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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

The Chicago Sun Times reported today that longtime harness racing handicapper, Tom Krish, passed away on Sunday. Before coming to the newspaper, Krish was the chart caller and wrote the program race comments for the local tracks, Sportsman’s Park, Hawthorne Racecourse, Maywood Park and Balmoral Park. No details about funeral arrangements have been announced. The Chicago Sun Times will continue to run harness racing comments in the newspaper. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Th no acceptable offers received to keep two Chicago-area harness racing tracks running, the operators of Balmoral Park and Maywood Park will auction off the assets of the tracks Monday. The sale, which is not open to the general public, will take place at the offices of the Chicago law firm representing the tracks' owners, the Johnston family, in a bankruptcy case filed nearly a year ago after operators of Chicago-area casinos won a $79 million judgment against the track operators. Along with the assets of the tracks themselves, the sale will include off-track betting parlors, including one in Crestwood, operated by the tracks' owners. In court filings, the tracks' owners said efforts earlier this year to find buyers willing to keep Balmoral, in Crete, and Maywood, in Melrose Park, operating were not successful. Maywood closed Oct. 2, and racing at Balmoral, which has hosted horse racing since 1926, will wrap up at the end of this year. The track owners had, this summer, sought 2016 harness racing dates from the Illinois Racing Board, which in the fall awarded dates for next year only to Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero. Illinois Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, whose district includes Balmoral, has proposed legislation that would give a minimum of 30 days of racing next year to each of the two tracks. The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association, which represents breeders, trainers, drivers and others in the industry, said the organization actually supported the Racing Board's decision because Balmoral and Maywood had each sought only two racing dates a week next year, far too few to support the people who make their living in harness racing. Owners, in court filings, said that from May through July they contacted possible operators about buying and operating the tracks, but no acceptable offers were received. They had hoped that legislation that would allow slots at horse racing tracks, which never came to pass, would prompt interest among potential buyers, according to filings. There is no "stalking horse" bid to set the pace for the auction, and no reserve price has been set, although offers are subject to approval by the track owners and a hearing confirming the results of the sale is scheduled for Tuesday in federal bankruptcy court. At the end of October, the track operators applied for licenses to continue operating the OTBs next year, noting that the betting sites could continue to operate even though the tracks themselves no longer have live racing. The Racing Board is scheduled to take up that matter at its meeting Tuesday as well as receive an update on the tracks' Chapter 11 case. However, the current method of distributing OTB wagering revenue rewards tracks hosting live racing, so it's unclear how future operators of the parlors, if not affiliated with another track, would benefit. A year ago, a federal appeals court ordered the Balmoral and Maywood operators to pay almost $79 million to casinos in Aurora, Elgin and Joliet, prompting the Christmas Eve bankruptcy filing. The appeals court had overturned a lower court ruling in a lawsuit that alleged the track owners, specifically John Johnston, Balmoral's president, had paid a $100,000 campaign contribution to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in return for Blagojevich signing legislation extending an agreement to share casino gambling revenue with state horse racing tracks. The contribution was never made, however. The track owners are appealing the ruling and arguments in the case are expected to be heard starting Jan. 13, according to court filings. By Mike Nolan of The Daily Southtown Reprinted with permission of the site

State Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, is sponsoring legislation in the Illinois House to prevent the closing of Balmoral Park and Maywood Park, harness racing tracks, at the end of the year. Jones, whose district includes Crete, where Balmoral Park is located, admitted to me that his effort is a long shot, "but the only hope we have right now of keeping Balmoral Park open next year so that it might attract a buyer." The lawmaker questioned the Illinois Racing Board's decision to take harness racing dates away from Balmoral and Maywood, which had historically held them, and give them to Hawthorne Race Course. "There was no public discussion about this, no consultation with state legislators, and we don't know exactly what information the racing board was acting on when it made its decision," Jones said, adding that he wants to hold a public hearing in Chicago to find out how the board reached its decision. Jones' bill, H.B. 2663, would amend the Illinois Racing Act of 1975 and allocate a minimum of 30 days of racing in the next year to any race track that was in good standing during the current year, meaning Balmoral and Maywood. Under the current law, the off track betting operations associated with Balmoral and Maywood could remain open for a few years, but would be placed in jeopardy by the way OTB money is distributed, according to Jones. Jack Kelly, a former lobbyist for Balmoral and Maywood, said gambling revenues at OTB parlors are divided up among racetracks under a complicated system that rewards "host tracks" which are featuring live races. All the revenue wagered at local OTB parlors, he said, goes to those tracks that have live racing at the time (day or night), which has ultimately resulted in what he called a fairly equal distribution of funds between Arlington International Racecourse, Hawthorne, Maywood and Balmoral. According to Kelly, Balmoral and Maywood generate about one-third of all the OTB revenue in the Chicago metro area. But if Maywood and Balmoral have no live racing next year, they would get none of that revenue split. So Jones' bill would alter the "host" system that determines how revenues are split on bets made at OTBs and inter-tracks. The change would allow each OTB and race track to retain the commissions and purse money earned from betting out-of-state races at their respective operations. Jones admitted that at this point he can't even muster the votes to get his measure out of a House committee. "So my goal now is to get a hearing in Chicago where we can go into how the Illinois Gaming Board made its decision and how it was influenced by the people at competing racetracks in the hope that once people understand how these decisions were made they will start questioning the entire process," he said. Jones said he believes Arlington and Hawthorne used a $78 million civil judgment against the Johnston Family, which owns Balmoral and Maywood, as fodder to sway the votes of racing board members. The Johnstons were forced to file for bankruptcy after being caught up in the Gov. Rod Blagojevich scandal, resulting in a civil lawsuit filed by casinos for allegedly offering campaign contributions to the former governor in exchange for the state extending an agreement to share casino gambling revenue with the two racetracks. The contribution apparently was never made and the deal never completed. "The racing board decided to take the harness racing dates away from Maywood and Balmoral because of that, but if it was a matter of them saying they wanted to clean up horse racing in Illinois and punish the tracks involved in the scandal, that could have been done back in 2011 when the information first came out," Jones said. "Instead, they waited for a decision in the civil suit. "What I'm interested in is the economic impact on the communities I represent," Jones continued. "We have 270 acres of land out there in Crete that really isn't of much use for anything other than a race track. Its economic impact on Crete, Steger, Beecher, Monee and other surrounding communities is between $2 million and $3 million a year. "There are hundreds of jobs at stake, either connected to the track directly -- tellers, food service staff, security, parking attendants, maintenance staff people who work the backstretch -- and those people employed by businesses that do business with the track," Jones said. "There are also people who live on the track, at Balmoral, and some of them may be able to relocate, but many of them will have no place to live. "Finally, to sell that track to a new buyer, you have to be able to offer them something in return. No one is going to buy a race track if they are not guaranteed race dates by the state. It would be foolish to invest that kind of money. Our only hope of attracting a buyer, of retaining those jobs and that revenue for the businesses in the community, is to keep the track operating until a buyer can be found." Jones said he hopes to convince south suburban mayors to support his measure and lobby their lawmakers to back his bill. Earlier this week, the legislative and policy committee of the Will County Board voted to back the legislation. "This reminds me of the closing of Oak Forest Hospital," said Jones, who testified against the closing at a public hearing. "The closing of that hospital had a significant economic impact on the south suburbs. We lost jobs and revenue and most of that hospital remains vacant. We can't keep allowing our government, which we pay taxes to support, to work against the best interests of the people of the south suburbs. We have to take a stand and put a stop to this. I believe we can do it." While Jones sounded optimistic, I'm not convinced there's time to reverse the gaming board's decision. Maywood has already shut down its operations and Balmoral is in the process of doing that, although it remains open for harness racing this year. In addition, the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association, which represents breeders, trainers, drivers and others in the industry – came out in support of the Racing Board's decision because Balmoral and Maywood had each sought only two racing days a week next year, far too few to support the people who make their living in harness racing. Hawthorne will host 117 days of harness racing next year, down from the 192 dates at Maywood and Balmoral Park this year, but far more than what those tracks had requested in 2016. Trainers and horse owners also told me that purses at Balmoral had decreased significantly in recent years making it nearly impossible for them to show a profit. They expressed optimism that Hawthorne's purses would increase, making it easier for them to make a living. Jones said he had not reached out to the horsemen, but planned to do so in the near future. "I respect their concerns and their problems," Jones said, "but this is about the larger community. This is about the impact on the entire south suburban region. And they have to understand that." Jones said he hoped to have his public hearing on Balmoral and Maywood sometime before Thanksgiving in order to gain support for his bill before Christmas. Since there is no place to find the odds on such things, I'm officially setting the line at 100-to-1. You know, I've always been a sucker for long shots. By Phil Kadner Reprinted with permission of The Southtown News

Illinois' top two-year-old pacers were in action on Friday night as a pair of state-bred stake events helped bring the curtain down on the 2015 harness racing season at Maywood Park.   Fillies kicked off the night's action with a compact field of five lining up behind the gate for the $20,500 Violet Stake.   Fresh off her win in the Filly Orange & Blue on Super Night division leader Char N Marg had no trouble disposing of this group as she hustled to the front from post three and made every call a winning one in a leisurely 1:58.0 for driver Casey Leonard.   Taking advantage of a break by Sara's Terror (Matt Krueger) as the wings of the gate folded Leonard sent the daughter of Sportsmaster-Zip Up Your Pans right to the top where she strolled through pedestrian like splits of 29.1, 1:00 & 1:29.1.   After shrugging off a first over bid from Sara's Terror as the field moved around the final bend the Nelson Willis trained miss was on cruise control through the lane as she paced under the wire with a 1¾ length decision. LK's Nancy Lee (Kyle Wilfong) turned a pocket sitting journey into a second place check while Sara's Terror did well to finish third after the miscue and the first over trip.   The win was the sixth in 12 starts this year for Char N Marg who returned $2.20 & $2.10 to her legion of backers while upping her career bankroll to $106,541 for Quaid Racing LLC.   A full field of eight freshmen pacing colts were entered for the $23,900 Cardinal Stake and once again the public was right on in this tussle as Nicole Potts' Royale Rose, the 2-5 favorite in the wagering went "right down the highway" for driver Matt Krueger posting a three-length triumph in 1:56.2.   Zipped away from post position two by Krueger the gelded son of Ashlee's Big Guy--Caribe Royal sped through the opening quarter in 28.2 before slamming on the brakes while leading the field through an opening half-mile in 59.2.   With pressure coming from a first over Dan D Dune (Mike Oosting), the top two were neck and neck as they raced by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.4. That's when the Lyle Scurlock trainee found another gear, quickly leaving his rivals in his wake on the final turn and then drawing away to his eighth win in 11 career starts. JB's Hero (Robert Smolin) shook loose late to rally for the place money while Wondrous Sport (Casey Leonard) finished third. Bet as though defeat was out of the question Royale Rose returned $2.80, $2.40 & $2.10 while upping his career earnings to $53,879. A couple of familiar faces toted home the 2015 driving and training awards as Mike Oosting, who is rapidly approaching 6,000 career driving wins, took home the driving title while David Mc Caffrey led the training ranks.   Tom Kelley

On Friday night the finish line will come down, the horses stalled and harness racing at Maywood Park will cease. At the end of the year, so will harness racing at Balmoral Park. A decision by the Illinois Racing Board ends the scheduled meets at the financially troubled tracks, both of which are in bankruptcy. The closures are all about money, jobs and casino gambling --- add to that concern that some healthy horses could be led to slaughter as the parks close. Standarbred horses have been racing at Maywood Park, located on 1st Avenue in Melrose Park, since 1946, providing jobs for trainers, grooms, farriers and backstretch workers. “I support my family this way. I love this business,” said trainer Joe Cassano. “When this place closes there are a lot of people that will be out of work.” “This is how I’ve made my living my whole life,” said trainer Hosea Williams. “Sent three kids through school.” Maywood Park had originally been scheduled to end its racing season at the end of the year. The new closing date, says long-time trainer Angie Coleman, is a hardship for families who live on the backstretch. “They are going to lose their home,” she said. “These kids are not going to have school. They are going to be displaced.” Illinois Racing Board Commissioner Kathy Byrne also worries about what will happen to those most in need. “It’s a crisis of decency,” she said in an interview. “These people need to be treated decently.” For years the Johnston family has run both Maywood and Balmoral Parks. And the purses at Maywood, Duke Johnston said, have grown paltry. “Right now we earn about $20,000 a night in purses and are paying $45,000. I can’t keep doing that,” Johnston said. “We’re burning through a cash flow loss of about, you know, a substantial amount.” For years the horse racing industry has pushed to allow slots and other casino-type gambling at Illinois racetracks, turning them into so-called racinos. The industry points to other states where casino gambling is allowed at horse tracks and where racing, they say, is flourishing. Twice controversial gaming bills passed the legislature but were vetoed by then governor Pat Quinn amid security questions and concerns about too much gambling. A new casino bill remains in Springfield budget limbo. “We’re trying to compete against casinos, five video poker machines in every bar, it’s dooming us,” Johnston said. Year-round harness racing has been divided in the past between Maywood and Balmoral. Now it will shift to Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero in 2016, but for a much-shortened season lasting for just over 5 months a year. What to do with the horses that have been racing year round in two facilities is a real concern among trainers like Angie Coleman who say “it’s very much a reality,” that some horses will eventually go to slaughter. “Yes, yes there will be horse slaughter involved,” said worried trainer Hosea Williams. Both Duke Johnson and executives at the Illinois Racing Board strongly disagree that any horses will go to slaughter. But what is crystal clear is that the final race at Maywood goes off Friday night. By Carol Marin and Don Moseley Reprinted with permission of NBCUniversal Media

Maywood Park will kick off its closing weekend in style for harness racing players across North America, offering a trio guaranteed pools this Thursday, Oct. 1st. The USTA and Maywood Park have announced an instant guarantee of $40,000 on the Thursday High 5. Race 10, the final leg of the Guaranteed Pick Four will offer the High Five wager with a one day carryover of $18,549 and a minimum wager of ten cents. The Pick Four offers a guaranteed pool of $10,000 and starts on Race Seven. There is also a guaranteed trifecta pool of $20,000 on Race Nine. Free 12-line program pages are available every night at courtesy of Track Master.   HOW TO PLAY THE 10 CENT SUPER HIGH FIVE ON RACE 10   BOXING KEYING WHEELING   5 HORSES $ 12 1 WITH 2345 $ 2.40 1 WITH 2 WITH 345 $ .60   6 HORSES $ 72 1 WITH 23456 $ 12.00 1 WITH 2 WITH 3456 $ 2.40   7 HORSES $ 252 1 WITH 234567 $ 36.00 1 WITH 2 WITH 34567 $ 6.00   8 HORSES $ 672 1 WITH 2345678 $ 84.00 1 WITH 2 WITH 345678 $ 12.00   9 HORSES $1512 1 WITH23456789 $ 168.00 1 WITH 2 WITH 3456789 $ 21.00   PARTIAL WHEELING   1 WITH 23 WITH 23 WITH 45 WITH 45 ................................................... $ .40   1 WITH 23 WITH 234 WITH 2345 WITH 6 ................................................. $ 1.60   1 WITH 234 WITH 234 WITH 234 WITH 567............................................... $ 1.80   1 WITH 2345 WITH 2345 WITH 2345 WITH 6............................................. $ 2.40   12 WITH 123 WITH 1234 WITH 12345 WITH 123456 .................................... $ 3.20   1 WITH 234 WITH 234 WITH 234 WITH 567890 .......................................... $ 3.60   1 WITH 23 WITH 234 WITH 2345 WITH 234567890....................................... $ 4.80   1 WITH 234 WITH 2345 WITH 23456 WITH 234567....................................... $ 8.10   1 WITH 2345 WITH 2345 WITH 2345 WITH 234567890.................................. $ 14.40   1 WITH 234 WITH 2345 WITH 23456 WITH 234567890.................................. $ 16.20   12345 WITH12345 WITH 12345 WITH 12345 WITH 123456............................. $ 24.00   123 WITH 1234 WITH 12345 WITH 123456 WITH 1234567.............................. $ 24.30   1 WITH 2345 WITH 23456 WITH 234567 WITH 2345678................................. $ 25.60   1234 WITH 12345 WITH 123456 WITH 1234567 WITH 12345678...................... $102.40   123456 WITH 123456 WITH 123456 WITH 123456 WITH 12345678.................... $144.00   Tom Kelley    

Starting Friday, Sept 4th, Maywood Park and the USTA Strategic Wagering Program will increase the guaranteed Pick-4 pool from $10,000 to $15,000 on Friday nights. The increase is possible thanks to the success of the new wagering model that has Maywood and Balmoral offering three guaranteed pools every night. The total guaranteed pools offered by Maywood and Balmoral in September will exceed $1,000,000.   Maywood will now offer $95,000 per week in guaranteed pools. The Thursday guarantees will remain the same. A guaranteed pool of $20,000 on the ninth race trifecta, $10,000 on the tenth race High Five and $10,000 on the Pick Four, which is offered on the final four races of the night. The Friday guaranteed pools are led by a $25,000 trifecta pool on race 11, $15,000 on the High Five and the Pick Four with the new guarantee of $15,000.   Balmoral Park will also be raising guarantees in September. This Saturday, Balmoral Park will offer $100,000 in guaranteed pools on their Super Night Eliminations, which include a Pick Five guarantee of $20,000 thanks to a carryover of $5,399 from last Sunday night.   Free program pages are available each racing night courtesy of Track Master at The Pick-4 wager has a low 15 percent takeout every night. Tom Kelley

August 12, 2015 (Washington, PA) - Leading online horse racing wagering provider, Xpressbet, and Chicago's Balmoral Park are excited to announce they have entered into an affiliate partnership. Together, they will work to promote online wagering to Illinois residents, as well as to bring awareness to Balmoral and its sister track, Maywood Park, with Xpressbet's customers and racing fans.   One of the largest online horse wagering sites in the United States and a member of the Stronach Group, Xpressbet offers more than a decade of expertise in promoting horse racing and online wagering. Currently operating in 39 states, Xpressbet prides itself on providing a quick and seamless wagering experience and practical handicapping information to its customers.   Two of the most popular and heavily-wagered harness tracks in the nation, Balmoral and Maywood host nearly 200 live racing cards each year, with Thursday and Friday night racing at Maywood and Saturday and Sunday night action at Balmoral. In addition, Balmoral and Maywood own and operate nine Off-Track Betting facilities in the Chicago-area, which offer daily Simulcast Wagering.   "We realize Advance Deposit Wagering is still unfamiliar to many horseplayers, and we feel this partnership will help bettors that are curious about online wagering get started with Xpressbet," said Xpressbet President, Ron Luniewski. "With the help of Balmoral's passionate, experienced and knowledgeable team, we're looking forward to promoting both live and online wagering to racing fans in Chicago."   Xpressbet and Balmoral each believe that creating smarter, more informed horseplayers is the key to generating interest and handle in horse racing. Consequently, Xpressbet and Balmoral's expert teams of handicappers will collaborate to produce helpful handicapping resources for horseplayers, including Wager Guides for top Harness and Thoroughbred events, as well as Tip Sheets, Free Picks, Handicapping Articles and Videos. Added Luniewski, "Along with Balmoral, Xpressbet is committed to growing the industry by both enhancing the experience for existing fans and attracting new audiences to the sport. This requires a seamless and integrated on-track and online experience. Providing additional free handicapping information to horseplayers is one way to achieve this, but it is also achieved through offering enhanced services, such as allowing customers to deposit and withdraw cash from their online accounts at customer service locations in Balmoral, Maywood and all nine of their OTB's. This level of convenience, common in other industries, will help horse racing build a stronger and more loyal customer base." Balmoral Park General Manager, Jim Hannon, remarked, "Partnerships like these are ultimately of great benefit to the industry. By affiliating with Xpressbet, we are able to pool our financial, human and intellectual resources to target racing fans and horseplayers in a more strategic and consistent fashion. This will generate more handle and interest in all facets of horse racing, both Thoroughbred and Harness, which is to everyone's benefit. We're excited to begin working with Xpressbet and look forward to growing racing's fan base." Horseplayers interested in signing up for an Xpressbet account can receive a $125 Welcome Bonus. Simply visit and enter promo code BAM125 at Sign Up. About Xpressbet   Xpressbet provides legal and secure online wagering services to horseplayers in the United States. It is the industry's most comprehensive and user-friendly wagering site, allowing customers to wager on more than 300 of the world's best racetracks from their computer, phone or mobile device. Xpressbet operates XB SELECT, the industry's premier destination for high-volume wagering, and XB Net, which connects bet shops and wagering sites from around the world to North American racing. Xpressbet is a Stronach Group company, which also owns and operates Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness Stakes. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, the award-winning Adena Springs operation, AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology, and Monarch Content Management, horse racing's leading simulcast purchase and sales agent. Tom Kelley        

August 7, 2015….Michael Antoniades   Chicago harness racing analyst. Maywood Park will kick off a three day weekend of harness racing in Chicago with three guaranteed pools on Friday including a 12th race high five carryover of $12,104. This will create an instant guaranteed pool of $35,000 on the Friday high five. The Maywood Friday card will also offer a $10,000 guaranteed pick 4 pool on races nine thru twelve and the new $25,000 guaranteed trifecta pool on race eleven. The three guaranteed pools on Friday total $70,000. Balmoral Park will also offer $70,000 on three guaranteed pools this Saturday and Sunday. Free deluxe twelve line program pages for all guaranteed pools are available courtesy of Track Master at The August Strategic Wagering calendar through Sunday is shown below.   August USTA Stategic Wagering Schedule   DATE TRACK BET TYPE RACES GUAR POOL ACTUAL POOL 08/01/15 Meadowlands Pick-4 7-10 $50,000 $74,532 08/01/15 Balmoral Park Trifecta 11 $30,000 $53,534 08/01/15 Balmoral Park Hi Five 12 $20,000 $39,214 08/01/15 The Meadows Pick-4 9-12 $20,000 $0 08/01/15 Balmoral Park Pick-4 9-12 $20,000 $34,854 08/01/15 The Meadows Pick-4 13-17 $10,000 $0 08/01/15 The Meadows Pick-4 4-7 $7,500 $0 08/01/15 The Meadows Pick-3 12-14 $7,500 $0 08/02/15 Balmoral Park Pick-4 7-10 $25,000 $37,148 08/02/15 Balmoral Park Trifecta 9 $25,000 $54,879 08/02/15 Balmoral Park Hi Five 10 $20,000 $31,698 08/02/15 Harrah's Philadelphia Pick-4 7-10 $5,000 $4,548 08/02/15 The Red Mile Pick-4 7-10 $5,000 $0 08/03/15 The Meadows Pick-4 4-7 $5,000 $0 08/03/15 Northfield Park Trifecta 8 $20,000 $35,164 08/03/15 Northfield Park Hi Five 13 $10,000 $19,466 08/03/15 Northfield Park Pick-4 8-11 $10,000 $24,202 08/04/15 The Meadows Pick-4 4-7 $5,000 $0 08/04/15 Northfield Park Trifecta 8 $20,000 $31,433 08/04/15 Northfield Park Hi Five 13 $10,000 $18,742 08/04/15 Northfield Park Pick-4 8-11 $10,000 $12,559 08/05/15 The Meadows Pick-4 4-7 $5,000 $0 08/05/15 Northfield Park Trifecta 8 $20,000 $27,826 08/05/15 Northfield Park Hi Five 13 $10,000 cancel 08/05/15 Northfield Park Pick-4 8-11 $10,000 $14,251 08/06/15 Maywood Park Trifecta 9 $20,000 $30,794 08/06/15 Maywood Park Hi Five 10 $15,000 $16,139 08/06/15 Maywood Park Pick-4 7-10 $10,000 $12,302 08/07/15 Meadowlands Pick-4 7-10 $50,000 $0 08/07/15 Maywood Park Trifecta 11 $20,000 $0 08/07/15 Maywood Park Hi Five 12 $35,000 $0 08/07/15 Maywood Park Pick-4 9-12 $10,000 $0 08/08/15 Balmoral Park Trifecta 11 $30,000 $0 08/08/15 Balmoral Park Hi Five 12 $20,000 $0 08/08/15 Balmoral Park Pick-4 9-12 $20,000 $0 08/08/15 Meadowlands Pick-4 9-12 $100,000 $0 08/09/15 Balmoral Park Pick-4 7-10 $25,000 $0 08/09/15 Balmoral Park Trifecta 9 $25,000 $0 08/09/15 Balmoral Park Hi Five 10 $20,000 $0 08/09/15 Harrah's Philadelphia Pick-4 7-10 $5,000 $0    Michael Antoniades       

Maywood Park will offer a guaranteed Pick 4 pool of $40,000 on Friday, July 24. Because the one dollar wager was not hit on Thursday, a carryover of $10,507 will be added to the Friday pool. The Pick 4, which is on races 9 thru 12 on Friday features a low takeout of just 15%.   In addition to the Pick 4 guarantee fans will have a chance to walk away with a big payday later in the night as Maywood will also offer a $15,000 guaranteed pool on their High Five wager. The High Five is offered on the final race of the night. The popular wager on the finale has a ten cent minimum.   Post time for the Southland Festival of Racing on Saturday and Sunday at Balmoral is 7:10 pm (central).   Balmoral will offer four guaranteed pools totaling $80,000 this weekend.   Handicappers across North America can get a head start on their competition with free 12 line program pages for the guaranteed pools courtesy of the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative and Track Master on the handicapping section at        

With a total of 13 freshmen pacing colts entered for Friday's Fox Valley Barzgar Stake at Maywood Park, harness racing secretary Doc Narotsky was forced to split the youngsters into a pair of $6,000 divisions. Both splits featured heavy favorites and the "chalk" players never had to break a sweat as 1--9 favorite DB captured the opener in 1:55.4 while 6-5 choice Wondrous Sport rolled to victory in 1:56.3 in the nightcap. Confidently handled as a 1-9 favorite should be, driver Pat Curtin sent DB right to the front from post two and the issue was never in doubt as the Herman Wheeler trained son of Yankee Skyscaper--Hopintosh led a single file field through splits of 28.1, 58.1 & 1:27.2. With plenty still in reserve DB sealed the deal with a 28.1 final quarter as he reported home with a 3¼ length verdict in 1:55.4. Fox Valley Aramon (Todd Warren) followed the winner's every move but was second best on this night while Eddie Eddie Eddie (Clifton Bell) was a non-threatening third. With the win DB has two victories and a third in three lifetime starts with earnings of $$5,401 for the partnership of Leroy Hunt and Milton Greer. The nightcap followed nearly the same script as Casey Leonard gunned Wondrous Spirit to the front where he proceeded to "steal" pedestrian like splits of 29.2, 59.1 & 1:28.0 then held firm through the stretch to record a 2¼ length win in a career best of 1:56.3. Dan D Dune (Mike Oosting) did a nice job of overcoming the outside post in the field of seven to finish in the runner-up role while My Man Red (Tim Curtin) was a distant third. The victory was the second in three starts for the Gary Rath trained son of Sportsmaster--Wondrous Grace who has banked $6,000 for owners Stephen Mc MacKin, Marily Kelly and Lorna Rousch. Tom Kelley        

Freshmen pacing fillies were front and center on Thursday, July 9th at Maywood Park as a total of 12 state-bred harness racing youngsters squared off in a pair of $6,000 divisions of the My Metallica Stake. In the first division, the Nelson Willis trained Aunt Ethel took full advantage of the inside starting spot as she grabbed command right from the word go and made every call a winning one with a three-length victory in 1:57.3.   Confidently handled by driver Mike Oosting, the homebred daughter of Sportsmaster--Miller Creek Ethel shot to the top where she put up splits of 29.0, 57.4 & 1:28.0. When called upon on the final turn by Maywood's leading reinsman the bay filly responded with a nice 29.3 final panel while drawing away from her rivals. Burry Me Inthesand (Gary Rath) turned a nice inside trip into a second place check while Thetis (Ridge Warren) rallied to finish third, 5¼ lengths behind the winner.   The win was the first in two lifetime starts for Aunt Ethel who is owned by Rick, Erwin and Vernon Barbre.   In the second division the Hosea Williams owned and trained Lexington Lady continued to impress as she cruised to an easy 4¼ length front stepping score in 1:55.4 for driver Brian Carpenter.   Flashing her high octane gate speed the daughter of Lexington Legend--Stephie Kay zipped right to lead effortlessly posting fractions of 28.0, 58.0 & 1:27.1 while rolling along unchallenged on the "engine".   With plenty still in reserve Lexington Lady left her rivals in her wake on the final bend pacing home in a snappy 28.3 for her third straight ICF stake score. Fox Valley Addison (Todd Warren) finished in the runner-up spot while longshot Our Miss Cami (Mike Oosting) nabbed the show dough.   The 1-5 favorite who was a $2,500 bargain buy as a yearling now boasts three wins and a second in four lifetime starts with earnings of $9,000.   Live racing continues on Friday, July 10th at Maywood Park with two divisions of the Fox Valley Barzgar Stake for ICF two-year-old pacing colts sharing top billing on the card. Those battles will go as races four and six on the 12-race program which also features a $10,000 guaranteed pool in the Pick 4 (races 9-12) and a new $15,000 guaranteed pool on the 10 cent Hi-Five wager (race 12). Post time for the first race is 7:30 p.m. (central).   Tom Kelley

After opening their harness racing careers on the mile oval at Balmoral, this season's two-year-old pacing crop had their first tests on the tight turns of a half-mile oval as Maywood Park played host to a pair of Illinois conceived and foaled stake events on Friday night. With a total of 12 freshmen pacing colts dropped in the box, the Enzo The Baker Stake was split into a pair of $4,000 divisions. The girls were also in action on the sloppy track Friday night as a field of seven was sent postward in the $5,000 Juxtaposition Stake.   In the opening division of the Enzo The Baker, the Kay Willis owned Dan D Dune rolled to an impressive 6¼ length victory in 1:59.0 for driver Mike Oosting.   Content to save ground in third while Sagebrush Sid (Pat Curtin) led the field through splits of 30.2 & 1:00 Oosting pounced on the pace-setter as the pair raced head and head by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:29.4.   Quickly opening up an insurmountable edge around the final turn the gelded son of Duneside Perch--Witch Hanover continued to widen his margin through the lane in route to his first career win. Eddie Eddie Eddie (Clifton Bell) who was forced wide by a breaking horse on the final bend still managed to rally in time for the place money while Dakota Road (Robert Smolin), salvaged the show dough despite a miscue in that last turn.   Hammered at the betting windows the Nelson Willis trained Dan D Dune, who was a $9,500 Classic Yearling purchase, returned $3.20, $2.10 & $2.10. The second division produced a wire to wire performance as Stephen Mc MacKin, Marilyn Kelly and Lorna Roush's Wondrous Sport used the inside starting spot to perfection leading every step of the way as he reported home with a 1½ length victory in 1:59.0. Given a confident steer by driver Casey Leonard the gelded son of Sportsmaster--Wondrous Grace shot right to the front from the pole position, putting up splits of 29.3, 1:00.3 & 1:30.2 while relatively unchallenged on the front end. With plenty still in reserve, the Gary Rath trainee kept his rivals at bay through the lane with a 28.3 final quarter to notch his maiden breaking victory. Sagebrush Sam (Kyle Husted) enjoyed a perfect two-hole trip but was no match for the winner while Fox Valley Aramon (Todd Warren) saved ground throughout the mile to finish third. The second choice in the wagering Wondrous Sport returned $5.20, $4.00 & $3.20 while opening his account.   The Juxtaposition Stake figured to be a showdown between Lexington Lady and Fox Valleytiramisu who had traded first and second place finishes in their first two meetings and it proved to be just that with Lexington Lady getting the better of her main rival on this night as she cruised to a four-length victory in 1:57.2 for driver Brian Carpenter. Gunned right to the top from post five the Hosea Williams owned and trained miss rattled off splits of 27.3, 57.0 & 1:27.3 while Fox Valleytiramisu sat right on her back. These two were some 10 to 12 lengths in front of the rest of the fillies for most of the mile and things were no different in the late going as the daughter of Lexington Legend--Stephie Kay drew off in the lane for her second straight stakes win. Fox Valleytiramisu (Robert Smolin) was a clear cut second while Burry Me Inthesand (Gary Rath) was a distant third, 11½ lengths behind the winner. Looking like quite the bargain buy for her proud owner-trainer the $2,500 Illini Classic Yearling purchase returned $2.60, $2.10 & $2.10 while running her record to 2-1-0 in 3 lifetime starts with earnings of $6,000.   Tom Kelley

Sophomore pacing colts were front and center on Friday night at Maywood Park but in reality it was harness racing trainer Roger Welch who stole the show as his trainees finished 1-2-3 in the track's signature event with division leader Earndawg capturing top honors in the $36,000 Maywood Pace as he reported home with a three-quarter-length victory in 1:54.2 for driver Todd Warren.   Confidently handled as a 1-5 favorite should be, the son of Sportsmaster--Pacific Sister K settled early before sweeping past the other Welch trainee's Rockin Cassinova (Ridge Warren) and Gifted By Nature (Pat Curtin) as the field moved by an opening quarter in 28.3.   In control of things the rest of the way, the bay gelding strolled through middle splits of 57.2 & 1:26.0 while fending off a first over bid from Lucpark (Mike Oosting).   "I went into the race not necessarily wanting to be on the front end but once things started to slow on the backstretch the first time I figured I better head for the top," said Warren. "I wasn't looking to slow things down once I got there because I know what my horse can go so I wanted to keep the splits honest enough to keep those trailers at bay." After repelling the challenge of last weeks' elimination winner, Earndawg began to draw clear around the final bend opening up a two-length advantage as the field turned for the money. With nothing but open space between themselves and the wire the pride of owners Bo & Pat De Long and Ernest Miller set sail for home, sealing the deal with a 28.2 final quarter to notch his third win in six starts this season. Rockin Cassinova shook loose at the head of the stretch to rally for the place honors while Gifted By Nature turned a perfect trip into the show dough.   After yet another big victory with last year's Orange & Blue and Abe Lincoln Stakes winner Warren was singing the praises of the gelding in the winner's circle.   "I definitely think he's still the best in this division and I don't believe we've even come close to seeing his best yet," said the jubilant reinsman. "He hasn't had that much work this year and there's been some times that he hasn't really had the back to back starts that can get him as sharp as he can be. Let's just say I think there's much more to come from this guy when the "screws" get tightened up on him. He's so versatile and talented that he's going to be hard to stop."   With the win Earndawg now boasts a record of 11-5-3 in 23 starts with earnings of $248,325. The overwhelming favorite in the wagering returned $2.40, $2.20 & $2.10.   Tom Kelley  

Last week we saw the "ladies" meet in one of Maywood Park's signature events, the Filly Maywood Pace, Friday night their male counterparts will step into the harness racing spotlight as a field of eight Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing colts will slug it out in the $36,000 Maywood Pace which goes as race eight on the 12-race program. Earndawg has been the "top dog" in this division in each of his first two seasons of racing and the Roger Welch trainee has been installed as the 9-5 favorite on Friday as he guns for his 11th win 23 career starts. The gelded son of Sportsmaster received a bye into this battle and elected to use a "conditioned" event at Balmoral as his tune-up for tonight's showdown. Unfortunately he encountered some traffic issues that night and never had a chance to be a factor. In his previous start against this type of company, last year's Orange & Blue Stake winner looked like a winner in the Cardinal Stake at Balmoral as he unleashed a huge rally but wound up getting nipped at the wire by Dinky Dune who had slipped through along the pylons late in the mile. Todd Warren will handle the driving duties behind Earndawg who will be looking to add to a career record of 10-5-3 $230,325 when he leaves from post two. Lucpark captured last week's elimination in wire to wire fashion and the Ervin Miller trainee figures to garner plenty of attention once again despite drawing post position seven for Friday's encounter. The gelded son of Sportsmaster looked much the best in last week's action cruising through easy early splits before storming home with a 2½ length verdict in 1:55.1. A model of consistency this year, Lucpark comes into this race with a record of 2-2-1 in six starts for owner Rocco Ruffolo. A six-time career winner who sports nearly $90,000 in earnings, Lucpark, the 3-1 second choice on the morning line, will have leading driver Mike Oosting in the bike when they leave from post seven on Friday. If you are searching for a possible upset in Friday's main event don't overlook the chances of Dixie's Boy who will have to overcome post position eight on Friday night. The Joel Smith trained son of Duneside Perch also received a bye into tonight's final and will come into this event as a "fresh" horse after being away since May 30th.   The long striding bay turned in a huge effort here at Maywood Park in the Gosox Stake back on May 15th, finishing second behind Lucpark after spotting the field some 12 lengths after a miscue behind the starting gate. A three-time winner this season for James & Terri Blackman Dixie's Boy will be handled by Casey Leonard.   Rounding out the field are Gifted By Nature, Rockin Cassinova, Dupage's Z Tam, Gett'er Done Dune and Frosty Dune.   Tom Kelley

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