With Super Night less than two weeks away I decided to do some researching on the Illinois gala evening of harness racing that began at old Sportsman’s Park in 1989.
Only one horse has ever won the same Super Night stake three consecutive years and that was Clark Fairley’s King Johnnie who captured the then Dan Patch (now the Tony Maurello) in 2005, 2006 and 2007 with Tim Tetrick.
Mystical Victress can be the second horse to turn the trick if she can win the Lorna Propes (formerly the Ann Vonian) a third straight time with a victory on September 14th in the pacing stake for ICF fillies and mares age three and up.
Another victory in the Propes would make the Erv Miller trainee the only horse to nail down four consecutive Super Night championships. Mystical Victress also won the Grandma Ann Final as a 3-year-old for Indiana owners Mystical Marker Farms and Peggy Hood.
You might remember that Mystical Victress was the heavy favorite to win the $250,000 Filly Orange in Blue Final back in 2009 but ended up second best that September night to thetrainee Fox Valley Oracle.
The first horse to win a Super Night Championship as a 2, 3 and 4-year-old was the Illinois powerhousewhen he campaigned for the Stable at the end of the last century for owners Tom Lewandowski, and Anderson Racing Stables.
Big Tom’s 1997 Orange and Blue crown was taken at Sportsman’s Park, the last year of harness racing at the Cicero, Illinois track. The illustrious pacer prevailed in the Pete Langley Memorial Final when it was then raced the first time at Balmoral Park in 1998, overtaking his chief rival Taser Gun in the late going (See Photo). The next year Big Tom drew off in the Dan Patch showdown.
Lavern Hostetler’s Gosox was the first pacer to capture back-to-back Super Night championships. Thecolt won the Orange and Blue Colt Final on the first Super Night in 1989 at Sportsman’s and followed with the Langley title in 1990.
Broadway Preview was the first colt or gelding pacer to win the same Super Night stake in back-to-back years when he took the Dan Patch crowns in 1995 and 1996 at Sportsman’s.
Shady Veil was the first mare to do it when she triumphed in the Ann Vonian in 1997 and 1998. Interestingly she did it on two different racetracks with two different drivers.
Jim Curran (See Photo)drove her in the last Ann Vonian to be decided at Sportsman’s in ’97 and Randy Jacobs was at her lines in ’98 when Super Night was switched to Balmoral.
Last year’s Super Night handle of $1,767,268, while more than $1 million below the record $2.9-plus million of 2000, did reverse a disturbing trend. It was the highest since 2009 and $150,000 higher than 2011.
This year is the 25th consecutive edition of Super Night. Those all so important stake elimination races for the festive evening will be contested next Saturday on the Crete, IL big track.
By Mike Paradise
The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association