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The 2014 Illinois harness racing champions were announced at the USTA District 5 Awards Banquet in Springfield last Saturday. The Pacing Division went as I thought it would however I did have a blemish in my trotting selections. The USTA voters named Itzaziam as the 2014 Aged Trotting ICF Horse champion, correctly hitting the bull’s-eye on him. He made $142,025 racing mostly in New York at Yonkers and took a mark of 1:54 flat. I missed badly on the trotter. In fact I lost track of him had no idea just how well the son of Harry’s Star Ranger did in 2014. I do remember him when he raced mostly as the fairs for trainer Nick Prather as a 3-year-old and at the age of 5 (unraced as a 4-year-old), earning a little over $25,000 in his Illinois campaigns before being sold to east coast interests as a 6-year-old. Itzaziam is currently owned by Melissa Guido Stables and Howard Siotorff of New Jersey but raked in the bulk of his 2014 purse money for former Chicago circuit driver Pat Berry, who shared ownership of the now 7-year-old bred by Donald Longfellow of Chrisman, Illinois. Berry drove Itzaziam to $73,500 open trot stake victory last April. (see photo) As predicted the Roger Welch Stable’s Earndawg ($217,105) was named the 2014 ICF Harness Horse of the Year and the ICF 2-year-old colt pacing champion. Mr. Leland’s Filly($177,243) is the 2-year-old filly pace winner, while the 3-year-old pacing champion were Unlocked ($178,390) in the colt division and My Little Bit ($153,857) in the filly category. Not surprisingly Al’s Hammered ($198,670) and Let’s Go Higher ($201,505) took the aged horse and aged mare titles, respectively. On the trotting side, the 2-year-old colt honor went to Fox Valley Qatar ($84,215), the freshman filly prize to Fox Valley Yoko ($95,492) the 3-year-old colt crown to her older brother Fox Valley Veto, while Bailey’s Wish ($140,248) annexed the 3-year-old filly award. The Steve Searle Stable’s Ants Iner Pants ($58,627) was named ICF champion aged trotting mare while Fox Valley Standardbreds made a complete sweep of both the stallion and broodmare honors with Sportsmaster (Pacing Stallion), Pizzazzed (Trotting Stallion), Pacific Sister K (Pacing Broodmare) and Yankee Victory OM (Trotting Broodmare). Congratulations go out to the 2014 County Fair High Point Winners: 2-year-old colt pacer Frosty Dune, 2-year-old filly pacer Fox Valley Aubry, 2-year-old trotting colt Kiss My Pizzazzed, 2-year-old trotting filly High Class Lady, 3-year-old colt pacer Tower Power, 3-year-old filly pacer Syd’s Lollipop, 3-year-old colt trotter Battleshoe Crown and 3-year-old filly trotter E L Trixie. For the first time, the Harness Horse Youth Foundation selected an entire family—the Giberson’s (Nick, Amy, Madeline, and Ethan) of Spalding, IL—as the recipient of its 2014 Service to Youth Award, the organization’s highest honor. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

Super Night 2014 at BalmoralPark kicked off with a pair of trotting events for harness racing three-year-olds as the $100,000 Lady Ann Reed Stake and the $100,000 Su Mac Lad started the biggest night of racing for the state-bred set. It was only fitting that Super Night's leading reinsman, Hall of Famer Dave Magee piloted the winner of the opener as he guided James Bafia and Eugene White's Bailey's Wish to a neck victory in the Lady Ann Reed. The final time was 1:58.1.   Given a perfect steer despite leaving from post position nine the daughter of Southwind Breeze--Jen was able to work her way to the front after being parked through opening splits of 29.1 & 57.2.   "I was a little concerned and a little surprised we had to work that hard to make the front," said a relieved Magee. "Like most any horse she's best off a trip but that wasn't going to happen from the 9-hole tonight."   Continuing to roll along on the front end as the ladies passed the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.3 Bailey's Wish began to brace for the challenge of heavily favored Macie Rae (Ryan Anderson) who was out and rolling from third.   As the two hooked up with just over an eighth of a mile to go disaster struck for the favorite as she made a nasty break leaving Bailey's Wish alone on the front.   The Dirk Simpson miss then dug in gamely as she neared the wire, holding off a late bid in the passing lane from longshot Lora Lee Breeze for her fourth win of the season. Lora Lee Breeze was a hard charging second while Say No Mo (John De Long) was third.   "I knew my horse was going to try all the way down the lane but I really wasn't sure how much she had left when that horse came at her," said Magee. But the other filly made the break and my horse seemed to get more confidence at that point and she just kept going long enough to get there."   The second choice in the wagering, Bailey's Wish returned $8.00, $4.00 & $3.20 while running her career numbers to 9-8-3 in 26 starts with earnings of $238,438.   Magee was right back in the winner's circle in the Su Mac Lad picking up a late drive as Marcus Miller was delayed getting to Balmoral and making the most of it, notching his 31st career Super Night win by steering Donald Emond's Big Bill Breeze to a 2 ¾ length victory in 1:56.1.   Sent right to the front from post position six the gelded son of Southwind Breeze--Big Z Cornsilk proceeded to stroll through splits of 29.0, 58.4 & 1:27.0 while under very little pressure from the rest of the field.   "I was very pleased by the way the opening splits went out there," explained Magee. Once I got control of things I knew I could always let somebody and go and still get the good trip but we never had to."   Easily fending off a first over bid from heavy favorite Fox Valley Veto (John De Long), the Monte Gelrod trainee was pretty much under wraps as he pulled away from his nine rivals for his 12th win in 16 starts this year. Bobby B Breeze (Todd Warren) parlayed a perfect pocket sitting trip into a second place check while Tour Hall (Mike Brink) rallied to finish third.   After the win Magee was quick to sing the praises of Nick Prather who conditioned Big Bill Breeze up until his recent sale.   "Nick really did a great job with this horse, developing him, teaching him and getting him to race up to his abilities," said Magee. "Now Monte has continued with him and he's really a very nice and solid trotter."   Now sporting an impressive slate of 19-2-5 in 28 career trips postward with earnings of $102,616 Big Bill Breeze returned $8.80, $6.00 & $5.00.   Bailey's Wish and Dave Magee held on gamely to win the Lady Ann Reed.   Magee was right back in the winner's circle with Big Bill Breeze in the Su Mac Lad.   Tom Kelley

While the local harness racing focus is on Super Night, as well it should be, with those all-so-important stake eliminations on tap this weekend, this is also the month Balmoral Park begins to host the American Nationals, its most prestigious events of the year. Elimination races, if necessary, for the 2-year-old American National trots are a week from Wednesday (Sept. 10) and with that in mind trainer Gerald Hansen sends out his Hanover champion Cruisin Valor in this Wednesday’s fourth race. The Race Office handicapped the freshman trotting race by season earnings and Crusin Valor was assigned the outside 10-hole. After a poor showing in his pari-mutuel at Balmoral in early July, the Yankee Valor gelding, romped in an outing on the Urbana Fair Track on July 22 and then was much the best in the $29,800 Hanover on the big track in Crete, IL, drawing off by five lengths in 2:00.1 while well in hand to driver Brian Carpenter. Cruisin Valor followed that stakes victory with a pair of valiant efforts at both State Fairs, dropping photos to Captain Greedy, first at Springfield in 1:59 and then in a division of Du Quoin’s Darn Safe in 1:59.3. I caught up with Carpenter over the Labor Day weekend and asked the 54-year-old veteran driver for the low-down on Cruisin Valor, owned by Illinoisans Shelley Steele (Monee), Payton Ode (Joliet) and the Sam Lilly Racing Stable (Downers Grove). “I helped Gerry break and train Cruisin Valor,” said Brian. “He also had another 2-year-old trotter who is a three-quarter brother to Southern Rocketop, a very good trotter who I used to drive. “When the time came to qualify both trotters I was given Southern Special and Casey (Leonard) drove Cruisin Valor. However, the horse went out and lost his mind in that qualifier and tore up a race bike. “The horse went on the (steward’s list) and Gerry called me and asked me the re-qualify the horse, which I did. While he didn’t have any trouble out there he was a handful. For whatever reason the horse didn’t have the same temperament when he came back to me that he had earlier. “But we worked with him and while you still have to be careful with him scoring him down, in a race he has minded his manners and has been a gentleman. He’s a pretty quick colt. “He raced well at both on the dirt tracks at Springfield and Du Quoin but I think he’s best at Balmoral. “We’re still making some tweets with him to hopefully give him that little extra at crunch time so maybe a photo will go his way next time.” Cruisin Valor has made almost $30,000 in his freshman season and still ahead for him is the $90,000 (est.) American National 2-Year-Old Colt Trot on Wednesday, Sept. 17 and the $100,000 Lincoln Land ICF stake on Sunday, October 3.    County Fair Report CHRISTIAN AND TRI COUNTY FAIR AT PANA      Sunday Afternoon FIRST: $6,039 Big Ten 2-Year-Old Trot: Horse (Driver)                                     Time (Track Fast) Tricky Nick (Nick Prather)                             2:05.3 Trainer: Nick Prather. Owners: Megan Rogers Racing Stable; Amy and Derek Jacobus. SECOND: $900 2-Year-Old Trot: Ky Liz (Dillon Cox)                                        2:09.1 Trainer: Rushun Trigg. Owners: Michael Summers and Roshun Trigg. THIRD: $3,386 Big Ten 3-Year-Old Filly Trot: E L Trixie (Steven Renard)                             2:07 Trainer: Steven Renard. Owner: Steven Renard. FOURTH: $3,152 Big Ten 3-Year-Old Colt Trot: Battleshoe Crown (Buddy Simpson)  2:04.4 Trainer: Clay Simpson. Owners: Buddy and Clay Simpson. FIFTH: $900 3-Year-Old Pace: Go Run N Telithat (John Roberts)                  2:02 Trainer: Mike Titus. Owners: Mike Titus, Mitchell Titus and Dennis Wright. SIXTH: $1,832 Big Ten 3-Year-Old Filly Pace: Listen To The Beat (Freddie Patton Jr.)         2:01.4 Trainer: Gregory Tillman. Owner: Bridgette Williams. SEVENTH: $1,832 Big Ten 3-Year-Old Filly Pace: Duneside Chella (Nick Prather)                      2:02.2 Trainer: Nick Prather. Owners: Derek and Amy Jacobus. EIGHTH: $3,412 Big Ten 3-Year-Old Colt Pace: Back At Cha (Tom Walker)                            1:59.3 Trainer: Mark Walker. Owners: Karen and Larry Walker. CHRISTIAN AND TRI COUNTY FAIR AT PANA      Monday Afternoon FIRST: $1,000 Non-Winners of $2,000 L.T. Trot: Horse (Driver)                                     Time (Track Fast) Forest Raider (Dakota Birch)                         2:12 Trainer: Joan Brown. Owners: Joan and David Brown. SECOND: $1,500 Free For All Trot: LW Jaynie Flyer (Cassidy Melloy)                 2:03 Trainer: Cassidy Melloy. Owner: Cassidy Melloy. THIRD: $3,645 Big Ten 2-Year-Old Filly Pace: Fox Valley Aubry (Mike Rogers)                   2:01.1 Trainer: Freddie Patton Jr. Owner: Ron Phillips and Jesse Ferge. FOURTH: $3,524 Big Ten 2-Year-Old Filly Pace: Frosty Dune (Hart Walker)                             2:06 Trainer: Robert Walker. Owners: Robyn Klinger; Hart and Robert Walker. FIFTH: $1,125 Free For All Pace: Uneek Shuffle (Dakota Birch)                        2:03.1 Trainer: Dakota Birch. Owners: Dakota Birch and Eric Lamay. SIXTH: $1,125 Free For All Pace: Just Us (C. Alan Finn)                                    2:01.1 Trainer: C. Alan Finn. Owner: C. Alan Finn. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

Going into the Du Quoin State Fair it appeared that a couple of the upcoming Super Night championships pretty much looked like slam-dunks but in horse racing things can change in a hurry, and they did in the ICF 3-year-old colt and gelding trotting division. Fox Valley Veto had dominated the group, winning every major ICF stake including the Mike’s A Mystery against older ICF foes but the Curt Grummel trainee was passed at Du Quoin in the stretch by the 9-1 longshot Nino Marino, raising the hopes his trainer, and others in the division, for the upcoming Su Mac Lad Final on Super Night. “I have to admit I’m more optimistic about our chances for Super Night now than I was going into the State Fairs,’ said Randy Tuftie, the trainer of Nino Marino. “I knew we had a good trotter but I didn’t know if we could beat Fox Valley Veto but we did.”   In his freshman season Nino Marino won over $26,000 for his owners Ron Marino of Ft. Myers, Florida and Dave Herman of Ottawa, winning his Lincoln Land elimination but the gelding began his 3-year-old season winless in his first 12 starts. “He started off as a 2-year-old slowly going through some growing issues but he got good as the season went on.” continued Tuftie. ‘”Nino Marino is a big horse and he also started slowly this year. He raced better at Springfield when he was fourth and I thought he would be good for Du Quoin. “It turned out he was better than just good. Nino Marino can leave pretty well and he’ll settle into a hole and race well that way. At Du Quoin he got a good trip behind Fox Valley Veto and when Dean pulled him, Nino Marino looked that horse right in the eye and went pass him. “As I’ve told my owners, if we stick around you never know what’s going to happen. Going into Du Quoin Fox Valley Veto looked unbeatable but you never know what’s going to happen in a horse race.” The ICF 3-year-old colt division may be of the eight Super Night championships that may not be need eliminations next weekend. Elims weren’t necessary at Springfield and only seven trotters went postward in the Pronto Don Championship at Du Quoin. A $1,500 starting fee is needed to enter Wednesday morning for the Su Mac Lad and the Lady Ann Reed for 3-year-old ICF trotting fillies. The starting fess for the 2 and 3-year-old championships is $2,000. The Tony Maurello and Lorna Propes for older ICF pacers both have $1,250 starting fees. The circuit’s leading driver Casey Leonard brought home five winners last night. Trotter Bought: The ICF 3-year-old trotter Big Bill Breeze, successful in his last 10 straight races on the Illinois Fair Circuit, was sold last week by Amy and Derek Jacobus and trainer Nick Prather to Donald Edmond of Taunton, Massachusetts. Big Bill Breeze, winner of 17 of 25 lifetime starts, is eligible for the $100,000 Su Mac Lad on Super Night (September 13). Entries for Illinois most anticipated night of racing will be taken this Wednesday morning at Balmoral Park. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

After a big Saturday night of stakes action it was time for freshmen trotters to bring the Southland Festival of Racing to a close with a pair of big money events for Illinois conceived and foaled youngsters sharing top billing on the Sunday night card in Crete.               The ladies kicked off the Sunday night stake action as a field of eight were sent postward in the $44,000 Fox Valley Flan Stake.   After coming close in each of her first three career starts Homer Hochstetler & Robert Buddig’s Persuasive Look picked the right night to break into the win column as she shook loose late and then proceeded to overpower her foes in the lane in route to a one-length victory in 1:58.2 for driver Casey Leonard.             Patiently handled by Balmoral’s leading reinsman, the home-bred daughter of Powerful Emotion—Black N Bluegenes left alertly, then settled into a pocket spot as Jazzie Mermaid (Nick Prather) led the field through an opening quarter in 29.1.             Electing to sit inside as Bi Polar Rose (Travis Seekman) stormed to the front to lead the field through middle splits of 59.4 & 1:29.3 Persuasive Look wound up getting shuffled all the way back to fifth as the field turned for home.   That’s when Leonard began to work his magic with the Homer Hochstetler trained miss. After angling his filly to the outside, Leonard then knifed through a small seam between horses and a fit and fresh Persuasive Look rewarded her pilot as she charged home in 28.1 to secure her maiden breaking victory. Fox Valley Yoko (John De Long), the 6-5 favorite in the wagering despite drawing the outside post turned in a big effort to finish second while 32-1 outsider Fox Valley Harrah (Matt Krueger) rallied to be third.     Sent off as the third choice in the wagering Persuasive Look returned $7.00, $3.20 & $2.80 while moving her record to 1-1-2 in 4 career starts with earnings of $25,050.   The final stake race of the weekend was the $48,000 Plesac Stake for two-year-old trotting colts and this race wound up being another showcase for owner-trainer Herman Wheeler’s division leader Fox Valley Qatar as the good looking gelding kept his perfect record intact with an effortless four-length victory in 1:59.1 with Todd Warren in the bike. After getting away an unhurried fifth as RT Habanero (Robert Taylor) led the field through an opening quarter in 30.0, Warren moved to the outside with the altered son of Pizzazzed—Armbro Bahrain and quickly rolled to the top, leading the field through splits of 59.4 & 1:30.   Leaving nine rivals in his wake, Fox Valley Qatar set sail for home leaving no doubt as to who was the best in this event as he sealed the deal with a 29.1 final quarter to notch his fourth straight victory.  Southrncomfortzone (John De Long) uncorked a belated rally to finish in the runner-up role while his entry mate Fox Valley Theboss (Dave Magee) was a distant third, 10 ¾ lengths behind the winner.   Sporting a perfect four for four record with earnings of $29,625, Fox Valley Qatar was bet as though defeat was out the question returning just $2.60, $2.20 & $2.10.      Live racing continues at Balmoral Park on Wednesday, July 30th,  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

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

It’s the second consecutive evening of Super Night eliminations races on Sunday and if I had to pick out two “Locks” they would be King Mufasa in his Su Mac Lad elim and Mystical Victress in her Lorna Propes division. Losing to another Illinois bred horse is just something these two talented horses very rarely do. King Mufasa brings an eight race winning streak into the first race and he’s 10- for 11 since joining the Mike Brink Stable for his 3-year-old campaign. The gelding’s lone 2013 loss came against older trotters early in the season when he was prepping for a stake and drew an outside post. Mystical Victress has lost once to an ICF mare this year, dropping a head decision to Rev Me Up in the $20,000 Sue Fee Stake at Balmoral, and that was the six-year-old mare’s her first loss in state-bred competition since late August of 2010 at Du Quoin in her sophomore campaign. Mystical Victress had won 11 consecutive races against ICF distaffers going into the Sue Fee stake and currently has strung together four straight victories and three were in open company. King Mufasa got his eighth straight win at Du Quoin when Skyline Road was disqualified to second when he went on the pace to get past the Mike Brink trainee. It was the third straight time Skyline Road has been DQ’s for switching over to the pace. King Mufasa didn’t look sharp at all at Du Quoin and I asked Brink if he knew why? “If I had to come with an excuse I would say it was the race track,” Mike answered. “It wasn’t very good and that wasn’t just my opinion. A lot of trainers felt that way. It was too deep. “King Mufasa isn’t a big horse and I think he just struggled on that deep track. A horse doesn’t trot in ‘53’ one week and the next start later has trouble going in ’58’ without a reason. “I had blood work done on him and it all came back clear. He trained really well this week and I think he’ll be just fine for Sunday’s elimination.”- Brink will depend on his help this weekend at Balmoral while he recuperates from reconstructive shoulder surgery in his in Springfield. “Four weeks ago this past week a horse I was driving at the Mt. Sterling Fair went down and I busted up my shoulder pretty bad in the accident. The clavicle was broken in four places and the shoulder was pulled out of its socket. “I’ve got four weeks of physical therapy ahead of me and I’ve been feeling weak so I’ll stay home and take it easy this weekend. Hopefully I’ll feel good enough to go to Balmoral for Super Night.” Brink is having a career year. The 60-year-old veteran had a season-best high 53 racing wins going into this weekend while his horses have won over $482,000, a single-season best. Only a fifth place or better finish is needed to make the Su Mac Lad Final. The third race second elim pits the State Fair runner-up Skyline Road (2-1, Marcus Miller), the consistent Dirk Simpson trainee Powerful Poe (7-2, Todd Warren), the Pronto Don third-place finisher Fox Valley Legend (9-2, Dale Hiteman) and seven other ICF hopefuls. Only the tenth place finisher in the second race Lady Ann Reed elimination won’t move on to the $106,000 final on Super Night. The first nine finishers will advance to meet Divination who drew a bye. Three fillies, Sara The Spy, Little Ms Chrissy and Just For Fum, all have season earnings higher than Divination but since they haven’t raced since August 24, their trainers declined the bye and elected to partake in Sunday’s single elimination. Trainer Nick Prather accepted a bye for Divination who stayed sharp for the Lady Ann Reed with a win on September 1 on the Pana fair track. Mystical Victress needs a third or higher finish to be assured of going after her third consecutive Lorna Propes crown on Super Night. She opens at 8-5 in the second Propes elim. Tamarac Sassy (Casey Leonard) is the 3-1 programmed choice in the fourth race first split, while Brink’s Just By Design is the 3-1 favorite in the sixth race third elimination. “Just By Design is very sharp right now,” said Brink. “I call her a perfect ‘Dave Magee horse’ because he can drive her anyway he wants, depending how the race unfolds, just the way Dave likes to compete.” By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

Harness Racing at the Du Quoin State Fair begins Friday evening with a trio of $9,000 County Fair Championships heading up the 10-race program at gets under way at 7 o’clock. The 2-year-old colt and gelding trot championship, the last race on the card, brings out Come And Tell Pap (Isaac Love) and Big Bill Breeze (Mike Oosting), who have each won five times on the County Fair Circle and have traded wins against each other. Come And Tell Pap got the best of Big Bill Breeze on July 19 at Petersburg by almost three lengths and then 10 days later Big Bill Breeze returned the favor by drawing off in a Illinois Stallion stake at Charleston, leaving Come And Tell Pap nine lengths behind. Big Bill Breeze, a Nick Prather trainee, was the runner-up in Springfield to eventual champion Tour Hall in an elimination race but missed the final due to sickness. John D Finn’s Finnster, who owns a win against both Come And Tell Pap and Big Bill Breeze, has shown ability when he stays flat. The field is completed with Bully Bust Boy, Battleshoe Crown, Swiss Mocha and Bands Jeeves. The first County Fair Championship to be decided Friday night is the third race for 3-year-old ICF filly trotters. The J D Finn Stable’s High Stepper, a seven-time season winner, is the likely favorite. The daughter of High Falls won her season debut at Hoosier Park with a 2:01.4 mile in the slop and then campaigned at Balmoral before going on the County Fair Circuit. High Stepper will face Foxy Polar, Elegant Rosie, Accokeek Aphrodite, Bands Dee Dee and Sherry’s Band, a six-time season winner for Freddie Patton Jr. Patton will guide the morning line favorite Bands Giant Star in the seventh race 2-year-old filly trot championship. She’ll race as an entry with Bands Fancy. Both fillies are owned and bred by Flacco Family Farms of Alexis, Illinois. Bands Giant Star has won 4 of her first 7 career starts but did draw the 8-slot in the 9-horse field. Macie Rae, who went off stride in the Springfield State Fair Final after third place finish in her elimination, has made five stops in a winner’s circle in her first season of racing for trainer Mike Rogers who will drive the daughter of Powerful Emotion. Landing the rail makes Macie Rae a solid threat if she can mind her racing manners. Looking to pull off an upset are Sweet Bella Breeze, Shady Maple Feisty, Psychicfinn, Dancingthebreeze and Pistol Annie. Mike Oosting, Todd Warren, John Roberts and Kyle Wilfong all are competing Friday night at Du Quoin and are off their drives at Maywood Park where the feature race is a $10,000 high-level conditioned pace. The 11th race is headed up by Firstclassallthway (programmed 2-1, John De Long), Raging Cam (7-2, Dale Hiteman) and Kansas Wildcat (5-1, Brian Carpenter). It also is the first leg of the track’s 50 cent Pick 4 with a guaranteed $10,000 pool and a less than usual takeout of 15 per cent. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

Harness racing at the Springfield State Fair gets underway this afternoon with a 10-race card mostly for ICF 2-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. First post is 12 noon. Elimination races for next week’s $45,000 Illinois State Fair Colt Stake Championships were needed for each of the freshman trot and pace events. A pair of $10,000 ICF championships will be also decided. Squaring off in the eighth race trotting stake showdown (program odds listed) are Westbound Darin (6-1), Ants Iner Pants (12-1), Maplegrove Shaelyn (5-1), Miss Kylie (8-1), Fox Valley Sienna (8-1), B Fly McQueen (4-1) and Ruby’s And Pearls (3-1). Back to defend her title in the 10th race Illinois State Fair Filly and Mare Championship is Fox Valley Touche (3-1) and the Joel Smith trainee landed the rail in the nine-horse field. Last summer the Sportsmaster mare took her lifetime mark of 1:50.4 in this Springfield stake. Taking on Fox Valley Touche are TJ’s April Angel (6-1), Just By Design (4-1), Nina Coleada (10-1), Cole Blue (12-1), Willow Gram (8-1), Sleazy Does It (8-1), Pardon (5-1) and Miss Kelley Lynne (12-1). With six starters in 4each of the 2-year-old colt eliminations only one youngster in each split won’t advance to that $45,000 final. The opening elim has Polar’s Big Spender (10-1), Finnister (6-1), Rory Borealis (8-1), Gray N Cloudy (4-1), Big Bad Bob (3-1) and Just Leo (5-1). The second race lines up with Nono Marino (10-1), Tour Hall (3-1), Bobby B Breeze (2-1), Fox Valley Veto (5-1), Big Bill Breeze (4-1) and Battleshoe Crown (6-1). The first five finishers in the fourth and fifth race eliminations for 2-year-old trotting fillies return for next Thursday’s $45,000 championship. With Fox Valley Flan champion Vienna not at Springfield, the pre-stake favoritism looks to be between “Flan” runner-up Bailey’s Wish for Springfield based trainer Dirk Simpson, and S V Spirit, a three-time victor in five career starts for trainer Roger Welch who wasn’t eligible to the Fox Valley Flan. Eliminations for the freshman filly pace are races 6 and 7 with the second division pitting recent Hanover stake runner-up Western Dame (3-1, John De Long) against Loyal Opposition champ Thesleazyprincess (4-1, Mike Oosting). They’ll be challenged by Fox Valley Thyme (12-1), Kiss This Perch (8-1), Fox Valley Flora (6-1), First Lady’s Z Tam (5-1), My Girl Pippa (8-1) and Fox Valley Roxanne (10-1). The first filly pace elim 3-1 favorite is My Little Bit (p.p. 6, Casey Leonard), runner-up in the Loyal Opposition who hails from the always strong Erv Miller Stable. She’s owned by Obermeier & Quaid Stables of Evergreen Park, Illinois. Also looking to finish in the top five and advance to next week’s final are Ms Solongbyebye (10-1), Fox Valley Shiver (6-1), Fox Valley Amanda (4-1), Perfectly Clear (6-1), Amazing Summer (5-1), Rds Master Revrac (8-1). April May Dune (12-1) and Ineverkissandtell (12-1). A single elimination will be raced in the 2-year-old colt pacing division where only the 11th place finisher won’t make that final. Posts 1 through 10 will be manned by Fancy Creek Mitch (10-1), Fox Valley Cupid (8-1), Badger Quinn (3-1), Traffic Cop (5-1), Duneside Mike (12-1), Sky Cam (12-1), Fox Valley Deuce (8-1), PQ Three (4-1), Unlocked (6-1), and Rio’s Z Tam (8-1). Fox Valley Van starts in the second tier at program odds of 12-1. Unlocked (Dave Magee) is unbeaten in five career starts that include a trio of stake wins in June at Balmoral and the July 5 Fox Valley Barzgar at Maywood. Nick Prather trains the Duneside Perch colt for Chicago owner Megan Rogers. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association County Fair Report EFFINGHAM COUNTY FAIR AT ALTAMONT    Thursday Afternoon, August 8 FIRST: Free For All Pace, 1st Div, Purse $980: Horse (Driver)                                               Time (Track Fast) Annrenee (Jared Finn)                                           2:03.2 Trainer: Dane May. Owner: Dane May. SECOND: Free For All Pace, 2nd Div, Purse $980: Richard Traci (Jared Finn)                                     2:02 Trainer: Dane May. Owner: Dane May. THIRD: Free For All Pace, 3rd Div, Purse $980: Spill The Beans (Dillon Cox)                                 2:01.3 Trainer: Mike Cox. Owner: Mike Cox. FOURTH:  Non-Winners of $1,000 or 2 Races LT Trot, Purse $1,320: So Photogenic (Jerome Daniels)                          2:05.4 Trainer: Jerome Daniels. Owners: Jerome Daniels and Cornelius Cavett. FIFTH:  Non-Winners of $1,000 or 2 Races LT Pace, 1st Div, Purse $1,020: Frontier Rose (Harold Finn Jr.)                             2:06.2 Trainer: Philip Finn Jr. Owner: Philip Finn Jr. SIXTH:  Non-Winners of $1,000 or 2 Races LT Pace, 2nd Div, Purse $1,000: Wings (Merle Finn Jr.)                                            2:06.3 Trainer: Merle Finn Jr. Owner: Merle Finn Jr. SEVENTH:  Non-Winners of $1,000 or 2 Races LT Pace, 3rd Div, Purse $980: Who Called Kellie (Ronnie Gillespie)                  2:05.3 Trainer: Ronnie Gillespie. Owner: John Carver. EIGHTH: Non-Winners of $1,000 or 2 Races LT Pace, 4th Div, Purse $980: American Desire (Ronnie Gillespie)                    2:03 Trainer: Ronnie Gillespie. Owner: John Carver: NINTH: Amateur Driving Race, Purse $580: AR Sissy (Raymond Morgan)                                2:02.3 Trainer: Michele Morgan. Owners: Michele Morgan, Raymond Morgan, Janet Betley and Todd Weinmann.

The first pair of major stakes race for ICF 2-year-old trotters—the $50,000 Fox Valley Flan for fillies and the $50,000 Plesac for colts—head up Wednesday’s mid-week program at Balmoral Park. Since eliminations weren’t needed for either stake or a prep race wasn’t written for these inexeprience freshmen, both horsemen and bettors alike don’t have much of a gauge on both trotting stakes which will go as races 4 and 5 on the card. The 7-2 second morning line favorite in the Plesac is Tour Hall (Dave Magee), winner of the Physic Spirit stake some three weeks ago. However the Mike Brink trainee and Bobby B Breeze (4-1, Todd Warren), the July 10 runner-up, have each had just that one start going into this major ICF first season stake. “Of course like everybody else who has a horse in the race I wanted to race Tour Hall in either in elimination or a prep for this stake,” said Brink. “I wanted to give him a little more education, especially when you’re going for $50,000. “So without an elimination or prep we’re going into this major stake kind of cold with this young horse. He’ll have just one start, and like some of the others in his stake, it came three weeks ago. “Tour Hall is the second foal of that mare (Broadway And Fifth) that I bought. He is a nice horse and he’s been that way from day one. He hasn’t done much wrong,” continued the veteran Springfield based conditioner. “I told Davey when he drove him in his first start to take an easy with him from out of the gate and from then on he was on his own. When Dave came back after the race he said ‘He’s not a very big horse but he is fast.’ “In his only start Tour Hall was far back (7th, almost 10 lengths behind) and he trotted a 58 last half to win. Davey told me he was just trying to steer him and never asked the horse for anything.  So like I said, I think he’s a good colt. “I’ve had offers to sell him but I’ve opted not to at this time. We like him but with just one start we don’t know yet just what we have. I think he’s a player (in his division). I think his best trait is that he doesn’t know how fast he can go.” Tour Hall will have an entry-mate, Just Leo, when he leaves from the 8-slot and also takes on Fox Valley Vero (8-1), Battleshoe Crown (8-1), Gottalovaredhead (20-1), Gray N Cloudy (the 3-1 programed favorite), Rory Borealis (10-1) and Polars Big Spender (20-1). Buddy and Clay Simpson’s Battleshoe Crown and Polars Big Spender will test Balmoral’s big track for the first time. Vienna will be making her seventh career start as the 2-1 favorite in the Fox Valley Flan. The Bob Phillips trainee was an easy winner of the July 7 Vaporize with Wilfong prior to being second to S V Spirit (not eligible to the Flan) in a Balmoral race a week ago Vienna has seven challengers—Reina Bonita (8-1), High Balance (12-1), BS Casino Cowgirl (9-2), Bailey’s Wish (3-1), Fox Valley Lotus (10-1), Fox Valley Hosana (10-1) and Wacko (5-1)—and between them they have made only a total of 12 starts. Unpredictable is probably the best way to describe Wednesday’s two $50,000 ICF trotting stakes. $40,000 Pick 5 Pool: Balmpral’s 50 cent Pick 5 wager was not hit on Sunday night so a carryover of $10,288 will be added to Wednesday’s Pick 5. The guaranteed wagering pool will be $40,000: County Fair Report CLARK COUNTY FAIR at MARSHALL Saturday Evening July 27 Results FIRST: Illini 2-Year-Old Filly Pace, Purse $3,424: Horse (Driver)                                               Time (Track Fast) Fox Valley Corinne (Ronnie Gillespie)                2:02.1 Trainer: Roshun Trigg. Owner: Timothy Williams. SECOND: Illini 2-Year-Old Colt Pace, Purse $3,447: Whawillhebe (Richard Fagan)                              2:06 Trainer: Trenton Watson. Owner: Brenda, Trenton and Baden Watson. THIRD: Illini 3-Year-Old Trot, Purse $6,014: Powerful Anthony (Dou Graham)                         2:04.1 Trainer: Doug Graham. Owner: Doug Graham. FOURTH: Topline, Two-Year-Old Trot, Purse $2,500: Morgan’s Majestic (Ronnie Gillespie)                  2:09.1 Trainer: Jeremy Jones. Owner: Gloria Gillis. FIFTH: Topline, Three-Year-Old & Up Trot, Purse $2,500: Skyline Happy (J D Finn)                                       2:01.2 Trainer: J D Finn. Owners: J D and Brent Finn. SIXTH: Topline, Two-Year-Old Pace, Purse $2,500: Liberal (Cornelius Cavett)                                      2:05.3 Trainer: Cornelius Cavett. Owners: Cedric Daniels and Christopher Spann. SEVENTH: Illini 2-Year-Old Trot, Purse $6,204: Phychicfinn (J D Finn)                                           2:12.1 Trainer: J D Finn. Owner: Mark Finn. EIGHTH: Illini 3-Year-Old Pace, Purse $6,036: Kittitas (Tom T. Tetrick)                                            2:02.3 Trainer: Tom D. Tetrick. Owners: Mary and Tom D. Tetrick. NINTH: Topline, Three-Year-Old & Up Pace, Purse $2,500: B C’s Bad Cat (Michael Johnson)                        2:02.2 Trainer: Michael Johnson. Owners: Gary Crumrin and Mike Davison. WHITE COUNTY FAIR at CARMI Sunday Evening July 28 Results FIRST: ECS Three-Year-Old Colt Trot, Purse $3,220: Horse (Driver)                                               Time (Track Fast) Master Of Excuses (Marcus Turner)                     2:02.2 Trainer: Ronald Knupp. Owner: Ronald Knupp. SECOND: ECS Three-Year-Old Filly Trot, Purse $3,110: High Stepper (J D Finn)                                         2:04.2 Trainer: J D Finn. Owners: Mary Jeffers and Adele Everett. THIRD: ECS Three-Year-Old Colt Pace, Purse $3,050: Tim’s Finale (Antonio Love)                                   1:59.4 Trainer: Timothy Barbre. Owners: Rick, Vernon, Gary and Edwin Barbre. FOURTH: ECS Three-Year-Old Filly Pace, Purse $3,200: Uneek Shuttle (Harold Finn Jr.)                            2:02.4 Trainer: Dakota Birch. Owners: Dakota Birch and Eric Lamay. FIFTH: ICF Four-Year-Olds & Up Pace, 1st Div, Purse $3,500: Mighty Oak Perfect (Marcus Turner)                    2:00 Trainer: Marcus Turner. Owner: Terry Wilson/ SIXTH: ICF Four-Year-Olds & Up Pace, 2nd Div, Purse $3,500: Tinkers Dam (Mike Knicley)                                   2:01.4 Trainer: Mike Knicley. Owner: Randall Denham. SEVENTH: Non-Winners $5,000 Lifetime Trot, Purse $800: Anita’s Dream (Donald Bryant)                             2:08.4 Trainer: Donald Bryant. Owner: Donald Bryant. EIGHTH: Non-Winners $15,000 Lifetime Pace, 1st Div, Purse $800: Jazmin Mykal (Larry L. Ward)                                2:07.1 Trainer: Larry L. Ward. Owner: Larry L. Ward. NINTH: Non-Winners $15,000 Lifetime Pace, 2nd Div, Purse $800: Allstar Gal (J D Finn)                                               2:04.3 Trainer: Gary Gorrell. Owner: Gary Gorrell. TENTH: Non-Winners $15,000 Lifetime Pace, 1st Div, Purse $800: Dusty Dunes (H. Joe Haught)                               2:04.3 Trainer: H. Joe Haught. Owner: H. Joe Haught. COLE COUNTY FAIR at CHARLESTON Monday Evening July 29 Results FIRST: ICF Four-Year-Olds & Up Filly Pace, Purse $3,700: Horse (Driver)                                               Time (Track Fast) Mystical MJ (Tom Simmons)                                  2:00.3 Trainer: Tom Simmons. Owner: Clinard Properties. SECOND: ICF Four-Year-Olds & Up Colt Pace, Purse $3,500: Fox Valley Barbosa (Jared Finn)                          1:58.2 Trainer: Ray Hanna. Owners: Ray Hanna and Jim Edgar. THIRD: Illinois Stallion Stakes Two-Year-Old Filly Trot, 1st Div, Purse $6,175: Say No More (Dirk Simpson)                                 2:06.2 Trainer: Dirk Simpson. Owners: Dr. Patrick Graham, Flacco Family Farms and Dirk Simpson Stable. FOURTH: Illinois Stallion Stakes Two-Year-Old Filly Trot, 2nd Div, Purse $6,175: Bands Pippa (Dirk Simpson)                                 2:06.4 Trainer: Dirk Simpson. Owners: Sam Daddono, Flacco Family Farms and Dirk Simpson Stable. FIFTH: Illinois Stallion Stakes Two-Year-Old Colt Trot, Purse $11,750: Big Bill Breeze (Nick Prather)                                2:04.1 Trainer: Nick Prather. Owners: Derek Jacobus and Nick Prather. SIXTH: Illinois Stallion Stakes Two-Year-Old Filly Pace, 1st Div, Purse $6,175: Kiss This Perch (J D Finn)                                     2:01.2 Trainer: J D Finn. Owner: Sharon Finn. SEVENTH: Illinois Stallion Stakes Two-Year-Old Filly Pace, 2nd Div, Purse $6,175: My Girl Pippa (Ronnie Gillespie)                          2:01.2 Trainer: Ronnie Gillespie. Owners: Ron Phillips, John Carver and Jesse Ferge. EIGHTH: Illinois Stallion Stakes Two-Year-Old Colt Pace, 1st Div, Purse $6,175: Tower Power (Freddie Patton Jr.)                         2:05.2 Trainer: Freddie Patton. Owner: Marvin Kendrick. NINTH: Illinois Stallion Stakes Two-Year-Old Colt Pace, 2nd Div, Purse $6,175: Unlocked (Nick Prather)                                         2:02.1 Trainer: Nick Prather. Owner: Megan Rogers. TENTH: Amateur Pace, Purse $620: Goose On The Rocks (Jazmin Arnold)                2:02.2 Trainer: Jared Seekman. Owners: Tina and Joe Seekman. BROWN COUNTY FAIR at MOUNT STERLING Monday Evening July 29 Results FIRST: Two and Three-Year-Old Open Trot, Purse $1,000: Horse (Driver)                                               Time (Track Fast) Powerful Goddess (Mike Cox) $3.40                    2:06 Trainer: Mike Cox. Owners: Jerry Graham and Mystical Marker Farms. SECOND: Two and Three-Year-Old Open Trot, Purse $1,000: Deacons Valley (Paul Cavett) $5.00                    2:05.3 Trainer: Paul Cavett. Owners: Ron Phillips and John Carver. THIRD: Maiden Pace, Purse $1,000: Kay’s Lucky Day (Paul Cavett) $3.00                   2:04.1 Trainer: Michele Morgan. Owners: Michele Morgan, Janet Betley and Raymond Morgan. FOURTH: Non-Winners of Three Races, Pace, Purse $1,000: Pita (Jerome Daniels) $9.00                                  2:05.1 Trainer: Dirk Simpson. Owner: Simpson Racing Stable. FIFTH: MWIRA Three-Year-Old Filly Trot, Purse $3,173: Fox Valley Yavonne (Vince Espinosa) $3.40     2:03.2 Trainer: Curt Grummel. Owner: Dr. Patrick Graham. SIXTH: MWIRA Three-Year-Old Colt Trot, Purse $3,441: Bandslam (Vince Espinosa) $11.40                     2:04 Trainer: Curt Grummel. Owner: Dr. Patrick Graham. SEVENTH: MWIRA Two-Year-Old Colt Pace, Purse $3,397: Back At Cha (Tom Walker) $5.00                          2:08.1 Trainer: Mark Walker. Owners: Karen and Larry Walker. EIGHTH: MWIRA Two-Year-Old Filly Pace, Purse $3,374: Fox Valley Twist (Jamaica Patton) $5.20             2:05.3 Trainer: Robert Walker. Owners: Hart Walker, Robyn Mullink, Homer Henke and Robert Walker. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

The USTA's Back To The Track weekend kicked off on Friday night and along with food, fun and some great giveaways, Maywood Park celebrated the harness racing event with a pair of state-bred stakes events featuring both the young and older stars of the Illinois Conceived and Foaled circuit.

Bart Seales good looking youngster Unlocked made it three in a row to open his harness racing career capturing Friday night's $12,000 Enzo The Baker Stake at Maywood Park in 1:58.2 over a track listed as fast despite a late afternoon thunderstorm that swept through the area.

Big Daddy Woo Woo had the harness racing driver with the right philosophy in the $120,000 Tony Maurello. Dismissed at 23/1, Big Daddy Woo Woo, from Nick Prather's barn, was driven by Ridge Warren. The key was finding early position. Ride Warren left with Big Daddy Woo Woo and was able to duck and be sixth passing a 27.4 opening quarter.

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