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With the conspicuous absence of division leader Fox Valley Qatar in Wednesday night’s Cardinal Prep at Balmoral Park, now next week’s $40,000 ICF 2-year-old trotting colt and gelding final has lost a quite a bit of its luster. Seven entries were taken for the Cardinal and Fox Valley Qatar, winner of both State Fair championships and the Plesac Final wasn’t one of them. The Herman Wheeler owned and trained trotter won his first eight career starts before finishing second-best in the Lincoln Land Championship behind RT Habenero. Was Fox Valley Qatar hurt? Was he sold? Did his trainer want to give the horse another week off? As it turns out it was none of the above. “I just came back Friday from by home in Louisiana and didn’t know they were drawing for the Cardinal that night,” said an upset Wheeler. “I have a book with all the Illinois-bred stakes and went by that. I thought the entries for the stake was next week. “I didn’t even get the courtesy of a phone call from the Race Office if I wanted to enter my horse for the Cardinal. They don’t put out the conditioned sheet until a Thursday night and they draw on a Friday at another track (Maywood Park) for Wednesday, five days ahead of time. “I didn’t arrive in town and get to Balmoral until late Friday afternoon so I didn’t get a chance to see the new conditioned sheet. My horse was ready to go and wanted him in the Cardinal. I would have wanted race him in a prep if I was asked. But I wasn’t. That isn’t right,” added the 45-year-old African-American trainer. It’s a shame the best ICF trotter in his division with a gaudy record of 8 wins and 1 second in 9 starts and over $84,000 on his card never got a chance to end his freshman season on a winning note. Instead the strong candidate for 2014 Illinois Horse of the Year and his owner-trainer have returned home to Monroe, Louisiana for the winter. With Fox Valley Qatar absent, Nelson Willis’ Jake Quaider (Casey Leonard) and Robert Taylor’s RT Habenero (Dave Magee) are the 8-5 and 5-2 first flash favorites, in that order, Wednesday night with John Finn’s nine-time season winner Captain Greedy next at odds of 7-5. Captain Greedy took a second division of Du Quoin’s $17,600 Darn Safe back in late August for Finn and co-owner and breeder Charles Doehring of Brownstown, Illinois Southern Special (10-1, Travis Seekman), Arc’s Conquest (12-1) and Powerful Above All (5-1, Todd Warren) complete the first race field. A seventh Cardinal entry, Mike Brink’s Vick Valor, will compete in Wednesday’s third race, a non-winner of one pari-mutuel event. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

We’ll get a sneak preview of next weekend’s $40,000 Violet Final when seven ICF freshman trotters square off Sunday in a prep race at Balmoral Park. It’s been a topsy-turvy division with a trio of fillies taking turns winning the major Illinois-bred stakes. The first race Violet Prep programmed favorites—Persuasive Look, Fox Valley Yoko, and Bi Polar Rose –all have the credentials to win, to borrow the phase “On Any Given Sunday”, such as tonight and or in next Sunday’s championship. Persuasive Look (2-1, Casey Leonard) captured both the $44,000 Fox Valley Flan Final and in the $57,200 American National in mid-September then didn’t make the gate in the Lincoln Land showdown. She did breeze two weeks ago in that stake’s Consolation. Fox Valley Yoko (5-2, John De Long), proved best in each of the State Fair Championships, winning a $30,000 division of the Springfield Final in 1:59 flat in min-August and taking the Shawnee at Du Quoin a week later in one-tick slower. However, the Curt Grummel filly raced first-over before she made a bobble in the lane as the 4-5 Lady Lincoln Land and had to settle for third. Bi Polar Rose (Travis Seekaman) started off her career with triumph in a pair of small stakes this summer, the $5,000 Star Slinger and the $10,000 Vaporize, before finishing fourth in both the Flan and the Shawnee, and third at Springfield. Nevertheless in the $90,000 Lady Lincoln Land, the richest season stake in the division, Bi Polar Rose was a wire-to-wire winner three weeks ago with a 1:59.3 clocking. Jazzy Mermaid, the fourth prominent filly in the division, won the other Springfield division and was second at Du Quoin and the American National but she went on the sidelines after being scratched “injured: prior to the start of the Lady Lincoln Land. Completing tonight’s Violet prep are Fox Valley Harrah (6-1, Kyle Wilfong), runner-up in the Lady Lincoln Land, Bands Muse (10-1, Dave Magee) Bigolwezeweddwess (12-1, Dean Magee) and Butterthantherest (15-1, Pat Curtin). Filly Pace Feature: A couple of recent bridesmaids are favored to step up to the altar in Sunday’s $10,200 Beecher stake for ICF freshman filly pacers. The headliner will go as the sixth race. Last week’s $61,150 American National freshman filly runner-up Angel Demon (Todd Warren) is the 2-1 first flash favorite for Quaid Racing of Evergreen Park, while Peter Karras’ Fox Valley Charm (Kyle Wilfong), second best behind Sportsmuffler in the $43,600 Violet Final earlier this month. Looking to knock off the favorites are Simply Burbon (12-1, Rick Finn), Duneside Perttie (6-1, Dave Magee), Girls Hunt Too (8-1, Dave Magee), BS Tyrichess (4-1, Bobby Smolin), and Fox Valley Redhead (12-1, Dale Hiteman). Angel Demon’s lone win in 11 season starts was her 1:54.2 romp in last month’s $13,900 Direct Dottie at Balmoral. However the Sportsmaster filly has put over $65,000 on her card with the help of seconds in the American National, the Director’s Award at Du Quoin, the Springfield State Fair Final and Balmoral’s Loyal Opposition Championship. Fox Valley Charm has chalked up three wins in eight career starts for trainer Dirk Simpson, her best a 1:55.1 mile at Springfield. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

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

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

Saturday’s American National Night was more successful on the race track than it was at the betting windows. Two new stake records, one a new track mark, were established however the mutuel handle of $1,476,231 was substantially less than it has been the last couple of years. Betting was down more 20 per cent than a year ago when $1,857,495 was wagered on the same number of races. Two years ago American National Night handled $1,755, 472, over $275,000 more than last Saturday. A major hurt this year came in the third race 2-year-old filly stake final when two scratches reduced the starting field to just four horses with Trifecta wagering canceled. Only $37,684 was bet on that race. The same stake in 2013 saw almost $100,000 ($136,423) more go through the wagering system on a 10-horse field when Stan Miller’s Tough Rose popped at 126-1 and returned $254.60 on a winning $2 ticket. The highest handle on a race Saturday was the fourth when over $215,000 was bet on the American National 3-year-old trot won by Father Patrick who was hammered down to 5 cents on the dollar and paid $2.10 across. Father Patrick’s 1:52.2 mile was the best in that trotting stake’s 66-year-old history and the Jimmy Taker standout could have come faster. “It was a walk in the park for the horse,” said his driver Yanic Gingras. When Creatine squeezed through to capture the Aged Trot with Dan Noble at the lines it established a new track record time of 1:51.3.  The previous time of 1:51.4 was set by   Sand Vic in 2006. Creatine’s mile made him the fastest trotter in Balmoral Park history. It should be noted that this year’s American National Night was contested almost a month earlier. The past two were raced in early November. Numbers Don’t Lie: Trainer Ron Burke had the numbers with 16 horses racing and they delivered the dollars by earning $325,486 on American-National Night, giving him $22,062,016 for the year and leaving him $325,486 shy of the all-time earnings record he set last year going into this week. Burke had four horses in the Aged Pace. Sometimes I’ll have trouble following one horse in a race so I asked him how he watches 3 or 4 of his horses in the same event. “I’m so used to it now that it isn’t a big deal to me,” Ron answered  “I know in a race where they should be and that makes it somewhat easier. Also driver colors stick out to me because I watch so many races and since I know where my horses should be in a race and when they should be making their move. Its only when something goes drastically wrong (in a race) that it can become a problem. “Actually I like watching more than one of my horses in a race. I don’t use saddle pads to look for my horses. I use driver colors to find them. I like when my drivers are using one of my bikes because they’re yellow and that’s make it easier to find them in a race.” by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

Illinois conceived and foaled trotting fillies stepped into the spotlight on Wednesday night at BalmoralPark as a field of seven diagonally gaited youngsters battled in a $20,000 Lady Lincoln Land Stake Consolation. On paper it appeared to be a "one-horse race" and it turned out to be just that as Homer Hochstetler & Robert Buddig's Persuasive Look romped to an easy five-length victory in 2:00.1 for driver Casey Leonard. Reserved through the early stages, Leonard moved the daughter of Powerful Emotion--Black N Bluegenes into contention while following cover on the far turn. The Homer Hochstetler trained miss then simply blew right by the field while under no urging whatsoever from Balmoral's leading driver as she widened her margin all the way to wire while posting her third win in 10 career starts. Band's Muse (Rick Magee) turned in a nice effort to finish second while Butterthantherest (Pat Curtin) was third. Bet as though defeat was out of the question Persuasive Look returned $2.10, $2.10 & $2.10 while upping her bankroll to $79,924. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

I’ve known trainer Roger Welch for over 20 years and anytime I’ve talked to the Illinois Hall of Fame conditioner about one of his horses going into a stake race at Maywood Park he couldn’t emphasize enough how important the draw was on the half-miler. “It can mean the difference of having a real good chance in the race or no chance at all.” So when his dynamic Illinois bred duo of Orange & Blue Colt champion Earndawg and Mini Me champ King Of The Swamp landed the 1 and 4 posts, respectively, in Friday’s $43,000 Cardinal Final I couldn’t resist picking up the phone for a quick chat with Roger. “You’ve got to be all smiles the way the draw went for your horses Friday,” I said. “You have that right,” Roger replied with a laugh. “It couldn’t have worked out much better than it did. I’m real happy with the draw.” Since this will be the first start on a half-mile track for both of Welch’s freshman pacers I wondered if they would have been better off racing in last week’s elimination. “I wasn’t asked if I wanted to take the bye but if they did call I would have taken it,” said Roger. “Both horses have been raced hard and could have used another week off. They’ve trained up in Wisconsin on a half-mile farm track they both get around a small track very well. They were real strong on the half training.” Todd Warren again chose to drive Earndawg just as he did on Super Night when the son of Sportsmaster was three lengths the best in the $186,000 O & B Championship. “Todd’s son Ridge will drive King Of The Swamp in the Cardinal,” said Roger. “I entered him with Dale Hiteman listed to drive but he’s in Indiana Friday.” Earndawg and King Of The Swamp, programmed as the heavy even-money Cardinal favorites, both have some major stakes still ahead on their schedule before they’re shutdown for the winter. “They’ve got the American National coming up next week at Balmoral and they are also eligible to the Abe Lincoln at Maywood on Windy City Night.” Both horses are listed among the nomination lists under the names they sold at the 2013 Walker’s Sale. Earndawg, a $30,000 procurment, was Fox Valley Padre. King Of The Swamp, a $85,000 purchase, was originally named Fox Valley Flame. The luck of the draw for the Cardinal wasn’t kind to Du Quoin’s Governor’s Cup champ Lucpark (4-1, Dave Magee) who has the track’s dreaded 8-hole (5.2 winning percentage) in his Maywood debut. It wasn’t much better for O&B runner-up Dupage’s Z Tam (3-1, Casey Leonard) who has the six (8.7% clip). However unlike the other seven Cardinal finalists the Dave McCaffrey trainee is based at Maywood and does his training on the half-miler. Cardinal elimination winner The Big Sleazy (6-1, Kyle Wilfong) did o.k. when he landed the five-post. Inside of him are longshots Casey At Bat (p.p. 2, 15-1, Dean Magee) and C Note (p.p. 3, 12-1, Travis Seekman). Mighty Hot Shot (30-1, John De Long) will try to get his maiden win from the seven. The Cardinal will be preceded by the $43m6000 Violet for ICF freshman pacing fillies. Morning line favoritism went to the three inside horses—Angel Demon (5-2, Todd Warren), Lyrics Fall (9-2, Bobby Smolin) and Sportsmuffler (9-5, John De Long)/ They’ll be tested by Fox Valley Charm (10-1, Kyle Wilfong), Girls Hunt Too (15-1, Casey Leonard), Luvniecestopoeces (8-1, Brian Carpenter) and Duneside Perttie (12-1, Dave Magee). by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-olds shared top billing on the Sunday night card at Balmoral Park as a pair of Super Night Stake Consolation's headlined the 10-race harness racing card.   Trotters kicked off the action with a field of seven diagonally gaited sophomores squaring off in the $20,000 Su Mac Lad Consolation. This test turned into a stroll in the park for Ron Marino and David Hermann's Nino Marino as he stormed right to the front and never looked back in a three-length victory. The final time was 1:56.1.   Confidently handled by driver Dean Magee, the gelded son of Pizzazzed--Charger's Affair gunned to the top from post six and proceeded to put up splits of 28.2, 57.2 & 1:26.1 while opening up a 5 ½ length advantage at the top of the stretch.   On cruise control the rest of the way the Randy Tuftie trainee was threatened as he reported home with his second win in 16 starts this season. Saint Simeon (Rick Schrock) rallied late to finish second while Photo Surprise (Todd Warren) was third.   The $21,900 Grandma Ann Stake Consolation for three-year-old pacing fillies also produced a wire to wire winner as Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly bested six rivals by a half-length in 1:54.0 for driver Dave Magee.   Using an inside draw to perfection Magee put the daughter of Lexington Legend--Waggle right on the front where she proceeded to step through splits of 28.0, 57.4 & 1:26.1.   After opening up a three-length advantage by the mid-stretch call the Nelson Willis trainee then held on gamely as a late rushing Fox Valley Shiver (Todd Warren) came charging late to get the place money. Kiwi Party (John De Long) finished third.   The win was the third in 15 starts this season for Molly Go Lightly who now boasts career earnings of just over $98,000. Tom Kelley

Illinois conceived and foaled trotters and pacers were back in the spotlight on Saturday night at Balmoral Park as the Crete plant played host to four stakes or consolations for Super Night participants as part of the big 13-race harness racing program.   Freshmen pacing fillies kicked off the action with a field of nine going postward in the $13,900 Thrifty Way Stake.   Avenging a pair of recent tough trips that led to sub-par efforts Quaid Racing's Angel Demon came steamrolling down the center of the track to record a 3 ½ length victory in a career best of 1:54.2 for driver John De Long.   Saving ground the entire way, the daughter of Sportsmaster--Miss Swift appeared to be hopelessly shuffled out of contention before De Long managed to shake loose from the pylons.   Storming down the center of the track Angel Demon blew right by a leg weary Girls Hunt Too to pick up her first career victory. Longshot Desi Dune (Todd Warren) turned in a nice effort to finish second while Girls Hunt Too was third.   Now in the barn of conditioner Erin Elliott, Angel Demon returned $5.00, $3.60 & $3.40 while pushing her bankroll to $48,113.   Trotters were next to hit the track as a field of seven diagonally gaited three-year-old fillies battled in the $20,000 Lady Ann Reed Consolation.   Making amends for her costly break in the rich Super Night final of this event, Donald Huddleston's Macie Rae was on her best behavior as she made every call a winning one, reporting home by 4 ¾ lengths in 1:57.1.   With trainer Mike Rogers climbing into the bike for this battle the daughter of Powerful Emotion--Fox Valley Poetry stormed right to the front, putting up splits of 29.1, 58.1 & 1:27.0.   After opening up a big lead at the top of the stretch, Rogers let his filly drift a bit through the stretch and she responded beautifully to that careful handling as she widened her margin while notching her 11th victory in 15 starts this season. Bands Alexis (Todd Warren) tried to follow the winner's every move but was forced to settle for a runner-up role while Fox Valley Skylar (Dale Hiteman) finished third.   Heavily backed off her sparkling record Macie Rae returned just $2.80, $2.80 & $2.20 while upping her career earnings to $89,520 with career win number 19.   Freshmen pacing colts jumped into the fray with a field of nine youngsters battling in the $13,900 Yates Eagle Stake.   Taking advantage of a perfect two-hole trip, Fox Valley Elijah came rolling through the passing lane to win by 1 ½ lengths in a career best of 1:54.2.   Perfectly positioned by driver Todd Warren, the gelded son of Sportsmaster--Eternal Gift had all the best of it while C Note (Travis Seekman) carved out splits of 29.0, 58.3 & 1:27.0.   Fit and fresh off that journey the Nelson Willis trainee gradually wore down the pace setter, drawing clear in the shadow of the wire for his second lifetime win for the partnership of Kay Willis, Engel Stable Of Illinois and Haugen Stables. C Note held on gamely to finish second while Casey At Bat (Dean Magee) found room late to rally for the show dough.   Part of a Willis owned entry Fox Valley Elijah returned $9.60, $4.20 & $4.00 while moving his bankroll to $15,890.   Last but not least were sophomore pacing colts as a field of nine three-year-olds squared off in the $22,400 Pete Langley Memorial Consolation. This race provided the biggest shocker of the night as 19-1 longshot Fox Valley Cupid parlayed a perfect trip into a thrilling nose decision in a career best of 1:52.3.   Hustled off the wings of the gate by Robert Smolin the gelded son of Yankee Skyscaper--Fox Valley Cherub landed in the garden spot right on the back of favored Uncle Ugly as that one put up hot splits of 26.3, 55.1 & 1:23.2.   Moving into the passing lane the Mike Schulfer trainee gradually wore down the favorite and then held on for dear life as Overloaded (Kyle Wilfong) came flying late to just miss. The other half of that Tom Simmons trained entry; Fox Valley Van (Dale Hiteman) was a fast closing third.   The win was just the second in a 34-race career for Fox Valley Cupid who has still managed to earn a "cool" $115,830 for owner James Strazlka, Mike Schulfer, James Skvarla and Nancy Magnus. Those lucky enough to back the bay sophomore were rewarded with mutuels of $40.80, $12.80 & $5.80.   Saturday's 50 cent Pick 5 wager was not hit so there will be a carryover of $6,168 added to Sunday's pool. Thus, there will now be a GUARANTEED POOL OF $50,000 for Sunday's Pick 5 wager. The Pick 5 is contested on races 2-6 on Sunday's.   Past performances courtesy of Trackmaster for the 50 Cent Pick 5 and the $1 Pick with its $25,000 guaranteed pool can be found at ustrotting.com   Tom Kelley  

Throughout a racing campaign you will have trainers, or their owners, pointing their horse for a particular stake race. You can be sure than no horseman or proprietor aimed for the Balmoral Park stake races held the weekend after Super Night. The half-dozen ICF stakes on this weekend are for pacers or trotters that, for one reason or another, fared poorly on Super Night. While these horses are racing for some decent purses ($13,900 to $21,900), in most cases its only 10 to 15 per cent of what the pots of those finals offered a week ago. Saturday’s $13,900 Thrifty Way and Yates Eagles are for 2-year-olds that didn’t finish in the top five in their respective O&B Final or 1-2 in their Consolation. Both of this summer’s downstate champions, Lucpark in Du Quoin’s Governor’s Cup and Thisishowweroll at Springfield, came up with disappointing races on Super Night and finished eighth and ninth, respectively. Tonight they’ll open as the 2-1 and 4-1 program favorites in the fourth race Yates Eagle stake. Lucpark had to battle hard (27.1, 55.2) to get to the front and keep the lead to the three-quarter pole in the final and was on empty in mid-stretch. The second race Thrift Way filly stake 3-1 favorite is Angel Demon, the second place finisher in both State Fair championships and Balmoral’s Loyal Opposition earlier in the summer. Angel Demon was hung out to a bruising 27.1 first quarter and went to a :55.1 first half before she folded and ended up a far-back ninth. The Quaid Racing filly debuts for the Erin Elliott Stable tonight and John De Long takes over the lines. The Lady Ann Reed heavy favorite Macie Rae looked like she was going to reward her many backers on Super Night but went into a gallop on the lead in the lane ended up the track. Trainer Mike Rogers will be in the bike on the Powerful Emotion 3-year-old when she opens up as the 8-5 favorite in the $20,000 second race Lady Ann Reed Consolation. “I thought she was a winner coming down the lane but that’s horse racing,” said Rogers. “I’m not going to tell you her breaking on Super Night was easy to swallow because it wasn’t. But these things happen. “I think the bike we used was a little too much for the filly and gave her too much lift, so I’ll try a different one Saturday and see how she reacts with it for me.” Last year’s Illinois 2-Year-Old Colt Pacer of the Year PQ Three and  Maywood Pace champion Uncle Ugly will open as the 5-2 and 7-2 favorites in tonight’s $22,400 Langley Consolation after being non-factors a week ago in the championship. Uncle Ugly, catch driven tonight by Travis Seekman, was about 15 lengths off Unlock a week ago, while PQ Three obviously had some physical problems and was pulled up and didn’t finish the race. The Quaid Racing Stable of vgreen Park, IL has moved its horses to the barn of trainer Eric Elliott. Dean Magee will drive the 3-year-old PQ Three tonight. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

Veteran harness racing horseman Todd Warren joined another rank of elite reinsmen to reach the 4,000 mark in career driving victories on Thursday, September 18th at Maywood Park when the Beecher, IL resident guided the three-year-old pacing filly Stage Star to a decisive 5 ¼ length victory in Maywood Park's 10th race. The milestone victory was part of a big five win night for the 49-year-old veteran of the Illinois circuit.   Born in Mattoon, IL on New Year's Day, 1965 Warren was introduced to the sport at an early age by his father and embarked on his driving career on the county fair circuit in 1981.   Like a fine wine, Warren has been getting better with age, notching more than 200 driving victories in five of the past seven years in the bike. The career winner of $17.7 in purse earnings while in the bike has also been doing "double duty" as a trainer, posting an amazing U.T.R.S. of more than .300 in all but one year dating back to 2000 with 875 career training victories.   "It makes for some very long days like today (Sept.18)," said Warren. "I started training horses before 8 a.m. this morning, caught a quick break and some lunch before shipping to Maywood with my horses. Now after getting these horses put away and back home it will be at least 1 a.m. so it makes for a pretty quick turnaround. But I'm not complaining. If I don't have that kind of workload I get a little bored really."   When asked if he knew that he was getting close to reaching another milestone the superstious Warren was quick to "tune-out" to his impending mark.   "I had heard from a trainer or two that I was getting close to the mark," he said. "But after winning the first two on Thursday night and not hearing anything else it just sort of left my mind. The next thing I know I won with Stage Star and here comes everybody down to the winner's circle and the sign comes out. It was really a great feeling I have to say."   Tom Kelley

The 5-year-old Sportsmaster mare Shez A Swift lately has been a very popular horse with both the betting public and the horsemen. The mare has been the favorite in her last five starts at Maywood Park and she’s won her last four outings and was claimed in each of those victories   Tonight Shez A Swift debuts in the third race for her newest owner Missel Garcia of Crete, IL after his trainer Harold Guerra claimed the mare a week ago. She was also claimed in her previous three winning starts.   The 9-5 programmed favorite has nailed down 11 wins this year, all at Maywood. Shez A Swift is looking for her 20th career victory in her 64th career start, with most coming at Maywood.   Shez a Swift was a $29,000 purchase as a yearling at the 2011 Walker Sale by the Joel Smith Stable and made two unsuccessful starts at Balmoral as a 2-year-old. Joel raced the filly as a 3-year-old 36 times with 22 of those at Maywood Park where she chalked up 6 of her 7 victories in 2013.   Smith started the mare 9 times this year at Maywood where she won twice before she was taken over by trainer Matt McKenzie. After dropping her first five decisions for her new barn, Shez A Swift started winning on a regular basis, taking 6 of 8 starts for the stable before she was claimed on August 21 for $4,000 by trainer Perry Smith.   One week later the mare won for Smith however he lost her in a $4,000 claimer to trainer Ronnie Roberts. Naturally she also won for Ronnie but she was re-claimed by McKenzie in that Sept. 5 triumph. Last week Shez A Swift got her nose in front to make it four in a row, all with Todd Warren driving, when Herrera decided to claim her.   The mare has got to be wondering which way she’s headed after tonight’s third race. My guess is in another different direction once again.    Favorites Fall: The first 2 of 10 American National stakes to be contested this season at Balmoral were raced last night and the public choices both went down to defeat.   The $57,200 filly division of a pair of 2-year-old trots saw Homer Hochstetler’s Persuasive Look ($10.20) rally past with Casey Leonard to post a 1:58 victory, a half-length ahead of Jazzie Mermaid.   The front-stepping 3-5 favorite Fox Valley Yoko weakened in the late going and ended up third, beaten two lengths.   The $73,000 American National for freshman colts and geldings saw the winner’s share of the purse leave town when Iron ($13.00), given a perfect pocket trip by Dominico Cerere, got his head in front at the end of another 1:58 mile, this one for trainer Frank Antonacci and his east coast owners.   SS Poseidon, who led from the half-mile pole until deep stretch, dead-heated for second with the 8-5 favorite KY Lucky. Both finished a head behind the Cantan Hall colt Iron who was making only his second career start. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

Completing the "favorite train" that rolled through Balmoral Park on Super Night Bo & Pat De Long's Earndawg sent the chalk players home with a smile as he rolled to a 3½ length victory in a career best of 1:52.4 for Todd Warren. Working out a perfect trip after getting away fifth as King Of The Swamp (Pat Curtin) and Lucpark (Dave Magee) traded blows through opening splits of 27.1 & 55.2 Warren managed to pick up live cover from a second over position as the field moved towards the three-quarter-mile mark. "It wasn't exactly the trip I thought I was going to get with him or the trip Roger (Welch) planned so I called an audible and it worked out pretty well," joked Warren. "He always seems to have a big plan going into a race but things never seem to work out that way." Passing the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.3 the gelded son of Sportsmaster--Pacific Sister K tipped three deep and quickly found his best stride, sailing right by his rivals in route to his fourth win in 10 lifetime starts. Longshot Dupage's Z Tam (Casey Leonard) shook loose late to rally for the place money while another Welch trainee Rockin Cassinova (Dale Hiteman) finished third. With the win Earndawg, who returned $3.60, $3.00 & $2.60 now boasts a record of 4-2-2 in 10 starts with earnings of $115,478. Tom Kelley

As it has done on four other occasions the $118,000 Lorna Propes Championship for filly and mare pacers 3yo & up produced yet another repeat harness racing champion as the Jesse De Long owned Let's Go Higher held on to win by a length in 1:52.0 with John De Long at the controls. Last year's winner of this event left hard from post five but was quickly covered up as Dune In Red (Dave Magee) and Party Hangover (Todd Warren) battled through a tough opening quarter of 27.1. Moving first over as the field raced by the half-mile mark in 55.0 the Heidi Rohr trained six-year-old swallowed up Party Hangover as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:23.3. "I wasn't surprised that we had to do as much work as we did because they're not going to be able to beat her if they just leave her alone on the front end," said a confident De Long. Through the stretch the daughter of Cole Muffler--Ten Speed held sway as Dune In Red came charging at her along the inside while No Respect (Marcus Miller) was closing on the outside. Unfortunately time ran out for that pair as Let's Go Higher dug in gamely to post her 23rd victory in the past two seasons. Dune In Red was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while No Respect was third. After the victory a beaming De Long was more than happy to sing the praises of his charge. "Halfway down the lane I was nervous," he said. "But she fought off the outside horse then nearing the wire she caught the inside horse out of the corner of her eye and she just dug in again. I really believe this is the toughest mare I've ever driven and her will to win is just second to none." The 1-2 choice after a strong elimination win the previous week Let's Go Higher continued the parade of favorites paying $3.00, $2.20 & $2.10 while moving her career bankroll to a gaudy $460,435. Tom Kelley

Continuing his "dream season" while overcoming what could have been a harness racing career ending injury the Robert Phillips owned and trainer Al's Hammered posted his second career Super Night title taking the $112,000 Tony Maurello Championship by two-lengths in 1:49.2. That time equaled the stakes record for this 3yo & up event. .   With his owner-trainer choosing post position five for this event the trip worked out perfectly for the big late rusher as he sat mid-pack while Fort Silky (Casey Leonard) and Iam Bonasera (Marcus Miller) battled through blistering fractions of 26.3, 54.4 & 1:21.4.   Moving first over on the final turn driver Robert Smolin put Al's Hammered into contention alongside the pace setting Iam Bonasera as the field turned for the money.   "When I saw those fractions up front I really thought I was going to be home free," said Smolin. "He's got no problem going first over so I really was where I wanted to be."   As he's done so often this season, the five-year-old son of Droppin'thehammer seemed to find another gear as he eyed the finish line, putting away the leader and then drawing clear in the final 100 yards for his 14th win of the year. Iam Bonasera held on gamely to finish second while FortSilky was third.   The 2012 Langley Memorial champion boosted his career bankroll to $476,497 with his second Super Night championship while returning $3.40, $2.40 & $2.10 to his legion of backers.   Al's Hammered and Bobby Smolin equaled the stakes record of 1:49.2 while capturing the $112,000 Tony Maurello Championship on Super Night.   Tom Kelley  

Turning in one of the most memorable Super Night performances of all time Megan Rogers Racing Stable's Unlocked completely destroyed nine rivals as he cruised to a resounding 11 ½ length victory in the $145,000 Pete Langley Memorial for 3yo pacing colts. The final time was 1:50.2.   After floating away from post six with the son of Duneside Perch--Miss Major Power while the opening quarter went up in 27.0 driver Dave Magee sent the speedy colt on his way from fifth.   Charging to the top as the field reached the half-mile mark in 54.0, the Erv Miller trainee was in full flight as he began to open up lengths on the field while reaching the three-quarter-mile mark in a brisk 1:21.4.   "He's just a monster right now," remarked Magee. "He's unbelievably fast and once you get him in gear he just keeps going and going."   Through the lane, Unlocked continued to increase his lead while getting only mild urging from Super Night's leading driver. Shut down in the shadow of the wire Unlocked made it look effortless as he scored for the sixth time in 14 starts this season. Last year's Orange & Blue champion, Cotton Eyed Joe rallied late to get the place check while Fox Valley Deuce (Casey Leonard) was a distant third.   After the laugher Magee was quick to credit Miller for ironing out some of the problems Unlocked has battled throughout his career.   "Erv has really got this colt at the top of his game right now," said Magee. "He's got him where you can drive him any way you want and he's just as comfortable sitting in a hole as he is out and rolling. He's really something."   Bet as though defeat was out of the question Unlocked paid just $2.10, $2.10 & $2.10 while upping his bankroll to $251,697.   Tom Kelley

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