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STICKNEY, IL - After an extremely successful week of harness racing at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, Mother Nature was not as kind when racing shifted to the DuQuoin State Fair last weekend. Rain fell for four consecutive days leading to the start of the fair, leaving the track in no condition to contest races. "We weren't expecting the weather conditions to be as poor as they were in DuQuoin," stated fair racing General Manager Jim Miller. "An unexpected storm the morning of the first day of racing made it so the track surface couldn't recover in time. We consulted with our horsemen's group, the Illinois Racing Board, and Illinois Department of Agriculture and everyone felt it was in the best interest of the horses to shift the races to Hawthorne this Friday. Logistically this made the most sense. We wanted to make sure that every horseman who had entered to race in DuQuoin was given an opportunity to race, thus the reason why all 25 races will be contested at Hawthorne on Friday." The 25 race card on Friday at Hawthorne will make for an eight hour afternoon and evening of harness action. Nine non-wagering events will kick off the afternoon, starting at 4:00 PM, followed by a 16 race wagering card, beginning at 6:30 PM. With the DuQuoin cards shifting to Hawthorne, those horsemen contesting overnight races will be given additional opportunities to race. Expanded cards at Hawthorne will be offered on Saturday and Sunday evening this week with a first post of 6:30 PM. While the cards from DuQuoin shift to Hawthorne, all of the races moved over as drawn initially for the 25 races. Some top Illinois-breds will be on the track in the non-wagering races as they gear up for possible Night of Champions competition. In the seventh non-wagering event, Primed N Powerful and Talk About Valor match up. Primed N Powerful has won eight times on the year with a 1:55.1 best mile at Scioto in the slop. Talk About Valor has found the board in all 16 starts this season, including a victory in 1:55.1 in Springfield. In the eighth non-wagering event, track record holder Annas Lucky Star returns as she looks for her seventh win of the year. The five-year-old mare has faced the boys much of the season but gets the take on females in this event with Kyle Wilfong driving. Wilfong is back with another solid entrant in the final non-wagering event as he drives You'remyhearthrob. A winner in 1:49.4 for the fastest mile in Springfield this year, he looks to have returned to his top form at the right time. The 16-race wagering card on Friday night includes eight stakes events, creating a great Night of Champions preview just three weeks before the richest night of harness racing in the state. Three-year-old filly trotters kick off the stakes action in the $27,250 events as the Windy Skeeter is the first stakes event. The field of five is led by eight-time winner Louzotic from the barn of trainer Steve Searle for owner Flacco Family Farms LLC. A winner of four of her last five, Louzotic's top competition may come from Joe Joes Violet and Heidi High. Joe Joes Violet has hit the board in 11 of 17 starts on the year for trainer Roshun Trigg while Heidi High is 11 of 13 in the money for trainer Charles Arthur. The Shawnee goes as race ten on Friday as a field of nine two-year-old filly trotters line up. Trainer Steve Searle sends out the top two choices in Bee See and Lous Abigail. Bee See has won four of seven starts this year, including a game victory over Lous Abigail in the stakes final in Springfield last out. Lous Abigail has finished first or second in all seven starts this year as she draws just to the inside of Bee See. Three-year-old filly pacers follow in the Time Dancer with a competitive field of six. Fox Valley Torrid is the morning line choice for Fox Valley Standardbreds and trainer Rodney Freese. A five-time winner on the year, she won her elimination in Springfield before finishing a good second in the final. The filly she finished second to was Perch, as she races for trainer Rick Schrock. A six-time winner in 2019, Perch rallied late for the win in Springfield for driver Kyle Wilfong. The Darn Safe is next for two-year-old colt and gelding trotters with nine set to face off. Trainer Tom Simmons sends out morning line choice Fox Valley Quest as he has finished first or second in all eight starts. Casey Leonard drives for owners Carl Lacy and Benita Simmons. To her outside is the horse who upset Fox Valley Quest in the Springfield final, On Higher Ground. Trained by Mike Brink, On Higher Ground has won three of his last four as Ridge Warren takes the return drive. Two-year-old filly pacers follow in the Director's Award with a full field of ten. Double Parked benefits from the improved post off her Springfield final as Travis Seekman drives for owner/trainer Leroy Hunt. A winner of six of eight starts on the year, Double Parked was impressive in her elimination before giving way in the final. The winner of that final was Sleazy Gal as she races for Engel Stable of IL, LLC and trainer Erv Miller. Sleazy Gal has found the board in five of six starts as Kyle Wilfong drives. The Governor's Cup has a field of eight three-year-old colt and gelding pacers. Fox Valley Ren will be heavily favored as he carries a six race win streak into this start. Owned by Megan Rogers Racing Stables Inc. and trained by Nelson Willis, Kyle Wilfong drives. Rg's Tracer poses the biggest threat to Fox Valley Ren as he has chased him home in each of his last three starts. First or second in all six starts, Rg's Tracer will be driven by Travis Seekman. The Dudley Hanover goes as race 15 Friday as a competitive field of three-year-old colt and gelding pacers battle. Meyer on Fire is a slight favorite for Engel Stables of IL, LLC and trainer Erv Miller. A winner of his last two, Meyer on Fire rallied late for Kyle Husted to win going away. Second in the Springfield final was Fox Valley Triton as he races for Dandy Farms Racing, Ft Racing Stable, and Peter Kouchis. The Terry Leonard trainee has hit the board in 10 of 12 starts this year. He was the runner-up in each of his Springfield starts. The final race of the 25 race bonanza Friday is the Pronto Don for three-year-old colt and gelding trotters. Lousraptor is the favorite for Flacco Family Farms LLC and trainer Roshun Trigg. Impressive in both wins in Springfield, he will look to hold off Lourhianon and Louscardamon. Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago's Hometown Track, returned for live harness racing on Friday, May 3. The summer harness meet opened on Friday, May 3 and races through September 22. Fall thoroughbreds close out the year, running from October 10 through December 28. For more information, visit www.Hawthorneracecourse.com or contact Hawthorne at 708-780-3700. From the Illinois Fair Racing Circuit

SPRINGFIELD – For nearly a century, the Du Quoin State Fair was known as a showcase for the rural, agrarian culture of southern Illinois, featuring livestock shows, carnival rides, harness racing, auto racing, monster truck shows, demolition derbies and, of course, country music. This year, however, the annual festival in southern Illinois has become the focus of a statewide controversy involving a clash of political cultures. The controversy involved a musical act that was booked for this year’s fair, a Southern rock band from Georgia called Confederate Railroad, which has been recording and performing in smaller venues and county fairs for more than 30 years. The musical group was scheduled to perform Aug. 27. But when Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Chicago Democrat, learned about it, he ordered the Department of Agriculture, which is in charge of the fair, to cancel the performance. At issue was the band’s logo, which features a railroad engine adorned with two Confederate flags. “The Confederate flag is a symbol of the hate, oppression and enslavement of African Americans,” Pritzker’s communications chief Emily Bittner said in a statement. “It was flown over states that committed treason and started a war — so that they could keep enslaving people. Hundreds of thousands were slaughtered in this fight over whether the nation should allow slavery or end it.” Officials at the fair declined to comment on the controversy, referring questions to the Department of Agriculture. “While every artist has a right to expression, we believe this decision is in the best interest of serving all the people of our state,” said the department’s spokeswoman Krista Lisser in a statement. But Pritzker’s decision did not sit well with some southern Illinois lawmakers, including Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, who vented her frustration on Facebook. “I'm a firm believer in the government censoring as little speech as possible,” Bryant posted July 6. “I am a firm believer in First Amendment Rights. But, if these arbitrary 'politically correct' lines are going to be drawn for certain acts, then I would like to know from the administration where this starts and where it stops.” Bryant went on to point out that the Illinois State Fair in Springfield this year will feature the rap artist Snoop Dogg, whose 2017 EP, “Make America Crip Again,” features an image on its cover depicting a dead President Donald Trump with an American flag draped over the body. “If that doesn't offend the average person, I don't know what does,” Bryant wrote. The Du Quoin State Fair began in 1923 as a private venture started by local businessmen who hoped it would become the region’s equivalent of the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. From 1957 through 1980, it hosted the Hambletonian Stakes, the first race in the Triple Crown of harness racing. With the loss of that event, the fair ran into financial challenges and in 1986 it was taken over by the state. This year’s fair is scheduled to run Aug. 23 – Sept. 2. The Illinois State Fair in Springfield’s schedule is Aug. 8 – 18. By Peter Hancock  Reprinted with permission of The Shelbyville Daily Union

Unless you grew up in Du Quoin, you probably don't fully understand how much the Du Quoin State Fair is part of the life of this city -- and one of the most exciting happenings each year that still includes harness racing. Those of us who have lived in Du Quoin for more than 80 years remember well how years ago the carnival arrived by rail, unloading at night while most of Du Quoin was asleep. Tractors would pull the huge rides and wagons through Du Quoin's Main Street, down Rt. 51 and onto the fairgrounds, which until 1945 were just inside the main gate and adjacent to the half-mile track. The huge trucks still arrive at night, with a relatively small group of workers who assemble the rides. They must pass safety inspections prior to the fair's opening, which this year is Friday, Aug. 25. Action gets underway long before that. Tents for the exhibitors, concessionaires and free attractions are the first to be erected. Even that is exciting to many of Du Quoin's old-timers who drive through the grounds in the evenings to check out the annual invasion. One has to be in his or her 70s to remember the fairs prior to the July 18, 1945, fire that destroyed the 3,000-seat grandstand alongside the half-mile track. (Excuse the side note, but Virgil Bishop, the Du Quoin Evening Call's superb news editor, had taken a rare vacation day and I, at age 16, was subbing for him. I had never written a news story in my life, let alone the biggest story of the year. It wasn't good, but Mr. L.S. Smith was understanding). The all-wooden grandstand had been built in 1923 when more than a dozen Du Quoin businessmen, including W.R. Hayes, pooled their money to start the Fair. Hayes bought them out two years later and took over sole management of the Fair along with other family members, primarily sons Gene and Don and grandson Bill. The fire was a true disaster, but plans were already in the works to "move" the Fair several blocks east to its present location. The Hayes family had bought more than a thousand acres to go with the initial 30-acre plot. A mile track was already completed. The foundation of the new grandstand was in place. An army of workers managed to complete enough of the present structure to hold the 1945 Fair on schedule. The orchestra seating area was not in place, but there was enough to get the job done. It was an amazing accomplishment. A few years earlier in the early 1940s, the Illinois State Fair at Springfield had been shuttered and converted into a military facility. That, too, was important for Du Quoin as the Grand Circuit (harness racing's governing group) already had dates for Springfield. Learning of the closure, they merely shifted to Du Quoin where they had never previously raced. It was a major happening, and the horsemen were impressed with the facilities and hospitality offered them by the Hayes group. They voted to add Du Quoin to their annual schedule after Springfield reopened. And, when a Hayes-owned horse -- Lusty Song -- won the 1950 Hambletonian (held in Goshen, New York), it solidified the Hayes family with the upper crust of the sport. That led to the Hambletonian Society shifting its number 1 event to southern Illinois in 1957 -- the break the Hayeses needed. Much of the rest is history. The Hambletonian thrived in Du Quoin for 24 years until Bill Hayes sold to the Jabr family, who were unable to get a contract renewal. Observers feel that was the beginning of more problems. True, perhaps, as far as harness racing was concerned, but not as far as the Fair itself. The Fair acquired a "replacement" race, the World Trotting Derby -- which was the poor man's Hambletonian. Motorized racing was still a meaningful draw although not to the extent it had been earlier when A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti and the like drew sellout crowds. Under state of Illinois ownership and leadership, Fair exhibits increased. More free attractions were added, including rodeos and thrill shows. The Fair remains southern Illinois' overall top attraction. Already recognized for attracting national entertainment, the Fair's grandstand crowds got even larger after Don Hayes, W.R.'s younger son, began booking country music artists. Don had taken over entertainment after Gene Hayes' unexpected death in 1964. The country music caught on, and Nashville types have been popular ever since. Of course, it wasn't totally country. Liberace was a big hit in the 1970s. Sonny and Cher, Perry Como, Lawrence Welk, Wayne Newton, Liza Minella and dozens of others followed and attracted profitable crowds. The Fair is Du Quoin's claim to fame ... even without the Hambletonian. There are so many other happenings. Other points of interest. Other meaningful features for citizens to be proud of, and thankful for. Fortunately, thousands and thousands of others in Southern Illinois share the good times with us. The fair is our biggest single spectator attraction, and all because W.R. Hayes and a handful of his buddies had an idea. By Fred Huff Special to the Du Quoin Call Reprinted with permission of The Randolph County Herald Tribune  

DU QUOIN, Ill. — Tibretta Reiman may be the new assistant manager for the Du Quoin State Fair, but this local gal comes into this new position with deep roots and generations of family tradition. Hailing from Pinckneyville, Reiman and her family have been showing its locally renowned Bigham Jerseys since the first fairs. She also worked as a regional tourism specialist before accepting an appointment this spring to coordinate the Du Quoin fair on behalf of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. While she prefers to explain her role as “local boots on the ground” for new Illinois State Fair Manager Kevin Gordon, Reiman has been orchestrating an administratively reorganized fair that’s now a partner with the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. Here’s what she’s been working on. What are the biggest changes this year? There are many of them, but they are mostly behind the scenes. We are trying to honor the past while looking to the future. Everything takes money, and everyone has worked hard to bring in more money in sponsorships and vendors, which we’ve been very successful with. We’ve had to look to other avenues and outside of the box. There’s been more work on tourism surrounding the fair. Another change is the partnership with the Springfield fair. The staffs have been working together, and we’re sharing some of the entertainment. Du Quoin used to operate on it own. We’re all family now. Is there more emphasis on agriculture this year? Our theme this is “Producing Our Future,” which relates to future of agriculture and the next generation. We’ve expanded the agricultural experience with displays about farming and explaining where food comes from. We also have a number of schools coming in for field trips. And, of course, we also have the annual livestock shows. We also have Ag Youth Day on Monday (Aug. 29). That’s when we have the FFA Farm Yard Follies. Where will you spend most of your time during the fair? I’ll be behind the scenes, making sure all of ticketing, back stage and security is all moving in the right direction. The key is ensuring everyone has a good time from start to finish. What’s your earliest memory of this fair? It definitely was showing cows when I was 3 or 4 years old. My family has been showing cattle here all along. My son has done the same thing. He was pictured showing his cow on the cover of the 2008 fair guide. What are the best tips for families? We’ve always had free entertainment, but there’s even more this year. It’s all listed in our fair schedule. We also have reasonable pricing for carnival rides. There’s a pay-one-price ride special for $18 at Krogers. The wristband allows unlimited carnival rides for one day. A lot of people also don’t know that they can rent strollers, wagons, wheelchairs, powered scooters and golf carts. The fair business is loud, fast and comes with many moving pieces. Where on the fairgrounds do you go for a quiet moment? Lately, I’ve been coming out to the Grandstand. I enjoy sitting there and looking out over the infield and thinking about how little it has changed in all these years. I also like go out to the lake by the cow barns. What are your must-have fair foods? The first thing I get is a Paulette’s corn dog. I also love the Gyro King gyros. There’s a Philly cheese taco, the catfish nuggets at T Street Pub and Joanie’s cinnamon rolls.   Founder’s legacy marches on When the ribbon is cut on Aug. 26 and the Twilight Parade steps through the Main Gate, a new chapter starts for the Du Quoin State Fair. Presenting its 94th line-up, the fair opens with new staff, improved business practices, more food and retail vendors and new features, especially for families. Yes, there’s still harness racing, rodeos, auto races, carnival rides, live music, lots of livestock and, like it or not, tents full of politicians. But Assistant Fair Manager Tibretta Reiman hopes revelers catch a comfortable feeling of nostalgia as they stroll the fairgrounds this season. “We have many traditions that have survived the years, and I think that’s why many people come back with their families every year. They came here as kids, and now they’re coming back with their kids and their grandkids,” Reiman said. While attending this fair in Perry County may be a family tradition for many in southern Illinois, the fair has been a milestone in the region’s history since 1923. That’s when William R. Hayes bought an old coal strip mine next to his 30-acre tract and began building the fairgrounds to match the quality of the Illinois State Fair Hayes built a park-like setting that boasted planting of 1,400 trees, a grandstand, barns — the first one still is standing and in use — and a horse track. The result is what some 150,000 people are expected to enjoy this year at the 1,200-acre fair complex with an 18,000-seat grandstand, a track to host horses, race cars and motorcycles, 12 lakes and 30 miles of black-topped roads. In the center of the grounds is the Hayes Mansion, a white-columned house behind a wrought-iron fence that used for special events. Notable events in the fair’s past include the Hambletonian harness race, a renowned competition that has since moved to New York. The fair now runs races with pari-mutuel betting in the grandstand. Hayes was known as an adept businessman and attracted investors to help build a fairgrounds with all the amenities. The fair’s website reported, “He foresaw the event as a prestigious, statewide attraction that ‘would be improved yearly as long as the fair exists.’” The early fairs featured harness and auto racing, a dog show, an auto show and even a “flapper” fashion show. There also was a flying circus with stunt pilots, parachute jumpers and a dirigible from Scott Air Force Base near Belleville. The fair also has notched some firsts: staged the first night horse show under electric lights and the first night stage show starring the Music Box Revue in 1929. In 1970s and 1980s, the fair attracted such headliners as Bob Hope, Sammy Davis Jr., Alabama, Willie Nelson, Jim Nabors and the Bee Gees. Even the likes A.J. Foyt, Tony Bettenhausen and Mario Andretti know the fair. Although Hayes started his business career selling soft drinks from a pushcart, he established a Coca-Cola bottling and distributing plant, a dairy products company and a chain of 19 movie theaters. The fairgrounds has changed hands over the years, with the state of Illinois taking ownership in 1986. Today, Reiman and her staff are busy with final preparations for the next fair, which follows a “Producing Our Future” theme. By Karen Binder Reprinted with permission from AGRINEWS  

Du Quoin, IL - As the county fair and state fair season winds down in Illinois, major harness racing took place over the past two weeks at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield before moving this weekend to the Du Quoin State Fair. Mother Nature tried to put a damper on the racing in Springfield, forcing the cancellation of one card and another to be shifted, but stakes eliminations and finals were able to be contested when the skies were clear. After the completion of elimination races during a hot Friday afternoon on August 12, over five inches of rain fell in a matter of hours in Springfield, forcing the cancellation of the Saturday card on August 13. A couple of dark days included more rain, forcing the postponement of the card on Tuesday, August 16 as that card was moved to the following Thursday. Round the clock work by the Springfield track crew had the surface ready for the finals though on Wednesday, August 16 as the top Illinois-breds took to a fast track. The following were the winners of the Illinois State Fair Championship races: Two-year-old filly trot - Annas Lucky Star Two-year-old colt & gelding trot - Polar B Two-year-old filly pacers - Artemesia Two-year-old colt & gelding pacers - Fox Valley Inferno Three-year-old filly trot - Praise Singer Three-year-old colt & gelding trot - PJ Boy Three-year-old filly pace - Bucklegirl Bobette Three-year-old colt & gelding pace - BS Tyriffic This Saturday and Sunday the Du Quoin State Fair takes place as many of the two and three-year--olds that squared off in Springfield will meet once again. While live wagering is available on-site at the Du Quoin State Fair, races can be viewed online at www.duquoinstatefair.net under the "Entertainment" and "Harness Racing" tab. Post time each day is Noon. Jim Miller  

If you’re headed to the Du Quoin​ State Fair this weekend, you’ll have plenty of sights and sounds and smells vying for your attention. Can I suggest one item you might add to your fair-going experience? A harness race. Before you completely tune out, and click “purchase” on your Randy Houser tickets, let me explain. I’m new to town, so I started hearing about the Du Quoin State Fair a couple weeks ago. The usual carnival-esque suspects came up in conversation. I heard about funnel cakes and frozen lemonade and country concerts and weird magic shows and all those tricky games you play to win the teddy bears. Any talk of harness racing, the thing that’s in the fair’s logo, seemed like a footnote in a history lesson. Personally, it seemed pretty boring. I’ve only been to one harness race in my life and I was only mildly paying attention in between bites of nachos. So when I started writing a story about it, I wasn’t sure where to look. After a couple of days, I got Bill Wright’s phone number. He owns a popular Illinois harness racehorse, and I wanted some background information. And then something weird happened.  I’m not really a horse person or a crying-type person, but after I talked to Bill Wright, I was both. Wright lives in Springfield and has always been a horse guy. I asked him how many horses he owns, and he couldn’t quite keep track. Five or six? Maybe seven? I asked him how much money he makes on harness racing, and he had no interest in offering even a ballpark figure. The numbers weren’t all that important to him. When I asked him about one horse in particular though, the details started spilling out over the phone. And so did the tears. It was all about King Mufasa. He’s a 5-year-old standardbred horse. After some success, everyone expected an East Coast owner to snatch him. But Wright held onto King Mufasa — through the wins and through the worst. Last year, King Mufasa was in a horrible accident and almost died. Wright and his crew didn't know if King Mufasa would survive, much less race ever again.  Sure, I hung up the phone with something to write about for Monday's paper. I had my story. But I also had a reason to care about harness racing, a reason to watch on Saturday.  The "miracle horse" is set to race at the Du Quoin State Fair on Saturday. The harness races start at noon, and King Mufasa is in the seventh race. My advice? Take a seat in the grandstands and see what happens. And pick up Monday's paper or come back to thesouthern.com for more about King Mufasa and the weekend's races. By Amanda Hancock Reprinted with permission of the thesouthern.com site  

With one major Super Night championship on her résumé the year-old ICF mare Party Hangover is looking to add another next Saturday on Illinois’ most anticipated evening of racing at Balmoral Park. Party Hangover, the 2012 Grandma Ann champion for trainer Jesse De Long, had won her first six first pari-mutuel starts after owner-trainer Ken Rucker sent Party Hangover back to Illinois under the care of his wife Catrina and driver Todd Warren before her second place finish last night in her Propes elimination. Dune In Red (1:51.2), given a pocket trip by Dave Magee, overtook Party Hangover in the lane to win the second elimination while defending Propes champion Let’s Go Higher breezed in 1:52 flat in the first split. I asked Catrina to fill me in about Party Hangover. “We bought Party Hangover privately near the end of last year and sent her out East to race,” said Catrina. “She did very well there this year making almost $28,000. But she’s been ever better since she’s been back in Illinois.” In her seven starts ion the Chicago circuit this year Party Hangover has raked in almost $40,000 for the Rucker family. What has made the mare so good in her home state? “In Pennsylvania there was no consistency with drivers,” replied Catrina. “You would get a different driver every week. A couple of times our mare got locked-in with a ton of pace but nowhere to go. You look at those lines it would appear she wasn’t racing well but she was racing great. “Here in Illinois it’s a different type of racing on a different type of track. Party Hangover is a mare that you can race any way you want, on the front or out of a hole. “Todd (Warren) has been great with the mare and he likes her a lot, too. He told us she’s done everything he’s asked her. “We scratched her out her Springfield race when the day of race got moved because of the rain they had down there. We wanted her fit and ready for the Parklane Powerful and she was, coming up with her second new lifetime mark (1:51.2). “We put her in a qualifier last Wednesday to keep her sharp because there wasn’t a race for her last Saturday and we didn’t want to go three weeks in between starts. “Party Hangover is kind of like the barn star right now and she likes being pampered. “A baby can jog her but once you turn her she’s all business on a racetrack. If you train her with another horse she won’t let that horse get past her. She’s just a monster on the track.” As a 3-year-old Party Hangover was an eight-time winner for the De Long stable and put over $161,000 on her card with the bulk of that money coming with consecutive wins in the Springfield and Du Quoin State Fair championships, and triumphs in both her Grandma Ann elimination and its final. Nailing Down Another: Al’s Hammered (Bobby Smolin) uncorked a season fastest 1:49.1 mile last night in his Maurello elimination victory, avenging his recent loss to Fort Silky in the Egyptian stake at Maywood. The win was No. 13 of the season for Al’s Hammered, owned and trained by Bob Phillips, and likely sewed up his role as the morning line favorite for Saturday’s $120,000 Championship. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

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

The harness racing meet at the Du Quoin State Fair wraps up today with a number of ICF championships to be decided on the 11-race card that will get under way at 12 noon. The showcase event is the $40,000 Governor’s Cup for ICF 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings. Springfield champion Thisishowweroll (John De Long) is the 2-1 morning line favorite to capture the 10th race headliner. The Nick Giberson trainee did draw the outside 7-slot. Trainer Erv Miller sends out a pair of major threat in the Governor’s Cup, Lucpark (Dave Magee) and Engine One O One (Casey Leonard). Lucpark has been no worse than fourth in six career starts, winning twice. Engine One O One earned a trip to Du Quoin with an impressive 1:54.4 victory (:27.1 last panel) debuting at Springfield in an Illinois Department of Agriculture event. The Sportsmaster gelding sold for $42,000 as a yearling to Quaid Racing and Paymaq Racing and is a half-bother to King’s Legend (1:51), the runner-up in the 2012 Incredible Finale and Hanover for Team Miller. A pair of overwhelming favorites should be Herman Wheeler’s Fox Valley Qatar in the first $17,000 Darn Safe for ICF freshman males (No Show Wagering) and Megan Roger’s Unlocked in the $22,000 Dudley 3-year-old colt and gelding pace (No Place or Show Wagering). Fox Valley Qatar (1-1, Todd Warren) is unbeaten in five career starts and comes off easy victories in the Plesac and Springfield championships. Unlocked (4-5, Dave Magee) was dominating in both his Incredible Finale (1:50.2) and Springfield (1:49.1) championships. In the latter he motored his last quarter in a sizzling 25.4 seconds. The most intriguing stake race of the afternoon could be in the second Dudley Hanover split with rematch of Captain Greedy (2-1, J D Finn) and Cruisin Valor (5-2, Brian Carpenter), the one-two at Springfield in a division of the Illinois State Fair Colt Stakes. After a second place finish behind Fox Valley Qatar in Balmoral’s mid-June Million Dollar Bye stake Captain Greedy has strung together six consecutive victories. He held off Crusin Valor by a neck at Springfield. The Gerald Hanson Stable’s Cruisin Valor (Brian Carpenter) was much the best in a Hanover, drawing away by five lengths in 2:00.1 for Illinois owners (Sam) Lilly Racing Stables (Downers Grove), Shelley Steele (Monee) and Payton Ode (Joliet). They’ll be challenged by Bulldog Benji (programmed 15-1, Dave Magee), Jake Quaider (9-2, Casey Leonard), Southerncomfortzone (9-2, John De Long), RT Habenero (7-1, Robert Taylor) and Broadway Emotion (25-1, Mike Brink). Also on the line Sunday afternoon are a couple of $8,000 Championships for older ICF pacing mares and pacing horses or geldings. The fifth race distaff stake lines up with Just By Design (9-2, Dave Magee), Springfield champion Dallas Jones (3-1, Casey Leonard), Parkland Powerful victor No Respect (9-5, John De Long); Rev Me Up (7-2, Todd Warren) and Incredible Filly (6-1, Ronnie Gillespie). The ninth race championship brings out Sadies Art (15-1, Tom T. Tetrick), Mystical Walter (6-5, Casey Leonard), Big Daddy Woo Woo (5-2, Dale Hiteman), My Boy Luke (20-1, Dave Magee) and Fancy Creek Elusiv (2-1, Ryan Anderson). There is no Show wagering on either of the older ICF pace championships. 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

The draws are out for this year’s Super Night eliminations and as usual the Orange and Blue colt division has a difficult road to its final. With three elimination divisions a 1, 2 or 3 finish is needed to be guaranteed a start in the $200,000 (est.) Championship. A draw by lot will determine which of the three fourth place finishers advance and which two will race in a $26,400 Super Night Consolation. However, this year the path is easier than it was in 2012 when four elimination divisions in the O & B colt were needed, meaning only the first two finishers were assured of starting in that final. Is Super Night elimination weekend more of a pressure situation for a trainer than the championship night itself? “I think it is, especially when you have a horse in a division where only the top three make it,” replied Springfield based conditioner Dirk Simpson. “It has to be the most nerve-wracking race of the year for a trainer and the owner. “Once a horse makes the final, he’s certain of going for a lot more money than in a consolation and since they pay-out to all 10 finishers on Super Night you can finish off the board in an Orange and Blue final and still make 5 or 6 thousand dollars.” The path for Springfield and Du Quoin State Fair champion P Q Three to add the O & B colt title to his list of first season accomplishments isn’t as bumpy as it could have been. Owned by Obermeier & Quaid Stables of Evergreen Park, IL, PQ Three drew the outside seven-slot in of Saturday’s first race, the softest of the three elimination divisions. I made him 1 to 5 in my line. Unlocked, the chief rival to PQ Three in the ICF 2-year-old division, isn’t eligible for Super Night It’s a much tranquil situation for drivers, trainers and owners in the Orange and Blue Filly division than in the colt. Only two eliminations will be contested Saturday night with the top five finishers in each moving on to that $200,000 final. The Grandma Ann and Pete Langley Memorial also will have just two elimination divisions while the Tony Maurello for older ICF colts and geldings came up with three. Again a third or better finish is necessary to lock-up a start in that $127,000 Championship. The ninth race Maurello elim is particularly strong with defending champion Iam Bonasera (Kyle Wilfong) taking on the streaking A Cool Card (Marcus Miller), winner of both State Fair crowns and the recent Big Tom, among five others The Su Mac Lad and Lady Ann Reed eliminations are on Sunday, along with three divisions of the Lorna Propes for older ICF pacing mares. Marcus Miller will come in to drive both this weekend and on Super Night. The 22-year-old will be behind some of his dad’s horses including a pair of recent State Fair champions, the 2-year-old filly My Little Bit and the 3-year-old distaffer Mystical Danica. “My Little Bit really came around at the State Fairs,” said her trainer Erv Miller. “Hopefully she’ll hold her form through Super Night. The filly had been lazy and didn’t care about her work. We had to keep working with her for her to learn to be a race horse.” My Little Bit landed the pole position in Saturday’s 11th race O&B Filly elimination where she meets Loyal Opposition victor Thesleazyprincess (Mike Oosting) and eight other freshman fillies. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

The I.H.H.A. honored the top driver, trainer, owner and breeder of our County Fair circuit last Sunday, closing day of harness racing at the Du Quoin State Fair. The leading driver trophy was presented to Ronnie Gillespie who brought home 48 winners on the fair circuit, two more than his fellow Mississippian Freddie Patton Jr. last year’s champion. Patton did successfully defend his county fair circuit leading trainer title by conditioning 42 winners, far and away the best. John D Finn was second with 27. The leading owner and leading breeder awards both went to Flacco Family Farms of Alexis, Illinois. Dr. Richard Flacco and his wife Arlene accepted the awards in Du Quoin’s “Victory Lane.” The Flacco Family were the owners 23 victorious horses on this summer’s fair circuit and bred the winners of 39 races. Mary Jeffers and Fox Valley Standardbreds each had 32. Big Numbers for Casey:  With four months of racing still left for 2013 Casey Leonard has already surpassed his best year for winning drives by 33 and his best season for money won by over $200,000. Going into Wednesday’s Balmoral program Casey has 268 dash winners in 2013. His previous highest was 238 in 2011 and that was with 250 more drives than his current 1616 for this season. Horses Casey has driven have earned $1,825,302 this far this year. The 35-year-old’s previous best was $1,620,445 last year when he had 444 more opportunities than he has had thus far in 2013. Herculean Effort Not Needed:   Celebrity Hercules was written out of this week’s Wednesday feature when instead of another “Winner’s Over” event the headliner for trotters is for non-winners of $10,500 in earnings in their last five starts. Homer Hochstetler’s Evil Urges (p.p. 3, Dave Magee) was installed as the 3-1 first flash favorite in the ninth race feature after he was second best to Celebrity Hercules by ¾’s of a length. Brad Moffit’s New Zion (p.p. 6, Ridge Warren), a six-time season winner, is next at 4-1, with the Erv Miller Stable’s Nonverbal Hanover (p.p. 8, Casey Leonard) at 5-1. While the latter was beaten by more than 7 lengths last week, the Yankee Guide gelding did trot a :27.4 last quarter when he rallied from ninth to third in the lane. Mischievous Jesse (8-1), Classy Chassy (10-1), Big Sky Revenue (10-1), KK’s Bandit (8-1), New Zion (4-1), Ants Iner Pants (8-1), Squonk (12-1), and Itz Alive (15-1) complete the trotting feature. 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

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 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

Brenda Watson has served on the Illinois Harness Horseman's Association (IHHA) for 13 years and for 13 years she has been lobbying to get slots installed at the State's two major harness racing tracks - Balmoral Park and Maywood Park.

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