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STICKNEY, IL - As summer finally came to the Chicagoland area, the harness racing action was heating up on the racetrack as leg two action for the Night of Champions races took place this past weekend at Hawthorne. Three-year-old pacers were the focus on Saturday night while three-year-old trotters took center stage on Sunday night. A pair of divisions took place on Saturday as Illinois-bred fillies were the focus in the Plum Peachy while the boys battled in a pair of divisions of the Robert F. Carey, Jr. Memorial. Race two was the first division of the Plum Peachy as a field of seven was led by Fox Valley Lolo. Getting away quickly was Valar Morghulis as she made the lead while chased by Fox Valley Torrid through the opening quarter in :28.4. Things remained the same through a half in :58.4 as Valar Morghulis led the field into the turn. First to move was Fox Valley Halsey as she ranged up to contend while Valar Morghulis passed three quarters in 1:27.0. Into the lane, Fox Valley Torrid and Casey Leonard tipped out to challenge, taking over mid-stretch and opening up for the victory in 1:53.1. Valar Morghulis held second while Fox Valley Lolo rallied late to finish third. Fox Valley Torrid is owned by Fox Valley Standardbreds and trained by Rodney Freese. Race three Saturday was the first division of leg two of the Robert F. Carey, Jr. Memorial as Meyer on Fire was sent away as the favorite. Leaving from the outside for the lead was Casey Leonard and Fox Valley Triton as he cleared The Bucket to pass the quarter in :28.3. Slowing things down on the backside, Fox Valley Triton led the field through the half in :59.1 as Meyer on Fire started to move from the back of the field. On the turn, Meyer on Fire moved alongside Fox Valley Triton as the duo covered three quarters in 1:26.3. In the lane, Fox Valley Triton repelled Meyer on Fire's bid, winning in 1:53.3. Meyer on Fire held second while The Bucket finished third. Fox Valley Triton is owned by Dandy Farms Racing, FT Racing Stable, and Peter Kouchis. The fifth on Saturday was the second division of the Robert F. Carey, Jr. Memorial as Maximus was favored with Kyle Wilfong driving. Making the lead was Maximus as he cruised through the quarter in :28.4 and the half in :58.4 as Coming Up chased. After three quarters in 1:28.1, Maximus maintained his lead, holding on to win in 1:55.0. Coming Up chased the entire way around to hold second while Smash N Sagebrush was third. Maximus is owned and trained by Ken Rucker. Race seven on Saturday was the second division of leg two of the Plum Peachy as Perch as favored with Kyle Wilfong in the bike. Making the lead was Lilly Von Shtupp as Perch stalked through the quarter in :28.2. Unchanged were the positions after the half in :58.0. On the turn, Wilfong tipped Perch out as she rolled to the front through three quarters in 1:26.4. Roused in the lane, Perch opened up, winning while clear in 1:53.3. Lilly Von Shtupp held second while Brienne the beauty finished third. Perch is owned by Del Insko Training Stable, Jay and Susan Garrels and trained by Jay Garrels. While Saturday was a nice evening for racing, things turned for the worse on Sunday as the three-year-old trotters faced a sloppy racetrack. Two divisions of leg two of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial trot were contested for the boys while a field of nine lined up in the second leg of the Beulah Dygert Memorial for the females. Race two on Sunday was the first division of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial as the field of seven was led by Louscardamon with Kyle Husted driving. Leaving for the lead was Swaneelou as he cruised through a quarter in :30.3. Moving to take over on the backside was the favorite as Louscardamon passed the half in :59.3. Maintaining his lead in the turn, Louscardamon covered three quarters in 1:29.4 and was asked by Husted to go in the lane. He responded well, opening up his lead to win clearly in 1:58.1. Swaneelou held second while longshot Super Betcha rallied to finish third. Louscardamon is owned by Flacco Family Farms LLC and Dr. Patrick Graham and trained by Steve Searle. Race five was the second division of leg two of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial with a competitive field of seven. Lourhianon went favored with Luke Plano in the bike. Breaking stride at the start was Trixie's Turbo which allowed Frontier Manard to set an easy pace through a quarter in :31.2 and half in 1:01.1 as Lourhianon chased. Into the turn, Lourhianon took over while Lousraptor followed closely behind through three quarters in 1:30.2. In the lane, Casey Leonard guided Lousraptor out as he rolled by the favorite and opened up, winning in 1:57.3. Lourhianon finished second while For Trots Sakes closed for third. Lousraptor is owned by Flacco Family Farms and trained by Roshun Trigg. Race eight was the second leg of the Beulah Dygert Memorial with a field of nine led by Louzotic with Kyle Husted driving. Leaving for the lead was Heidi High from the inside as Louzotic moved early to challenge. Heidi High passed the quarter in :28.4 with the lead as the favorite chased. After a half in :59.2, Heidi High maintained her lead into the turn. Lou's Paramour started to move on the outside but Heidi High still held her lead through 1:29 for three quarters. In the lane, Heidi High was roused by Juan Franco as Louzotic tried hard but she couldn't go by. Heidi High held on to win in 1:56.1 over Louzotic. Skippymalou finished third. Heidi High is owned and trained by Charles Arthur. 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. Jim Miller

STICKNEY, IL - The babies made their way to the racetrack this past weekend at Hawthorne as the harness racing 'Night of Champions' leg one action continued. The boys were center stage on Friday evening while the ladies took their place on the track on Saturday night. All of the leg one events went for $17,500. Race two Friday was the first of two divisions of the Incredible Finale for Illinois-bred two-year-old colt and gelding pacers. A field of eight was led by RJ Wulfy, a Party At Atsplace colt,  winner already on the meet with Casey Leonard driving. Leaving for the lead was LL Gram from the inside, followed by Chick Magnet as the favorite was hung three wide early. Leonard guided RJ Wulfy to the top, passing the opening quarter in :30.3 and the half in 1:00.0. Chased by Chick Magnet into the turn, RJ Wulfy confidently opened up a three length margin through three quarters in 1:28.1. Turning into the stiff headwind in the lane, RJ Wulfy had extended his advantage to six lengths into the stretch. Unchallenged to the wire, RJ Wulfy was an easy 11½ length winner, stopping the clock in 1:57. Chick Magnet held second while Hello Rooster closed to finish third. RJ Wulfy is owned by partnership by B. Wulf, R. Wulf, R. Alderks, and J. Fraher and is trained by Ronnie Roberts. Race four was the second division of the Incredible Finale as a field of seven lined up behind the starter. Favored was Canadian Mountie from the barn of trainer Terry Leonard. Leaving quickly was Ryans Ambassador as he was joined by Illini Force, with the later of the duo leading the field through the quarter in :32.0. On the backside, Bagman moved to take over, passing the half in 1:01.1. On the turn, Kyle Wilfong led Bagman along the pylons as Ridge Warren guiding Illini Force to the outside to challenge though three quarters in 1:31.1. In the lane, Illini Force took over, facing a fresh challenge from Canadian Mountie. Game to the wire, Illini Force a Sagebrush colt, was able to hold on by a half length over Canadian Mountie in 1:59.1. Bagman finished third. Illini Force is owned by Allan, Kevin, and Keith Miller along with Glenn Otto and is trained by Kevin Miller. On Saturday evening, two-year-old female pacers where featured in two divisions of the Incredible Tillie. Race three saw the first division with a field of five lining up as Fox Valley Vixen was favored from the rail. Leaving for the lead was A Girl Named Jim as Jamaica Patton guided her through the opening quarter in :30.1. Chased through a half in :59.4 by Fox Valley Vixen, A Girl Named Jim was two lengths clear into the turn. After three quarters in 1:29.3, A Girl Named Jim, a Sportsmaster filly,  maintained her clear lead into the lane. At the wire, she had more than enough left, winning in 1:57.3. Fox Valley Vixen held second while Fox Valley Exploit was third. A Girl Named Jim is owned by Ronald Phillips and Louis Leinberger and trained by Jamaica Patton. In the following event, the second division of the Incredible Tillie, was led by Double Parked, a Sagebrush filly, with Travis Seekman driving. Leaving from the outside for the lead was Double Parked as she had to work a bit to clear off of Jimmy's Girl, passing the quarter in :30.3. Settling into stride on the backside, Double Parked cruised through a half in 1:00.1 and three quarters in 1:29.2. Roused by Seekman into the lane, Double Parked opened up a seven-length advantage into the lane as she never looked back, stopping the clock in 1:57.2. Ashlees Fine Girl closed to finish second while Jimmy's Girl was third. Double Parked is owned and trained by Leroy Hunt. Sunday night brought out the juvenile trotters with two divisions of the Fox Valley Flan for the fillies and a pair of divisions of the Kadabra for the boys. A field of five started things off in race two in the first division of the Fox Valley Flan as Lous Abigail, a Lou's Legacy filly,  was the favorite with Casey Leonard driving. Making the lead was Lauren Hall as she strolled through the opening quarter in :33.2. Chased through the backside by Olympic Hopeful in a half in 1:05.1, Lauren Hall held her lead into the turn. On the turn, Fox Valley Lush and Lous Abigail both pulled to go after the leader through three quarters in 1:36.3. In the lane, Fox Valley Lush grabbed a brief lead between horses but Lous Abigail was moving best of all, winning in 2:05.0. The stewards posted the inquiry sign, taking a look at Lauren Hall in the stretch and it was determined that she was disqualified from third. Officially, Lous Abigail was the winner, Fox Valley Lush finished second, and EL Oh Govner was third. Lous Abigail is owned by Flacco Family Farms and trained by Steve Searle. Race three was the first division of leg one of the Kadabra with a field of six taking to the track. Fox Valley Quest, a Pizzazzed colt, was the heavy favorite with Casey Leonard driving. Clearing the early lead was the favorite as he cruised through the opening quarter in :31.3 and a half in 1:03.4. Chased by On Higher Ground into the turn, Fox Valley Quest opened up a two-length lead through three-quarters in 1:34.4. In the lane, the favorite extended his margin, winning clearly in 2:03.1. On Higher Ground held second while Fox Valley Kobe closed to finish third. Fox Valley Quest is owned by Carl Lacy and Benita Simmons and trained by Tom Simmons. The fourth race was the second division of leg one of the Fox Valley Flan as a field of six was led by Bee See as Kyle Husted drove and trainer Steve Searle looked for his second win on the card. At the start, Bee See broke stride and dropped back as well as second choice Celone Hall. Taking advantage was Lous Flashy Dancer as she covered the quarter in :32.3. Onto the backside, the top two choices were back onstride and looked to get back into contact with the field as Lous Flashy Dancer passed the half in 1:04.3. On the turn, Lous Flashy Dancer held her lead as Bee See continued to recover from her break and tipped wide, followed by Celone Hall through three quarters in 1:36.1. Into the lane, Bee See couldn't go on, but Celone Hall, a Cassis filly,  was able to sustain her bid, winning in 2:05.4. Lous Flashy Dancer held second while Really Railee closed to finish third. Race five was the second division of the Kadabra as Mr Red Thunder was scratched, leaving a field of six. Lous Paisano went favored for Casey Leonard and Steve Searle. Prior to the start there was a recall due to broken equipment with the favorite. After getting lined up again, Lous Paisano broke prior to the start once again and trailed the field. Making the lead was Twin Cedars Rocket as he opened up through the quarter in :32.4. Chased by Fox Valley Briton through a half in 1:06.3, Twin Cedars Rocket led the field into the turn. Making a move was Desert Sheik with Mike Brink driving as the field passed three quarters in 1:38.1. At the wire it was Desert Sheik, a Pizzazzed colt, holding on in 2:06.2. U S Patriot finished second while Twin Cedars Rocket was third. Desert Sheik is owned by Charles Biggs and trained by Mike Brink. 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. Jim Miller  

MACON COUNTY— Harness racing at the Macon County Fair made a comeback Saturday afternoon after a five-year hiatus, and 94-year-old Leona Steven, of Tuscola, wasn't going to miss it. Steven sat with a program in her hand, a hat on her head to shield her from the sun and a packed lunchbox in reach. She's been a fan of horse racing since 1948, as her husband's interest in the sport rubbed off on her. The pair traveled to county and state fairs, among other destinations, to follow the horses and see races.  "We also made friends with a lot of the trainers and even the announcer," Steven said. She said now, she tries to go to Decatur, Champaign and Charleston for horse and harness racing. Left to right, Wendy Ackerman, her daughter Camden Ackerman, and 94-year-old Leona Steven watch the second race on Saturday during harness racing at the Macon County Fair. CLAY JACKSON PHOTOS, Another horse racing fanatic, Darlene Horner, has been around the sport for 40 years and shows Hackney ponies of her own. Horner had been to the harness races at the Macon County Fair before the five-year gap. She has also been going to the Illinois State Fair for nearly 50 years to watch races. "The Illinois State Fair has always had a good racetrack," Horner said. A state website describes the Illinois racetrack as one of the fastest dirt tracks in the world.  However, not all attendees of the harness racing Saturday were longtime fans. Casey King just moved to Decatur from south of St. Louis, and this was her first time being at a harness racing event. She said she was hoping for "a new experience" with lots of "fun." Riders sat directly behind the horse on a small seat, with the rider's legs protruding straight out in front of them. The cart they travel on is small with two large wheels. Donnie Drake rides "Trixie" during barrel racing competition on Saturday at the Macon County Fairgrounds. Drake is also president of the Decatur Trail Riders. More photos at herald-review.com King said the concept reminded her of being in history class, learning about chariot racing during the Roman Empire. This was also the first harness racing event for Charlotte Ryan, of Decatur. Before Saturday, she didn't realize how many different races there were or how detailed it was going to be. Mark Wenda, of Decatur, had been to harness racing prior, just not in Macon County. In fact, this was his first time at the fair. He joked he was preparing for when sports gambling would be legalized in Illinois.   A different type of horse show was also going on Saturday at east arena. The Decatur Trail Riders had a pleasure show and a speed show for riders of all ages. The group has been around since 1942, making it the oldest organization of its kind in Illinois. Kam Aylesworth is entering her senior year of college and has been riding since 4th grade. Her mother Kelly Aylesworth is the secretary of the organization. Ronnie Gillespie and his horse Tropical Rosie win the first race on Saturday during harness racing at the Macon County Fair.  The pleasure show was at 10 a.m., which was "a little slower, a little fancier," Kelly said. The speed show at 1 p.m. involved barrel and pole races. "The fastest time wins," she said. Riders can be competitive, and the Macon County Fair speed show gives participants a good opportunity to practice. Trail Riders President Donnie Drake has been riding horses since the '70s and said the group is trying to promote equine activities. The Macon County Fair concludes today, with activities that include the demolition derby, which starts at 6 p.m. By Kennedy Nolen Reprinted with permission of the Herald&Review

STICKNEY, IL - The past weekend at Hawthorne was a big one locally, and for the long term future of the industry in Illinois. As the summer harness racing meet moved into the second month of the season, legislation was being passed in Illinois to allow for an expansion of gaming and sports betting which will lead to a revitalization of racing in Illinois. On the track, Cardinal and Violet races were the racing focus throughout the weekend. Things kicked off on Friday evening as Illinois-bred three-year-old pacers were the focus in two divisions of the Cardinal. The pair of $23,050 events went as races two and five on the Friday card. In race two, a field of seven lined up, led by 3-5 favorite Fox Valley Triton with Casey Leonard in the bike. At the start, the second choice, just to Fox Valley Triton's inside, Maximus was led to the lead with Kyle Wilfong, covering the half in :29.2. Stalked by Fox Valley Triton through a half in :59.0, Maximus was still a length clear into the turn. Shaking loose by two lengths into the lane, Maximus passed three quarters in 1:26.4. Roused by Wilfong mid-stretch, Maximus was all out in the lane to hold off Fox Valley Triton, and just did so, winning by a neck in 1:53.4. Fox Valley Triton was second while Cooter Luke chased and held third. Maximus is owned in partnership by The Panhellenic Stable, Corporation and trainer Ken Rucker. Race five Friday was the second division of the Cardinal with another field of seven, led by heavy favorite Meyer on Fire with Tim Curtin driving. With the 1-9 favorite tucking in early, second choice The Bucket made the lead as he passed the opening quarter in :29.1. Turning onto the backside, Meyer on Fire moved to the front, leading the field through the half in :56.2 and three quarter in 1:26.2 as The Bucket chased the leader. In the lane, Meyer on Fire opened up on The Bucket as longshot Sporty Mcgrew moved forward. On the wire, Meyer on Fire held clear, winning in 1:54.3. Sporty Mcgrew rallied to finish second while The Bucket was third. Meyer on Fire is owned by Engel Stable of Illinois, LLC and trained by Erv Miller. On Saturday evening it was a pair of paces for Illinois-bred three-year-olds in the Violet. Split fields of six contested races two and four. Race two featured 1-9 favorite Perch from the barn of Jay Garrels as she garnered over $60,000 in the show pool on her. Perch was left to work though early as she settled fourth behind the pace of Yankee Joanie through the quarter in :28.0. As the field moved to the backstretch, second choice Lilly Von Shtupp assumed command, opening up a two length lead through a half in :58.3 and three quarters in 1:27.2. Into the lane, Kyle Wilfong was getting after Perch to go as Travis Seekman and Lilly Von Shtupp was still two lengths clear mid-stretch. Mid-stretch, Lilly Von Shtupp started to slow as Perch and Winter Gram closed late. On the wire, Perch was a one length winner in 1:55.4 over Winter Gram. Lilly Von Shtupp held third. Perch is owned in partnership by Del Insko Training Stable, Jay and Susan Garrels. The second division of the Violet featured another heavy favorite in 3-5 shot Fox Valley Torrid from the Rodney Freese stable. Driven by Casey Leonard, Fox Valley Torrid tucked in behind the pace set by Valar Morghulis. After a quarter in :28.2, Valar Morghulis ceded the lead to Fox Valley Halsey as that one opened the lead through the half in :57.0 and three quarters in 1:26.1. On the move into the lane, Fox Valley Torrid ranged alongside the leaders, with a trio in with a chance. Moving forward late, Fox Valley Torrid held on to win in 1:54.1. Longshot Fox Valley Lolo closed late from last to get up for second, while Valar Morghulis held third. Fox Valley Torrid is owned by Fox Valley Standardbreds. On Sunday evening three trots took place with a pair of divisions for the three-year-old male trotters and a full field of female trotters. The night opened with seven trotters to battle for $21,750 as Lousraptor and Casey Leonard were the 1-2 favorite for trainer Roshun Trigg. The early leader through a pedestrian quarter in :30.3 and half in 1:01.2 was longshot Super Betcha as the favorite tucked in just behind the leader. Taking over into the turn was Lousraptor as he passed three quarters in 1:29.2 and opened up a two length lead into the stretch. Nearing the wire, Lousraptor's lead was diminishing though as Frontier Manard closed quickly. On the line, it was Lousraptor holding off Frontier Manard by a head in 1:58.1. Swaneelou closed from last to finish third. Lousraptor is owned by Flacco Family Farms LLC. Race four was the second division for the boys as Lourhianon looked for his fifth straight win as he was the 4-5 favorite. While the favorite chose to sit back early, Trixie's Turbo and Tyler Shehan grabbed the lead through the opening quarter in :30.0. With longshot Lous Endeavor chasing, Trixie's Turbo was clear through a half in 1:00.2 and three quarters in 1:29.4. Into the stretch, Lourhianon and Louscardamon took up the chase. With the gap closing late, Trixie's Turbo dug in, holding on to win by a head in 1:58.0. Louscardamon got up for second while Lourhianon finished third. Trixie's Turbo is owned by Charles Doehring and trained by Jill White. Sunday's ninth saw a field of ten line up behind the starter as female trotters were led by 1-9 favorite Louzotic, fresh off a win in leg one of the Beulah Dygert Memorial the week prior. Leading the field through the first turn was Puddin Cheeks as she passed the quarter in :28.2. Wasting no time, Kyle Husted guided the favorite to the front and passing the half in :58.2. With Heidi High taking up the chase from her outside draw, Louzotic was two lengths clear of her through three quarters in 1:27.2. Into the lane, Louzotic opened up, winning by three lengths in 1:56.1. Heidi High finished second while Lou's Paramour closed for third. Louzotic is owned by Flacco Family Farms LLC and trained by Steve Searle. 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.   Jim Miller Virus-free. www.avast.com

STICKNEY, IL - Night of Champions at Hawthorne doesn't culminate until the final week of September, but the harness racing action kicks off early as this past weekend saw the first legs in numerous categories for the top Illinois-bred horses. Friday evening had the first Night of Champions event as Leg one of the Robert F. Carey, Jr. Memorial for three-year-old male pacers highlighted the evening. A field of 11 lined up, led by 2018 champ Meyer on Fire for owner Engel Stable of IL, LLC and trainer Erv Miller. Sent away as the favorite was Maximus, with Kyle Wilfong in the bike. Leaving for the lead was Coming Up along the inside as he was challenged early by Maximus through a quarter in :29.2. On the backside, Maximus assumed command before facing a fresh challenge by Meyer on Fire and Tim Curtin. After a half in :58, Meyer on Fire took over in the turn, pushed now by The Bucket. Meyer on Fire passed three quarters in 1:25.4 and led the field into the lane. Opening up, Meyer on Fire drew clear under the wire, winning in 1:53.1. Maximus came back for second while Coming Up held third. Saturday night saw a field of 11 Illinois-bred three-year-old filly pacers in the first leg of the Plum Peachy. Sent away as the favorite was Fox Valley Torrid with Casey Leonard driving. At the start, third choice Valar Morghulis was fastest to the front, clearing the lead while passing the quarter in :28.3. Making a quick move on the backstretch was the favorite as Fox Valley Torrid moved to the lead, followed by second-choice Perch. Through the half in :57.1, Fox Valley Torrid led the field into the turn as Perch ranged up to her outside. Hitting three-quarters together in 1:25.1, the duo turned into the lane. In the stretch, Kyle Wilfong urged Perch to the front as she opened a brief gap on Fox Valley Torrid. Nearing the wire, Fox Valley Torrid fought back, coming up just a head short behind Perch in 1:53.3. Valar Morghulis was moved to third after a disqualification of Fox Valley Lolo. Perch is owned by Del Insko Training Stable, Inc., Jay and Susan Garrels and trained by Jay Garrels. On Sunday evening trotters were in the spotlight with two divisions of leg one of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial trot to go along with the first leg of the Beulah Dygert Memorial trot. The Erwin F. Dygert Memorial trot is for Illinois-bred, three-year-old colts and geldings. Race three on Sunday was the first division as Lousraptor was sent away favored with Casey Leonard driving. After a recall, Trixie's Turbo was sent to the front, covering the opening quarter in :29.3 and backing down the half in 1:00.1. Moving into the turn, Trixie's Turbo maintained his lead as Lousraptor closed the margin to a length through three quarters in 1:31.0. In the stretch, Lousraptor took over, opening up quickly to win by three-lengths in 1:58.1. Frontier Manard rallied to get up for second while Trixie's Turbo held third. Lousraptor is owned by Flacco Family Farms LLC and trained by Roshun Trigg. In the second division of the Erwin F. Dygert, another trotter owned in partnership by Flacco Family Farms LLC, along with Dr. Patrick Graham, was sent away favored as Louscardamon led the field of six. In a race that had a lot of movement, longshot Super Betcha led through the opening quarter in :30.1. On the backstretch, second choice For Trots Sakes assumed command, passing the half in 1:00.2 and three quarters in 1:30.1. Into the lane, Louscardamon was on the move, quickly going from last to first and grabbing an open length lead by mid-stretch. At the wire, Kyle Husted guided Louscardamon well clear, winning by two-lengths in 1:58.4. Longshots finished second and third as Big Garcia Vega got up for second while Super Betcha held third. Louscardamon is trained by Steve Searle. The ladies were featured in race six Sunday as the Beulah Dygert Memorial for Illinois-bred three-year-old filly trotters has a field of nine. Favored was another from the Steve Searle stable for owners Flacco Family Farms LLC as Louzotic was sent away as the 3-5 choice with Kyle Husted driving. At the start, Puddin Cheeks got away quickly, covering the opening quarter in :29.2. On the backstretch, Husted wasted no time getting Louzotic to the front as she took over through the half in :57.4. Opening up the lead on the turn, Louzotic led the field through three quarters in 1:26.3 as Heidi High chased her into the lane. Kept to task, Louzotic drew clear, winning by five lengths in 1:55.2. Heidi High held second while Fox Valley Elicit was third. 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.   Jim Miller

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 TheStable.ca, 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 TheStable.ca is grow interest exponentially in harness racing, with numerous stakes-caliber horses racing across North America. To team up with TheStable.ca, 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 www.Hawthorneracecourse.com 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 www.mackcommunications.com      

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 www.Hawthorneracecourse.com 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 www.Hawthorneracecourse.com. 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 www.hawthorneracecourse.com 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 www.hawthorneracecourse.com 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 www.hawthorneracecourse.com. 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 www.hawthorneracecourse.com. 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: www.HawthorneRaceCourse.com | Facebook.com/ClubHawthorne | @ClubHawthorne. Jim Miller

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