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Despite atrack that had been drenched by heavy rains during the late afternoon hoursBurke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi and Stable 45’s had no problem negotiating hisway over the sloppy going as the $105,000 yearling purchase etched his name intothe Balmoral Park record books knocking off nine other two-year-old trottingcolts by 11 ¼ lengths in 1:54.1 while taking the $69,000 American National fortwo-year-old trotting colts. The previous mark of 1:54.3 had been set in 2008by Swan For All. The goodlooking son of Muscle Hill—Spice On Ice effortlessly trotted to the top frompost two for driver Mike Oosting putting up splits of 29.2, 58.2 & 1:26.2while widening his margin at each call. Under nourging whatsoever from Balmoral’s leading reinsman Southwind Spirit continuedto make it look like a stroll in the park as he sealed the deal with a 27.4final quarter to become the fastest two-year-old trotter in the history of Balmoral Park. Hot Type (D.R. Ackerman) finishedsecond while Big Bad Bob (Dale Hiteman) was third. “I neverpulled his plugs, never spoke to him or even showed him the whip at any timetonight,” marveled Oosting in the winners circle. “I shook the lines right atthe finish line and he actually took off on me again so there was still plentyleft in his tank. That was a huge last three-quarters he trotted tonight. He’squite an animal.” Bet asthough defeat was out of the question Southwind Spirit returned $2.20, $2.40& $2.10 while running his record to 5-2-1 in 8 starts with earnings of $138,400while under the guidance of conditioner Ron Burke. In the$63,000 Filly division Robert & Lynda Stewart’s Herroyalhighness shruggedoff a first over trip as she splashed to an impressive 6 ¼ length triumph in1:57.0 for driver Trace Tetrick. Settlinginto a nice early spot in mid-pack as Pray With Me (Todd Warren) led the fieldthrough splits of 28.1, 57.4 & 1:28.1 Tetrick began a nice steady advanceas the field moved into the final turn. Quicklyblowing by the pace setter as the field turned for home the daughter of MuscleHill—Ok To Play left her rivals in her wake through the lane as she reportedhome “under wraps” with her second win in four career starts for trainer BobStewart. Pray With Me held on to be second while Muscle Babe (Dave Magee) wasthird. After thevictory Tetrick seemed quite pleased with the way his charge had performed. “She wasgood and strong the entire way tonight,” he said. “I really didn’t want to befirst up against the favorite but that’s just the way it worked out for us. She’sbeen getting better each week and she continued that progression tonight. I wasreally happy with the way she finished up that mile in the slop.” Overlookedat the windows Herroyalhighness returned $16.40, $6.00 & $5.80 while uppingher bankroll to $39,199 by Tom Kelley    

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

llinois biggest night of racing, Super Night took place at Balmoral Park Saturday. With clear skies and temperatures in the upper 60’s a large crowd continued to file in as the big 14-race card kicked off with a pair of trotting events for Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-olds.               Diagonally gaited fillies were first onto the track with a field of 10 squaring off in the $105,000 Lady Ann Reed Championship. In a division that has remained fairly wide-open throughout the season it was last year’s two-year-old champion Trot Fudge Sundae who continued a late season surge as she trotted to a very impressive one-length victory in 1:55.2 with Super Night’s all-time leading driver Dave Magee at the controls.             Confidently handled by Magee the daughter American Native—What A Joy was sent right to the front from post position four. Turning back an early challenge from Little Ms Chrissy (Robert Taylor) the Dirk Simpson trainee put up splits of 28.3, 56.3 & 1:25.0.             “My filly was very aggressive tonight,” said Magee. “Once she heard those other horses coming after her near the quarter-pole she grabbed on and there was no way she was going to let them go.”             After putting away a second challenge from a game Sara The Spy (Todd Warren) who was outside every step of the mile, Trot Fudge Sundae dug in determinedly as Just For Fun (Casey Leonard) began to cut into her lead. Showing the grit that earned her divisional honors last season Trot Fudge Sundae held firm to the wire for her 15th career victory. Just For Fun was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Sara The Spy turned in a big effort to hang on for third.             In the winner’s circle a relieved Simpson talked about the thrilling stretch drive.             “I swear that was the longest stretch drive of my life,” said the Illinois based conditioner. “I just kept looking at her, looking at the horse that was coming on the outside and looking for wire. It seemed like it took forever to get there but she showed once again how tough she is.             Sent off as the 8-5 favorite by the large crowd Trot Fudge Sundae returned $5.20, $2.80 & $2.20 while running his career bankroll up to $272,370 for proud owners Sam Daddono, James Bafia and Eugene White.             Chalk players were rewarded again in the second race of the night as H. “Bill” Wright and Mystical Marker Farms King Mufasa reigned supreme but not without some anxious moments as he held on to win by a diminishing head in 1:56.2 with Mike Oosting at the controls.             After getting away in third from the inside post Oosting sent the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Foxy N Diamonds to the top where he proceed to trot through splits of 29.2, 59.2 & 1:27.3.             “I probably could have out-footed them out of there but I figured I would just let them trot out of there, settle in and then send my horse to front. With the fractions we were going I really thought we were going to win the race pretty handily.               After drawing away to a three-length advantage mid-way down the lane it as appeared as though the only thing in doubt would be the final margin of victory. That’s when a fit and fresh Fox Valley Camo (Jamaica Patton) pulled from the pocket and began to cut into the “Kings” advantage. That forced Oosting to get after the brown gelding through the final sixteenth of mile and the wire arrived just in time for the 1-5 favorite who notched his 12th win in 13 starts this season. Fox Valley Camo was a hard charging second while Fox Valley Legend (Dale Hiteman) rallied to be third.             “I was chasing after him pretty hard down there at the wire,” said a relieved Oosting. “I don’t really think he was quite himself tonight. It’s been a long year for him and he may be getting just a little bit tired right now.”             The Mike Brink trainee returned $2.40, $2.20 & $2.10 while running his career record to 14-2-0 in 21 starts with earnings of $213,382 for his proud owners.   Jesse De Long’s Let’s Go Higher soared to an impressive three-length victory over nine other filly and mare pacers in Saturday’s $130,000 Lorna Propes Stake stopping Mystical Victress’s bid to become the first four-time Super Night winner. The final time was 1:50.4.              Sweeping from fourth to first for driver John De Long after an opening quarter in 27.2 the five-year-old daughter of Cole Muffler then proceeded to roll through splits of 55.0 & 1:22.3.             “I didn’t want to rough up my mare too much early on so I thought I would just see how they got away and then move to the front once things settled down,” explained De Long. “I was a little surprised Mike didn’t leave a little more with his mare (Mystical Victress) so I was pretty happy to wind up in control of things like we did.”             After putting away a first over bid from Just By Design (Dave Magee) Let’s Go Higher began to put daylight between herself and her rivals quickly opening up a three-length advantage by the mid-stretch call.             “I looked back and saw Dave’s horse was starting to back up the outer flow a bit and we were starting to get away from the rest of them so I was pretty confident at that point,” said De Long.             On cruise control the rest of the way the Heidi Rohr trainee was never seriously threatened as she rolled under the wire with her ninth win in 29 starts this season. Mystical Victress (Mike Oosting) managed to rally for the second place check while Fox Valley Absolut (Robert Smolin), who was used hard to find a good early spot from her outside post held on for the show dough.             Bet down to 4-5 after her impressive elimination win Let’s Go Higher returned $3.60, $2.20 & $2.10 while winning for the 18th time in her career. The victory helped push her career bankroll to a gaudy $235,505.   by Tom Kelley for Balmoral Park        

Taking advantage of a perfect two-hole trip Engel Stable’s Thesleazyprincess pounced on the heavily favored My Little Bit in the lane zipping right by the pace setter in the final sixteenth of a mile to record a three-length victory in the $200,000 Filly Orange & Blue. The final time was 1:54.4 Using the inside starting spot to perfection driver Mike Oosting positioned the daughter of Sagebrush-Da SleazyOne In The Pocket as My Little Bit  led the field of eight ladies through splits of 28.1, 57.1 & 1:25.3. “I was more than happy to let Marcus go early on,” said Balmoral’s leading reinsman. “I figured those two horse of the De Long’s (Party Hangover Two & Kiwi Party) would be coming at some point in the mile so I figured I would let those three battle it out while Istayed covered up with my filly.” Executing that plan to perfection the Nelson Willis trainee was full of pace while the battle on the far turn began to take a toll on My Little Bit as the field moved through the stretch. Moving into the passing lane with a sixteenth of a mile to go Thesleazyprincess responded beautifully, blowing right by her rivals and drawing clear in the shadow of the wire for her third win in nine lifetime starts. Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) rallied from far back to be the bridesmaid while My Little Bit held on for third. After the win Oosting was full of praise for the Engle homebred. “She was really good tonight and that’s a tribute to the job Nelson Willis has done with her,” said a beaming Oosting. “She relaxed perfectly when she needed to and then she kicked it into gear again once she secured the room she needed. She was really a professional out there tonight.” Sent off as the 7-2 second choice in the wagering Thesleazyprincess returned $9.60, $5.00 & $2.80. The winner’s share of $94,000 moves the fillies bankroll to $152,452 on the strength of a 3-3-3 record in nine lifetime starts. Mike Oosting picked up his second Super Night victory guiding Thesleazyprincess to a three-length victory championship in the Filly Orange & Blue. David Baum   

Elimination races were not necessary Wednesday night for the first American National stakes of the year when 10 two-year-old trotters were entered in each of the colt and filly divisions. Instead seven of next week American National finalists will prep in Wednesday night races with five of them going in the fourth race, a 2-year-old trotting events with “American National Entered Preferred.” The three fillies prepping are the Mike Brink Stable’s Muscle Babe (programmed 3-1, Dave Magee) and the Trenton Watson Stable entry of Pinking Of You (5-2, Casey Leonard) and Dancing Dynamite (5-2, Dean Magee), both winners of a Pennsylvania Sire Stake last month at The Meadows. Among their fourth race competitors are a pair of geldings who are American National bound, the Joel Smith trainee Big Bad Bob (6-1, Dale Hiteman), and the Roger Welch trained Bobby B Breeze (4-1, Todd Warren), winner of Balmoral’s $50,000 Plesac on July 31. Fox Valley Lotus (John Roberts), another starter in next Wednesday’s $63,000 (est.) American National filly stake is the 3-1 favorite in the first race trot. She captured the Springfield State Fair 2-Year-Old Filly Trot crown and was the runner-up in the Shawnee at Du Quoin. The Trenton Watson Stable’s Explosive Cash (Mike Oosting), who will vie in the $67,000 (est.) colt division of the added money stake, is the 3-1 program choice in Wednesday’s second race. While winless in his first six career starts Explosive Cash was second in a division of Philadelphia’s Historic, in a Pennsylvania Sire Stake at Pocono, and third in another at The Meadows. Probably the biggest name to be coming in is Southwind Spirit in the American National colt division. A son of Muscle Hill, this colt has been third or better in all six career starts against some well-regarded youngsters. A $105,000 yearling buy at the 2012 Lexington Select Sale, Southwind Spirit won his Peter Haughton elimination in 1:57.2 before finishing third in the $280,500 Final at The Meadowlands. He also won a New Jersey Sire Stake and was second in another. Trained by Ron Burke, who shares ownership of the colt, Southwick Spirit already has over $101,000 on his first season card. Here are the horses that entered next week’s American Nationals (listed in each alphabetically): Colt and Gelding Division: Big Bad Bob, Bobby B Breeze, Explosive Cash, Fox Valley Veto, Hillustrious, Hot Type, Maple Grove Joe, Nino Marino, Southwind Spirit and Toss Cartwright. Filly Division: Bailey’s Wish, Dancing Dynamite, Deweyscheatingirl, Don’t Miss A Tweet, Fox Valley Hosana, Fox Valley Lotus, Herroyalhighness, Muscle Babe, Pinking Of You and Pray With Me. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

With all the preliminary action in the books it’s now “go-time” for everyone involved in Illinois’ biggest night of standardbred racing as Super Night 2013 is just six nights away at Balmoral Park. After a hectic weekend which saw 12 elimination tussles on Saturday the action slowed down just a bit on Sunday night with six more elimination’s contested for a trio of Super Night events. Kicking off the action were three-year-old trotting colts as a total of 17 diagonally gaited sophomores battled in a pair of $15,000 Su Mac Lad Stake elimination’s.The top five finishers in each division will be back on Saturday, Sept. 14th for the $121,000 final. In the first elimination “Bill” Wright and Mystical Marker Farms King Mufasa continued his domination of this division as he rolled to a one-length victory in 1:56.3 with Mike Oosting at the controls. Sent to the front by Oosting after an opening quarter in 29.1 the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Foxy N Diamonds was in complete control the rest of the way as he rattled off middle splits of 58.1 & 1:28.1. With the “soft” middle half under his belt, the Mike Brink trainee had plenty in reserve for the stretch drive, trotting home in an effortless 28.2 for his 11th win in 12 starts this season. Semper Fit (Dave Magee) finished a nice second despite leaving from the outside post while Fox Valley Camo (Jamaica Patton) was third.Happy Balance finished fourth and Riet’s Kid was fifth. The division leader has now banked over $156,000 this year for his proud connections and he figures to be an overwhelming favorite on Super Night. In the second elimination Mystical Marker Farms and Jack & Peggy Hood’sPowerful Poe shed the runner-role he had assumed seven times already this season knocking off eight rivals by two-lengths in 1:56.2 with Todd Warren handling the driving duties. Despite leaving from an outside post the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Fox Valley Poetry landed in a good early spot as Powerful Valor (Jared Finn) and Skyline Road (Marcus Miller) battled through splits of 30.0 58.4 & 1:28.1. After securing racing room in the lane Warren asked the Dirk Simpson trainee for his best and the gelding responded beautifully as he trotted home in a brisk 27.3 to post his third win in 14 starts this year. Fox Valley Legend (Dale Hiteman ) rallied well to be second for red-hot trainer Joel Smith while Fox Valley Dubai (Dave Magee) finished third. Skyline Road and Powerful Valor finished fourth and fifth respectively to earn the last two spots into the Su Mac Lad final. Next up were three-year-old trotting fillies as a field of 10 looked for nine spots in next week’s $106,000 Lady Ann Reed Stake. They will be joined in the finale by Divination who received a bye into the Super Night  tussle. Flashing the form that netted her divisional honors in her two-year-old season, James Bafia, Eugene White and Samuel Daddono’s Trot Fudge Sundae reported home with a half-length victory in a career best of 1:56.0 with “Mr. Super Night”, Dave Magee in the bike. Givena confident steer by Magee the Dirk Simpson trained daughter of American Native—What A Joy shot right to the front from post six putting up splits of 29.1, 59.3& 1:28.1 while under a snug hold from her Hall of Fame pilot. Fit and fresh as she straightened for the money, the long striding bay put up a 27.4 final quarter to secure her 14th career victory in her 26th lifetime start. Little Ms Chrissy (Robert Taylor) finished a game second while Sara The Spy (Todd Warren) was third. Also securing spots in the final were Just For Fun, Fox Valley Yavonne, Powerful Goddess, American Empress, Kelsey’s Star and High Stepper. A total of 25 filly and mare pacers, three-year-olds and up, were entered for the $123,000 Lorna Propes Stake necessitating a trio of $15,000 elimination tussles. The top three in each division along with one fourth place finisher,(drawn by lot) will be back for the big cash next Saturday night. In the first elimination James Strzalka, Nancy Magnus, Norma Schulfer and James Skvarla’s Fox Valley Absolut exhibited the form that has netted her more than $361,000 in career earnings as she shook off a tough first over trip to score by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:52.4 for driver Robert Smolin. Taking advantage of a nice inside draw the seven-year-old daughter of Sportsmaster was able to save ground through opening splits of 27.2 & 56.2 before moving to the outside as the field headed around the final bend. Grinding her way towards the top the Mike Schulfer trainee was right on the pace setting Tamarac Sassy’s flank as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.2. Seemingly finding another gear as the distaffers moved through the lane Fox Valley Absolut swallowed up the pace setter with a 27.1 final quarter as she began to widen her margin while scoring for the fifth time in 25 starts this year. Kimberley R (Dale Hiteman) shook loose late to be the bridesmaid while Tamarac Sassy (Casey Leonard) held on for third. Willow Gram finished fourth. In the middle split the Terry Leonard owned and trained Whistle Pig looked like a princess as she pulled off an 18-1 stunner, scoring by a neck in a career best of 1:52.0 with Casey Leonard handling the driving chores. Placed near the back of the pack despite leaving from post position three the six-year-old daughter of Park Place moved into the outer flow on the far turn as Rev Me Up (John Roberts) sped through splits of 27.2, 55.4 & 1:24.0. Moving up with live cover Leonard tipped his mare four deep turning for home and she responded beautifully, speeding home in 27.1 to put up a career best. Fox Valley Touche (Dale Hiteman) closed well to finish second while Mystical Victress (Mike Oosting), the 1-9 favorite in the race finished third. Kate The Great was fourth. In the final elimination east coast invader Let’s Go Higher made it known that she will be a force to be reckoned with next week as the Heidi Rohr trained  five-year-old posted an eye catching eight-length romp in 1:50.4 with John DeLong at the controls. Perfectly positioned in third as Party Hangover charged through splits of 26.3 & 54.2 De Long moved the daughter of Park Place to the outside as the field moved mid-way around the final turn. Leaving the others in her wake Let’s Go Higher sped by the three-quarter-mile station in 1:22.3 as she set sail for the wire. Finishing off the mile in grand fashion Let’s Go Higher sped home in 28.1 to post her eighth win of the year for owner Jesse De Long. Just By Design (Dave Magee) finished second while Tune In (John Roberts) finished fourth but was moved up to third via a disqualification of Fox Valley Hermia who was cited for interfering with several horses near the top of the stretch. Cole Blue finished fifth but was moved up to fourth because of the DQ. Sunday’s 50 cent Pick 5 wager was not hit so there will be a carryover of $10,416 into Wednesday night’s pool. There will now be a $30,000 guaranteed pool on Wednesday’s Pick 5. The Pick 5 entails races 2-6 each night. Handicappers across North America can get a headstart on their competition with free 12 line program pages for the guaranteed pool courtesy of the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative and Track Master on the handicapping section at www.ustrotting.com. Tom Kelley ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- KING MUFASA POSTED HIS 11TH WIN IN 12 STARTS THIS SEASON AS Mike Oosting STEERED THE DIVISION LEADER TO AN EASY WIN IN THE FIRST OF TWO SU MAC LAD STAKE ELIMINATIONS ON SUNDAY NIGHT. TROT FUDGE SUNDAE AND HALL OF FAMER Dave Magee TEAMED UP TO WIN THE LADY ANN REED STAKE ELIMINATION IN 1:56.0 ON SUNDAY NIGHT. LET'S GO HIGHER ROMPED TO AN EIGHT-LENGTH DECISION WITH JOHN DE LONG AT THE CONTROLS IN THE LAST OF THREE LORNA PROPES STAKE ELIMINATION'S ON SUNDAY NIGHT. THE 5YO DAUGHTER OF Park Place STOPPED THE CLOCK IN A BLISTERING 1:50.4. -----Original Message----- From: David Baum To: Tom Kelley ; Mike Paradise Sent: Sun, Sep 8, 2013 9:09 pm  

It’s the second consecutive evening of Super Night eliminations races on Sunday and if I had to pick out two “Locks” they would be King Mufasa in his Su Mac Lad elim and Mystical Victress in her Lorna Propes division. Losing to another Illinois bred horse is just something these two talented horses very rarely do. King Mufasa brings an eight race winning streak into the first race and he’s 10- for 11 since joining the Mike Brink Stable for his 3-year-old campaign. The gelding’s lone 2013 loss came against older trotters early in the season when he was prepping for a stake and drew an outside post. Mystical Victress has lost once to an ICF mare this year, dropping a head decision to Rev Me Up in the $20,000 Sue Fee Stake at Balmoral, and that was the six-year-old mare’s her first loss in state-bred competition since late August of 2010 at Du Quoin in her sophomore campaign. Mystical Victress had won 11 consecutive races against ICF distaffers going into the Sue Fee stake and currently has strung together four straight victories and three were in open company. King Mufasa got his eighth straight win at Du Quoin when Skyline Road was disqualified to second when he went on the pace to get past the Mike Brink trainee. It was the third straight time Skyline Road has been DQ’s for switching over to the pace. King Mufasa didn’t look sharp at all at Du Quoin and I asked Brink if he knew why? “If I had to come with an excuse I would say it was the race track,” Mike answered. “It wasn’t very good and that wasn’t just my opinion. A lot of trainers felt that way. It was too deep. “King Mufasa isn’t a big horse and I think he just struggled on that deep track. A horse doesn’t trot in ‘53’ one week and the next start later has trouble going in ’58’ without a reason. “I had blood work done on him and it all came back clear. He trained really well this week and I think he’ll be just fine for Sunday’s elimination.”- Brink will depend on his help this weekend at Balmoral while he recuperates from reconstructive shoulder surgery in his in Springfield. “Four weeks ago this past week a horse I was driving at the Mt. Sterling Fair went down and I busted up my shoulder pretty bad in the accident. The clavicle was broken in four places and the shoulder was pulled out of its socket. “I’ve got four weeks of physical therapy ahead of me and I’ve been feeling weak so I’ll stay home and take it easy this weekend. Hopefully I’ll feel good enough to go to Balmoral for Super Night.” Brink is having a career year. The 60-year-old veteran had a season-best high 53 racing wins going into this weekend while his horses have won over $482,000, a single-season best. Only a fifth place or better finish is needed to make the Su Mac Lad Final. The third race second elim pits the State Fair runner-up Skyline Road (2-1, Marcus Miller), the consistent Dirk Simpson trainee Powerful Poe (7-2, Todd Warren), the Pronto Don third-place finisher Fox Valley Legend (9-2, Dale Hiteman) and seven other ICF hopefuls. Only the tenth place finisher in the second race Lady Ann Reed elimination won’t move on to the $106,000 final on Super Night. The first nine finishers will advance to meet Divination who drew a bye. Three fillies, Sara The Spy, Little Ms Chrissy and Just For Fum, all have season earnings higher than Divination but since they haven’t raced since August 24, their trainers declined the bye and elected to partake in Sunday’s single elimination. Trainer Nick Prather accepted a bye for Divination who stayed sharp for the Lady Ann Reed with a win on September 1 on the Pana fair track. Mystical Victress needs a third or higher finish to be assured of going after her third consecutive Lorna Propes crown on Super Night. She opens at 8-5 in the second Propes elim. Tamarac Sassy (Casey Leonard) is the 3-1 programmed choice in the fourth race first split, while Brink’s Just By Design is the 3-1 favorite in the sixth race third elimination. “Just By Design is very sharp right now,” said Brink. “I call her a perfect ‘Dave Magee horse’ because he can drive her anyway he wants, depending how the race unfolds, just the way Dave likes to compete.” By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

The count down to Illinois biggest night of racing action, Super Night 2013, began in earnest on Saturday, Sept. 7th at Balmoral Parkas 12 eliminations battles were contested by some of Illinois top pacers. Kicking things off were a trio of $15,000 Orange & Blue Stake elimination’s for two-year-old pacing colts. The top three finishers in each elimination as well as one fourth place finisher (drawn by lot) will advance to next Saturday’s $200,000 est. final. In the first division Obermeier & Quaid Stable’s PQ Three continued his recent winning streak as the Erv Miller trainee posted a 1 ¼ length decision in 1:54.1. Sent right to the front from his outside starting spot by driver Mike Oosting the son of Yankee Skyscaper—Sweltering cruised through splits of 28.2, 57.3 & 1:26.2 while easily keeping his rivals at bay throughout the mile. Overloaded (Kyle Wilfong) sat right on the winner’s back the entire way to earn the place money while Cotton Eyed Joe (Robert Smolin) rallied to be third. Dave’s Skyscaper was fourth. The win was the sixth in 10 starts this year for PQ Three who now boasts $114,399 in career earnings. In the second elimination Paula Smith & James Runyan’s Fox Valley Deuce prevailed in a thrilling three-horse photo, winning by a nose in a career best of 1:54.3 for Dale Hiteman. Perfectly positioned while saving ground in fourth as Fox Valley Cupid (Ryan Anderson)  carved out splits of 28.2, 58.1 & 1:26.4 the Joel Smith (2 wins) trainee pulled as the field neared the top of the stretch. Battling tooth and nail through the lane the son of Sportsmaster—Dodger Girl managed to get a nose in front in the final strides to earn his second win in 10 tries. Fox Valley Cupid held on for second while I Bizel The Shizel (John De Long) rallied up the passing lane to be third. Manny’s Z Tam was fourth. The final division was taken by Jack & Peggy Hood, Mystical Marker Farms and Dirk Simpson Stables Traffic Cop who reported home with a 3 ½ length score in a lifetime best of 1:54.2. Zipped right to the front as 4-5 favorite Badger Quinn went off stride right at the start, driver Todd Warren did a nice job of directing the proceedings as he rolled through splits of 28.1, 58.1 & 1:27.3. After turning away a first over challenge from Duneside Art in the lane the son of Sportsmaster-Dixiegirl proceeded to draw away from her rivals for her second win in 10 lifetime appearances. One Sure Apache (Mike Oosting) rallied to be second while Fox Valley Van (John De Long) finished third. Duneside Art was fourth. Next up were sophomore pacing fillies as a total of 18 ladies looked for 10 starting spots in next week’s $173,000 (est.) Grandma Ann Stake. In the first of two $15,000 elimination tussles John Carver’s Auniqueaquistion gave the chalk players a thrill as she shook loose from a precarious position in mid-stretch to win by a half-length in1:53.0. Positioned near the front by driver Mike Oosting as the lead changed hands several time through splits of 28.4, 57.4 & 1:26.1 the daughter of Cole Muffler—Shesoluvabull was desperately searching for racing room behind a tiring leader as the field turned for the money. Maneuvering outside then back inside again with the Donna Lee Ozment trained miss Oosting finally secured racing room with just less than a sixteenth of a mile to go. Responding beautifully, Auniqueaquistion bulled her way to the front and steadily began to draw clear for her 12th win in 21 career starts. Schmatie (John De Long) finished a game second while Aliyah Maria (Dave Magee) was third. Dune In Red & State Street Liz also gained spots in the final. In the second elimination Paula Smith, James Runyan and Frank Pike’s Dallas Jones continued an amazing second season transformation as she came flying home to win by 1 ¾ lengths in 1:53.1. Well-handled by a red-hot Casey Leonard the daughter of Sportsmaster—Cams Bett was reserved through the early stages as Feel Like Dancing (Kyle Wilfong) and Mystical Danica (Marcus Miller) battled through splits of 27.4, 56.4 & 1:24.4.Tipping four deep as the ladies turned for home the Joel Smith trained miss then picked off one rival after another on her way to her eighth win of the season. Mystical Danica held on for second while Thank You Doc (Mike Oosting) rallied sharply to finish third. Feel Like Dancing was fourth while Fox Valley Isabella was fifth. A total of 17 sophomore pacing colts were dropped into the box for a pair of $15,000 Pete Langley Memorial eliminations. Once again the top five will be back on Super Night to go for an estimated purse of $173,000. The first division provided a thrilling finish as Paymaq Racing, D&M Trading & Mystical Marker Farms Mystical Walter emerged with a hard fought three-quarters of a length victory in 1:51.0. Confidently handled by driver Casey Leonard the gelded son of Yankee Skyscaper—Yankee Blue ranged up first over to engage Crankin’ It Up (Kyle Wilfong) after watching that rival post splits of 27.3, 56.0 & 1:23.3. After battling head and head through the lane Mystical Walter finally began to pull clear in the final one-hundred yards, notching his 10th career win in 20 starts for trainer Erv Miller. Crankin’ It Up was a sharp second while Alequash Hotspur (Dale Hiteman) finished third. Fox Valley Norman was fourth while Big Brad was fifth. In the second Langley elimination Stephanie Winship, Carl Lacy, Amy Giberson & Monty Thompson’s Silver Devil parlayed a perfect pocket sitting trip into a 1 ¾ length victory in 1:52.2. Riding along in the pocket while Monopoly Man (John De Long) strolled through splitsof 28.0, 57.3 & 1:25.1 driver Casey Leonard patiently waited for the passing lane to make his move with the Nick Giberson trainee. Swinging down to the inside with a sixteenth to go the roan son of Duneside Perch—Armbro Wahine came charging home in 26.4 to secure his seventh win in this his first season of action. Monopoly Man held on well to finish second while Ready (Brian Carpenter) used a pylon skimming journey to get the show dough. Fancy Creek Elusiv was fourth while Fox Valley Action was fifth. With a total of 21 three-year-olds and up entered for the Tony Maurello Stake a trio of $15,000 elimination’s were needed. Once again the top three along with a fourth place finisher (drawn by lot) will be back for next week’s $125,000 final. In the first elimination Stevanna Turner’s NJ’s Big Deal rallied in the final strides to win by a head in 1:50.1 for driver Mike Cox. After leading the way through an opening quarter in 28.1, Cox elected to let a hard charging Uncle Smoothie (John De Long) go, winding up in the three-hole as the field sped through middle splits of 55.3 & 1:23.0. The John Fletcher trainee was then moved to the outside at the top of the stretch where he gamely wore down Ice Scraper (Kyle Husted) and Uncle Smoothie (John De Long) for his11th win of the year. Whirlwindiplomacy was fourth The middle elimination provided no surprises as heavily favored Fort Silky cruised to an easy 1 ¾ length victory in 1:51.1 for owners John Prentice and Neva Jane Ikeler. Sent to the front by driver Casey Leonard after a quarter in 27.0 the seven-year-old gelding then went unchallenged through middle splits of 55.4 & 1:24.3.Setting sail for home the Terry Leonard trainee sealed the deal in fine fashion, rattling off a final quarter in 26.3 to notch his 12th win of the year. Cole Heat (John De Long) finished second while Fox Valley Yukon (Marcus Miller) was third. Uncle Bud finished fourth. Chalk players were dancing again in the final Maurello elimination as Paymaq Racing, Mystical Marker Farms, Ken Duffy & Shim Racing’s A Cool Card notched his fourth straight win rolling to a one-length decision in 1:50.4 with Marcus Miller in tow. Working out a perfect second over trip as King’s Legend (Todd Warren) put up splits of 27.3, 56.0 & 1:23.4 A Cool Card tipped three-wide off his cover as the field straightened for home. The Erv Miller trainee then stormed home in a wicked 26.2 to record his sixth win in 10 starts this year. Iam Bonasera (Kyle Wilfong) finished a hard knocking second while Gibbs (Dave Magee) rallied to be third. Sports Fanatic wound up fourth. Freshman pacing fillies closed out the elimination action with a total of 20 youngsters battling in a pair of $15,000 Filly Orange & Blue elimination’s. The top five in each will return on Super Night to slug it out for a $200,000 jackpot. In the first elimination Team Miller clicked once again as Marcus (2 wins) made a successful return to the local scene guiding Obermeier & Quaid Stable’s (2wins) My Little Bit to an easy one-length triumph in 1:54.1, giving his father Erv, his fourth training win of the night. Powering to the front after an opening quarter in 28.1, the daughter of Sportsmaster-Parade Of Love rattled off middle splits of 58.1 & 1:26.1. With plenty still in reserve the good looking filly paced home in 28.0 to win for the fourth time in eight life time starts. Party Hangover Two (John De Long) was second while Thesleazyprincess (Mike Oosting) was third. Fox Valley Amanda was fourth while Simplyirresistible was fifth. In the second division Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly took advantage of a ground saving trip as she charged up the passing lane to win by a half-length in1:55.0. Perfectly handled by Mike Oosting (3 wins) the daughter of Lexington Legend-Waggle was forwardly placed while skimming the pylons through splits of 29.0, 58.3 & 1:27.3. With the fillies fanning out for the stretch drive, Oosting moved the Nelson Willis trainee up the inside where she rallied gamely for her second win in eight trips postward. Kiwi Party (John De Long) overcame post nine to be the bridesmaid while Mae Flynn (Dave Magee) was third. Tessa finished a hard fought fourth while M A Refling overcame a miscue at the start to finish fifth. The elimination action for Super Night continues on Sunday, Sept. 8th at Balmoral Park as a trio of Lorna Propes Stake elimination’s (three-year-old & up filly & mare pacers), a pair of Su Mac Lad Stake elimination’s (three-year-old trotting colts) and one Lady Ann Reed (3yo trotting filly) will all be contested. Post time on Sunday is 7:10 p.m. (central). Tom Kelley  

Harness Racing at the Du Quoin State Fair begins Friday evening with a trio of $9,000 County Fair Championships heading up the 10-race program at gets under way at 7 o’clock. The 2-year-old colt and gelding trot championship, the last race on the card, brings out Come And Tell Pap (Isaac Love) and Big Bill Breeze (Mike Oosting), who have each won five times on the County Fair Circle and have traded wins against each other. Come And Tell Pap got the best of Big Bill Breeze on July 19 at Petersburg by almost three lengths and then 10 days later Big Bill Breeze returned the favor by drawing off in a Illinois Stallion stake at Charleston, leaving Come And Tell Pap nine lengths behind. Big Bill Breeze, a Nick Prather trainee, was the runner-up in Springfield to eventual champion Tour Hall in an elimination race but missed the final due to sickness. John D Finn’s Finnster, who owns a win against both Come And Tell Pap and Big Bill Breeze, has shown ability when he stays flat. The field is completed with Bully Bust Boy, Battleshoe Crown, Swiss Mocha and Bands Jeeves. The first County Fair Championship to be decided Friday night is the third race for 3-year-old ICF filly trotters. The J D Finn Stable’s High Stepper, a seven-time season winner, is the likely favorite. The daughter of High Falls won her season debut at Hoosier Park with a 2:01.4 mile in the slop and then campaigned at Balmoral before going on the County Fair Circuit. High Stepper will face Foxy Polar, Elegant Rosie, Accokeek Aphrodite, Bands Dee Dee and Sherry’s Band, a six-time season winner for Freddie Patton Jr. Patton will guide the morning line favorite Bands Giant Star in the seventh race 2-year-old filly trot championship. She’ll race as an entry with Bands Fancy. Both fillies are owned and bred by Flacco Family Farms of Alexis, Illinois. Bands Giant Star has won 4 of her first 7 career starts but did draw the 8-slot in the 9-horse field. Macie Rae, who went off stride in the Springfield State Fair Final after third place finish in her elimination, has made five stops in a winner’s circle in her first season of racing for trainer Mike Rogers who will drive the daughter of Powerful Emotion. Landing the rail makes Macie Rae a solid threat if she can mind her racing manners. Looking to pull off an upset are Sweet Bella Breeze, Shady Maple Feisty, Psychicfinn, Dancingthebreeze and Pistol Annie. Mike Oosting, Todd Warren, John Roberts and Kyle Wilfong all are competing Friday night at Du Quoin and are off their drives at Maywood Park where the feature race is a $10,000 high-level conditioned pace. The 11th race is headed up by Firstclassallthway (programmed 2-1, John De Long), Raging Cam (7-2, Dale Hiteman) and Kansas Wildcat (5-1, Brian Carpenter). It also is the first leg of the track’s 50 cent Pick 4 with a guaranteed $10,000 pool and a less than usual takeout of 15 per cent. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

The $12,500 “Winner’s Over” that lured the return of Dandy Farm’s star trotter Celebrity Hercules, along with the $10,700 Champion On Ice Series Final, share the spotlight on Wednesday evening’s card. Celebrity Hercules has spent most of the summer in Minnesota and Indiana, where he chalked up 4 wins in 5 starts. The 7-year-old gelding went 2-for-2 in June up north at Running Acres and later took a pair of “Winner’s Over” at Hoosier Park in July before dropping a fourth place finish in their Invitational 2 and1/2 weeks ago. In between Celebrity Hercules dominated a “Winner’s Over” at Balmoral in early July, proving best by 6 and 1/2 lengths in a career fastest 1:54 mile for trainer Erin Elliott and her Glenview, IL owners. Celebrity Best has been third or better in 18 of 19 season starts, winning 12 of them. If that sounds like a lot of victories for this time of the year, it is. Only four aged trotters throughout all of North American have won more races this year and each of those trotters has made more starts while earning a lot less money. Celebrity Best, who will open at programmed odds of 3-1 when he leaves from the 10-hole with Mike Oosting, has put $107,517 on his season card. His career earnings are over $410,000. Making his Balmoral Park debut is the Erv Miller Stable’s Nonverbal Hanover (5-1), a five-year-old gelding who has gone 2-for-6 in Pennsylvania, including a 1:54.3 mile on the five-eighths track at Philadelphia. He has post nine for Casey Leonard. The first eight slots will be manned by Outlaw (6-1), Evil Urges (4-1), GRC Travel King (12-1), Mad Cow Lisa (8-1), Mischievous Jesse (8-1), Ants Iner Pants (15-1), New Zion (6-1) and Clever Upstart (10-1). The eighth race Series Final Tempus Fugit, winner of his first two series legs for the Kyle Husted Stable is the 9-2 third choice from post eight behind J M Showcat (7-2) a first leg winner with Oosting and We’ve Got It All (4-1, Dale Hiteman) who dropped a head decision last week in his Balmoral debut for trainer Erv Mller. Also making the competitive series final were Speedy Alber (12-1), Perfect Profit (Casey Leonard), Sound And Fury (8-1), Nidaros (6-1), Jailhouse Rockn (6-1), Olives And Caviar (12-1) and Monticello Lulu (Todd Warren). By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

In about two months it’ll be the 16th anniversary of the closing of Sportsman’s Park to harness racing. The old Cicero, Illinois track’s final Standardbred program was Friday, October 10, 1997 and attached is that night’s front page of its program. As you can see by the top headline Dave Magee was the leading driver in the Sportsman’s Park final meet while Joe Anderson took the trainer’s title for a sixth consecutive year. After finishing second to Tony Morgan in the Sportsman’s driver race the previous two years (1995 and 1996), Magee reclaimed the driving crown in 1997 for an unprecedented 11th time. Earlier Magee won the Sportsman’s Park driving titles in 1981 through 1983, in 1987, 1989, 1991 through 1994 and in 1997. The final stake race was the $20,000 Rambling Willie for ICF pacers 3 and up. There were 12 horses battling on the seven-eighth’s track, The 35-1 longshot Oliver G Slim, trained and driven by Merv Chupp was the $73.60 upset winner of that stake, coming from 10th with a :26.1 final quarter in 1:53 flat. Oliver G Slim that night beat the likes of Broadway Preview, Hot Chilli Pepper, Bingo Johnnie and Jeffrey’s Pet. The last harness race contested before the demise of Sportsman’s Park was an $8,000 ICF claiming event with a $5,000 purse on the 10-race card. It went to Rose and George Bonomo’s Lake Hills Doc, driven by Andy Miller. The Top 10 drivers on the 1997 and last Sportsman’s Park meeting were Dave Magee, Tony Morgan, Andy Miller, Dale Hiteman, Joe Anderson, Lavern Hostetler, Dean Magee, Dan Knox and Jim Curran. A year earlier (1996) Joe Anderson became the first trainer in Sportsman’s Park history to win over 100 races and $1.2 million in purses and he did it again in 1997. From second through 20th the final trainer’s race it was Brian Pinske, Doug Larsen, Jim Eaton, Dave McCaffrey, Gerry Hansen, Julie Miller, Jim Meade, Ken Rucker, Merv Chupp, Andrew Patterson, Roger Welch, Mitch McKenzie, Perry Smith, Mark Fransen, John Butenschoen, Ronnie Roberts, Homer Hochstetler, Lloyd Daulton and Neil Coleman, in that order. Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association  

State bred pacers and trotters were front and center on Saturday, July 27th as Balmoral Park presented its Southland Festival of Racing. A total of five championship tilts were contested with more than $290,000 in purse money up for grabs as the Prairie States top two and three-year-old pacers slugged it out in one of 2013’s biggest nights. Trotters kicked off the racing action with a field of seven diagonally gaited three-year-old colts and geldings battling in the $51,000 Kadabra Stake. Just as he’s done throughout his entire second season H. Bill Wright and Mystical Marker Farms King Mufasa proved to be way too much for this group as he trotted to a 1 ¼ length triumph in 1:55.2 for driver Mike Oosting. Unhurried early the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Foxy N Diamonds settled in sixth as Semper Fit (Dave Magee) led the field through opening splits of 28.1 & 58.0. Oosting then put the Mike Brink trainee into gear as the field headed down the backstretch and the division leader responded beautifully, charging right by the pace setter on the final turn while taking the field by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.2. “We were going into a pretty decent wind there so I just allowed him to trot on as much as he wanted to,” said Oosting. “I didn’t even realize we were going a 28.2 third quarter. That’s how smooth he is.” Under a hand drive through the lane, King Mufasa turned aside a challenge from entrymate Powerful Poe (Todd Warren) as he reported home with his seventh win in eight starts this year. Powerful Poe was forced to settle for the runner-up role for the sixth time this year while Skyline Road (Casey Leonard) was third. “I was a little concerned when Powerful Poe came up alongside us but then he just took off again,” said a happy Oosting. “He knows what he’s got to do and he just keeps going out there and doing it. Not only is that a credit to him but to Mike (Brink) as well. He’s kept him quiet and sound all year long and he’s just as sharp now as he was early in the year.” With the win King Mufasa now has seven wins and one second in eight starts this year with earnings of $95,410. With no place or show wagering King Mufasa returned $2.10. Next up were two-year-old pacing fillies as a field of 10 youngsters squared off in the $65,000 Loyal Opposition Stake. After a furious stretch drive Engel Stable of Illinois ’ Thesleazyprincess gave Oosting his second stakes triumph of the night as she recorded a 3 ¼ length victory in 1:54.3. After rushing to the front after an opening quarter in 27.3 Oosting allowed a hard charging Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) to grab command as the field reached the half-mile mark in 56.2. That pocket sitting journey nearly turned into a nightmare for the Nelson Willis trained miss as Fox Valley Amanda began to tire after passing the three-quarter mile mark in 1:25.1. “Those two up front (Fox Valley Amanda & Western Dame) were starting to tire and I wasn’t sure if I was going to get carried to the open stretch,” said a relieved Oosting. “That’s when I decided to back my filly off a little and we were able to get out of that spot.” Patiently sliding off the pylons with an eighth of a mile to go Oosting maneuvered the daughter of Sagebrush—Da Sleazy One three wide around her rivals and the long striding filly quickly swept past the tiring leaders for her second win in three career starts. My Little Bit (Casey Leonard) shook loose late and rallied to be the bridesmaid while favored Western Dame (John De Long) finished third. “That was a giant effort from a two-year-old filly,” Oosting commented in the winner’s circle. “I really wound up starting and stopping her three different times during that race but she still had an answer for them when she needed it most. That was huge.” The second choice in the wagering returned $5.00, $3.40, & $2.10 while upping her bankroll to $37,450. Oosting did not wait long to strike for a third time taking the $63,500 Mini Me Stake for two-year-old pacing colts in the next event of the night guiding Obermeier & Quaid Stables good looking youngster, PQ Three to a half-length triumph in a career best of 1:54.2. Floating away from post position nine Oosting had the son of Yankee Skyscaper—Sweltering underway as R Duneshine (John Roberts) and Traffic Cop (Todd Warren) battled through opening splits of 27.3 & 56.2. Picking up cover from Badger Quinn (Kyle Wilfong) as the field moved into the turn Oosting did not wait long to attack from his second over position, moving three wide as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.3. “I knew Todd’s horse (Traffic Cop) was going to be tough to beat so I did not want to let them get away from us,” explained Oosting. “I would have loved to have sat in there longer but I wanted to be in top gear when we straightened up for home.” Setting sail for the wire the Erv Miller trainee paced home in 28.3 to secure his third win in five lifetime starts. Traffic Cop was a hard fought second while Badger Quinn held on for third. After the win Oosting was quick to praise Miller for the conditioning job on PQ Three. “Erv has done a nice job with this one,” said Oosting. “He was a nice horse the first time I ever sat behind him but he’s even better now. They’ve taken pretty much all of the equipment off of him and he’s very simply rigged now. He’s just an absolute pleasure to drive.” The 2-1 second choice returned $6.00, $2.80 & $2.20 while moving his record to 3-2-0 in five starts with earnings of $41,874.  Balmoral’s leading reinsman continued his “one-man-show” in the fourth event of the evening, this time guiding John arver’s Auniqueaquistion to a one-length victory in 1:53.1 to take the $60,000 Ann Vonian Stake for three-year-old filly pacers. Confidently handled by her red-hot pilot the daughter of Cole Muffler—Shessoluvabull made a bold move to the front after watching Feel Like Dancing (Kyle Wilfong) lead the field through an opening quarter in 28.0. Rolling through middle splits of 56.1 & 1:24.0 the Donna Lee Ozment trained miss was forced to brace for a first over challenge from her chief rival, Aliyah Maria (Todd Warren) as the field turned for the money. After gamely putting away that challenge Auniqueaquistion held firm the rest of the way for her seventh win in 10 starts this year. Feel Like Dancing came on again to finish a nice second while Dallas Jones (Casey Leonard) was third. “My horse was starting to get a little complacent on me so I had to get after her a little harder than I usually do,” said Oosting. “She really started to dig in at that point and I felt pretty confident we could hold off whoever was going to take a shot at us. That’s the big difference with her this year. She really gets after it in the last 200 yards or so and Donna’s done a great job with her after she had the heart issue a few weeks ago.” Now sporting a record of 10-5-0 in 18 career starts, Auniqueaquistion returned $4.00, $2.60 & $2.60 while upping her career bankroll to $240,985. The final stake of the night provided a bit of an upset as John & Mary Krasnican’s Big Brad, a 5-1 shot came flying through the stretch for driver Robert Smolin to win the $59,000 Incredible Finale Stake for three-year-old colt pacers in 1:51.2. Reserved through opening splits of 28.0 & 55.3 while Fancy Creek Elusiv (Dave Magee), Sage Ruck (Mike Oosting) and Mystical Walter (Casey Leonard) all took turns on the lead, Smolin finally worked Big Brad into the outer flow as the field reached the halfway point. “Ever since he tried to pull himself up while on the lead a few starts back I’ve been ducking with him,” Smolin explained. “I was hoping  that we were going to catch some decent cover tonight and I was pretty happy with the way he felt on the last turn.” Storming up three wide as Mystical Walter led the way past the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:23.2 the son of Henry Clay—One Sure Thing set sail for the wire. Flying home in 27.1 the Bob Phillips trainee picked off one rival after another while bobbing and weaving his way to his sixth win 14 starts this year. Sage Ruck came on again late to finish second while Crankin’ It Up (Kyle Wilfong) rallied to be third. After the win Smolin seemed a bit relieved that the journey resulted in a victory. “At the top of the stretch I was just hoping to be second or third,” he said. “My horse was running out at that point, then he started diving in on me. He didn’t know which line he wanted to be on. Once he finally decided to go straight he was as fast as he’s ever been!”  Big Brad returned $13.80, $6.80 & $5.40 while running his record to 9-4-7 in 23 career starts with earnings of $166,540. Stakes action continues on Sunday night with the $45,000 Fox Valley Evita Stake for three-year-old trotting fillies headlining the card. Post time on Sunday is 7:10 p.m. (central). Tom Kelley ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Big Brad and driver Bobby Smolin came flying through the lane to win the $59,000 Incredible Finale Stake in 1:51.2. King Mufasa continued his dominance of the three-year-old colt trotting set with an easy score in the $51,000 Kadabra Stake. Thesleazyprincess knocked off nine other two-year-old pacing fillies to win the $65,000 Loyal Opposition in 1:54.3. PQ Three won for the third time in five career starts as he rolled to victory in the $63,500 Mini Me Stake for two-year-old pacing colts. Auniqueaquistion gave Mike Oosting his fourth stakes win of the year as she knocked off nine rivals in the $60,000 Ann Vonian Stake.  

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

With so many of our harness racing drivers having left or will be leaving it was nice to track down one who is arriving. Veteran Dale Hiteman rejoins our local driver colony Wednesday night and will be driving a number of Joel Smith trained horses including Fox Valley Arrow in the fifth race 'Winner's Over' trot feature.

What already looked like it was going to be a stroll in the park for Paula Smith, James Runyan & Gary Engel's Fox Valley Steffen became even easier with the defection of two of the six scheduled harness racing starters in Thursday's (November 1) $12,600 Life's A Holiday Stake at Maywood Park.

Just as they did the night before with Fox Valley Steffen, harness racing trainer Joel Smith and driver Dale Hiteman teamed up to pull off another upset, this time getting Powerful Star home with a half-length triumph in the $51,000 Fox Evita Stake final for Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old trotting fillies on Sunday, July 29th.

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