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Vernon, N.Y. -- After repelling a challenge from odds-on favorite Hot List through the far turn, Let's Go Higher ($5.80) dug in to stave off pocket rival The Filly Princess in Friday (July 17) evening's $10,000 Mares Open Pace at Vernon Downs.   The 7-year-old Cole Muffler mare sprinted out to the lead through a :26.4 first quarter, rating a :30.1 breather on the backstretch before facing stern pressure on the far turn from Hot List (John MacDonald). After she was pushed to a :27.2 third quarter, Let's Go Higher edged clear in upper stretch--only to face a second threat. The Filly Princess (Frank Davis) found room to challenge from the pocket, but Let's Go Higher maintained a half-length advantage to the winning post, prevailing in 1:52.   Chris Lems drove Let's Go Higher for trainer Heidi Rohr and owner Jesse DeLong.   Live racing returns to Vernon on Saturday (July 18) evening. Post time is slated for 6:45 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

After an early push clear of her five rivals, Let's Go Higher ($2.40) looked every bit odds-on in the Independence Day (July 4) feature at the harness racing meeting at Vernon Downs, taking the $10,000 Mares Open Pace in 1:52.   The 7-year-old Cole Muffler mare crossed and cleared from her outside post rapidly, sent to the fore by Chris Lems with no reservations through a :26 initial quarter.   After backing down the pace through a :29.4 second quarter, she accelerated clear on the far turn, leaving the pocket-sitting Love You Bye (Jimmy Whittemore) three lengths in arrears through a 1:23.3 three-quarter sectional.   She continued to extend her margin through the stretch, ultimately defeating her competition by four lengths.   The Filly Princess (Frank Davis) sustained a belated first-over bid to take second, just getting past an all-out Love You Bye in the final yards.   Heidi Rohr trains Let's Go Higher for owner Jesse De Long.   Jimmy Whittemore led all drivers with a hat trick on the 10-race card, teaming up with Drinkin N Dancin ($3.90, 1:54), Devil Child ($5.40, 1:52), and Country Chic ($5.20, 1:57.3).   Live racing returns on Sunday (July 5) afternoon, with post time slated for 1:15 p.m. Eastern time.   James Witherite

Let's Go Higher (Cole Muffler) won her second consecutive Filly and Mare Open Pace at Saratoga Casino and Raceway on Friday night. The Heidi Rohr-trained mare was the Filly and Mare Pacer of the Year in 2013 and followed that season up with a sensational '14 campaign in which she earned over $200,000. Friday's $18,000 feature was contested at a distance of a mile and 1/16 and driver Billy Dobson left with Let's Go Higher who had to settle for third in the early going. The race's leader Road Bet (Stephane Bouchard) endured first half fractions of 26.1 and 54.4 and gave in late to the pressure from Let's Go Higher before holding on for second after a good stretch drive. Deliciouslynaughty (Frank Coppola Jr) earned the show spot. Let's Go Higher, who has competed in nearly half of her starts this year out of town, has now been first or second five consecutive times. The runner up Road Bet has been first or second in eight of her nine seasonal tries. Let's Go Higher, who paid $5.10 to win as the race's favorite, is owned by Jesse De Long of Clinton, WI. Live racing continues on Saturday at Saratoga with a first post time set for 6:45pm. Mike Sardella  

Vernon, N.Y. -- Under steady pressure through a :26.4 third quarter, Jesse De Long's Let's Go Higher ($2.60) would not be denied, edging clear to a harness racing victory in Friday (May 29) evening's $10,000 Mares Open pace at Vernon Downs.   The 7-year-old Cole Muffler mare cleared her four rivals immediately at race's outset, controlling the terms through a :27.3 initial quarter before rating a brief breather. Upon reaching the half in :57.1, Let's Go Higher faced stern pressure from the first-over Purity (Jimmy Whittemore), pushed on through a :26.4 third quarter before edging clear off the far turn. Let's Go Higher turned aside Purity at head-stretch, holding clear of the pocket sitting Southwind Trini (Greg Merton) by two lengths in 1:51.2. Artic Byrd (Truman Gale) narrowly held third over Always As Fast (Joe Nassimos) after tracking the front flight throughout.   Chris Lems drove Let's Go Higher for trainer Heidi Rohr. Lems scored a driving double on the evening's nine-race card, as did Jimmy Whittemore.   Live racing resumes at Vernon Downs on Saturday evening, with first post at 6:45 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Taking advantage of a pocket trip behind the pace-setting Purity, Let's Go Higher ($3.80) struck the front in upper-stretch, holding clear of a late bid from The Filly Princess to win Friday evening's (May 15) featured $10,000 Mares Open Pace at the harness racing meeting at Vernon Downs. Simon Allard settled into the pocket with the seven-year-old Cole Muffler mare, drafting behind 17-1 outsider Purity (Claude Huckabone, Jr.) through sectionals of :26.4, :55.1, and 1:23.1. At the top of the stretch, Let's Go Higher vacated the pocket, pushing clear of a tiring Purity at the eighth pole and edging clear by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:50.2. The Filly Princess (Truman Gale) rallied late off a tracking trip to take second, while Table Talk (Bart Dalious) kicked cover to take third after racing from the back of the pack early.   Heidi Rohr trains Let's Go Higher for owner Jesse DeLong.   Saturday evening's 14-race pari-mutuel card features four divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for three-year-old pacing fillies, with Ron Burke trainee Sassa Hanover (2-1 morning line favorite, Andy McCarthy up) making her three-year-old debut in the evening's $30,450 fifth race. Post time is 6:45 p.m., with a non-wagering Excelsior event carded for 6:30 p.m. James Witherite

Almost every time Quality will trump Quantity. It certainly does in harness racing and Saturday’s Balmoral Park card is no exception. Far and away the best and most anticipated race of the night is the fifth race “Winner’s Over” with just five starters. However, it’s a very evenly matched field of  solid pacers and you could find a reason, or reasons, why any one of them will come out as the winner tonight. The 9-5 morning line favorite is the sharp veteran Firstclassallthway (pp 4, John De Long) who saw his two-race “Winner’s Over” streak snapped last week when he got out and rolling a little too late. Firstclassalltheway was beaten only a half-length and motored home the last quarter of a mile with De Long in a quick 26.1 seconds. His $20,000-plus season earnings for Dandy Farms of Glenview, Illinois, is tops in the fifth race headliner. The two-time Super Night champion Iam Bonasera (p.p. 5) raced first up last week when he dropped a head decision to Fort Silky. The now 8-year-old ICF pacer loves Balmoral with its long stretch. Mike Oosting takes over the lines on Iam Bonasera this week for trainer Nelson Willis. Oosting drove the gelding twice in 2013 and had a win and a third with him. The son of Cole Muffler won the Langley as a 3-year-old and the Maurello on Super Night 2012. He was also the runner-up in Super Night championships as a freshman and last year.   The third choice in the morning line at 7-2 is the venerable Fort Silky who came up with one of his “refuse to lose” front-end triumphs a week ago. Twice it looked like the Terry Leonard trainee was going to be passed in the lane but each time he dug in and repelled his foe.  “Fort Silky likes it when another horse looks him in the eye,” said his driver Casey Leonard. “He’s the toughest horse I’ve ever been behind as far as fighting another horse off. “ The ultra-consistent Best Man Hanover opens at 9-2 for regular river Todd Warren. With his gate speed and the pole position, the Perry Smith trainee could be ahead or right behind Fort Silky, making her a serious threat to nail down his 18th career victory for Sawgrass Farms of Lockport, Illinois. Making his season debut as a 5-year-old is Tripoli Stable’s Kanaris (6-1,) from the two-slot. Travis Seekman got off Iam Bonasera to drive the talented pacer for his father Joe, who trains the horse. The 24-year-old Seekman was 3-for-3 behind Kanaris last year including an Open Pace win at Northfield Park. In 2014 Kanaris paced a 4-year-old gelding track record 1:48.3mile at Scioto Downs, a five-eighths mile track, for his Norridge, Illinois owners. Well Done Marketing: A tip of the cap goes to Balmoral Park Marketing Department and the many, many patrons who generously helped raise $20,000 last Saturday night to fight childhood cancer at the racetrack’s annual St. Baldrick event. Balmoral Park Marketing Director Ken Churilla is shown in the attached photoTamara Fischer surprising 13-year-old Lily Pavlik, a 10 year cancer fighter/survivor, in the winner’s circle with gifts. Lily was diagnosed at age 3 with a rare Desmoid tumor. A crowded Grandstand of patrons played raffles, bought green horseshoes, volunteered to get their heads shaved, and donated their way to produce $20,000 to be used to support life-saving childhood cancer research. The annual St. Baldrick popular event drew the largest on-track crowd in several months and they played a major role in the first $1 million-plus mutuel handle of the year on the Chicago circuit. By Mike Paradise

About three weeks ago former two-time Super Night champ Iam Bonasera returned to Illinois under the care of veteran harness racing trainer Nelson Willis with almost nothing thing on his card after his first four season starts out east. The 2012 Illinois Harness Horse of the Year earned over $700,000 in his career before stumbling out of the starting gate as a 6-year-old. However that has all turned around since he’s been back in Illinois. Saturday night he’ll carry a three-race winning streak with almost $10,000 in purse earnings raked-in for owners John Carver and Erv Miller in his trio of starts at Balmoral Park. “Iam Bonasera has been in much easier here so far than he was out east,” explained Willis. “He can dominate these lower classes. Saturday he’s taken on better horses. He does like a big track. It’ll be interesting to see how the horse does against them. If he’s right he’ll come on with authority, that’s for sure.” Iam Bonasera opens as the 5-2 second choice when he steps up in Balmoral’s “Winner’s Over” feature against five tough foes, headed up by the 2-1 morning line favorite Ice Scraper (Brian Carpenter). Sawgrass Farms Best Man Hanover (3-1, Todd Warren) has the pole position while last week’s 10-1 surprise winner Firstclassallthway (4-1, John De Long) has the five-slot. If I Lose) 8-1, Bobby Smolin) and Feel N Funk E (8-1, Tim Curtin) are the other ninth race challengers. I asked Nelson if he made any changes to Iam Bonasera since he joined his stable. “Not at all,” he replied. “The horse has the same equipment on that he had when he came here. I don’t know if I changed his training tactics. The week before he made his first start for me I trained him on a Saturday in 2:02 and came back with him the following Tuesday in ’58’ “In between his races with me I’ve been training him in about 2:12, the last half in ‘04’ and the last quarter in 30 seconds, “The horse had a little blood issue. One of them has been straighten out and the other is well on its way to being taken care off. He’s just a big old pleasure horse to be around. I had to race against him in the past so it’s nice to have him on my side now.” Travis Seekman, who drove Iam Bonasera to his Maurello Super Night elimination victory last year, is 3-for-3 with the son of Cole Muffler for Willis. “Travis has been doing a real great job with the horse. He drives a very smart race out there. Travis drives a horse good and he doesn’t bring him back with the horse’s tongue hanging out. I like the young man.” In the co-featured second race :Winner’s Over” for distaffers, six mares will try to start the high-flying Wings from extending her winning streak to four in a row and 7 out of the last 8 for her trainer and owner Merle Finn Jr. Last week Wings dominated, winning by three lengths and pacing a 26 flat last quarter with her regular pilot Tim Curtin. Wings has the outside 7-slot while the first 6 posts will be manned by Window Wiper (programmed 10-1, Casey Leonard), Our Miss Lilly 10-1, Mike Oosting), State Street Liz (5-1, Bobby Smolin), Feel Like Dancing (8-1, Kyle Wilfong), Muy Caliente (10-1, Travis Seekman) and Just By Design (4-1, Ryan Anderson). Price Shot Nailed: Friday night’s eleventh race winner Island Jet was a Mike Paradise Price Shot winner at $13.60. The $40.20 Exacta of 3-6 was also correctly picked. By Mike Paradise

There’s an old one-time popular love song entitled “Reunited And It Feels So Good” that pretty much conveys the feelings of trainer Donna Lee Ozment for the horse Auniqueaquistion, the 2013 Illinois 3-Year-old Filly Pacer of the Year, now that she is back in her barn.   Towards the end of the filly’s very success sophomore season where Auniqueaquistion won every major stake in her division for Donna and almost $250,000 in purse earnings she got a much unexpected phone call that stunned the veteran trainer. “I was on my way to Maywood Park when I got a call and asked me “When can they come and pick up the mare.” I asked ‘what mare?’ “Auniqueaquistion, they answered. She’s been sold.” “I was stunned. I had no idea of the sale or that her owner (John Carver) was even thinking of selling her. The filly was like a close pet to me and she was doing so well for us. “I had her for her first two years and she made her owner a lot of money (over $350,000). She won everything as a 3-year-old, the Maywood (Filly) Pace, the Ann Vonian, the Grandma Ann on Super Night from the 10-hole and a Hanover. I was shocked and I was in tears when she left.” Carver sold half of the filly to Dandy Farms of Glenview, Illinois last November. Almost a year to the sale day she was reacquired by Carver and sent back to Ozment after winning only 2 of 20 starts while banking just $18,000, “I’m so happy to have Auniqueaquistion back,” continued the native of Fairfield, Illinois. “She’s happy to be back, too. “I tend to get very close to my horses and she was the closest I’ve been to one. I train all my horses but she was one that I actually rubbed and took care of. I bathe her. I did her up every day and she lived with my little mini (horse). “Auniqueaquistion was very attached to her mini. When she came back to our barn and saw her mini she came over and started licking her back. Everybody in the barn was getting watery eyes. It was very touching. “She was not a happy-camper when she was gone. While she’s much happier now she’s still not the same animal she was when she left. She’s a kicker now and she never kicked before. Her personality did change while she was gone but she is coming around and I think she’ll get better and better. It’s just going to take time. “She remembered me when she came back and she remembered that I had always given her a snack after she jogged. The first time back after I jogged her I put her in the stall and started to walk away she started nickering as if to say: “Hey, where’s my snack.” Auniqueaquistion (Dale Hiteman) will open at program odds of 6-1 in Friday’s eighth race conditioned pace. It’ll be the 4-year-old mare’s third start back for Ozment. The daughter of Cole Muffler raced an improved third last week, ending up less than 1 length short of the winner. In the meantime Auniqueaquistion is back enjoying her snacks and the company of her mini friend while Donna has her favorite pet back in her barn along with some drier eyes, so as they say: “All’s well that ends well.” by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

Let's Go Higher (Cole Muffler-Ten Speed) scored a front-running victory in the $10,000 featured pace at Vernon Downs on Thursday night. She was sent right to the lead right by harness racing driver Chris Lems after the gate opened up and led through early fractions of 26.1 for the quarter, 55.2 for the half, and 1:23.2 for three-quarters.   Southwind Trini (Jim Marohn Jr.) sat the pocket trip during the majority of the mile and moved to the outside once the field made the stretch, but she could not get past Let's Go Higher, who won in a final time of 1:51.2. It is Let's Go Higher's third straight victory. She had won her two previous starts at Balmoral.   Let's Go Higher is owned by Jesse De Long of Clinton, Wisconsin and trained by Heidi Rohr.   The complete order of finish was: Let's Go Higher, Southwind Trini, Seascape Hanover, Asset Management, and Ugly Betty.   Racing resumes at Vernon Downs on Friday night with a 12-race program. The featured event will be the 11th race, a $10,000 Open Preferred Trot. The morning line favorite at 6-5 is A Penny Earned, who was a winner two starts back on September 12. Chris Lems is scheduled to drive.   by Michael Chamberlain, Vernon Downs Publicity

As it has done on four other occasions the $118,000 Lorna Propes Championship for filly and mare pacers 3yo & up produced yet another repeat harness racing champion as the Jesse De Long owned Let's Go Higher held on to win by a length in 1:52.0 with John De Long at the controls. Last year's winner of this event left hard from post five but was quickly covered up as Dune In Red (Dave Magee) and Party Hangover (Todd Warren) battled through a tough opening quarter of 27.1. Moving first over as the field raced by the half-mile mark in 55.0 the Heidi Rohr trained six-year-old swallowed up Party Hangover as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:23.3. "I wasn't surprised that we had to do as much work as we did because they're not going to be able to beat her if they just leave her alone on the front end," said a confident De Long. Through the stretch the daughter of Cole Muffler--Ten Speed held sway as Dune In Red came charging at her along the inside while No Respect (Marcus Miller) was closing on the outside. Unfortunately time ran out for that pair as Let's Go Higher dug in gamely to post her 23rd victory in the past two seasons. Dune In Red was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while No Respect was third. After the victory a beaming De Long was more than happy to sing the praises of his charge. "Halfway down the lane I was nervous," he said. "But she fought off the outside horse then nearing the wire she caught the inside horse out of the corner of her eye and she just dug in again. I really believe this is the toughest mare I've ever driven and her will to win is just second to none." The 1-2 choice after a strong elimination win the previous week Let's Go Higher continued the parade of favorites paying $3.00, $2.20 & $2.10 while moving her career bankroll to a gaudy $460,435. Tom Kelley

The countdown to the biggest night of the year for Illinois conceived and foaled pacers and trotters began in earnest on Saturday night at Balmoral Park as a bevy of elimination action brought out some of the Prairie State's best. Freshmen pacing fillies started the Saturday night action with a total of 15 youngsters entered in a pair of $15,000 Filly Orange & Blue elim's. The top five will be back on Super Night to battle for a $163,000 (est) jackpot. In the opening split Jesse De Long & Hamm Family Trust's Sportsmuffler made her local debut a winning one as she rolled to an easy 4 ½ length victory in a career best of 1:54.3. Perfectly placed In The Pocket by driver John De Long, the daughter of Sportsmaster--Whatifthere'smore exploded past the pace setting Cowgirl Chic in the lane as she rolled to her sixth win in nine lifetime starts. Cowgirl Chic held on well to finish second while Girls Hunt Too (Dale Hiteman) was third and Star Gram (Brian Carpenter) was fourth. Angel Demon (Ryan Anderson), the 1-2 favorite in the field of eight, stopped badly after a first over bid on the far turn but still managed to gain a spot in the final with her fifth place finish. In the second division Leland Mathias and Paymaq Racing's Mr Leland's Filly continued her dominance of this division as she cruised to a 2 ¼ length victory in 1:56.1 for driver Casey Leonard. Sent from third to first after a tepid opening quarter the Erv Miller trained daughter of Sportsmaster--Incredible Katie appeared to have plenty in reserve through the lane as she toyed with her rivals while posting her fifth win in seven lifetime starts. BS Tyrichess (Brian Carpenter) turned a pocket sitting trip into a second place check while Lex (Kyle Wilfong) was forced to settle for the show dough after a bold first over bid at the top of the stretch. Luvniecestopieces (Ryan Anderson) was fourth while Fox Valley Redhead (Dale Hiteman) finished fifth. A field of 10 was sent postward in the $15,000 Pete Langley Memorial for three-year-old pacing colts with the top nine finishers joining Fox Valley Cupid, who opted for a bye, in next week's $147,000 (est) final. Living up to his overwhelming 1-9 favoritism Megan Rogers Racing Stables Unlocked completely dismantled this field as he reported home with an effortless 6 ¼ length victory in 1:50.3 for driver Dave Magee and trainer Erv Miller. The issue was never in doubt in this one as the good looking son of Duneside Perch--Miss Major Power worked his way to the front after the opening quarter and proceeded to widen his margin at each call while posting his fourth straight victory over these rivals. Fox Valley Deuce (Casey Leonard) followed the winners every move after relinquishing the lead on the backstretch but was no match for the heavy favorite while garnering the second place check. Svaya Knows (Travis Seekman) rallied late to finish third. Also gaining spots in the final were Fox Valley Van, Uncle Ugly, Overloaded, Cotton Eyed Joe, BlueRiver and Sleazeburgernfries. The older pacers renewed acquaintances as a total of 16 veterans were dropped into the box for a pair of $15,000 Tony Maurello Stake elimination's. Once again the top five finishers will be back for what should be a very entertaining $112,000 (est) final next week. In the first division the Bob Phillips owned and trained Al's Hammered came flying down the lane to win by 1 ¼ lengths in a seasons best of 1:49.1 with Bobby Smolin at the controls. Content to bide their time near the back of the pack through some quick early splits, Smolin put the five-year-old son of Droppin'thehammer--Alberts Magic into contention at the top of the lane. Uncorking the big late kick he's come to be known for Al's Hammered proceeded to wear down FortSilky (Casey Leonard) in the final sixteenth of a mile for his 13th win in 19 starts this season. FortSilky was forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night while Big Daddy Woo Woo (Ridge Warren) was third. Ice Scraper (Todd Warren), who carved out the fast fractions held on for fourth while Ricky Bobbie (Pat Curtin) was fifth. In the nightcap Bert Hochsprung and the Erv Miller Stables classy veteran Iam Bonasera picked a nice time to grab his first win of the season as he rolled to an easy 1 ½ length victory in 1:51.3 with Travis Seekman at the controls. Perfectly positioned In The Pocket while Big Brad (Robert Smolin) carved out pedestrian splits of 27.4, 57.0 & 1:25.1, Seekman maneuvered the seven-year-old Cole Muffler--Shesoluvabull gelding to the outside with an eighth of a mile to go and the lifetime winner of more than $670,000 did the rest, storming home in 26.1 to get the win. Big Brad settled for second while another Miller trainee, A Cool Card (Dave Magee) was third. Crankin' It Up (Kyle Wilfong) was fourth while Doubletrouble (Todd Warren) was fifth. Next up were the two-year-old pacing colts as a total of 19 hopeful's met in a pair of $15,000 battles. The top five in each race will return for what is expected to be next week's biggest purse of the night at $187,000 (est). The first split provided a thrilling finish as the Roger Welch trained entry of Earndawg and Rockin Cassinova finished one-two with Earndawg getting the 1 ½ length score in a career best of 1:54.0 for the partnership of Bo & Pat De Long and E.J. Miller Jr. Sitting near the back of the back of the pack after starting from post position eight, driver Todd Warren did a magnificent job of guiding the altered son of Sportsmaster--Pacific Sister K through the lane charging from eighth to first in the final quarter-mile for his third win in nine lifetime starts. Rockin Cassinova (Dale Hiteman) parlayed a nice ground saving journey into the place check while Dakota Roadster (Robert Smolin) rallied for third. Also gaining spots in the final was the pace setting Dupage's Z Tam (Casey Leonard) and Thisishowweroll (John De Long). The second elimination was also a barnburner and when the smoke cleared it was Rocco Ruffolo's Lucpark who prevailed by the slimmest of noses in 1:55.1 for driver Dave Magee. Given a Hall of Fame steer by Super Night's leading driver, Lucpark left quickly from post nine and settled in nicely at the pylons until the top of the stretch. That's when Magee went to work with the Erv Miller trained son of Sportsmaster--Treasure The Best, deftly maneuvering off the cones then squeezing through a tight hole with an eighth of a mile to go before wearing down the pace setting King Of The Swamp (Todd Warren) in the last stride for his fourth win in eight lifetime starts. C Note (John De Long) shook loose late to finish third. The last two spots in the final went to Mighty Hot Shot (Brian Carpenter) and Fox Valley Elijah (Dale Hiteman). A total of 23 distaffers were dropped into the box for a trio of $15,000 Lorna Propes Stake elimination's with the top three and one fourth place finisher (drawn by lot) advancing to next week's $120,000 (est) championship. In the first division Jesse De Long's Let's Go Higher, the defending champion in this event, returned to town for trainer Heidi Rohr and promptly served notice that she's going to be tough to dethrone as she posted a 4 ¼ length wire to wire victory in 1:52.1. Confidently handled by driver John De Long, the six-year-old daughter of Cole Muffler--Ten Speed shot right to the top and promptly rattled off splits of 28.3, 57.1, & 124.4 before sealing the deal with a brisk 27.2 final panel for her 22nd win in the past two seasons. No Respect (Kyle Wilfong) followed the winner every step of the way but was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Tamarac Sassy (Casey Leonard) was third. Fox Valley Touche finished fourth. In the middle split Wilson Racing Stable, Norm Neff and Mark Eichberger's Dune In Red parlayed a perfect trip into a 2 ½ length victory in a snappy 1:51.2 for driver Dave Magee. Sent hard from post five, the chestnut daughter of Duneside Perch--She Has The Look elected to let a hard charging Party Hangover (Todd Warren) go just after the quarter. That put the Tim Wilson Jr trained miss in a perfect spot the rest of the way. Magee then maneuvered the four-year-old out of the pocket and she responded beautifully as she zipped right by the odds on favorite for her fourth win of the season. Party Hangover held on for second while State Street Liz (Robert Smolin) was third. Zumba finished fourth. In the final elimination of the night fittingly went to another Dave Magee driven mare as he guided Joshua Carter's Just By Design to a one-length victory in 1:52.3. As was the case for nearly all of the night Magee had the roan six-year-old perfectly positioned In The Pocket while Fox Valley Absolut carved out splits of 28.2, 57.2 & 1:25.0. Fit and fresh as she waited for the passing lane, the Mike Brink trained miss cruised right by the pace setter for her third win of the season. Fox Valley Absolut held on for second while Toshie Special (Dean Magee) finished third. Auniqueaquistion finished fourth. The elimination action continues on Sunday, Sept. 7th with a $15,000 Su Mac Lad elimination. That tussle will go as race six on the 10-race card which begins at 7:10 p.m. (central). No eliminations were needed for the Lady Ann Reed for three-year-old trotting fillies or the Grandma Ann for three-year-old pacing fillies. The latter did have a "prep" on Saturday night which was taken by Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly and driver Matt Krueger in 1:55. By Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park    

Friday’s $25,000 Egyptian stake, the second leg of the Maywood Park Pacing Series for ICF colts and geldings ages three and up, came up a little short in number but tall in talent. Most of the top older ICF pacers will square off in the fourth race feature and all know their way around the Maywood Park oval with defending series champion Fort Silky having by far the most success on the half-miler in the six-horse field. The 8-year-old son of Ft. Apache Hanover is looking for his 15th lifetime win at Maywood and he’ll have his work cut out to get it for Paw Paw, Illinois owners John Prentice and Neva Jane Keeler. The current star of the Terry Leonard Stable landed the outside six post with the likes of Fox Valley Norman, Mystical Walter, Al’s Hammered, Fancy Creek Elusiv and Silver Devil inside of him with posts 1 through 5, in that order. Fort Silky (Casey Leonard) and Silver Devil (John De Long) are expected to provide the early speed from the outside while the longshot Fox Valley Norman with the one-slot has shown in the past he can also leave in a hurry. The Perry Smith trainee won the Go Sox at Maywood last season as a 3-year-old in front-end fashion. Silver Devil took this year’s Aged Cardinal Championship at Maywood back in June while his Nick Giberson trained stable-mate Fancy Creek Elusiv came away with the 2013 Maywood Pace Championship. They’ll race up-coupled Friday with different ownership. Sitting on top of the ICF Aged Division is Bob Phillips’ Al’s Hammered who has been close to unstoppable in his 5-year-old season. The 12-time season winner has captured the circuit’s Invite a half-dozen times already, while also coming away with triumphs in Balmoral’s Broadway Preview and Betzotic, the aged ICF title at  Springfield, and the Taser Gun on Mt. Sterling’s half-mile fair track. The Egyptian will be Al’s Hammered first start at Maywood since 2012 when he won the Cole Muffler stake near the end of his 3-year-old season. However, the winner of over $12,000 lifetime, did drop his four other 3-year-old Maywood trips postward, the only year he has raced there. Mystical Walter comes off a resounding 1:52 victory in the ICF Aged Pace Stake at the Du Quoin State Fair. Last season’s Illinois 3-Year-Old Male Pacer of the Year was victorious in the 2013 Langley on Super Night, captured both State Fair titles, and took the Incredible Finale Final and a Hanover at Balmoral. A son of Yankee Skyscraper, Mystical Walter dropped a head decision to Fancy Creek Elusiv in last year’s Maywood Pace Final and still racked up over $195,000 in purse earners for owners Paymaq Racing, D & M Trading and Mystical Marker Farms. With regular driver Casey Leonard at the lines of his family stable’s venerable Fort Silky, Dave Magee will make a rare appearance at Maywood Park Friday to drive the Erv Miller trained 4-year-old. The National Hall of Famer did drive Mystical Walter once early in the horse’s 3-year-old campaign. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

On Thursday, July 3 Northfield Park hosted the first leg of Ohio Sires Stake racing action for two year-old fillies as part of a 15-race program. Trotters and pacers each competed in three divisions. The pacers started the stakes action in the evening's opening race. Friskie Lil Devil (Feelin Friskie-Devils Desire-Cole Muffler) bested her competition by three lengths in her $40,000 stakes event. The race was Friskie Lil Devil's career debut. Chris Page piloted the filly for trainer Brian Brown and owner Lil Devil Stable of Findlay, Ohio. Friskie Lil Devil started from post two. Page sent her to the lead and never looked back. She posted fractions of :29, 59.1, 1:29 and 1:58. Finishing behind Friskie Lil Devil were Hailstorm Grace, Finefeelinfriskie, Happy Jude, Zebra Stripes and Feelin Outragous. Friskie Lil Devil returned $14.80 to win. Trotters took to the stage next for the second race of the evening. Honey B (Victory Sam-Honey Mesquite-Angus Hall) took the lion's share of her $40,000 division. Kyle Ater piloted the filly for trainer Dan Ater and the owning partnership of Jim Burnett of Wilmington, Ohio and Tim Homan of Maineville, Ohio. Honey B started from post two and led at virtually every call. She trotted fractions of :30.4, 1:03.2, 1:34.1 and 2:04.2. She held off late closing challengers by a head in this career debut. She was followed across the wire by Student Of Life, Song Of The Valley, Sammy Star, I'd Rather Walk, Star Of Thine and Iron Lucy. Hello Chipper was scratched. Honey B paid $7.80 to win Suite Feelin won the $40,000 second division for filly pacers in the third race of the night. Ronnie Wrenn Jr. was the winning driver for the owning partnership of Dr. RV Hutchinson of North Ridgeville, Ohio, Dr. R Van Hutchinson of Avon Lake, Ohio and TF Hoovler of Pataskala, Ohio. Mike Medors is the filly's trainer. Suite Feelin (Feelin Friskie-Easter Lace-Dare You To) started from post one and was content with letting her competition post the :29 opening fraction before taking the lead in the second quarter. Once on the lead, Suite Feelin did not experience an anxious moment for the remainder of the mile. She continued on the lead through fractions of :58.4, 1:28.2 and 1:58.4 and was a dominating 5-1/4 lengths in front as she crossed the wire. The time represents a new lifetime mark for Suite Feelin. Thursday's victory was the second start and second win for Suite Feelin, who now has earnings of $21,475. Suite Feelin was followed by Playa Del Sol, Karlee Sue, Corner Girl, Zoey's Lemon Tart, Feelin Flirty and Blinded. She returned $6.40 to win. Trotters again competed in the evening's fifth race. Sunrise Nibbles (Iron Duke-Sweethomeourbama-Kadabra) won the $40,000 second division. This win was Chris Page's second stakes victory of the night, this one was for trainer Christopher Beaver and the owning partnership of C Beaver of Delaware, Ohio, Synerco Vent of Ontario, Canada, S Zeehandler of Worthington, Ohio and D Lang of Hilliard, Ohio. Sunrise Nibbles started from the rail and led at virtually every call. She posted fractions of :31.1, 1:02.4, 1:34.3 and 2:04.3. She held off her challengers by a neck. This victory is her first win in as many starts. She was followed across the wire by Dolly Dunn, Soaring Flight, Influential Girl, Sammie's Delite, Bettys Sam, Talissa and Defiant Victory. Sunrise Nibbles was the punter's choice and paid $3.00 to win. Pacers returned to the scene to compete in the $40,000 third division. Friskie Til Dawn (Feelin Friskie-Lullaby Til Dawn-Dawn Ofa New Day) bested her competition by two lengths. The race was Friskie Til Dawn's career debut. Tony Hall piloted the filly for trainer Jim Arledge Jr. and owner Spring Mill Venture of New Albany, Ohio. Friskie Till Dawn started from post four. Hall sent her to the lead and there was never a question. She posted fractions of :29.1, 59, 1:29.3 and 1:59. Finishing behind Friskie Til Dawn were Medoland Kendolin, Bevnlindas Blossom, Tolatetoapologize, Colossal Chaos, Forever Golden, Indian Rockette and The Light. Friskie Til Dawn returned $4.60 to win. Totters completed the evening's stakes action in the twelfth race. I'm Chiptastic captured the $40,000 third division. John Ryan Melsheimer trains and drove the filly for owners Mel Rose Stable of Hopewell, Ohio and David Pierce of Houston, Texas. The win came in I'm Chiptastic's career debut. I'm Chiptastic (Chip Chip Hooray-Kamtastic Score-Final Score) started from post five. Melsheimer sent the filly to the front and she continued on the lead throughout. I'm Chiptastic posted fractions of :31.1, 1:03.3, 1:33.4 and 2:03.2. I'm Chiptastic won by 1 ¾-lengths. Finishing in succession after the winner were Lisa Jane, Dark Roast, If I Could Count, Little Casino, Miss Fanci Cash, Hot Chip and Chip Chip Skater. I'm Chiptastic paid $7.00 to win.  

On Sunday afternoon, Let’s Go Higher (Cole Muffler) continued her stretch as the most consistent participant in the Fillies and Mares Open at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. The Heidi Rohr-trained mare was the Filly and Mare Pacer of the Year last year at the Spa and after going wire-to-wire in Sunday’s $17,000 Open, now owns three victories this season in the top race for distaff pacers. Shawn Gray sat behind Let’s Go Higher as they made every pole a winning one before stopping the timer in 1:53.4, holding off a late bid from the favored It’s A Miracle (Bruce Aldrich Jr) who ended up as the runner up. So Nice (Billy Dobson) earned the show spot behind the six year old Let’s Go Higher who owns a share of the track record for Aged Pacing Mares after prevailing in 1:52.1 on June 1st. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

Let's Go Higher (Cole Muffler) matched the all-time track record for aged pacing mares at Saratoga Casino and Raceway on Sunday afternoon. The defending Filly and Mare Pacer of the Year at the Spa, Let's Go Higher, parlayed her pocket ride to victory on a warm spring day in the $17,000 Fillies and Mares Open. Shawn Gray piloted the Heidi Rohr-trained mare and sat patiently as frontrunner Godiva Seelster (Wally Hennessey) set sizzling fractions. After two scratches, the Open for distaff pacers was comprised of just five mares and Let's Go Higher wound up besting her rivals in 1:52.1, a time that matched the track record for aged pacing mares. The mark was set by Don't Blame Her in July of 2012. Let's Go Higher was the 6-5 betting favorite in the Sunday feature as she recorded her second victory in the local Open this season. Live racing resumes on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time of 6:45pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Kayla Grace was most impressive, winning the $15,000 final of the Wallflower Series on Thursday (May 29) in Northfield Park's 11th race. The sophomore filly is owned by the Michigan-based partnership of ECS Racing and Kevin St Charles. Her trainer, Steve Novak, called upon Skip De Mull for the winning drive. Kayla Grace (He's All That-A Maze Of Grace-Cole Muffler) drew post three in a field of nine. She was parked and used hard through though a sizzling :26.4 opening quarter. When Kayla Grace finally made the lead she appeared on cruise control the rest of the mile, posting fractions of :55.2, 1:25 and 1:53.4. She finished a commanding 7 ¼-lengths ahead of her competition. The mile clocking was a new lifetime mark for Kayla Grace. Completing the race were Friskie Town, Hazel's All Sass, Stylish Dapper, CG Satin, Stirling Cordelia, Norma Jean, Glam World and Bellas Quik. Thursday's win was the fifth win in eight starts in 2014 and her 17th win in 20 career efforts. It elevated her lifetime earnings to $81,127. She was the race favorite and paid $3.60 to win. Ayers Ratliff

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