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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  

Dandy Farm’s Firstclassallthway will likely be the odds-on harness racing favorite to pick-up his 40th career victory and the 8-year-old’s 11th at Maywood Park in Friday’s ninth race conditioned pace feature. The 8-year-old gelding is listed as the 8-5 morning line choice with Mike Oosting in the bike against five other pacers—Cuatro Cinco (programmed odds of 12-1), At Max Speed, (8-1) Gypsy Leather (10-1), Montero Blue Chip (5-2) and Desperado Alibi (3-1). Firstclassallthway owns a half-dozen lifetime triumphs in Balmoral Park Invite’s. Earlier this year Firstclassallthway won back-to-back “Winner’s Over” on the Crete, IL big track  in 1:51.3 and 1:50.3, over the likes of Iam Bonasera, Fort Silky and Ice Scraper. Trained by Jim Ellison for his Glenview, Illinois owners, Firstclassalthway comes into Friday’s race with $371,545 on his card and a lifetime best mile of 1:49.3. The Pick 6 wager carryover pool at Maywood Park is now up to $16,833 after no one again had a winning ticket last week. The 20 cent wager starts off with Thursday’s first race and goes through race six. On Their Way: Lucpark and The Big Sleazy, a couple of well-regarded ICF 3-year-olds, are expected to arrive on the local scene soon after qualifying nicely at the Southern Oaks Training Center in Florida last Thursday. The Big Sleazy finished a neck ahead of Lucpark in their qualifier, both hitting the timer in 1:56.3 preparing for their season debuts. Lucpark, an Erv Miller trainee, captured the Governor’s Cup last year in his freshman season when he earned over $76,000 for his Chicago owner Rocco Ruffalo. The lightly raced The Big Sleazy (2 for 8) captured the Orange and Blue Colt Consolation last Super night for trainer Nelson Willis and owner- breeder Marty Engel of Buffalo Grove, Illinois. Qualifying Update: The Mike Brown Stable’s Alwybreakinhearts (Todd Warren) and Del Chupp’s veteran Dontgetbyme (Kyle Husted) turned in the fastest two qualifiers on a very windy Tuesday at Balmoral Park. The stewards allowed one second off qualifying times with winds whipping up at 30 mph on the 46 degree chilly morning. The 4-year-old Alwybreakinhearts was three lengths the best in his 1:57.3 mile while the 10-year-old Dontgetbyme was a whopping 16 lengths ahead of his nearest foe in a 1:57.3 qualifier, pacing the last quarter in a quick 26.3, the fastest last panel among the five qualified contested. Former WCP Champ Back:  Going to the gate in the second of two Thursday qualifiers prior to the start of the regular at Maywood park card is the 2009 Windy City Pace champion In Over My Head for the Terry Leonard Stable. The now 9-yerar-old gelding is expected to make his first start of the year at Balmoral Park in early May at Balmoral Park where he was a 1:50 flat Invite winner in 2014. Qualifiers will be held at Springfield, Illinois today (Thursday) beginning at 1 p.m. Mike Paradise

One of the recurring 2-year-old ICF stakes on the harness racing schedule is the Fox Valley Barzgar, slated this year to be raced at Maywood Park on July 10. The freshman event for state-bred pacing colts and geldings honors one of the fastest  two-year-old pacers of all time, Fox Valley Barzgar, who took his record of 1:50.2 with Tony Morgan in winning the 2006 edition of the $410,000 Woodrow Wilson at The Meadowlands. A son of Incredible Finale, out of the Sportsmaster dam Slammin Annie, Fox Valley Bazagar’s front-end  victory by three lengths made him the first and only ICF pacer to capture the most prestigious 2-year-old colt stake at The Big M. Fox Valley Barzgar was an $11,500 yearling purchase at the 2005 Fox Valley Standardbred Sale in Sherman by Illinoisans Shawn Nessa (Du Quoin) and John Boyer (Fairfield). The colt began his career winning a $750 purse at Du Quoin in late May with a 1:56 clocking and was sent to Hawthorne to compete in their $41,500 World Series where he was knocked off stride by a breaker as the even-money choice. After a dominating 8-plus length win his Balmoral qualifier in 1:55.2, trainer Tom Harmer purchased Fox Valley Barzgar for his Loudonville, New York owner Michael Polansky. The youngster immediately because a success for Harmer. On July 8, 2006 Fox Valley Bazagar drew away to a 1:52 flat mile in a $29,000 division of a Hanover, pacing the last quarter in 26.1 for Dave Magee. His next start was three weeks later in his Woodrow Wilson elimination. He was sent to the front by driver Tony Morgan and cruised to a 1:51 victory by three-plus lengths. A week later was his record setting 1:50.2 mile in the Wilson Final. After that memorable race Morgan told the media: “He’s a good colt and he was well prepared. I was so shocked that he was so relaxed tonight. He was on the bit last week. He felt like he’d do whatever you wanted to do tonight.” Fox Valley Bazagar came back to Illinois for the $40,000 Governor’s Cup at Du Quoin where he was again impressive, scoring by 7 lengths in 1:51 with a last quarter in :26.4. “Barzgar” stayed perfect for the Harmer Stable by crushing his Orange and Blue elimination field by 6 and 1/2 length in 1:52 with Magee. However, it was a different story in the $285,000 O&B Final. The 4-5 favorite was parked out through sizzling fractions 26.2, 54.1 and 1:22.3 and ended up a non-threatening third to the 2006 O & B champion Home Bed Advantage (Ryan Anderson). That mid-September stake was “Barzgar’s final race as a 2-year-old. The colt wouldn’t win again until the summer of 2009 and “Barzgar” didn’t make a pari-mutuel start as a 3-year-old. The son of Incredible Finale had a very imposing 16-plus winning qualifier (1:55.3) at Pompano Park in mid-April but then got sidelined “with a serious bacterial infection in intestinal track,” trainer Tom Harmer revealed. The horse qualified in mid-June at Maywood in 1:56.2 with plans to enter Hawthorne’s $60,000 Chicago stake on June 28 but the start didn’t materialize. “Barzgar” made a there unsuccessful starts in 2008 at the age of 4. After a half-dozen unproductive starts in 2009 the horse was shipped out East where he had 7 wins in 2010 while banking over $50,000 and added 4 more victories in 2011 including a 1:51 mile at Chester. The horse joined Walnut Hall LTD in Lexington and began standing stud there for the 2008 breeding season. Staying Hot: Sunday’s third race 8-1 longshot winner Hotmones (Kyle Wilfong) was an $18.40 Mike Paradise Price Shot selection. By Mike Paradise

Tripoli Stable’s Kanaris is the heavy even-money morning line favorite to get a repeat harness racing victory in Friday night’s Maywood Park’s ninth race featured ninth race. The 5-year-old gelding was an easy 1:53.3 front-stepping winner last week for driver Travis Seekman, the 24-year-old son of the horse's trainer Joe Seekman. While Kanaris had to work hard (:27.4 first quarter) to get command a week ago from the seven-slot, he’s in great shape this time around to be in control with the track’s coveted one-slot.. Last year Kanaris pulled down almost $125,000 for his Norridge, Illinois owners. Among his 6 triumphs was a Scioto Downs track record 1:48.3 mile for a 4-year-old gelding on the Ohio five-eighths oval. Among his chief rivals in Friday’s conditioned pace is Lydia Carpenter’s Desperado Alibi (7-2, Brian Carpenter), back on his favorite track after a trio of unsuccessful races at Hoosier Park. The Merl P’Pool trainee left Maywood Park with three consecutive victories, the last 2 in Friday’s same conditioned pace level for non-winners of $8,000 in their last 8 starts. Looking for an upset win are Montero Blue Chip (5-1 Casey Leonard), Quatro Cinco (15-1, Bobby Smolin), At Max Speed (5-1, Mike Oosting), Gypsy Leather (15-1, Ran Anderson) and Galactic Star (8-1, Todd Warren). The Pick 6 wager carryover pool at Maywood Park continues to grow. No one hit the 20 cent wager again last Thursday so it’ll start off with a $13,721 pot in tonight’s first race. The wager encompasses races one through six. Trainers Bob Phillips and Jim Eaton each had a pair of horses finish first in qualifiers Wednesday morning at Balmoral Park and Phillips horses were dominate with 23-year-old Mississippi native Clifton Bell at their lines. Phillips 3-year-old Boys Around Here showed his heels to the other 7 horses in the first qualifier, drawing off by almost 11 lengths with a 1:56 flat mile. Two qualifiers later Bell took Rockin Ron to an 8-length victory in 1:54.3, the fastest of the five morning qualifiers. Eaton’s Account Hanover (Tom Curtin) was a 1:56 flat front-end winner in his qualifier and Mosse Terror (John De Long) followed with a 1:55.3 mile, overtaking his pacesetting stable-mate Artache Hanover and the second place finisher Alwysbreakinhearts, Both of Eaton’s pacers are owned by Michigander Robert Silberberg. The Nelson Willis Stable’s Lima Real Easy (Mike Oosting) breezed in the other Wednesday qualifier with a 1:58.1 mile. John De Long is in Indiana Friday night. The 26-year-old Wisconsin native will drive four Jim Ellison trained horses on the card including Dandy’s Filly in the Hoosier Park Extreme Velocity Series for filly and mare pacers. The Doe, one of only three ICF filly paces entered for Friday’s scheduled Desperate Lady stake, is a starter in Thursday’s first race. The other two entrants—Southern Girl and Lex, the one-two finishers in last Saturday’s Direct Balance stake—are off this week. By Mike Paradise

Maywood Park’s initial harness racing ICF stake race of the year met the same fate as Balmoral Park’s 12 nights earlier. It was a no-go. Only a pair of 3-year-old state bred male pacers—Dakota Roadster and Dixie Boy—entered the $8,000 Sportsmaster, scheduled for Friday night. The same two sophomores were the only entrants for the $8,000 Taurus Bomber slated for March 28 at Balmoral. Neither ICF 3-year-old colt stake will likely be rescheduled. Still Growing: No one hit last week’s 20 cent Jackpot Pick 6 at Maywood and carryover for the wager is now at $10,807 for Thursday night’s opener. The 20 cent wager covers the first six races on the card. Better Than Anticipated: Friday’s seventh race conditioned pace feature came up stronger than expected when Kanaris and Firstclassallthway (pictured, courtesy of R.E.B. Photos) were among the seven horses entered. Both pacers come out of a high-level $15,000 conditioned pace at Hoosier. Kanaris (programmed 5-2,Travis Seekman), the 1:48.3 track record-holder at Scioto Downs for a 4-year-old gelding, is making his fourth season start for trainer Joe Seekman and Tripoli Stables of Norridge, Illinois. The now 5-year-old homebred picked up a check in the 2013 Windy City Pace and comes off a 4-year-old campaign where he earned over $124,000. Firstclassallthway (2-1, John De Long) earlier this year rattled off three consecutive victories in Bamoral’s “Winner’s Over” events for Dandy Farms of Glenview, Illinois. The Jim Ellison trainee has won at least 3 races at Maywood the previous three seasons. Among his 39 career victories are a half-dozen triumphs in Balmoral Invites. Galactic Star, winner of 7 of his last 11 outings at Maywood Park, landed the one-slot in the $7,100 conditioned pace for non-winners of $8,000 in their last 5 starts with regular driver Todd Warren. The Perry Smith trained gelding will open at 4-1 odds Fox Valley Norman (8-1, Ridge Warren), Ready (6-1, Mike Oosting), Gypsy Leather (12-1, Ryan Anderson) and Montero Blue Chip (12-1, Casey Leonard) complete the seventh race field. Qualifier News: Lady Lincoln Land champion Bi Polar Rose won her qualifier yesterday morning with Travis Seekman at Balmoral with a 1:59.4 clocking on a track listed as “good.” The Ronnie Roberts trainee is being pointed for the $40,000 (est.) Violet Trot in May. Roberts also had one of the two fastest qualifying winners Wednesday morning when the 3-year-old Indiana bred colt Sir Mammo proved best in 1:55.3 with Todd Warren. Sir Mammo was the third place finisher in last year’s American National 2-Year-Old Trot. Also finishing first in 1:55.3 in another qualifier was the Jim Eaton Stable’s Painkiller (Casey Leonard). The 4-year-old Always A Virgin gelding ended up almost 3 lengths ahead of last year’s Orange and Blue Super Night champion Earndawg. That Roger Welch trainee was timed in 1:56.2 getting ready for his sophomore debut. 1,000th in Sight: Bobby Smolin i(pictured) s grinding is way towards the coveted 1,000 plateau in dash winners. The Oaklawn, Illinois native who turned 29 a few weeks ago (March 23) enters Thursday’s Maywood Park 10-race program with 974 wins as a driver. Coming into 2015 Smolin has posted six consecutive years of 100-plus winning seasons. By Mike Paradise

Party Hangover, a Super Night champion as a 3-year-old, returns to action Friday night at Maywood Park after a three-month layoff. The now 6-year-old ICF mare season is the 6-5 morning line favorite in the second race, a mid-level conditioned pace for fillies and mares. Owned by Ken Rucker and trained by his wife Catrina, Party Hangover will leave from the two-post with Travis Seekman, who qualified the mare a week ago at Maywood when she was timed in 1:56.1 behind the winner Lets Drink On It. “Party Hangover had a good month off, just like most of our horses,: said Catrina Rucker. “We blew her out Tuesday and she looked good.” In 2012 Party Hangover captured the $159,000 Grandma Ann Championship with John De Long, who drove the daughter of Party At Artsplace for his father Jesse, then the trainer. Party Hangover went on to take the ICF 3-year-old filly division honors in 2012 with over $160,000 in purse earnings. Prior to her Super Night triumph she won both the Springfield Final and Du Quoin’s Time Dancer. Party Hangover was bought in early July of 2014 by Rucker who raced the mare the first six months of the year out east, mostly at Yonkers. When she did return to her home state in late June the mare rattled off six consecutive victories between Balmoral and Maywood, including the $21,400 Parklane Powerful crown. The talented mare put $91,501 on her card for 2014 and boasts career earnings of almost $320,000 and 29 lifetime wins heading into Friday’s second race. The Rucker Stable is also starting their mare Sexy Card Shark Friday. The 5-year-old comes off a disappointing sixth place finish a week ago at Balmoral. “Sexy Card Shark has some breathing issues that we are working on to straighten out,” continued Catrina, “She’s had breathing problems throughout her career. Last year she did do better at Maywood.” Contract Breach Thursday’s program is back up to 10 races and Friday’s card is at its normal 12 after being cut by the Maywood Park Race Office last week, a clear violation of its contract with the IHHA. In Item No.40 of the current contract states: “LICENSEES must schedule a minimum of 10 races on Thursday 12 races on Friday, 12 races on Saturday and 10 races on Sunday in each week for which they have been awarded four (4) days of race programs. LICENSEES must schedule a minimum of ten (10) races in each race program. Changes to all of these scheduling requirements will require mutual agreement of LICENSEE and the IHHA and approval by the IRB. The Maywood Race Office did not get permission from the IHHA to cut the number of races on last week’s programs, a clear violation of the current contract. Last Friday’s Maywood handle of $610,939 on 11 races was well below (about $138,000) the previous two Friday March handles of $782,146 and $715,501 on 12 race cards. While short fields were the root of the problem for last Friday’s handle dip, the elimination of a race certainly was also a major contributing factor. The Pot Thickens: The Pick 6 Carryover Pool at Maywood Park has grown to $6,496. The 20 cent wager begins on the first race Thursday and goes through race six. By Mike Paradise

The harness racing industry is filled with its up and downs, especially with its horses. Such was the case with the Joel Smith Stable’s Kennan’s Max, a world record holder in 2002 as a 2-year-old and the runner-away winner of his ICF freshman trotting male division. However, three starts into his 3-year-old campaign the homebred son of Vaporize out of the broodmare Lake Hills Suzanne was basically done racing for Smith, his Indiana owners Phil Wiley and Ken Spurlock, who bred the champion Illinois trotter with Erich Boehm of West Palm Beach, Florida. Kennan’s Max had an outstanding 2-year-old season, sweeping Springfield where he set a world record for a 2-year-old trotting geldings with a 1:55.3 clock in the $60,000 Final and it came in just his third career start. “I remember that day very vividly,” said Joel. Kennan’s Max finished five-plus length ahead of Customize, who would become his chief ICF freshman rival. Kennan’s Max also captured Balmoral’s $130,000 Lincoln Land Final with his regular driver Jason Dillander, again by more than 5 lengths over Customize in mid-September. A week later “Max” breezed in the $25,000 Darn Safe at Du Quoin. In the $54,000 Cardinal Championship at Maywood Park Customize gave Kennan’s Max all he could handle. A nose decision went to ‘Max’ and Dillander over Customize and Dave Magee. A triumph in Balmoral’s $35,500 Sarah Myers stake followed for Kennan’s Max who was third in the $150,000 American National behind the winner Cantab Hall, the Illinois bred trotter’s final race of the 2002 freshman season. “Kennan’s Max owners staked the horse to just about everything as a 3-year-old except the Hambletionian,” continued Joel. The trotter’s schedule that year could have had Kennan’s Max going in such prestigious open company stakes as the Stanley Dancer, World Trotting Derby, Bluegrass and Breeders Crown. Nevertheless Kennan’s Max sophomore season ended not very long after it began. “The horse dropped a back suspensory in his third start back as a 3-year-old and was pretty much finished after that”, said Joel. “We brought him back as a 4-year-old and tried to race him a couple of times but that didn’t work out.” Kennan’s Max made an even $180,000 in 16 career starts with all but $1,650 coming as a 2-year-old. “Max is still running out here in the field at my farm,” said Joel. “And he has company. My old pacer Master Mark Grace is running along with him.” Now there’s another name that stirs up some great looking back memories, especially for Cubs fans. By Mike Paradise

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