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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 ustrotting.com. 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 www.xpressbet.com 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 www.ustrotting.com. 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 www.ustrotting.com.        

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

Illinois' top sophomore pacing fillies renewed acquaintances again on Friday night at Maywood Park as a field of eight second year distaffers went postward in one of the season's biggest harness racing events on the half-mile oval the $35,600 Filly Maywood Pace.   Taking advantage of a bye into the final of this event a fit and fresh Lex stormed right to the front and made it look easy as she cruised home with an effortless three-length victory in 1:54.2 for driver Kyle Wilfong over a track listed as fast despite day long rains and temperatures in low 50's.   Sent right to the front from post position four by Wilfong the daughter of Lexington Legend--I Bet U had things her own way as she strolled through opening splits of 28.0 & 56.4.   A first over bid came from Sportsmuffler (Casey Leonard) as the field moved onto the backstretch for the final time but Lex dug in gamely as she continued to lead the field by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.0.   After turning aside the challenge of Sportsmuffler the Nelson Willis trained miss seemed to find another gear, quickly drawing away from the pocket sitting Fox Valley Kit (Pat Curtin) and a tired Sportsmuffler to secure her fourth win in seven starts this year. Fox Valley Kit, a 17-1 outsider turned that perfect two-hole trip into a nice second place check while another longshot Duneside Perttie (Brian Carpenter) shook loose late to finish third at odds of 32-1.   Lex, who also captured this season's Violet Stake at Balmoral Park is enjoying a very nice start to her second season boasting a record of 4-2-1 in 7 starts while adding another $37,363 to her bankroll. For her career the ultra-consistent homebred sports a record of 8-4-3 in 16 tries with earnings of $102,163 for proud owner Kay Willis.   Bet as though defeat was out of the question Lex returned $2.60, $2.40 & $2.10 to her legion of backers. The "boys" were also in action on Friday night as a field of eight sophomore pacing colts squared off in their Maywood Pace Stake elimination. The top six finishers will return next week where they will be joined by Earndawg and Dixie's Boy in the $36,000 final. Using the inside starting spot to perfection driver Mike Oosting put heavily favored Lucpark right on the "engine" and the gelded son of Sportsmaster--Treasure The Best was never seriously threatened as he strolled home with a 2½ length verdict in 1:55.1.   With the exception of a mild first over bid from Gifted By Nature (Todd Warren) as the field neared the three-quarter pole the Erv Miller trained Lucpark was relatively unchallenged while putting up splits of 29.0, 58.3 & 1:26.1.   Off the mild fractions Lucpark had plenty in reserve, sprinting away from his rivals in the lane for his second win in six starts this season. Rockin Cassanova (Ridge Warren) sat on the winner's back every step of the way to grab the second place check while Frosty Dune (Kyle Wilfong) shook loose late to finish third after a ground saving trip. Also gaining spots in the final were Gifted By Nature, Dupage's Z Tam and Gett'er Done Dune.   With the win Lucpark now boasts career numbers of 6-3-3 in 18 starts with earnings just shy of $90,000 for owner Rocco Ruffolo. The 3-5 favorite in the wagering returned $3.40, $2.20 & $2.10. Tom Kelley    

One of Maywood Park's signature harness racing events, the $35,600 Filly Maywood Pace will put a field of eight Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing fillies in the spotlight as they do battle in race eight on Friday, June 12th. Leading the way in here is this year's Violet Stake winner Lex who comes into this tussle off a third place finish while facing the top "older" distaffers on the grounds at Balmoral Park last time out.   The Nelson Willis trained miss earned a bye into tonight's final giving the daughter of Lexington Legend a week off to freshen up for this tussle. Sporting a career record of 7-4-3 in 15 starts with earnings of nearly $85,000 for owner Kay Willis Lex has been installed as the 9-5 favorite as she leaves from post four. Kyle Wilfong is scheduled to handle the driving duties.   Southern Girl (4-1) turned some heads with a big come from behind victory in last week's elimination and the Homer Hochstetler trained miss could make it two in a row if she's able to uncork another closing move like that.   Unraced as a two-year-old the daughter of Sportsmaster began her career this spring by reeling off a couple of sharp wins before running into stakes company. After a couple of "even" efforts the good looking brown filly regained her form last week, exploding through the final sixteenth of a mile to pick up her fourth win in 10 career starts. Southern Girl will start from post two as she teams up with driver Travis Seekman again.   Last week's elimination favorite Sportsmuffler was victimized by a tough trip from post eight and this ultra-consistent filly also figures to make her presence felt as she starts from post six on Friday.   The Jesse De Long owned and trained miss has put up a sparkling record of 8-3-3 in 15 lifetime starts with earnings of just over $75,000. Installed as the 5-2 second choice in the morning line odds, Casey Leonard will handle the driving chores.   The "boys" will also be in Friday evening as a field of eight ICF sophomore pacing colts will battle in an $8,000 elimination for next week's Maywood Pace. The top six finishers will move on to the final where there will be joined by Earndawg and Dixie's Boy in the $36,000 final. Tom Kelley  

Sophomore pacing fillies stepped into the harness racing spotlight on Friday, June 5th at Maywood Park as a field of eight Cstate-breds squared off in an $8,000 Filly Maywood Stake elimination. The top seven finishers on Friday night will return next week where they will be joined by Lex in the $35,600 final.   After saving ground all the way to the top of the stretch, driver Travis Seekman tipped Southern Girl to the outside as the field straightened for the money and the Homer Hochstetler trained miss exploded like she had been shot out of a cannon, blowing right by her rivals to win by a length in 1:57.2.   Content to save ground throughout the mile as Galley Wench (Todd Warren) and heavily favored Sportsmuffler (Casey Leonard) battled through splits of 28.2, 58.3 & 1:27.1 Seekman appeared to be hopelessly locked in fifth as the field turned for home.   Craftily working their way to the center of the track the daughter of Sportsmaster--Biloxi quickly kicked it into high gear picking off one rival after another in the blink of an eye to score for the fourth time in 10 starts this season. Angel Demon (Mike Oosting) came on late to finish second while Galley Wench held on for third.   Also gaining spots in the final with fourth through seventh place finishes were Fox Valley Kit, Sportsmuffler, Duneside Perttie and I Y Q Too.   With the win Southern Girl now boasts a record of four wins and one third in 10 starts with earnings of $15,097 in this her first season of action for owners Connie Hochstetler, Kristofer Heim and James Michels. The third choice in the wagering returned $14.40, $7.40 & $5.00. Tom Kelley

Maywood Park will kick off the month of June in style for harness racing players across North America, offering two guaranteed pools this Thursday, June 4.   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 Pick Four will offer the High Five with a one day carryover of $14,710 and a minimum wager of ten cents.   The Pick Four offers a guaranteed pool of $7,500 and starts on race seven.    Free twelve line program pages are available every night at ustrotting.com 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 WITH 23456789        $ 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

Sophomore pacing colts kicked off the 2015 stakes action at the harness racing meeting at Maywood Park on Friday, May 15th as a compact field of six ICF three-year-olds met in the $8,000 Gosox Stake.   The youngsters showed some rust early on in their first foray over the half-mile oval but when the smoke cleared it was Rocco Ruffolo's Lucpark, the even-money choice in the wagering who emerged with a half-length triumph in 1:55.2 for driver Mike Oosting.   Leaving from the outside post in the field of six, Lucpark actually wound up in a decent spot as Oosting guided him over to the pylons in fourth as both Dixie's Boy (Casey Leonard) and Casey At Bat (Tim Curtin) committed early miscues. That left Rockin Cassinova (Todd Warren) to stroll through leisurely early splits of 29.1 & 59.1. The action began to heat up as the field moved onto the backstretch for the final time with Oosting rushing the Erv Miller trainee up to engage Rockin Cassinova. These two were head and head for the lead as they began to separate from the pocket sitting Dakota Roadster (Robert Smolin) while charging by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.3. Around the final turn Lucpark managed to poke a head in front of the pace-setter eventually putting that one away as the field turned for home.   The gelded son of Sportsmaster--Treasure The Best was not out of danger yet though as Dixie's Boy, who spotted the field 11 lengths at the opening station because of his miscue behind the gate, came charging up four-wide to throw a scare into the "chalk players" but the wire came just in time for Lucpark as he held on for his first win in three starts this season. Dixie's Boy was an impressive second considering his journey while Dakota Roadster finished third. With the win, Lucpark who returned $4.20, $2.40 & $2.10 now boasts a career record of five wins, two seconds and three thirds in 16 trips to the gate with earnings of $82,480 for his proud owner. Tom Keeley

While there were insufficient entries to card the ICF Sportsmaster stake Friday night at Maywood Park it turns out we will get to see some of the promising 3-year-old stake bred harness racing pacing colts this weekend after all. Lucpark, Rockin Cassinova, The Big Sleazy and Fox Valley Elijah, all ICF stake champion as freshman—will compete in Saturday’s sixth race conditioned pace but they’ll have to compete against open-company pacers, some older. Governor’s Cup champion Lucpark (programmed 9-2, Mike Oosting) and Orange and Blue Consolation winner The Big Sleazy (6-1, Casey Leonard), both Erv Miller trainees, are making their 2015 debuts. Rockin Cassinova (10-1, Bobby Smolin), winner of last year’s Downstate Classic at Charleston, and Yates Eagle stake victor Fox Valley Elijah (10-1, Matt Krueger) have one sophomore race under their belt. The morning line favorites are Why Ask Why (Ridge Warren) and Jackson’s Image (Todd Warren) at odds of 3-1 and 4-1, respectively. Both the $8,000 Iggy Magoo stake for 3-year-old ICF trotting colts and geldings and the $8,000 Betzotic for state-bred sophomore pacing fillies will be raced Sunday, along with the $9,400 “Winner’s Over” Trot Maywood Champ Returns: In Over My Head, the 2009 Windy City Pace champion as a 3-year-old will make his 2015 debut at the age of nine in Friday’s tenth race mid-level conditioned race for the Terry Leonard Stable. In Over My Head landed the outside 8-hole in the 9-horse field, nevertheless he’ll open as the 3-1 choice with Casey Leonard in his first start since late last November. The son of I Am A Fool spent a good portion of last year in the Balmoral Park Invites where he did post a 1:50 flat victory among his 6 victories.. In Over My Head has banked almost $350,000 for his owners Greg Carey of Mineral Point, Wisconsin and Shawn Swenson of Atlanta, Georgia. Tommy Guns ‘em Down: It was the “Tom Simmons Show” yesterday afternoon at the Springfield qualifiers. The veteran downstate horseman sent out nine horses among the four qualifiers contested and drove the winning horse from his barn in each, mostly romps in the park. The 3-year-old Get Rockin was 11-plus lengths the best in 1:57.2, Catch The Wave, another 3-year-old, dominated 1:56.2, by 12 and 1/2 lengths, veteran Sporty Gypsy 1:56.2 put him 2 lengths ahead of Mystical MJ, another Simmons trainee and the current star of the barn Time To Roll posted a 1:53.2 mile, 9-plus lengths in front of Simmons’ Fox Valley Van. Mike Paradise

Veteran harness racing trainer Perry Smith will start his stable’s three newest additions at Maywood Park on Thursday or Friday—Shez A Swift, Make It Work and Golden-Nugget. All were recent $4,000 claims and each will compete at the same level for the 2014 Chicago Circuit defending trainer champion. All three pacers do share one very important characteristic—they have been frequent visitors to the half-mile track’s winner’s circle, and not just this year. Thursday’s starter, the 5-year-old ICF mare Shez A Swift, has four wins this season at Maywood Park and notched all 14 of her 2014 victories at the Melrose Park, Illinois facility. Make It Work, Friday’s fifth race starter for Smith, who I’ve dubbed “Chicago’s Claiming King,” has had his last 33 first-place finishes all at Maywood and most came at the $4,000 claiming level. The 9-year-old ICF veteran has 5 this season, 10 in 2014, 4 in 2013, 10 in 2012 and 4 in 2011. The last time he won at race elsewhere was at Balmoral in October of 2010 for Mark Fransen, his original trainer. Perry’s sixth race horse Friday is Golden-Nugget who has been claimed in his last five consecutive starts all at the same $4,000 price tag. The 5-year-old Sportsmaster gelding rattled off six straight victories at Maywood earlier before his last two races when he was second and fourth. Golden-Nugget is making his second go-around for Smith. The Crete trainer took Golden-Nugget in his March 26 win off of trainer Loralee Johnson, raced him the following week, naturally a win, but lost him to trainer Gerald Longo, who lost him a week later to trainer Jose Morales, who lost him to Perry. All three newly acquired Smith owned and trained pacers are the morning line favorites in their respective upcoming races. Shez A Swift opens at odds of 9-5 Thursday. Make It Work (Mike Oosting) is at 5-2 first flash odds, and Golden-Nugget (Todd Warren) is the 9-5 early choice from the one-slot. Four Not Enough: When four ICF pacing colts and geldings entered Friday’s scheduled Taser Gun the stake was passed over from the card. A surprise entrant for the Taser Gun was last year’s Governor’s Cup champion at Du Quoin Lucpark who hasn’t been out since his second place finish in Maywood’s Abe Lincoln freshman stake in mid-October Lucpark earned over $76,000 for his Chicago owner Rocco Ruffalo, The Erv Miller trainee also notched victories in his Orange and Blue and Mini Me eliminations. In addition to Lucpark, entered for the Taser Gun were Casey At Bat, Dakota Roadster and Rockin Cassinova. Hopefully the Taser Gun will be written back by the Race Office for next Friday and raced either as part of the regular card or as an early non-wagering race. We don’t need any more of our ICF stakes, smallish in purse money as they may be, to be discarded. Qualifiers Update: Among the horses who won their qualifiers Tuesday morning at Balmoral was the 3-year-old ICF gelding Gifted By Nature (Todd Warren), the younger brother of two consecutive Orange and Blue Colt champions, Dutch Richmond in 2010 and Zall Good in 2011. The Roger Welch trainee was five lengths the best in his 1:56.4 qualifier preparing for his 2015 debut. The fastest of the seven qualifiers were a pair of 1:56.1 clockings by a off-springs of Sportsmaster, the 3-year-old Du Page’s Ztam (Casey Leonard) and the 5-year-old Joyful Game (Artie Dick). Both Gifted By Nature and Du Page’s Ztam are eligible for Super Night. Mike Paradise  

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