Day At The Track
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Over the nearly five decades they have been friends and involved in the harness racing sport Nelson 'Spider' Willis and Walter 'Butch' Paisley have certainly been around their fair share of nice horses, but neither man has ever been associated with a horse quite like Riccolo.

The first six-figure event of the harness racing season in the Chicagoland area took place on Friday night at Maywood Park as a field of eight Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing fillies met in the $112,000 Filly Maywood Pace.

The states top sophomore pacers will all be in harness racing action on Friday evening as a field of eight Illinois conceived and foaled fillies square off in the featured $112,000 Filly Maywood Pace final while 13 of their male counterparts will meet in a pair of $10,000 Maywood Pace elimination's.

Illinois conceived and foaled pacers and trotters were in action on Wednesday, June 13th at Balmoral Park as a pair of events shared top billing on the harness racing program. Coming off five straight victories to start his three-year-old season Walter & Paige Paisley's Riccolo was sent off as the overwhelming 1-9 favorite against six rivals in the $12,000 Mikes A Mystery Stake to lead off the pari-mutuel card.

Paco Labrook earned his first lifetime Open-level win with an impressive 1:50.4 triumph in the co-featured harness racing $24,000 Open Pace at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday (June 11).

After showing glimpses of talent during an abbreviated 2-year-old harness racing campaign in 2011 Walter & Paige Paisley were optimistic that their bay gelding Riccolo would return in 2012 a more mature and even stronger race horse.

Surclasser responded positively to a bump in class to take top harness racing honors and produce the 11-1 upset in the co-featured $24,000 Open Trot at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Wednesday (May 23). Leaving from post three, Ricky Macomber Jr. settled Surclasser seventh along the rail while Trace Tetrick sent Jersey As to take the quick lead and dictate fractions of :27 and :55.

Fresh off back to back scores including a lifetime best in the Iggy Magoo Stake last week, Walter & Paige Paisley's up and coming sophomore Riccolo made it three straight harness racing wins to open his sophomore campaign as he posted a one-length decision in 1:57.0 while taking Wednesday's $12,000 Betzotic Stake for Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old trotting colts at Balmoral Park.

A pair of Illinois conceived and foaled harness racing stakes events shared top billing on Wednesday's (May 2) 10-race program at Balmoral Park.

Continuing an amazing comeback after an injury limited his five-year-old season to just one start, Shirley Le Vin's Park Lane Deputy dominated seven other Illinois conceived and foaled pacers as he cruised to a two and three quarter length victory in 1:51.1 for harness racing driver Mike Oosting in Saturday's $17,000 Rambling Willie Stake.

Two weeks after he won the $113,000 American-National 3-year-old colt trot, GJ Photo Victory was merely being jogged up to his engagement in an $8,000 non-winners contest at Balmoral Park until something his harness racing trainer had not experienced during his four decades of training occurred.

A pair of minor stakes events for Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-olds headlined another busy harness racing weekend at the Crete oval. On Saturday night, Sawgrass Farms Uncle Smoothie rallied from far back to take the $10,500 Crete Stake while Ciara Stables and John Carver's good looking filly No Respect cruised to an easy score in Sunday's $10,200 Beecher Stake.

Kay Willis and Brandy Pinske Stable's Fools Gold continued his impressive four-year-old campaign on Saturday night as he knocked off seven harness racing rivals in a blistering 1:48.4, making him the fastest pacer of the year here in the Prairie State.

A pair of Illinois conceived and foaled pacing stakes shared top billing on the Friday night harness racing card at Maywood Park as the "girls" battled in the $47,350 Violet Stake while their male counterparts knocked heads in the $52,500 Cardinal Stake.

The 2011 American National Stakes kicked off on Saturday night (August 27) at Balmoral Park with a pair of six-figure events for diagonally gaited three-year-olds. With a harness racing purse of $121,500 on the line a full field of 10 sophomore trotting fillies lined up in race four.

After a week of oppressive heat and humidity in the Chicagoland area the harness racing action on the track was just as hot as elimination's for next week's Southland Festival of Racing produced some very impressive performances from the state-bred set on a steamy Saturday night.

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