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Itsabouttonight found the conditions of the Marvin Shapiro Pacing series made to order, going coast-to-coast in last weekends opening leg for owner/trainer Gretchen Smith and driver Tim Maier. It had been awhile between drinks for the 5-year-old mare, who recorded a 1:53 3/5 victory as a sophomore. She made only four starts last year without a snapshot and was getting the job done for the first time in six appearances here this season. Gretchen noted that both she and her pacer are Illinois-breds who joined forces late last year. I bought her at the Delaware Sale in November and its funny how you can race so far from where youre from and end up with a horse that was born and raised in your home state. It turns out that old trainer is also someone that I used to race with in Illinois and her previous trainer is good friends and partner with a friend from Illinois as well. Its truly a small world and we are just two Illinois-born and raised girls who are far from home. Smith relates things did not go all that smoothly when Itsabouttonight first joined the barn. I struggled with her when she first got here. She can be pretty strong in the bit and she didnt want to rate very well. We made some minor equipment adjustments and finally she is racing like we hoped. Having a good driver like Tim Maier, who is patient and gets along well with her, certainly makes all the difference in the world. I am very thankful for his efforts with her. Itsabouttonight will be back in action in Saturdays second leg of the Sharpiro, which goes as the seventh race on the program. If all goes well, she should be a major player when the finale rolls around next week. California Sire Stakes, Shapiro Series highlighted A $10,000 California Sire Stakes headed by King Of The Crop and Rikybrnthegaragdwn and the second leg of the Marvin Shapiro Pacing Series are the main events at the Watch and Wager LLC meet at Cal Expo on Saturday night. King Of The Crop and Rikybrnthegaragdwn, have accounted for the first two Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing males, while last weeks opening leg of the Shapiro saw Plum Crazy Baby and Itsaboutttonight prevailing in the two divisions. King Of The Crop is a homebred son of Little Steven who carries the banner of Frank Nevarez while being trained and driven by James Kennedy. Rikybrnthegaragdwn is by Living It Up and races for Maryann Plano with son Luke reining and training. Plum Crazy Baby is a 6-year-old mare by Relentless Yankee who carries the banner of Derick Takahashi, hails from the Dario Solares barn and has Dave Siegel in the bike for a return engagement. She made two moves to the lead on the sloppy track from her outside slot and went on to a convincing three and three-quarter lengths decision. Itsabouttonight is a 5-year-old daughter of Armbro Mackintosh and the Life Sign mare Churchbell Sign who is owned and trained by Gretchen Smith and will once again have Tim Maier giving directions. The bay miss had actually been winless for quite some time coming into last weeks opening leg of the Shapiro, having recorded a 1:53 3/5 career-best mile two years ago. She had been making menacing noises in her past few starts here and put it all together last weekend. Sent off the 5-2 second choice, Itsaboutttonight went right to the front from her outside slot and left little doubt over the sloppy going. She opened up over four lengths on the field on the final bend and came to the wire with five and a quarter lengths to spare in an overpowering performance. by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness            

It was a very busy weekend of harness racing stake elimination action on Saturday, July 21st and Sunday, July 22nd at Balmoral Park as some of the state's top two & three-year-old pacers and trotters met in Southland Festival of Racing stake eliminations.

After a so-so effort to start his harness racing sophomore campaign, Leland Mathias, Omer Miller and the Erv Miller Stables Crime Of Passion flashed the form that made him one of the best in the state as a two-year-old taking Saturday's (June 2nd) $50,800 Cardinal Stake by two and three-quarter-lengths in 1:52.

After pulling off an upset at 11-1 in last week's $121,100 American National Stake at Balmoral Park it would only seem fitting if Erv Miller Stable, Leland Mathias and Omer Miller's Illinois bred harness racing sensation Crime Of Passion could pull off a repeat performance in Friday's $127,800 Abe Lincoln Stake at Maywood Park.

Harness racing trainer Erv Miller was about ready to abandon future breeding plans for the mare Broadway Passion, as her first four foals had earned roughly $14,000 combined, but Miller decided to keep her around after she produced her fifth foal, Crime Of Passion.

Balmoral Park played host to one of its biggest night's of the harness racing year on Saturday as six American National Stake finals were contested over the Crete oval.

Crime Of Passion closed from the middle of the harness racink to win the $121,000 two-year-old colt pace American National at Balmoral Park on Saturday, November 12. Star Recruit finished second, Caviart Key was third and Peck Blue Chip finished fourth.

The countdown to Illinois' biggest night of racing, Super Night 23 on Saturday, Sept. 17th, began in earnest on Saturday as elimination action for the Orange & Blue, Filly Orange & Blue, Tony Maurello Stake, Grandma Ann & Pete Langley Memorial highlighted the 13-race harness racing program.

The U.S.T.A.'s Back To The Track weekend was a hit at Maywood and Balmoral Park both on and off the track as non-stop racing action; giveaways and contests provided plenty of fun for harness racing fans of all ages.

With the Illinois harness racing conceived and foaled stakes season in full swing Balmoral Park played host to a pair of state-bred stakes events on Saturday, June 18th and Sunday, June 19th. The top older pacers in the state assembled on Saturday night as a classy field of nine were sent postward in the $30,000 Broadway Preview Stake.

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