Day At The Track
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After a busy weekend of elimination’sthe fields have been set for one of the biggest nights of racing at Balmoral Park and now the count down begins to next Saturday’s (July 27th) Chicago Southland Festival of Racing. After a trio of stakes were filled on Saturday, July 20th the last two elimination tussles were contested on Sunday night with a total of 16 Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing fillies squaring off in a pair of $10,000 Ann Vonian Stake elim’s. The top five finishers in each division will be back next Saturday to slug it out for a purse of $60,000. In the first elimination Roy Drevsand Brett & Candice Wilfong’s Feel Like Dancing came charging through the passing lane to win by a length in a career best of 1:52.3 for driver Kyle Wilfong. After leading the field through anopening quarter in 28.3 Wilfong elected to allow a hard charging Dallas Jones(Casey Leonard) take command. That filly proceeded to rattle off middle splitsof 56.2 & 1:25.1 while the Brett Wilfong trained miss enjoyed a perfect pocket sitting ride. After finding room in the passing lane, the daughter of Skydancer Hanover—Fox Valley Funny exploded past the pace setter finishing offthe mile with a 27.1 final panel to post her seventh win in 14 starts thisyear. Dallas Jones held on to be second while the heavily favored Aliyah Maria(Todd Warren) finished third. Incredible Filly (Mike Cox) and My Marissa Clair(Phil Knox) also earned spots in the final. The second elimination was notwithout its anxious moments for “chalk” players but when the smoke cleared it was John Carver’s Auniqueaquistion who came out on top with a hard fought half-length victory in 1:52.2 for driver Dave Magee. Placed well off the pace while DuneIn Red (John De Long) and R Ciao Baby (Casey Leonard) sped through splits of28.2, 55.3 & 1:24.1, Magee had Auniqueaquistion in the outer flow as the fillies turned for the money. Picking off one rival after another, the Donna Lee Ozment trained daughter of Cole Muffler—Shesoluvabull went from fifth to first with a 27.3 final quarter to notch her sixth win in nine starts this year. Dune In Red turned in a solid effort to finish second while State Street Liz (Robert Smolin) shook loose late to be a fast closing third. The last two spots in the final went to R Ciao Baby and Mystical Danica (Lewayne Miller). Saturday’s action started with a total of 19 state-bred two-year-old pacing fillies battling in a pair of $10,000 Loyal Opposition elimination’s. The top five in each split will return next week to meet for a purse of $65,000. In the opening division Bruce & Mary Alexander’s Western Dame made it two in a row as she cruised to an impressive two-length victory in a career best of 1:54.2 for driver John DeLong. Charging from fifth to first after an opening quarter of 28.2, the daughter of Sagebrush—Dixie Dame left no doubt as to who was the best in this event as she continued on through middle splits of 57.0 & 1:26.0. Rolling home in 28.2, the $14,000 yearling purchase was never seriously threatened through the stretch as she scored for the second time in three starts. Thesleazyprincess (Mike Oosting) rallied late to be the bridesmaid while Anything I Want (Todd Warren) was a game third. My Little Bit (Robert Smolin) finished fourth and Fox Valley Rockn (Kyle Wilfong) was fifth. The second division of the Loyal Opposition elimination’s also provided a sharp winner as Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly posted her maiden breaking win, reporting home with a 2 ¾ length verdict in 1:55.1 with Mike Oosting in tow. The homebred daughter of Lexington Legend—Waggle was confidently handled in the race ranging up first over through opening splits of 29.3 & 58.4. After sweeping into the lead as the field moved around the final turn, the Nelson Willis trainee led the fillies by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.4. The issue was never in doubt from that point on as Molly Go Lightly was a cruise control through a 28.2 final quarter to post her first win in four starts. Green Valey (Robert Smolin) came on late to finish second while April May Dune (Dave Magee) was third. Also gaining spots in the final were Fox Valley Amanda(Dale Hiteman) and Ms Solongbyebye (Jamaica Patton). Next on the docket were three-year-old pacing colts as a total of 15 state-bred sophomores battled in apair of $10,000 Incredible Finale Stake elimination’s. Once again the top five will be back for the “festival” where they will battle for a purse of $59,000. In the first elimination Paymaq Racing, D&M Trading & Mystical Marker Farms Mystical Walter continued to turn heads in this division as he posted his Third Straight victory, reporting home with a deceptively easy 2 ¼ length score in 1:51.1 for driver Casey Leonard. Fresh off his win in last week’s Hanover Stake, the gelded son of Yankee Skyscaper—Yankee Blue put his powerful brush to good use rushing from fifth to first after an opening quarter in 28.0. The Erv Miller trainee never looked back the rest of the way, effortlessly posting middle splits of 56.2 & 1:24.1 before sealing the deal with a wicked 27.0 final quarter for his seventh win in 15 career starts. Monopoly Man (John De Long) followed the winner’s every move after giving way on the backside to finish second while Fancy Creek Elusiv (Dave Magee) was third. Also grabbing spots in the final were Sage Ruck (Mike Oosting) and Fox Valley Action (Todd Warren). In the second division John & Mary Krasnican’s Big Brad came storming through the stretch to win by a neck in a lifetime best of 1:51.0 for Robert Smolin. Moving up second over as pace setter Silver Devil put up splits of 28.0, 56.3 & 1:23.4 Smolin moved the Robert Phillips trainee off cover as the field turned for the money. Flying home in 26.4, the bay son of Henry Clay—One Sure Thing swept by his rivals and then was game to the wire as held off a final surge by Crankin’ It Up (Kyle Wilfong) for his fifth win in 13 starts this season. Crankin’ It Up was second while Kostas Wine (Dave Magee) rallied to finish third. Fox Valley Norman (John De Long) salvaged a fourth place finish after a tough first over bid while the last spotin the final went to Darth Quaider (Mike Oosting). Rounding out the Saturday action were Mini Me Stake elimination’s for ICF two-year-old pacing colts. With a total of 17 youngsters dropped into the entry box a pair of $10,000 splits were contested with the top five moving on to next week’s $63,500 final. In the first division Obermeier & Quaid Stables good looking youngster PQ Three lived up to his favored status winning by a well measured neck in 1:54.3 with Mike Oosting at the controls. Ranging up first over as Traffic Cop(Todd Warren) and R Duneshine (Dave Magee) battled through splits of 28.2, 58.27 1:26.4, Oosting had the son of Yankee Skyscaper—Sweltering just off the pace setters flank as the field turned for the money. Quickly swallowing up R Duneshine in the lane, the Erv Miller trainee then held firm to the wire for his second win in four starts. Traffic Cop re-rallied to finish a game second while Fox Valley Cupid (Robert Smolin) turned a ground saving trip into a third place check. Fox Valley Deuce (Dale Hiteman) was fourth while R Duneshine wound up fifth. The last elimination on the Saturday card provided the tightest finish as the Robert Phillips owned and trained Cotton Eyed Joe found racing room in the final sixteenth of a mile then rallied sharply for a head decision in 1:56.4 with Robert Smolin at the controls. After saving ground while Wimpy Doodle (Dean Magee) and Dunside Art (Mike Oosting) took turns leading the field through splits of 29.3, 1:00.3 & 1:29.2 Smolin appeared to be hopelessly locked in at the pylons. Smolin’s patience paid big dividends though as a seam opened up late in the stretch, allowing the son of Big Green Machine—Secret Dial to come roaring home with his first win in five career starts. Badger Quinn (Todd Warren), who made a power sweep to the front from the outside post wound up finishing a tough luck second while Fox Valley Van (John De Long) was third. The last two spots in the final went to Dunside Art (4th) and Wimpy Doodle (5th). Big Brad and Robert Smolin captured an Incredible Finale Stake elimination for 3yo pacing colts in 1:51.0 on Saturday night at Balmoral Park. PQ Three was a well measured winner for driver Mike Oosting in the first of two Mini Me Stake eliminations on Saturday. Cotton Eyed Joe found room late while rallying for a big win in the second Mini Me Stake elimination on Saturday. Western Dame cruised to an easy win for driver John De Long in the first of two Loyal Opposition Stake elimination's on Saturday night. Molly Go Lightly and driver Mike Oosting teamed up for an easy win in 1:55.1 in the second Loyal Opposition Stake elimination on Saturday.  Mystical Walter continued an impressive recent run as he posted his Third Straight victory in the first of two Incredible Finale Stake elim's for 3yo colt pacers.  

VERNON, NY- The pacer Let's Go Higher couldn't have been more elevated than she was in capturing Thursday night's $10,000 featured harness racing Open-1 distaff contest at Vernon Downs.

A trio of ICF stakes for 3-year-old pacers head-up Saturday's Balmoral Park harness racing card.

Let's Go Higher (Cole Muffler) won her first local Open on Sunday at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. The five year old harness racing mare was assigned post three in the $20,000 Open for distaff pacers and went off at odds of 6-1.

Proving once again that she will be the filly to beat among this season's three-year-old state-bred filly pacing set, John Carver's Auniqueaquistion rolled to a very impressive three-length victory over seven harness racing rivals in Friday's $122,000 Filly Maywood Pace.

The countdown to the first six-figure stake of the season for Illinois conceived and foaled harness racing pacers started on Thursday night as a total of 13 three-year-old fillies squared off in a pair of $10,000 Filly Maywood Pace eliminations.

A little R & R in sunny warm Florida was all that was needed for Cole Hard Cash as the harness racing seven-year-old Cole Muffler gelding won the $11,000 Open Pace in 1:55.4 for owners Elm Racing of Lackawanna, NY, here at Buffalo Raceway Saturday night (February 23).

Two weeks from tonight on Sunday, Feb. 10 the I.H.H.A. will to honor Tom and Rose Lewandowski as its 2012 Persons of the Year at its annual Hall of Fame Banquet. In 2012 the Lewandowski's donated $5,000 towards a 'Big Tom' College Scholarship which was shared Emily Magee and Chas Walker for their winning essays on what Illinois harness racing means to them.

Earlier this month the Kankakee, IL based newspaper The Daily Journal named the harness racing winners of its second annual Illinois Harness Horse Awards of ICF pacers and trotters in their respective 2012 divisions.

Iam Bonasera, who established himself as the top ICF aged male pacer of 2012, is back competing Saturday night after a six-week absence. Harness racing trainer Roger Welch quit with the 5-year-old son of Cole Muffler after the horse had some trouble in the turns in his November starts but not after Iam Bonasera turned his season around when he joined the Beecher, IL stable in the middle of July.

Pocket-sitting Fitz' s Z Tam and harness racing driver Yannick Gingras whipped pace-setting Casimir Jitterbug (Jason Bartlett) in a two-speed number Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $35,000 Open Handicap Pace.

Cole Hard Cash needed every inch of the Batavia Downs historic half-mile track Saturday night (Nov. 23) to come from behind and beat Shu Fu by a nose in the harness racing featured $8,000 Open II Pace.

Big Rigs became the fastest trotter in track history winning the $23,000 Open trot in 1:52.1 while Second Wind N scored his fourth straight harnes racing victory and Solo Command, Dingy's Boy and He's A Primadonna win Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) freshman colt trotters 2nd leg preliminaries on a strong and fast pre-Thanksgiving Day card, Wednesday, Nov. 21 at Dover Downs.

State-bred trotters and pacers shared the harness racing spotlight on Sunday, October 21st at Balmoral Park as a trio of stakes events provided plenty of action from start to finish on the 11-race program. The action kicked off with a non-wagering event prior to the start of the regularly scheduled card as a field of 10 two-year-old trotting fillies squared off in a $10,000 Violet Stake elimination.

Despite rain, hail and winds in excess of 30mph throughout the day Sunday night's (October 14) stake action at Balmoral Park went off without a hitch with the harness racing action being headlined by a pair of Hanover Stakes for two-year-old trotters and Betzotic Stake for Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old pacing fillies.

After watching their female counterparts battle in a Betzotic Stake last night at Maywood Park it was time for the Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old colt pacing set to grab the spotlight on Friday (October 12) night as a field of six lined up behind the gate for their share of a $12,700 harness racing jackpot.

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