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Springfield based trainer Dirk Simpson will send out a trio of fillies in Wednesday’s Lady Lincoln Land stake single elimination and has a fourth already in next week’s $110,000 final via a bye. Only an eighth place or higher finish is needed in the 10-horse first race field to advance and therefore many trainers turned their thumbs down for a free pass into the 2-year-old ICF trotting deciding instead to keep their filly sharp and take their chances in the elim. Division’s leading money earner Fox Valley Lotus ($40,615), the Springfield champion and the Du Quoin runner-up, took the bye and Simpson’s Bands Pippa will by-pass her way into the final as well. “All the other top money earner trainers passed on the bye before I took it with Bands Pippa,” said Simpson. “She’s earned less ($11,636) than the three of my other fillies racing in the elimination and less than several others entered.” Simpson’s top two freshman fillies, Bailey’s Wish, the Springfield runner-up, and Du Quoin champion Fox Valley Hosanna, disappointed in last week’s elimination. Bailey Wish made a break and was distanced while Fox Valley Hosana also finished far up the track in seventh. Simpson’s other elimination starter is Say No Moe who was third in the Shawnee. “I was totally surprised by the break from Bailey’s Wish,” continued the Illinois Harness Hall of Fame trainer. “We did some things we believe will take care of the problem and I expect her to race just find in the elimination. “Hosana displaced a palate so it wasn’t her fault she did so poorly. We worked on taking care of that issue and with the rail Wednesday instead of the 10-hole she had in the American National, she should do just fine, too. “Say No Moe landed the 10-hole Wednesday but she should be all right to move along to the final where hopefully she’ll draw better.” Bailey’s Wish ($33,338), programmed as the 4-1 second choice with Dave Magee, drew the two-slot Wednesday while here stable-mate Fox Valley Hosana (6-1, Mike Oosting), with $30,495 in earnings landed the one. The 7-2 morning line favorite is the Roger Welch Stable’s S V Spirit (p.p. 6, Todd Warren), a four-time season winner in 10 starts. Starting to her right is Fox Valley Flan champion Vienna (5-1, Kyle Wilfong). Also looking to advance to the Lady Lincoln Land showdown are Green Acres) 15-1, Jon Anderson), Fox Valley Skylar (12-1, Dale Hiteman), Lora Lee Breeze (15-1, Matt Krueger), High Balance (15-1, Lavern Hostetler), Macie Rae (10-1, Brian Carpenter) and Say No Mo(8-1, John De Long). Simpson’s Super Night champ Trot Fudge Sundae is racing in Thursday’s Hoosier Park Invitational where the 3-year-old ICF filly landed the 9-hole against older trotters. “She’s got some stakes still coming up and I wanted to keep her sharp so that’s why she’s there,” said Dirk. “There was nowhere else to race her.” By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

State-bred pacers were front and center on Saturday, Sept. 21st at Balmoral Park as a pair of two-year-old events shared top billing on the 13-race program. An overflow field of 12 freshman pacing fillies was sent postward in the $14,200 Thrifty Way Stake to kick off the Saturday action. When the dust settled it was Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly who emerged with a 2 ½ length victory in a career best of 1:54.4 with Mike Oosting at the controls. The Nelson Willis trained daughter of Lexington Legend—Waggle was reserved in the early going as Party Hangover Two (John De Long) and Western Dame (Dale Hiteman) led the field through splits of 28.0, 56.1 & 1:25.2. Tipping three and then four deep off excess cover at the top of the stretch, Molly Go Lightly then rattled home in 28.2 going from fifth to first to notch her third win in nine career starts. Party Hangover Two (John De Long), the even-money favorite in the race finished second while Ms Solongbyebye (Casey Leonard) overcame a starting spot in the second tier as she staged a long rally to salvage the show dough. A field of 11 two-year-old pacing colts was sent post ward in the $14,100 Yates Eagle to complete the stakes action. After managing to avoid traffic problems that were caused by a breaking horse just after the half-mile mark, driver Dave Magee guided Z Tam Racing, Mike Polansky, Joseph Mc Caffrey and David Mc Caffrey’s Ringo’s Z Tam to a three-quarter-length victory in 1:54.0. Aggressively handled by the Hall of Fame reinsman Ringo’s Z Tam stormed to the front from post three leading the field by an opening quarter in 27.2. After working a give and go on the backside the striking chestnut was still in command as the field reached the half in 55.4. With the confusion in the back of the back caused by the breaker Fox Valley Deuce (Dale Hiteman) swept up on the far turn to lead the field by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.4. Magee then went to work on the gelded son of Yankee Skyscaper—Rons Girl through the stretch and the Dave McCaffrey trainee responded beautifully, reeling in a tiring Fox Valley Deuce and holding firm for his second win in six lifetime starts. One Sure Apache (Mike Oosting) rallied to be second while longshot Dunside Art (John De Long) worked his way around the traffic problems to rally for third. David Baum   

Division leader Auniqueaquistion had no problem overcoming the dreaded 10-hole thanks in part to another perfect steer from the red-hot Mike Oosting as the filly rolled to a 1 ½ length triumph in the $174,000 Grandma Ann Stake for three-year-old pacing fillies. The final time was 1:52.4. Floating away from the outside post Oosting had the daughter of Cole Muffler—Shessoluvabull in seventh as Dune In Red (Todd Warren) sped through an opening quarter in 27.0. The action really started to heat up going to the half as Feel Like Dancing (Kyle Wilfong) vacated the pocket and quickly swept into the lead as the fillies reached the half-way point in 56.4. “I was really happy we were able toget a hole even if was just for a little bit,” said Oosting. “I was prepared to go towards the front the entire way if I had to because this filly felt better tonight than she has been for most of the year.” A live outer flow continued around the far turn as Dallas Jones (Casey Leonard) moved up to challenge Feel Like Dancing, towing up a fit and fresh Auniqueaquistion who was cruising along in a perfect second position as the field hit the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.3. Setting sail for the money Oosting moved the Donna Lee Ozment trained miss to the far outside and she responded beautifully as she rattled off a final quarter to score for the ninth time in 14 starts this season.Schmatie (John De Long) rallied well to finish second while Dune In Red held on for third. “Considering we had the 10-hole you couldn’t have dreamed up a better trip,” explained Oosting. “She was just awesome tonight which is a credit to Donna. She really felt like her old selfout there.” At the top of her division for two straight years now Auniqueaquistion boasts 13 wins and five seconds in 22 starts with career earnings of $330,155 for owner John Carver. Despite being saddled with the outside post Auniqueaquistion was well backed at the windows returning $5.80, $3.80 & $3.60. David Baum   

Jesse De Long’s Let’s Go Higher soared to an impressive three-length victory over nine other filly and mare pacers in Saturday’s $130,000 Lorna Propes Stake stopping Mystical Victress’s bid to become the first four-time Super Night winner. The final time was 1:50.4.    Sweeping from fourth to first for driver John De Long after an opening quarter in 27.2 the five-year-old daughter of Cole Muffler then proceeded to roll through splits of 55.0 & 1:22.   “I didn’t want to rough up my mare too much early on so I thought I would just see how they got away and then move to the front once things settled down,” explained De Long. “I was a little surprised Mike didn’t leave a little more with his mare (Mystical Victress) so I was pretty happy to wind up in control of things like we did.”   After putting away a first over bid from Just By Design (Dave Magee) Let’s Go Higher began to put daylight between herself and her rivals quickly opening up a three-length advantage by the mid-stretch call.   “I looked back and saw Dave’s horse was starting to back up the outer flow a bit and we were starting to get away from the rest of them so I was pretty confident at that point,” said De Long.   On cruise control the rest of the way the Heidi Rohr trainee was never seriously threatened as she rolled under the wire with her ninth win in 29 starts this season. Mystical Victress (Mike Oosting) managed to rally for the second place check while Fox Valley Absolut (Robert Smolin), who was used hard to find a good early spot from her outside post held on for the show dough.   Bet down to 4-5 after her impressive elimination win Let’s Go Higher returned $3.60, $2.20 & $2.10 while winning for the 18th time in her career. The victory helped push her career bankroll to a gaudy $235,505.   David Baum

It’s been an extraordinary summer for the De Long family and it isn’t over yet.  They have three of their horses in Super Night championships Saturday, energizing the whole Wisconsin based clan of horsemen. John De Long drove Let’s Go Higher to an impressive 1:50.4 clocking when the mare was eight lengths the best in her Lorna Propes elimination, propelling her to the 5-2 second choice behind Mystical Victress (programmed 9-5) in that $130,000 Championship. The 24-year-old De Long was second with both Party Hangover Two and Kiwi Party in their Orange and Blue Filly elims, moving each of his father Jessie De Long trained freshmen into that $200,000 Final. “John and I were so proud to have a Super Night winner last year (Party Hangover). It was a dream that came true,” said Jesse. “Now to have three of our horses in finals this year has the whole family pretty excited.” Let’s Go Higher spend most of the year out east under the care of trainer Heidi Rohn, posting 7 wins and over $66,000 in earnings, before coming back to the Clinton, Wisconsin Farm for a shot at a Super Night stake. “Heidi and her people did a phenomenal job with Let’s Go Higher,” said Jesse. “The mare is on fire right now. She came back to us just super-sharp. “We had a heck of a (super night elimination) weekend and John drove really well. He was bringing everybody’s horses’ home.” The proud papa was right-on with that statement. Besides the De Long three finalists John brought home six other horses (Monopoly Man, Cole Heat, Uncle Smoothie, Schmatie, Fox Valley Van and I Bizel The Shizel) into Super Night championships with either a second or a third place finish. During the spring Jesse wasn’t sure which of his yearling filly purchases, Party Hangover Two or Kiwi Party, would be bound for the Illinois fair circuit and which would compete on the Chicagoland tracks. “We bought Party Hangover Two privately and we bought Kiwi Party at a sale,” continued Jesse. “Kiwi trained better all spring. At that time Party Hangover Two was a little behind her and we had a decision to make. It was a toss-up as to what to do. One filly was going to race on the Chicago circuit and the other on the fair circuit. It was a tough decision and it turned out really well for us. “My son John took his time with Party Hangover Two and the filly has gotten just better and better. “My son Austin did a great job with Kiwi Party on the fair circuit. She won a number of races including the County Fair championship at Springfield and she showed last weekend she’s good enough to race in the Orange and Blue championship. “I have four boys and all have had a great summer. “My youngest Eric goes to Iowa and he just had the 2-year-old champion there which is awfully good for a 17-year-old. My son Ben (19) pretty much campaigned our horses up in the Minnesota fairs and had three of his horses went on to win championships on closing night at Running Acres. “Austin (23), who also owns a part of Kiwi Party, takes care of all three our horses who are racing in Super Night championships and of course, John is driving just great. He went up to Minnesota and drove the winner in four championships there and has done a terrific job with our Chicago horses. “I’m proud of them all.” A “Super” ending would put an exclamation point on this memorable summer for the De Long family. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

With all the preliminary action in the books it’s now “go-time” for everyone involved in Illinois’ biggest night of standardbred racing as Super Night 2013 is just six nights away at Balmoral Park. After a hectic weekend which saw 12 elimination tussles on Saturday the action slowed down just a bit on Sunday night with six more elimination’s contested for a trio of Super Night events. Kicking off the action were three-year-old trotting colts as a total of 17 diagonally gaited sophomores battled in a pair of $15,000 Su Mac Lad Stake elimination’s.The top five finishers in each division will be back on Saturday, Sept. 14th for the $121,000 final. In the first elimination “Bill” Wright and Mystical Marker Farms King Mufasa continued his domination of this division as he rolled to a one-length victory in 1:56.3 with Mike Oosting at the controls. Sent to the front by Oosting after an opening quarter in 29.1 the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Foxy N Diamonds was in complete control the rest of the way as he rattled off middle splits of 58.1 & 1:28.1. With the “soft” middle half under his belt, the Mike Brink trainee had plenty in reserve for the stretch drive, trotting home in an effortless 28.2 for his 11th win in 12 starts this season. Semper Fit (Dave Magee) finished a nice second despite leaving from the outside post while Fox Valley Camo (Jamaica Patton) was third.Happy Balance finished fourth and Riet’s Kid was fifth. The division leader has now banked over $156,000 this year for his proud connections and he figures to be an overwhelming favorite on Super Night. In the second elimination Mystical Marker Farms and Jack & Peggy Hood’sPowerful Poe shed the runner-role he had assumed seven times already this season knocking off eight rivals by two-lengths in 1:56.2 with Todd Warren handling the driving duties. Despite leaving from an outside post the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Fox Valley Poetry landed in a good early spot as Powerful Valor (Jared Finn) and Skyline Road (Marcus Miller) battled through splits of 30.0 58.4 & 1:28.1. After securing racing room in the lane Warren asked the Dirk Simpson trainee for his best and the gelding responded beautifully as he trotted home in a brisk 27.3 to post his third win in 14 starts this year. Fox Valley Legend (Dale Hiteman ) rallied well to be second for red-hot trainer Joel Smith while Fox Valley Dubai (Dave Magee) finished third. Skyline Road and Powerful Valor finished fourth and fifth respectively to earn the last two spots into the Su Mac Lad final. Next up were three-year-old trotting fillies as a field of 10 looked for nine spots in next week’s $106,000 Lady Ann Reed Stake. They will be joined in the finale by Divination who received a bye into the Super Night  tussle. Flashing the form that netted her divisional honors in her two-year-old season, James Bafia, Eugene White and Samuel Daddono’s Trot Fudge Sundae reported home with a half-length victory in a career best of 1:56.0 with “Mr. Super Night”, Dave Magee in the bike. Givena confident steer by Magee the Dirk Simpson trained daughter of American Native—What A Joy shot right to the front from post six putting up splits of 29.1, 59.3& 1:28.1 while under a snug hold from her Hall of Fame pilot. Fit and fresh as she straightened for the money, the long striding bay put up a 27.4 final quarter to secure her 14th career victory in her 26th lifetime start. Little Ms Chrissy (Robert Taylor) finished a game second while Sara The Spy (Todd Warren) was third. Also securing spots in the final were Just For Fun, Fox Valley Yavonne, Powerful Goddess, American Empress, Kelsey’s Star and High Stepper. A total of 25 filly and mare pacers, three-year-olds and up, were entered for the $123,000 Lorna Propes Stake necessitating a trio of $15,000 elimination tussles. The top three in each division along with one fourth place finisher,(drawn by lot) will be back for the big cash next Saturday night. In the first elimination James Strzalka, Nancy Magnus, Norma Schulfer and James Skvarla’s Fox Valley Absolut exhibited the form that has netted her more than $361,000 in career earnings as she shook off a tough first over trip to score by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:52.4 for driver Robert Smolin. Taking advantage of a nice inside draw the seven-year-old daughter of Sportsmaster was able to save ground through opening splits of 27.2 & 56.2 before moving to the outside as the field headed around the final bend. Grinding her way towards the top the Mike Schulfer trainee was right on the pace setting Tamarac Sassy’s flank as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.2. Seemingly finding another gear as the distaffers moved through the lane Fox Valley Absolut swallowed up the pace setter with a 27.1 final quarter as she began to widen her margin while scoring for the fifth time in 25 starts this year. Kimberley R (Dale Hiteman) shook loose late to be the bridesmaid while Tamarac Sassy (Casey Leonard) held on for third. Willow Gram finished fourth. In the middle split the Terry Leonard owned and trained Whistle Pig looked like a princess as she pulled off an 18-1 stunner, scoring by a neck in a career best of 1:52.0 with Casey Leonard handling the driving chores. Placed near the back of the pack despite leaving from post position three the six-year-old daughter of Park Place moved into the outer flow on the far turn as Rev Me Up (John Roberts) sped through splits of 27.2, 55.4 & 1:24.0. Moving up with live cover Leonard tipped his mare four deep turning for home and she responded beautifully, speeding home in 27.1 to put up a career best. Fox Valley Touche (Dale Hiteman) closed well to finish second while Mystical Victress (Mike Oosting), the 1-9 favorite in the race finished third. Kate The Great was fourth. In the final elimination east coast invader Let’s Go Higher made it known that she will be a force to be reckoned with next week as the Heidi Rohr trained  five-year-old posted an eye catching eight-length romp in 1:50.4 with John DeLong at the controls. Perfectly positioned in third as Party Hangover charged through splits of 26.3 & 54.2 De Long moved the daughter of Park Place to the outside as the field moved mid-way around the final turn. Leaving the others in her wake Let’s Go Higher sped by the three-quarter-mile station in 1:22.3 as she set sail for the wire. Finishing off the mile in grand fashion Let’s Go Higher sped home in 28.1 to post her eighth win of the year for owner Jesse De Long. Just By Design (Dave Magee) finished second while Tune In (John Roberts) finished fourth but was moved up to third via a disqualification of Fox Valley Hermia who was cited for interfering with several horses near the top of the stretch. Cole Blue finished fifth but was moved up to fourth because of the DQ. Sunday’s 50 cent Pick 5 wager was not hit so there will be a carryover of $10,416 into Wednesday night’s pool. There will now be a $30,000 guaranteed pool on Wednesday’s Pick 5. The Pick 5 entails races 2-6 each night. Handicappers across North America can get a headstart on their competition with free 12 line program pages for the guaranteed pool courtesy of the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative and Track Master on the handicapping section at www.ustrotting.com. Tom Kelley ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- KING MUFASA POSTED HIS 11TH WIN IN 12 STARTS THIS SEASON AS Mike Oosting STEERED THE DIVISION LEADER TO AN EASY WIN IN THE FIRST OF TWO SU MAC LAD STAKE ELIMINATIONS ON SUNDAY NIGHT. TROT FUDGE SUNDAE AND HALL OF FAMER Dave Magee TEAMED UP TO WIN THE LADY ANN REED STAKE ELIMINATION IN 1:56.0 ON SUNDAY NIGHT. LET'S GO HIGHER ROMPED TO AN EIGHT-LENGTH DECISION WITH JOHN DE LONG AT THE CONTROLS IN THE LAST OF THREE LORNA PROPES STAKE ELIMINATION'S ON SUNDAY NIGHT. THE 5YO DAUGHTER OF Park Place STOPPED THE CLOCK IN A BLISTERING 1:50.4. -----Original Message----- From: David Baum To: Tom Kelley ; Mike Paradise Sent: Sun, Sep 8, 2013 9:09 pm  

Illinois’ top older pacers were back in action on Friday, August 30th at Maywood Park as a field of eight classy veterans squared off in the $30,000 Egyptian Stake. When the smoke cleared it was Sawgrass Farms Uncle Smoothie who emerged victorious as the four-year-old gelding shot right by the pace setting NJ’s Big Deal on the backstretch in route to a 1 ½ length victory in a blistering 1:52.0 over a track that was rated as “good” after a nasty storm rolled through the area earlier in the night. Confidently handled by driver John DeLong the son of Sportsmaster pulled from the three-hole after watching NJ’s Big Deal (Mike Cox) and heavily favored Fort Silky (Casey Leonard) battle through splits of 26.3 & 56.1. In full stride heading down the backstretch for the final time the Nelson Willis trainee blew right by NJ’s Big Deal essentially getting the “jump” on division leader Fort Silky while that gelding was forced to wait for racing room as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.0. The issue was never really in doubt from that point on as Uncle Smoothie continued strong to the wire for his third win in 16 starts this season. Fort Silky was forced to settle for the runner-up role while NJ’s Big Deal finished a distant third, 12-lengths behind the winner. Sent off as the 7-2 third choice in the wagering Uncle Smoothie returned $9.60, $3.80 & 2.40 while moving his career bankroll up to $242,251. Friday’s $1 Pick 4 wager was not hit so there will be a very healthy carryover of $12,271 into next Thursday’s (Sept.5) pool. The Pick 4 is held on races 9-12 on Thursday’s Maywood card. by Tom Kelley  

COLUMBUS, MN. - Al-Mar Passion, who owner-trainer-driver Rick Magee calls "the best trotter I've ever sat behind", cruised to a 2:01.2 triumph on Tuesday night at Running Aces, besting Chewy Dunkerton (Steve Wiseman) and She's A Foxie Lady (John DeLong).  The $13,500 state-restricted two-year-old trot was the final prep for the freshman squaregaiters before the August 31 Minnesota State Championships Night when 11 different $20,000 races will be contested to determine Gopher State champions in each age, sex and gait division. Six Gun regained his winning ways in a $9900 Open Pace scoring in 1:52.1, his fourth score at Running Aces this summer, including an all-time all-age track record of 1:50.4 on July 16th.  Jason Ryan, just returned to Minnesota after a week on Prince Edward Island (where he finished third in the prestigious Gold Cup and Saucer), trains and drives the gray gelding for owner Anthony Artuso. Armbro David (DeLong) was a fast-closing second with Steuben Jumpinjack (Wiseman) completing the trifecta. The ultra-consistent Show Runner, the unquestioned queen of Running Aces despite being only three years old, bested the older mare pacers again in an $8925 Fillies and Mares Open.  Trainer-driver Tim Maier made a bold move to the front nearing the half and maintained an open lengths margin the rest of the way until stopping the teletimer in 1:52.3.  Show Runner now has seven wins, three place and one show finishes in 11 local appearances in Minnesota for owners Denise Maier and Eileen Brodbar.  Passion R Virginie (Ryan) and Still Electric (DeLong) were second and third. Gregg Keidel

COLUMBUS, MN. - Harness racing driver John DeLong had the hot hand at Running Aces on Tuesday night winning four of the nine races, including three trips to the winner's circle for trainer Don Sherman. DeLong's impressive evening started with Armbro David in the second race, an $8000 Open Pace. Using a moderate pacesetting :58 second first half to maximum advantage, the winner sprinted home in :54.3 seconds to hold off Restless Yankee (Nick Roland) and Cowboy Hanover (Lemoyne Svendsen). It was the third Minnesota victory in eight starts for Armbro David, owned by Matthew Percy and trained by Sherman. In the very next race, Sherman's Black Lace extended her win streak to four for DeLong, despite a move up from $3500 to $4500 claiming ranks. Owned by Michael Sloan, the sleek mare closed from fifth at the halfway point to edge Frankly Scarlett (Steve Wiseman) by a neck. Allusive Annie (Jason Ryan) checked in third beaten just one length. The driver-tandem of DeLong and Sherman also captured a $7000 conditioned pace with Mayfield Hanover, who got up in the final strides to edge Ding Dong Boy (Ryan Lems) and Marced Card (Nick Roland) in 1:53.3. Jessica Roegner owns the winning son of Dragon Again who won for the second time in nine tries at Running Aces. She's A Foxie Lady provided DeLong's other triumph when she bested a full field of Minnesota-sired two-year-old trotters in 2:02.2. Owned by John's father Jesse DeLong, the filly bested Chewy Dunkerton (Wiseman), who is owned by John's brother Benjamin DeLong, and Abra's Starlight (Roland) in the lucrative $13,500 race. Racing resumes at Running Aces on Wednesday night with a 7:00 PM (CST) post. by Gregg Keidel  

COLUMBUS, MN. - Salutation Hanover, one the the best bred and richest trotters ever to campaign in Minnesota, flashed his "back class" on Wednesday night to capture the $9500 Open Trot at Running Aces in 1:56.  It was just the eighth start of 2013 for the son of Andover Hall, but his third win and first in open company.  He now has amassed 25 career victories and lifetime earnings of $646,490.  Nick Roland steered Salutation Hanover, who is owned by Dr. Patrick Graham and trained by Brett Ballinger.  Hit It Hard (Luke Plano) was second with Shelby County (Lemoyne Svendsen) third in the featured race. Drivers Rick Magee, John DeLong and Luke Plano each scored doubles on the program.  Gregg Keidel

COLUMBUS, MN. - One of the winningest and most popular horses in Running Aces six year history returned to the winner's circle Tuesday night, but this time in an upset 1:52.1 triumph in the featured weekly $8500 Open Pace. An 11-time winner in 2012, often as a heavy favorite, Restless Yankee (Nick Roland) was dispatched at odds of 8-1 seeking his initial open class victory of 2013. He edged fellow closers Chewy Baca (Rick Magee) and Firstclassallthway (John DeLong) as odds-on front-running favorite Six Gun (Jason Ryan) faded to fourth after cutting all the fractions. The six-year-old Minnesota-sired gelding has now won 38 times in his fruitful career and banked $218,000 for owners Ron Emerson and Mark Holtan. A co-featured $9000 Fillies and Mares Open was also contested on the program with Show Runner (Tim Maier) rebounding from a pair of recent place finishes in the same race to capture the distaff feature for the third time in five weeks. The impressive filly, owned by Denise Maier and Eileen Brodbar, upset heavily favored Love This Place (DeLong), who recently arrived from Chicago, at odds of 9-2. Still Electric (Don Sherman) was within a length at the wire reached in 1:54.4. Earlier on the card, Al-Mar Passion (Magee) lowered the track standard for two-year-old trotters to 2:00.1, beating Chewy Dunkerton (Steve Wiseman) and Abra's Starlight (Roland) in a $13,500 state-restricted freshman trot. Rick Magee also owns the son of Abra who now has three wins in five seasonal starts. Racing resumes Wednesday night at Running Aces with a full field of trotters going postward in the $9500 eighth race Open Trot. by Gregg Keidel

After a busy weekend of elimination’sthe fields have been set for one of the biggest nights of racing at Balmoral Park and now the count down begins to next Saturday’s (July 27th) Chicago Southland Festival of Racing. After a trio of stakes were filled on Saturday, July 20th the last two elimination tussles were contested on Sunday night with a total of 16 Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing fillies squaring off in a pair of $10,000 Ann Vonian Stake elim’s. The top five finishers in each division will be back next Saturday to slug it out for a purse of $60,000. In the first elimination Roy Drevsand Brett & Candice Wilfong’s Feel Like Dancing came charging through the passing lane to win by a length in a career best of 1:52.3 for driver Kyle Wilfong. After leading the field through anopening quarter in 28.3 Wilfong elected to allow a hard charging Dallas Jones(Casey Leonard) take command. That filly proceeded to rattle off middle splitsof 56.2 & 1:25.1 while the Brett Wilfong trained miss enjoyed a perfect pocket sitting ride. After finding room in the passing lane, the daughter of Skydancer Hanover—Fox Valley Funny exploded past the pace setter finishing offthe mile with a 27.1 final panel to post her seventh win in 14 starts thisyear. Dallas Jones held on to be second while the heavily favored Aliyah Maria(Todd Warren) finished third. Incredible Filly (Mike Cox) and My Marissa Clair(Phil Knox) also earned spots in the final. The second elimination was notwithout its anxious moments for “chalk” players but when the smoke cleared it was John Carver’s Auniqueaquistion who came out on top with a hard fought half-length victory in 1:52.2 for driver Dave Magee. Placed well off the pace while DuneIn Red (John De Long) and R Ciao Baby (Casey Leonard) sped through splits of28.2, 55.3 & 1:24.1, Magee had Auniqueaquistion in the outer flow as the fillies turned for the money. Picking off one rival after another, the Donna Lee Ozment trained daughter of Cole Muffler—Shesoluvabull went from fifth to first with a 27.3 final quarter to notch her sixth win in nine starts this year. Dune In Red turned in a solid effort to finish second while State Street Liz (Robert Smolin) shook loose late to be a fast closing third. The last two spots in the final went to R Ciao Baby and Mystical Danica (Lewayne Miller). Saturday’s action started with a total of 19 state-bred two-year-old pacing fillies battling in a pair of $10,000 Loyal Opposition elimination’s. The top five in each split will return next week to meet for a purse of $65,000. In the opening division Bruce & Mary Alexander’s Western Dame made it two in a row as she cruised to an impressive two-length victory in a career best of 1:54.2 for driver John DeLong. Charging from fifth to first after an opening quarter of 28.2, the daughter of Sagebrush—Dixie Dame left no doubt as to who was the best in this event as she continued on through middle splits of 57.0 & 1:26.0. Rolling home in 28.2, the $14,000 yearling purchase was never seriously threatened through the stretch as she scored for the second time in three starts. Thesleazyprincess (Mike Oosting) rallied late to be the bridesmaid while Anything I Want (Todd Warren) was a game third. My Little Bit (Robert Smolin) finished fourth and Fox Valley Rockn (Kyle Wilfong) was fifth. The second division of the Loyal Opposition elimination’s also provided a sharp winner as Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly posted her maiden breaking win, reporting home with a 2 ¾ length verdict in 1:55.1 with Mike Oosting in tow. The homebred daughter of Lexington Legend—Waggle was confidently handled in the race ranging up first over through opening splits of 29.3 & 58.4. After sweeping into the lead as the field moved around the final turn, the Nelson Willis trainee led the fillies by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.4. The issue was never in doubt from that point on as Molly Go Lightly was a cruise control through a 28.2 final quarter to post her first win in four starts. Green Valey (Robert Smolin) came on late to finish second while April May Dune (Dave Magee) was third. Also gaining spots in the final were Fox Valley Amanda(Dale Hiteman) and Ms Solongbyebye (Jamaica Patton). Next on the docket were three-year-old pacing colts as a total of 15 state-bred sophomores battled in apair of $10,000 Incredible Finale Stake elimination’s. Once again the top five will be back for the “festival” where they will battle for a purse of $59,000. In the first elimination Paymaq Racing, D&M Trading & Mystical Marker Farms Mystical Walter continued to turn heads in this division as he posted his Third Straight victory, reporting home with a deceptively easy 2 ¼ length score in 1:51.1 for driver Casey Leonard. Fresh off his win in last week’s Hanover Stake, the gelded son of Yankee Skyscaper—Yankee Blue put his powerful brush to good use rushing from fifth to first after an opening quarter in 28.0. The Erv Miller trainee never looked back the rest of the way, effortlessly posting middle splits of 56.2 & 1:24.1 before sealing the deal with a wicked 27.0 final quarter for his seventh win in 15 career starts. Monopoly Man (John De Long) followed the winner’s every move after giving way on the backside to finish second while Fancy Creek Elusiv (Dave Magee) was third. Also grabbing spots in the final were Sage Ruck (Mike Oosting) and Fox Valley Action (Todd Warren). In the second division John & Mary Krasnican’s Big Brad came storming through the stretch to win by a neck in a lifetime best of 1:51.0 for Robert Smolin. Moving up second over as pace setter Silver Devil put up splits of 28.0, 56.3 & 1:23.4 Smolin moved the Robert Phillips trainee off cover as the field turned for the money. Flying home in 26.4, the bay son of Henry Clay—One Sure Thing swept by his rivals and then was game to the wire as held off a final surge by Crankin’ It Up (Kyle Wilfong) for his fifth win in 13 starts this season. Crankin’ It Up was second while Kostas Wine (Dave Magee) rallied to finish third. Fox Valley Norman (John De Long) salvaged a fourth place finish after a tough first over bid while the last spotin the final went to Darth Quaider (Mike Oosting). Rounding out the Saturday action were Mini Me Stake elimination’s for ICF two-year-old pacing colts. With a total of 17 youngsters dropped into the entry box a pair of $10,000 splits were contested with the top five moving on to next week’s $63,500 final. In the first division Obermeier & Quaid Stables good looking youngster PQ Three lived up to his favored status winning by a well measured neck in 1:54.3 with Mike Oosting at the controls. Ranging up first over as Traffic Cop(Todd Warren) and R Duneshine (Dave Magee) battled through splits of 28.2, 58.27 1:26.4, Oosting had the son of Yankee Skyscaper—Sweltering just off the pace setters flank as the field turned for the money. Quickly swallowing up R Duneshine in the lane, the Erv Miller trainee then held firm to the wire for his second win in four starts. Traffic Cop re-rallied to finish a game second while Fox Valley Cupid (Robert Smolin) turned a ground saving trip into a third place check. Fox Valley Deuce (Dale Hiteman) was fourth while R Duneshine wound up fifth. The last elimination on the Saturday card provided the tightest finish as the Robert Phillips owned and trained Cotton Eyed Joe found racing room in the final sixteenth of a mile then rallied sharply for a head decision in 1:56.4 with Robert Smolin at the controls. After saving ground while Wimpy Doodle (Dean Magee) and Dunside Art (Mike Oosting) took turns leading the field through splits of 29.3, 1:00.3 & 1:29.2 Smolin appeared to be hopelessly locked in at the pylons. Smolin’s patience paid big dividends though as a seam opened up late in the stretch, allowing the son of Big Green Machine—Secret Dial to come roaring home with his first win in five career starts. Badger Quinn (Todd Warren), who made a power sweep to the front from the outside post wound up finishing a tough luck second while Fox Valley Van (John De Long) was third. The last two spots in the final went to Dunside Art (4th) and Wimpy Doodle (5th). Big Brad and Robert Smolin captured an Incredible Finale Stake elimination for 3yo pacing colts in 1:51.0 on Saturday night at Balmoral Park. PQ Three was a well measured winner for driver Mike Oosting in the first of two Mini Me Stake eliminations on Saturday. Cotton Eyed Joe found room late while rallying for a big win in the second Mini Me Stake elimination on Saturday. Western Dame cruised to an easy win for driver John De Long in the first of two Loyal Opposition Stake elimination's on Saturday night. Molly Go Lightly and driver Mike Oosting teamed up for an easy win in 1:55.1 in the second Loyal Opposition Stake elimination on Saturday.  Mystical Walter continued an impressive recent run as he posted his Third Straight victory in the first of two Incredible Finale Stake elim's for 3yo colt pacers.  

COLUMBUS, MN. - The $9500 Open Trot produced a new winner for the fourth consecutive week on Wednesday night at Running Aces when Keystone Swagger (John DeLong) benefitted from a perfect pocket trip to win in 1:55.4, equaling the track record for older horses.  The standard the son of Angus Hall tied was less than two hours old as Salutation Hanover (Nick Roland) had also stopped the teletimer in 1:55.4 in a $4500 conditioned trot earlier in the program. Keystone Swagger is owned by Dandy Farms and trained in Minnesota by Jim Ellison. It was just his eighth career triumph, but did increase his lifetime earnings to $212,000.  Silence Son (Craig Banks) was a game second after cutting all the fractions and favored Shelby County (Moonie Svendsen) just nipped B C Lulu (Jason Ryan) for third. With the 2013 summer meet just slightly more than half over, the driver and trainer standings at Running Aces are extremely tight and no one has emerged as a clear-cut favorite in either race.  On the drivers side, Jason Ryan and Rick Magee are deadlocked at the top with 30 victories each in 28 nights of racing.  Luke Plano has 29, Nick Roland 28, Steve Wiseman 25 and John DeLong 24. Jason Ryan had a big week to move to the top of the conditioner standings with 16 trips to the winner's circle from his stable.  Close on his heels are David Flinn and Tim Brown with 15 each, then Don Sherman, Tim Maier and Nick Roland all with 14. Racing resumes Saturday and Sunday nights this weekend with a 50-cent Pick Six carryover of $743.65.  Post time Saturday is 7:00 PM (CDT). Gregg Keidel

   COLUMBUS, MN. - For the second straight week trainer-driver Jason Ryan swept both the Open Pace and the Fillies and Mares Open Pace on the Tuesday night program at Running Aces.  This week the feat was doubly impressive as Six Gun, a five-year-old gray gelding owned by Anthony Artuso, set the all-age, all-time track record of 1:50.4 in the $8500 feature race.  The gate-to-wire stellar performance lowered the 1:51.2 mark established last season by Restless Yankee.  Firstclassallthway (John DeLong) and Armbro David (Tim Maier) finished second and third in the elite six-horse field. Ironically, Restless Yankee--in just his fourth start back at Running Aces this season--also won a $7000 conditioned race on the same card in 1:53, which will likely set up a grudge match between the current and former track recordholders in next Tuesday's Open. In the top distaff race Passion R Virginie held off a late challenge by Show Runner (Tim Maier) and Blazing Fury (Rick Magee) to give Ryan his impressive driver-trainer double.  The 1:53 clocking was a new lifetime best for the six-year-old mare that the 24-year-old reinsman also owns. Racing resumes Wednesday night at Running Aces with a 7:00 PM (CST) post time.

Harness racing driver John De Long captured a total of four of the ten races on the Wednesday night program at Running Aces--and set two divisional track records in the process.

In front of a large, enthusiastic crowd both Show Runner and Armbro David were repeat winners in their respective open pacing divisions on Tuesday night at Running Aces.

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