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Mike Oosting and Kyle Wilfong each plan to return to action on Maywood Park’s Friday card. Both circuit drivers have been sidelined since they went down in a nasty looking spill last Saturday night at Balmoral Park. Oosting had Special Joe in strong contention in the ninth race when the 9-year-old pacer started to run about a sixteenth of a mile away from the finish line, stumbled, and went down on the track. Mike ended up being tossed out of his sulky. “I thought my shoulder blade was broke,” said Oosting. “It kept cramping-up and then it just popped. I had to put in back in the joint three times while on the racetrack because if kept popping out. “That’s what basically is holding me up from back driving. My ankle also got big on me and I couldn’t walk for a couple of days. My wrist and my hand also swelled-up. I was going to go in Wednesday night but my body was telling me to take some more time off.   “You can see watching the reply my horse took a bad step and starting stumbling before he went down. I would have been all right if I hadn’t got hit from behind. My horse was sliding so I think I would have been able to stay in the bike if I wasn’t run into from behind. “I think I’ll be okay enough to drive Friday night.” Wilfong was right behind when the stumbling Special Joe started to go down and his  horse ran into Oosting, sending the 25-year-old driver Donovan, Illinois native out of his bike and hard onto the track. Kyle’s leg got tangled-up with the lines of his horse Extravagant Art, who dragged him a long way before he was rescued. “When Mike’s horse went down right in front of me I had nowhere to go and I was knocked out once I hit the ground,” said Wilfong. You mean you don’t remember being dragged down the stretch by your horse. “Not at all,” replied Kyle. “I was unconscious. “I remember the wheel on my bike hitting Mike’s bike that’s as much as I remember, “I was lucky I wasn’t hurt a lot more seriously. “My left knee still hurts. The rest of my body feels okay. I’m shooting to be back for Friday’s card at Maywood. I’ll just have to see how I feel come Friday and then I’ll just go from there.” These type of spills reminder us just how dangerous it can be competing on a racetrack. Thankfully neither driver in this case was seriously injured. Domination: Thursday’s Maywood card was dominated by drivers Casey Leonard and Ryan Anderson. Between them they drove the winners of 9 of the 11 races. Casey bagged five while Ryan netted four. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

Veteran reinsman Sam Widger was shaken-up slightly in a spill at Maywood Park on Thursday, Dec. 11th but luckily walked away without any further damage. Widger and provisional driver Artie Dick were involved in an incident towards the back of the pack in Thursday's sixth race as the field neared the top of the homestretch. Both drivers were unseated from their bikes and Widger was knocked unconscious momentarily. The 51-year-old Widger was conscious and speaking to medical personnel while being transported by ambulance to nearby Gottlieb Memorial Hospital for further observation. He was expected to be released early Friday morning. Dick was checked on-site by medical personnel and cleared. The horses involved, Alaughandasmile and Classical Imagery were not injured.  by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park

A jury late Monday in the federal district court in Illinois found Illinois racetrack owner, John Johnston, liable on three counts in a civil racketeering case involving conduct engaged in by former Governor Rod Blagojevich, and awarded $26.3 million each in damages to four Illinois riverboat casinos including the Hollywood Casino Joliet and the Hollywood Casino Aurora. Under the civil RICO statute, these damages are trebled, making the total recovery over $78 million to the four casinos. The amounts awarded represent roughly the 3 percent tax money charged on Illinois’ four Chicagoland riverboat casinos between 2008 and 2010 that went to Johnston’s two racetracks, Balmoral and Maywood. Additionally, the jury awarded the riverboats $4 million in punitive damages for the civil conspiracy claim made against Johnston personally.  Each casino was awarded $1 million in punitive damages from Johnston.  “Mr. Johnston and Mr. Blagojevich conspired to subsidize Illinois’ racetracks on the backs of our shareholders,” commented Eric Schippers, Sr. Vice President of Public Affairs for Penn National Gaming.   “Their actions at the time resulted in us having to reduce our workforce, cut back our marketing spend, and defer capital improvements.  We are grateful to the jury for seeing through Mr. Johnston’s charade and for ordering him to return the money he and Governor Blagojevich improperly took from us.” Johnston defended claims under the civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and state law claims, all of which arose out of alleged bribery of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in 2008. At the time, then Governor Blagojevich, was independently under investigation for this same bribery scheme as well as selling Obama’s senate seat. The bribery that was the subject of this case was also the subject of Blagojevich’s own conviction, for which he is currently serving a 14-year prison sentence. From with files from The Beacon-News

The local circuit’s driver colony got a big boost with the return of veteran Illinois native Sam Widger to its ranks starting with Friday’s Maywood Park program. Widger finished fourth in the driver standings with 179 victories at the recently concluded Hoosier Park meeting where he applies his trade in the spring, summer and fall. Sam comes back home for the winter months to compete at Maywood and Balmoral Parks. The likeable 51-year-old native of Canton, Illinois is closing in on 200 dash winners for this season, a plateau he has reached for the last 10 consecutive years. Horses that Sam has driven have also earned over $2 million for the 10 past seasons as well, starting in 2005. During that time span Sammy went over the $3 million plateau on four occasions. “It’s great to be back home,” said Widger. “Every day that I can go out there and do what I do is a blessing. I’m been very fortune to have my health and my family. I count my blessings every day,” added the always humble driver. Back on June 11 at Hoosier Park Widger recorded his 5,000 career winning drive was joined in the winner’s circle by family, friends and fellow drivers when he was honored by track management for his significant accomplishment. Sam, his wife Nancy, and their five children have a farm in Beecher, Illinois, about a 10 minute drive from Balmoral Park in nearby Crete. Widger, who was Maywood Park’s leading driver in 2008, will guide the 15-1 longshot Tweeds Fly N Star in Friday night’s conditioned pace feature for fillies and mares. The programmed co-favorites in the eighth race headliner are M J’s Last Dance (Casey Leonard) and Fox Valley Touch (Ryan Anderson). 3,000 in Sight: Tim Curtin is closing his way to the 3,000th plateau in career wins. The 56-year-old native of Ottawa, Illinois is 9 winners away from that notable mark after a driving double on Wednesday night’s Balmoral card. Curtin picked-up his first winning drive back in 1978. His best season for winners came in 1997 with 219 with most of them coming at Fairmount Park when the southern Illinois track conducted both a Standardbred and thoroughbred race meetings. Too Sparse: The $10,000 Cole Muffler stake for ICF 3-year-old pacing colts came up short again at the entry box for a second consecutive Friday and appears to be scraped for this year. It was not listed on the new condition sheet. Price Is Right: Mike’s Price Shots delivered the 8-1 longshot Russell L (Dean Magee) in Wednesday night’s 10th race. The top race selection paid $17.80. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

The veteran pacer Lennox Blue Chip is less than two months away from turning 11 but is still going strong and is closing in on $400,000 in career earnings for Connecticut owner James Behrandt. The Mike Brown trainee looks well placed Friday night in Maywood Park’scgo-featured ninth race. a conditioned pace for non-winners of $9,500 in the last five starts. Lennox Blue Chip went unplaced in last Saturday’s Invite at Balmoral won by his stable-mate Ice Scraper. Lennox Blue Chip sped to a lifetime best 1:50.3 victory this past summer at the age of 10. I asked his trainer what makes the horse so good despite his age. “He has a big heart,” replied Brown. “The horse has the biggest heart in my batn. I wish I had a barn full of Lennox Blue Chip’s. He loves to race.” Mike then went on and explained that the horse doesn’t need a good trip to get the job done. “He loves being first over,” continued the 48-year-old Balmoral Park based trainer. “Don’t rush him. Just bring him up and put along the inside horse. He likes to look another horse in the eye and then he'll grind it out and put him away. He’s a racehorse.” Lennox Blue Chip is also a pacer who can get the job done on any size oval, a huge plus for a trainer on the Chicago circuit. Last year Lennox Blue Chip quite frankly was too good to race at Maywood Park. He raced once on the half-miler and won in comfortable fashion on what I like to call his “fallback track.” I’ll have more about that later in this story. Instead Lennox Blue Chip was a mainstay in the Balmoral Invite ranks, starting in it in 20 of his 37 starts in 2015. The gelding came away a trio of Invite victories and missed a check in them only twice while to banking almost $84,000 for his owner. Lennox Blue Chip joined Brown’s stable in late 2011, making only a couple of local starts after competed mostly in 2010 and 2011. Since then he’s been a busy and very productive pacer under Brown’s care, earning over $180,000 and winning 18 races, mostly against upper echelon horses. In 2012 he went postward a total of 37 times. Of those 20 were at either Balmoral or Hoosier. However he went winless that year on those two tracks. In fact the best he could manage was a trio of third place finishes. At Maywood Park it was a complete different story for Lennox Blue Chip. On his “fallback” track the pacer had incredible numbers. In 17 starts he won 10 times, with 4 seconds and 1 third, missing only one check on the half-miler. The horse made $66,982 that year and all but $6,810 of that amount came at Maywood Park. No wonder he’s the 9-5 morning line favorite in the ninth race when he leaves from post 5 with regular driver Ridge Warren in the 7-horse field. He’ll be challenged by Goose On The Rocks, Montero Blue Chip, Fox Valley Norman, C’est La Vie, Kansas Wildcat and Crankin’ It Up. Picking Pick Six Cold: My seven top selection consecutive winners last night at Maywood started in race two and ended with race eight, covering the Pick Six races and its $341 payoff. Four of those seven winners were not the betting favorites. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

There’s an old one-time popular love song entitled “Reunited And It Feels So Good” that pretty much conveys the feelings of trainer Donna Lee Ozment for the horse Auniqueaquistion, the 2013 Illinois 3-Year-old Filly Pacer of the Year, now that she is back in her barn.   Towards the end of the filly’s very success sophomore season where Auniqueaquistion won every major stake in her division for Donna and almost $250,000 in purse earnings she got a much unexpected phone call that stunned the veteran trainer. “I was on my way to Maywood Park when I got a call and asked me “When can they come and pick up the mare.” I asked ‘what mare?’ “Auniqueaquistion, they answered. She’s been sold.” “I was stunned. I had no idea of the sale or that her owner (John Carver) was even thinking of selling her. The filly was like a close pet to me and she was doing so well for us. “I had her for her first two years and she made her owner a lot of money (over $350,000). She won everything as a 3-year-old, the Maywood (Filly) Pace, the Ann Vonian, the Grandma Ann on Super Night from the 10-hole and a Hanover. I was shocked and I was in tears when she left.” Carver sold half of the filly to Dandy Farms of Glenview, Illinois last November. Almost a year to the sale day she was reacquired by Carver and sent back to Ozment after winning only 2 of 20 starts while banking just $18,000, “I’m so happy to have Auniqueaquistion back,” continued the native of Fairfield, Illinois. “She’s happy to be back, too. “I tend to get very close to my horses and she was the closest I’ve been to one. I train all my horses but she was one that I actually rubbed and took care of. I bathe her. I did her up every day and she lived with my little mini (horse). “Auniqueaquistion was very attached to her mini. When she came back to our barn and saw her mini she came over and started licking her back. Everybody in the barn was getting watery eyes. It was very touching. “She was not a happy-camper when she was gone. While she’s much happier now she’s still not the same animal she was when she left. She’s a kicker now and she never kicked before. Her personality did change while she was gone but she is coming around and I think she’ll get better and better. It’s just going to take time. “She remembered me when she came back and she remembered that I had always given her a snack after she jogged. The first time back after I jogged her I put her in the stall and started to walk away she started nickering as if to say: “Hey, where’s my snack.” Auniqueaquistion (Dale Hiteman) will open at program odds of 6-1 in Friday’s eighth race conditioned pace. It’ll be the 4-year-old mare’s third start back for Ozment. The daughter of Cole Muffler raced an improved third last week, ending up less than 1 length short of the winner. In the meantime Auniqueaquistion is back enjoying her snacks and the company of her mini friend while Donna has her favorite pet back in her barn along with some drier eyes, so as they say: “All’s well that ends well.” by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

I assumed I would be writing about one, or both, of Friday’s ICF 3-year-old stakes at Maywood Park however each of the scheduled $10,000 events were cancelled by the track’s Race Office because of insufficient entries. Four male pacers—Fox Valley Cupid, Fox Valley Deuce, Little Hank and Sleazeburgernfries—entered the Betzotic while three fillies—Fox Valley Amanda, Fox Valley Shiver and My Little Bit—were submitted to compete in the Giggles The Clown. Apparently not enough numbers for a pari-mutuel race on the Friday program but they certainly could and should have been positioned as non-wagering events before start of the regular card.  Next week’s conditioned sheet shows that both of Friday’s scheduled 3-year-old stakes were not written back, they were just discarded. Likewise there was no attempt to re-schedule the $25,000 McKeever/Associates stake for older state-bred pacers when that came up short on Windy City Night. That long-time popular Maywood Pacing Series race wasn’t written back the following weekend either. The hours by trainers and their help preparing these horses for these scheduled stakes and the anticipation of their owners to watch them compete evidently doesn’t get much consideration by those who seemingly have complete control of the horsemen purse money. The continuation of the local racetracks to scrap these ICF stakes and put their revenue pots into the general purse fund for non-ICF horses to acquire doesn’t  “(e) Encourage the breeding of thoroughbred and standardbred horses in this State” as specified in the Illinois Racing Act of 1975. At a time in our history when the Illinois breeding industry needs all the help it can get the local racetracks instead are discouraging people to own and race ICF horses in our state by the persistent dumping of ICF stake races for any excuse they see fit. Through the years the backbone of harness racing success in our state has always been a strong ICF program. Let’s do what we can to build it back up . . . not break it down. No Contest: Bailey’s Wish was much the best in Thursday night’s $10,100 Speed N The Tunnel stake, drawing off by four lengths with Dave Magee in a snappy 1:58.3 mile Bailey’s Wish had a six length lead in the stretch before she was taken up by her National Hall of Fame driver and hand-driven to the finish wire. The victory was the 3-year-old ICF filly’s sixth in 16 starts for trainer Dirk Simpson and his Illinois owners Jim Bafia (Minooka) and Gene White (Chicago). Earlier Bailey’s Wish captured the Lady Lincoln Land and the Springfield titles giving her a two-season record of 10 wins in 30 starts and over $258,000 in purse earnings. Notable Numbers: Casey Leonard went over the 300 mark in dash winners for this season earlier this week and he also topped the $2 million plateau in money won for the second consecutive year. The 37-year-old Harvard Illinois native leads the Maywood Park driver’s race by 30 winners and is 50-plus ahead at Balmoral Park. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

When I watched Big Boy Dreams cross the finish wire last night to win the Windy City Pace,  I couldn’t help wonder if I would be able to see the 33rd consecutive edition of Maywood Park’s annual showcase event next year. While the local 2015 harness racing season is etched in stone for 2015 from January through the end of June, the schedule is probably written in pencil with an eraser for the last half of the year. The racetracks wanted no racing at Maywood for the last six months of next year and two days a week at Balmoral during that same period. The IHHA asked to IRB to have Maywood race at least one day per week for the last half of the year if positive legislation passes. The IRB ended up ruling that Maywood should race two days a week for the second half of the year if legislation passes. However if no legislative help came to the industry then they would give strong consideration to allowing Maywood to vacate those two days for the final six months. So what happens to Windy City Pace Night for 2015? Do you take nominations for these open stakes that may or may not be contested next October or November? A solution for next year is to card the Windy City Pace in the spring where the 3-year-old pace was successful for eight years from its inauguration in 1983 through 1990. It would be temporary solution, at least for now. The Cinderella 3-year-old pace and the 3-year-old Galt Trot could also be shifted to the same mid or late May date. While Spring would be too early for the Abe Lincoln and its 2-year-old colts that stake could as usual be carded on the Friday after American National Night with a stipulation on its entry nomination form “may be moved to Balmoral Park for 2015.” While the Windy City Pace flourished for many years when it was moved from the Spring to the Fall that was in another time, in another century, when the gaming playing field both locally and nationally was close to being level. Those days are gone but that doesn’t mean the Windy City Pace, at one-time the circuit’s richest harness race, has to also disappear. The Windy City Pace can and should be saved. . It’s Back: The circuit’s $15,000 Invitational returns after a two-week absence with ICF king-pin Al’s Hammered (programmed 5-2, Bobby Smolin) assigned the outside seven-slot and state-bred rival Fort Silky (4-1, Casey Leonard)  allocated the six in the ni9nth race headliner. The 10-1 longshot Park Lane Deputy (Matt Krueger) was given the pole position. The two through five slots were drawn by (In Over My Head (8-1, Kyle Wilfong), Best Man Hanover (6-1, Todd Warren), Time To Roll (3-1, Da. Magee) and Ice Scraper (9-2, Brian Carpenter)/ Follow The Money: Driver John De Long, behind only Casey Leonard in 2014 circuit victories, is at Hoosier Park tonight to handle the Curt Grummel trainee Homicide Hunter in the $200,000 Indiana Sire Stake 2-Year-Old Colt Trot. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

Big Boy Dreams won the $180,000 Windy City Pace in wire-to-wire fashion for harness racing driver Tim Tetrick in 1:51. The Ron Burke-trainee and New York Sire Stake competitor notched his fourth win of the year in ten starts. "I got the front the way I wanted and my horse was big and strong and carried me all the way to the wire," Tetrick stressed. "I wanted to make the other horses have to catch me. He's been racing tough on the New York circuit." Big Boy Dreams took the field to a brutal :25.4 first quarter and a :54.1 half, with Let's Drink On It (Travis Seekman) challenging the leader going to the 1:22.2 three-quarters, but Big Boy Dreams just continued to draw away in the stretch to win by two and a half lengths. He now has $168,495 in seasonal earnings for owner Dominic Rosato of Utica, New York. "It's good to get back home," said Tetrick. "I cut my teeth there and it's always good to be here." Let's Drink On It finished second, while Three Of clubs (Doug McNair) was third and Kingofthejumgle (Brian Carpenter) got up for fourth. The son of If I Can Dream-Stefani Blue Chip-Art Major has $340,533 in career earnings from six wins in 11 starts for these connections. He was a $9,000 yearling purchase from the 2012 Morrisville, NY College Sale. By Kimberly Rinker, for Maywood Park Racetrack

Sayitall BB captured the first $37,600 Cinderella Stake division for 3-year-old pacing fillies handily in 1:52.2 with Tim Tetrick at the lines for harness racing trainer Ronnie Burke. "When she cleared and made the top, the rest was easy," Tetrick said. "She's a very nice mare with a lot of talent and she did everything right. I never even pulled the plugs either. She'll go with all of the better mares I'm sure, and if I'm not driving her in the future, I'll sure be watching out for her." Sayitall BB accomplished this latest triumph impressively in wire-to-wire fashion, through splits of :27.2, :56.1 and 1:24.4, with Mamas Fallen Angel (Doug McNair) second and Somethinincredible (Dave Magee) third. Sayitall BB is owned by Burke Racing and Weaver Bruscemi, and now has $186,660 in seasonal earnings from seven wins in 12 starts. She has $208,310 in career earnings from 12 wins in 17 lifetime trips postward. The daughter of Tell All is the 11th foal out of the Nobleland Sam mare Challo BB. Sayitall BB Lady Shadow (Gregg McNair) held on to win the second $37,600 Cinderella Division in 1:53.2 over rival Major Dancer (Brett Miller). McNair also conditions the daughter of Shadow Play-Lady Camella-Camluck for owners Lindsey & Connie L Rankin of Lexington, MI. Lady Shadow grabbed the lead easily and never looked back through a very soft opening first quarter and half in :27.3 and :57. "I knew there was another horse getting close to me at the wire and so did she," said McNair. "This is her last race of the season and she deserves a break now as she's raced tough all season." Lady Shadow continued to have an easy lead over her six rivals, clocked in 1:25.3 at the three-quarter marker with Kayla Grace (Todd Warren) and Rocknroll Meg (Tim Tetrick) both throwing late challenges at her, but to no avail. At the last moment, Major Dancer, who had been riding the rail in the two-hole, snuck up the rail and narrowly missed besting the winner. Rocknroll Meg held on for third, with Kayla Grace grabbing fourth. Lady Shadow now has $259,635 in seasonal earnings from six wins in 13 starts, and $449,527 in career earnings from 11 wins in 21 starts. She is the ninth foal out of her dam and was a $19,000 yearling purchase at the 2012 Forest City Sale. Lady Shadow By Kimberly Rinker, for Maywood Park

E L Titan captured the $92,300 Galt Stake for sophomore trotters in 1:56 with trainer Riina Rekila at the lines. It was the first time this stake has been won by a female driver. The son of Muscle Hill-Courtney Hill is owned by Erkki Laakonen of Nastola, Florida and added the winner's share of $46,150 to his bankroll of $295,201. It was colt's fifth lifetime win in 11 career starts. E L Titan grabbed the lead at the start and led the field through fractions of :28.4, :58.2 and 1:27.1. Rompaway Galaxay (Dave Magee) was the only challenger to take a try at E L Titan, and ended up being first over for the entire mile. "My plan was to go out of there as hard as I needed to, to get to the front," said Rekila. "He was way more aggressive than normal tonight. When the other horse challenged me, I knew that he was having a tough trip and my horse still felt good." E L Titan won by 1¼ lengths over the tenacious Rompaway Galaxy, with Dony Andreas (Tim Tetrick) getting up for third and Madewell Hanover (Chris Ryder) notching fourth place money. "I think this horse will be a very nice 4-year-old, and that's the reason for his limited number of starts," she added. "By skipping the Yonkers Trot, this will allow him to get into some other races." E L Titan is the fourth foal out of his Garland Lobell dam Courtney Hall and is half-brother to Appomattox (by Yankee Glide) 3, 1:52.2M ($424,448); E L Rock (by Yankee Glide) 4, 1:53.4f ($294,280) and E L Rocket (by Credit Winner) 3, 1:53.1s ($233,935). E L Titan Earndawg takes Abe Lincoln Stake Earndawg took advantage of a perfect steer to capture the $57,100 Abe Lincoln Stake in 1:55.1.   The son of Sportsmaster-Pacific Sister K-Western Hanover notched his sixth career victory against six rivals in the evening’s Fourth Race.   Roger Welch trains Earndawg for owners William C DeLong of Clinton, WI and Pat DeLong of South Beloit, IL and J Miller of Mount Horeb, WI.   Earndawg nabbed the lead easily, with Lucpark (Dave Magee) right on his heels and King Of The Swamp (Ridge Warren) sitting third.    “I didn’t think I was going to be able to cross over that easily, but I got the rail pretty well,”winning driver Todd Warren said.   Positions remained unchanged to the opening panel of :28.1 and to the :57.2 half, before Dupage’s Z Tam (Casey Leonard) moved  hard agains t the leader.  However, Earndawg had plenty left in the tank, sprinting to a 1:25.4 three-quarter clocking while the hard-trying Angelo J Fra (Tim Tetrick) went three-wide around the final turn.    “I didn’t want to get run down that much on the backside, but we were racing for good money, so that was okay. I think this horse races best from off the pace.  If I would have gotten torched a little more going to the half, they would have had a better shot to beat me.”   Earndawg still had plenty left in the tank as he brushed to a three-quarter length victory with Lucpark finishing second and Angelo J Fra nabbing third.   Earndawg’s stablemate, King Of The Swamp was fourth, followed by DuPage’s Z Tam, Shadow’s Image and JK Allnitelong.   Earndawg pushed his career earnings to $189,265.  He finished second at Balmoral last Saturday night to Roland N Rock in the $86,000 American National and has also won the $186,000 Orange & Blue at Balmoral and the $43,350 Cardinal at Maywood.   Earndawg, a $35,000 yearling purchase from the 2013 Walker Standardbred Sale, is out of the Western Hanover mare Pacific Sister K 4,1:54 ($107,550) and is a full brother to Mystical MJ p,1:51.1 ($275,219) and a half-brother to Doubleshotascotch p,4,1:51f ($692,491).   Earndawg   by Kimberly Rinker, for Maywood Park

Through the first 32 consecutive editions of Maywood Park’s Windy City Pace several of this prominent 3-year-old stakes have likely been won or lost by the luck of the draw a few days before the race. Drawing outside on a half-miler can be a disaster in a big money event. For that matter a poor post can sometimes have a dramatic effect on a horse’s chances to win on a big track as well. After Somewhere In L A acquired the 10-hole in last week’s $227,000 American National 3-year-old colt pace at Balmoral Park his driver Brett Miller had to be grinning when he learned the Jimmy Takter gelding landed the two-slot for tonight’s $180,000 Windy City Pace. Last week Somewhere In L A came from seventh at the three-quarter pole to finish second best behind JK Endofanera, uncorking a :26.4 last quarter. “Of course drawing the 10-hole hurt my horse’s chances but what hurt us even more was having Limelight Beach and JF Endofanera starting right next to us,: said Brett. “I was kind of forced to do the opposition of what they did. Nevertheless my horse raced really good. “Jimmy Takter has done a great job with the horse. Somewhere In L A is no doubt one of the nicest horses I have ever sat behind,” continued the 41-year--old Ohio native with over 6,700 career driving wins. “Somewhere In L A is a Cadillac to drive. He can do it any way. He can race up-front. He can race off the pace and he can race first-over. There are a lot of horses who can’t race first-over. Unfortunately I’ve been stuck with him first-over quite a bit. “In the Adios I was first over. In the Jug I was first-over, so I’m very happy he got the two-hole in the Windy City. “This horse has made $444,000 this year and honestly, not to be whining, if he had drawn some better post position who knows how much he could have made.” Somewhere In L A will open up as the 2-1 morning line favorite to add the winner’s share of the Windy City purse to his bank account for his east coast owners J&T Silvia, Deo Volente Farms and T L P Stable who acquired the son of Somebeachsomewhere on June 1 of this year. Let’s Drink On It (Travis Seekman), an American National champion at two, is the 5-2 second choice with the one-slot. The Joe Seekman went from 10th to 3rd last week in the final quarter of the mile of the 3-year-old American National pace and was second best to Limelight Beach in the Jug Final on the Delaware, Ohio half-mile oval. Big Boy Dreams (4-1, Tim Tetrick), also figures to get a lot of play after last week’s 1:51.1 romp in a American National Consolation, the Ron Burke trainee’s second start on Lasix. From the four slot out you’ll find Three Of Clubs (6-1, Doug Mc Nair), Kingofthe jungle (20-1, Brian Carpenter), Neat (10-1, Casey Leonard), On Golden Ponder (12-1, Dean Magee) and the Illinois bred champ Unlocked (15-1, Dave Magee). by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

Friday's $180,000 Windy City Pace, one of Maywood Park's pinnacle races, is a showcase event on an evening sprinkled with star-studded Standardbreds that have journeyed to Chicago's in-town, half-miler from throughout North America.   The pacer that's traveled the farthest to compete tonight is Kentucky Sire Stakes champion On Golden Ponder. Ontario-based Robert McIntosh, 62, will harness the son of Ponder for just his eighth start this season. The bay 3-year-old, who was foaled May 28, 2011 in Lucan, Ontario, has a trio of wins this year and $120,664 in seasonal earnings.   On Golden Ponder got a late start this season due to an injury sustained during the winter months, and the tenacious McIntosh gave his youngster plenty of time to recouperate. The colt earned $74,965 as a 2-year-old from nine starts with four wins and one second, and holds the record for the fastest 2-year-old ever on a half-mile track, having posted a winning 1:52.2 world-record clocking in the 2013 edition of the $52,544 Standardbred at Delaware, drawing off by 6½ lengths with Hall of Famer John Campbell at the lines.   On Golden Ponder has triumphed in a pair of $15,000 legs and the $175,000 Final of the Kentucky Sire Stakes at Lexington this year: on Aug. 10 (in 1:57.2); Aug. 24 (in 1:54.3); and Aug. 31 (in 1:59.2).   On Golden Ponder is owned by the McIntosh Stables, Inc., of LaSalle, ON; CSX Stables of Liberty Center, OH; and Michael Kohler of Grosse Pointe Woods, MI. He was bred by McIntosh and CSX Stables and is the third foal out of the Intrepid Seelster mare In Trepid Water p,3,1:51.3s ($410,748), with a pair of half-siblings: Great Waters p,2,1:55.1f ($33,281) and Cool Like That p,3, 1:52h ($106,844)--both by The Panderosa.   McIntosh has conditioned 3,299 winners to $81,854,034 in career earnings and was inducted into the Canadian Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2010. He also trained both of On Golden Ponder's parents. In Trepid Water was a top mare on the Ontario Sire Stake circuit as a 3-year-old and Ponder p, 5, 1:48.1m ($1,522, 936), when he retired, was the fastest and richest son of The Panderosa.   Also hailing from our neighbors to the north is Three Of Clubs, the Ontario Sire Stake champion who'll be harnessed by trainer Gregg McNair, who co-owns the Mach Three son with fellow Canadians Keith Waples and Tony Lawrence.   Three Of Clubs comes here tonight fresh off a career best 1:51.1 victory in the $225,500 OSS Final at Mohawk on Oct. 11. He has scored four OSS wins the past two seasons and also captured the $12,125 elim and the $138,720 Battle of Waterloo at Grand River Raceway as a freshman.   Three Of Clubs was a $25,000 yearling purchase at the 2011 Forest City Sale and is the first foal out of his dam, the Precious Bunny mare CC Kloe p, 3, 1:57F ($24,076). Lifetime, he's amassed six wins, three seconds and five thirds from 23 starts, with a bankroll of $432,181.   The Jimmy Tatker trained Somewhere In LA, who has been a major player on the Pennsylvania Sire Stake circuit this season, is the richest contender ($516,643) in the field of eight. The son of Somebeachsomewhere finished second in last week's American National at Balmoral to JK Endofanera, and two weeks prior won the $41,700 Keystone Classic at The Meadows in 1:51.2. This Ontario-bred won a $50,000 Adios Elim, the $55,016 Diplomat Final (at Woodbine) and was second in the $400,000 Adios Final this season. He is owned by J&T Silva Stables, NY; Deo Volente Farms and TLP Stable of NJ.   Big Boy Dreams , trained by Ronnie Burke, has been racing in his home state of New York for most of the season, with wins at Saragota and Batavia. He also captured the American National consolation at Balmoral last Saturday in a wire-to-wire, career best 1:50.1 performance for Yannick Gingras.   Owned by Dominic Rosato of Utica, NY, Big Boy Dreams won multiple New York Sire Stake tests at two and to date has eight wins, three seconds and six thirds in 19 lifetime starts. A $9,000 yearling at the Morrisville, NY Sale, Big Boy Dreams is the third foal out of the unraced Art Major mare Stefani Blue Chip, and is a half-brother to Sebring Blue Chip (by Western Terror) p,3,1:55.3f ($40,891) and to Mo Molly Blue Chip (by Rock N Roll Heaven) p,2,1:58h ($34,569).   Neat is another New York-bred who comes into the Windy City fresh off four victories at Yonkers Raceway. Owned by Illinoisans Paymaq Racing and Tim Towne and trained by Erv Miller, the gelded son of Art Major has amassed $155,366 lifetime competing in the Empire State. He was $30,000 yearling purchase at the 2012 Standardbred Horse Sale at Harrisburg and is the second foal out of his Island Fantasy dam Stonebridge Luau p, 3, 1:53S ($172,623). Neat is a full brother to Scirocco Billy p,3,1:56.1f ($34,653) and has a half-sibling in the 2-year-old gelding Surf Report p,2,Q1:58.4h, by Sportswriter.   By Kimberly Rinker, for Maywood Park    

Last week we came up short on the win bets at $-2.90 for the weekend but more than made up for it in some decent exotic scores that totaled more than $350.00. This week there are tons of racing action Friday and Saturday with the Windy City Pace Friday at Maywood Park, the Indiana Sire Stakes finals at Hoosier Park Saturday, Woodbine is back in action with the elims Friday and Saturday for the top freshman stakes, Governors Cup, Valley Victory, Three Diamonds & Goldsmith Maid, Yonkers has the eliminations for the Messenger Pace and Yonkers Trot and we even stop at Batavia Downs for the Robert Kane Memorial Pace. Good Luck! $25,000 Pace Three Diamonds 2yo Filly elim Woodbine 1st race FRIDAY - She is the "little darling" of harness racing. Unbeaten JK She'salady is a perfect 8 for 8 going into her elimination division. She has beaten everyone in this field already this season and continues her domination of the freshman pacing filly ranks. Use Happy Becky and Solar Sister in exotic plays. $25,000 Trot Goldsmith Maid 2yo Filly elim Woodbine 3rd race FRIDAY - World record holder Mission Brief either wires the field or runs like a deer. Temperamental filly is super-fast and should be able to win in here. Use Danielle Hall and Stubborn Belle in exotic plays. $37,600 Pace Cinderella Stake 3yo Fillies Maywood Park 8th race FRIDAY - Last week this filly was gutted trying to get to the front and never making it. Lady Shadow has been great for most of the season and has the speed and ability to get the jump on the field and return to winning ways. Use Major Dancer and Kayla Grace in exotic plays. $180,000 Windy City Pace 3yo Colts Maywood Park 9th race FRIDAY - Top stakes race has drawn a very competitive field. After last week's great closing effort in American-National from post 10, I have to go with Somewhere In L A. He is never out of the money and from good inside post he is due to get some great cover to score from. Use Big Boy Dreams and Let's Drink On It in exotic plays. $40,000 Pace Messenger Stake 3yo Colts elim Yonkers 2nd race SATURDAY - This is the prelude to next week's finale as only one will be eliminated from this race. I think the Ron Burke entry of All Bets Off/Forty Five Red will be very tough to beat. All Bets Off has been awesome all season with ten wins. He draws inside and is on a five-race win streak. Use McWicked and National Debt in exotic plays. $25,000 Trot Valley Victory 3yo Colt elim Woodbine 3rd race SATURDAY - Having won five of his last six starts makes Habitat the big favorite in here and rightly so. Has beaten almost everyone he has faced this year on the front end and can overcome outside post to do it again. Use Whom Shall I Fear and Noble Power in exotic plays. $40,000 Yonkers Trot 3yo colt elim Yonkers Raceway 4th race SATURDAY - Being the class of the field does not hurt Nuncio's chances in here, but having only once qualified on a half mile track (won in 1:58.4) at age two makes this a tough start. Draws into easier of two divisions but questionable if can take the turns but Jimmy Takter would not have entered him if he can't handle it. Use Way Outta Here and Don Dorado in exotic plays. $40,000 Yonkers Trot 3yo colt elim Yonkers Raceway 5th race SATURDAY - The Ron Burke entry of Gural Hanover/Hillustrious looms very tough in here with their 1-2 post positions. Well matched field has to be dwindled down to just four to advance to the final so the action will be fast and furious. Use Flyhawk El Durado and Datsyuk in exotic plays. $200,000 Trot Indiana Sire Stakes 2yo Colt Final Hoosier Park 7th race SATURDAY - This race should belong to Airman Batten as he has won ten of his twelve starts this year and had beaten everyone in the field this season and has done it from on and off the pace. Use Steal N Gas and Homicide Hunter in exotic plays. $50,000 Pace Robert Kane Memorial Invit Batavia Downs 7th race SATURDAY - Changed my mind a couple of times on this race which only shows how competitive the field is. I decided to go with Aracache Hanover off his two straight wins at Yonkers, wiring the field in extra distance races. Use Easy Again and Apprentice Hanover in exotic plays. $25,000 Pace Governors Cup 2yo Colt elim Woodbine 8th race SATURDAY - We Will See tonight if the break by Artspeak was a fluke two weeks ago or if he is getting tired from the tough season. Outside post not much help but with a week's rest if he is fit he will work his magic, get to the front and return to winning ways. Use Dudes The Man and Pierce Hanover in exotic plays. $200,000 Pace Indiana Sire Stakes Final 3yo Fillies Hoosier 11th race SATURDAY - Winner of the Jugette has not missed a beat since her impressive victories in Delaware. Color's A Virgin has won 10 of 14 starts this year and is on a four-race win streak that she should be able to add another triumph to. Use Candy's A Virgin and Always Wearable in exotic plays. $200,000 Pace Indiana Sire Stakes Final 3yo Colts Hoosier 13th race SATURDAY - Having ruled in the Indiana Sire Stakes this season, Always B Miki returns for the rich final for Joe Holloway Stable. Has won five of last six starts, rested a week and should be primed to lay over this field. Use Bluehourpower and If I Lose in exotic plays.  

Stablemates Earndawg and King Of The Swamp head up a field of seven freshman pacing colts and geldings in Friday's $57,100 Abe Lincoln Stake, and these two have a lot in common. Both are trained by Roger Welch and both are by top Illinois sire Sportsmaster. As well, both are owned by William C (Bo) Delong and William (Pat) Delong of Wisconsin and Illinois, with Earndawg also being co-owned by EJ Miller of Mount Horeb, WI. Both were purchased by Bo and Pat and taken to their Wisconsin farm to be broken and trained over the winter, before bringing them to Welch to prepare for their freshman summer contests. Both have started 13 times in 2014 and both have competed against one another in eight contests, with Earndawg finishing higher than Kind Of The Swamp on six occasions. And, Earndawg has clearly surpassed King Of The Swamp in regards to earnings ($160,715 vs $65,653) and wins (5 vs 3). Last week the both competed in the $86,000 American National 2-Year-Old Colt Pace, with Earndawg second and King Of The Swamp fifth. The week before they finished one-two (Earndawg-King Of The Swamp) in the $43,350 Cardinal Stake at Maywood. Earndawg captured the $186,000 Orange & Blue Colt Pace on Super Night in a career best 1:52.4, with King Of The Swamp fifth in that event. But despite their racing abilities, both of these youngsters are equally important in the eyes of their trainer, Roger Welch, and both have very different personalities. "Earndawg initially was very spooky--he was scared to death of everything and it took a lot of work to get him to go around the track and pace a flat mile," Roger said. Purchased for $35,000 at the 2013 Walker Sale, Earndawg wears a blind bridle with an elaborately-designed fly screen to help keep him calm. Welch jogged and trained the nervous gelding behind another horse every time he went to the track in the beginning, to get him used to sounds and dirt thrown up in his face. Earndawg is out of the Western Hanover mare Pacific Sister K 4, 1:54M ($107,550) and is a full brother to Mystical MJ p,1:51.1 ($275,219) and a half-brother to Doubleshotascotch p, 4, 1:51F ($692,491). King Of The Swamp, an $85,000 yearling from the 2013 Walker Sale, is out of the Broadway Express mare She's Redhot and won both his $10,000 Mini Me Elim and the $48,000 Final in 1:55 on July 26. "King is easy going in the barn and that's his attitude on the track, too," Roger stressed. "He's a very handy horse. He can leave like a rocket and then set in a hole with just two fingers." King Of The Swamp's dam, She's Redhot, finished on the board in Super Night Championships at both 2 and 3. His granddam, Fox Valley Redhot, won the 1989 Orange & Blue Filly Pace. His full brother, Hot N Sporty p, 2, 1:50.2, a 34-race winner of $519,769, won an Orange & Blue elim; his half-sister She's So Hot earned $238,501 with a 2-year-old mark of 1:51.1m, and was third in both her Orange & Blue elim and final. By Kimberly Rinker, for Maywood Park  

Rompaway Galaxy, the 2013 Ohio 2-Year-Old Colt Trotter of the Year and a winner of $376,132 lifetime, headlines a field of nine in Friday's $92,300 Galt Stake for sophomore trotting colts and geldings.   Carefully managed throughout his career by trainer Krista Harmon, the son of Rompaway Wally was bred and is owned by Tom Smith's Rompaway Farms, Inc. of Battle Creek, Michigan. Smith is the former racing secretary at Michigan's old Jackson Raceway.   "Tom sent Galaxy to us in the fall of 2012," Krista recalled. "He was kind of on the small side, but then his parents aren't real big horses. Rompaway Wally is an averaged-sized horse and Rompaway Wynona was about the same. Tom had purchased both of those horses' dams one year at the Delaware Sale."   Despite his Stature, Krista said that Rompaway Galaxy didn't act the part.   "He was a handful," she confirmed. "He was just so full of himself every day. He wasn't mean, he was just out to show how good he felt. But it didn't make for a productive training career, so we gelded him. Then, he went through a growth spurt, and matured physically.   "We came home the first of May and our intentions were to qualify him and go to a fair, but after his first qualifier he trotted home strong and indicated he was much better than we originally thought," Krista continued.   As a freshman, Rompaway Galaxy had eight starts, with seven wins and one second in 2013, earning $161,550.   "As immature as he was mentally early on, it was amazing how quickly he figured things out," Krista assessed. "It was like a switch was turned on in his head, and all of a sudden he was focused and on his game. He had an outstanding freshman campaign and won one at Hoosier and the rest were Ohio Sires and Breeders Stakes.   Krista and her husband Don winter train at Gilcrest Training Center in Bell, FL and took the colt there to mature between his 2- and 3-year-old seasons.   "He grew up a little bit and is still full of himself but isn't unruly," she acknowledged. "As a 2-year-old he would make u-turns from time to time. He still looks for things, just to play. He's got a lot of playful personality. This year he's a little more attuned to what's going on around him and when he gets on the track, he's ready to go and pays more attention to business."   This season Rompaway Galaxy has amassed $214,582 from 12 starts, with six wins, two seconds and three thirds. He recorded a career mark of 1:55.3f en route to a $22,800 Ohio Breeders Stake victory on Aug. 9 at Scioto Downs. Last Saturday he finished a strong third to Father Patrick in the $203,000 American National Sophomore Trot, timed in 1:53.4, at Balmoral.   "I was very happy with him and even with the outside post I thought he'd hold his own and would definitely get us a check," Krista said. "What really impresses me is he's shown a lot of versatility on different sized tracks.   "He's been healthy all year which has been a blessing and doesn't have any real lameness issues," she continued. "He's had to ship all year from our base at Hoosier Park, and we've been forced to qualify him a lot because of his schedule in order to keep him tight."   Krista said she's confident Rompaway Galaxy can handle Maywood's half-mile turns just fine.   "He gets around a half-mile really well--he's versatile, just like his father," she stressed. "After the Galt, he's got two more starts: the Circle City and the Erskin at Hoosier. We'll give him a break after that and then start him back up for next year."   Foaled on April 18, 2011, Rompaway Galaxy is the fourth of five foals out of the Mr Vic mare Rompaway Wynona 2, 2:00m ($63,665) and is a half-brother to the gelding Patches Five Six 4, 1:59.f ($42,298). His sire, Rompaway Wally 6, 1:53.4z ($291,351), is a hardy son of Conway Hall 3, 1:53.4m ($818,884).   By Kimberly Rinker, for Maywood Park

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