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STICKNEY, IL - On Friday evening at Hawthorne Racetrack over a fast harness racing track, Illinois-bred three-year-old pacing fillies were on display in leg two of the Plum Peachy stakes. Two divisions were set to compete. In the first division, Ashlee's Fine Lady was sent off as the favorite. Leaving quickly was Bucklegirl Bobetter as she cleared the lead through a quarter in :28.4 and half in :59.1. Favored Ashlee's Fine Lady moved to challenge on the turn as Bucklegirl Bobette battled through three quarters in 1:27.2. All out late, Bucklegirl Bobette dug in gamely for Kyle Wilfong to hold on for the victory in 1:54.4. Dandy's Diva finished second while LK's Nancy Lee was third. Trained by Robert Walker, Bucklegirl Bobette returned $8.60, $8.80 and $5.40. Dandy's Diva paid $9.80 and $7.40 while LK's Nancy Lee returned $3.40 to show. In the second division, Dakota Sleek was scratched leaving a field of seven as Char N Marg was the favorite. Art Angel Baby made the lead through the quarter in :28.1. At the half, favorite Char N Marg took over for Casey Leonard in :57. After three quarters in 1:25.3, Char N Marg led the field into the lane and opened up. Drawing clear late, Char N Marg won easily in 1:53.1. Likeafireballshot rallied for second while Whiskersonkittens finished third. Owned by Quaid Racing LLC and trained by Nelson Willis, Char N Marg returned $3.60, $2.80, and $2.20. Likeafireballshot came back $5.80 and $3.80 while Whiskersonkittens paid $3.40 to show. Jim Miller  

STICKNEY, IL - Last night the ladies were the focus, tonight at Hawthorne the harness racing boys take the stage with four divisions of leg one of the Incredible Finale stakes. On a clear evening, over a fast track, Sork was the heavy 1-5 favorite in the first division. Leading early was Uptown Sleaze through a quarter in :29.4. After the half in :59.1, Uptown Sleaze was still clear into the turn. At the top of the stretch, Sork and Todd Warren began their move after three quarters in 1:28.4. Uptown Sleaze (Sagebrush) battled on gamely for driver Kyle Wilfong along the inside and held off Sork by a length at the wire. Sammy Sagebrush finished third. Owned by Engel Stable of IL, LLC and trained by Nelson Willis, Uptown Sleaze was 12-1, returning $26.60, $4.80, and $4.60. Sork returned $2.10 and $2.10 while Sammy Sagebrush paid $8.80 to show. Race four on Saturday evening was the second division in the Incredible Finale as Upbeat Big Guy was sent away as the favorite. Spirited Encounter moved early to take the lead after a quarter in :31.1. At the half, Causway came back to lead in 1:00.4 as Spirited Encounter broke stride. Into the lane, Fox Valley Reggie moved to the lead in 1:29.1 but shortened late as Fox Valley Jeter (Sportsmaster) and Casey Leonard was the winner. Causway got up for second while Slzburgerslzburger finished third. Final time for the mile was 1:58. Owned by Phil Langley, Christine Buttice, and James Eaton and trained by James Eaton, Fox Valley Jeter paid $16.40, $7.20, and $3.60. Causway paid $5.60 and $2.80 while Slzburgerslzburger returned $3.20 to show. Race six was the third division in the Incredible Finale with Sporty Redhot (Sportsmaster)  the race favorite. Ima Skydancer and driver Ryan Anderson carved out the early fractions of :31, :59.4 and 1:28.1. Battling into the lane, Ima Skydancer gave way as Royale Big Guy took over, but Sporty Redhot was quick to move. At the wire, Sporty Redhot drew clear for driver Todd Warren in 1:56.3. Royale Big Guy held second while Tiny Jim finished 3rd. Owned by Al Beals and trained by Kim Roth, Sporty Redhot returned $4.20, $2.80, and $2.80. Royale Big Guy paid $5.40 and $5.20 while Tiny Jim paid $7.00 to show. The final division in the Incredible Finale had Fox Valley Inferno as the post time favorite. Leaving for the lead was Captain Rhett, making the quarter in :30. First up to challenge was Sullivan, leading to the half in :58.1. Into the lane, Sullivan covered three quarters in 1:27.3 but Gabe Henry was moving strongly for Todd Warren and cruised to the victory in 1:55.3. Gabe Henry (Henry Clay) returned $9.60, $3.60, and $2.40. Fox Valley Inferno came back $3.00 and $2.10. Fox Valley Sparty returned $2.80 to show. Jim Miller

STICKNEY, IL - On a beautiful Friday evening at Hawthorne, four divisions of leg one of the Incredible Tillie Stakes took place. The Incredible Tillie is for Illinois-bred harness racing two-year-old pacing fillies. The card kicked off with the first division as a field of nine lined up behind the starting car. Sent away as the favorite was Princess Sage (Sagebrush) off a debut victory and near miss in her second start. Leaving for the lead was Princess Sage as she cleared the lead in :29.2 for driver Freddie Patton, Jr. Following a half in :58.4, Princess Sage held firm on the front end. Into the lane after three quarters in 1:28.1, Princess Sage led but was challenged by Sheadealer. Late stretch, Princess Sage dug in gamely and prevailed by a quarter of a length. Sheadealer was second, Dandy's Dududidudu finished third. Final time for the mile was 1:56.4. Owned by Keli Jo Bell and Freddie Patton, Jr. and trained by Freddie Patton, Jr., Princess Sage returned $3.60, $2.60, and $2.40 as the 4-5 favorite. Sheadealer paid $8.80 and $4.00 while Dandy's Dududidudu returned $3.00 to show. Race three on Friday night was the second division in the Incredible Tillie as Lili Von Shtupp was a late scratch. Moving early in the second division was the 1-5 favorite Filly Forty and Jamaica Patton through the opening quarter in :29.4 and half in 1:00.4. Filly Forty led the field into the lane through three quarters in 1:30.3 and was all out. Mid-stretch, Kyle Husted and Razzleme Dazzleme (Sagebrush) tipped out for the drive and wore down Filly Forty on the wire. Razzleme Dazzleme prevailed by a length and a quarter over Filly Forty in 1:58.4. My Kind of Dance finished third. Owned by Derek and Amy Jacobus and trained by Nick Prather, Razzleme Dazzleme returned $11.60, $3.00, and $2.60. Filly Forty came back $2.10 and $2.10 while My Kind Of Dance paid $3.00 to show. Race five on Friday was the third division in the Incredible Tillie with a full field of ten to line up. Hope Hotspur was sent away as the heavy favorite at 1-2. Leaving for the lead was Do You Dare through the quarter in :30. Moving early to the lead was the favorite Hope Hotspur and Casey Leonard, leading the field through a half in 1:00.4. On the turn, Pinstripe Pants moved to challenge and take command, covering three quarters in 1:29.4. In the lane, Pinstripe Pants led, but Hope Hotspur came back to lead late before Dale Hiteman and Fox Valley Dandy (Sportsmaster) exploded onto the scene, winning at 27-1. Hope Hotspur was second, Fox Valley Maya finished third. Final time was 1:58.1. Owned by Hugh Lake and Susan Lacey and trained by Ray Hanna, Fox Valley Dandy returned $57.00, $11.60, and $4.20. Hope Hotspur returned $2.60 and $2.20. Fox Valley Maya came back $3.20 to show. The final division of the Incredible Tillie had a field of nine lined up as Jump Right Up (Ideal Towne) was sent away as the 1-5 choice. My Mona Me got away quickly and led through the quarter in :29.4. Moving to the lead early was Da Blue Jay as she led the field into the turn after a half in 1:00.0. On the far turn, Jump Right Up and Todd Warren made their move to challenge through three quarters in 1:29. Leading late, Jump Right Up won by two and a half lengths, stopping the clock in 1:58. My Mona Me was second while Rockin Ashley got up for third. Owned by Quaid Racing, LLC and Cynthia Kay Willis and trained by Nelson Willis, Jump Right Up returned $2.60, $2.10 and $2.10. My Mona Me paid $6.40 and $3.40 while Rockin Ashley paid $4.20 to show. Jim Miller

STICKNEY, IL - Thursday evening at Hawthorne brought forth warm temps and a fast track, along with the first view of the two-year-old stakes competitors for the summer harness racing meet. Illinois-bred two-year-old filly trotters took to the track in two divisions of leg one of the Fox Valley Flan Stakes while colts and gelding trotters were featured in the Kadabra Stakes, which also had a pair of divisions. Kicking off the evening at Hawthorne was the first division of leg one of the Fox Valley Flan Stakes as a field of seven competed for a $10,000 purse. Sent off as the favorite was Sis's Ellie Mae as she was coming off a second-place finish in her debut against the boys. Leaving and making the top was the favorite for trainer J D Finn and driver Jared Finn as the daughter of Cassis carved out fractions of :31, 1:02.4, and 1:33.2 to three quarters. In the lane, Sis's Ellie Mae held sway, winning by three-quarters of a length in 2:02.1. Lous Game N Match was second, Scarlet Ribbons third. Owned by James Rine and Charles Doehring, Sis's Ellie Mae paid $4.00, $2.80 and $2.20. Lous Game N Match returned $4.60 and $3.60 while Scarlet Ribbons paid $2.80 to show. Race two was the first division of leg one of the Kadabra Stakes with Trixie's Jethro a son of Cassis sent away as the heavy favorite. At the start, Fox Valley Khan made the lead while the favorite was hung wide through the opening quarter in :29.3. Onto the backstretch, the 1-5 favorite, Trixie's Jethro assumed command through a half in :59.3. Into the lane in three quarters in 1:30.0, Trixie's Jethro opened a seven length lead. Staying strong, Trixie's Jethro won by daylight for driver Jared Finn in 2:00.0. Louscipher finished second while Bands Houdini was third. Owned by Charles Doehring, and trained by J D Finn, Trixie's Jethro returned $2.60, $2.20, and $2.10. Louscipher came back $5.60 and $4.20 while Bands Houdini paid $10.80 to show. Race four on the Thursday card was the second division of the Kadabra Stakes as Matt Q was sent away as the favorite from the outside for driver Casey Leonard. After racing wide into the first turn, Swiss Bank took the early lead in :31.3. After a half in 1:04.4, Swiss Bank held the lead. Marching to Zion moved to challenge after three quarters in 1:37.0 while favored Matt Q tipped five wide. In the lane, Matt Q cruised by to win by two-and-a-half lengths in 2:06.2. Cassisandfifth finished second while Marching to Zion was third. Owned by Quaid Racing, LLC and trained by Nelson Willis, the colt by Powerful Emotion returned $3.00, 2.20, and $2.40. Cassisandfifth came back $4.80 and $3.20 while Marching to Zion paid $2.20 to show. Race six on the card was the second division of the Fox Valley Flan Stakes with Lous Credit Report sent off as the even money choice. Leaving quickly was the favorite but she was hung wide early as Dandy's ESP grabbed the lead from the inside through the quarter in :30.1. After the half in 1:01.3, Dandy's ESP led through the turn. Moving first over into the stretch was Lous Credit Report, covering three quarters in 1:33.2. At the wire, Lous Credit Report and driver Jamaica Patton held on by a length-and-a-half over She's Savvy. Dandy's ESP was third. The final time was 2:02.1. Owned by Flacco Family Farms, LLC and trained by Roshun Trigg, the filly by Lou's Legacy returned $4.00, $3.40, and $2.60. She's Savvy came back $10.60 and $4.20 while Dandy's ESP returned $2.20 to show. Jim Miller

Almost three-years to the day after notching his 1,000th career driving victory, Hawthorne's defending winter-meet harness racing driving champion and current summer-meet leading reinsman Casey Leonard had cause to celebrate another milestone as he posted his 2,000th career victory with the Nelson Willis trained Uncle Bud in Saturday's fourth race. A third generation horseman, who sports a business management degree from Western Illinois University, Leonard has been dominating the driving ranks in the Chicagoland area over the past few seasons winning titles at Hawthorne and the now shuttered Balmoral & Maywood Park racetracks. Despite growing up in and around the sport becoming a driver or trainer in the game was never number one at the top of the charts for the 38-year-old Leonard. "I worked in warehouse and supply chain management before my uncle (Gary) passed away in 2000," said Leonard. "That's when dad (Terry) asked me if I would come back home and help with the farm so I did. Initially I had just planned on training some horses to help out but then I received the opportunity to drive some very nice horses and wound up making some good money with them. That's when the driving end of the business really started to get into my blood." Having come a long way from his first career victory at the Woodstock County Fair back in 1996, the quiet but confident Leonard has been like a fine wine, continuing to get better and better with age. Casey has posted more than 1,600 of his 2,000 career wins since 2010 while more than $8.2 million of his $11.8 million in career driving earnings have come in the past 7 seasons. "I don't regret for one minute starting my career a little later than most guys do," said a joyful Leonard in the winner's circle. "Things have really taken off for me over the past few years so maybe it was some master plan that it's all worked out the way it has." When asked if the grind of commuting nearly 80 miles each way from his home ever seemed like it was just a little too much Leonard answered with a resounding no. "It does make for some long days and nights training horses in the mornings and then coming into drive at night but this is my job and how many people get the chance to say they can have this kind of fun at their job," said Leonard. "I also get the honor to drive for most of the top trainers here on the Chicago circuit so I darn well better get them some winners." Leonard also wasted no time starting on the path to 3,000 career victories by guiding Summer Shandy, who is trained by his dad Terry, in the next race of the night. Tom Kelley  

HINSDALE, Illinois - The thrill of thundering hooves may soon be a thing of the past at Illinois county fairs. But for at least one more year, harness racing enthusiasts can watch the ponies prance at more than two dozen tracks across Illinois. "The IHHA is funding several races and horsemen will continue to put on a great show for fans who come to the county fairs with horse racing," said IHHA President Marty Engel. Many horsemen will compete in the races however, knowing that the purses for winners might not even cover their travel expenses, let alone feed, veterinarian, and training costs. "The crippling budget impasse in Springfield is affecting everyone in Illinois," said Engel. "County Fair racing will go on this summer, but it will be scaled back and the impact on the rest of the industry is plain. All of our talent is leaving Illinois for greener pastures." County fair harness racing has long been a staple of the industry, acting as a sort of minor league for the bigger Chicago racing circuit. Illinois horse breeding incentives, prize money and funding for drug testing have all been slashed in the last few years, leading to a ripple effect that has traumatized the industry in Illinois. "It is the definition of pennywise and pound foolish," said Stanadardbred horse trainer Clark Fairley. "The state hopes to save money by cutting funding for horse racing at County Fairs, but they are slowly gutting an industry that generates millions of dollars in taxes, not to mention all of the good agriculture jobs." At the heart of the issue is horse breeding. Not since the 1950's has Illinois bred so few Standardbred horses. In 2002 there were 2,409 foals born in Illinois. That number dropped to 1,390 foals in 2010, 907 foals in 2014 and 796 foals in 2015. The effect is felt throughout the economy from truck and trailer dealers, to hay and grain farmers to blacksmiths, grooms and veterinarians. At the same time, the number of foals born in other states has climbed and the horse racing industries in states like Indiana and Ohio have added jobs and revenue. "We have a talent drain in Illinois," said Engel. "Jobs and revenue are pouring out to other states. Our state needs jobs and tax revenue, and Illinois is just not investing." The IHHA is urging legislators to pass a budget that invests in agribusiness like horse racing. "These are real jobs that generate real revenue for the state," said Fairley. "The state needs to invest in the people and businesses of Illinois." ### Date County City June 13 Clark Martinsville June 21 Perry Pinckneyville June 21 & 22 Greene Carrollton June 24 & 25 Jasper Newton June 26 Henry Cambridge June 29 & 30 Schuyler Rushville July 5 Macoupin Carlinville July 6 Knox Knoxville July 10 & 11 Wayne Fairfield July 13 Marshall-Putnam Henry July 20 Menard Petersburg July 26 Fulton Lewiston July 26 7:00 pm Champaign Urbana July 26 & 27 Edgar Paris July 31 - Aug 2 Logan Lincoln July 31 - Aug 4 Effingham Altamont August 1 White Carmi August 2 - 5 Coles Charleston August 5 Williamson Marion August 6 & 7 Brown Mt. Sterling August 9 & 10 Boone Belvidere August 16 & 18 Cumberland Greenup August 20 Whiteside Morrison August 20 & 21 Union Anna September 3 & 4 Christian Tri-Co Pana September 7 DeKalb Sandwich   Mack Communications 1015 Maple Ave, Suite 200 Downers Grove, IL 60515 630-357-7552 Fax: 630-541-3212 www.mackcommunications.com      

While harness racing fans received a bit of a respite from the near 100 degree temperatures that gripped the Chicagoland area over the weekend, leading driver Casey Leonard remained red-hot on Sunday night at Hawthorne as the 38-year-old reinsman posted a six-pack of winners on the 11-race program. The big night on Sunday left the third generation horseman, who started his career with a victory at the Woodstock County Fair back in 1996, just four victories shy of the coveted 2,000 win mark for his career. Sunday's sizzling performance started with a 17-1 upset behind the Curt Grummel trained trotter Rose Guida and concluded with an easy four-length triumph with Ken Rucker's 8-5 favorite Capelo in the nightcap. In between the bookend victories Leonard managed to sweep races three through six with a variety of mid-level betting choices and one favorite for his many followers. Sporting a gaudy .383 UDRS going into Sunday's action the Harvard, Illinois native has a double-digit lead over Todd Warren in the driver standings for the summer meet after easily taking home leading driver honors for the five-week winter meet that concluded in early Feb. Live racing at Hawthorne resumes on Thursday, June 16th with a 10-race card on tap. First post is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. (central). Tom Kelley  

STICKNEY, IL - On Saturday evening at Hawthorne, a pair of divisions of leg one of the Robert F. Carey Memorial Pace took place. The Carey is for Illinois-bred harness racing three-year-old colts and geldings. Contested over a first track, the first division of the Carey Memorial looked to be Dan D Dune's to lose, but he was a late scratch, just three races prior to the race. That opened things up in the field of nine as Caffeine Kid and Todd Warren became the post time favorite. Leaving for the lead early was Impressive Art through the opening quarter in :28.4. Moving first on the backstretch was Caffeine Kid as he assumed command to the half in :58.2. Leading into the stretch following three quarters in 1:27.1, Caffeine Kid faced a challenge of Wondrous Sport and Goinduneside. In the end, Caffeine Kid held on by a quarter-length over Goinduneside with Impressive Art finishing third. Final time for the mile was 1:55.2. Owned by Peter Karras and trained by Rodney Freese, Caffeine Kid by Sportsmaster returned $3.80, $2.40, and $2.10. Goinduneside came back $3.20 and $2.80 while Impressive Art returned $2.20 to show. In the second division of leg one of the Carey Memorial, Royale Rose was the favorite at 1-5. Multiple horses left for the lead as Red Dog Ryan went early but Royale Rose had to work through the quarter in :29.2. Following a half in :57.4, Royale Rose opened up two lengths into the stretch. Through three quarters in 1:26.2, Royale Rose shortened stride as 50-1 shot Holdonwe'rerolling and Todd Warren flew late to get up by a half-length in 1:54.1. Royale Rose finished 2nd while J B's Hero was third. Owned by Jesse and Austin Patrick DeLong and trained by Rob Rittof, Holdonwe'rerolling by Party At Artsplace paid $108.00, $18.60, and $8.20. Royale Rose came back $2.20 and $2.40. J B's Hero paid $9.40 to show. Jim Miller

STICKNEY, IL - Friday night at Hawthorne had a pair of races contested in the first leg of the Plum Peachy stakes. The Plum Peachy is for Illinois-bred harness racing three-year-old fillies. Each division carried a purse of $12,500. In the first division of leg one, a field of seven lined up with Lexington Lady the heavy favorite at 1-5. Leaving for the lead was the favorite as she made the front easily through the opening quarter of :28.1. On the backstretch, Lexington Lady and driver Matt Krueger maintained their lead through a half in :57.4. Into the lane after three quarters in 1:26.2, Lexington Lady led by two and held firm at the wire, stopping the clock in 1:54 over the fast track. Lk's Nancy Lee finished second while Aunt Ethel was third. Owned and trained by Hosea Williams, Lexington Lady returned $2.60, $2.20, and $2.20. Lk's Nancy Lee came back $4.80 and $3.60 while Aunt Ethel returned $3.20 to show. In the second division of leg one of the Plum Peachy, Char N Marg was sent off as the even money favorite. Getting away for the early lead was Art Angel Baby, tracked by Likeafireballshot and Char N Marg through the quarter in :28.1. Likeafireballshot took over on the backstretch, covering the half in :56.3. In the turn, Char N Marg took command through three quarters in 1:25.4. In the end, Casey Leonard and Char N Marg drew away, stopping the clock in 1:53 for the mile. Whiskersonkittens finished second, Ashlee's Fine Lady third. Owned by Quaid Racing LLC and trained by Nelson Willis, Char N Marg paid $4.00, $3.20, and $2.40. Whiskersonkittens came back $6.40 and $3.80. Ashlee's Fine Lady paid $8.00 to show. With no live tickets for consecutive nights at Hawthorne, the Early Pick 5 has a two day carryover of $11,061.  With that carryover into the Saturday evening card, Hawthorne and the USTA Strategic Wagering Program have teamed up for a $30,000 Guaranteed pool in the Early Pick 5 Saturday. The Early Pick 5 covers the first five races on the card and is a $.50 minimum wager.  Takeout for the Early Pick 5 is 15%.  For details or information, visit www.HawthorneRaceCourse.com or www.USTrotting.com. Jim Miller

STICKNEY, IL - Thursday night at Hawthorne kicked off the opening legs of the Beulah Dygert Memorial Trot and Erwin F. Dygert Memorial Trot. The Beulah Dygert is for Illinois-bred harness racing three-year-old fillies while the Erwin F. Dygert is for Illinois-bred three-year-old colts and geldings. The Thursday opener was the first division of leg one of the Beulah Dygert as Powerful Princess was sent off as the 4-5 favorite. Breaking at the start was Powerful Princess, leaving Vengeful to lead the field around through fractions of :29.0, :58.2, and 1:28.1 for three quarters. Tracking the entire way was 24-1 shot Roma Falls for driver Matt Krueger. Moving late, Roma Falls took over and drew clear by four lengths, stopping the clock in 1:58.3. Trained by Ray Hanna for owners Mary Jeffers and Adele Everett, Roma Falls returned $51.80, $9.00, and $4.80. Vengeful held place, coming back $3.20 and $2.10 while More Than Likely finished third and returned $3.00 to show. The second division of leg one of the Beulah Dygert went as race three on Thursday night with Rocknprincessabbie as the even money favorite. At the start, second-choice Awfully Emotional left for the lead through the opening quarter in :29.2. Moving quickly on the backstretch to the lead was the favorite Rocknprincessabbie and driver Todd Warren. Following a half in 1:00.1 and three quarters in 1:29.4, Rocknprincessabbie and Surviver Di battled the length of the stretch. Prevailing in the end was the favorite Rocknprincessabbie over Surviver Di with Fox Valley Bugatti a late closing third. Owned by Danny Graham and trained by Nelson Willis, Rocknprincessabbie returned $4.00, $2.60, and $3.00. Surviver Di came back $7.20 and $4.80 while Fox Valley Bugatti returned $9.80 to show. The boys were the focus later in the evening as two divisions of leg one of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial Trot took place. In the first division, Mr Strata was the 4-5 favorite, coming off a victory in the recent late closer series final. Driver Casey Leonard wasted no time getting early position with Mr Strata, leading the field through the opening quarter in :29.3. On the backstretch, second-choice Fox Valley Diamo took over through a half in 1:00.1. Into the lane, longshot Storm Winds led briefly before breaking stride while Mr Strata took over a two-length lead late. All out to the wire, Mr Strata held on by a nose over Wrightwood in 1:59.1. Psychic Survior finished third. Owned by Cynthia Willis and trained by Nelson Willis, Mr Strata returned $3.80, $2.60, and $2.60. Wrightwood returned $4.60 and $4.40 while Psychic Survior came back $7.80 to show. The second division of the Erwin F. Dygert, Primed N Powerful was the even money choice. Immediately from the start though it was Casey Leonard and Fear setting the early fractions through :29.1 and :59.1. Primed N Powerful made a move to contend through three quarters in 1:28.4 but Fear responded and opened up, winning by nine lengths at the wire in 1:57.2. Owned by Providence West Inc. and trained by Kenny Collier, Fear returned $6.20, $5.20, and $4.20 as the 2-1 second choice. Bands Ariston got up for second, coming back $8.00 and $6.20 while Dr Venkman was third, paying $14.80 to show. Jim Miller

STICKNEY, IL - Beginning this Thursday, June 2, Hawthorne Race Course and the United States Trotting Association have teamed up to offere guaranteed pools in a pair of pick 4 harness racing wagers at Hawthorne. Through the USTA Strategic Wagering Program, with assistance from Trackmaster.com, guaranteed pools for the Late Pick 4 at Hawthorne every Thursday and Sunday will be offered. On Thursdays, the guarantee in the Late Pick 4 pool will be $15,000, covering races 8-11. On Sundays, the guarantee in the Late Pick 4 pool will be $20,000, covering races 7-10. At Hawthorne Race Course, the Pick 4 wagers carry a $.50 minimum wager and a low 15% takeout. By joining with the USTA Strategic Wagering Program, bettors will receive free past performances through Trackmaster.com for both of these wagering sequences. Jim Miller

The second night of the late closer series finals took place on Friday at Hawthorne as five harness racing finals were contested on a track that started the night as fast, but quickly became sloppy. The first final of the night was the opener on the card as Bucklegirl Bobette and driver Casey Leonard were sent off as the even money favorite. At the start, the favorite broke stride and was shuffled to last. Likeafireballshot carved out the early fractions of :29.2 and :58.1. As Bucklegirl Bobette broke stride again on the backstretch, Likeafireballshot and Jared Finn continued to lead through three quarters in 1:27. Game to the wire was Likeafireballshot, holding off Ashlee's Fine Lady and True To My Heart in 1:55. Likeafireballshot is owned by Finn Racing LLC and Tami Michl and trained by Jared Finn. The second choice in the race at 5-2, she returned $7.40, $7.40 and $4.60. Ashlee's Fine Lady came back $16.40 and $15.20 while True to My Heart returned $5.20 to show. The second final of the night saw our second upset, this time on a larger scale. In the late closer final for fillies and mares that had never won two pari-mutuel races or $10,000 lifetime as of April 1, 2016, Jiggles the Clown was sent off as the favorite. After a contested early pace, 50-1 shot Rocknrol's Image emerged clear into the lane for driver Tyler Shehan and was able to hold off the late move of Jiggles The Clown. Vorst rallied for third as Rocknrol's Image stopped the clock in a career best 1:54.4. Owned and trained by Perry Smith, Rocknrol's Image returned $106.20, $36.20, and $10.80. Jiggles The Clown came back $2.80 and $2.20 while Vorst returned $3.20 to show. The third final of the night was for fillies and mares, non-winners of $1,000 per start in 2015-16. Carving out quick early fractions in the slop of :30.1 and :58.1, Young American led the field into the stretch in 1:27.3. Late in the lane, the field spread seven across the track as Matt Krueger and Joyful Game flew on the outside to get up in the shadow of the wire. Sure You Are finished second, while Lil Miss Knuckles was third. Owned by Orville Rursch and trained by Vince Affrunti, Joyful Game returned $13.60, $5.80 and $3.80. Sure You Are came back $6.00 and $3.20 while Lil Miss Knuckles returned $3.80 to show. The fourth final of the evening was for filly and mare paces, w/o $1,000 per start in 2015-16. A field of eight lined up with Fox Valley Charm as the heavy favorite at 2-5. Leaving quickly was Seeyouatthefinish and Kyle Husted, covering the opening quarter in the slop in :29.1. Seeyouatthefinish took the field through the turn in :58.2 and 1:26.2. In the end, it was Seeyouatthefinish drawing clear at 6-1. Feetonthedashboard was second, with Fox Valley Charm 3rd in 1:54.1 Owned by Bernie and Deb Paul and trained by Deb Paul, Seeyouatthefinish returned $15.60, $8.00 and $3.40. Feetonthedashboard came back $12.40 and $4.20. Fox Valley Charm returned $2.10 to show. The last final of the night was for fillies and mares, non-winners of four pari-mutuel races of $20,000 lifetime as of April 1, 2016. Favored at post time was LK's Nancy Lee for driver Dale Hiteman. Leaving for the lead was Faithful Friend but quickly moving was Awesum World through the quarter in :29.4. Dali Treasure took over on the backstretch, covering the half in :57.4 and three quarters and 1:27.1. Mid-stretch, Awesum World came on again for driver Ridge Warren and held on at 17-1 over Eva Bella and Duneside Perttie. Awesum World covered the mile in the slop in 1:56.1. Owned by David Falzone, Chris Mroz, and Steve Searle and trained by Steve Searle, Awesume World returned $37.60, $16.00, and $8.60. Eva Bella came back $9.60 and $6.40 while Duneside Perttie returned $4.60 to show. Jim Miller

With no live tickets remaining in either the Late Pick 5 or Late Pick 4 on Thursday night at Hawthorne, a pair of carryovers lead into the Friday evening harness racing card. The carryover for the Late Pick 5 at Hawthorne on Friday night is $6,420 while the Late Pick 4 carryover is $7,278. For the Friday evening card, Hawthorne Race Course, and the United States Trotting Association are teaming up with the Strategic Wagering Program to offer guarantees on both pools Friday evening. The Late Pick 5, beginning on race 8, will offer a $25,000 guaranteed pool, including the carryover from Thursday. The Late Pick 4, beginning on race 9, will offer a $30,000 guaranteed pool. Both wagers are a $.50 minimum wager and each carries a low 15% takeout. For details or information, visit www.HawthorneRaceCourse.com or www.USTrotting.com. Jim Miller   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 125 year old facility hosts thoroughbred racing in the Spring and Fall/Winter, and standardbred harness racing in January and the Summer. 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.      

As the summer harness racing meet has gotten into full swing at Hawthorne, the numerous late closer series reached their finals this weekend. Three series finals took place on Thursday over a fast Hawthorne track. The first series final was for trotters that had never won two pari-mutuel races or $10,000 lifetime as of April 1, 2016. Leading the field of eight for the final was Skyway Jaylo from the barn of Larry Lee Smith. Skyway Jaylo entered the final winning both legs by daylight. In the Thursday final, Skyway Jaylo was once again the favorite, sent away at 2-5 odds. Things weren't easy on Skyway Jaylo as he had to work through the first turn to beat Hey Marcel to the lead through an opening quarter in :28.4. After a half, Skyway Jaylo opened a two length lead in :57.0. Into the lane, Skyway Jaylo held the lead by a length in 1:26.2. Asked late, Skyway Jaylo had to work, but was unable to hold off the late move of All About Cowboys and driver Matt Krueger. All About Cowboys scored his first career victory by a head at odds of 7-1. Skyway Jaylo finished second while Hey Marcel was third. Final time for the $12,800 final was 1:56.1. All About Cowboys returned $17.00, $4.80, and $2.60 for owners Green Acres LLC & Mike Klimas and trainer Gregory Kain. Skyway Jaylo returned $2.10 and $2.10. Hey Marcel returned $2.40. The second final on the night was for colts, horses and geldings, $5,000 claimers with allowances. With a purse of $13,200, a field of ten lined up behind the gate. Sent off as the choice in the final was Bossa Nova Baby from the inside at 2-1. Into the first turn Donald Himself was sent away from the outside for the lead in :28.2. First over was Dontgetbyme as he was unable to make the lead while Donald Himself went the half in :56.2. Into the lane, Winning Dream angled out for the lead in 1:25.0 for driver Travis Seekman and never looked back, winning by a length in 1:53.2. Longshot Shhrayray got up for second, just a head ahead of Bossa Nova Baby. Sent off at 12-1, Winning Dream is owned by Niss Allen Inc. and trained by Ken Rucker. Winning Dream returned $27.00, $14.00, and $7.80. Shhrayray came back $18.60 and $8.00. Bossa Nova Baby returned $4.20 to show. The third final on the night carried a purse of $15,400 and was for Illinois conceived or foaled trotters that had never won two races or $10,000 lifetime as of April 1, 2016. Sent off as the even money favorite was Powerful Princess, who broke stride prior to the start and spotted the field five lengths early. Through the opening quarter PJ Boy held the early lead in :29.4. After a half in 1:00.1, both Mr Strata and Awfully Emotional were on the move. Into the lane, Mr Strata and driver Kyle Wilfong were just in front of Awfully Emotional through three quarters in 1:30.0 as Powerful Princess began to close down the center of the stretch. At the wire, Mr Strata held on over Awfully Emotional in 1:59.0 while Powerful Princess finished third. Owned by Cynthia Kay Willis and trained by Nelson Willis, Mr Strata returned $17.00, $7.80, and $3.80. Awfully Emotional came back $7.60 and $2.80 while Powerful Princess returned $2.80 to show. Jim Miller

As the second full weekend of harness racing wrapped up at Hawthorne Race Course, the temperatures warmed and a couple of drivers heated up. Leading driver Casey Leonard had a big weekend in the bike as he guided home 13 winners over the four day racing week. Leonard opened the racing week with a three bagger on Thursday. On Friday evening, Leonard guided home five winners, some at big prices. Leonard won the fourth race with Little Miss Torie ($57.20), followed by favored Financial Effort two races later. In the ninth race Leonard was back in the winner's circle with the longest shot on the board as Dali Treasure ($51.00) rallied late. The following race Leonard drove home Sure You Are ($33.20) and closed out the evening with favorite Jiggles the Clown in the finale. Leonard won three more times on Saturday, including another impressive score by Ontario Success (1:51) in the Saturday feature. He closed the 13 win weekend with a pair of victories on Sunday evening. Driver Todd Warren also had a fine weekend, winning seven races over the four day span. Warren opened the week winning a pair on Thursday night. After going winless Friday, he came back with a trio of scores Saturday, driving home both Old Man River and KC Rambunctious Boy to their second wins each on the meet. On Sunday, Warren won twice more as John Jay and It'saswan both continued their fine Hawthorne form. Capping the Sunday card was a first for driver Juan Franco as he recorded the first pari-mutuel victory of his career in the Sunday finale. Franco drove 25-1 shot Parklane Dragon to a 2¼ length score for trainer Nelson Willis in Sunday's tenth race. Stakes Nominations for Two-Year-Old Races Posted The nominees for the four two-year-old stakes races have been posted on the Hawthorne website. Two-year-old filly trotters will compete in the Fox Valley Flan stakes as 31 fillies were nominated. The Kadabra Stakes for two-year-old colt trotters closed with 30 nominations. In the Incredible Tillie Stakes for two-year-old filly pacers, 72 were nominated. The Incredible Finale Stakes for two-year-old colt pacers ended up with 61 nominees. To view the full list of all stakes nominations, visit the Hawthorne website at www.HawthorneRaceCourse.com and click on the "Horsemen" tab. 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 125 year old facility hosts thoroughbred racing in the Spring and Fall/Winter, and standardbred harness racing in January and the Summer. 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

In an effort to help horsemen prepare for the upcoming Hawthorne summer meet Harness Racing Secretary Pete Hanley has announced that Hawthorne will host a "second round" of qualifiers this week which be conducted on Saturday, May 7th, prior to the start of the regular Saturday night program. The qualifiers will get underway at 4:30 p.m. with the live card getting started at 7:20 p.m. Entries will be accepted until 10 a.m. on Friday, May 6th for the Saturday qualifiers. Drivers participating in qualifiers are reminded that training suits or colors are mandatory for all qualifying sessions. Hawthorne will host live racing on Friday, May 6th and Saturday, May 7th this week. Post time will be 7:20 p.m. each night. There will be no live racing on Sunday, May 8th. Hawthorne will then begin its four night a week schedule (Thur-Sun) starting on Thursday, May 12th. Tom Kelley

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