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The first trotting stake of the 2014 season at Balmoral Park was contested on Sunday, April 13th as a compact field of five Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old fillies battled in the $10,000 Trotting Tilly Stake. Using the inside post to her full advantage, the Robert Phillips owned and trained Vienna saved ground for most of the mile then split horses late to post a 1¼ length victory in 2:04.3 over a sloppy track. Perfectly handled by driver Kyle Wilfong, the daughter of Banderas Hall--Talcott Lori stayed inside as All Psyched Up (Robert Smolin) and Green Acres (Jon Anderson) took turns leading the field through splits of 32.3, 1:03 & 1:33.3.   Slipping to the outside behind a hard charging S V Spirit (John De Long) as the field turned for the money, Wilfong patiently waited for a seam to open between S V Spirit and Green Acres. With his filly responding perfectly, Wilfong then drilled Vienna between the two to rally for her first win of the year. S V Spirit was second while Green Acres held on for third.   The win was the third in 18 career starts for Vienna who despite being the leading career money earner in the field and having the inside post returned a healthy $19.80, $4.80 & $3.00 while upping her bankroll to $42,852.   Kyle Wilfong guided Vienna to her fourth career win in Sunday's $10,000 Trotting Tilly Stake at Balmoral Park. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

Wednesday's scheduled start of the 2014 Illinois harness racing season has been pushed back after contract negotiations between the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association and Balmoral Park and Maywood Park management reached an impasse. Racing was originally scheduled to begin on Wednesday at Balmoral Park. Maywood Park's Thursday opening also will likely be scrapped. The Illinois Racing Board requires us to have a contract before we race and we've been unable to come to terms with the racetracks in regards to handling our purse account," said Tony Somone, IHHA's executive director. "We're hopeful things can be worked out in time for our season to start by this weekend.' Members of the IRB have been mediating meetings between the two groups. Another is scheduled for today. by Mike Paradise for the Daily Journal  

Hinsdale, IL --- The Mike Brink Stable’s King Mufasa, who dominated last season’s 3-year-old ICF colt and gelding trotting division, was named the 2013 Illinois Horse of the Year at last Saturday’s USTA District 5 awards banquet in Springfield. The son of Powerful Emotion, out of the Muscles Yankee mare Foxy N Diamonds, joined Brink after a modest 2-year-old campaign where he won two of eight starts and banked under $10,000 for owners H H Wright and Mystical Marker Farms. King Mufasa was absolutely sensational under the care of Brink, winning every major Illinois bred stake -- including the $50,800 Cardinal, the $51,000 Kadabra, both State Fair crowns at Springfield and Du Quoin and the $124,000 Su Mac Lad on Super Night -- along with open added money triumphs in Balmoral Park’s $37,000 Hanover and the $31,000 Circle City at Hoosier Park. At one time King Mufasa rattled off 12 consecutive victories when he earned $238,590 racing out of Brink’s barn. And to the surprise of many, the ICF star wasn’t sold out east after his huge season and will be back to campaign in Illinois and Indiana in 2014. “His owners like him so well that they didn’t want to put him in a sale. They’re letting me race him in the Midwest for another year,” said Brink, who turned 61 earlier this month. The veteran Springfield based conditioner concluded his most successful year in 2013 with career highs in winners (68) and money earned ($717,414) from his barn. King Mufasa was also voted the Illinois 3-year-old champion male trotter. Other sophomore division winners honored at the banquet were Mystical Walter (1:50, $195,259) as the male pacer for owners Paymaq Racing, D & M Trading of Illinois and Mystical Marker Farms; Auniqueaquistion (1:52.2, $249,235), owned by John Carver and Dandy Farms Inc., as the pacing filly; and Trot Fudge Sundae as the top trotting filly for the Illinois trio of James Bafia, Gene White and Sam Daddono. The 2013 ICF freshmen divisional champions were PQ Three (1:50, $111,899), owned by Obermeier & Quaid Stables as the male pacer; Thesleazyprincess (1:54, $159,615), owned and bred by the Marty Engel Stable of Illinois as the filly pacer; Jerry’s Graham’s Photo Surprise (1:57, $96,825) as the male trotter; and Bailey’s Wish (1:59, $112,710), co-owned by Illinoisans James Bafia and Gene White, as the top filly trotter. John Prentice and Neva Jane Ikeler’s Fort Silky (1:49.3, $269,075) took ICF older horse pacer honors. Jesse De Long’s Let’s Go Higher (1:50.3, $198,236) was the older mare pacing winner. Randall Bendis’ Zumba Mouse (1:54, $103,474) was best among the older trotting mares and Run And Tell Pap (1:53.2, $126,510) took the top spot for older trotting horses for owners Burke Racing LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. The state’s 2013 champion pacing stallion was Yankee Skyscaper while Powerful Emotion was named the trotting stallion division titleholder. Shesoluvabull was voted the champion pacing broodmare for a second consecutive year while Just Having Fin took that honor in the trotting broodmare division. District 5 Director and Chairman Sam Lilly was the Master of Ceremonies at the well-attended banquet and dinner where USTA Executive Vice-President Mike Tanner was a special guest. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

A busy stakes-filled night of action was contested on Sunday, October 13th as the Crete plant welcomed Grand Circuit action back to town. On tap was a pair of $27,950 splits for two-year-old filly trotters while their male counterparts slugged it out later in the night for a $46,700 jackpot. In the first Hanover split for the freshman trotting fillies Bobby Brower and Mystical Marker Farms Petticoat Affair had no trouble living up to her favored status as she cruised to a 4 ¾ -length triumph in 1:57.1 with Brad Hanners at the controls. Sweeping from fifth to first on the backside after watching Dancing Dynamite (Dean Magee) cruise through an opening quarter in 28.2, the daughter of Valley Victor—Katie Hall was in complete control of the proceedings as she rolled through middle splits of 58.0 & 1:27.3. With plenty still in reserve the Bobby Brower trained miss trotted home in 29.3 while continuing to put daylight between herself and her five rivals to notch her fifth win in eight starts this year. Dancing Dynamite held on for second while Fox Valley Lotus (John Roberts), who made a break leaving the gate, rallied to finish third. Sent off as the 4-5 favorite Petticoat Affair returned $3.60, $2.40 & $2.40 while upping her career bankroll to $185,124. In the second division the Brower-trained, Hanners-driven connection clicked again as Victory Hill Farms and Bobby Brower’s Pray With Me demolished six rivals by seven-lengths in 1:58.4. After saving ground in third while Dress For Success (Dale Hiteman) carved out leisurely splits of 30.0 & 1:00.1, Hanners set the daughter of Broadway Hall—Hail Mary Hanover on a mission for the lead heading into the final bend.  Effortlessly sweeping past her foes on the turn, the Brower trained miss was in front by a length and starting to leave her rivals in her wake as she stepped by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:29.4.  Leaving no doubt as to who was the best in this group Pray With Me trotted home in 29.0 to post her third win in eight lifetime starts. Simply Class (Joe Putnam) finished second while Pinking Of You (Casey Leonard) was third. Bet as though defeat was out of the question Pray With Me returned $2.40, $2.20 & $2.10 while upping her bankroll to $64,026. A field of nine two-year-old trotting colts was sent postward for the $46,700 Hanover and when all was said and done it was last week’s Lincoln Land Stake winner Photo Surprised who emerged victorious as he trotted to a one- length victory in a career best of 1:57.4 for driver Mike Oosting. Gamely “toughing it out” first over as Nino Marino (Dean Magee) put up splits of 28.2 & 58.1 the Nelson Willis trainee swept past his rivals on the far turn and began to draw away from the field as he rolled by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:28.1. Continuing in full stride as he headed for the wire the state-bred son of Powerful Emotion—Gloria Wyoming was straight and strong as he continued his late season surge with his third win in eight career starts. Big Bad Bob (Dale Hiteman) rallied late to finish second while Explosive Cash (Casey Leonard) was third. Fresh off that win in the biggest event of the year for diagonally gaited Prairie State freshmen the Jerry Graham owned gelding returned just $3.80, $2.40 & $2.10 while running his career bankroll up to $76,725. State-bred pacing fillies were also in action on the busy Sunday night card as a field of eight youngsters squared off in a $12,000 Betzotic Stake. In a re-match of the Violet Stake at Maywood Park last week, Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly once again proved best as she reported home with a three-quarter-length triumph in 1:54.1 with Mike Oosting at the controls. Content to bide her time in the middle of the pack as Mae Flynn (Ryan Anderson) put up splits of 28.3, 57.2 & 1:26.1 Oosting maneuvered his charge into a live outer flow as the field moved around the final turn. Tipping three and then four wide from her third over position, the Nelson Willis trained miss then uncorked a blistering 27.0 final quarter to blow right by her rivals for her fifth win in 12 lifetime starts. Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) came up with a solid effort to finish second while Fox Valley Shiver (Todd Warren) was third. With the win the daughter of Lexington Legend—Waggle sports a record of 5-1-3 in 12 career starts with earnings of $50,895.  David Baum

Freshmen pacing colts received top billing on Saturday, October 12th at Balmoral Park as a field of eight state-breds gathered for the $12,000 Betzotic Stake. When the smoke cleared it was Jack and Peggy Hood, Mystical Marker Farms and Dirk Simpson Stables Traffic Cop who came away with the top honors as he rallied for a three-quarter-length victory in 1:52.1. Given a perfect steer by driver Todd Warren the gelded son of Sportsmaster—Dixiegirl came away third while heavily favored Unlocked (Mike Oosting) rattled off splits of 27.3, 56.3 & 1:24.3. Things looked bleak for the rest of the field as Unlocked sped away to a 3 ½ length lead at the mid-stretch call but Warren angled his charge to the outside where the Dirk Simpson trainee began to cut into the leader’s margin. With a six-week layoff finally beginning to take a toll on Unlocked, a hard charging Traffic Cop curbed the pace setter with 100 yards to go and eventually drew clear with a 27.0 final quarter to notch his third win 14 lifetime starts. Unlocked held on for second while I Bizel The Shizel (John De Long) finished third, 5 ½ lengths behind the winner. With the win Traffic Cop now sports a record of 3-4-2 in 14 starts with earnings of $71,635. David Baum

The $21,750 Lady Lincoln Land Consolation is for ICF 2-year-old filly trotters who didn’t finish in the top four in last week’s $105,000 championship so it’s somewhat surprising to find a trio of past stakes winners in Wednesday’s starting field. Nonetheless that’s the case. Going postward in the third race feature is S V Spirit, a Springfield elimination winner and the Downstate Classic champion at Lincoln, Du Quoin’s Shawnee victor Fox Valley Hosana, along with Vienna who won the Fox Valley Flan Final at the end of July at Balmoral. “Hosana” was fifth best in the Lady Lincoln Lane Final for trainer Dirk Simpson, Bob Phillips’ Vienna broke and ended up seventh, and S V Spirit went off stride in contention and finished eighth for the Roger Welch Stable. The trio could get the bulk of the money bet in Wednesday’s Consolation event. S V Spirit, the 8-5 beaten favorite in the final, will open as the 5-2 choice with Todd Warren Wednesday. Fox Valley Hosana (Mike Oosting) is at 5-1, while Vienna (Kyle Wilfong) is at first flash odds of 6-1. They’ll be challenged by Say No Mo (Dale Hiteman), another Simpson trainee who will race un-coupled with Fox Valley Hosana and is the 4-1 second programmed choice, Green Acres (8-1, Jon Anderson), High Balance (12-1, Lavern Hostetler), Macie Rae (8-1, Mike Rogers) and Graceful Spirit (10-1, Casey Leonard). Macie Rae, a first-time Lasix user, was an eight-time winner with past summer fair circuit and took the Country Fair Challenge at Do Quoin by over 13 lengths in 2:00.4 with Rogers. Stakes Aplenty: There are a half-dozen more stakes raced to be contested this week starting with a pair of $12,000 Betzotic’s at Maywood. The ICF 3-year-old filly pacers vie on Thursday night while the state-bred sophomore colts tangle on Friday. Grandma Ann champion Auniqueaquistion makes her first start since Super night in the eighth race Thursday feature. Fox Valley Norman and Silver Devil, the 1-2 finishers in the recent Bye Bye Byrd at Balmoral are in Friday's ICF stake. There’s another $12,000 Betzotic Saturday at Balmoral and it’s for Illinois bred 2-year-old colts and geldings. The freshman filly version goes on Sunday evening where it’ll be joined by the last two Hanover stakes for this season. Both the 2-year-old colt and filly Hanover’s have estimated purses of $60,000. Recent Lady Lincoln Land champion Bailey’s Wish will head up the local contingent of freshman distaff trotters Muscle Network, a 1:53.2 winner last Friday, the fastest of a trio of $86,000 International Stallion stakes decided at The Red Mile, is eligible for Sunday’s Hanover colt trot and is a likely starter for trainer Tony O’Sullivan. Photo Surprise and Fox Valley Veto, the one-two-finishers in last Sunday’s $105,000 Lincoln Land Final, are both expected to also enter. Oosting Moves Up. With 10 winning drives over the weekend at Balmoral Mike Oosting is now at 447 for the season, moving him into sixth place in dash winners throughout the country and Canada. The Michigan native entered this week only one winner out of fifth. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

The richest trotting event of the season for two-year-old state-bred trotting colts received top billing on Sunday night at Balmoral Park as a field of 10 diagonally gaited youngsters squared off in the $105,000 Lincoln Land Stake. Despite taking the overland route from post 10, Jerry Graham’s Photo Surprise struck a winning pose as he rallied gamely in the final strides to win by a head in 1:59.1 with leading driver Mike Oosting at the controls. After getting away near the back of the pack as last week’s elimination winner Nino Marino (Dean Magee) led the field through opening splits of 29.0 & 58.3 Oosting maneuvered his charge to the outside where they quickly began to gobble up ground. Tipping three wide as the colts moved around the far turn, the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Gloria Wyoming was all the way up to fourth as Nino Marino moved past the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:29.1. Grinding away through the lane as a leg weary Nino Marino began to back up the Nelson Willis trainee eventually reeled in Fox Valley Veto (John Roberts) in the last stride to notch his second career win in seven starts. Fox Valley Veto was forced to settle for the runner-up role while Big Bad Bob (Dale Hiteman) was third, 4 ¼ lengths behind the top pair. With the win Photo Surprise now sports a record of 2-1-0 with $52,375 in earnings.The beaten favorite from last week’s elimination returned $8.80, $6.40 & $4.00 to those who stayed loyal to the gelding. Sophomore trotting fillies were also in action on Sunday night as a field of seven battled in a $12,000 Betzotic Stake. Continuing her fine second season on the track, the Todd Warren owned and driven Sara The Spy recorded her seventh win of the year as she cruised to a 2 ¼ length victory in 1:57.0. Hustled right to the front from post position three the daughter of Powerful Emotion—Sarabella posted leisurely splits of 29.2, 59.4 & 1:28.2 before sealing the deal with a 28.3 final quarter. Divination (Mike Oosting) followed the winner’s every move but was relegated to the bridesmaid role while Just For Fun (Casey Leonard) was third. Amodel of consistency from the time she hit the track in 2013 the Mike Croucher trained miss now boasts a record of 7-4-3 in 15 starts this season with career earnings of $97,017. The odds on choice in the wagering returned $3.60, $2.40 & $2.10 to her legion of followers. Sunday’s Pick 4 was not hit so $27,661 will be carried over to Wednesday’s Pick 4. There will be a guaranteed pool of $75,000 for Wednesday’s Pick 4 which is on races 7-10. Once again the Pick 4 has a low 15% takeout with a one dollar minimum and features a guaranteed pool each night. Handicappers across North America can get a headstart on their competition with free 12 line program pages for the guaranteed pool courtesy of the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative and Track Master on the handicapping section at www.ustrotting.com. Sara The Spy and owner-driver Todd Warren cruised to an easy win in Sunday's $12,000 Betzotic Stake. Mike Oosting guided Photo Surprise to thrilling head victory in Sunday's $105,000 LIncoln Land Stake. David Baum  

The slogan “You’ve Come a Long Way,” wasn’t written with the Illinois-bred filly My Little Bit in mind but as the old proverb says: “If the shoe fits, wear it.” And the (horse) shoe does fit the Erv Miller star freshman according to her driver Casey Leonard. “This filly has come a long way from her last start at Maywood Park when I drove her,” said Casey after steering My Little Bit to a comfortable one-length win in last week’s first Violet elimination. “My Little Bit had the 8-hole the first night at Maywood and when she came out of that turn for the first time and saw the grandstand, she wasn’t sure what was going on. She has a much better idea now of what’s she’s doing.” Her June 27 race in Maywood’s Juxtaposition stake was My Little Bit’s very first start. She ended up sixth, beaten almost 15 lengths by the winner April May Dune, and was timed in 2:00.4. Last Friday she won in 1:55.2 and pretty much coasted the second half of the mile. It was season win No. 5 for the Sportsmaster filly who captured both State Fair titles with Marcus Miller and was second with the 22-year-old in the $200,000 Orange & Blue Filly Final on Super Night behind Thesleazyprincess, one of her main threats in Friday’s Violet Championship. My Little Bit was also second in late July in the $65,000 Loyal Opposition stake with Casey at her lines. “I’m really happy to be back driving this filly” said the 35-year-old Leonard. “She can get out of there really well and she won her elimination pretty easily. The race didn’t go as I expected so when one of the longshots (Fox Valley Rockn) made a quarter move at us I couldn’t let her (the 38-1 longshot) go so I let my filly out a notch.” My Little Bit needed a :28.1 first quarter to get command and a :28.3 second quarter to keep it. After that :56.4 first half, the issue wasn’t in doubt. You can count on fastest fractions throughout in tonight’s $48,000 Championship. The 2-1 morning line favorite My Little Bit can use her speed from the inside three-slot to likely race on or close to the front again which is where we also probably see last week’s second elimination victor Molly Go Lightly, the 3-1 programmed second choice. “The filly is sharp right now,” said driver Mike Oosting after Molly Go Lighty’s four-length victory in 1:55.4. “She’s a handy filly. “You can race her pretty much anyway you want.” The Nelson Willis trainee could very well get another favorable trip with the pole position and that's probably why we’ll see Oosting at her lines instead of Willis’ another filly in the race Thesleazyprincess (6-1). The Orange and Blue Filly champion landed Maywood’s dreaded eight-hole for new driver John Roberts, making her chances of a fourth season win an arduous task. She’ll race on Lasix for the first time Friday. The third program choice is Jesse and John De Long’s Party Hangover Two (p.p. 5), second behind My Little Bit a week ago Hoping to pull off a surprise victory in the ninth race Violet Final are Fox Valley Flora (15-1, Brain Carpenter), Fox Valley Amanda (12-1, Dale Hiteman), Green Valey (20-1, Bobby Smolin) and Fox Valley Shiver (8-1, Todd Warren). Pricey Pick: The 14-1 longshot Fox Valley Lena (John Roberts) was a $30 top winner for us last night at Maywood Park. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

While nothing is a certainly in Illinois horse racing—or Illinois politics for that matter—going into last week’s Cardinal eliminations it looked to me that Unlocked was pretty much of a “lock” to win this Friday’s $44,000 Championship. With multi-stakes champion PQ Three absent for Maywood’s premier ICF 2-year-old colt and gelding stake, his chief rival Unlocked was a heavy morning line favorite in his Cardinal elimination. However, Unlocked never got the opportunity to compete and reward his potential backers The talented ICF freshman was a judge’s scratch for being late to the detention barn. While the hard-luck mishap on the way to Maywood Park was a costly misfortune for the horse’s owner and trainer it did turn the Cardinal Final into a wide-open brouhaha. “With Unlocked out of this stake it’s been opened up for a lot of other horses who haven’t made a lot of money yet and my horse is one of them,” said driver John De Long after guiding I Bizel The Shizel to a 1:55.3 one-length victory in the first Cardinal elimination last Friday over the favorite Traffic Cop. I Bizel The Shizel had less than $10,000 on his card going into September for trainer Tom Simmons. The Yankee Skyscraper gelding has made almost $20,000 more since and could add another with a victory in Friday’s of the $49,000 Cardinal. Not surprisingly the elimination triumph came on the front-end. “I drove against I Bizel The Shizel in a couple of fair races during the summer,” continued the 24-year-old Wisconsin native. “The horse made a break one afternoon at Aledo so I was conscious of that going into his elimination. I was a little cautious with him in the first turn, but he handled the track o.k. “I started driving the horse at Du Quoin and I’ve left with him in every start since but I wanted to be careful with him tonight and make sure he made the final. He’s aggressive behind the car and I didn’t want to roll out with him too hard. However after the first turn he just rolled on. “My horse was waiting on other horses on the backstretch and when Mike’s (Oosting) horse (Dunside Art) came up on us he started to take off. When Mike’s horse stopped my horse wanted to stop with him, but I got after him a little and he took off again.” I Bizel The Shizel drew well with the three-slot in Friday’s eighth race co-feature. His entry-mate Overloaded (Kyle Wilfong) drew even better with the rail. They’ll open as the 5-2 programmed favorites. The Nelson Willis trained One Sure Apache, who was also an easy front-stepping winner in his elimination is in a great spot with the two with Mike Oosting. He’s the 4-1 morning line second choice. Traffic Cop, with $63,235 on his card which is tops in the field, has the six-slot for Todd Warren. Despite being 15-1 in the program he’s another major contender in the stake. The Dave Mc Caffrey trained entry of Manny’s Z Tam (p.p. 4, John Roberts) and Ringo’s Z Tam (p.p. 7, Casey Leonard) opens at 8-1. Fox Valley Deuce (p.p. 5, Dale Hiteman) is at 10-1 while Fox Valley Cupid (Ryan Anderson), saddled with the 8-hole is 5-1. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

Continuing a nice late season surge towards divisional honors James Bafia and Eugene White’s Bailey’s Wish completely dominated nine rivals in the year’s richest race for Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old trotting fillies, winning Wednesday $105,000 Lady Lincoln Land Stake by 3 ½ lengths at Balmoral Park. The final time was1:59.4. Given a perfect steer by driver Dave Magee the daughter of Southwind Breeze--Jen was hustled to the front after landing in fourth through an opening quarter in 29.4. “I knew we had to gain some early position since we were leaving from the eight-hole,” explained Magee. “Once they started to slow down just a little bit on the front end I asked her to go and she moved up to the front very easily for me.” Rolling through middle splits of 59.3 & 1:28.4 the Dirk Simpson trainee began to put daylight between herself and her struggling rivals as the field neared the top of the stretch. On cruise control the rest of the way Bailey’s Wish effortlessly trotted under the wire with her third win in her last four starts and her fourth win in 11 lifetime starts. Fox Valley Skylar (Dale Hiteman) rallied up the inside to finish second while Bands Pippa (Casey Leonard) was third. “She was doing that all on her own,”said the Hall of Famer. “I don’t like to pressure her if I don’t have to. She just trotted right away from them and glided home with no urging from me whatsoever.” The 8-5 co-favorite in the race returned $5.40, $3.20 & $3.00 while upping her career bankroll to $93,383. Earlier in the night trainer Roger Welch reached a career milestone as he sent out his 1,000th career winner. The 50-year-old Beecher, IL resident was extremely jubilant since son his Ryan was the owner-driver for the milestone event, guiding Monticello Lulu to victory in the first race night of the night. “I couldn’t have asked for more than this to have my son Ryan driving the horse that gives me a 1,000 wins,” said the proud father. “Couple that with the fact that this is a horse that belongs to our family and it’s more than I could have ever imagined.” Approximately three minutes later Welch struck again, this time at Hoosier Park as his fine two-year-old trotting colt Justice Jet gave the veteran conditioner his 1,001st win taking a Sire Stake event. “We were watching the two races side-by-side on the televisions down in the paddock,” said Welch. “I didn’t want to miss either one of them. Luckily I was still able to get down to the winner’s circle here at Balmoral to celebrate!” David Baum   

Quantity and quality is often a successful combination and that’s what trainer Dirk Simpson has going for him in Wednesday’s $105,000 Lady Lincoln Land Championship at Balmoral Park. The Springfield based trainer has 4 of the 10 finalists in the richest stake race of the season for ICF 2-year-old trotting fillies; including the 7-2 second morning line favorite Bailey’s Wish in the fourth race feature. Owned by James Bafia of Minooka, IL and his co-worker Gene White of Chicago, Bailey’s Wish was much the best in last week’s Lady Lincoln single elimination for the two brokers at the Chicago Board of Trade. Bailey’s Wish led at every pole and was more than four lengths the best at the end of her winning 1:59.4 mile. National Hall of Fame driver Dave Magee was all smiles talking about the Simpson trainee. “She was really good the other night, probably as good as she has ever been,” said Dave. “Bailey’s Wish was straight and she was solid. She really raced well and she comes into this championship very sharp. “The filly is great gaited. While she’s not big she’s filling out nicely. I think she has the potential to be a very good trotting filly.” Bailey’s Wish didn’t draw well, landing the 8-slot in the 10-horse field, but she has shown she has the gate speed to leave for position if asked. Du Quoin champion Fox Valley Hosanna leaves (8-1) from the middle of the pack for driver Mike Oosting, while Bands Pippa and Say No Mo, two fillies that Dirk also shares ownership with have the one and three slots, respectively. Casey Leonard will be behind Bands Pippa (6-1) for the first time after the filly drew a bye into the Land Lincoln land Final. John De Long (10-1) is back to guide Say No Mo, who had a big effort in last week’s elimination. Say No Mo left from the 10-hole and got good up-close position, She raced third on the inside most of the way, following her two more successful stable-mates Bailey’s Wish and Fox Valley Hosanna but when the latter stalled in the lane, Say No Mo was pushed back before finishing strong. All four fillies Wednesday will race un-coupled. The Roger Welch Stable’s S V Spirit (Todd Warren), moves to the inside two-slot for the championships where she looks very dangerous for her driver Todd Warren and opens as the 3-1 morning line favorite. She didn’t have the easiest of trips when she was third in last Wednesday’s elimination. Also looking for pull off an upset in the Lady Lincoln Land are Green Acres (15-1, Jon Anderson), Lora Lee Breeze (15-1, Matt Krueger), Graceful Spirit (12-1, Brian Carpenter, Fox Valley Skylar (9-2, Dale Hiteman) and Fox Valley Flan champion Vienna (8-1, Kyle Wilfong) who has the 10-slot. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

The red-hot combination of trainer Perry Smith and driver Mike Oosting clicked again for Sawgrass Farms LLC as the trio combined to get Fox Valley Norman home with a 1½ length victory in Saturday’s $13,900 Bye Bye Byrd Stake. The final time was a career best of 1:51.2 for the three-year-old gelding. Leaving alertly from post seven for Oosting the son of Yankee Skyscaper—Lake Hills Nan settled in third as Drunk On You (Dave Magee) led the field an opening quarter in 27.3. With the action continuing to heat up on the backstretch Oosting maneuvered his charge to the outside where they began to carve into the advantage of Fox Valley Action (Todd Warren) as that sophomore put up middle splits of 55.1 &1:23.4. Through the stretch a determined Fox Valley Norman eventually wore down the pace setter, sealing the deal with a 27.2 final quarter to post his third win in 19 starts this season. Silver Devil (Casey Leonard) rallied late to finish second while Fox Valley Action held on for third. Sent off at 8-1 by the betting public Fox Valley Norman returned $18.20, $5.40 & $3.40 while upping his career bankroll to $74,708. David Baum   

Elimination races for both the Cardinal and Violet two-year-old ICF stakes will be contested Friday night at Maywood Park. With all six-horse fields, a freshman pacer only needs to beat out two horses in an elim to advance to next week’s finals. With division leader PQ Three and Orange and Blue Colt winner Cotton Eyed Joe absent, the Nick Prather trained Unlocked will likely be a heavy favorite for next Friday’s $55,000 (est.) Cardinal Championship. Unlocked will open as the 7-5 morning line choice in race nine, the second Cardinal elimination division. The Duneside Perch colt was not eligible for Super Night and hasn’t competed since he dropped a photo to PQ Three on August 25 in the Governor’s Cup at Du Quoin. However, Unlocked drew off in a Springfield qualifier on Tuesday by 21 lengths, pacing a :26.4 last quarter at the end of a 1:54.4 mile for trainer Nick Prather. The colt has also showed a fondness for Maywood’s half-mile oval.  Earlier in the summer he breezed to victories in the $12,000 Enzo The Baker and Fox Valley Barzgar stakes and then pulled away by 11 lengths in a Illinois Stallion Stake at the Charleston Fair in late July. Even though Unlocked has 6 season victories in 8 starts and a pair of seconds at both State Fair Championships, his $51,587 earnings are only third best among the 12 horses entered for the Cardinal. The Dirk Simpson trained Traffic Cop (9-5, Todd Warren), the fifth race first Cardinal elim favorite, has $60,735 on his card, and Fox Valley Cupid (2-1, Ryan Anderson) has made $53,355 for the Mike Schufler Stable and the Yankee Skyscraper gelding has done it despite going winless in his first 10 career starts. Fox Valley Cupid earned a hefty $44,000 with his game second place finish in the O&B Final, losing by only a neck to Cotton Eyed Joe for his quartet of Illinois owners. My Little Bit and Thesleazyprincess, the top two leaders in the ICF freshman filly division, renew their rivalry in the first race initial Violet elimination and both are making their half-mile debuts Thesleazyprincess (9-5, Mike Oosting) has annexed both the Orange and Blue Filly and Loyal Opposition crowns at Balmoral for trainer Nelson Willis, while the Erv Miller Stable’s My Little Bit (8-5, Casey Leonard) took both the Springfield and Du Quoin titles. The fourth race second Violet elim brings out Molly Go Lightly (9-5, Oosting) and Fox Valley Shiver (8-5, Todd Warren); two talented fillies who didn’t get a chance to show what they can do on Super Night. Molly Go Lightly won her Orange and Blue elimination but had to be scratched in the final because of sickness. The Willis trainee bounced back with an easy triumph in the Thrifty Way stake at Balmoral. Fox Valley Shiver, the runner-up to My Little Bit in the Springfield Final, wasn’t eligible to the Orange and Blue. She’s been off a month but she also qualified impressively Tuesday morning at Springfield when she was 19 lengths the best in 1:56 with her trainer Dirk Simpson in the bike. Both Fox Valley Shiver and Kiwi Party (4-1, John De Long) are making their Maywood Park debuts however they spent the summer on the County Fair Circuit and should get around the half-mile turns just fine. Oosting drove six winners and De Long had four winning drives on Maywood’s 12-race Thursday evening card. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

Owned by the A La Carte Racing Stable of California and trained by the late-great Jim Dennis, Mr. Dalrae was one of the most popular and successful pacers to race on the Chicago circuit in the early and mi-1980s. Mr. Dalrae was named the 1984 Aged Pacer of the Year as a 5-year-old when he pulled down $474,525 while winning 18 of 30 starts, mostly against the elite older pacers in the nation and in Canada. (He’s showed in the photo winning one of his many races at Sportsman’s Park with his young, bearded, up-and-coming star driver Dave Magee) Among his victories in the 1984 was the American National at Sportsman’s and the U.S. Pacing Championship, a tri-city stake raced on three different size ovals. Mr. Dalrae that year came from fifth at the top of the stretch and shop up the inside to take the mile leg at the Meadowlands in 1:52.2. He followed with a victory in the half-mile leg at New York’s Roosevelt Raceway in 1:56.2. The horse also captured the Canadian Classic, all with Dave Magee. In 1985 Mr. Dalrae repeated as winner of the U.S. Pace Championship, based by points earned, by capturing the five-eighths leg at Sportsman’s Park. The son of Meadow Skipper out of the dam Queen’s Crown repeated as the American National Aged Pace titleholder that year with Dale Hiteman at his lines. In his final year as a racehorse Mr. Dalrae won another eight races earned $322,800. His dam Queen Crown also produced Sir Dalrae, the 1973 Horse of the Year for owner/trainer Jim Dennis. Videos attached of Mr Dalrae winning the 1984 US Paing Championship at the Meadowlands and the second video is of Mr Dalrae running second to On The Road Again in the 1985 US Pacing Championship. Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

Springfield based trainer Dirk Simpson will send out a trio of fillies in Wednesday’s Lady Lincoln Land stake single elimination and has a fourth already in next week’s $110,000 final via a bye. Only an eighth place or higher finish is needed in the 10-horse first race field to advance and therefore many trainers turned their thumbs down for a free pass into the 2-year-old ICF trotting deciding instead to keep their filly sharp and take their chances in the elim. Division’s leading money earner Fox Valley Lotus ($40,615), the Springfield champion and the Du Quoin runner-up, took the bye and Simpson’s Bands Pippa will by-pass her way into the final as well. “All the other top money earner trainers passed on the bye before I took it with Bands Pippa,” said Simpson. “She’s earned less ($11,636) than the three of my other fillies racing in the elimination and less than several others entered.” Simpson’s top two freshman fillies, Bailey’s Wish, the Springfield runner-up, and Du Quoin champion Fox Valley Hosanna, disappointed in last week’s elimination. Bailey Wish made a break and was distanced while Fox Valley Hosana also finished far up the track in seventh. Simpson’s other elimination starter is Say No Moe who was third in the Shawnee. “I was totally surprised by the break from Bailey’s Wish,” continued the Illinois Harness Hall of Fame trainer. “We did some things we believe will take care of the problem and I expect her to race just find in the elimination. “Hosana displaced a palate so it wasn’t her fault she did so poorly. We worked on taking care of that issue and with the rail Wednesday instead of the 10-hole she had in the American National, she should do just fine, too. “Say No Moe landed the 10-hole Wednesday but she should be all right to move along to the final where hopefully she’ll draw better.” Bailey’s Wish ($33,338), programmed as the 4-1 second choice with Dave Magee, drew the two-slot Wednesday while here stable-mate Fox Valley Hosana (6-1, Mike Oosting), with $30,495 in earnings landed the one. The 7-2 morning line favorite is the Roger Welch Stable’s S V Spirit (p.p. 6, Todd Warren), a four-time season winner in 10 starts. Starting to her right is Fox Valley Flan champion Vienna (5-1, Kyle Wilfong). Also looking to advance to the Lady Lincoln Land showdown are Green Acres) 15-1, Jon Anderson), Fox Valley Skylar (12-1, Dale Hiteman), Lora Lee Breeze (15-1, Matt Krueger), High Balance (15-1, Lavern Hostetler), Macie Rae (10-1, Brian Carpenter) and Say No Mo(8-1, John De Long). Simpson’s Super Night champ Trot Fudge Sundae is racing in Thursday’s Hoosier Park Invitational where the 3-year-old ICF filly landed the 9-hole against older trotters. “She’s got some stakes still coming up and I wanted to keep her sharp so that’s why she’s there,” said Dirk. “There was nowhere else to race her.” By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

Trainer Roger Welch’s super night came a few days earlier than the 25th edition of Illinois festive evening of racing last weekend at Balmoral Park. The Belvedere, IL native sent out four horses at Hoosier Park on the track’s “Night of Champions” September 11 program and they delivered $228,800 in purse earnings to the stable, thus far this year the most lucrative payday on a single card by any an Illinois based trainer. Welch’s Always About Katey and Justine Jet each won a $200,000 Indiana Sire Championship and his two other starters finished third. Racing at both his home track at Balmoral with a 3 and 1/2 hour drive to Hoosier Park in Anderson, Indiana, sometimes on the same night, has got to be awfully tough on Welch and his employees. “It’s not an easy thing to do and it takes a lot of traveling but when you can race for 3 or 4 times more money than you can in Illinois, it can be worth it,” said Welch, who celebrates his 50th birthday today. “Plus, the stake payments to Indiana sire events are a quarter of what they are in Illinois, so it can be a profitable business if you have the right horses.” In 2012 over 4,000 Standardbred horses were bred in Indiana, about 10 times more than in Illinois where the breeding industry has been hit hard through the past decade with the exodus of so many horsemen and their owners. For the last 20 years in Indiana the breeding industry has grown leaps and bounds with the influx of money derived from on-track Casino gambling. Meanwhile, it’s been mostly broken promises for the last 10-plus years to the horsemen and the racetracks in our state with still no slots at the racetracks. “In our industry in Illinois there haven’t been any new sires in years and that’s also the case for broodmares,” said Welch. “When you go to a yearling in our state it’s a cross of the same old broodmares and the same old sires. “Half the babies in the sale are the brothers and sisters of horses you’ve trained and the other half are brothers and sisters of horses you’ve raced against. It’s the same old bloodlines. There aren’t any new faces at our Illinois sales. It’s been stagnant that way for a long time.” While the Standardbred breeding industry is prospering big-time in Indiana and lucrative purses are offered to horsemen and owners, that hasn’t translated into booming mutuel handles. Far from it, the wagering on Balmoral programs is two to three times greater on any given night than at Hoosier Park. Indiana’s $1.88 million Night of Champions program handled only $470,783, compared to Balmoral’s $1.3 million Super Night card where $1,758,945 poured through its betting windows with the same number of races. In fact the same Wednesday when Hoosier Park held its “Night of Champions,” Balmoral handled $700,730, over $200,000 more, with four less races and a paltry $43,600 in total purses, that’s $1,836,400 less than horsemen raced for in Indiana that night. I asked Roger why he thought the mutuel handle in Indiana has never caught up to the caliber of horses racing nightly in the Hoosier state. “There do have better horses with full fields and their marketing department does a very good job,” he answered. “The track has plenty of giveaways and special events but what they don’t do is cater to the big gambler. They do a number of things that keep that person away. I’ll give you a half-dozen of them: “First, Hoosier has 10 horse fields but unlike Balmoral, it’s not 10 horses across. It’s nine behind the (starting) gate with a trailing horse and most gamblers don’t like trailers. “Second, they have a no whipping rule in Indiana. A driver can’t whip at all. You’re fined if you do. Gamblers like to see drivers get after their horse. Most hit the bike or the disk wheel, anyway “Next, unlike Illinois they don’t use a staggered starting gate there and the gambler knows that hurts the chances of horses with outside posts. “They don’t have a passing lane at Hoosier like they have on the Chicago circuit. Most tracks do and big players like it. They don’t want to see their horse stuck inside with no chance of getting loose race after race. “Also, Indiana starts its races at a bad time. They start at 5:30 pm. Most harness tracks start at 7 or 7:30 in the evening. Indiana begins its races going against some major thoroughbred tracks in California and it’s at a time that is too early for most harness racing fans. “Lastly, Hoosier is a 7/8’s oval while Balmoral is a full mile track. Every poll taking in the county says players prefer a big track and they prefer it by a wide margin. “If Hoosier Park’s Super Night card were raced at Balmoral Park on a Saturday night it would set a new record handle," added Roger.” It makes you ask yourself what kind of handle numbers Balmoral Park could put up on a regular basis if the slots-at-the-racetracks bill ever gets passed and signed in Illinois. It definitely would be huge, that’s for sure. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

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