STICKNEY, IL - The harness racing ladies were the focus on Friday evening at Hawthorne as divisions of the Ohyouprettything and Pretty Direct Pacing Series took place. The Ohyouprettything went in four divisions and was for fillies and mares that had not won two pari-mutuel races or $10,000 lifetime as of December 1, 2015. The Pretty Direct was also for the females, non-winners of five pari-mutuel races or $25,000 lifetime as of December 1, 2015. The opener on Friday was the first division of the Ohyouprettything series as Flight on Time was sent off as the choice. Much like Thursday's card, speed did not hold though as Tamarac Smoochie settled behind the early pace and found room in the stretch to win going away. Driven by Casey Leonard, The Ft Apache Hanover mare was 5-1 and covered the mile in 1:58.3. A Very Nice Dragon was second and Going Shooten finished third. The second division of the Ohyouprettything was a very tight finish and proved to be some tense moments for those playing the favorite. A big late wager pushed Mystical Nectar down to 1-5 favoritism. She tipped out late in the lane and moved late, but just held on to win by a head over Backwoods Barbie. Simon Allard drove the Charley Barley mare for trainer Tyler Nostadt as they covered the mile in 1:56.4. Nashville Nasty rallied late to finish third. The Pretty Direct Pacing Series kicked off in race 3 on the Friday Hawthorne card as a field of seven lined up. Colorful Sky left and set the early fractions as she tried to back down the pace. The field bunched at the top of the stretch as Casey Leonard and favorite Fox Valley Gypsy angled out from sixth and began to rally. The Yankee Skyscraper filly got up in time to win in 1:55.3. Fox Valley Brooke was second while Addie Rose finished third. The third division of the Ohyouprettything Pacing Series proved to be another race where the winner closed from well back. Savoya Cruiser carved out the early fractions but in the lane LK's Nancy Lee angled out and closed strongly to win with Dale Hiteman in the sulky. Burry Me Inthesand rallied late for place as Our Miss Leah finished third. Final time for the mile was 1:58.1 as the Yankee Skyscraper filly was bet down to 2-1 favoritism. The second division of the Pretty Direct followed on the Friday card and featured a heavy favorite in Lovethewayoulook. She was in a tough spot early as she settled at the back of the pack from the start. She was first to move and swept up to the lead into the far turn. She wasn't able to sustain her rally though as Whiskersonkittens and driver Robert Smolin closed for the victory. Pacifire gained late for place while Lovethewayoulook was outfinished for third. The Party At Artsplace filly paced the mile in 1:55.4. The final division of the Ohyouprettything looked to be a wide open race going in and ended up being more than that way in the end. While favorites Gossip Model and Lollipop were contesting things into the lane, 99-1 Luvly Lil Terror found room late and squeezed through for the victory. Driver Pat Curtin won for trainer Loralee Johnson as the Western Terror filly paid $266 for the victory. The final time for the race was 1:55.2. Jim Miller
Minnesota's finest in-state bred three-year-old pacers went postward Saturday night (August 8) for a recently-enhanced purse of $16,000 at the harness racing meeting at Running Aces. When the smoke cleared, it was Toatsmygoats (Rick Magee) scoring his second triumph of the season in 1:54.4, besting Queen Of Denial (Nick Roland) by a half-length with Gooch's Hot Rod (Dean Magee) another two lengths back in third. Toatsmygoats sat fourth in the eight-horse field throughout the first three quarters, then swung wide for the stretch drive and sealed the deal with a quickest-of-all :28.2 final panel. The son of Relentless Yankee, owned by Van Otterloo Stables and trained by David Flinn, was the two-year-old Minnesota state champion on the merits of seven wins in eight starts but has taken longer to round into top form in 2015. He know has banked $61,440-all earned at Running Aces-in just 15 lifetime starts. Party Hangover Two (Steve Wiseman) returned to her winning ways in an $8000 Fillies and Mares Open Pace, turning back Rev Me Up (Nick Roland) and Kiss On The Lips (Gerry Longo) in 1:53 for her fifth win of the current summer meet. Owned by the partnership of Arnstine, Chambers and Plested, the speedy four-year-old daughter of Party At Artsplace upped her career bounty to $905,541 with the victory. A $6500 Open II for males was also presented with Cowboy Cold (Luke Plano) making a successful leap in class to win in 1:52.2. Plano took full advantage of a pocket ride to edge fast-closing Quality Sport (Steve Wiseman) by a neck. Frontrunner Mattox's Spencer (Nick Roland) faded to third in the lane, beaten by two lengths. Three drivers scored driving doubles on the Saturday program-Tony Succarotte, Tim Maier and Rick Magee. In addition to the purse increases from $11,000 to $16,000 on all Minnesota-sired races for two and three year olds the remainder of the Running Aces meet, all overnight race purses will be raised by 20% effective immediately. Some stalls are available if any stable is interested in coming to Minnesota to try Running Aces for the final month of the season. Interested parties can contact Director of Racing Gregg Keidel at 651-925-4532. Gregg Keidel
Party Hangover Two gave owner Kathie Plested and her partners quite a thrill winning the $8000 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace at the harness racing meeting at Running Aces on Saturday night, her fourth consecutive score in the class. "My husband (trainer-driver Steve Wiseman) got me a nice piece of jewelry for my birthday," Plested related, "but having your horse win an Open on your birthday is like icing on the cake!" Despite sitting out a week after her first three Open triumphs and being assigned the outside post upon her return, Party Hangover Two cruised home a 1:54.2 winner by a scant nose over Keep The Dream (Travis Bowman) and Imfasterthanu (Nick Roland). It was just the tenth career victory for the four-year-old Party At Artsplace mare from only 37 lifetime starts. Native's Revenge (Lemoyne Svendsen) captured a $6500 Open II for males with a gate-to-wire score in 1:53.1 over Art Genta (Steve Wiseman) and Major Hottie (Kim Pluta). Bob Johnson trains the five-year-old son of Allamerican Native for Harold Actkinson. It was the seventh win of the year for Native's Revenge, four at Cal-Expo and three at Running Aces. Quickest mile of the night was turned in by Mattox's Spencer (Nick Roland) who stunned a field of conditioned pacers in 1:51.3 for lessee and trainer Patricia Minnella. A ten-year-old son of Cambest, the winner missed his entire nine-year-old season but has returned to the races in 2015 and posted six wins in 26 starts, half of those victories in Minnesota. In his distinguished career, Mattox's Spencer has won 29 times in 179 tries and earned $235,856. A pair of Minnesota-sired three-year-old races were also presented with Gooch's Hod Rod (Dean Magee) upsetting the $6600 'A' division; and Relentless Spirit (Lemoyne Svendsen) copping the $4400 'B' split. Both winning miles were clocked in 1:55.4. Gregg Keidel
A pair of $8000 Opens, a $7500 mini-series final and an $11,000 open Minnesota-sired three-year-old trot shared the spotlight on Sunday night at the harness racing meeting at Running Aces. The open trotters were the first of the four featured races to go postward and second choice Franky Provolone prevailed as he has so many times at Running Aces over the past three seasons. Robin Clements' pride and joy used his customary closing kick to pass Jailer (Tim Maier) and Silence Son (Nick Roland) in the final eighth of the 1:56.2 mile Trained and driven by Steve Wiseman, Franky Provolone extended his streak of first or second place finishes to seven including four wins in his six starts this summer season in Minnesota. Shadow's Image (Gerry Longo) extended his win streak to four in the mini-series final for non-winners of 2 pari-mutuel races or $10,000 lifetime through July 2nd. Since moving to the Longo barn in early June, Gary Liles' sophomore Shadow Play gelding has caught fire. He equaled his 1:54.4 lifetime mark beating Super Son Of Sandy (Lemoyne Svendsen) and Liberty Flyer (Kim Pluta) in the lucrative championship leg. The best Minnesota-sired three-year-old trotters squared off next with the diminutive filly Becky Badger Baby (Nick Roland) triumphing for the third straight outing and sixth of the season in eight starts for owners Royal and Barbara Roland and partner Dale Hein. Roland stablemate Go See Lo Go (Steve Wiseman) finished second with Sweet Nola Kate (Brett Ballinger) getting the show dough. Party Hangover Two (Steve Wiseman) kept the theme of extended win streaks going when the top pacing mares took center stage. The four-year-old daughter of Party At Artsplace captured her third straight for owners B. & D. Arnstine, Steve Chambers and Kathy Plested. Overcoming an assigned outside post position, the 'Party Girl' partied with De Valeria (Tim Maier) and Rev Me Up (Mark P'Pool) for most of the mile before throwing a :29 final panel to seal her 1:53.3 success. Racing resumes Tuesday night at Running Aces with an $8000 open pace and the first $11,000 Minnesota-sired freshman trot share top billing. Gregg Keidel
COLUMBUS, MN. - With the repeat winner (Show Runner) of the first two $8000 Mares Opens of the Running Aces summer harness racing season relegated to taking on the boys Wednesday (July 1), Party Hangover Two (Steve Wiseman) took full advantage with a come-from-behind 1:54 victory over Free Girl (Luke Plano) and De Valeria (Tim Maier) on Tuesday night. In just her fourth start of the year, the four-year-old daughter of Party At Artsplace notched her second victory-the first coming in an Open II affair at Cal Expo. Following a break leaving the gate last week, Wiseman cautiously placed Party Hangover Two in sixth in the early going, but was out and racing third-over by the :57.2 halfway point. After advancing to fourth with an aggressive three-wide move at the three-quarters station, the winner flew home in :28 flat to open up a 3-1/2 length lead at the wire. Owned B & D Arnstine, Steve Chambers and Kathy Plested, Party Hangover Two now sports seven career victories and $77,541 in earnings. In a pair of qualifying races prior to the regular program, two drivers got their first wins ever at Running Aces. For 19-year-old qualifying driver Brady Jenson, in his first season in the sulky, it was quite a thrill to guide the trotter DD's Tiger to a neck victory in 2:02. In the pacing qualifier Tony Morgan, one of the winningest drivers in harness history with 15,094 scores, got his first-ever Running Aces triumph as well. Morgan was in town to test-drive Shadow's Image, who responded with a nine-length 1:56 mile, for a prospective new owner. Gregg Keidel
Party Hangover, a Super Night champion as a 3-year-old, returns to action Friday night at Maywood Park after a three-month layoff. The now 6-year-old ICF mare season is the 6-5 morning line favorite in the second race, a mid-level conditioned pace for fillies and mares. Owned by Ken Rucker and trained by his wife Catrina, Party Hangover will leave from the two-post with Travis Seekman, who qualified the mare a week ago at Maywood when she was timed in 1:56.1 behind the winner Lets Drink On It. “Party Hangover had a good month off, just like most of our horses,: said Catrina Rucker. “We blew her out Tuesday and she looked good.” In 2012 Party Hangover captured the $159,000 Grandma Ann Championship with John De Long, who drove the daughter of Party At Artsplace for his father Jesse, then the trainer. Party Hangover went on to take the ICF 3-year-old filly division honors in 2012 with over $160,000 in purse earnings. Prior to her Super Night triumph she won both the Springfield Final and Du Quoin’s Time Dancer. Party Hangover was bought in early July of 2014 by Rucker who raced the mare the first six months of the year out east, mostly at Yonkers. When she did return to her home state in late June the mare rattled off six consecutive victories between Balmoral and Maywood, including the $21,400 Parklane Powerful crown. The talented mare put $91,501 on her card for 2014 and boasts career earnings of almost $320,000 and 29 lifetime wins heading into Friday’s second race. The Rucker Stable is also starting their mare Sexy Card Shark Friday. The 5-year-old comes off a disappointing sixth place finish a week ago at Balmoral. “Sexy Card Shark has some breathing issues that we are working on to straighten out,” continued Catrina, “She’s had breathing problems throughout her career. Last year she did do better at Maywood.” Contract Breach Thursday’s program is back up to 10 races and Friday’s card is at its normal 12 after being cut by the Maywood Park Race Office last week, a clear violation of its contract with the IHHA. In Item No.40 of the current contract states: “LICENSEES must schedule a minimum of 10 races on Thursday 12 races on Friday, 12 races on Saturday and 10 races on Sunday in each week for which they have been awarded four (4) days of race programs. LICENSEES must schedule a minimum of ten (10) races in each race program. Changes to all of these scheduling requirements will require mutual agreement of LICENSEE and the IHHA and approval by the IRB. The Maywood Race Office did not get permission from the IHHA to cut the number of races on last week’s programs, a clear violation of the current contract. Last Friday’s Maywood handle of $610,939 on 11 races was well below (about $138,000) the previous two Friday March handles of $782,146 and $715,501 on 12 race cards. While short fields were the root of the problem for last Friday’s handle dip, the elimination of a race certainly was also a major contributing factor. The Pot Thickens: The Pick 6 Carryover Pool at Maywood Park has grown to $6,496. The 20 cent wager begins on the first race Thursday and goes through race six. By Mike Paradise
Saturday’s re-scheduled Sue Fee stake at Balmoral Park came up with enough harness racing entries to split the ICF filly and mare event into a pair of $13,250 divisions, something I projected to likely occur a few days ago. What I didn’t expect was for the one-time Super Night champion Party Hangover to come in from Pennsylvania for the race. The 5-year-old mare, owned by former Illinois trainer Ken Rucker, sent Party Hangover back to Illinois under the care of his wife Catrina for the Sue Fee. The Party At Artsplace mare has been made the 5-2 morning line favorite in the ninth face, the first division of Sue Fee and is being reunited with Todd Warren who guided the mare to six consecutive Chicago circuit victories earlier this year, including the $21,400 Parklane Powerful back in mid-June. Party Hangover left Illinois after a disappointing sixth place finish in the Propes Final on Super Night when she was parked-out to a 27.1 first quarter shooting out from the 10-hole. “Her blood word was all mussed up for that race,” said Catrina. “It still wasn’t right when she raced later at Saratoga but it looks like she’s good again. She wouldn’t let anybody pass her last week in Pennsylvania." Party Hangover dropped her first five decisions when she left Illinois, a pair of Open Handicaps at Saratoga in upstate New York, and a trio of conditioned paces in Pennsylvania, before winning her last start (1:55.1) at Philadelphia in front-stepping fashion. “We sent her back out east after Super Night because there weren’t any races here in Chicago for her. They weren’t writing the “Winner’s Over.” Now that they are we plan on keeping the mare in Illinois through the end of the year,” added the one-time Maywood Park Trainer of the Year. As a 3-year-old, Party Hangover came away with the Grandma Ann 3-year-old filly title on Super Night when she raced out of the Jesse De Long stable. She was acquired by the Rucker’s in 2013. “We bought Party Hangover privately near the end of last year and sent her out East to race,” said Catrina. “She did very well there but she was ever better when she came back to Illinois, winning a lot of races with Todd. “We trained her Thursday for Saturdays’ stake and she trained like a monster. She likes being back home and she likes having her boyfriend Sage Ruck in the stall next to her. You can see he’s happy to have his girlfriend back, too.” Party Hangover will leave from post three tonight with State Street Liz (3-1, Bobby Smolin) and Fox Valley Amanda (6-1, Dale Hiteman) on her inside and Tamarac Sassy (8-1, Casey Leonard), Ryleigh’s Lilly (4-1, Mike Oosting), Schmatie (10-1, John De Long) and Financial Effort (10-1, Ross Leonard) on her right. The fifth race first Sue Fee division looks to be wide-open according to the program odds with Just Be Design (3-1, Dave Magee), Dallas Jones (7-2, Tim Curtin) and Auniqueaquisition (4-1, Dale Hiteman) the first flash favorites. Then it’s Whistle Pig (Ross Leonard) at 5-1, Molly Go Lightly (Mike Oosting) at 8-1, Rev Me Up (Brian Carpenter) and Kimberley R (Bobby Smolin) both at 10-1, and the 15-1 longshot Toshie Special (Jacob Fox). by Mike Paradise, for IHHA
The $43,000 Governor’s Cup, the feature stake event of the Du Quoin State Fair, was expected to be a hard-fought battle between PQ Three and Unlocked, the one-two finishers at Springfield, and Sunday’s race came up as good as forecasted. The two top Illinois conceived and foaled colts put on a torrid duel down the stretch and just as he did at Springfield, the Erv Miller trained P Q Three prevailed for the meet’s leading driver Mike Oosting who changed tactics with the son of Yankee Skyscraper. Instead of coming out of a hole, as he did in his all of his other career victories, Oosting sent PQ Three to the front while Unlocked took the pocket behind him, reversing their Springfield roles. “With the wind to the horse’s backs on the backside and into their faces in the homestretch we didn’t want to come from too far out of it,” said the 46-year-old Miller in the winner’s circle. “We wanted to be up-close so I wasn’t surprised to see the horse on the lead. “PQ Three has really come around for us. “Turning for home he was digging in. Mike has done a very good job of driving him.” PQ Three’s head triumph was his fifth to go along with four seconds in nine career starts for owners Obermeier & Quaid Stables of Evergreen Park, IL. The youngster’s season earnings are now only $601 shy of $100,000. A heady drive by John Roberts enabled the 14-1 longshot Fox Valley Veto to pull off stunning upset in the $33,000 Darn Safe stake for 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings. Sensing the slow pace Roberts took Fox Valley Veto to the front soon after a :29.4 first quarter and was able to give the gelded son of Pizzazzed a :31.2 second quarter breather. When the heavy 1-5 favorite Tour Hall came at him through a :28.4 third quarter the Curt Grummel trainee still had enough left to put away the Springfield champion and post a one length victory in 1:58.1. It was the maiden win for Fox Valley Veto and it came in his fifth career start for his Carrolton, IL proprietors Curt and Craig Grummel. Mystical Walter had no trouble adding the $21,500 Dudley Hanover stake to his 3-year-old colt pacing accomplishments for Casey Leonard and the Miller Stable. The son of Yankee Skyscraper earlier won a Hanover and the Incredible Finale at Balmoral and the recent Springfield State Fair crown for the winning trio of Paymaq Racing (Long Grove, IL), D & M Racing (Chicago) and Mystical Marker Farms (Dwyer, IN). The pocket horse Fancy Creek Elusiv was second best in the 1:52.3 mile, beaten one length. Earlier in the afternoon A Cool Card sped to a 1:50.2 victory in the $10,000 stake for aged ICF pacing colts and geldings, the fastest mile of the meet. Marcus Miller steered the Cole Muffler gelding to his third win in a row for his father, trainer Erv. The $10,000 Aged stake for pacing mares went to Just By Design (Dave Magee) in 1:52.4 for Williamsville, IL owner Josh Carter. It was Mike Brink’s fourth training win at the three-day meet. Kiwi Party came on nicely to take the $9,000 County Fair Challenge Championship for freshman pacing fillies in 1:56.2 to earn a start in Balmoral Park’s Orange & Blue Filly eliminations three weeks away. John De Long drove the Party At Artsplace filly to her fourth straight victory and shares ownership of Kiwi Party with his father and trainer Jesse, and Austin De Long, all of Wisconsin. I Bizel The Chizel gave John De Long his second consecutive County Fair Challenge champion when he out-closed his entry-mate Overloaded in the 2-year-old colt and gelding division with a 1:54.2 mile. Tom Simmons trains the son of Yankee Skyscraper for the Illinois team of Laura Hendricks (Silvis) and Benita Simmons (Springfield.) Sadie’s Art (Tom D. Tetrick) came thundering down the stretch and swept past the even-money favorite Checkout By Body to take the 3-year-old colt County Fair Championship in a career best time of 1:53.1 for breeders and owners Mary Alice and Tom D. Tetrick of Geff, IL. Oosting took the driving title at the Du Quoin meet with ten winners while Erv Miller successfully defended his trainer’s crown. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association
Earlier this month the Kankakee, IL based newspaper The Daily Journal named the harness racing winners of its second annual Illinois Harness Horse Awards of ICF pacers and trotters in their respective 2012 divisions.
Continuing a late summer run that has vaulted her to the top of the three-year-old filly pacing division here in Illinois, Horsemans Financial Agency & Premier Racing's Party Hangover gutted out a hard fought one and a quarter length victory in 1:52.1 to take the $159,000 Grandma Ann Stake.
Throughout his three-plus decades of involvement in the sport as a harness racing trainer and driver, Jesse De Long has captured 291 wins as a driver and 504 as a trainer, however, by his own admission, he has failed to enter the winner's circle to celebrate a triumph in a big stakes race.