Day At The Track
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Illinois conceived and foaled pacers and trotters were back in action on Saturday, Sept. 22nd and Sunday, Sept. 23rd as Balmoral Park played host to a trio of stakes events for two and three-year-olds.

After a few starts at Cal Expo to get acquainted with Wrangler Reward, Karen Isbell guided the hard-knocking 7-year-old to a coast-to-coast score in impressive harness racing fashion last weekend. Isbell claimed Wrangler Reward for $3,500 back on January 13 for herself, her husband Allen Aldrich and thoroughbred trainer Jeff Bonde, and was rewarded with a victory as owner/driver/trainer in her fourth teaming with the pacer.

The lightly raced and vastly improved Hot Pistol scored his fourth consecutive victory at Monticello Raceway on Tuesday afternoon, February 21 when harness racing driver Jimmy Marohn, Jr. guided the 5 year old altered son of Incredible Finale to a lifetime best of 1:56.3.

On paper, Dudis Angel looks to be in a sweet position in Saturday's (February 18) co-featured seventh race at Cal Expo for the trotting set. The 7-year-old King Conch mare sports strong human connections in harness racing owner-trainer Bob Johnson and driver Lemoyne 'Mooney' Svendsen.

After starting off last month at Cal Expo with a pair of costly miscues, Aston Boko closed out 2011 with a mistake-free mile for harness racing owner/trainer Marco Rios and regular pilot Rich Wojcio while proving a punctual favorite.

The countdown to Illinois' biggest night of racing, Super Night 23 on Saturday, Sept. 17th, began in earnest on Saturday as elimination action for the Orange & Blue, Filly Orange & Blue, Tony Maurello Stake, Grandma Ann & Pete Langley Memorial highlighted the 13-race harness racing program.

Ronny B Good, one of just two mares and the second oldest of the ten competitors, captured the $6500 championship final of the Running Aces "Survivor Series" Sunday night (July 31). The eight-year-old Incredible Finale mare, owned by Banks Standardbreds of nearby Cannon Falls, swept from eighth at the half and seventh at the three-quarters to win by a neck in 1:55.1 for driver Lemoyne "Moonie" Svendsen.

Sporting a perfect three for three harness racing record coming into Friday's $9,000 Fox Valley Barzgar Stake at Maywood Park, Ronald Phillips and John Carver's Peachys Pistol figured to be the one to beat after drawing the inside post.

With the Illinois harness racing conceived and foaled stakes season in full swing Balmoral Park played host to a pair of state-bred stakes events on Saturday, June 18th and Sunday, June 19th. The top older pacers in the state assembled on Saturday night as a classy field of nine were sent postward in the $30,000 Broadway Preview Stake.

The 2011 harness racing stakes season at Maywood Park kicked off on Friday night and the $9,000 Sportsmaster Stake did not lack for action or adventure as three of the six participants made breaks over the sloppy track and second place finisher Fox Valley Liber managed to draw the wrath of the judges.

Claim Jumper, who captured two of the four stakes races decided last year for the filly trotters, gets back to work this Saturday (March 19) at Cal Expo in a conditioned event as she prepares for the next round of big-money harness racing events for the division next month.

If the harness racing industry doesn't improve in Illinois then stud farms like Walker Standardbreds will merely become hobby operations rather than a viable commercial businesses. That's the opinion of long-time breeder Dr Kenneth Walker who owns Walker Standardbreds in Sherman, Illinois.

Brian Walkington is only 36 but even now he has no idea how many standardbreds he has sold throughout the world. And the Illinois born and educated former postal worker turned harness racing agent is in no hurry to sit back, count and rest on his laurels.

The state's top two-year-olds were in action on Friday night at Maywood Park as harness racing eliminations for next week's Cardinal & Violet Stake Finals were contested. With each race drawing three elimination fields the top two finishers in each battle along with two third place finishers (drawn by lot) will be back for next week's prestigious finals.

Hanover Stakes action was in full swing on Saturday (July 17) at Balmoral Park as 10 of the 14 races on the harness racing program featured Hanover action for two and three-year-old pacers of both sexes.

As was the case in Thursday night's Mi Metallica Stake for two-year-old pacing fillies, a pair of stakes winners from last week were right back in the charmed circle on Friday night at Maywood Park as TJ's Rocky and Fox Valley Libero made it back to back harness racing scores with each taking a $7,000 division of the Fox Valley Barzgar Stake.

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