Search Results
1 to 16 of 339
1 2 3 4 5 Next »

The Prairie State lost one of its most popular Illinois bred horses of this century with the passing last week of King Johnny, the Illinois bred pacer who played a major role in the early development of "Hall of Fame" harness racing driver Tim Tetrick. King Johnny was the only horse to win the same Super Night championship three consecutive years at Balmoral Park, capturing the Dan Patch (later renamed later the Tony Maurello) Final in 2005, 2006 and 2007 with Tetrick “I found King Johnny down in our field,” said is co-owner and trainer Clark Fairley. “It appears he died of natural causes. There were no signs of a struggle or anything like that.” King Johnny was 17. King Johnny, a son of Kingston out of the Artsplace broodmare Swift Sister, was purchased privately by Fairley and his mother Marlene soon after the horse’s freshman season when he went unplaced in two starts at fair tracks. You would think his consecutive ICF championships would have come in the gelding’s prime years as a 4, 5 and 6-year-old. Amazingly, they came in his last three seasons of racing as a 7, 8 and 9-year-old. King Johnny was purchased privately by Fairley and his mother Marlene soon after the horse’s freshman season when he went unplaced in two starts at fair tracks. You would think his consecutive ICF championships would have come in the gelding’s prime years as a 4-, 5- and 6-year-old. Amazingly, they came in his last three seasons of racing as a 7-, 8- and 9-year-old. King Johnny had health issues that limited his career starts to 93 and he never went postward more than 18 times in a single season. “He only raced five times as a 4-year-old,” said Fairley. “He pulled a ligament in a knee that required a lot of time off. Later on in his career he had a problem with an ankle that needed a lot of attention. King Johnny wasn’t a horse you could race week to week. But when he did go out to race he always gave you his best. “King Johnny was a pussy-cat to be around. All of my daughters at one time or another jogged him. I always knew they would be just fine with King Johnny. He was such a pleasure to have around.” Nevertheless, when it came to competing on a race track, King Johnny was all business and very often in his later years business was very good for the Fairley family. That’s why he’ll always be remembered in Illinois as the Super Night “Kingpin.” In his first three seasons the horse earned less than $37,000, but King Johnny turned into a solid pacer in 2005 as a 5-year-old when Clark turned in his lines to the up and coming then 22-year-old Tetrick. That combination put both horse and driver on the road to stardom. “King Johnny was one of the first big horses I got to drive and was one of my all-time favorites. No doubt about that,” said Tetrick. “He always put out 110 percent and he could find a way to win. He was a talented horse and the fact he belonged to such a very nice family and Clark being one of my very good friends, made King Johnny very special to me. He’ll always have a spot in my heart.” In 2004, as a 6-year-old, King Johnny lowered his lifetime mark by almost three full seconds to 1:50.3 with Tetrick. The next year at 7 he would step into the spotlight on Super Night at Balmoral Park and go on to become a huge fan favorite. King Johnny won the 2005 Dan Patch with Tetrick at odds of 6-1 over the public’s choice Fox Valley Gallant in a 1:51 mile. As an 8-year-old in 2006 the Fairley trainee pulled away to defend his older pacing crown by 6-1/2 lengths in 1:50.1 after he took a new mark of 1:49.2 a week earlier in his elimination. In 2007 Tetrick was in his second year of driving almost exclusively outside of Illinois, nevertheless the Flora, Ill., native got off his scheduled drives in Canada to come back home to drive King Johnny on Super Night and his beloved horse didn’t disappoint him. As a 9-year-old King Johnny made Super Night history when he became a “three peat” victor of the Dan Patch in 1:50, finishing almost two lengths ahead of such ICF stars as My Boy David and Thisbigdogwilfight. After the race, Tetrick told that Super Night crowd, “It’s amazing that every year he gets better and better. This horse has got so much heart. You don’t find horses like him. He’s got physical problems and is not the best gaited to go fast like he does. He’s a freak, that’s what he is.” Earlier in the summer of 2007 at Springfield Tetrick steered the 9-year-old to a lifetime best mile of 1:48.4, the horse’s last year of competition. King Johnny was then retired by Fairley and went on to enjoy the rest of his days frolicking in the fields of the Lema, Ill., conditioner’s farm until the horse’s untimely death. Mike Paradise

The decision to write back the 3-year-old ICF Taser Gun stake for this weekend and move it to Balmoral Park when last Friday’s scheduled event at Maywood had only 4 entries has turned out to be a wise change in plans and a winning situation for horsemen, track management, and Chicago circuit harness racing fans. While the number (4) of Taser Gun entries was deemed insufficient by the Maywood Park Race Office, that certainly wasn’t the case for this Saturday at Balmoral. A full field of 10 horses entered and the stake for state-bred colt and gelding pacers will be a strong betting race in its debut the big track in Crete, IL The ninth race field, listed in post-position order, will be comprised of Rockin Cassanova, The Big Sleazy, Earndawg, Dixie’s Boy, Dinky Dude, Casey At Bat, Lucpark, Mighty Hot Shot, Dakota Roadster and Fox Valley Elijah. Saturday’s Taser Gun will share top billing with a pair of “Winner’s Over” events. The fourth race trot has Ants Iner Pants, Master Of Excuses, Double H Cash Hall, Celebrity Hercules, Hudson Jesse and the likely favorite Justice Jet, in that order. The eighth race pace will line up with Legal Transfer, Lucky Crusader, Preemptive Bid, Fort Silky, Time To Roll and Best Man Hanover with posts 1 through 6, respectively. Messy Qualifiers: Tuesday morning’s rain put a bit of a damper on Balmoral’s qualifiers but a number of ICF 3-year-olds did splash their way to some solid times. Three seconds of qualifying time were allowed by the stewards because of the rain-soaked “sloppy” racing strip. Homer Hochstetler’s 3-year-old filly trotter Fox Valley Harrah, who played second fiddle stablemate Persuasive Look as a freshman last year, was almost 8 lengths the best in the first qualifier in hand to Casey Leonard. Fox Valley Harrah trotted a :28.2 last quarter in her 2:01 mile. The Lady Lincoln Land runner-will compete in this Sunday’s Betzotic stake. Last year’s Springfield and Du Quoin freshman filly trotting champion Fox Valley Yoko had to race against pacers in her qualifier. While the Curt Grummel trainee ended up 8-plus behind in a 1:57.2 mile, she came home in :28.1 with John De Long and was timed in 1:58.4 in the slop. Quaid Racing’s Angel Demon (Mike Oosting), the bridesmaid at Springfield, Du Quoin and in Balmoral’s American National, competed in her third recent qualifier and hit the timer in 1:57.2, beaten 3/4’s of a length by the veteran mare Miss Pat Weisar. The Jim Eaton Stable’s 3-year-old C Note (Mike Oosting) pulled away to a 1:58.2 clocking in his qualifier. C Note ended his freshman campaign last October with the third place check in the Cardinal Pace at Maywood. C Note, a full brother to 2008 Langley Consolation Super Night champion Determined This ($392,114), was a $20,000 purchase by Phil Langley at the 2013 Walker Sale. Dry in Springfield: Rain wasn’t a problem Tuesday in the middle of our state where four qualifiers went postward on a fast track at Springfield. The quickest clocking of 1:57.4 was trotted by the Mike Rogers Stable’s Shez So Sassy who drew off by almost 4 lengths in front-end fashion. The now 3-year-old Powerful Emotion filly went 4-for-6 last year as a freshman and came away with the Illinois Stallion Stake title at Charleston and the Downstate Class crown at Lincoln. Shez So Sassy also will make her 3-year-old bow in Sunday’s Betzotic. Todd Warren will drive. Shez So Sassy, who sold under the name Fox Valley Sonora to Donald Huddleston, is a half-sister to Sassy Kat, the 2011 Lady Ann Reed Consolation title, who is also owned by the Palmer, IL resident. Mike Paradise

The 3-year-old season for a trotter doesn’t always mirror his or her harness racing freshman campaign. “It’s a new ball game. You never know how the second season will play out,” said veteran downstate trainer Mike Brink who sends out half of the six starters in Sunday’s Iggy Magoo at Balmoral Park on Sunday, the initial stake for 2015 for ICF male sophomore trotters. With the elimination of entries on the Chicago circuit instead of getting “three for the price of one,” Brink’s trio of Broadway Emption (12-1), Fox Valley Theboss (9-2, Casey Leonard) and Vick Valor (9-2, Scot Banks) will go their separate ways in the wagering, likely as longshots. Between them the Brink threesome only went 1 for 26 as 2-year-olds and the 1 win, by Vick Valor, was only a 2:08.2 mile on the Jerseyville Fair Track. “Broadway Emotion, a brother to Tour Hall trained the best of the three for this race,” said Brink who will guide the Powerful Emotion gelding away from the one-slot. “I made some changes on him and I think he could be a much better.” Standing in the way of Brink’s triad are Captain Greedy (2-1, J D Finn), Southern Special (15-1, Dean Magee) and last year’s ICF freshman colt trotting champion Fox Valley Qatar, winning of his first 7 career starts that included both State Fair titles and Plesac Final. Sunday’s Iggy Magoo will be the first outing for Fox Valley Qatar since early October when he was second best in the Lincoln Land Final to RT Habenro. Owned by trained by Herman Wheeler, “Qatar” put almost $85,000 on his first season card. The son of Pizzazzed trotted in 1:59.2 in last Tuesday’s qualifier, finished over 14 lengths behind the 1:56.3 winner Cant’s Catch K, a pacer. The fact that Fox Valley Qatar’s qualifier, like 3 other on Tuesday, had both pacers and trotters competing in a race makes it difficult for a handicapper to analyze. “I was happy with it,” said Wheeler, a native of Louisiana. “They went faster than I thought they would. I was expecting my trotter would be going in 2:00 or 2:01, so I’m pleased with 59.2. “We had a lot of rain this spring back home so I couldn’t get him on the track as much as I liked but when I did he trained well. I didn’t want to rush him back. It’ll take him a few starts to round into form.” Sharing the Sunday spotlight with the Iggy Magoo is the third race Betzotic, headed-up by Mr Leland’s Filly (3-1, Casey Leonard) and Lex (7-2, Kyle Wilfong) along with the “Winner’s Over” trot where the early 7-5 favorite Justice Jet (Ryan Welch) tries to grab his 7th win in 9 season starts. Well-Prepared: Sportsmuffler, last year’s Filly Orange and Blue runner-upon Super Night, had a dominating 1:58.1 winning qualifier with regular driver John Delong Thursday night before the Maywood Park. Owned by trainer Jesse De Long of Wisconsin and the Hamm Family Trust of Missouri, the Sportsmaster filly is expected to make her first 3-year-old start in next Sunday’s Violet elimination, a stake she won as a freshman. Mike Paradise

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  

One of the early super stars of harness racing was the pacer Good Time, a horse small in stature but large in heart. He was the dominate pacer some 65 years ago and he made his presence felt in Illinois from competing from the bottom of our state to near the top of it. Trained and driven by Frank Ervin. Good Time was the first to be named Harness Horse of the Year, taking the title in 1949 as a 3-year-old in 1952 as a 6-year-old. Nicknamed “The Little Giant” he won major races on the Chicago circuit at Maywood Park, Sportsman’s Park, in southern Illinois at Fairmont Park and Du Quoin and in the middle of our state at Springfield. A bay son of Hal Dale and the Volomite mare, On Time, he stood barely fourteen hands high. When Good Time retired from racing in 1952, he was the richest Standardbred ever up to that time, with earnings of $318,793 As a sire his fastest offspring were Columbia George, 1:56 and Best of All, 1:56.2. He was the sire of eighty-three 2:00-minute performers at the time of his death at Castleton Farms in 1977. In a 1953 article in Hoofbeats, written by Jim Harrison, Frank Ervin had this to say about Good Time: “I have had many great horses and other trainers will have other great ones in days to come. There will be horses that will win more money, both in their lifetime and in a single year. And there will be horses that will go faster. "But there was only one Good Time and there can only be one. When I asked for more, he always had it. Where the short-legged little guy got it, I'll never know. But it was always there and as far as I'm concerned there'll never he another like him." In a 3-year-old start at Springfield in 1949, Ervin drove N. D. Hal and had Ken Cartnal pilot Good Time who had drawn 16th post. When the field straightened away for the stretch drive Good Time was four deep and way back but the little horse flew home to win in 2.04. At Du Quoin that year in the McMahon Memorial, Good Time started in the back tier and got in a jam leaving. Nevertheless, he came on from 13th and last to post a 2:03.3 victory. His driver (Ervin) timed him in 2.01. At  Fairmount Park he breezed in its Matron Stake. Also in 1949 Good Time came to Maywood Park for its $10,000 Maywood Pacing Derby on September 27 when the temperature a record low of 36 degrees. The chilly weather didn’t bother Good Time as he won handily. At Sportsman’s Park a huge crowd turned out to see Good Time take on the best 3-year-old pacers in the country in the $12,425 Trotting Club take, a prelude to the American National, and watched “The Little Giant” prove best when the Cicero, Illinois track was a half-miler. In 1952 at the age of six, Good Time made two more starts at Maywood Park that June. He was the odds-on favorite in both and didn’t disappoint his supports with convincing victories. Good Time Career Record Year  Sts   1ST    2ND   3RD   Earnings 1948  17   12   3    2    $46,433   1949  18    15   2    1     $58,766   1950  20    14   1    3     $52,705   1951  22    14   5    2     $50,589   1952  33    23   4    2     $110,299             110  78  15   10 $318,792 Mike Paradise

The third time was the charm to kick off the start of this season’s harness racing ICF 3-year-old colt stakes program. The initial stake was to be raced a month ago but that Taurus Bomber event and Maywood’s scheduled Sportsmaster two weeks ago both had to be scrapped because of insufficient entries. Not so with tonight’s Betzotic for state-bred pacing colts and geldings. The fourth race co-feature lured a field of seven including last season division champ Earndawg, winner of just about every major ICF freshman stake and a couple of open added money events as well—Maywood’s Abe Lincoln and a division Hoosier’s Madison. Tonight’s start will be the 2014 Orange and Blue Colt champion’s first in five months for the Roger Welch Stable. The son of Sportsmaster had a pair second place finishes in April qualifiers paced in 56 and change and will be the 2-1 first flash favorite. Another Welch trainee, Rockin Cassinova (9-2, Mike Oosting) also makes his 3-year-old debut and so does Fox Valley Elijah (8-1, Tim Curtin), and M A Bay (10-1, Ridge Warren). The Betzotic will be No. 7 Dinky Dune’s (8-1, Kyle Wifong) second season start. No. 2 Dixie’s Boy (6-1, Casey Leonard) and No. 4 Dakota Roadster (7-2, Bobby Smolin) already have 19 season starts between them and a pair of victories each. The Joel Smith Sale’s Dixie Boy has looked very good at times and not-so-good in others. I asked Casey for his thoughts on the Duneside Perch gelding. “When I drove him towards the end of last year I really liked him,” said Casey. “I thought the horse had a big motor. When he came back earlier this year I didn’t get the call. Dale (Hiteman) did. The horse really struggled and when I got to drive him again when Dale left (for Indiana) he was horrendous that night. “He dropped the lines on me when the field got to the paddock. That was it. I knew something was wrong and I asked his caretaker to have the horse scoped. When they did and found out he bled and they put the horse on Lasix. “He then raced great and won in 53.3. Last week I thought he was the best horse in the race. We got the trip I wanted and he cleared the horse he was following but then he turned loose on me. They scoped him and sure enough he bled again. “If he’s right Saturday, I think he’s one of the better horses in the race. I hope they can get his bleeding situation taken care of. He can go with those horses if they do.” The Betzotic will share Balmoral’s Saturday spotlight with the $14,000 Rambling Willie the first ICF stake race of the year for older pacers. Two-time Super Night champion Iam Bonasera (Travis Seekman) has been installed as the 9-5 program favorite. Taking on in race nine Iam Bonasera is Whirlwindiplomacy (10-1, Dean Magee), Big Brad (6-1, Bobby Smolin), Fort Silky (3-1, Casey Leonard), Ice Scraper (2-1, Brian Carpenter) and Ricky Bobbie (8-1, Mike Oosting). Saturday’s second race for ICF 3-year-old pacing fillies will be the season debut of last year’s division champion Mr Leland’s Filly (5-2 Casey Leonard). The Erv Miller trainee put over $177,000 on her card in her freshman campaign and came away with the $162,000 Filly Orange and Blue crown on Super Night. (Of the 12 races contesed on Maywood’s Friday card 8 winners were  Mike Paradise top selections, 2 were listed second and another was a third choice.) Mike Paradise

However, it appears those days are behind us. Many of the Illinois bred sophomore pacers and trotters are now ready to race and those who aren’t, look to be only a week or two away. All three of this weekend’s state-bred stake races are a “go,” including the $14,000 Rambling Willie for older ICF pacers. Three weeks ago the Song Cycle, the first 3-year-old and up ICF stake, didn’t fill. Nevertheless, Saturday’s ninth race Rambling Willie saw six pacers pass the entry box, including the current big three of the ICF heavyweight division—Iam Bonasera, Fort Silky and Ice Scraper. The 9-5 morning line favorite Iam Bonasersa made a break near the top of the lane last week, costing him any chance to pick-up his third “Winner’s Over,” in a row. The 8-year-old Nelson Willis trainee did regain his stride quickly and rattled off a 26.1 last panel finishing third behind Best Man Hanover and Fort Silky. “It was just a speed break and nothing to be that concerned about”, said Iam Bonasera’s regular driver Travis Seekman. “Every once in a while he out-paces himself before he gets completely straighten out coming out of that last turn. “I kind of rushed him trying to keep up with the field because I didn’t want to have them get to too far ahead. He can come off a break quick, like he did, and always make up some ground.” Iam Bonasera drew the two-slot Saturday with the speedball Ice Scraper, programmed at 2-1, Brian Carpenter) landing the five and Fort Silky (3-1, Casey Leonard) getting the four. Ice Scraper hasn’t started at Balmoral since April 7 when he was third in a “Winner’s Over.” In fact 6 of his 9 season outings have been in Ohio at Miami Valley Raceway where he’s posted 2 of his 3 season wins. Fort Silky’s stable-mate Whirtlwindiplomacy has the pole position in the Rambling Willie with driver Dean Magee. Bob Phillips Big Brad (6-1, Bobby Smolin) leaves from the three, while Dave Brook’s Rickie Bobbie (8-1, Mike Oosting) has the outside six-slot. Last season’s 2-year-old ICF colt division champion Earndawg makes his sophomore debut in Saturday’s fourth race $8,000 Betzotic stake. He’ll open as the 2-1 public’s choice with regular driver Todd Warren. I’ll have more on this 3-year-old colt stake in Saturday’s column. Sunday’s $8,000 Koochie for 3-year-old ICF trotting fillies lured a field of eight and was carded as race two. 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

What a difference a week makes.  Last Saturday’s Direct Balance stake for ICF 3-year-old pacing fillies wasn’t raced when only four distaffers were entered. The Balmoral Park Race Office smartly wrote the stake back for tonight and was rewarded when twice as many horses were dropped into the harness racing entry box. If you want to watch eight-horse field of state-bred sophomores’ slug it out you’ll have to stick around close to the midnight hour because the $8,000 stake was placed as the 12th and final race of the program. The first step to Super Night’s Grandma Ann stake should be worth the wait. Making her second season debut is Kay Willis’ Lex, last year’s Filly Orange and Blue bridesmaid who made nearly $65,000 in her freshman season. Lex finished worse than third only once in 9 tries, winning 4 of those races. This will be the homebred first start since last Super Night. The daughter of Lexington Legend out of the Willis’ Artsplace broodmare I Bet U, had an impressive 1:58.2 winning qualifier on Wednesday morning, drawing off by seven lengths with Brian Carpenter had driving her to the wire. Brian liked what he saw from the Nelson Willis Stable’s filly. “Lex qualified super,” said Carpenter. “She was on idle in her qualifier. The filly is like a Cadillac to drive. “I never drove her in her 2-year-old season. Kyle Wilfong drove her and the filly had a very good year. This was the first time I was ever sat behind her. “At first Nelson wanted to leave out of there with her but when we had a bunch of trotters leaving inside of her who might go out and scatter the field he told me to go easy taking her out. It turned out that nobody left and we ended up on top pretty easily. She was just pacing through the bridle at the finish. She looks like she’s just a push-button filly.” Among the 3-1 morning line favorite seven rivals in the Direct Balance is the fast-improving Southern Girl (Casey Leonard), trained by Bob Rittof, the 7-2 programmed choice, and the Roger Welch Stable’s Galley Wench, a 1:56 flat victor in her initial career start on March 22 at Balmoral. Southern Girl was taken back in her March 22 debut and was tenth and last, some 10 lengths behind at the three-quarters, but when she was asked for pace she delivered a wicked :26.1 last quarter in her fifth place finish. The Sportsmaster filly then served up back-to-back first-over triumphs, the last a 1:56.1 clocking. Galley Wench, a $30,000 yearling purchase by Bo and Pat De Long, went to Hoosier after her strong winning local bow. The filly finished a solid third in her first leg of a Series but was saddled with the 10-hole in the Final, raced on a sloppy track, and was a non-factor. The 4-1 early third choice, Galley Wench, will also take on her Welch-trained stable-mate Sporty Project (6-1, Pat Curtin). She’s also owned by Bo De Long but will race uncoupled on the wagering. Gracie On My Mind (8-1, Bobby Smolin), Duneside Perttie (6-1, Mike Oosting) and The Doe (5-1, John De Long) leave from posts 1, 2 and 3, in that order while Simply Burbon (15-1, Richard Finn)with the outside 8-slot complete the Saturday finale field. Mike Paradise

Illinois kingpins Iam Bonasera and Fort Silky will square off again Saturday night at Balmoral Park but it won’t be the $14,000 Song Cycle ICF stake as expected. For the second consecutive Saturday that initial stake for older state-bred male harness racing pacers didn’t fill. Instead the two stalwarts of the older Illinois pace division will tangle in the track’s $9,400 Winner’s Over, an event won by one or the other the 3 three times it’s been raced. The Leonard Stable’s Fort Silky held off the wo-time Super Night champion Iam Bonasera in the first two contests in March before the Nelson Willis trainee turned the tables in the March 21 feature with a come-from-behind 1:50.4 clocking. Iam Bonasera started off his 6-year-old campaign with four unsuccessful starts at The Meadowlands where he didn’t earn a dollar for his owners Erv Miller and Bert Hochsprung who sent him to his home state where he’s nailed down 26 of his 34 lifetime victories. Since joining the Nelson Willis Stable Iam Bonasera hasn’t missed a check, posted 4 wins, and is back to the top of his game. “Nelson (trainer Willis) has really done a good job of getting the horse back in top form,” said his driver Travis Seekman. “Right now he’s as good as he was when I drove him last fall when he was here (Seekman then guided the horse to his Maurello elimination victory but didn’t get the call on him for the Super Night Final). “Iam Bonasera likes Balmoral. I didn’t know why he didn’t do well out east. Maybe they just go too fast. Or maybe he doesn’t like the racing surfaces as much as he likes this one. “Right now all I really have to do is be patient with him. Wait unto they straighten out and race for home and then let him go. Usually if I can keep him 3 or 4 lengths off the leader, he’ll do just fine. He can close better than most horses at Balmoral.” Despite the recent supremacy of Balmoral’s “Winner’s Over” event, neither Iam Bonasera (9-5) nor Fort Silky (5-2, Casey Leonard) will open as the morning line favorite. That honor goes to Cam B Zipper who has been dominating for trainer Jim Ellison and driver John De Long since the 7-year-old gelding came in from Ohio at the beginning of March. He’ll be at 7-5 first flash odds. Cam B Zipper rattled of Balmoral wins in 1:51.3, 1:51.2 and 1:50.4 and likely could have gone faster in all three races for owners Dandy Farms of Glenview, Illinois; Pennsylvania Howard Taylor and trainer Ellison. The first three slots in Saturday’s seventh race will be manned by Flying Rocket (12-1, Ridge Warren), Preemptive Bid (12-1, Mike Oosting) and Best Man Hanover (6-1, Todd Warren). Sharing the Saturday spotlight will be $8,000 Direct Balance stake for ICF 3-year-old pacing fillies, the 12th and last race on the card, along with the sixth race $9,400 “Winner’s Over” for pacing fillies and mares. Not Worth the Wait: Maywood’s shift to a later 7:30 pm first post became a 7:41 pm first post last night. By 8:30 the third race just got over. All the maneuvering of post times in the end saw a not-so-hot Thursday night handle of less than $420,000. 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

Taking advantage of some sizzling fractions by others, the 23-1 longshot Flying Rocket flew past in deep stretch to pull off a huge harness racing upset in Saturday night’s featured fourth race at Balmoral Park. Smartly driven by Ridge Warren, who turned 26 last Christmas Day, Flying Rocket took a full three seconds off his previous lifetime mark when he hit the finish wire in a quick time for the mile of 1:50.4 for trainer and owner Art Gregory Jr. of Lowell, Indiana. At the start Warren took the son of Sand Shooter back from the four-slot and dropped into eighth in the 10-hole field while Major Monet, Big Brad, Ricky Bobbie and Preemptive Bid all battled each other in the early going, taking turns at gaining the top with very rapid fractions of 27.1 and 53 flat to the half-mile pole. Ridge had Flying Rocket on the move on the backside and the Indiana bred quickly ate up the ground and was put into striking position turning for home, some 5-plus lengths behind the leader Big Brad who had command at the half-mile marker and again at the three-quarters, reached in 1:21 flat. John De Long took the favorite Ricky Bobbie out of the pocket in the lane and had the front with an eighth of a mile to go but couldn’t hold off the late rushing Flying Rocket who came down the middle of the track to pick-up his first victory for his current barn. Gregory plucked Flying Rocket out of an $8,000 claimer in mid-March and three starts later the 4-year-old gelding visited the Balmoral Park’s winner’s circle much to the delight of those longshot players who were rewarded with a $49.20 payoff for  a $2 wager Ricky Bobbie, beaten a half-length, got his nose in front of the 28-1 longshot Life Is Good Today for second in the conditioned pace for non-winners if $8,000 in their last 5 starts.. A fourth race $2 Trifecta ticket of 4-3-5 paid off handsomely at $3,787 while the 10 cent Superfecta of 4-3-5-9 put $589 in your pocket for just a thin dime. The ICF pacer Ice Scraper became the fastest horse in the two year history of Miami Valley Raceway with a 1:50.2 victory in last night’s Open Pace on the Ohio five-eighths mile track. In observance of Easter Sunday there is no live racing at Balmoral Park today. Happy Easter everybody. 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

The ICF veteran pacer Iam Bonasera unleashed one of his familiar strong stretch drives and powered his way to a convincing harness racing victory in Saturday night’s “Winner’s Over” feature for pacers at Balmoral Park. Driven patiently by Travis Seekman, the betting favorite was taken back at the start of fourth race and was a fifth, almost 7 lengths behind, in the early going while Fort Silky needed a quick 26.4 first quarter to wrestle command away from Best Man Hanover. Fort Silky got his second quarter rest from driver Casey Leonard and the field went unchanged to the 55.1 half. Seekman bided his time with Iam Bonasera ($4.20), still almost 6 lengths behind, and waited for Firstclassallthway to pull to avoid racing first up. The field motored through a 28 third quarter with Firstclasallthway pressing Fort Silky, Best Man Hanover saving ground in the pocket, with Iam Bonasera shifting into high gear after being swung out for the dash to the wire. The two-time Super Night champion gobbled up ground and went from fifth to first in the lane, pulling way to a one and one-half length victory in 1:50.4. The Nelson Willis trainee paced the last half mile in a rapid 54.2 for his fourth win as an 8-year-old and the 34th of his career. Fort Silky was second best last night, snapping his two-race winning streak, while Firstclassallthway took third, another neck behind. Iam Bonasera is co-owned by the Erv Miller Stable of Wind Cap, Pennsylvania and Bert Hochsprung of Elburn, Illinois and is closing in on $740,000 in lifetime earnings. Fox Valley Veto, nicely handled by John De Long, got up in the last stride to gain a head decision over the 3-5 public’s choice Justice Jet in the $9,400 “Winner’s Over” trot co-feature two races later De Long hustled Fox Valley Veto away from the 6-post and was behind the early leader Master Of Excuses who gave up command to Celebrity Hercules soon after the 28.3 first quarter. Justice Jet got away slowly and was sixth, 10 lengths behind, and only ahead of Trotting On Over who made a break at the start. Mike Oosting took Celebrity Hercules to a 57.2 half with Justice Jet on the move and Fox Valley Veto still snuggled in third on the inside. Celebrity Hercules remained on top after a 29.1 third quarter however Justice Jet was coming on strong. De Long then got Fox Valley Veto out and right behind Justice Jet mid-way down the lane. It appeared Justice Jet was going to win for the 6th time in 7 season starts but a late surge by “Veto” gave the 4-year-old ICF trotter the narrow victory. Celebrity Hercules was third, beaten only one length. Fox Valley Veto came into the race with four consecutive second place finishes in Balmoral’s trot feature nevertheless he wasn’t going to be denied last night for Carrollton, Illinois owners Curt Grummel and Craig Grummel. The 5-1 third choice in the wagering paid a generous $13.40 to his supporters. Casey Leonard followed a win Friday night at Maywood with another four-bagger last night at Balmoral.. . Eleventh race winner Rockin Cougar ($10.00) was a Mike Paradise Price Shot. Mike Paradise

1 to 16 of 339
1 2 3 4 5 Next »