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After a two-week hiatus live racing returned to BalmoralPark with a pair of state-bred stakes for older pacers sharing top billing on the 13-race program. The ladies kicked off the action with a pair of $21,400 divisions of the Parklane Powerful Stake. In the first division Kenneth Rucker's Party Hangover continued her dominance of this division as she cruised to a 3 ¼ length victory in a career best of 1:51.1 for driver Todd Warren. After leaving alertly from the outside starting spot, Warren sent the five-year-old daughter of Party At Artsplace on her way from fourth after an opening quarter of 27.0. Quickly moving to the front, the Catrina Rucker trained miss proceeded to lead the field through middle splits of 54.1 & 1:22.2. Through the lane the only thing in doubt was who would pick up the minor spoils as Party Hangover effortlessly reported home with her sixth straight victory. Just By Design (Dave Magee) rallied from last to finish second while Fox Valley Touche (Dale Hiteman) was third. With the win Party Hangover boasts a record of 7-3-2 in 21 starts this season. The overwhelming favorite returned just $3.20, $2.60 & $2.10 while upping her career earnings to $292,511. The second division provided an upset as Mark Winship's No Respect took advantage of a miscue in the lane by favorite Dallas Jones in route to a 2 ¾ length victory in a lifetime best of 1:51.4 for driver John De Long. Settling near the back as the action up front was hot and heavy De Long was happy to watch Incredible Filly (Ronnie Gillespie), The Bruzilian Blur (Todd Warren) and then Dallas Jones (Kyle Wilfong) all trade blows through red-hot splits of 27.3, 54.1 & 1:23.1. In the lane, State Fair Stake winner Dallas Jones made a very uncharacteristic break jamming up several rivals while leaving a fit and fresh No Respect with clear sailing to the wire. The Nick Giberson trained daughter of Sportsmaster then proceeded to uncork a 28.0 final quarter to notch her seventh victory of the season. Dune In Red (Dave Magee) who inherited the lead after the miscue by the favorite held on for second while Kimberly R (Dale Hiteman) finished third. Sent off at 9-1 the brown five-year-old returned $22.80, $4.00 & $3.20 while pushing her career earnings up to $314,428. A full field of 10 pacers went postward in the $35,200 Big Tom Stake and when the smoke cleared in this wild and wooly affair it was John Prentice and Neva Jane Ikeler's FortSilky who emerged with an impressive 6 ¾ length victory in 1:49.3 for driver Casey Leonard. With even money favorite Al's Hammered saddled with a starting spot in the second tier Leonard left quickly with Fort Silky sitting right on the back of the hard leaving Ice Scraper (Ross Leonard) through splits of 27.2 & 55.0. Deftly averting disaster when the pace setter made a break approaching the top of the stretch, Fort Silky was in full in stride as he sailed by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:22.3. Leaving his rivals in his wake the eight-year-old Ft. ApacheHanover gelding sealed the deal in grand fashion, pacing home in 27.0 to post his 20th win over the past two seasons. Iam Bonasera (Kyle Wilfong) turned a nice ground saving trip into a second place check while Al's Hammered was forced to settle for third on this night. The Terry Leonard trainee returned $9.20, $5.60 & $3.20 while upping his career bankroll to an eye popping $650,650. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

Through the years fast miles have been the norm on the mile clay oval at Springfield. The fastest in a pari-mutuel race was eight years ago when My Boy David sped to a 1:47.4 clocking with Andy Miller in 2006. While many may remember My Boy David’s fastest mile in Springfield history that came in his Illinois State Fair Stake elimination race, most fans may not know that the 3-year-old Homer Hochstetler trainee didn’t go on to win that $50,000 Final four days later. Fox Valley Tribal, driven by Tim Tetrick for trainer Bob Sanders, took the championships in 1:49 flat, a half-length ahead of Thisbigdogwilfight. My Boy David settled for third (1:49.2), beaten two lengths. My Boy David would bounce back to take the Dudley Hanover title at Du Quoin and the Pete Langley Memorial Championship on Super Night and would go on to compete into 2012 at the age of nine, amassing over $1.3 million for owner Shirley Le Vin of Barrington Hills. My Boy David winning at Balmoral The great Mack Lobell holds the Springfield record for a trotter when he motored to a 1:52.1 clocking with John Campbell in the 1987 George Alexander Memorial as a 3-year-old. The fastest mile ever paced on the Springfield big track came in a time trail in 1993 when Cambest (Bill O’Donnell) stopped the timer in a sizzling 1:46.1. The oldest Springfield track record goes back to the year 2000 when the Erv Miller Stable’s Incredible Tillie (Andy Miller) took the 3-year-old filly pace in 1:49.2 some 14 years ago. The newest track record belongs to PQ Three, another Erv Miller trainee.  Last year Mike Oosting drove PQ Three to a 1:50 flat victory in the 2-year-old colt pace championship, bettering the old mark by 2/5’s of a second shared by Hot N Sporty (2005) and Lucky’s Z Tam (2006). To view Archived Notes and Quotes click here     County Fair Report   EFFINGHAM COUNTY FAIR AT ALTAMONT   Tuesday Afternoon-1 pm FIRST: $1,125 2 and 3-Year-Old Pace: Horse (Driver)                                     Time (Track Fast) Perfectly Clear (Kyle Wilfong)                       2:00.2  Trainer: Bob Rittof. Owners: Angela Coleman and Bob Rittof. SECOND: $1,125 2 and 3-Year-Old Pace: Togetherforver (Michael Johnson)                  2:02.4 Trainer: Michael Johnson. Owner: Rhonda Manship. THIRD: $1,300 Open 3-Year-Old Trot: Morgans Majestic (Ladarrius Whitaker)         2:0.2 Trainer: Ladarrius Whitaker. Owner: Gloria Gillis. FOURTH: $1,300 Non-Winners of $7,500 LT Pace: Ava Destruction (Darla Martin)                      2:00.3 Trainer: Joan Brown. Owners: David and Joan Brown. FIFTH: $1,900 ICF Maidens Trot: At Risk (Darla Martin)                                    2:06.4 Trainer: Darla Martin Owner: Darla Martin. BOONE COUNTY FAIR AT BELVIDERE   Tuesday Afternoon-Noon FIRST: $3,575 NICA 2-Year-Old Filly Pace: Horse (Driver)                                     Time (Track Slow) Rockin Cassinova (Jay Garrels)                      2:15.1 Trainer: Jay Garrels/ Owners: William and Wm. Pat De Long. SECOND: $3,496 NICA 2-Year-Old Colt Pace: Miss Mascoutin (Robert Yohn)                      2:25.1 Trainer: Robert Yohn. Owners: Philips Krogman and Robert Yohn. THIRD: $6,039 NICA 2-Year-Old Trot: New Achiever (Orval Bronkhorse)                 2:21.3 Trainer: Orval Bronkhorse. Owner: Orval Bronkhorst. FOURTH: $3,300 ICF 4-Year-Olds and Up Trot: Fall Creek Bandit (John Roberts)                   2:13 Trainer: Don Brown. Owners: Don and Vicky Brown. FIFTH: 1,000 Non-Winners of $1,500 Trot: Foxiesbandofgold (Robert Yohn)                  2:14.4 Trainer: Robert Yohn. Owner: Richard Thompson. SIXTH: PACE, 2 and 3-Year-Old Pace: Elusive Return (Gary Rath)                            2:11.1 Trainer: Gary Rath. Owners: Gary and Kathryn Rath. WILLIAMSON COUNTY FAIR AT MARION     Tuesday Afternoon: 1 pm FIRST: $5,852 ECS 3-Year-Old Pace: Horse (Driver)                                     Time (Track Fast) Cypress Hill Rose (Clay Simpson)                  1:59.2 Trainer: Donald James. Owner: Donald James. SECOND: $5,752 ECS 3-Year-Old Trot: Battleshoe King (Clay Simpson)                    2:04.3 Trainer: Clay Simpson. Owners: Buddy and Clay Simpson. THIRD: $800 Non-Winners of $3,500 LT Trot: Hoosier Jared (Cleon Woods)                         2:03.4 Trainer: Cleon Woods. Owner: Cleon Woods. FOURTH: $800 Free For All Pace: Smoke Rings (Larry Ward)                             2:00.3 Trainer: Larry Ward. Owner: Larry Ward. FIFTH: $6,700 ICF 4-Year-Old and Up Trot: Hong Kong Kwyne (Dennis Gardner)           2:04.4 Trainer: Dennis Gardner. Owner: George Knackmuhs. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

A trio of trotting events, headlined by a pair of Hanover Stakes for two-year-old trotters, shared top billing on the Sunday, August 3rd card at Balmoral Park as the Crete plant headed towards a two-week break in the live action for the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. The ladies kicked off the Sunday night stake action with a compact field of six diagonally gaited youngsters battling for a $29,500 jackpot to start the Hanover action. A familiar face to the Chicago racing scene took home top honors in this event as Walter and Paige Paisley's Sloane Elise picked up her first lifetime victory with a very impressive 1 ¼ length victory in 1:56.4. Dave Magee handled the driving duties for trainer Nelson Willis. Kept well off hot early splits of 28.4, 57.0 & 1:27.1 that were being set by a headstrong PT Kaye (Marshall Makin), Magee finally started to zero in on the pace setter as the field reached the top of the stretch. With the leader coming to a halt, heavily favored Fox Valley Yoko (John De Long) quickly grabbed command in the lane but the lead was short lived as Sloane Elise found her best stride. Taking dead aim on the 1-5 favorite, this daughter of ABC Garland--Touch Of Victory scooted right by the "chalk", sealing the deal with a 29.1 final quarter to post her maiden breaking victory. Fox Valley Yoko was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Lima Pizzas (Travis Seekman) was third. With the win the Indiana bred Sloane Elise now sports a record of 1-1-0 in 4 career starts with earnings of $26,486. The second choice in the wagering returned $9.20, $2.60 & $2.10. Another field of six was sent postward in the $28,900 two-year-old colt trot and once again it was the second choice in the wagering who wound up toting home the top prize as Lilly Racing Stables & Shelley Steele's Cruisin Valor rolled to an easy five-length victory in 2:00.1 for driver Brian Carpenter. Sent right to the front from post position five the gelded son of Yankee Valor--Heather Nan led the field through an opening quarter in 30.2. With Carpenter hitting the breaks on the backstretch heavily favored Southrncomfortzone (John De Long) grabbed the lead before going off stride as the field reached the half-mile mark in 1:01.3. That miscue left Cruisin Valor all alone on the front end as he rolled by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:31.1. Leaving the rest of the field in his wake, the Gerald Hansen trainee left no doubt as to who was best on this night as he reported home with his second win in three career starts. Powerful Above All (Casey Leonard) turned a ground saving trip into a second place check while Air Force Blue (Mike Cox) was third. With the win Cruisin Valor now boasts $17,919 for his connections. The bay gelding returned $6.60, $3.60 & $3.20 to his backers. State-bred trotters were also in action on Sunday night as a field of eight, three-year-olds and up, squared off in the $25,000 Mikes A Mystery Stake. Fresh off his big win in the Kadabra Stake last week, Curt and Craig Grummel's Fox Valley Veto had no trouble handling older rivals as he posted a 4 ½ length victory in a career best of 1:55.1 for driver John De Long. Saving ground in mid-pack as Powerful Poe (Dave Magee) and Ants Iner Pants (Dean Magee) traded blows on the front end through opening splits of 29.1 & 58.1 De Long moved the Curt Grummel trained sophomore to the outside as the field raced around the final bend. Taking dead aim on Ants Iner Pants as that mare rolled by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.1 Fox Valley Veto began to unleash what has become a very potent closing burst. Sailing home in a brisk 27.2 the altered son of Pizzazzed--Yankee Victory zipped right by his rivals to notch his fourth win of the season. Ants Iner Pants held on for second while Powerful Poe held on for third. With Sunday's victory Fox Valley Veto now sports a career record of 5-6-0 in 18 starts with earnings of $127,194. Heavily backed at the betting windows after his Southland Festival of Racing victory Fox Veto returned $3.40, $2.40 & $2.10. Both Balmoral & Maywood will be dark for live racing until Friday, August 15th (Maywood) and Saturday, August 16th(Balmoral) as the action heads to Springfield for the State Fair Stakes. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

Freshmen pacers stepped into the spotlight on Saturday, August 2nd at BalmoralPark as a pair of Hanover Stakes for two-year-olds shared top billing on the big 13-race card.   The boys kicked off the action as a field of nine were sent postward for a $34,900 jackpot. Despite a win in his last start and the fact he was part of a three-horse entry Kay Willis's Gold Star Image escaped at odds of 7-1 and the rapidly improving youngster made his doubters pay as he rolled to a 2 ¼ length victory in a career best of 1:53.2 for driver Dale Hiteman.   Leaving quickly from post 10, the gelded son of Rockin Image--Village Mimic settled into a nice spot in fourth as Lucpark (Dave Magee) and Indian Outlaw (Travis Seekman) battled through an opening quarter in 27.2.   With several horses getting underway from the back of the pack, Hiteman quickly maneuvered the Nelson Willis trainee to the outside, charging to the front as the field reached the half in 56.4.   In control of things around the bend Gold Star Image proceeded to lead the field through three-quarters in 1:25.2.   After turning aside a first over bid from Earndawg (Pat Curtin) the $4,000 bargain yearling buy dug in gamely holding last week's Mini Me Stake winner King of the Swamp (Todd Warren) and the ground saving Lucpark at bay through the lane. A late charging Indian Outlaw shook loose in time to rally for the place money while King Of The Swamp salvaged the show dough.   Gold Star Image returned a healthy $17.80, $6.40 & $4.60 while running his record to 2-0-1 in 4 starts with earnings of $19,930.   A compact field of five fillies was sent postward in their Hanover test and once again Leyland Mathias and Paymaq Racing's Mr Leland's Filly continued to turn heads with her big closing kick as she rallied for a 1 ½ length triumph in 1:54.3 with Casey Leonard in tow.   Content to save ground while chief rival Lex (Kyle Wilfong) strolled through splits of 29.1 & 58.3 Leonard finally moved the daughter of Sportsmaster--Incredible Katie to the outside as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.3.   With the pace setter begin to drift a bit in the lane, Leonard dove back to the inside with the Ervin Miller trained miss and she responded beautifully, gobbling up the leader and quickly drawing clear for her second straight stakes score. Lex held on for second while another Miller trainee, Angel Demon (Ryan Anderson) was third.   Heavily backed at the betting windows after her win in the Loyal Opposition Stake last week Mr Leyland's Filly returned $3.40, $2.20 & $2.10 while upping her record to 2-0-0 in four starts with earnings of $35,770.   The Hanover Stakes action continues on Sunday with a pair of events for two-year-old trotters. State-bred trotters will also be in action in the $25,000 Mikes A Mystery Stake. Post time is 7:10 p.m. for the Sunday card. Both Balmoral & Maywood will then be dark for live racing until Friday, August 15th (Maywood) and Saturday, August 16th (Balmoral) as the action heads to Springfield for the State Fair Stakes. Tom Kelley

A busy night of state-bred stake action is in the books as Illinois conceived and foaled pacers and trotters starred in six stake finals as part of the Crete plant's Southland Festival of Racing. With more than $250,000 in purse money up for grabs for this year's two and three-year-old crops these battles kick off the richest and busiest time of the season for these state-breds. Freshman pacing fillies started the non-stop action with a field of 10 ladies squaring off in the $43,500 Loyal Opposition Stake. This raced provided the most dramatic finish of the night as Leland Mathias and Paymaq Racing's Mr. Leland's Filly rallied from ninth at the top of the stretch to win by a length in a career best of 1:53.2. Patiently handled by leading driver Casey Leonard the daughter of Sportsmaster--Incredible Kate sat near the back of the pack throughout the mile while heavily favored Lex (Kyle Wilfong) mixed it up with several different rivals through splits of 28.4, 56.1 & 1:24.2. Bobbing and weaving his way through traffic Leonard maneuvered the Erv Miller trained miss into a clear path with an eighth of a mile to go and the filly absolutely exploded, charging home in 26.3 to secure her first lifetime win in start number three. Angel Demon (Ryan Anderson) came flying through the passing lane to finish second while Lex held on for third. The winner returned $45.20, $15.00 & $5.80 while helping to key a $577 exacta and $909 ten-cent Superfecta payout. Next up were sophomore trotting fillies as a field of eight diagonally gaited ladies met in the $42,000 Fox Valley Evita Stake. This race also provided a milestone moment as Dr Patrick Graham, Flacco Family Farms and Dirk Simpson Stables Say No Mo gave Dirk Simpson his 1,000th training victory by trotting to a two-length upset for driver John De Long. The final time was a lifetime best of 1:55.4. Perfectly positioned at the pylons in third as favored Bailey' Wish (Dave Magee) cruised through splits of 28.4, 57.0 & 1:25.4 De Long angled the daughter of Band's Gold Chip--Not So Kosher to the outside for the stretch drive and the filly responded beautifully, wearing down the pace setter in the final 100 yards to post her third win in 12 starts this season. Bailey' Wish held on for second while Graceful Spirit (Robert Smolin) was third. Sent off at a nice price of 7-1 Say No Mo returned $17.20, $3.40 & $2.40 while running her career numbers to 7-2-3 in 26 starts with earnings of $59,492. It was back to the pace for the next tussle as a field of 10 sophomore fillies battled in the $48,500 Ann Vonian Stake. Once again it was the duo of driver Casey Leonard and trainer Erv Miller who came out on top as Quaid Racing's My Little Bit used the passing lane to perfection in route to a 1 ½ length victory in a lifetime best of 1:52.2. Leaving alertly from post five Leonard positioned his filly perfectly on the back of the hard leaving Cuzimalegend (Travis Seekman) as that filly put up splits of 27.3, 57.1 & 1:24.2. Fit and fresh for the stretch drive the daughter of Sportsmaster--Parade Of Love zipped right by the pace setter with a little less than a sixteenth of a mile to go as she scored for the fifth time in nine starts this season. M A Duty (Ryan Anderson) rallied to finish second while Molly Go Lightly (Kyle Wilfong) turned a ground saving journey into the show dough. Proving once again that when the big money is on the line she comes up big My Little Bit returned $4.00 $2.60 & $2.20 while improving her record to 10-3-2 in 21 career starts with earnings of $183,147. A compact field of six sophomore trotting colts were up next as they battled in the $41,000 Kadabra Stake. Continuing along with an impressive second season Curt & Craig Grummel's Fox Valley Veto powered past rivals in the lane to win by a widening three-lengths in a career best of 1:55.3. John De Long was in the bike for his second championship score of the night. Content to save ground while co-favorite Tour Hall (Dave Magee) and Bobby B Breeze (Todd Warren) took turns strolling through splits of 30.0, 59.0 & 1:27.4, Fox Valley Veto was raging with trot as De Long pulled from third as the field straightened for the money. Charging right by his main nemesis the gelded son of Pizzazzed--Yankee Victory Om was on "idle" as he crossed under the wire with his third win in seven starts this year. Cardinal Wind (Dale Hiteman) rallied to be second while Bobby B Breeze held on for third. Tour Hall made a late break in the race and wound up last in the field. After posting just one win in 2013, Fox Valley Veto now boasts a record of 4-6-0 in 17 lifetime starts with earnings of $114,694. The even-money co-favorite returned $4.00, $3.00 & $3.20. Next up were freshmen pacing colts as a full field of 10 were sent postward in the $48,000 Mini Me Stake. This test turned into a showcase for conditioner Roger Welch as the veteran conditioner sent out the top two finishers in the race with William C & William P De Long's King Of The Swamp proving best by a length and a half in 1:55.0 for driver Todd Warren. Hustled right to the front the gelded son of Sportsmaster--She's Redhot carved out splits of 29.1, 58.2 & 1:27.0. Showing the grit and determination he exhibited in last week's elimination win, the $85,000 yearling purchase dug in through the lane, keeping his pocket sitting entrymate at bay through a spirited stretch drive. Earndawg (Pat Curtin) was a hard trying second while Lucpark (Dave Magee) benefitted from a disqualification to move up to the show spot. Thisishowweroll (John De Long) had finished third but was disqualified for causing interference while on a break in the first turn. With the win King Of The Swamp, who returned $7.40, $8.60 & $3.80, now sports three wins, a second and a third in five career starts with earnings of $32,858. The last of the six championship tilts on Saturday featured three-year-old pacing colts as a field 10 was sent postward in the $48,000 Incredible Finale Stake. Once again an Ervin Miller trainee found his way to the winner's circle as Megan Rogers Racing Stable's Unlocked lived up to his half-money favoritism with a resounding 5 ½ length romp in 1:50 for driver Dave Magee. Working his way to the front after a quarter in 28.0 the speedy son of Duneside Perch--Miss Major Power effortlessly cruised through middle splits of 56.0 & 1:23.4. With plenty still in reserve the good looking colt sprinted away from his rivals, pacing home in 26.3 while under very minimal urging from his Hall Of Fame pilot. Longshot Fox Valley Cupid (Dale Hiteman) who led at the opening call held on nicely to finish second while another outsider, Fox Valley Van (Brian Carpenter) was third. With the win Unlocked, who has spent a large portion of his second season chasing some of the top sophomores in the country, now sports a record of eight wins and six seconds in 22 career starts with earnings of $142,672. Bet as though defeat was out of the question Unlocked returned $3.00, $2.40 & $2.10. The Southland Festival of Racing action continues on Sunday with a pair of big money events for two-year-old trotters. Post time is 7:10 p.m. for the Sunday card. For entries and more information please visit www.balmoralpark.com. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

State-bred pacers were in the spotlight on a busy Saturday night of harness racing action at Balmoral Park as the Crete plant played host to a pair of ICF Stake eliminations in preparation for next weekends big Southland Festival of Racing.   Freshman pacing fillies kicked off the elimination action as a field of 10 were sent to battle in a $10,000 Loyal Opposition Stake elimination. The top nine finishers will join Lyrics Fall in next week's $43,500 final.   Fresh off back to back victories Kay Willis's good looking filly Lex made it three in a row as she cruised to an easy four-length win in a career best of 1:55.0 with Kyle Wilfong in tow.   Despite having to make three big moves throughout this tussle the bay daughter of Lexington Legend--I Bet U still managed to pace a back half in a brisk 56.0 to secure her third win in four lifetime starts for veteran conditioner Nelson Willis. Duneside Pertie (John De Long) shook loose to rally for the place money while 80-1 longshot Fox Valley Kit (Pat Curtin) took home the show dough. Also gaining spots in the final were Girls Hunt Too, Angel Demon, Mr Leland's Filly, Duneside Splash, Forsaken Glory and BS Tyrichess.   A total of 13 two-year-old pacing colts were dropped into the box for the Mini Me Stake necessitating a pair of $10,000 elimination tussles. The top five in each division will return next Saturday night to battle for a $48,000 jackpot.   In the first elimination Rocco Ruffolo's Lucpark showed a great deal of grit and determination as he overcame a tough trip in route to a 1 ¾ length victory in a lifetime best of 1:54.4 with Dave Magee at the controls.   Grinding it out on for the final five-eighths of a mile while trying to reel in the pace setting Earndawg (Todd Warren) as he put up splits of 29.2, 57.1 & 1:26.4 the gelded son of Sportsmaster--Treasure The Best found his best stride in the late going, sealing the deal with a 27.4 final quarter to notch his second win in three career starts for trainer Erv Miller. Casey At Bat (John De Long) finished second while Earndawg held on for third. Also moving on to the final will be Get Your Camo On and Fox Valley Elijah.   In the second elimination William C & William P. De Long's King Of The Swamp made every call a winning one as he held on to record a three-quarter-length verdict in a lifetime best of 1:55.0.   After cruising through splits of 28.4, 58.3 & 1:27.2 the gelded son of Sportsmaster--She's Redhot, who was an $85,000 yearling purchase dug in gamely keeping Thisishowweoll (John De Long--2nd) and Dakota Roadster (Robert Smolin--3rd) at bay for his second win in four career starts. Also gaining spots in next week's final were Fox Valley Cadet and Gett'er Done Dune.   Sophomore pacing fillies were also in action on Saturday night as a field of 10 state-bred three-year-olds battled in a $7,000 "prep" for next week's Ann Vonian Stake.   This hotly contested division provided another thrilling finish as Quaid Racing LLC's My Little Bit and driver Casey Leonard wound up prevailing by a hard fought head in a career best of 1:52.3. Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) was second while Molly Go Lightly (Matt Krueger) was third in the tight three-horse photo. The top three finishers were all sent off as odds of 2-1.   The Ervin Miller trained daughter of Sportsmaster--Parade Of Love now boasts nine wins, three seconds and two thirds in 20 lifetime starts with earnings of nearly $160,000.   For more information on the big Southland Festival of Racing please visit www.balmoralpark.com.      

Coming off an impressive late rushing victory in her second lifetime start at Balmoral Park, Kay Willis's good looking freshman pacing filly Lex showed that a half-mile oval also suits her style as she blew right by her rivals in the lane to record a sharp two-length victory in Thursday's $10,000 My Metallica Stake at Maywood Park. The final time was 1:57.3. Well positioned in third as the heavily favored Lyrics Fall, who came into the race sporting a perfect two for two record carved out splits of 29.2, 1:00 & 1:29.1 driver Kyle Wilfong moved the daughter of Lexington Legend--I Bet U first over as the field moved into the final turn. Chewing up ground quickly on the outside of her rivals, the Nelson Willis trained miss overtook the pace setter as the field straightened for the money and then began to draw clear of the field while under only mild urging from her confident pilot. Lyrics Fall was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role on this night while BS Tyrichess (Brian Carpenter) shook loose late to rally for the show dough. Sent off as the second choice in the betting Lex returned $7.20, $3.00 & 3.60 while moving her bankroll up to $8,040 for her owner-breeder. Live racing continues on Friday, July 11th at Maywood Park with the 1st Annual Windy City Wiener Nationals providing some great entertainment for both young and old between the first six races on the card. There will also be food and drink specials offered along with some great giveaways as part of the U.S.T.A.'s Back To The Track promotion. Post time for the first race is 7:10 p.m. (central). by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park

Jubilation quickly turned to heartbreak in a pair of trotting events at Balmoral Park on Wednesday, July 9th as a pair of diamond gaiters looked to be home free only to have late miscues cost them what looked to be sure victories in these state-bred stake events.   In what looked like it was going to a replay of their last two encounters Macie Rae (Ryan Anderson) carved out splits of 28.0, 58.1 & 1:27.3 and appeared to be holding firm to the wire before going off stride with less than a sixteenth of a mile to go. That allowed the pocket sitting Bailey's Wish and driver Dave Magee to capitalize on their good fortune as they zipped right on by for the victory in the $10,000 Fox Valley Diva Stake for state-bred three-year-old trotting fillies. Macie Rae settled for the place spot while Lora Lee Breeze (Matt Krueger) was a distant third.   The three-quarter-length triumph in a career best of 1:56.1 pushed the daughter of Southwind Breeze--Jen's career record to 7-6-3 in 22 starts for owners James Bafia and Eugene White. The good looking brown filly has also banked a hefty $151,983 while under the guidance of conditioner Dirk Simpson who is zeroing in on the 1,000 victory plateau.   In the first of two $5,000 divisions of the Psychic Spirit Stake for ICF two-year-old trotting colts Southrncomfortzone (John De Long) looked to be home free after a pocket sitting journey behind Captain Greedy and driver-trainer J.D. Finn. That's when disaster struck for that colt as he "jumped it off" allowing Captain Greedy, who had put up splits of 29.3, 1:00.2 & 1:31.2 to reclaim the lead and cruise to a six-length triumph in 1:59.4. Cardinal Yankee (Mike Brink) rallied to be second while Pizzalicious (Dale Hiteman) was moved from fourth to third because of the disqualification of Southrncomfortzone.   The win was the third in four starts for the son of Yankee Valor--Tropical Trixie who now has $6,692 in career earnings.   The second division of the Psychic Spirit proved to be far less dramatic as the Herman Wheeler owned and trained Fox Valley Qatar made it three in a row to open his career posting an impressive 2 ¾ length victory in a career best of 1:58.3.   After saving ground while Allpowernoemotion (Ronnie Gillespie) put up splits of 30.1, 1:00 & 1:29.2, driver Todd Warren eased Fox Valley Qatar through the passing lane and the gelded son of Pizzazzed--Armbro Bahrain responded beautifully as he charged right by the tiring pace setter for an easy score. Allpowernoemotion held on for second while RT Habenero (Robert Taylor) rallied to be third.   Fox Valley Qatar now sports career earnings of $5,625 and looks like he'll be the one to beat heading into the State Fair Stakes at Springfield in August.   by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

Continuing her front end dominance of the ICF three-year-old filly trotting set, Donald Huddleston's Macie Rae once again made it look easy on Wednesday night as she disposed of five rivals in a 2-length pillar to post score in the $10,000 Sorce Ann Stake. The final time was 1:56.1. Hustled away from post position four by driver Ryan Anderson, the speedy daughter of Powerful Emotion--Fox Valley Poetry easily made the front and was unchallenged as she cruised through splits of 28.3, 58.3 & 1:28.0. Setting sail for the money, the Michael Rogers trained miss powered home in 28.1, easily rebuffing the challenge of a pocket sitting Bailey's Wish (Dave Magee) who was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role once again. Say No Mo (John De Long) was a non-threatening third, 8 ¾ lengths behind the winner. After a strong freshman campaign, much of which was spent toiling on the half-mile ovals on the Illinois Fair Circuit, Macie Rae has really stepped up her game on the one-mile oval here at Balmoral Park in her second season winning six of seven starts this year. The bay filly now boasts a career record of 13-3-4 in 26 starts with earnings of $53,907. Bet as though defeat was out of the question Macie Rae returned $2.60, $2.10 & $2.10 to her legion of backers. Ryan Anderson guided Macie Rae to another wire to wire victory in Wednesday's $10,000 Sorce Ann Stake at Balmoral Park.   by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park  

It was only fitting that a stake named for a rugged Erv Miller trained filly was taken by another Miller trainee on Sunday night at Balmoral Park as Quaid Racing's My Little Bit hung on gamely to record a head decision in the $10,000 Mystical Victress Stake for ICF three-year-old pacing fillies. The final time was 1:53.2. Confidently handled by driver Casey Leonard, the daughter of Sportsmaster--Parade Of Love was sent to the front but quickly relinquished the top spot to a hard leaving Cuzimalegend (Dean Magee) as the field moved by the opening split in 26.4. Showing the confidence he had in his filly, Leonard quickly moved the Miller trained miss back to the top where she put up middle splits of 56.0 & 1:24.1. After repelling the challenge of a first over Molly Go Lightly (Brian Carpenter) as the field turned for home, My Little Bit drew off to a 2-length advantage in the lane. All out as the distaffers made their way to the wire My Little Bit dug in gamely to fight off the bid of M A Duty (Kyle Wilfong) who had been saving ground throughout the mile to post her second win of the season. M A Duty was a hard fought second while Party Hangover Two (John De Long) rallied from far back after being shuffled out of contention early to finish third. With the victory My Little Bit now boasts a record of 7-3-2 in 17 career starts with earnings of $149,260 for her proud connections. Coming off her second place finish in the Filly Maywood Pace, My Little Bit was heavily backed at the betting windows returning just $3.80, $2.80 & $2.80. Live racing continues at Balmoral Park on Wednesday, July 2nd, win a nine-card card getting underway at 7:10 pm (central). The Wednesday Pick 4 will have a $10,000 guaranteed pool and will entail races six through nine. Past performances for the Pick 4 races, courtesy of Trackmaster and the U.S.T.A. can be found at www.ustrotting.com. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

Fresh off a game wire to wire win in her career debut, the Peter Dora owned and trained Lyrics Fall made it two in a row to open what looks like a promising career as the speedy youngster knocked off five other Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old pacing fillies by 2¾ lengths in the $10,000 Juxtaposition Stake on Thursday night at Maywood Park. The final time was 1:57.2. Hustled off the gate from post position four by driver Casey Leonard the daughter of Yankee Skyscaper--Fall Colors led the field through an opening quarter in 28.3. After relinquishing the lead to a hard charging BS Tyrichess (Brian Carpenter) as the field moved by the half in 57.4, Leonard did not wait long before sending his filly back to the front, charging by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:28.1 with a 1 ¾ length advantage. Comfortably in front of their rivals around the final bend and into the stretch, the $1,800 yearling purchased looked like a "million bucks" as she cruised home with her second win in as many tries while under no pressure whatsoever. Duneside Splash (Travis Seekman) finished second while Gracie On My Mind (John De Long) rallied to finish third. Sent off as the odds on choice after the win in her debut, Lyrics Fall returned $3.60 $2.20 & $2.10 while moving her bankroll up to $10,000 for her owner-trainer. by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park

After a pair of romping wins in downstate harness racing fair events, Donald Huddleston's Macie Rae returned to Balmoral Park on Sunday night looking to avenge her only loss of the year which came in the Violet Stake here back on May 25th.   The speedy filly did just that as she shot right to the front and proceeded to make every call a winning one in an easy 1 ½ length victory over seven other ICF three-year-old trotting fillies in the $10,000 Betzotic Stake. The final time of 1:55.3 shaved nearly three seconds off her previous career mark.   Taking full advantage of an inside starting spot driver Ryan Anderson hustled the daughter of Powerful Emotion--Fox Valley Poetry away from post two and quickly settled into a familiar position on the front end while leading the field through splits of 28.2, 58.4 & 1:27.4.   With the Violet Stake winner Bailey's Wish (Dave Magee) sitting right on their backs, Anderson and the Michael Rogers trainee were never seriously threatened on their march to victory lane Sunday night, sealing the deal with a sharp 27.4 final panel while effortlessly keeping their chief rival at bay. Bailey's Wish was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role on this night while Say No Mo (John De Long) finished a distant third, five lengths behind the winner.   With Sunday's victory Macie Rae, who was hammered at the betting windows returned $4.00, $2.80 & $2.60 while running her career record to 13-3-4 in 25 starts with earnings of $48,907 for her Palmer, Illinois based owner.   Live racing continues at Balmoral Park on Wednesday, June 25th, win a nine-card card getting underway at 7:10 pm (central). The Wednesday Pick 4 will have a $10,000 guaranteed pool and will entail races six through nine. Past performances for the Pick 4 races, courtesy of Trackmaster and the U.S.T.A. can be found at www.ustrotting.com.   Tom Kelley  

HINSDALE, IL—With the return to his home state and a start in Sunday’s eighth race at Balmoral Park the former Illinois trotting champion Rock Hollywood has gone full circle for Springfield based horseman Mike Brink. Back in 2009 Brink, the breeder, owner and trainer, thought he finally had that “special horse” in the big, good-looking gelding and so did plenty of other people after who saw Rock Hollywood breeze in his career debut in a small ICF stake.. Rock Hollywood is a son of Illinois stallion Psychic Spirit out of Brink's broodmare, Serfafine The Great, a daughter of Balanced Image. "I've always believed the horse would be a good one and maybe that's why he wasn’t an easy horse to sell," explained Brink. "I hadn't been offered what I thought was a fair price for him until I got a call from Mr. (Kjell Magne) Andersen from Oslo, Norway, who had some people come out and look at him. I guess you could say Mr. Andersen made me an offer I couldn't refuse.” That offer was reported to be six figures. “Mr Andersen wanted a trotter to race in the Hambletonian and thought that Rock Hollywood could be that horse.” The sale was made and five years later it has become a case of Brink “having his cake and eating it, too.” Rock Hollywood went on to earn over $95,000 as a freshman in Illinois, winning both the Springfield State Fair and Lincoln Land Finals. At three the trotter made another $92,000-plus and posted a second Springfield championship. Those two years the horse went 7 for 14 under Brink’s care and 1-for-5 for Andersen’s east coast trainer. As it turned out Rock Hollywood never did make it to the Hambletonian in New Jersey. Instead he made it to Norway. From 2011 through three starts in 2014 Rock Hollywood competed in Norwegian races where, quite frankly, he flopped through no fault of his own. He won only one race in 33 starts over various distances in excess a mile and a made only little over $20,000 mostly because he developed a bleeding problem and Norway doesn’t allow Lasix. We’ll let Mike explain how Rock Hollywood ended back in his home state. “I saw the horse wasn’t doing any good so I talked to his owner and asked him what are you going to do with Rock Hollywood? He told me he might give him away to some ‘cowboy’ down the road who was going to use him as a riding horse. “I asked if I could have him and he asked me what I was going to do with him. “I said hopefully put him on Lasix and race him. I told him I would pay the cost to fly him back if he gave me the horse. He said: ‘I’ll you what I’ll do, I’ll fly him back and give you half of the horse and keep the other half’ and that is what he did.  “It’s been seven years since foaled here and Rock Hollywood is still the nicest horse you can ever want to be around.  He’s a big horse, about 17 hands. He looks the same as he did when he left but maybe not as well as I would like health-wise. But he’s ready to go now. “I wasn’t sure how I wanted to race him in his qualifier and I then decided I would just let the horse race the way he wants to race. So I took him behind the gate with no over-check, no nothing, and off he goes. “He was trotting along kind of easy-going and went the first quarter in 29 and change and the half around 59. When we got to the three-quarters somebody pulled and he took off and went a little faster.  In the lane I look down at my watch and said to myself: ‘He’s going to qualify in 56.’ And he did with a 28.2 last quarter, winning by 17 lengths. “The horse finished the qualifier cocky and all full of himself. “With all those long distances he was racing the past few years that qualifying mile was nothing for him. I kept waiting for him to get a little tired and he kept waiting for me to ask him to go a little faster. “I don’t know if he’ll be any good now that he’s back but it doesn’t matter. I’m just happy to have him back and I’m sure he feels the same way, too. I can always turn him out somewhere or give to some 12 year-old to ride. “I do know it’ll be fun to drive him in a race Sunday.”  Despite the four months in between races I still think Rock Hollywood is a rock-solid play Sunday, so much so I made him my “Best Bet” of the night. Mike Paradise, for the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association    

Illinois conceived and foaled freshmen shared top billing on Wednesday, June 18th at Balmoral Park as a pair of events once again showcased both pacers and trotters from the state-bred ranks. A full field of 10 two-year-old pacing fillies were dropped into the box for the $10,000 Incredible Tillie Stake. With a wicked lighting storm approaching the Crete oval, which eventually wound up delaying the races right after the finish of this event, Peter Dora's Lyrics Fall turned in an electrifying effort scoring by a neck in wire to wire fashion while stopping the clock in 1:56.2 over a "good" racetrack. Speeding away from post position six for driver Ronnie Gillespie, the bay daughter of Yankee Skyscaper--Fox Valley Evelyn put up splits of 29.2, 59.0 & 1:28.3 while rolling along unchallenged on the front end. After opening up a four-length advantage by the mid-stretch call the $1,800 yearling purchase was all out to hold off the late charge of Gracie On My Mind (Dave Magee) who came flying home in 27.1 to finish second. Fox Valley Redhead (Dean Magee) also uncorked a big late move to wind up third. A field of six trotting fillies went postward in the $5,000 Star Slinger Stake and when the smoke cleared it was Cynthia Demarlie & Jason Ward's Bi Polar Rose who emerged victorious, scoring by 1 ½ lengths in 2:02.0 over a track listed as "good". Sent right to the top by Travis Seekman the daughter of Polar Winner--I Still Owe rattled off splits of 31.2, 1:03.3 & 1:33.1. After repelling a first over bid from Fox Valley Macy (Ronnie Gillespie) at the top of the lane, the Rod Allums Jr. trained miss trotted home in a sharp 28.4 to make her debut a winning one. Persuasive Look (Dave Magee) overcame a miscue behind the gate to rally for the bridesmaid spot while Patient I D (Dale Hiteman) followed the winner's every move while garnering the show dough.   Bi Polar Rose made her debut a winning one as she scored in wire to wire fashion for Travis Seekman in Wednesday's Star Slinger Stake.   Lyrics Fall (inside) held off a late bid from Gracie On My Mind (outside) to take the $10,000 Incredible Tillie Stake for 2yo pacing fillies in her career debut.   by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

Racing fans received their first look at some of this seasons Illinois conceived and foaled freshmen trotting and pacing sets as a pair of non-wagering events on Sunday, June 15th capped off a busy weekend of state-bred stakes action.   Pacers kicked off the early action on Sunday night with a field of four youngsters battling in the $10,000 Wicked Brew Stake. After biding his time at the back of the pack as Really Dave (Dean Magee) strolled through splits of 31.1, 1:00.3 & 1:30.2, the Dennis Brightwell owned Casey At Bat uncorked an eye catching 28.0 final quarter to roll right by his rivals for a neck decision in 1:59.2 with Casey Leonard at the controls. Gett'er Done Dune (Dave Magee) was second while Just Do It Jesse (Robert Smolin) was third.   The homebred son of Sportsmaster--Odds On Casey is conditioned is conditioned by Curtis Rice.   A field of five diagonally gaited freshmen went postward in the $5,000 Million Dollar Bye Stake a few minutes later. After a perfect pocket sitting journey while Captain Greedy (JD Finn) put up splits of 30.2, 1:00.3 & 1:32.1, driver Todd Warren popped out of the two-hole at the head of the stretch with the Herman Wheeler owned and trained Fox Valley Qatar and the youngster trotted home powerfully to post a three-length victory in 2:01.2. Captain Greedy held on for second while Arcs Conquest (Dave Magee) was third.   The winner who is a gelded son of Pizzazzed--Armbro Bahrain was a $7,000 Land Of Lincoln Sale purchase by Wheeler.   Pacers and trotters also shared the spotlight on Saturday, June 14th as a field of eight older state-breds met in the $20,000 Broadway Preview Stake while seven sophomore trotting colts squared off in the $10,000 Southern Rocketop Stake.   A pair of frequent visitors to the Balmoral Park winner's circle toted home top honors in these events as the Robert Phillips owned and trainer Al's Hammered zoomed right by the field with his potent closing burst to win by 2 ½ lengths in 1:49.4 while Tour Hall continued his dominance of the sophomore trotting set with a deceptively easy half-length victory in 1:55.2.   Reserved in the early going by driver Robert Smolin Al's Hammered circled around rivals on the final turn before unleashing a wicked 26.1 final quarter to win for the seventh time in 11 starts this season. Silver Devil (John De Long) shook loose late to rally for second while pace setter Ice Scraper (Todd Warren) held on for third.   Mike Brink and Loren Tournear's Tour Hall came into Saturday's stake riding a four-race winning streak and the overwhelming 2-5 favorite lived up to his hype as he shook loose in the lane after a perfect steer from Dave Magee, charging home in 28.2 to stop the clock in a career best. Fox Valley Veto (John De Long) battled hard but was relegated to the runner-up role for the Third Straight week while Bobby B Breeze (Todd Warren) was third. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

State-bred trotting fillies were the focus of attention on Sunday, May 25th, as a field of 10 three-year-olds went toe to toe in the $47,600 Violet Stake as part of a big Memorial Day weekend of festivities at the Crete oval.   Proving that she will once again be a force to be reckoned with in this division James Bafia and Eugene White's Bailey's Wish reported home with a hard fought neck decision in a career best of 1:57.3 for driver Dave Magee.   After leaving quickly from post five Magee elected to let the hard charging Macie Rae (Ryan Anderson) and Say No Mo (John De Long) battle it out through splits of 29.0, 57.2 & 1:27.1.   After carving out a perfect pocket sitting journey while those two fillies battled tooth and nail Magee showed his Hall of Fame skills as he slipped to the outside of Macie Rae as the field straightened for the money. Gradually wearing down the pace setter, the Dirk Simpson trained miss gamely moved to the front with a sixteenth of a mile to go and then held off a late charge from longshot Rollette (Dean Magee) for her sixth lifetimevictory. Macie Rae held on for third.   After starting this season with uncharacteristic breaks in two of her first three starts the daughter of Southwind Breeze--Jen was as smooth as could be on Sunday night as she pushed her lifetime numbers to 6-4-2 in 18 starts with earnings of just over $129,000. Sent off as the 5-2 second choice in the wagering Bailey's Wish returned $7.40, $3.60 & $2.80. Bailey's Wish (inside) held off the late charge of longshot Rollette (outside) to win Sunday's $47,600 Violet Stake for three-year-old trotting fillies. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

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