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DAYTON, OH. - Hollywood Dayton Raceway paid homage to the memory of longtime area harness racing horseman Tom Horner Sr. on Saturday (Oct. 26) by naming the weekly Open Pace in his honor. Fittingly, the longest shot in the race came flying at the end to nail the victory. Feelinlikearockstar (Trevor Smith) was still sixth and last at the three quarter station, but ready to swing three wide around the final bend.   The 12-1 shot advanced to fifth by the head of the stretch but still had three lengths to make up on the pacesetters.   Storming down the lane with a furious closing kick, Feelinlikearockstar collared Sports Sinner (Jeremy Smith) by a head and held off Hez A Dude A (Dan Noble) by a length in 1:52.2 over a rain-soaked surface.   Perry Smith owns and trains the 7-year-old winner who now sports 25 career triumphs and $353,019 in earnings.   Driver Dan Noble had the hottest hands on Saturday, winning five of the first 11 races--two of the victors from his own barn to pull into a tie with Virgil Morgan Jr. for leading trainer at the meet.   From Hollywood Dayton Raceway

ANDERSON, IN -September 13, 2018-Ima Real Ladys Man, with Michael Oosting in the bike, turned in a gritty performance to find the winner's circle in the featured event of the evening, the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes Final for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings, at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. Stopping the timer in 1:51.1, Ima Real Ladys Man was able to overcome a tough, first-over trip to pull the 8-1 upset and establish a new lifetime best in the process. Leaving from post three in the talented field of ten, Ima Real Ladys Man was uninvolved in the early stages of the race. LeWayne Miller had last week's elimination winner, Frontier Telaphras, dialed in and he was pointed to the front through the opening panel in :26.3. His lead would be short lived as the heavy post-time favorite, Ollie's Ztam, wanted his turn on the front and made a quick move down the backside to reach command at the second station in :54.1. The quick pace continued as Ollie's Ztam led the field through the three-quarters in 1:22.3 but Oosting was unable to wait any longer and had Ima Real Ladys Man on the attack first-over. As the field turned for home, Ima Real Ladys Man had the momentum and surged past the tiring leader, rolling on to the wire finishing three lengths to the good. Tellmeaboutit and Peter Wrenn used a well-timed attack to get up for second while Frontier Telaphras held on for third. Sent off at odds of 8-1, Ima Real Ladys Man returned $18.80 to his backers at the betting windows. "He's been a nice colt all along," trainer, owner and breeder Perry Smith noted after the victory. "He's never done anything wrong and we took our time with him. The trips haven't worked out for him but he has a lot of guts just like his mother." Smith also raced the dam of Ima Real Ladys Man, Im The Real Lady, who was an Indiana Sires Stakes Champion at two. Sired by Tellitlikeitis, the homebred gelding has now won three of seven lifetime outings while pushing his lifetime bankroll to $77,186 for his connections. Ima Real Ladys Man is expected to take on Grand Circuit company in his next outing at Hoosier Park on Friday, September 21 in the $125,000 Elevation Stakes for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings. Indiana Sires Stakes action will continue at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday, September 14 with the fifth and final $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings highlighting the evening's 14-race card. With a daily post time of 6:30 pm, live racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and be conducted through November 10. For more information on the upcoming entertainment and live racing schedule, please visit www.hoosierpark.com. by Emily Gaskin, for Hoosier Park

ANDERSON, Ind.-September 10, 2016 - Limited Edition and Sam Widger pulled a stunning 11-1 upset in the featured harness racing event of the evening, the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings, at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday, September 10. Stopping the timer in 1:52.2., Limited Edition found late racing room to score his maiden breaking victory and give driver Sam Widger one of his four wins on the program. Leaving from post four, Widger sent Limited Edition away from the gate firing and he grabbed the early lead through an opening panel in a snappy :26.3. On The Virg and Ronnie Wrenn Jr., the heavy post time favorites, grabbed a pocket seat while Meadowbrook Tiger and Ross Leonard were next in line, third. On The Virg made his move to the lead down the backside and took command just past the half in :56. As the field reached the third station in 1:24.3, On The Virg continued to call the shots but Meadowbrook Tiger was applying pressure first-over with Rock N Tony and Ricky Macomber Jr. in tow. On The Virg was able to hold off Meadowbrook Tiger but his biggest threat was patiently waiting to strike from the pocket. Widger moved Limited Edition to the passing lane and he exploded past the leaders with a :27.2 final quarter to get the win by two lengths. Rock N Tony rallied for second while On The Virg held on for third place honors. Limited Edition returned $25.60 to his backers at the betting windows. "He's always been a nice colt," Widger noted after the victory. "We've just had some tough racing luck here and there. Tonight, the trip worked out perfect for us and he (Limited Edition) raced awesome." Trained and owned by Perry Smith, the son of Rockin Image-Modern Way notched his first victory from seven seasonal outings. Establishing a new lifetime mark with the win, Limited Edition has now amassed $56,550 lifetime. The victory was also one of four wins for driver Sam Widger on the evening's 13-race card. Widger pulled a 7-1 upset with Double A Cash Hall for trainer Scott Galloway in the $21,000 Invitational Trot earlier on the card. Widger's other two victories came in the 5th and 6th race behind The Right Move for trainer Tim Wilson Jr. and J-S Maple for trainer Jack Meyers, respectively. Live racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will continue on Tuesday, September 13 with a 14-race card highlighted by the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final for two-year-old trotting fillies. With a daily post time of 5:45 p.m., live racing will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and be conducted through November 12. For more information on the upcoming entertainment and live racing schedule, please visit www.hoosierpark.com. Emily Gaskin

Veteran harness racing trainer Perry Smith will start his stable’s three newest additions at Maywood Park on Thursday or Friday—Shez A Swift, Make It Work and Golden-Nugget. All were recent $4,000 claims and each will compete at the same level for the 2014 Chicago Circuit defending trainer champion. All three pacers do share one very important characteristic—they have been frequent visitors to the half-mile track’s winner’s circle, and not just this year. Thursday’s starter, the 5-year-old ICF mare Shez A Swift, has four wins this season at Maywood Park and notched all 14 of her 2014 victories at the Melrose Park, Illinois facility. Make It Work, Friday’s fifth race starter for Smith, who I’ve dubbed “Chicago’s Claiming King,” has had his last 33 first-place finishes all at Maywood and most came at the $4,000 claiming level. The 9-year-old ICF veteran has 5 this season, 10 in 2014, 4 in 2013, 10 in 2012 and 4 in 2011. The last time he won at race elsewhere was at Balmoral in October of 2010 for Mark Fransen, his original trainer. Perry’s sixth race horse Friday is Golden-Nugget who has been claimed in his last five consecutive starts all at the same $4,000 price tag. The 5-year-old Sportsmaster gelding rattled off six straight victories at Maywood earlier before his last two races when he was second and fourth. Golden-Nugget is making his second go-around for Smith. The Crete trainer took Golden-Nugget in his March 26 win off of trainer Loralee Johnson, raced him the following week, naturally a win, but lost him to trainer Gerald Longo, who lost him a week later to trainer Jose Morales, who lost him to Perry. All three newly acquired Smith owned and trained pacers are the morning line favorites in their respective upcoming races. Shez A Swift opens at odds of 9-5 Thursday. Make It Work (Mike Oosting) is at 5-2 first flash odds, and Golden-Nugget (Todd Warren) is the 9-5 early choice from the one-slot. Four Not Enough: When four ICF pacing colts and geldings entered Friday’s scheduled Taser Gun the stake was passed over from the card. A surprise entrant for the Taser Gun was last year’s Governor’s Cup champion at Du Quoin Lucpark who hasn’t been out since his second place finish in Maywood’s Abe Lincoln freshman stake in mid-October Lucpark earned over $76,000 for his Chicago owner Rocco Ruffalo, The Erv Miller trainee also notched victories in his Orange and Blue and Mini Me eliminations. In addition to Lucpark, entered for the Taser Gun were Casey At Bat, Dakota Roadster and Rockin Cassinova. Hopefully the Taser Gun will be written back by the Race Office for next Friday and raced either as part of the regular card or as an early non-wagering race. We don’t need any more of our ICF stakes, smallish in purse money as they may be, to be discarded. Qualifiers Update: Among the horses who won their qualifiers Tuesday morning at Balmoral was the 3-year-old ICF gelding Gifted By Nature (Todd Warren), the younger brother of two consecutive Orange and Blue Colt champions, Dutch Richmond in 2010 and Zall Good in 2011. The Roger Welch trainee was five lengths the best in his 1:56.4 qualifier preparing for his 2015 debut. The fastest of the seven qualifiers were a pair of 1:56.1 clockings by a off-springs of Sportsmaster, the 3-year-old Du Page’s Ztam (Casey Leonard) and the 5-year-old Joyful Game (Artie Dick). Both Gifted By Nature and Du Page’s Ztam are eligible for Super Night. Mike Paradise  

With the start of Spring only a week away let’s take a look who has fared well on the local harness racing circuit the first couple of months of the 2015 Winter. The leading stable as we go into Thursday’s action may be a bit of a surprise. It’s Brett Wilfong (pictured) who is off to a hot season start, The Donovan, Illinois horseman has had 21 of his horses finish first as we head into the middle of March Brett’s 13 winners at Maywood Park ties him for the top spot with Perry Smith, who took last year’s training title at the half-mile track. Wilfong’s 8 victors at Balmoral Park has Brett tied for third best at the Crete, IL big track with Jim Ellison. Balmoral’s defending trainer champion Nelson Willis is on top there with 14 winners, followed by Bob Phillips with 9. Perry Smith rounds out the current Balmoral Top Five with 6. At Maywood Wilfong and Smith are followed by trainers Angie Affrunti and Gary Fatland, both with 7. Dave McCaffrey, Terry Leonard and Albert Kopiec each have 6. Wide Open Features: Friday’s co-features at Maywood Park are a pair of medium level conditioned paces, one for colts and geldings and the other for fillies and mares. Both have no-clear cut favorite. The Maywood morning line has two Tom Simmons trainees as the early choices The pair will race uncoupled because of different ownership. Long Term (Date Hiteman), a winner last week stepping up in class, opens at 2-1 while his stable-mate Real Hero (Casey Leonard), a nose short last time,  is at 5-2 first flash odds. Expect Desperado Alibi (Brian Carpenter), coming off a game win last week and with the pole position Friday, to also get plenty of play at the betting windows. The same goes for Don’t Worry B Happy (Mike Oosting) who is listed at generous 10-1 odds in the program. The Willis trainee proved best at Friday’s class two weeks ago. Also going postward in the non-winners of $8,000 in their last 8 starts are Some Heart Throb (8-1, Kyle Wilfong) and Total Sin (12-1, Lavern Hostetler). The 10th race for distaffers is another where 3 or 4 horses could be vying for most of the public’s choice. Last week’s front-stepping winner Incredible Filly (Tim Curtin) is listed at 3-1, Melodie Hotspur, a bridesmaid in her last four outings, is next at 7-2. Financial Effort (Casey Leonard) follows at 9-2 with Molly Go Lightly (Mike Oosting) at 6-1. The latter got bottled up behind a wall of horses and finished full of pace but much too far back to reward her backers. Steph’s Place (Todd Warren) who steps up after popping for her new barn a week ago is at 8-1. The 6-year-old ICF mare was claimed for $4,000 by Smith in her last February start after capturing 5 of her first 6 outings for the Terry Leonard Stable. She’ll start off at liberal 8-1 odds. Completing that field are ER Monica (15-1, Dean Magee), Misspanderosajones (12-1, Ridge Warren), Sealark Hanover (15-1, Sam Widger) and Gimmeazzzmooch (10-1, Dale Hiteman). By Mike Paradise

As the leading trainer on the circuit in 2014, like many of his colleagues, Perry Smith has had to become more than just a conditioner of horses in his endeavor to make a living in Illinois. “I’ve had to claim my own horses to try and go on in this business,” said the 63-year-old veteran trainer who had more winning horses (117) in last year’s combined Balmoral and Maywood trainer standings. “Looking for horses to claim for myself is what need to do for now days to keep going. “With the price of everything now days the profit margin of just training a horse for somebody on the Chicago circuit just isn’t there. Let’s face it those days in Illinois for trainers are over. For me to go on the best I can and try to make a profit as a trainer I’ve gone to claiming more horses for myself or with another owner. “I’m just trying to get by the best way I can and right now that looks like the best way for a (Illinois) trainer. All I can do is hope that things in Illinois will finally get better for horsemen.” Many of the leading trainers in Illinois such as Nelson Willis, Dave Mc Caffrey, Bob Phillips, Roger Welch, Joel Smith, Mike Brink, and Merv Chupp to mention just a few have become owners of a good portion of the horses in their stable in their attempt to make a go of it in our state. “I’ve been in the business a long time.” continued Perry. “Training horses is what I do. I’m not a young man anymore who is looking to make a career change and there isn’t anything out there waiting for me.” The recent subzero weather that hit the Midwest didn’t play havoc with Perry or his stable. “That severe cold weather couldn’t have come at a better time for me. We had good weather right up to the time we stopped racing. I’m in Florida right now taking a little planned vacation so the bad weather that hit the Chicago area didn’t affect the plans with my horses.” Live racing on the circuit resumes Thursday, January 29 at Maywood where Perry was the leading trainer and on Saturday, January 31 at Balmoral where Nelson Willis took the conditioner’s crown for a second time. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

The 5-year-old Sportsmaster mare Shez A Swift lately has been a very popular horse with both the betting public and the horsemen. The mare has been the favorite in her last five starts at Maywood Park and she’s won her last four outings and was claimed in each of those victories   Tonight Shez A Swift debuts in the third race for her newest owner Missel Garcia of Crete, IL after his trainer Harold Guerra claimed the mare a week ago. She was also claimed in her previous three winning starts.   The 9-5 programmed favorite has nailed down 11 wins this year, all at Maywood. Shez A Swift is looking for her 20th career victory in her 64th career start, with most coming at Maywood.   Shez a Swift was a $29,000 purchase as a yearling at the 2011 Walker Sale by the Joel Smith Stable and made two unsuccessful starts at Balmoral as a 2-year-old. Joel raced the filly as a 3-year-old 36 times with 22 of those at Maywood Park where she chalked up 6 of her 7 victories in 2013.   Smith started the mare 9 times this year at Maywood where she won twice before she was taken over by trainer Matt McKenzie. After dropping her first five decisions for her new barn, Shez A Swift started winning on a regular basis, taking 6 of 8 starts for the stable before she was claimed on August 21 for $4,000 by trainer Perry Smith.   One week later the mare won for Smith however he lost her in a $4,000 claimer to trainer Ronnie Roberts. Naturally she also won for Ronnie but she was re-claimed by McKenzie in that Sept. 5 triumph. Last week Shez A Swift got her nose in front to make it four in a row, all with Todd Warren driving, when Herrera decided to claim her.   The mare has got to be wondering which way she’s headed after tonight’s third race. My guess is in another different direction once again.    Favorites Fall: The first 2 of 10 American National stakes to be contested this season at Balmoral were raced last night and the public choices both went down to defeat.   The $57,200 filly division of a pair of 2-year-old trots saw Homer Hochstetler’s Persuasive Look ($10.20) rally past with Casey Leonard to post a 1:58 victory, a half-length ahead of Jazzie Mermaid.   The front-stepping 3-5 favorite Fox Valley Yoko weakened in the late going and ended up third, beaten two lengths.   The $73,000 American National for freshman colts and geldings saw the winner’s share of the purse leave town when Iron ($13.00), given a perfect pocket trip by Dominico Cerere, got his head in front at the end of another 1:58 mile, this one for trainer Frank Antonacci and his east coast owners.   SS Poseidon, who led from the half-mile pole until deep stretch, dead-heated for second with the 8-5 favorite KY Lucky. Both finished a head behind the Cantan Hall colt Iron who was making only his second career start. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

Friday’s $25,000 Egyptian stake, the second leg of the Maywood Park Pacing Series for ICF colts and geldings ages three and up, came up a little short in number but tall in talent. Most of the top older ICF pacers will square off in the fourth race feature and all know their way around the Maywood Park oval with defending series champion Fort Silky having by far the most success on the half-miler in the six-horse field. The 8-year-old son of Ft. Apache Hanover is looking for his 15th lifetime win at Maywood and he’ll have his work cut out to get it for Paw Paw, Illinois owners John Prentice and Neva Jane Keeler. The current star of the Terry Leonard Stable landed the outside six post with the likes of Fox Valley Norman, Mystical Walter, Al’s Hammered, Fancy Creek Elusiv and Silver Devil inside of him with posts 1 through 5, in that order. Fort Silky (Casey Leonard) and Silver Devil (John De Long) are expected to provide the early speed from the outside while the longshot Fox Valley Norman with the one-slot has shown in the past he can also leave in a hurry. The Perry Smith trainee won the Go Sox at Maywood last season as a 3-year-old in front-end fashion. Silver Devil took this year’s Aged Cardinal Championship at Maywood back in June while his Nick Giberson trained stable-mate Fancy Creek Elusiv came away with the 2013 Maywood Pace Championship. They’ll race up-coupled Friday with different ownership. Sitting on top of the ICF Aged Division is Bob Phillips’ Al’s Hammered who has been close to unstoppable in his 5-year-old season. The 12-time season winner has captured the circuit’s Invite a half-dozen times already, while also coming away with triumphs in Balmoral’s Broadway Preview and Betzotic, the aged ICF title at  Springfield, and the Taser Gun on Mt. Sterling’s half-mile fair track. The Egyptian will be Al’s Hammered first start at Maywood since 2012 when he won the Cole Muffler stake near the end of his 3-year-old season. However, the winner of over $12,000 lifetime, did drop his four other 3-year-old Maywood trips postward, the only year he has raced there. Mystical Walter comes off a resounding 1:52 victory in the ICF Aged Pace Stake at the Du Quoin State Fair. Last season’s Illinois 3-Year-Old Male Pacer of the Year was victorious in the 2013 Langley on Super Night, captured both State Fair titles, and took the Incredible Finale Final and a Hanover at Balmoral. A son of Yankee Skyscraper, Mystical Walter dropped a head decision to Fancy Creek Elusiv in last year’s Maywood Pace Final and still racked up over $195,000 in purse earners for owners Paymaq Racing, D & M Trading and Mystical Marker Farms. With regular driver Casey Leonard at the lines of his family stable’s venerable Fort Silky, Dave Magee will make a rare appearance at Maywood Park Friday to drive the Erv Miller trained 4-year-old. The National Hall of Famer did drive Mystical Walter once early in the horse’s 3-year-old campaign. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

ANDERSON, Ind.-July 25, 2014 - While she may have played the bridesmaid in her first start against stakes company, Im The Real Lady found the winner's circle when it mattered most as she shined in the featured event, the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes Final for two-year-old pacing fillies, at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday, July 25. With driver Peter Wrenn at the lines, Im The Real Lady was able to overcome a tough, first-over trip to score the second win of her career in a lifetime best performance of 1:54.3. Leaving from the coveted rail position, Im The Real Lady was eased off the gate to settle along the rail in fifth while the rest of the field sorted out early positions. Trace Tetrick had Flight Cancelled dialed in as he sent her to the front through an opening panel in :28.4. Shady Linds and Ed Hensley were well placed In The Pocket while Aristobrat Hanover and Tyler Smith found good, early position third along the rail from post nine. Flight Cancelled dictated fractions of :58.1 and 1:26.4 before ever feeling pressure from the rest of the field. Unable to wait any longer, Wrenn gave Im The Real Lady the green light heading into the final turn and they began their long first-over journey to the front with Ashok Ace and Lewayne Miller in tow. The field began to tighten as they rounded the final turn and it was a cavalry charge to the wire. With the even money favorite Feetonthedashboard and Dale Hiteman making a costly break around the final turn, the race appeared to be wide open. Im The Real Lady had reached the leader's wheel half-way down the stretch and dug in gamely to put a nose in front at the wire. Flight Cancelled held on for the second place honors while Aristobrat Hanover took advantage of a ground saving trip to round out the trifecta. Sent off at odds of 4-1, Im The Real Lady returned $10.00 at the betting window. "The trip wasn't perfect but she was on her game tonight," Wrenn noted after the win. "She's a pretty handy little filly that is just starting to learn how to race and come into her own." Trained and Owned by Perry Smith, the daughter of Real Desire-Hysterical Lady has now won two of three career starts while amassing $47,100 in career earnings. Im The Real Lady won her career debut at Hoosier Park and followed that performance up with a second place finish in her elimination round of the Indiana Sires Stakes action last week. Live racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will continue on Saturday, July 26 with a 14-race card highlighted by the $22,000 Invitational Pace. With a daily post time of 5:15 p.m., the live racing schedule will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and be conducted through November 15. by Emily Gaskin, for Hoosier Park

State-bred pacing fillies took center stage on Saturday, April 5th at Balmoral Park as a field of seven three-year-olds squared off in the $10,000 Direct Balance Stake. After an adventuresome mile it was the Perry Smith owned and trained Susan Sarandune who wound up prevailing by three-lengths in a career best of 1:57.0. Hustled to the front by driver Kyle Wilfong, the daughter of Duneside Perch--Magical Kit led the field through an opening quarter in 29.2.   Heading down the backside, a hard charging Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) swept from third to first leading the field past the halfway point in 58.1.   Around the far turn Fox Valley Amanda continued to show the way while Buoncammino (Dave Magee) came calling first over as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.2.   That's when disaster struck for Buoncammino as the lightly raced filly went off-stride for the second time in the mile leaving Fox Valley Amanda alone on the lead. That advantage was short lived though as the pocket sitting Susan Sarandune quickly began to cut into the leader's margin. With the effects of a 22-week layoff finally starting to get the best of her a tired Fox Valley Amanda surrendered at the sixteenth pole while a fit and fresh Susan Sarandune zipped right on by for her second win in four tries this season. Fox Valley Amanda held on for second while Bright Light (Todd Warren) finished third.   Overlooked at the windows despite a 7-2 morning line Susan Sarandune returned a healthy $16.40, $4.60 & $2.80 while pushing her career bankroll up to $27,721.   by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

After opening his second season with two very impressive scores over "older open" company, Paula Smith and James Runyan's Fox Valley Deuce took his first crack at state-bred stakes company on Saturday night at Balmoral Park in the $10,000 Taurus Bomber Stake. The gelded son of Sportsmaster--Dodger Girl had no problem keeping his perfect slate intact as he cruised to an easy 4 ½ length score over five rivals in 1:56.1 for driver Casey Leonard. Hustled away from the outside post in the field of six, the Joel Smith trainee was parked through an opening quarter of 29.4. After grabbing command as the field straightened up onto the backstretch for Leonard, the issue was never really in doubt again as the good looking sophomore put up leisurely middle splits of 1:00.2 & 1:29.4.   Fit and fresh as he headed for the money Fox Valley Deuce finished off the mile in grand fashion, rattling off an eye opening 26.2 final split to make it three in a row in 2014. Orange & Blue winner Cotton Eyed Joe (Robert Smolin), who was making his sophomore debut, finished a fast closing second while Dune Dude (Dean Magee) turned in a solid try to rally for third.   With the win Fox Valley Deuce now boasts fives wins and a third in 18 lifetime starts with earnings of $28,147.   A trio of Newcomer Series finals were contested on Saturday night as well. The $7,800 Filly & Mare final was taken by Brett Wilfong's Chariots Afire (Jimmy Daniel) as she cruised to her second win in three starts this year. The home-bred daughter of Skydancer Hanover stopped the clock in 1:55.0. The $8,000 colt & gelding final was captured Nelson & Kay Willis's Shark Vision (Kyle Wilfong) as the royally-bred son of Cam's Cam Shark made it three in a row in 2014 while tripping the timer in 1:55.1.   On the trotting side of the docket, the Lester Banks owned, Steve Bauder trained Mary Queen (Dale Hiteman) was able to mind her manners again as she uncorked a big closing burst to knock off eight other diagonally gaited specialists in the $7,750 final of that series.The final time was a career best of 1:59.2.   There will be no live racing this Wednesday April 2, 2014 due to lack of entries.    By Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

With the 2013 racing season in the books a couple of very familiar faces on the Chicago circuit toted home top honors in the training and driving ranks as veterans Perry Smith and Mike Oosting each completed “daily doubles” by sweeping the training and driving titles respectively at Maywood and Balmoral Park. The 62-year-old Smith who is a Crete, Illinois resident began his career back in the mid-1970’s as a driver-trainer before becoming a full-time trainer in 1989. Since then Smith trained- horses have racked up 1296 victories and more than $8.3 million in purse money. Currently, Smith has 35 head in training at Sawgrass Farms. “I did a lot of racing at both tracks this year,” said Perry. “The key to being successful is knowing where your horses fit and getting them in those spots. If you’re realistic about them and put them in the right spots you can be successful and make money with them.” In the Maywood standings Smith recorded 69 victories from 347 starts for a 19.9% win ratio. David Mc Caffrey finished second with 56 winners from 426 starters while Angie Affrunti was third with 50 wins in 221 starts. The Balmoral title came down to the final weekend but when the smoke cleared it was Smith edging out another veteran, Nelson Willis by a 71-69 margin. Smith sent out 422 starters at the Crete oval for a 16.8% win ratio. Mike Brink finished third with 52 trips to the winner’s circle. On the driving side of the docket, Mike Oosting continued to dominate the ranks defeating Casey Leonard by a margin of 219-201 at Maywood Park and 270-197 at Balmoral Park for his “daily double”.  John De Long finished third in the Maywood standings while Dave Magee was third at Balmoral. The Balmoral title was the eighth in the last nine years for the Beecher, Illinois resident who now sports 5,651 career wins and more than $35.5 million in purse earnings. It also marked the eighth straight year the 52-year-old Oosting has finished with a U.D.R. of higher than .300.   For complete stats and information on both tracks including the big Meadowlands Handicapping contest taking place at Maywood Park and the Illinois O.T.B.’s which starts on Friday, Jan. 3rd visit www.maywoodpark.com and www.balmoralpark.com. by Tom Kelley for Balmoral and Maywood Park

The red-hot combination of trainer Perry Smith and driver Mike Oosting clicked again for Sawgrass Farms LLC as the trio combined to get Fox Valley Norman home with a 1½ length victory in Saturday’s $13,900 Bye Bye Byrd Stake. The final time was a career best of 1:51.2 for the three-year-old gelding. Leaving alertly from post seven for Oosting the son of Yankee Skyscaper—Lake Hills Nan settled in third as Drunk On You (Dave Magee) led the field an opening quarter in 27.3. With the action continuing to heat up on the backstretch Oosting maneuvered his charge to the outside where they began to carve into the advantage of Fox Valley Action (Todd Warren) as that sophomore put up middle splits of 55.1 &1:23.4. Through the stretch a determined Fox Valley Norman eventually wore down the pace setter, sealing the deal with a 27.2 final quarter to post his third win in 19 starts this season. Silver Devil (Casey Leonard) rallied late to finish second while Fox Valley Action held on for third. Sent off at 8-1 by the betting public Fox Valley Norman returned $18.20, $5.40 & $3.40 while upping his career bankroll to $74,708. David Baum   

In about two months it’ll be the 16th anniversary of the closing of Sportsman’s Park to harness racing. The old Cicero, Illinois track’s final Standardbred program was Friday, October 10, 1997 and attached is that night’s front page of its program. As you can see by the top headline Dave Magee was the leading driver in the Sportsman’s Park final meet while Joe Anderson took the trainer’s title for a sixth consecutive year. After finishing second to Tony Morgan in the Sportsman’s driver race the previous two years (1995 and 1996), Magee reclaimed the driving crown in 1997 for an unprecedented 11th time. Earlier Magee won the Sportsman’s Park driving titles in 1981 through 1983, in 1987, 1989, 1991 through 1994 and in 1997. The final stake race was the $20,000 Rambling Willie for ICF pacers 3 and up. There were 12 horses battling on the seven-eighth’s track, The 35-1 longshot Oliver G Slim, trained and driven by Merv Chupp was the $73.60 upset winner of that stake, coming from 10th with a :26.1 final quarter in 1:53 flat. Oliver G Slim that night beat the likes of Broadway Preview, Hot Chilli Pepper, Bingo Johnnie and Jeffrey’s Pet. The last harness race contested before the demise of Sportsman’s Park was an $8,000 ICF claiming event with a $5,000 purse on the 10-race card. It went to Rose and George Bonomo’s Lake Hills Doc, driven by Andy Miller. The Top 10 drivers on the 1997 and last Sportsman’s Park meeting were Dave Magee, Tony Morgan, Andy Miller, Dale Hiteman, Joe Anderson, Lavern Hostetler, Dean Magee, Dan Knox and Jim Curran. A year earlier (1996) Joe Anderson became the first trainer in Sportsman’s Park history to win over 100 races and $1.2 million in purses and he did it again in 1997. From second through 20th the final trainer’s race it was Brian Pinske, Doug Larsen, Jim Eaton, Dave McCaffrey, Gerry Hansen, Julie Miller, Jim Meade, Ken Rucker, Merv Chupp, Andrew Patterson, Roger Welch, Mitch McKenzie, Perry Smith, Mark Fransen, John Butenschoen, Ronnie Roberts, Homer Hochstetler, Lloyd Daulton and Neil Coleman, in that order. Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association  

The field for next Saturday's $57,300 Cardinal Final will be decided tonight with a pair of eliminations. A fifth place or better finish is needed to advance to the 3-year-old colt and gelding pace harness racing showdown.

Sawgrass Farms Fox Valley Norman returned ready to roll for his harness racing sophomore debut cruising to an easy two and quarter length triumph in 1:54.0 while knocking off eight other Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing colts in Friday night's $12,000 Gosox Stake at Maywood Park.

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