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It was a big night for trainer Curt Grummel as the downstate based conditioner toted home top honors in a trio of trotting stakes at the harness racing meeting on Sunday night at BalmoralPark with the lightly raced but rapidly improving Dr. Venkman taking the biggest prize of them all in the $77,400 Lincoln Land Stake for ICF two-year-old trotting colts.   Taking advantage of an inside starting spot driver Pat Curtin positioned the gelded son of Pizzazzed--Broadway Show in the garden spot as Fear (Robert Smolin) led the field of youngsters through splits of 29.0, 58.3 & 1:28.4.   "Going into the race that's exactly how we hoped things would work out," said a very excited Curtin. "I knew some horses behind us were working out pretty decent trips as well but I knew if Fear could carry us into the stretch until there was room we were going to be in good shape. Once he saw that daylight he was gone!"   Fit and fresh as the field turned for the money a patient Curtin waited for room in the passing lane with that State Fair Stake winner. After securing his spot along the inside Dr. Venkman looked like a seasoned veteran as he scooted right by the pace setter and was on cruise control the rest of the way as he reported home with a 1 ½ length decision in a career best of 1:58.2. Mr. Strata (Mike Oosting) shook loose late and rallied in time to be the runner-up while Fear held on for third. Dr. Venkman, the co-favorite in the wagering returned $6.60, $4.00 0& $3.60 while upping his record 2-0-1 in four starts with earnings of $44,000 for the partnership of Curt and Craig Grummel, Clayton B Arnett and Chili Day Stables.   Sophomore trotting fillies were also in action on Sunday night as a compact field of six gathered for the $7,500 Xpress Bet Stake.   As expected Dr. Patrick Graham's Fox Valley Yoko had no trouble disposing of this group as she trotted away late to score by a 1 ½ lengths in 1:58.0 for driver Kyle Wilfong.   Confidently handled by her pilot the daughter of Pizzazzed--Yankee Victory was reserved early on as None Of That Stuff (Casey Leonard) rolled through splits of 30.1, 1:00.1 & 1:29.4. Grinding her way to towards the front while moving first over the Curt Grummel trained miss eventually wore down the pace setter and drew off in the final 50 yards to record her sixth win in 14 starts this season. Bands Muse (John De Long) shook loose late to rally for the bridesmaid spot while None Of That Stuff held on for third. Dispatched as the 1-5 favorite Fox Valley Yoko returned $2.40, $2.10 & $2.10 while running her career record to 9-7-5 in 26 career starts with earnings of $149,821 for her happy connections.   In the Lady Lincoln Land Consolation another Grummel trainee toted home top honors as Dr. Patrick Graham's Powerful Princess trotted to an impressive win in 1:59.0 with John De Long at the controls. The was the first in three lifetime outings for the daughter of Powerful Emotion--Maple Grove Glide who led the field into the stretch in last week's rich final before making a break a costly break. Tom Kelley

Louisville, KY --- For a horse that has yet to taste defeat this season Homicide Hunter sure has not received his fair share of ink. The gelded son from the first crop of Mr Cantab and the Like A Prayer mare Evening Prayer has mowed down his harness racing rivals with pinpoint accuracy on 12 occasions this season and seeks to extend his victorious ways on Saturday (Sept. 19) in the $75,000 Indiana Sire Stakes final at Hoosier Park after one of the most grueling contests he has performed in. “He fought back in that race,” said Curt Grummel, the horse’s conditioner, of his win in the Sept. 11 Indiana Sire Stakes elimination. “The transformation this horse has made since last year is unbelievable. He showed how much courage he has by coming back on after he was passed. He really wants to win.” Homicide Hunter has constructed a season any trainer or owner would dream of. Owned and bred by Patrick Graham, the handsome gelding has morphed from a boy into a man after chasing Airman Batten around the Anderson, Ind., oval as a freshman. That campaign netted him $86,736 with a record of 10-3-2-3, which is certainly not shabby for a horse that needed to grow into himself, but in 2015 he has pushed his rival to the side and exceeded any expectations that were ever associated with him. The gelding is a perfect 12 for 12 this year, has earned just under $220,000, tied the track record at Hoosier Park for his age, sex and gait (1.53.4) and flown under the radar due to the presence of pacing sensation Freaky Feet Pete. Churita is another undefeated colleague Homicide Hunter must share the spotlight with, so only the Hoosier Park faithful may really know what this trotter has accomplished. In Saturday’s contest, Homicide Hunter is handicapped with the nine hole in the 13th race on the card, but is the 9-5 favorite on the morning line after defeating the talented Hominy Hill by a half-length on Sept. 11 in a $24,000 Indiana Sire Stakes elimination. He will have the services of his regular pilot, John DeLong, for his mile. “Other trainers probably would not agree with me,” Grummel said. “But I just jog the heck out of him all the time between races and it seems to work for him. I have not changed a thing since the season started. All I do is listen to what John tells me and as long as he is happy with the horse, there is no reason to change anything we do with him.” Besides being a state champion and gliding through a season that will forever be memorable, Homicide Hunter is an absolute pet. He was a barn favorite long before he commenced this season’s campaign and everyone associated with him could not be more pleased with the world seeing what kind of horse they care for on a daily basis. “He was tough last year training,” Sis Arnold, Grummel’s assistant trainer, said. “He would jump at anything when you hooked him up to the jog cart and just do the opposite of everything you wanted him to do. But he has always been the teddy bear of the barn. You can do anything you want with him and he loves attention. I don’t harness him and take care of him all the time like Francie (his caretaker) does, and she does a tremendous job, but he has always been a favorite of mine. “I’m not ashamed to say I cried all over his face holding him in the winner’s circle after his last race. For him to win parked like that and to come back after he was beaten, showed why we love him so much. There are just some horses you get attached to and he is it.” It seems natural to feel a connection with Homicide Hunter. His coat glistens, his stride is near perfection and he would snuggle up to anyone that has a cookie. This boy loves his food, his time in the field and his contact with his caretakers. He is the epitome of what transpires when you have a happy horse, with ability and the perfect conditions. “He possibly has five more starts for the year,” Grummel said. “I’m based at Balmoral Park so we will take him back home, as I’m from Illinois, for the winter and turn him out and then plan for next year depending on what he tells us.” Although it was never discussed how his connections would feel should Homicide Hunter not be in the winner’s circle on any of these five ensuing engagements, Arnold summed it up succinctly. “Every horse gets beat,” she said. “If he loses it does not matter. Look at what he has already done. He looks like a million bucks, he contends with whatever he has to deal with and you know he is always going to do the best he can. He’s Hunter and no one can take away the money he has earned or his record or who he is to be around. He has earned it and his personality is just who he is.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

ANDERSON, Ind.-August 15, 2015 - Not to be outdone by their female counterparts in their respective $75,000 Indiana Sire Stakes finals at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on the evening of the $300,000 Dan Patch Stakes, 3-year-old harness racing geldings Homicide Hunter and Freaky Feet Pete demonstrated their superiority over overmatched rivals as the 1-5 and 1-9 wagering selections. Homicide Hunter, from the first crop of Mr Cantab and out of the Like A Prayer mare Evening Prayer, was content to allow 53-1 shot Jumpinthejailhouse to set the early pace and was trotting comfortably in fifth position throughout the first quarter mile which was clocked in :27.2. As the leader advanced to the half, however, in :56.1, the Curt Grummel conditioned gelding was given the green light by driver John DeLong to commence his advance. Responding with ease, Homicide Hunter cleared the field and headed to the top of the stretch with a length and a half advantage. After hitting the three quarter mark in 1:25.1, DeLong shook the reins at the gelding and the race for second was on. As the trotted to the wire, Homicide Hunter distanced himself from his pursuers and stopped the clock in 1:53.4, five lengths ahead of second place finisher Bluebird Reverend with Rockin Stein holding on gamely for third. The gelding, who is owned by Dr. Patrick Graham, now shares the track record for 3-year-old colts and geldings with Rose Run Parker, and when bettors cashed their tickets he provided $2.40. With the triumph Homicide Hunter increases his win streak to 10 for 10 in 2015. His career resume is 20-13-2-3 and he has amassed more than $300,000 in earnings. "Last year we had some problems with him trotting to the wire," DeLong said. "This year there is absolutely no problem with anything he does. Not only is his record perfect, he is perfect. There is not one thing you can say about him that is not praise. He is a very nice horse to drive because his manners are the best you could ask for. It's really a very special thing to be able to drive him and to see how he has matured from last year to this year." Once Homicide Hunter devastated his opponents with pinpoint accuracy, it was Freaky Feet Pete's turn to take aim on his next Indiana championship. The crowd at the Anderson facility was pressed up against the fence anxiously awaiting his performance and the energy was electric as regular pilot Trace Tetrick moved him toward the gate. Larry Rheinheimer's pupil left well, settled in third and allowed Vague Traces set a torrid pace of :25.4 in the first panel. At the same time the tote board lit up with a stiff time of :53.3 for the half, Tetrick simply moved his hands and in a flash the gelding had cleared Vague Traces. By the time Freaky Feet Pete hit the lane, he had placed three and a half lengths between him and his colleagues and paced three quarters in 1:21.0. From there on in it was simply the Freaky Feet Pete show. As he moved down the lane effortlessly, widening his advantage with every stride, the apron erupted with a loud round of applause for Indiana's champion. Freaky Feet Pete crossed the finish line in 1:48.2 and second place finisher Skim The Top was seven lengths in arrears, with Swing City just behind. The patrons in attendance this evening were awed by the performance because Tetrick never even popped the plugs and had a strong hold on him midway through the stretch. This horse, owned and raised by Mary Jo and Marty Rheinheimer, could have went much, much faster if ever was ever asked. The evenings are few and far between when a track record, which is what this time was is established with such sheer, breathtaking ease. Freaky Feet Pete paid $2.10 to his loyal backers and with this triumph improved his record to 8-7-1 for 2015 with just under $190,000 in purse money. For his career, the gelding has a record of 17-15-1-0, with his only loss coming at the hooves of Meadowlands Pace and Milstein Memorial victor Wiggle It Jiggleit. He has now collected nearly $450,000 during his two years of competition. Larry Rheinheimer confirmed to Peter Lurie of HRTV the gelding would be a Breeders Crown participant. "Driving him is something unreal," said Trace Tetrick with a huge smile on his face. "He just does everything so easy and he comes from a great family as his dam is a 100 percent producer. He paces so well that it seems like he's going in 1:58 when he's going in 1:50 and it's like he has no idea he's going that fast himself. You never even have to ask him. I knew at the top of the stretch I would never even have to pop his plugs out, so I wrapped him and just sat there on the way home. He is a very, very special horse and having the opportunity to sit behind him is an indescribable feeling." Kimberly French  

With an impressive showing by Indiana's three-year-old trotting fillies last evening at  the harness racing meeting at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in stakes action, their male counterparts were not to be outdone in their turn of Indiana Sires Stakes on Thursday, July 23. A field of ten sophomore trotting colts lined up behind the gate in the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final and once again, the race left no doubt as to who was the best on this night. With a seven race win streak on the line, Homicide Hunter continued his divisional dominance to score impressively in 1:53.4. With regular driver John DeLong in the sulky, Homicide Hunter equaled the track record for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings with the win and remains undefeated in his sophomore campaign. Starting from the trailing post position ten, Homicide Hunter was unhurried in the early stages of the race to settle along the rail in fifth. Shawnee Valley and Jason Dillander left the gate firing to rattle off splits of :27.1 and :56.4 while Hominy Hill and Trace Tetrick benefitted from a pocket trip. As the field approached the final turn, DeLong gave Homicide Hunter the green light and he quickly engaged the leader at the three-quarter clocking in 1:26.2. Homicide Hunter reached the lead as the field turned for home and simply sprinted away from the field to cruise on to the wire under a hand drive, winning by five lengths. Bluebird Reverend and Rick Farrington rallied gamely in the stretch but had to settle for second place honors while Hominy Hill rounded out the trifecta. As the overwhelming favorite, Homicide Hunter returned $3.00 at the betting window. With the victory, Homicide Hunter remains undefeated in Indiana Sires Stakes action in 2015. Owned by Dr. Patrick Graham and trained by Curt Grummel, the homebred son of Mr. Cantab-Evening Prayer has now won 11 of 18 lifetime starts. The stakes action opened up for the evening with the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings. Downthehighwy and Jason Dillander used a well-timed rally to score their second consecutive victory, this time in 1:53.2. Downthehighwy was able to track down the pacesetting Granite and Peter Wrenn before holding off a late charge late in the lane from Matrix of Luck and Tyler Smith to get the win. The victory was the second of the season from five tries for the son of Dontgetinmyway-Happy Tears and a lifetime best effort. Trained by Robert Taylor, Downthehighwy has now earned $70,375 for his connections at Mack Racing Stables, LLC. Emily Gaskin

One of this season’s surprises at Balmoral Park has been the 3-year-old trotter Fox Valley Veto. Despite less than three dozen lifetime starts the ICF gelding has more than held his own in the top level trots against older and more seasoned open company horses. The son of Pizzazzed out of the Valley Victory broodmare Yankee Victory goes after his third consecutive victory in Saturday’s $11,000 “Winner’s Over” trot in race six with regular driver John De Long. “He’s super sharp right now,” said De Long. “I think he’s better now than he has been all year.” “The horse is really good now,” added trainer Curt Grummel. “I don’t know if it’s the colder weather or what but he is at the top of his game. He’s sounder now than he has been all year. He’s unbelievably sound “I’ll keep racing him at Balmoral through the end of the year and then decide if I want to take him out east to see what he can do there.” Fox Valley Veto put on an electrifying stretch move last week, trotting a 27 flat last quarter to overtake the even-money favorite Justice Jet in the late going to post a career fastest 1:54.3 mile for Curt who shares ownership of the gelding with his father Craig of Carrollton, Illinois,. The win was Fox Valley Veto’s eighth of the season and a trio of them have come against top-level open company trotters. Fox Valley Veto (pp 6) is the 3-1 second program choice in tonight’s sixth race co-headliner behind Justice Jet (pp 5, Ryan Welch) at 2-1. They’ll take on Salutation Hanover (12-1, Pat Curtin), Surclasser (8-1, Bobby Smolin), Repeat Your ABC’s (10-1, Kyle Wilfong), Master Of Excuses (5-1, Todd Warren) and Celebrity Hercules (7-2, Casey Leonard). De Long also has “live” drives in Saturday’s other headliners. He’s back behind Dallas Jones in, the third race $11,000 “Winner’s Over” for fillies and mares and Mosee Terror in the $10.500 eleventh race conditioned pace loaded with past Invitational pacers. Dallas Jones comes off  a two-length win in 1:53.1 with De Long in a non-winners of $8,000 conditioned pace. John was very pleased with his first drive behind the 4-year-old Illinois bred mare. “I told Joel (trainer Smith) I wanted to race her with a trip and that’s what she got. When I asked her in the lane, she was gone. She really raced well. “Dallas Jones is probably one of the biggest mares I have ever driven. She’s enormous and she covers a lot of ground. She came home in 27.1 last week with pretty much minimal urging and she can be right there Saturday with the right trip” Dallas Jones opens at 5-1 behind the 8-5 favorite Always About Katey (Todd Warren), DP Angel (Mike Ooosting) at 7-2, and Party Hangover (Ridge Warren) at 4-1. Ryleigh’s Lilly (6-1, Casey Leonard), Four Hour Nap (15-1, Ross Leonard) and Just By Design (10-1) Dave Magee complete the third race field. Mosee Terror is saddled with the outside 10-hole in the 11th race conditioned pace with the early favoritism going to Time To Roll (7-2, Dave Magee), Kanarsis (4-1, Ridge Warren), Fort Silky (9-2, Casey Leonard) and Best Man Hanover (5-1, Todd Warren), all recent starters in Balmoral Invites. De Long was in the bike behind Mosee Hanover for the first time. The 6-year-old Jim Eaton trainee had been campaigning all year at Pocono Downs. “I was very impressed with Mosee Terror,” said John. “He had been off a few weeks. Last Saturday he had nowhere to go. He was boxed-in and I never even got the earplugs out. “With a second or third over trip I think he can collar most of the horses around here. He’s that kind of a horse.” The solid field of pacers is rounded out with Major Monet (8-1, Dean Magee), Old Man River (10-1, Ross Leonard), Lennox Blue Chip (10-1, Brian Carpenter), Lieutenant Steve (15-1, Ryan Anderson) and Island Jet (10-1, Island Jet). by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

When Bobby B Breeze captured his $15,000 Su Mac Lad elimination here last week at Balmoral Park, trotting easily to a career 1:57 triumph for driver Todd Warren, it came as no surprise to his trainer Roger Welch. "Herman Wheeler had him last year and I'd see him on the track every day and I fell in love with him," Roger said. "I ended up buying him and he won his first start for us. He got sick at Springfield and we fought health issues with him the rest of the year. I could never get him healthy enough." The son of Southwind Breeze earned $44,051 at two, with two wins and two seconds in nine starts. He captured the $50,000 Plesac stake in his first start for Welch, trotting in 1:59.1 and besting his rivals by 6¾ lengths. He followed that up with a victory at Springfield in a $8,000 State Fair elim, clocked in 1:59 on Aug. 9, 2013. "He was a ridgling and at the end of the season we gelded him and that helped him a lot," Roger said. "He had one testicle that was really big and it would pinch him in the turns. So after taking care of that and getting him healthy, he's come back a lot stronger this year." Bobby B Breeze has finished off the board only twice all year and missed only one purse check in 14 starts, with statistics of 2-4-6 and $35,712 in seasonal earnings. He is owned by Bo Delong of Clinton, WI; Pat DeLong of South Beloit, IL; Gordon Wright of Charlotte, MI and Welch. "He doesn't like a lot of training, and it's been work trying to peak him at the right time," Roger offered. "But he is fresh and sound and gives 100%, and is the nicest mannered horse." On Aug. 27, the gregarious gelding scored in a Balmoral overnight, cruising to a 1:57.2 triumph just a week prior to his Su Mac Lad elim victory. "I said at the beginning of the year that we may race all season and never win a race and still make $50,000, because I knew he'd be chasing Fox Valley Veto and Tour Hall," Roger noted. Bred by Fair Meadow Farm, Welch's trotter is the fifth foal out of the Lindy Lane mare Lindy's Fireball 3, 1:56F ($89,617), and is a half-brother to the Windsong's Legacy gelding Fire And Wind p,1:58.2 ($8,698). Bobby B Breeze will be going up against Fox Valley Veto in the $100,000 Su Mac Lac Final on Saturday night, who opted for a bye in last week's elim. The winner of $164,574 in his career has been a whirlwind in Illinois this season, earning $100,058 from six wins and four seconds in 11 starts. His only off-the-board effort came in mid-May in his first start when he made an uncharacteristic break to finish fourth. Otherwise, the son of Pizzazzed's 2014 record is nearly unblemished. Among Fox Valley Veto's top efforts were his five consecutive victories beginning June 25 through his win at Springfield on Aug. 14 in 1:56. During his streak he captured the $41,000 Kadabra Stake on July 26 at Balmoral in 1:55.3 and the $25,000 Mikes A Mystery Stake at on Aug. 3 in 1:55.1 at the Crete one-miler. Trained and co-owned by Curt Grummel of Carrollton, IL, Fox Valley Veto bested a field of aged horses last Sunday, clocked in 1:55.4 for driver John DeLong in a $10,500 Balmoral overnight. Craig Grummel of Carrollton, IL co-owns the gelding, who was bred by Fox Valley Standardbreds. This 3-year-old trotting whiz is the third foal out of the Valley Victory mare Yankee Victory OM 3, 1:58.1M ($19,915), and is a full sister in the 2-year-old filly Fox Valley Yoko 1:59M ($55,375). He also has half-siblings in Overandovervictory (by Andover Hall) 5, 1:53.4f ($257,219); and Fox Valley Yavonne (by Vaporize) 4, 1:56.3 ($37,562). Tour Hall, a sophomore son of American Native who captured an Illinois State Fair Colt Stake at 2 in 1:57.3 and a $25,900 Hanover Stake this season, has earned $130,301 in his career for trainer Mike Brink of Springfield, who co-owns the gelding with Loren Tournear of Liberty, IL. "He raced well coming from off the pace last week," said his driver Dave Magee, on the gelding's sixth-place finish in his Su Mac Lad elim. "He seems to be coming back to himself (with that :28.2 last quarter) and just needs a flat mile to be competitive." by Kim Rinker, for Balmoral Park

Going into the Du Quoin State Fair it appeared that a couple of the upcoming Super Night championships pretty much looked like slam-dunks but in horse racing things can change in a hurry, and they did in the ICF 3-year-old colt and gelding trotting division. Fox Valley Veto had dominated the group, winning every major ICF stake including the Mike’s A Mystery against older ICF foes but the Curt Grummel trainee was passed at Du Quoin in the stretch by the 9-1 longshot Nino Marino, raising the hopes his trainer, and others in the division, for the upcoming Su Mac Lad Final on Super Night. “I have to admit I’m more optimistic about our chances for Super Night now than I was going into the State Fairs,’ said Randy Tuftie, the trainer of Nino Marino. “I knew we had a good trotter but I didn’t know if we could beat Fox Valley Veto but we did.”   In his freshman season Nino Marino won over $26,000 for his owners Ron Marino of Ft. Myers, Florida and Dave Herman of Ottawa, winning his Lincoln Land elimination but the gelding began his 3-year-old season winless in his first 12 starts. “He started off as a 2-year-old slowly going through some growing issues but he got good as the season went on.” continued Tuftie. ‘”Nino Marino is a big horse and he also started slowly this year. He raced better at Springfield when he was fourth and I thought he would be good for Du Quoin. “It turned out he was better than just good. Nino Marino can leave pretty well and he’ll settle into a hole and race well that way. At Du Quoin he got a good trip behind Fox Valley Veto and when Dean pulled him, Nino Marino looked that horse right in the eye and went pass him. “As I’ve told my owners, if we stick around you never know what’s going to happen. Going into Du Quoin Fox Valley Veto looked unbeatable but you never know what’s going to happen in a horse race.” The ICF 3-year-old colt division may be of the eight Super Night championships that may not be need eliminations next weekend. Elims weren’t necessary at Springfield and only seven trotters went postward in the Pronto Don Championship at Du Quoin. A $1,500 starting fee is needed to enter Wednesday morning for the Su Mac Lad and the Lady Ann Reed for 3-year-old ICF trotting fillies. The starting fess for the 2 and 3-year-old championships is $2,000. The Tony Maurello and Lorna Propes for older ICF pacers both have $1,250 starting fees. The circuit’s leading driver Casey Leonard brought home five winners last night. Trotter Bought: The ICF 3-year-old trotter Big Bill Breeze, successful in his last 10 straight races on the Illinois Fair Circuit, was sold last week by Amy and Derek Jacobus and trainer Nick Prather to Donald Edmond of Taunton, Massachusetts. Big Bill Breeze, winner of 17 of 25 lifetime starts, is eligible for the $100,000 Su Mac Lad on Super Night (September 13). Entries for Illinois most anticipated night of racing will be taken this Wednesday morning at Balmoral Park. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

With Super Night 2014 less than three weeks away (Saturday, Sept. 13) a number of division leaders have established themselves as clear-cut heavy favorites after sweeping their respective championships at both Illinois State Fairs. However the Randy Tuftie Stable’s Nino Marino surprise victory in the $22,000 Darn Safe showed that division leader and multiple stake champion Fox Valley Veto is indeed vulnerable in the Su Mac Lad Final for ICF 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings. Fox Valley Veto entered the Darn Safe with five consecutive victories, taking both the $41,000 Kadabra at the end of last month and the $25,000 Springfield crown on August 14. In between “Veto” beat older state-bred trotters in Balmoral’s Mike’s A Mystery. The talented Curt Grummel trainee was bet down to 10 cents on the dollar and had command turning in the lane in the Darn Safe but was overtaken by the 9-1 longshot Nino Marino who was winless in 12 season starts going into the Du Quoin final. The son of Piazzazzed, out of the dam Never Ms Still, ended up one length the best, trotting a career fastest 1:56.1 mile, more than three full seconds better than the gelding’s best previous clocking of 1:59.3, taken as a 2-year-old for owners Ron Marino (Fort Myers, FL) and David Herrmann (Ottawa, IL). The Erv Miller trainees Unlocked (Dave Magee) and Mr. Leland’s Filly continued their dominations in their respective divisions and will be heavy favorites in the Langley and Orange and Blue Filly championships on Super Night. Lucpark’s (Dave Magee) victory in the Governor’s Cup came at the expense of Springfield champion Thisishowewroll. Mini Me champ King Of The Swamp sat-out Du Quoin while the Governor’s Cup post-time favorite, Engine One O One went off stride in the first turn. With not much time left until the Orange and Blue Colt showdown, it’s anybody’s guess which freshman will wind-up in the winner’s circle draped with this 2-year-old stake blanket. Macie Rae bounced back from her defeat to filly Bailey’s Wish at Springfield and romped in Du Quoin’s Windy Skeeter, winning by almost 10 lengths 1:55.1 for owner Donald Huddleston. The Mike Rogers trained filly had won her previous nine times this season on the front-end but at Du Quoin it was Bailey’s Wish cutting the fractions before Macie Mae blew past, setting up another big battle in the Lady Ann Reed. With five consecutive triumphs in ICF competition that included Balmoral’s Ann Vonian and the Springfield championship, My Little Bit was a disappointing third in Du Quoin’s Time Dancer, beaten eight lengths by the 9-1 longshot Thesleazyprincess (Dave Magee). Thesleazyprincess was the division’s champion as a 2-year-old with almost $160,000 banked but the Matry Engel Stable’s homebred started off her 3-year-old campaign with 11 consecutive losses and less than $10,000 earned before joining the Erv Miller Stable a couple of weeks ago. Thesleazyprincess was raced inside at Springfield and despite a fourth place finish, she motored home in :26.1 and was beaten only 1 and 1/ 2 lengths. At Du Quoin her 1:52.2 mile put the Sagebrush filly a half-length ahead of Maywood Filly Pace champion Fox Valley Amanda and insuring an enticing Grandma Ann Final on Super Night 2014. The Du Quoin meet’s driving title was won by Dave Magee with six winners to John De Long’s four. Erv Miller successfully defended his trainer’s crown. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

Most of the circuit’s top drivers are doing double-duty Saturday. They’ll compete in the afternoon in southern Illinois at the Du Quoin State Fair and then at night at Balmoral Park, wrapping up their day up some 12 hours after the first downstate post. “This year a lot of us plan to drive back to Balmoral instead of renting a plane like we did in the past,” said John De Long who will handle the favorites in 2 of the 5 major ICF trotting championships at Du Quoin. “Dave (Magee) drove back last year while we took a plane and Dave was at Balmoral around the second race and this year there are only 10 races at Du Quoin Saturday. The last one goes before 3 o’clock so we should be o.k.” De Long’s best chances Saturday afternoon are with the Curt Grummel Stable’s sister-brother Springfield champion tandem of Fox Valley Yoko in the Time Dancer, and Fox Valley Veto in the Pronto Don, and Say No Mo in the Windy Skeeter who earlier won the $42,000 Fox Valley Evita. “Yoko” may not have been 100 per cent when she was second in the Fox Valley Flan and Hanover,” said De Long. “They told me she had been a little sick. But last week at Springfield she bounced back and had a :26.4 last quarter for me and did it well in hand. “Veto has been awesome. The horse does everything absolutely perfect. “Say No Mo just didn’t fire at Springfield. She just wasn’t very good in her race. I had tipped her out near the half but she didn’t have any trot so I ducked her back in. They were going to scope her and do blood work if needed. Hopefully she’ll be good for the Du Quoin stake.” When De Long arrives from his 290 mile trip from Du Quoin to Balmoral he’ll have live drives on the Saturday night card including the Nick Giberson Stable’s Fashion Delight (5-1) in the fifth race Invitational Handicap. Owned by Illinoisan Mark Winship (Canton), the 6-year-old Fashion Delight is the winner of over $856,000 in his career. He’ll take-on some tough cookies like Al’s Hammered (programmed 8-5), last week’s Big Tom champion Fort Silky (5-2, Casey Leonard), Best Man Hanover (9-2, Todd Warren), Iam Bonasera (6-1, Kyle Wilfong) and Furious Frank (12-1, Ridge Warren). “Fashion Delight is just a nice older race horse,” continued De Long. “He likes to leave and he comes off a strong (1:49.4) mile last week. The 25-year-old Wisconsin native has the 5-2 favorites in a pair of high level conditioned paces that follow, Firstclassallthway in the seventh and Our Dragon King in the ninth. Both have the pole position. “I’ve driven Our Dragon King in the past, said De Long. “He’s a nice horse. He’s a American National and Hanover champion. The horse did get tortured last week so maybe that’s why I’m driving him this time around.” Our Dragon King cut bruising fractions of :26.4, :53.1 and 1:20.4 before going into retreat and finishing a far back sixth behind De Long and Fashion Delight. Du Quoin’s three-day harness met concludes Sunday (12 noon first post) with a number of championships to be decided including the $40,000 Governor’s Cup for ICF 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 4, 2014 -- Don't Mind Me thwarted the same rival twice en route to victory in 1:57.1, fastest split in Monday's $80,000 Pennsylvania Stallion Series stake at The Meadows. KY Lucky, Master The Past and Plump Jack took the other divisions in the event for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters. Don't Mind Me and trainer/driver Jim Raymer had the lead at the quarter when Longcat Hanover and Dan Rawlings ranged up on the outside. When Don't Mind Me refused to release him, Longcat Hanover retreated to the pocket, only to try again near the three-quarters. The result was the same, as Don't Mind Me defeated his persistent challenger by a length, with Up Front Murray third. The time was a tick off the stake record. "He's a lazy sort of thing -- he hasn't even learned to be a racehorse," Raymer said of the son of Andover Hall-Peace Of Mind, a $50,000 yearling acquisition for Harbor Racing Stable. "If I let Danny go, chances are my horse would've just backed up and not had any interest in racing at all. So I took a shot. "Physically, he's ready; mentally, he's not. He's like a 5-year-old. He loves to be out there, his manners are super. It's just that I want him to be a little bit of a racehorse." A three-race maiden entering the stake, Master The Past erased a 4-1/2-length deficit with an uncovered backside burst that carried him to victory in 1:58.4 for Mike Wilder. Wimborne Hanover, who was on the lead when Master The Past blew by, was second, 4-3/4 lengths back, with Marion Coca a rallying third. "I totally was expecting (a big race from him)," said Clinton Guitard, who conditions the Glidemaster-So Fine Kash gelding, a $15,000 yearling purchase, for Michael Guitard. "He looked like he would win his last race, but he got a little tired. I figured he could go in the stallion series." KY Lucky made it two wins in three career starts when he quarter-poled to the lead for Eric Ledford and comfortably held off Cue Hall by a length to score in 1:59. Craig Grummel, Curt Grummel and Chili Day Stables campaign the Illinois-based youngster and sent him to The Meadows to trainer Tim Twaddle. Although he's had the Malabar Millennium-Rosalita gelding for only a week, Twaddle likes what he sees. "He's a great little guy -- I can't say anything bad about him," Twaddle said. "He's honest and game." In the $22,500 Filly & Mare Not Listed Preferred/Preferred Handicap Pace, early leader Do Me Honor was shuffled to fourth but shot the Lightning Lane to notch her second straight victory for Aaron Merriman and owner/trainer Bill Bercury The time of 1:51.2 matched the career best for the 6-year-old daughter of Cheyenne Rei-Do Me Right, who pushed her lifetime bankroll to $487,858. Rescue Team was a head back in second while Novascotia Hanover earned show. Merriman won five races and Wilder three on the 15-race card. On Tuesday, Aug. 5, The Meadows Racetrack & Casino will offer a $10,000-guaranteed pool for its Pick 5 wager as part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Initiative. The Meadows added the “instant” guarantee after Monday’s Pick 5 was uncovered, resulting in a two-day carryover of $2,985.10. In addition, The Meadows will offer a $5,000-guaranteed pool for the Pick 4, a regular feature of the track’s Monday and Tuesday cards. Minimum wager for the Pick 4 (Races 4-7) and Pick 5 (Races 12-16) is 50 cents. Since Pennsylvania law requires a minimum per-race wager of $2, a player wagering at the 50-cent level must bet at least four tickets. First post for Tuesday’s program, which features a $233,008 Pennsylvania Sires Stake for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters, is 12:55 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

A trio of trotting events, headlined by a pair of Hanover Stakes for two-year-old trotters, shared top billing on the Sunday, August 3rd card at Balmoral Park as the Crete plant headed towards a two-week break in the live action for the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. The ladies kicked off the Sunday night stake action with a compact field of six diagonally gaited youngsters battling for a $29,500 jackpot to start the Hanover action. A familiar face to the Chicago racing scene took home top honors in this event as Walter and Paige Paisley's Sloane Elise picked up her first lifetime victory with a very impressive 1 ¼ length victory in 1:56.4. Dave Magee handled the driving duties for trainer Nelson Willis. Kept well off hot early splits of 28.4, 57.0 & 1:27.1 that were being set by a headstrong PT Kaye (Marshall Makin), Magee finally started to zero in on the pace setter as the field reached the top of the stretch. With the leader coming to a halt, heavily favored Fox Valley Yoko (John De Long) quickly grabbed command in the lane but the lead was short lived as Sloane Elise found her best stride. Taking dead aim on the 1-5 favorite, this daughter of ABC Garland--Touch Of Victory scooted right by the "chalk", sealing the deal with a 29.1 final quarter to post her maiden breaking victory. Fox Valley Yoko was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Lima Pizzas (Travis Seekman) was third. With the win the Indiana bred Sloane Elise now sports a record of 1-1-0 in 4 career starts with earnings of $26,486. The second choice in the wagering returned $9.20, $2.60 & $2.10. Another field of six was sent postward in the $28,900 two-year-old colt trot and once again it was the second choice in the wagering who wound up toting home the top prize as Lilly Racing Stables & Shelley Steele's Cruisin Valor rolled to an easy five-length victory in 2:00.1 for driver Brian Carpenter. Sent right to the front from post position five the gelded son of Yankee Valor--Heather Nan led the field through an opening quarter in 30.2. With Carpenter hitting the breaks on the backstretch heavily favored Southrncomfortzone (John De Long) grabbed the lead before going off stride as the field reached the half-mile mark in 1:01.3. That miscue left Cruisin Valor all alone on the front end as he rolled by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:31.1. Leaving the rest of the field in his wake, the Gerald Hansen trainee left no doubt as to who was best on this night as he reported home with his second win in three career starts. Powerful Above All (Casey Leonard) turned a ground saving trip into a second place check while Air Force Blue (Mike Cox) was third. With the win Cruisin Valor now boasts $17,919 for his connections. The bay gelding returned $6.60, $3.60 & $3.20 to his backers. State-bred trotters were also in action on Sunday night as a field of eight, three-year-olds and up, squared off in the $25,000 Mikes A Mystery Stake. Fresh off his big win in the Kadabra Stake last week, Curt and Craig Grummel's Fox Valley Veto had no trouble handling older rivals as he posted a 4 ½ length victory in a career best of 1:55.1 for driver John De Long. Saving ground in mid-pack as Powerful Poe (Dave Magee) and Ants Iner Pants (Dean Magee) traded blows on the front end through opening splits of 29.1 & 58.1 De Long moved the Curt Grummel trained sophomore to the outside as the field raced around the final bend. Taking dead aim on Ants Iner Pants as that mare rolled by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.1 Fox Valley Veto began to unleash what has become a very potent closing burst. Sailing home in a brisk 27.2 the altered son of Pizzazzed--Yankee Victory zipped right by his rivals to notch his fourth win of the season. Ants Iner Pants held on for second while Powerful Poe held on for third. With Sunday's victory Fox Valley Veto now sports a career record of 5-6-0 in 18 starts with earnings of $127,194. Heavily backed at the betting windows after his Southland Festival of Racing victory Fox Veto returned $3.40, $2.40 & $2.10. Both Balmoral & Maywood will be dark for live racing until Friday, August 15th (Maywood) and Saturday, August 16th(Balmoral) as the action heads to Springfield for the State Fair Stakes. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

After playing second fiddle to division leader Tour Hall in their last three match-ups Curt and Craig Grummel's Fox Valley Veto turned the table on his chief rival Wednesday night as he posted a hard fought neck decision in the $10,000 Betzotic Stake for ICF three-year-old trotting colts. The final time of 1:55.4 was a career best for the Curt Grummel trainee. With only five diagonally gaited sophomores contesting this event driver John De Long placed Fox Valley Veto in third through the early going as Tour Hall (Dave Magee) led the field through splits of 28.4 & 58.4. Moving up first over on the far turn Fox Valley Veto began to carve into the pace setters lead as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:28.3. Just as they did in the Southern Rocketop Stake back on June 14th, Tour Hall and Fox Valley Veto left the rest of the field in their wake as they battled tooth and nail through the final eighth of a mile. With the two colts racing side by side nearing the wire, Fox Valley Veto found a little something extra, poking a neck in front in the shadow of the wire for his first win of the season. Tour Hall was a game second while Bobby B Breeze (Todd Warren) was third, 5 ¾ lengths behind the winner. The win was the first in five starts this year for the gelded son of Pizzazzed--Yankee Victory who now sports career numbers of 2-6-0 in 15 starts with earnings of $90,666. The second choice in the wagering returned $5.60 & $2.40. There was no show wagering on the race. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park      

With a busy weekend of two-year-old action in the books the countdown to one of Balmoral Park’s biggest events in history, American National Stake Night will begin in earnest. A pair of American National elimination tussles for freshmen pacers headlined the Saturday, Nov. 2nd action with 10 two-year-old pacing fillies battling for a purse of $18,530. The top eight finishers will return on Saturday, November 9th to battle for $115,000.   Using a two-hole trip to perfection, driver Todd Warren guided the Roger Welch trained Always Electric to a one-length victory in 1:54.2.   After being used hard to grab control of the proceedings Warren elected to allow a hard charging Shell Bell (Dale Hiteman) go after pacing through an opening quarter in 28.0.   Sitting in the garden spot through middle splits of 56.4 & 1:26.0 the Roger Welch trained miss was locked and loaded as the field turned for home. Maneuvering his charge into the passing lane, Warren sent the daughter of Always A Virgin—Miss Yankee Doodle on her way and the filly responded beautifully as she swallowed up her rivals with a 28.1 final quarter to post her sixth win in 13 starts. Shell Bell held on for second while Thesleazyprincess (Mike Oosting) was third. Also gaining spots in the final were Jaded Dream, Boxed Chocolates, One Jazzy Lady, Game of Dreamers and Tough Rose.   Another field of 10 was sent postward in the $17,330 colt elimination with the top eight again moving on to next week’s $113,000 final.   Once again a perfect two-hole journey proved to be the winning ticket as the Chris Ryder trained Bushwacker zipped by his rivals in the lane to score by a deceptively easy length in a career best of 1:51.4 with Mike Oosting at the controls.   Taking advantage of an inside starting spot Oosting positioned the son of Rocknroll Hanover—Dolphins Can Talk, who was a $135,000 yearling purchase, in the garden spot as Somesizesomestyle (Brett Miller) ripped through splits of 27.0, 54.1 & 1:22.1.   Moving out of the pocket at the top of the lane Bushwacker overpowered the pace setter with an eighth of a mile to go then drew clear in the shadow of the wire for his second win in five lifetime starts. Somesizesomestyle held for second while Wicked Business (Travis Seekman) finished third. Also gaining spots in the final were Odds On Rhodonite, Archetto Hanover, Rocknroll Reality, Unlocked and Traffic Cop.   State-bred trotters were in action on Sunday, Nov. 3rd as a field of nine diagonally gaited fillies met in the $10,000 Monee Stake. After struggling with breaking problems in two of her last three outings Dr. Patrick Graham’s Fox Valley Lotus was on her best behavior on Sunday and the filly showed the type of ability she has with a sharp 2 ½ length come from behind win in 2:00.4.             Patiently saving ground as Bailey’s Wish (Dave Magee) put up splits of 30.0, 59.1 & 1:29.0 the daughter of Pizazzed—Love You More shook loose in the lane and zipped right by the pace-setter for her second win in 11 lifetime starts. Bailey’ Wish held on for second while Fox Valley Skylar (Dale Hiteman) finished third. The win helped push the Curt Grummel trainee’s career bankroll over the $50,000 plateau.   by Tom Kelley for Balmoral Park  

The first pair of American National stakes of the season, both for two-year-old trotters, highlight Wednesday’s Balmoral Park card. The sixth race $69,000 American National colt and geldings has a clear-cut favorite while the fifth race $63,000 added money stake doesn’t. The Ron Burke Stable’s Southwind Spirit should be a heavy favorite by post time after opening up at 2-1. The $105,000 yearling purchase has won 3 of his last 4 races and finished third in the other, the prestigious $250,000 Peter Haughton Final at The Meadowlands. Southwind Spirit comes off a career best 1:54.1 mile in a division of the Kindergarten at Lexington and with Mike Oosting at his lines and the two-slot the Muscle Hill colt looks hard to beat. Chuck Sylvester’s Toss Cartwright (programmed 4-1, Trace Tetrick), a three-time season winner including the $37,339 Wilfong stake at the Indianapolis State Fair last month should get plenty of play and so should Dwayne Minor’s Hillustrious (5-1) who dropped at neck decision in his Kindergarten event a week ago at The Red Mile. Among the local hopes are Plesac stake champion Bobby B Breeze (8-1, Todd Warren) from the Roger Welch Stable and Joel Smith’s (10-1, Dale Hiteman) Big Bad Bob, third best in the Springfield Final. In the filly division, Bobby Browner’s Pray For Me (7-2, Dave Magee) was a double stakes winner in Pennsylvania and took third in the $108,050 Kentuckana stake at Hoosier Park. Herroyalhighness (5-1, Trace Tetrick), the fourth place finisher in that same stake, was a $60,000 purchase by trainer Bob Stewart. Muscle Hill (4-1, Dave Magee) is 2-for-2 since joining the Mike Brink Stable and is 2-for-2 at Balmoral for her Norwegian owner Kjeli Magne Anderson who only paid $15,000 for her at last year’s Lexington Selected Sale. Fox Valley Lotus (6-1, John Roberts) had a strong 1:57.3 winning mile in her Springfield championship and it came in only her third career start, her first was a third-place finish in the July 31 Fox Valley Flan. “We got a late start with the filly because she was having breathing problems,” said her trainer Curt Grummel. “I tried a number of things to help her and when I tried what they call ‘The Cornell Collar’ (a throat support device developed at Cornell University), knock on wood, it’s worked.” Grummel’s familiarity with Fox Valley Lotus’s dam Love You More was the primary reason he purchased the filly for Pittsfield owner Dr. Patrick Graham. “We bought ‘Lotus’ for $20,000 as a yearling at last year’s Walker Sale,” said 41-year-old Carrollton native. “What attracted me the most to her was the filly’s family. I raced two of her sisters, Fox Valley Luxury and Fox Valley Lexus. “So far ‘Luxury’ has been the best of the three sisters. She won the Springfield Final, the Land Lincoln Land and another big stake at Balmoral (the Fox Valley Flan) in her first season but never made a start as a three-year-old.  Her career was cut short in 2010 when she developed a couple of bone chips in an ankle. “I stopped racing ‘Lexus’ earlier this year. She had a breathing problem, just like her younger sister ‘Lotus’ but ‘Lexus’ wasn’t able to overcome it and go fast enough to race on the Chicago circuit.” By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

The $43,000 Governor’s Cup, the feature stake event of the Du Quoin State Fair, was expected to be a hard-fought battle between PQ Three and Unlocked, the one-two finishers at Springfield, and Sunday’s race came up as good as forecasted. The two top Illinois conceived and foaled colts put on a torrid duel down the stretch and just as he did at Springfield, the Erv Miller trained P Q Three prevailed for the meet’s leading driver Mike Oosting who changed tactics with the son of Yankee Skyscraper. Instead of coming out of a hole, as he did in his all of his other career victories, Oosting sent PQ Three to the front while Unlocked took the pocket behind him, reversing their Springfield roles. “With the wind to the horse’s backs on the backside and into their faces in the homestretch we didn’t want to come from too far out of it,” said the 46-year-old Miller in the winner’s circle. “We wanted to be up-close so I wasn’t surprised to see the horse on the lead. “PQ Three has really come around for us. “Turning for home he was digging in. Mike has done a very good job of driving him.” PQ Three’s head triumph was his fifth to go along with four seconds in nine career starts for owners Obermeier & Quaid Stables of Evergreen Park, IL. The youngster’s season earnings are now only $601 shy of $100,000. A heady drive by John Roberts enabled the 14-1 longshot Fox Valley Veto to pull off stunning upset in the $33,000 Darn Safe stake for 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings. Sensing the slow pace Roberts took Fox Valley Veto to the front soon after a :29.4 first quarter and was able to give the gelded son of Pizzazzed a :31.2 second quarter breather. When the heavy 1-5 favorite Tour Hall came at him through a :28.4 third quarter the Curt Grummel trainee still had enough left to put away the Springfield champion and post a one length victory in 1:58.1. It was the maiden win for Fox Valley Veto and it came in his fifth career start for his Carrolton, IL proprietors Curt and Craig Grummel. Mystical Walter had no trouble adding the $21,500 Dudley Hanover stake to his 3-year-old colt pacing accomplishments for Casey Leonard and the Miller Stable. The son of Yankee Skyscraper earlier won a Hanover and the Incredible Finale at Balmoral and the recent Springfield State Fair crown for the winning trio of Paymaq Racing (Long Grove, IL), D & M Racing (Chicago) and Mystical Marker Farms (Dwyer, IN). The pocket horse Fancy Creek Elusiv was second best in the 1:52.3 mile, beaten one length. Earlier in the afternoon A Cool Card sped to a 1:50.2 victory in the $10,000 stake for aged ICF pacing colts and geldings, the fastest mile of the meet. Marcus Miller steered the Cole Muffler gelding to his third win in a row for his father, trainer Erv. The $10,000 Aged stake for pacing mares went to Just By Design (Dave Magee) in 1:52.4 for Williamsville, IL owner Josh Carter. It was Mike Brink’s fourth training win at the three-day meet. Kiwi Party came on nicely to take the $9,000 County Fair Challenge Championship for freshman pacing fillies in 1:56.2 to earn a start in Balmoral Park’s Orange & Blue Filly eliminations three weeks away. John De Long drove the Party At Artsplace filly to her fourth straight victory and shares ownership of Kiwi Party with his father and trainer Jesse, and Austin De Long, all of Wisconsin. I Bizel The Chizel gave John De Long his second consecutive County Fair Challenge champion when he out-closed his entry-mate Overloaded in the 2-year-old colt and gelding division with a 1:54.2 mile. Tom Simmons trains the son of Yankee Skyscraper for the Illinois team of Laura Hendricks (Silvis) and Benita Simmons (Springfield.) Sadie’s Art (Tom D. Tetrick) came thundering down the stretch and swept past the even-money favorite Checkout By Body to take the 3-year-old colt County Fair Championship in a career best time of 1:53.1 for breeders and owners Mary Alice and Tom D. Tetrick of Geff, IL. Oosting took the driving title at the Du Quoin meet with ten winners while Erv Miller successfully defended his trainer’s crown. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

The Illinois State Fair meeting at Springfield came to an end with a bang Thursday afternoon when PQ Three became the fastest Illinois bred 2-year-old pacer in history with a 1:50 flat track record performance for driver Mike Oosting. The Erv Miller trained gelding put an end to Unlocked’s unbeaten streak at six when he went past the front-stepping 4-5 pacesetting favorite in the lane in the meet’s finale, the freshman colt and gelding pace showdown and the last of 8 Illinois State Fair Colt Stakes Championships contested. The first of finals came in the 3-year-filly trot division where owner-driver Todd Warren gave his Sara The Spy ($12.20) a perfect two-hole journey and the filly overtook the favored Little Ms Chrissy in the final stride for a head victory. The time of 1:54 flat was a career best for Sara The Spy who will head next to the Du Quoin State Fair that starts a week from today. King Mufasa ($2.10) was all out to capture the 3-year-old colt trotting final, his seventh straight for the driver-trainer combination of Mike Oosting and Mike Brink, just holding off his fast charging entry-mate Skyline Road. King Mufasa, who this year is 9-for-9 in his division, trotted a lifetime best time of 1:53.4 and went over $130,000 in season earnings for owners Bill Wright and Mystical Marker Farms. Fox Valley Lotus ($8.40) made her third career start the charm, taking the freshman filly trot final despite a first-over journey. John Roberts guided the Curt Grummel trainee to her maiden triumph in 1:57.3 over Bailey’s Wish for Pittsfield, Illinois owner Dr. Patrick Graham. My Little Bit ($7.40) led from start to finish when she annexed the 2-year-old filly pace crown with Marcus Miller, pacing a 1:53.4 mile for trainer Erv Miller and her winning Evergreen Park, Illinois owners Obermeier & Quaid Stables. When Fox Valley Veto went off stride in mid-stretch on the lead it made the task easier for eventual winner Tour Hall ($9.40) who flashed past and drew away to the freshman championship for trotting colts and geldings. “Mike (trainer Brink) made some changes on him since last week and he was much better today,” said driver Dave Magee in the winner’s circle. “When he was keeping up at the quarter mile pole I knew we had a good chance. That had been an issue him in his earlier races. He was full of trot when we turned for home and I couldn’t wait to pull him.” Owned by his Springfield based trainer and Loren Tournear of Liberty, Illinois, Tour Hall knocked almost three full seconds off his first winning mile with a 1:57.3 clocking. Brink, who is recovering from major shoulder surgery from an earlier accident at a County Fair track, had a training triple on the day. He won earlier with King Mufasa and with his 2-year-old filly pacer April May Dune. The 3-year-old filly pace final saw the 10-1 longshot Dallas Jones ($23.40) get her nose in front of the pacesetting Mystical Danica at the end of a quick 1:51.2 mile. Capably driven by Casey Leonard for trainer Joel Smith, the filly erased over three seconds from her lifetime mark with season win No. 7 for Hoosier Paula Smith and Illinoisans James Runyan and Frank Pike. Leonard was back in the winner’s circle a third time with a heady drive behind the favorite Mystical Walter ($3.80) in the championship for sophomore pacing colts and geldings. With the field “walking” to a the first half, timed in :59.3, Casey took Mystical Walter out of fourth on the backside and to the lead before the last turn. The Miller trainee came home in 26.1 at the end of his 1:53.4 mile for Illinois owners Paymaq Racing of Long Grove and Mystical Marker Farms of Dwyer, Indiana. Oosting won the Springfield meet’s driver title and Miller successfully defended his trainer’s crown. Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

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