Day At The Track
Search Results
1 to 16 of 1581
1 2 3 4 5 Next »

The land on which Maywood Park stood for nearly 70 years has lay dormant since the legendary harness racing track closed in 2015. But that’s starting to change in a big way. Last December, the Melrose Park Village Board passed an agreement to annex the roughly 60-acre site—located at 8600 W. North Ave. in unincorporated Cook County and previously under the control of the Cook County Board of Commissioners.   Maywood Park, home to the legendary Maywood Race Track for nearly 70 years, undergoes demolition. Demolition of the abandoned structures and cleanup of the site is under way. “There’s still some things they have to work at, but the deal’s done; the demolition is started,” said Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico, who’s been mayor since 1997. “This town has been around since 1882 and there’s not a lot of land (for development). It’s not like being in Aurora or Naperville where you expand through another farm. Once in a while (here) you pick up a lot (referring to an open lot) and someone might build a building. This is the biggest parcel that’s been available by far since I’ve been doing this for 22 years. Any communities around here, nobody’s got a piece (of land) this big.” Once demolition and cleanup—scheduled to continue into April and May—is completed, the village plans to build three industrial buildings on the property, as well as retail outlets along North Avenue. According to an overview provided by Chicago-based Cushman & Wakefield, the industrial buildings are 236,000, 252,000 and 135,000 square feet, respectively. Construction on Building 1 is projected to begin in May, with construction on Buildings 2 and 3 sometime in May and June. The first building is projected to be completed by September or October, and the other two buildings finished by November and December. “These are precast buildings, so they get the underground stuff (completed) and one day you see a whole building up,” Serpico said. “November and December, they’re hoping to have buildings two and three complete so the projection by the end of the year is to hopefully have these buildings done.” Serpico noted that the old Maywood Park barns used to abut several houses in the Winston Park subdivision, but that won’t be the case with the new industrial buildings. Winston Park subdivision sits adjacent Maywood Park, which housed the Maywood harness racing track for nearly 70 years, currently under demolition to make way for retail outlet. “They will be set back from the houses 60, 70, 80 feet,” he said, “so instead of having (residents) looking at the back of a barn, there will be more berms so that if any trucks come in, they’re not going to be coming down 5th Avenue towards the residences. They’ll have to end where the industrial buildings are. “The actual docks are going to face north. People will not see backs of trucks or anything. They’ll have at least berms to look at that will give them 70 feet or so away from their houses as opposed now to 7 inches.” The projected timetable for the retail outlets to be constructed, according to the Cushman & Wakefield overview, is as follows: May-June, 2019—Sites prepared for construction; September-October 2019—Vacant sites delivered to tenants; February 2020—Shell buildings completed (exterior); May-June 2020—Interior build-outs finished, and parking lots and landscaping completed; July-August 2020—Businesses open. “It appears as though the way all the buildings are going to be shaped, it’s not going to be one long building,” Serpico said of the retail buildings. “There might be smaller mini structures.” Serpico said exactly what types of retailers will occupy those buildings remains to be seen. Tenants of the buildings will be announced at a future date when contracts are finalized. “My guess is that it’s going to be a little more food oriented in the front (of the development where the retail outlets will be located),” he said, “but that remains to be seen.” Serpico pointed out that the future tenants of the industrial and retail buildings in this new development will not be getting any TIF (or Tax Increment Financing) money. Melrose Park will, of course, be receiving property and sales tax revenue from this development. “We’re going from not getting any revenue there (now) so we’ll get 100 percent of that,” he said. “By having the site in Melrose Park, of course it’s going to increase real estate tax revenue. The schools would have already been in our district. Also, we would be able to basically control what would be on the site because it would have to come to us for approval as opposed to going to the Cook County government for approval. Cook County government is not really excited about unincorporated areas, generally speaking.” According to the village, the project will create around 400 construction jobs and as many as 700 permanent jobs. Reprinted with permission of the West Suburban Journal

STICKNEY, IL - Last Friday, Hawthorne Race Course, along with the Chicago Blackhawks and hockey legend Eddie Olczyk, hosted a VIP party at Hawthorne. A United States Hockey Hall of Famer, Olczyk is known worldwide for his years on the ice, and currently as the color analyst for NBC for the NHL. While hockey is Olczyk's first passion, horse racing isn't too far behind. A winner of multiple handicapping contests, Olczyk has owned numerous thoroughbreds but is now trying his hand in Standardbred ownership as well. The Friday event at Hawthorne hosted 150 VIP winners through the Chicago Blackhawks who were on site for a day of wagering, along with a chance to win their share of a Standardbred horse. The horse, two-year-old Illinois-bred filly Olympic Hopeful, will be racing at Hawthorne this summer for trainer Angie Coleman. Olympic Hopeful is offered through, a fractional ownership group based in Canada and run by Anthony MacDonald. At the Friday event, five winners each won a 4% share of Olympic Hopeful for the racing season. They are Natalie Cozzi, Christine Koeller, Eddie Rivera, Chris Sroka, and Brian Vlaisavich. They will join Olczyk as he has ownership of the filly as well. "Fractional ownership is one of racing's fastest ways to introduce new owners to racing at a minimal cost," stated Hawthorne Assistant General Manager John Walsh. "What Anthony MacDonald has done through is grow interest exponentially in harness racing, with numerous stakes-caliber horses racing across North America. To team up with, Eddie Olczyk, and Hawthorne Race Course in our Own a Horse promotion is just a perfect fit for all involved." Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago's Hometown Track, returned for spring thoroughbred racing on Friday, March 15. The summer harness meet opens on Friday, May 5 and races through September 24. Fall thoroughbreds close out the year, running from October 10 through December 28. For more information, visit or contact Hawthorne at 708-780-3700.   Jim Miller

Nearly two decades ago, visitors to the McHenry County Fair could enjoy shows and entertainment from the comfort of a large, covered grandstand. The structure stood where the Jewel food store now stands, overlooking a harness racing track. But the sale of about 20 acres of land leased to the fairgrounds in the late ’90s resulted in the dismantling and storage of the structure with hopes of one day resurrecting it in a new location. That day has come. With about 85 percent of the project completed, April 1 is the projected completion date of the rebuilding of the fairgrounds grandstands. The project is the culmination of several years of planning, budgeting, and saving by the McHenry County Fair Board. The fully covered grandstand will seat about 3,400 spectators, including 40 handicapped-accessible seats. A ramped entrance will provide access for all seating areas. The seats will be numbered, so tickets can be sold for assigned seats. “It will be much nicer for our patrons,” fair board President Ken Bauman said. The roofed structure will offer protection from the elements and the assigned seats that provide the freedom to get up and return during a show. Back in the day, the fair hosted big name entertainers such as Three Dog Night. The hope is that the new structure will again allow the fair to attract the bigger acts that require a larger venue. The entertainment lineup for 2019 will be announced in early April. “I’d like to thank everyone who helped and braved the elements to get this done,” Bauman said. More to come Visitors to the fair this season can expect to find an expanded midway with attractions spreading out across the creek to the west of the grandstands. New on-site horse stabling will showcase McHenry County’s large equine population and accommodate more activities in the horse arena. Other improvements the board is looking at include a permanent washroom facility and lighting in the parking lot. “Our goal is to make this the best fair ever,” said fair board member Frank Kearns. The McHenry County Fair is currently ranked as the second largest 4-H livestock fair in the state of Illinois, due in large part to the improvements made in recent years to the swine, sheep, and beef barns. “We are hoping people will see we are trying to make it the best,” said Kearns. by Sandy Kucharski Reprinted with permission of The Woodstock Independent

HINSDALE--As Gov. JB Pritzker takes the helm in Illinois, horsemen throughout the state, are urging his administration to include harness racing and its enormous contribution to the agribusiness industry when they explore new avenues to expand gaming.   "With more than $1 billion in contributions to the agribusiness economy of our state, horse racing must be included in any conversations about gaming," said Tony Somone, Executive Director of the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association (IHHA). "Ours is the only segment of the gaming industry that has significant room to grow and provide real and sustainable jobs in agriculture."   Former Governor Jim Edgar who is a part of Governor Pritzker's transition team is aware of the economic impact that horse racing can have in Illinois having raced his own horses for many years. "Horse racing and the thousands of jobs it creates remains an important part of the agricultural economy of our state," former Governor Edgar said. "Ensuring its viability in the overall gaming environment is in the best interests of the state of Illinois."   Studies show that every race horse employs as many as ten workers across Illinois. From grooms and trainers to breeding farms, grain dealers, veterinarians, track officials and many more, horse racing is a solid job creator that has been badly neglected in Illinois in recent years.   "It is true that horse racing is struggling in Illinois because of casinos, but we know that with additional gaming assistance, other states have seen their horse racing industry rebound to previous heights of employment and business," said Marty Engel, President of the IHHA. "We earnestly hope that Gov. Pritzker sees fit to include horse racing in any gaming legislation that emerges in the months ahead. We are one segment of gaming that will more than pay its way through the creation of new and sustainable jobs throughout our economy."   In the last decade, legislation in Illinois has allowed the development of slot machines at taverns and the construction and opening of the 10th casino in Des Plaines. Illinois horsemen have survived despite all of those changes but not without losing thousands of good agribusiness jobs to places like Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and virtually every other horse racing state that has actively worked to grow the sport.   Engel added, "Make no mistake; horsemen will come back to Illinois to race if the prizes or purses are competitive with other states. And they will bring jobs with them. We have seen it happen throughout the country in states that have boosted their purses with money from slot machines. Those states now offer purses much larger than Illinois and their horse racing industries are booming as a result, adding tens of thousands of jobs." ###   Mack Communications 540 W. 35th St. Suite 201 Chicago, IL 60616 312-940-3638      

STICKNEY, IL - Sunday night at Hawthorne capped a week of leg three races for the harness racing Night of Champions series as trotters were featured in the Erwin F. Dygert and Beulah Dygert Memorial Trots. The Erwin F. Dygert Memorial Trot is for Illinois-bred three-year-old colt and gelding trotters while the Beulah Dygert is for Illinois-bred three-year-old filly trotters. Race five was the third leg of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial as a field of eight lined up behind the starting car. Sent away as the 6-5 favorite was Majistic Caprice with Mike Oosting driving. Making the early lead was Don't Be Cheeky as Brandon Bates guided him through the quarter in :29.3. Moving to take over on the backside was the favorite as Majistic Caprice passed the half in :59.3. Chased into the turn by Don't Be Cheeky, Majistic Caprice passed three quarters in 1:28.1 as the pair opened up daylight on the rest of the field. In the stretch, Don't Be Cheeky tipped out to go after the leader and came up just short, missing by a next to the favorite. Big Lou closed to finish third. The final time for the mile was 1:57.2. Majistic Caprice is owned by D & J Racing Stables along with trainer Roshun Trigg. Race eight was the third leg of the Beulah Dygert Memorial as a full field of eleven lined up. The 7-5 favorite at off time was Good Design with Kyle Wilfong driving. Leaving for the lead was White Pants Fever as she passed the quarter in :29.1. On the backside, Trotting Grace moved to challenge while Lous Silver Star made a three-wide rush to take over. Passing the half in :59.0, Lous Silver Star led the field into the far turn as favored Good Design began to move. After three quarters in 1:29.0, Lous Silver Star and Good Design were side by side into the lane with White Pants Fever coming back along the inside. Mid-stretch, Good Design broke stride as New Queen ranged up in the center of the stretch and closed quickest of all for the win for driver Juan Franco. Maui Mama followed New Queen for second while Shadow Copy rallied late to finish third. The final time for the mile was 1:58.2. New Queen is owned by Peter Kleinhans and trained by Kim Roth. Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago's Hometown Track, continues the summer harness season through September 24. Fall thoroughbreds close out the year, running from October 5 through December 29. For more information, visit or contact Hawthorne at 708-780-3700. Jim Miller

Stickney, IL - On a snowy Sunday evening at Hawthorne Race Course, one of the rarest events in harness racing occurred as a triple dead heat for victory took place. In the tenth race on the card, Picky Picky Valor, Keep the Cash, and Skyway Jaylo all hit the wire together in the Open trot. The oddity was actually the second dead heat in the course of the late pick four sequence on Sunday. Mighty Hot Shot and Bestnotlie Hanover were together at the line in the eighth race on the Sunday card. The entire field for the tenth was bunched at the wire as only two lengths separated the trio that won the race to the last place finisher in the field. Drivers Casey Leonard (Picky Picky Valor), Keith Crawford (Keep The Cash), and Larry Lee Smith (Skyway Jaylo) came together in the winner's circle for the unlikely win photo. The winter harness meet at Hawthorne continues through February 19. Thoroughbred racing resumes at the end of March and continues through April. Summer harness action takes place May through September. Fall thoroughbreds close out the year October through December. For more information, visit Jim Miller

The USTA District Five Harness Racing Awards Banquet will be held on Saturday (Jan. 20) at Poe’s Catering on the Hill in Springfield, Ill. If you have questions regarding the banquet or would like to purchase tickets, please contact Tina Schrock at 217.416.0006 by Monday (Jan. 15). The following awards will be given out at the banquet: 2017 Illinois Horse of the Year Fox Valley Gemini 2017 Divisional Champions 2-Year-Old Colt Pace-Fox Valley Gemini 2-Year-Old Filly Pace-Fox Valley Jazzy 3-Year-Old Colt Pace-Captain Rhett 3-Year-Old Filly Pace-Fancy Creek Jolene Aged Horse Pace-Evergreen Elite Aged Mare Pace-Bucklegirl Bobette Pacing Sire-Yankee Skyscaper Pacing Broodmare-She’s Redhot 2-Year-Old Colt Trot-Vic’s Pizza 2-Year-Old Filly Trot-Maui Mama 3-Year-Old Colt Trot-Louscipher 3-Year-Old Filly Trot-Anna’s Lucky Star Aged Horse Trot-Tricky Nick Aged Mare Trot-Ants Iner Pants Trotting Sire-Cassis Trotting Broodmare-Yankee Victory OM 2017 County Fair Point Winners 2-Year-Old Colt Pace-Mr It Aint Fair 2-Year-Old Filly Pace-Ryans Mistress 3-Year-Old Colt Pace-Sirius Speedway 3-Year-Old Filly Pace-Prettyfaceuglyways 2-Year-Old Colt Trot-Majistic Caprice 2-Year-Old Filly Trot-Drinks On Betsy 3-Year-Old Colt Trot-Lougazi 3-Year-Old Filly Trot-Lous Game N Match Mid-Western Illinois Racing Association Point Winners 2-Year-Old Colt Pace-Who Deen E 2-Year-Old Filly Pace-Skeeter Machine 3-Year-Old Colt Pace-Decorated Dune 3-Year-Old Filly Pace-Prettyfaceuglyways 2-Year-Old Colt Trot-Krispy K 2-Year-Old Filly Trot-Drinks On Betsy 3-Year-Old Colt Trot-Photo Phred 3-Year-Old Filly Trot-Lous Game N Match Stallion Stakes Awards 2-Year-Old Colt Pace-Corner Blitz 2-Year-Old Filly Pace-Richess Hanover, Yankee Skyscaper 2-Year-Old Colt Trot-Cassis, Malabar Aqua 2-Year-Old Filly Trot-Cassis, Pizzazzed

“Baby its cold outside” as the song goes. Nothing could be any truer than those lyrics here in Chicago but the harness racing action will be heating things up starting on Friday, Jan 5th at Hawthorne Race Course. Despite a stretch of record breaking cold in which temperatures have struggled to get into the single digits during daylight hours a track crew of more than 100 has worked tirelessly to move over 11,000 tons of sand, level everything to perfection and remove the safety rail to have things ready for the Friday opener which will get underway at 7:05 pm. The upcoming winter meet will consist of 27 nights of racing with the opening two weeks going on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday schedule. After that racing will be conducted on a Thursday through Sunday schedule through Feb. 18th.  A special Monday night of racing will be presented on Presidents Day, Feb. 19th to close out the winter proceedings. There will be no live racing on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 4th but the trotters and pacers will be in action on Monday, Feb. 5th instead. There will be a variety of giveaways and contests during the winter meet starting with a well-timed Knit Hat giveaway on Saturday, Jan.6th. The popular Hawthorne Gold Cup Dining Room will open every Friday and Saturday at 6pm for those wishing to enjoy a great meal while viewing the races from a comfortable climate controlled seat right on the finish line. Fan friendly Friday’s also return with a $500 cash back giveaway plus food and drink specials. On the track the driving colony will be as strong as ever with last year’s top reinsmen Casey Leonard and Mike Oosting leading the way. They will be joined by the likes of past regulars like Todd Warren and Sam Widger, who are both returning from Hoosier Park as well as newcomer Brandon Bates who enjoyed his biggest year to date in 2017 while campaigning at Hoosier.  Ryan Anderson begins the meet just 3 visits to the winner’s circle away from reaching the prestigious 3,000 win mark in his career. The racing action should be very competitive as well with three claiming series attracting horses from various tracks throughout the U.S. and 11 different “conditioned” series drawing both state-bred and open pacers and trotters from throughout the Midwest. Once again post time each night during the winter meet will be at 7:05 pm. For a complete 2018 racing schedule or any other information please visit Tom Kelley

Racing Secretary Robin Schadt would like to remind all harness racing horsemen wishing to enter the upcoming Winter Claiming Series for $6,000 & $10,000 claimers of both sexes that nomination payments must be postmarked no later than Monday, Dec. 18th. Entry fees for these series are $200 & $300 respectively and the opening legs are scheduled to begin on opening night, Jan. 5th. Horsemen are also reminded that the opening weekends (Jan 5-6-7) condition sheets are currently posted at All horsemen wishing to compete at Hawthorne Race Course must submit a stall application before entering whether stabling at Hawthorne or shipping in. Entry forms, stall applications and schedules for the upcoming winter meet can be found at The Illinois Racing Boards license office at Hawthorne will also be open exclusively for Standardbred licenses on Dec. 20-21 and Dec. 27-28 from 9am to 3pm (central). Please remember all payments must be made by check. Please take advantage of these early dates to avoid the long lines on opening weekend.  All nomination payments should be made payable to Suburban Downs Inc. and sent to: Hawthorne Race Course Att. Horseman’s Bookkeeper 3501 S. Laramie Avenue Cicero, IL 60804  

Racing Secretary Robin Schadt would like to remind all horsemen wishing to enter the upcoming Winter Late Closing events being offered, that nomination payments must be postmarked no later than Dec. 1st. The fee for all of the winter meets late closers is $200. Horsemen are also reminded that a Claiming Series for $6,000 & $10,000 claimers of both sexes will also be offered to kick off the meet. Nomination payments for these series are $200 & $300 respectively and must be postmarked no later than Dec. 18th.    All horsemen wishing to compete at Hawthorne Race Course should submit a stall application immediately whether planning to stay on the grounds or ship in. Stall applications, entry forms, and schedules for all the late closing series can be found at All payments should be made payable to Suburban Downs Inc. and sent to: Hawthorne Race Course Att. Horseman’s Bookkeeper 3501 S. Laramie Avenue Cicero, IL 60804 (708) 780-3700 Tom Kelley  

STICKNEY, IL - On Saturday evening at Hawthorne over $1.4 million in purses was awarded to the top Illinois-bred trotters and pacers at Hawthorne's harness racing "Night of Champions". While 11 stakes champs were crowned on the 12-race Hawthorne card, a pair of juveniles stole the show. A recap of the entire Night of Champions card: First race - Open Pace Favored Granite took the lead going into the first turn and led most of the way through fractions of :27, :56.1. 1:24. He was tackled at the three-quarter pole by A Bettor's Risk but was able to put that rival away. He was able to draw away from the field at that point but started to tire a bit and they got to him late. Driver Casey Leonard had Terry Lee Leonard and Christopher J Schick's Trashytonguetalker (Art's Chip), trained by Terry Leonard, with dead aim on that early leader. They flew by late to earn a length and a quarter victory over OK Heavenly. It was another length and a half back to Takeadiveoffdipper. THE KADABRA CHAMPIONSHIP Kevin E. Miller's Illinimight (Cassis), under a masterful drive by Tony Morgan, scored the victory in the Kadabra Championship. When leader True Detective broke stride, Morgan sent his gelding through a hole and got to the rail. They took the lead and were able to withstand the strong stretch move of Cruzen Cassi, holding on to win by a half length. Mike Brink, the leading trainer of the meet, had this to say, "This colt has gotten better every time we raced him in the last five or six starts. I kept saying that is they made any mistakes, he would beat them. That's what happened on the last two starts. He's a nice colt. I called Tony Morgan and talked to him. Racing for this kind of money, I want Tony Morgan." They covered the mile in 2:00.1 after fractions of 30.1, 1:00.2, and 1:30.3. Illlinimight paid $6.60, $3.40 $3.00 Cruzen Cassi got up for second and returned $2.80 and $2.20 Fox Valley Strpwr, who originally finished fifth, was moved up to third after a double disqualification, and returned $4.40 to show.  Illinimight earned $51,750, boosting his earnings to $78,830. THE FOX VALLEY FLAN CHAMPIONSHIP In the fastest mile ever by a two-year-old filly trotter at Hawthorne, Mr. Lynn G Wilfong's Good Design (Designer Lindy), trained by Brett Wilfong driven by Kyle Wilfong, overcame a wide trip to win by a half-length over Trotting Grace. It was another four lengths back to favorite Maui Mama. Lynn Wilfong, "It is wonderful. We had a stroke of luck a week ago. I saw a friend of mine that was racing up here and I asked him to go over and check her out. He did and he told me that he thought he found something. And I think he did. "And Kyle took his advice and worked on her all week, 10 times a day. Things were much better tonight." "Brett told me before she even left the yearling pen that she was something special." "When you win from the nine hole at Hawthorne, you know you did something. " Brett Wilfong, "We said from day one that this filly showed so much natural talent but she's got a tendency to explode if things don't materialize right. I thought Kyle drove her tonight and the filly focused tonight." Good Design paid $14.00, $8.60, $3.60 Trotting Grace returned $5.00, $2.80 Maui Mama returned $2.10 They covered the mile in 1:58 after fractions of :28.4, :58.4 and 1:29.1 She earned $60,750 for tonight's victory. Her career earnings stand at $94,187 THE INCREDIBLE TILLIE CHAMPIONSHIP Cathy-Finn-Kanitz's Fox Valley Jazzy (Yankee Skyscaper), with Ridge Warren in the bike, extended her win streak to four and earned her eighth victory in 13 starts in Saturday's Incredible Tillie. Trainer Dale Kanitz was proud of the accomplishment. "She's a really nice filly. I have to give a lot of credit to a friend, Gary Brown. He originally saw this horse, got her trained up and brought her up here. I looked at her, I liked her, and I offered some money for her. We came to an agreement. I only made a few changes. She's a wonderful horse to work with. Ridge (Warren) has been fantastic. He drove her in her last six or seven races and did a fantastic job. My vet, Cabe McMurry, helps us out a lot. He kept her healthy and sound." Racing in second early, she moved up to wrestle the lead from The New Americana in the stretch and held Rollin Coal safe in the final sixteenth. Fox Valley Jazzy won by a length and a quarter over Rollin Coal. It was another length and a half back to Allbeastnobeauty. Odds-on favorite, The New Americana, faded to fourth after leading for the first half. Fox Valley Jazzy paid $6.40, $4.00 and $3.20 Rollin Coal returned $6.60 and $6.00 Allbeastnobeauty paid $4.20 to show They got the mile in 1:54.3 after fractions of :28.2, :56.4, and 1:26.1, Fox Valley Jazzy finished only a one tick off the track record for two-year-old filly pacers. Fox Valley Jazzy's share of the purse, $78,750, boosted her career earnings to $130,265. THE BEULAH DYGERT MEMORIAL TROT CHAMPIONSHIP Annas Lucky Star (Cassis), owned by Danny S Graham and trained by Terry Winemiller, scored her eighth straight victory and her ninth from 11 races this year. She also went six for six as a two-year-old and was named two-year-old champion filly Illinois trotter. Annas Lucky Star took the lead at the start and set brisk fractions of :28.3, :58.4, 1:27.3 and got the mile in 1:56. She was never seriously challenged and finished two and three-quarter lengths over runner-up Beatrice. It was another two lengths and three-quarters back to Lous Credit Report. Driver Kyle Wilfong, "She's fast. I guess she has a couple of races coming up at Hoosier Park. We're looking forward to going down there and seeing what she really is. I looked back and saw Beatrice coming but we just grinded it out. It was all good." Annas Lucky Star paid $2.40, $2.20 and $2.10 Beatrice returned $5.60 and $3.60 Lous Credit Report paid $2.10 ERWIN F. DYGERT MEMORIAL TROT Shelley M Steele's Picky Picky Valor (Yankee Valor) had the misfortune of starting from the 10 but some of the horses weren't on the gate at the start and a savvy Mike Oosting sent the gelding and got good position quickly, stalking the pace in third place. When he did tip out, he went right to the lead and never looked back, drawing off to win by three and a quarter length over Muscle Image. Early leader Bands Houdini held on for third. Favored Louscipher was never a factor. Trainer Gerald Hansen was happy. "It was fantastic drive. I was sick when we drew the 10. He's turning into one heck of a trotter. He's our best right now." Picky Picky Valor earned $51,750 and has now earned $102,162 in his career. Picky Picky Valor paid $10.20, $4.20, $3.60 Muscle Image paid $5.60 and $2.10 Bands Houdini $2.10 THE PLEASAC CHAMPIONSHIP Favored Tricky Nick (Band's Gold Chip) left early and was used pretty hard getting to the lead but, once there, never relinquished it, ultimately winning by three and a quarter lengths. Owned by Thomas G Mattingly and trained by Richard Perfido. Tricky Nick set fractions of :28.3, :57.3, 1:17,1 with a final time of 1:55.3. The $27,000 winner's share of the purse increased Tricky Nick's career earnings to $247,014. Driver Jim Pantaleano, "He's a strong horse. My hat goes off to Richie Perfido and Teresa Martino because they put in painstakingly long hours to keep that horse sharp and it obviously paid off tonight. I got stretched out pretty good and I tried to rest Nick through the last turn. He felt good at the head of the stretch and responded when I called on him." Tricky Nick beat Fox Valley Shout by three and a quarter lengths. It was another three and a quarter back to Reit's Kid. Tricky Nick paid $2.60, $2.60 and $2.40 Fox Valley Shout returned $21.60 and $10.20 Reit's Kid paid $5.60 FOX VALLEY GEMINI REMAINS PERFECT IN THE INCREDIBLE FINALE CHAMPIONSHIP Jim Ballinger's Fox Valley Gemini (Yankee Skyscaper), trained by Terry Leonard, stretched his unbeaten streak to nine races. Driver Casey Leonard drove him with extreme confidence. Although they raced wide early, there was more than enough left in the tank to just fly by his rivals late. Fox Valley Gemini ultimately won by three and a half lengths over Backstreet Lawyer with early pacesetter Fox Valley Hijinx another four and three-quarter lengths back. Jim Ballinger, "I brought up a busload of 47 people. I rented the whole bus to bring the hometown up here. He's a terrific horse I've been in the horse business for a long time but I'm never had a horse that is this good, that has dominated things like he has. Casey and Terry (Leonard) had done a terrific job. My son broke him and got him ready to go. What a terrific horse. I think he's the best in Illinois." They got the mile in 1:53.3 after fractions of :28.4, :58.1 and 1:26.3. The winner's share of the purse, $87,750 boosted the career earnings of Fox Valley Gemini to $157,750. Fox Valley Gemini paid $2.20, $2.20, $2.10 Backstreet Lawyer $7.60 and $3:40 Fox Valley Hijinx $2.40 THE ROBERT S MOLARO CHAMPIONSHIP Rick Howles' Gibbs (Sportsmaster), trained by James Eaton, got the perfect stalking trip. Close up throughout, though a little wide, he was able to kind of box in favored Evergreen Elite and got the drop on him. By the time the favorite got out, Gibbs had a clear lead and drew off to a length and three quarters victory. It was three and three quarters back to Evergreen Elite. Kyle Husted, "He was sharp tonight. He had the race last week and I had to move him pretty good around the turn and he ran out of racetrack. Tonight, we were a lot closer. He did everything right. I just fell into place and got an absolute dream trip." Gibbs paid $8.80, $5.40 and $3.00 Crankin' It Up paid $5.00 an $3.20 Evergreen Elite returned $2.20 They went :28.3, :57.2, 1:25.3 with a final time of 1:52.2. With the winner's share of $27,000, Gibbs has now earned $281,661 in his career. THE ROBERT F. CAREY MEMORIAL Longshot Captain Rhett (Duneside Perch), owned by Harvey J. Grieff and Robert K. Verdun, surprised nine opponents in the Robert F. Carey Memorial Championship after doing the same thing to many of the same rivals in the ISFCS back in August. Trainer James Horvath Jr, "He did it really good at Springfield and got roughed up a couple of times after coming back here but Marcus (Miller) drove him really phenomenal tonight. We loved the fast pace. That's what he likes. He just sits there all day long. Once he gets comfortable sitting in a hole, he's fine. A few drivers taught him to relax, especially Tim Curtin and Kyle Husted. He was kind of nervous as a two-year-old and always wanted to leave. You couldn't hold him in a hole. But we re-rigged him and he's fine. He's been taught all season. He's had so many seconds because he's just learning. He figured out at the right time." Captain Rhett beat Fox Valley Inferno by two and three-quarters. It was another three and a quarter back to Slzburgerslzburger. They got the mile in 1:50.3 after fractions of :26.4, :54 and 1:13.1. The winner's share of the purse, $81,000 boosted Captain Rhett's earnings to $127,263. Captain Rhett paid $24.20, $9.20 and $4.60 Fox Valley Inferno paid $4.40 and $3.00 Slzburgerslzburger returned $4.20 to show THE PLUM PEACHY CHAMPIONSHIP San Antonio Rose (Ft Apache Hanover), owned by George W Pollock and D Kay Bartlow and trained by Nick Prather, grabbed the lead on the backstretch and led the rest of the way, opening up a four-length lead in the stretch and able to withstand the dramatic late surge by favored Fox Valley Jolene. She was still a length and a half to the good when they crossed the wire. Third-place finisher, Filly Forty, was another nine and a quarter lengths back. Kyle Husted, "Last year I drove her a couple of times. I drove her in Springfield and she put up a big mile, the same way, right in the front. I just happened to be driving another filly, for Nick actually. This year it worked out that I got to drive her. She's such a big filly that we can't just get her started. She can't start up that quick but she can go big halves like you saw tonight. She had a lot tougher trip this week. But she really dug in." San Antonio Rose paid $6.40, $3.00 and $3.00 Fancy Creek Jolene paid $3.00 and $2.60 Filly Forty paid $16.40 With the winner's share of $74,250, San Antonio Rose has now earned $112,042. Time for the mile was 1:52.1 following fractions of :27, :54.3, and 1:22.4 THE TONY MAURELLO CHAMPIONSHIP Such a great night of racing deserved a great finish and got one in the Tony Maurello Championship. H Walker, R J & C G Walker and R M Klingler's Bucklegirl Bobette (Duneside Perch), trained by Robert Walker, rushed up to take the lead on the backstretch with Fox Valley Charm in close pursuit. Fox Valley Charm made one last valiant effort to overtake her rival but Bucklegirl Bobette dug in and was able to hold off Fox Valley Charm to win by a nose. LK's Nancy Lee finished another length and a quarter back. Kyle Wilfong was in the bike for this mare's third straight win. Bucklegirl Bobette earned $27,600, giving her $116,210 in her career. They got the mile in 1:53.3 after fractions of :28.2, :57.3, 1:26.2. Bucklegirl Bobette paid $7.20, $5.00 and $3.80 Fox Valley Charm returned $5.40 and $3.40 LK's Nancy Lee brought back $4.60 ABOUT HAWTHORNE RACE COURSE Founded in 1891, Hawthorne Race Course is the 4th oldest racetrack in the nation and the oldest sporting venue in Illinois. Located in Stickney, Illinois on the edge of Chicago's city limits, the 126 year old facility hosts thoroughbred racing in March and April and again in October through Dec. Standardbred harness racing is conducted in May through September. The family-owned and operated business has been an innovator in horseracing for more than 100 years and features the nation's most rewarding players program. For additional information: | | @ClubHawthorne. Jim Miller

STICKNEY, IL - Saturday evening at Hawthorne will be the culmination of a great season of harness racing at Hawthorne as the summer harness meet comes to a close this weekend. The best in the state of Illinois will be in the limelight as over $1.4 million in purses will be offered on the Night of Champions card. The 12 race card kicks off at 7:10 PM on Saturday with open pacers and will be followed by 11 stakes finals, all for Illinois-bred horses. A look at the top contenders in each race: Race 2 - $115,000 Kadabra Championship Two-year-old colt and gelding trotters are featured in the Kadabra with a full field of ten. True Detective could be the likely favorite as he has won five of eight races, but has also had issues staying on stride in recent races. Owned by Dr. Patrick Graham and trained by Curt Grummel, he won leg three of this event but went off stride into the lane in leg four. Cruzen Cassi has been consistent, finding the board in nine of 11 races on the year. Owned by James Rine and Charles Doehring, he is trained and will be driven by J D Finn in this final. The sleeper could be Illinimight for trainer and driver Mike Brink. Close in recent races, Illinimight pulled off the upset at 15-1 last week in leg four of the Kadabra. He draws inside for owner Kevin Miller and could repeat that performance. Race 3 - $135,000 Fox Valley Flan Championship Two-year-old filly trotters will line up in the Fox Valley Flan as trainer Mike Brink is back with another top contender. The Brink trainee in the Fox Valley Flan is Maui Mama for owner Bill Wright. Maui Mama has done just about everything right this year, winning seven of eight starts. The meet's leading driver, Casey Leonard gets the call once again in the final. Maui Mama isn't owner Bill Wright's only shot in this race as he also owns a portion of Trotting Grace, along with Mystical Marker Farms LLC and trainer Steve Searle. Trotting Grace has also been very good this year winning five of her nine starts. Race 4 - $175,000 Incredible Tillie Championship Two-year-old filly pacers come together in the Incredible Tillie final as a trio all enter this spot with similar credentials. Drawing the inside is The New Americana for owners Chris Mroz, Dave Falzone, and Jim Molitor and trainer Steve Searle. The New Americana has won six of ten starts on the year, including a victory in leg four of the Incredible Tillie last week. Rollin Coal poses a threat for owner and trainer Hosea Williams as she has found the board in 10 of 11 races this season. Fox Valley Jazzy has won seven of 12 starts in 2017, including defeating The New Americana and Rollin Coal in leg three of the Incredible Tillie. Owned by Cathy Finn-Kanitz and trained by Dale Kanitz, regular driver Ridge Warren will be back in the bike again on Saturday. Race 5 - $120,000 Beulah Dygert Memorial Championship Three-year-old filly trotters are featured in the Beulah Dygert Memorial trot as a star at two has continued her form into her three-year-old season. That filly is Annas Lucky Star for owner Danny Graham and trainer Terry Winemiller. After an undefeated two-year-old season in six starts, Annas Lucky Star has won eight of ten this year. While Annas Lucky Star will be a heavy favorite on Saturday, Lous Game N Match can't be dismissed for what she has accomplished this year. Owned and trained by Steven Renard, Lous Game N Match has won 18 times on the year from 34 starts. Race 6 - $115,000 Erwin F. Dygert Memorial Championship Three-year-old colt and gelding trotters are featured in the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial Trot. Owners Flacco Family Farms LLC and trainer Roshun Trigg send out favorite Louscipher. A winner of 16 of 31 starts on her career, Louscipher enters this final on a four-race win streak, including a lifetime mark of 1:55.1 over this track last week. Casey Leonard drives Louscipher once again in the final. Picky Picky Valor may have the best chance to pull off the upset as he has chased Louscipher home in each of his last three races. Owned by Shelley Steele for trainer Gerald Hansen, Picky Picky Valor defeated Louscipher in Springfield but will have to overcome the outside post draw on Saturday. Race 7 - $60,000 Plesac Championship Aged trotters battle in the Plesac Championship as Tricky Nick leads the way for trainer Richard Perfido. Racing mainly at the Meadows this summer, Tricky Nick came to Hawthorne last week for the Plesac preview and didn't disappoint. Driven by Jim Pantaleano for owner Thomas Mattingly, Tricky Nick was dominant in victory, winning in 1:55.1 over this strip last Saturday. Eight-year-old mare Ants Iner Pants takes on the boys once again as she poses a big threat in this final. Owned by Thomas Wisniewski and trainer Steve Searle, Ants Iner Pants will surpass $300,000 in career earnings in this final. A good second to Tricky Nick last weekend, she draws well in the final and could be poised to pull off the upset. Race 8 - $195,000 Incredible Finale Championship The richest race of the Night of Champions card is for two-year-old colt and gelding pacers in the Incredible Finale final. A dominant force for the juvenile pacers looks to continue his winning ways as Fox Valley Gemini will be a heavy favorite. Owned by Jim Ballinger and trained by Terry Leonard, Fox Valley Gemini enters this final perfect in eight career starts. He has won each leg of this series as regular driver Casey Leonard will be back in the bike. Fox Valley Hijinx draws the rail as he looks to upset for owner David Brigham and driver-trainer Kyle Husted. Fox Valley Hijinx enters this race off a win in the division opposite of Fox Valley Gemini last week and could take advantage of the post on Saturday. Race 9 - $60,000 Robert S. Molaro Championship Aged pacers meet up in the Robert S. Molaro final as many of these faced each other in last week's preview. The winner of that race was Evergreen Elite for trainer Ken Rucker. Racing mainly at Hoosier Park during the summer, Evergreen Elite came into Hawthorne last week and was victorious for driver Mike Oosting. Starting immediately next to Evergreen Elite is Crankin' It Up for owner Richard Anthony Briskey and trainer Norm Parker. A six time winner on the year, Crankin' It Up has hit the board in 17 of 27 races this year. Race 10 - $180,000 Robert F. Carey Memorial Championship Three-year-old colt and gelding pacers match up in the Carey Memorial final in a wide open race. The leg four winner, Fox Valley Herbie figures to take a good amount of action at the windows for owner Benita Simmons and trainer Tom Simmons. A four-time winner this year, Fox Valley Herbie has hit the board in 12 of 16 races in 2017. Sporty Redhot could be a threat for owner Allan Beals and trainer Kim Roth. A three time winner on the year, he has hit the board in nine of 15 races as Juan Franco gets the return drive. Race 11 - $165,000 Plum Peachy Championship Three-year-old filly pacers are the focus in the Plum Peachy Final in another very competitive race. Fancy Creek Jolene is the likely favorite for owner Frank Marcolini and trainer Kim Hamilton. A five-time winner this year, Fancy Creek Jolene has a strong late closing kick and looks to get a very fast pace ahead of her. One with speed is two-year-old champ Princess Sage for owners Keli Jo Bell and trainer Freddie Patton, Jr. A winner of eight of 11 as a two-year-old, she has won three times this year, entering this race off a close third-place effort in leg four action. Boogie On Down draws the inside as she has speed for owners Mr. Lynn & Barbara Wilfong along with Brett and Candice Wilfong as Brett Wilfong trains. After a pair of dominant efforts in Springfield, Boogie On Down finished a good third in one of the leg four divisions of the Plum Peachy last week. Race 12 - $60,000 Tony Maurello Championship Aged filly and mare pacers close out the Night of Champions card in the Tony Maurello final. Bucklegirl Bobette draws the outside off a victory in the preview last week for trainer Robert Walker and driver Kyle Wilfong. A winner of 11 of 25 starts on her career, Bucklegirl Bobette would surpass $100,000 in career earnings with a victory or second-place effort in the Maurello. Joyful Game shipped in from the East coast last week for the preview and may have used that race to get a trip over the track. Owned by Rick Dane, Jr., Joyful Game looks for career win number 25 in the Maurello. ABOUT HAWTHORNE RACE COURSE Founded in 1891, Hawthorne Race Course is the 4th oldest racetrack in the nation and the oldest sporting venue in Illinois. Located in Stickney, Illinois on the edge of Chicago's city limits, the 126 year old facility hosts thoroughbred racing in March and April and again in October through Dec. Standardbred harness racing is conducted in May through September. The family-owned and operated business has been an innovator in horseracing for more than 100 years and features the nation's most rewarding players program. For additional information: | | @ClubHawthorne. Jim Miller

With Hawthorne's Night of Champions just over one week away, seven races took place for harness racing fillies and mares as the fields for the finals get sorted out. The Illinois-restricted races will culminate in 11 finals on Saturday, September 23. The action kicked off in race two on the Friday card with leg four of the Beulah Dygert Memorial trot for three-year-old fillies. A field of five was led by Annas Lucky Star (Cassis) with Kyle Wilfong in the bike. Getting away for the lead was Lous Credit Report and Mike Oosting but Wilfong and Annas Lucky Star took over quickly through the quarter in :29.3. After a half in :59.2, Annas Lucky Star maintained her lead into the turn. Opening up two lengths through three quarters in 1:28.2, Annas Lucky Star faced a challenge by Daisy Lou Duke while Lous Credit Report tried hard along the inside. At the wire, Annas Lucky Star was too good, winning by a length over Lous Credit Report. Daisy Lou Duke finished third. The final time for the mile was 1:56.2. Annas Lucky Star is owned by Danny Graham and trained by Terry Winemiller. Race three on Friday was the first of two divisions of the Fox Valley Flan for two-year-old filly trotters as Lous Silver Star was scratched, leaving a field of five. Trotting Grace was the heavy favorite with Kyle Husted driving. Making the front was Fox Valley Winnie as Trotting Grace tucked in just behind through the quarter in :29.3. After a half in 1:00.0, Fox Valley Winnie continued to lead into the turn. After three quarters in 1:29.4, Trotting Grace (Cassis) tipped out and moved to challenge Fox Valley Winnie as she quickly opened up in the lane. Winning by three lengths on the wire was Trotting Grace, followed by a late move by Powerful Temptrist to finish second while Fox Valley Winnie held third. The final time for the mile was 1:59.2. Trotting Grace is owned by Bill Wright, Mystical Marker Farms LLC and Steve Searle and trained by Steve Searle. Race four was the second division of the Fox Valley Flan with a field of six led by Maui Mama with Casey Leonard driving. After a recall, the field was lined up a second time with Good Design breaking before the start. Making the lead was White Pants Fever as she opened up a three length lead early through the quarter in :30.0. On the backside, the field tightened up as White Pants Fever held a length advantage through the half in 1:01.3. After three quarters in 1:31.2, White Pants Fever faced a challenge from Fox Valley Unleash and Maui Mama. With a late move, Maui Mama (Cassis) got up in time to win by a half-length over Fox Valley Unleash while White Pants Fever held third. The final time was 1:59.4. Maui Mama is owned by Bill Wright and trained by Mike Brink. Race five was the first division of the Plum Peachy for three-year-old filly pacers as a field of eight was headed by Fancy Creek Jolene with Tim Curtin driving. Leaving for the lead was San Antonio Rose along with My Mona Me but it was San Antonio Rose who led through the quarter in :27.2. After a quick half in :55.1, San Antonio Rose held a two-length advantage into the turn. Passing three quarters in 1:23.1, San Antonio Rose was all out into the lane as Boogie On Down and Fancy Creek Jolene angled out to rally. Cleverly handled by Kyle Husted, San Antonio Rose (Ft Apache Hanover) had enough left to hold on, winning by a length over the late rushing Fancy Creek Jolene. Boogie On Down finished third. The final time was a quick 1:52.2 for San Antonio Rose for owners George Pollock and Kay Bartlow and trainer Nick Prather. Race six was the first division of the Incredible Tillie for two-year-old filly pacers with a field of nine. Favored was Fox Valley Jazzy for driver Ridge Warren. Heading for the lead was Rollin Coal and Casey Leonard but Fox Valley Jazzy moved to challenge through the quarter in :29.0. On the backside, the favorite took over, passing the half in :58.2. On the turn, The Sis Master ranged up to press Fox Valley Jazzy, as the duo passed three quarters in 1:27.2. In the lane, Fox Valley Jazzy was all out as Rollin Coal moved to her outside to challenge. After a battle through the final sixteenth, Fox Valley Jazzy (Yankee Skyscraper) held off the late rally of Rollin Coal, winning by a head in 1:55.1. Frontier Cuzin finished third. Fox Valley Jazzy is owned by Cathy Finn-Kanitz and trained by Dale Kanitz. Race seven was the Maurello prep for aged filly and mare pacers with an evenly matched field of eight. Favored at off time was Joyful Game with Rick Dane Jr. driving. Getting away for the front was Bucklegirl Bobette (Duneside Perch) from the inside but Joyful Game quickly moved up and led briefly before Whiskersonkittens passed her at the quarter in :30.4. On the backside, Whiskersonkittens held a three length advantage through the half in :59.1. Opening up a six length lead through three quarters in 1:26.2, Whiskersonkittens was well clear into the lane. Closing late was Bucklegirl Bobette and Kyle Wilfong as they rallied to catch Whiskersonkittens nearing the wire. Phyllis Jean finished third. The final time was 1:53.2. for the winner for trainer Robert Walker. Race eight was the second division of the Incredible Tillie as The New Americana was the heavy favorite in the eight horse field. Leaving for the front was Allbeastnobeauty but Red Hot Packerette was faster from the inside as the pair passed the quarter in :28.4. On the backside, The New Americana moved up to take over, covering the opening half in :57.3. On the turn, The New Americana opened a two-length lead, through three quarters in 1:27.0. In the stretch, The New Americana (Yankee Skyscrapper) opened up and was able to hold off a late move by Allbeastnobeauty while Red Hot Packerette held third. The final time for the mile was 1:54.3. The New Americana is owned by Chris Mroz, Dave Falzone and James Molitor and trained by Steve Searle. Race nine was the second division of the Plum Peachy as Lady's Party (Party At Artsplace) was the favorite in the nine horse field. Getting away for the early lead was the favorite as she backed things down through the opening quarter in :29.2. After a half in :58.3, Lady's Party led the field into the turn. Moving mid-turn was Princess Sage as Lady's Party passed three quarters in 1:26.2. In the lane, Lady's Party faced a challenge from My Kind of Dance but was able to hold on by a head at the wire. Princess Sage finished third. Final time for the mile was 1:53.4. Lady's Party is owned by Mitchell Titus and Dennis Wright and trained by Terry Leonard. Jim Miller

With Hawthorne's Night of Champions quickly approaching, the final preps are taking place as the harness racing fields are shaping up for the big night on September 23. On Friday evening, two divisions of leg three action took place over a fast Hawthorne strip. Two-year-old filly trotters competed in leg three action of the Fox Valley Flan stakes while two-year-old filly pacers contested leg three of the Incredible Tillie. The Friday opener was the first division of the Fox Valley Flan as a field of seven lined up. Favored was Trotting Grace with Kyle Husted in the bike. Both Frontier Jackie and Lous Silver Star broke stride prior to the start. Making the lead was Fox Valley Unleash as she trotted the opening quarter in :29.4. After a half in 1:00.4, Fox Valley Unleash led the field into the turn. Mid-turn, favored Trotting Grace moved to challenge as she led the field into the lane through three quarters in 1:30.4. In the lane, Trotting Grace faced a challenge from Good Design. In the final sixteenth, Good Design and driver Kyle Wilfong took over, winning by a length in 2:00. Trotting Grace held second while Fox Valley Unleash was third. Good Design is owned by Mr. Lynn Wilfong and trained by Brett Wilfong. Race three on Friday was the second division of leg three of the Fox Valley Flan as the field of six was led by overwhelming favorite Maui Mama. Leaving for the lead was Maui Mama for Casey Leonard, as she covered the quarter in a comfortable :31.0. On the backside, Maui Mama maintained her lead, passing the half in 1:02.2. On the turn, Leonard opened up with the favorite through three quarters in 1:32.1. Comfortable the entire way, Maui Mama cruised under the wire, winning while clear in 2:00.4. White Pants Fever chased throughout the finish second while Fox Valley Winnie was third. Maui Mama is owned by Bill Wright and trained by Mike Brink. Race four was the first division of leg three of the Incredible Tillie for two-year-old filly pacers. A field of nine was led by Frontier Cuzin from the outside with Casey Leonard driving. Heading for the lead was Red Hot Packerette from the outside. After a quarter in :29.0, Red Hot Packerette faced a challenge by Poppy Seed. Passing the half in 1:00.1, Red Hot Packerette and Brian Carpenter held the lead through the turn. Passing three quarters in 1:29., Red Hot Packerette faced a challenge by Allbeastnobeauty and Frontier Cuzin mid-stretch. Nearing the wire, Allbeastnobeauty drew clear, winning by a length over Frontier Cuzin in 1:57.0. Red Hot Packerette held third. Allbeastnobeauty is owned by Mike Brink, Josh Carter and Mark Brown and trained by Mike Brink. Race five was the second division of leg three of the Incredible Tillie as eight pacers faced the starter. The New Americana was the favorite as she looked to extend her four race win streak with Mike Oosting driving. Leaving for the lead was the favorite, crossing over quickly and passing the quarter in :28.0. After a half in :57.1, The New Americana was pushed along into the turn by Fox Valley Jazzy. Passing three quarters in 1:26.2, The New Americana held her lead into the stretch. Mid-stretch, Fox Valley Jazzy and Ridge Warren pulled out and took over as the well-timed move held off the late charge of Rollin Coal. The New Americana held third. The final time for the mile was 1:54.3. Fox Valley Jazzy is owned by Cathy Finn-Kanitz and trained by Dale Kanitz. ABOUT HAWTHORNE RACE COURSE Founded in 1891, Hawthorne Race Course is the 4th oldest racetrack in the nation and the oldest sporting venue in Illinois. Located in Stickney, Illinois on the edge of Chicago's city limits, the 126 year old facility hosts thoroughbred racing in March and April and again in October through Dec. Standardbred harness racing is conducted in May through September. The family-owned and operated business has been an innovator in horseracing for more than 100 years and features the nation's most rewarding players program. For additional information: | | @ClubHawthorne. Jim Miller

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  

Established in 1903, the University of Illinois horse farm has ties to athletics dating back to its founding. The draft horses initially housed there, or so the story goes, helped with the construction of Memorial Stadium, said Kevin Kline, an animal sciences professor who has worked on the farm since 1974 as a student and faculty member. The 1924 "tile barn," as it's known, likely for its original roof, has huge stalls and thick concrete walls to accommodate draft horses, which were bred for teaching and research as well as work on the south farms. The breeds changed over the years, first to quarter horses after World War II — including from the famed King Ranch in Texas — and later to standardbreds, for harness racing. "We're a production facility for racehorses," said farm operations manager Molly Baldes. "And we are a research, education and teaching farm." The UI is one of the few universities in the country to breed standardbreds, but with the downturn in Illinois' racing industry, it's not as lucrative as it once was. The campus has a stable of 11 mares, plus four mares and three stallions housed there permanently by private owners. They produce nine to 10 foals each year who are eventually sold as yearlings. The income helps keep the farm operating. The farm's offspring are among the most talented in the state. Vocalist, a gentle 27-year-old, produced one of the fastest 2-year-olds in the world a few years ago. Princess Sage, daughter of champion UI pacing stallion Sagebrush, won Illinois Harness Horse of the Year in 2016. And a 2-year-old daughter of a brood mare named Trotting Grace — herself a champion — won two of her first three starts this year. But racing purses in Illinois aren't as big as they once were, which means yearlings sired in-state aren't worth as much, Kline said. 'No one's breeding in Illinois anymore' The farm recently turned to breeding horses from Indiana, Ohio and other states where they can fetch more money. Those states have "racinos" — a combined race track and casino — where the income from slot machines and other gambling is used to supplement horse-racing, Kline said. For the big "stakes" races, horses have to be sired in the state where they race. "No one's breeding in Illinois anymore," Kline said. So the UI farm imports semen from stallions in other states to sire foals. This year's group of yearlings was the first sold out of state. "We had to do something," Baldes said. The foals are also part of several research studies by the College of Veterinary Medicine. In one, researchers X-ray their hocks and fetlocks (knees and ankles) for the first year of life, looking for bone chips to see if they resolve or may eventually require surgery. In another, scientists scan the foals once a week to study umbilical structures with a portable ultrasound and state-of-the-art MRI equipment. The farm is also used for hands-on instruction. Kline teaches all of the undergraduate animal husbandry classes, and Baldes teaches a horse-handling lab, usually for about 70 students at a time. They learn how to approach, stop and lead a horse; how to groom and train it to use a halter; and how to give medicine. The first day of class is known as "selfie day," as the students are generally on "cloud nine" to be finally working with horses, she said. Baldes has seen students break down in tears; one city dweller had never seen a horse before. "That just breaks my heart," she said. Maevy Gravy, Ketchup and 'my girls' Most of her students are animal science majors. But Baldes also runs a "foal-watching" class that draws students from engineering and architecture. The pregnancies last 343 days, and as delivery time approaches, the students sit in shifts from 6 p.m. to midnight or 12 to 6 a.m. to watch the mares. If one goes into labor, the foal-watcher calls Baldes, who lives next door. She can get to the barn in four minutes (and is never more than 20 minutes away during foaling season). "I'm on a no-fly for four months," said Baldes, who once broke three vertebrae after she was bucked off a horse and used a walker to do the foaling. Baldes, who grew up as a "country club" girl in Pekin, always loved horses but never owned one until two years ago. She's a graduate student, research associate and the farm's only full-time employee. She supervises a group of undergraduate part-timers who help keep the farm running. It's a close-knit bunch who stay in touch long after graduation. There are tears when they have to sell the yearlings every year. "We all wear sunglasses," Baldes said. Baldes refers to the brood mares as "my girls," and says they are "spoiled absolutely rotten." She doesn't keep any horses with a bad temperament, as they need to work with students and visitors. Her yardstick: "Can a novice go up and pet her?" She introduces visitors to the popular Maevy Gravy, getting her hooves cleaned by a farrier as her foal, Ketchup, prances nearby in his first-ever halter; and Tsunami Chick, whose foal Cyclone is named for the mark on his face shaped like a tornado. Baldes: 'We're here to be enjoyed' Baldes has watched with unease as traffic has picked up along St. Mary's and Fourth Street with what she calls "urban sprawl." She knows the farm will have to move someday, possibly to an area south of the veterinary medicine research farm. But that's a long way off, according to Neal Merchen, of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, who oversees the relocation plans. "We're sort of in the plans, but we need money," Kline said. "It was a lot closer 15 years ago than it is now." The farm hasn't been affected by the growth of the research park across Fourth Street to the west, though it uses two small pastures in the park to graze horses. On the UI's master plan, the horse farm and areas east of Fourth are designated as "future development zones," said Associate Provost Matthew Tomaszewski. A golf course once envisioned there is no longer part of the plan, now that athletics has indoor and outdoor practice facilities. "We're leaving it a little bit more flexible right now," he said. In the meantime, Kline and Baldes work with the leaky roof and other maintenance issues in the historic horse barn. Baldes would love to save it, citing the "stunning" hayloft with its trusses and wood floor. She worries that the horse farm could be phased out completely someday. "I don't want to see a day where there are not horses at Illinois," she said. "I don't think that would happen," Merchen said. By Julie Wurth Reprinted with permission of The News-Gazette

1 to 16 of 1581
1 2 3 4 5 Next »