 Walker Standardbred Sale, and has now become a family favorite. "He didn't bring what the Walkers had wanted in the sale ring, so we went to them afterward and offered to buy the horse, and we got him," said Amy Giberson, Nick's wife and the caretaker of Fox Valley Camo. "My kids are real into hunting, and they wanted to name him Fox Valley Camouflage, but there were too many letters, so we shortened it to just Camo."
Nick and Amy's children Ethan, 4 and Madeline, 7, spend a lot of time in their folks' training barn at the Illinois State
Fairgrounds at Springfield. "Camo was a great yearling to be around and has always been a big puppy dog in the barn," Amy said. "He's really just a big kid himself. He's a clown and likes to take the kid's hats off their heads. Both of them wear camouflage hats and he especially likes to grab those away from them."
During his freshman campaign in 2012, the son ofhad a win, three seconds and a pair of thirds in 11 starts, earning $25,190. He finished third in last year's $119,000 Lincoln Land Trot with Jamaica Patton at the lines, and in October won a Balmoral overnight in 1:59.4.
"Camo had some minor colt soreness last season and we turned him out over the winter at Fox Valley Standardbreds, which is near where we live," Amy explained. "We started back with him in January and he is like a completely different horse this year. Last year he couldn't get around a half mile track and this year he gets around it no problem.
"Jamaica (driver Patton) works for us," she continued. "He's done a great job of driving Camo, and always gives him good
trips. Camo can trot home very well, and he's never won a big stake, but he's always right there."
This season the bay gelding has three wins, two seconds and four thirds in 14 starts and $36,947 in earnings with a mark
of 1:55.4 taken at Springfield on Aug. 12, in a $5,000 Illinois Department of Agriculture event. Lifetime, Fox Valley Camo has a 4-5-6 record from 25 starts. Bred by Fox Valley Standardbreds, he is owned by Ethan and Amy Giberson, and Mark and Austin Winship of Canton, IL. "We're pretty confident that Ethan is the youngest owner ever to own a Super Night contender," Amy said.
Fox Valley Camo was timed in 1:56.3 in his Su Mac Lad elim, beaten only 1¼ lengths for Patton. "He raced well in the elim so we won't change anything," Nick acknowledged. "I changed his shoes from steel to aluminum all the way around after Springfield to help speed him up a bit, but that's it."
Fox Valley Camo has a cheering section in the grandstand tonight, a group of folks from Springfield who come out each
year to watch the Giberson clan race on Super Night. To make sure his fans will be able to see him clearly during the race,
Nick painted Cam's race bike bright orange, and colored his race wheels in camouflage.
"I took those wheels home and painted them in my living room one afternoon," Nick laughed. "Now his fans will be able to
follow him with no trouble at all."
Fox Valley Camo is the fifth of seven foals out of the Conway Hall mare Racy Roz 3, 2:01.3F ($4,227). He has half-siblings
in Racintowardadream (by Like A Prayer) 4, 1:58H ($48,344) and Revolve (by Valley Victor) 2, 2:01.3 ($4,650).
An Investment Gone Right
An $11,000 yearling purchase from the 2012 Walker Standardbred Sale has proved to be an investment gone right for a quartet of Evergreen Park, IL-based owners.
Acquired one year ago, PQ Three has done nothing less than earn $106,899 in just ten starts for brothers Brian, Danny and Patrick Quaid, and close friend Chess Obermeier.
As if that weren't enough, the gelded son ofalso became the fastest 2- year-old colt ever to win at Springfield, when he took a mark of 1:50 at the one-mile oval on Aug. 15, besting the previous record of 1:50.2 set by
Lucky's Z Tam and Hot N Sporty in 2005 .
Since then, he's rattled off another pair of victories: first at Du Quion on Aug. 25 when he won the $43,000 Governor's Cup in 1:52.2; and then just last week when he won his $15,000 Orange & Blue elim in 1:54.1. Both triumphs were scored with traditional, wire-to-wire efforts.
"We all got involved together in the harness racing business in 2007," Brian explained. "We had been coming to the races for as long as I can remember. We used to take the bus to Sportsman's Park when we were young and kept that love and passion for the sport as we all got older. One day, we all decided to buy a horse together and that quickly snowballed."
PQ Three-named for Patrick's 8-year-old son-scored his record-setting victory in the $45,000 Illinois State Fair Freshman Colt Stake with driver Mike Oosting steering the youngster for trainer Erv Miller.
"We were all there with our families and it was very exciting," Brian stressed. "Another one of our horses, My Little Bit, won the 2-year-old filly championship, so it was just a great day. "
Brian, 40, is a Chicago fireman, while Danny, 39, is a Chicago police officer. Patrick, 37 and Chess, 50, are both option traders. Brian says buying PQ Three was definitely a group decision. "Erv (trainer Miller) had recommended him to us; he had gone to see him at the farm," Brian explained. "We all throw our two cents in and we compare lists when it comes to buying yearlings. He was a very good looking yearling.
"We went to Florida to watch this colt train and he appeared to be very smooth on the track," he continued. "All winter long Erv kept telling us what a nice colt he was and that he seemed to have a lot of speed."
PQ Three began his racing career on June 13 in a Pocono Downs qualifier, finishing fourth in 1:59.2. He then finished second in a baby race at that same track, timed in 1:56 with Erv's son Marcus at the lines, a week later.
The youngster's pari-mutuel debut came on June 30 at Balmoral, when he finished a strong second, paired with Oosting for the first time, in 1:58. He was second again one week later, this time clocked in 1:53. PQ Three then put together a three-race win streak at Balmoral, winning his NW1 class in 1:54.4 on July 14; the $10,000 Mini Me elim in 1:54.3 on July 20; and the $63,500 Mini Me Final in 1:54.2 on July 27 at the Crete one miler. He was then second in the $46,100 Hanover Stake on Aug. 3 in 1:54.2, and second again in his $8,000 State Fair elim on Aug. 9, clocked in 1:53.2.
"PQ Three is definitely the fastest horse we've ever owned, and we have very high hopes for him," Brian observed. "Of course
winning on Super Night is our ultimate goal for this year."
Bred by Fox Valley Standardbreds, PQ Three is the eighth of ten foals out of the lightly raced Cam Fella mare Sweltering p, ($2,731). He is a half-brother to Fox Valley Steamin (by Richess Hanover) p,6,1:51.3 ($113,727); Fox Valley Virago (by Sportsmaster) p,4,1:53.4 ($93,950); Fox Valley Sizzle (by Incredible Finale) p,4,1:56.4H ($31,133); and Fox Valley Odessa (by Sportsmaster) p,4,1:57.4 H ($30,406), etc.
"PQ Three is staked to everything in Illinois, and we're just hoping he continues doing well for the rest of this season," Brian
The Obermeier & Quaid Stable, LLC partnership currently owns 14 horses, including the aforementioned My Little Bit p, 2, 1:53.4 ($44,800) and Darth Quaider p, 2, 1:52.3 ($87,426). Maevey Gravey, p, 3, 1: 55 ($190,110) was one of last season's top ICF trotting fillies, is owned by Patrick, as is Reilly's Daughter p, 3, 1:52.1 ($153,590), who is now in foal to Western Terror.
By Kim Rinker for Balmoral Park