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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

Illinois conceived and foaled pacing fillies stepped into the spotlight on Saturday night as a field of nine sophomores were sent to battle in a $10,000 Betzotic Stake. While she may be lightly raced, Pm Investment's Buoncammino looked like a seasoned veteran in this event as she stormed home from the back of the pack to record a three-quarter-length victory in 1:55.0 for driver John De Long. Getting away eighth as last year's top fillies Molly Go Lightly (Dave Magee) and Thesleazyprincess (Todd Warren) battled through splits of 28.0, 57.0 & 1:26.3, De Long moved the Richard Schrock trained miss three-wide as the field turned for the money. Gobbling up one filly after another in effortless fashion, this daughter of Yankee Skyscaper--Mcjates Shadow went from eighth to first with a wicked 27.1 final quarter to record her third win in six career starts. Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) turned in a hard fought effort to be the bridesmaid while Thesleazyprincess held on for third. Unraced at two, Buoncammino who was pounded at the betting windows despite the outside post, returned just $5.80, $3.80 & $3.60 while upping her bankroll to $11,590. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

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

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