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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

Continuing her front end dominance of the ICF three-year-old filly trotting set, Donald Huddleston's Macie Rae once again made it look easy on Wednesday night as she disposed of five rivals in a 2-length pillar to post score in the $10,000 Sorce Ann Stake. The final time was 1:56.1. Hustled away from post position four by driver Ryan Anderson, the speedy daughter of Powerful Emotion--Fox Valley Poetry easily made the front and was unchallenged as she cruised through splits of 28.3, 58.3 & 1:28.0. Setting sail for the money, the Michael Rogers trained miss powered home in 28.1, easily rebuffing the challenge of a pocket sitting Bailey's Wish (Dave Magee) who was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role once again. Say No Mo (John De Long) was a non-threatening third, 8 ¾ lengths behind the winner. After a strong freshman campaign, much of which was spent toiling on the half-mile ovals on the Illinois Fair Circuit, Macie Rae has really stepped up her game on the one-mile oval here at Balmoral Park in her second season winning six of seven starts this year. The bay filly now boasts a career record of 13-3-4 in 26 starts with earnings of $53,907. Bet as though defeat was out of the question Macie Rae returned $2.60, $2.10 & $2.10 to her legion of backers. Ryan Anderson guided Macie Rae to another wire to wire victory in Wednesday's $10,000 Sorce Ann Stake at Balmoral Park.   by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park  

After a pair of romping wins in downstate harness racing fair events, Donald Huddleston's Macie Rae returned to Balmoral Park on Sunday night looking to avenge her only loss of the year which came in the Violet Stake here back on May 25th.   The speedy filly did just that as she shot right to the front and proceeded to make every call a winning one in an easy 1 ½ length victory over seven other ICF three-year-old trotting fillies in the $10,000 Betzotic Stake. The final time of 1:55.3 shaved nearly three seconds off her previous career mark.   Taking full advantage of an inside starting spot driver Ryan Anderson hustled the daughter of Powerful Emotion--Fox Valley Poetry away from post two and quickly settled into a familiar position on the front end while leading the field through splits of 28.2, 58.4 & 1:27.4.   With the Violet Stake winner Bailey's Wish (Dave Magee) sitting right on their backs, Anderson and the Michael Rogers trainee were never seriously threatened on their march to victory lane Sunday night, sealing the deal with a sharp 27.4 final panel while effortlessly keeping their chief rival at bay. Bailey's Wish was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role on this night while Say No Mo (John De Long) finished a distant third, five lengths behind the winner.   With Sunday's victory Macie Rae, who was hammered at the betting windows returned $4.00, $2.80 & $2.60 while running her career record to 13-3-4 in 25 starts with earnings of $48,907 for her Palmer, Illinois based owner.   Live racing continues at Balmoral Park on Wednesday, June 25th, win a nine-card card getting underway at 7:10 pm (central). The Wednesday Pick 4 will have a $10,000 guaranteed pool and will entail races six through nine. Past performances for the Pick 4 races, courtesy of Trackmaster and the U.S.T.A. can be found at www.ustrotting.com.   Tom Kelley  

Flashing the form that made her one of last season's top freshman pacing fillies in the Prairie State Quaid Racing's My Little Bit charged past nine rivals to post an impressive 4¼ length victory for driver Casey Leonard in Sunday's $48,100 Violet Stake at Balmoral Park. The final time of 1:52.4 shaved a full second off the fillies previous lifetime best.   Confidently handled by Balmoral's leading reinsman the daughter of Sportsmaster--Parade Of Love was reserved through the early stages of the race as Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) and race favorite Buoncammino (Sam Widger) battled through splits of 28.1, 56.0 & 1:23.2.   Moving up in a nice second over position as the field turned for the money, Leonard tipped to the Erv Miller trained miss to the far outside where she quickly starting picking off rivals with a potent closing kick. Taking command of the proceedings with a sixteenth of a mile to go, My Little Bit was on cruise control the rest of the way as she drew clear of her foes to score for the sixth time in 14 lifetime starts. Another Miller trainee, M A Refling (Lewayne Miller) rallied from ninth at the top of lane to be the bridesmaid while Fox Valley Amanda held on for third.   An $11,000 yearling purchase, My Little Bit now boasts more than $120,000 in earnings on the strength of a 6-2-1 record in 14 starts. The second choice in the wagering after finishing third in last week's elimination, My Little Bit returned $8.60, $4.80 & $3.00.   Illinois conceived and foaled trotting fillies were also in action on Sunday night as a field of 10 were sent postward in a $10,000 Violet Stake elimination. The $47,000 final will be contested next weekend as part of the big Memorial Day weekend festivities.   Fresh off a nice win in her sophomore debut last week, Donald Huddleston's Macie Rae was impressive again, posting a 4¼ length wire to wire victory in 1:59.2 with Ryan Anderson at the controls.   Hustled right to the top from post position four, the Michael Rogers trained daughter of Powerful Emotion--Fox Valley Poetry put up splits of 30.2, 1:01.2 & 1:31 before sealing the deal with a sharp 28.2 final quarter to remain spotless in 2014. Fox Valley Lotus (John De Long) parlayed a perfect trip into a second place check while 55-1 longshot Graceful Spirit (Mike Brink) rallied to finish third. With the win Macie Rae now sports a record of 10 wins, three seconds and three thirds in 21 starts with earnings of $32,867. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park    

After a nasty thunderstorm caused a 35 minute delay to start the Sunday, May 11th card at Balmoral Park the action was hot and heavy the rest of the evening as a pair of state-bred events shared top billing on the program. The stakes action kicked off with trotters as a field seven three-year-old fillies met in a $10,000 Betzotic Stake. Despite being away since last October, Donald Huddleston's Macie Rae looked fit and fresh as she came splashing through the passing lane to post a 1 ¼ length victory in a career best of 1:59.1 for driver Ryan Anderson.   Hustled away from the outside starting spot by Anderson, the daughter of Powerful Emotion--Fox Valley Poetry settled perfectly into third through the early going as High Balance (Casey Leonard) led the field through splits of 31.1, 101.2 & 1:30.0.   With High Balance and last year's division Bailey's Wish (Lewayne Miller) battling tooth and nail through the lane, Anderson patiently maneuvered the Mike Rogers trained miss into the passing lane where she quickly gobbled up the embattled leaders to post her ninth win in 20 lifetime starts. Bailey's Wish was forced to settle for the runner-up role while High Balance hung on for third.   With the win Macie Rae, who returned $8.40, $5.20 & $3.40 boasts career numbers of 9-3-3 in 20 trips postward with earnings of $27,867.   A $10,000 elimination for the first "major" stake of the 2014 season was contested on Sunday as well but with the field of 10 Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing fillies knocked down to seven because of scratches this wound up being a "prep" for next week's $44,700 Violet Stake.   Nonetheless trainer Nelson Willis had to be happy as a pair of fillies trained by the veteran conditioner wound up in the top two spots with the Sawgrass Farms & Kay Willis owned Cuzimalegend overtaking last season's division leader Thesleazyprincess to score by a half-length in 1:57.2 for driver Dale Hiteman.   Using the inside starting spots to perfection driver Todd Warren put Thesleazyprincess right on the lead from the word go. With Hiteman and Cuzimalegend sitting in the garden spot, Thesleazyprincess paced through splits of 30.3, 1:00.3 & 1:29.2. Fit and fresh after the two-hole journey a determined Cuzimalegend gradually wore down her stablemate with a sharp 27.3 to post her first lifetime victory. Thesleazyprincess was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while favored My Little Bit (Casey Leonard) finished third.   The home-bred daughter of Lexington Legend--Cuzurinittowinit, who was scheduled to be coupled in the wagering with the scratched Molly Go Lightly (sick) returned $7.80, $4.00 & $2.10 while pushing her bankroll up to $10,093.   Live racing continues at Balmoral Park on Wednesday, May 14th 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 can be found at www.ustrotting.com. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

The sophomore trotting set was back in the spotlight on Wednesday night at BalmoralPark as a field of seven diagonally gaited state-breds tangled in the $10,000 Iggy Magoo Stake.   After a thrilling stretch long duel, it was Tom L. Graham & Tom L. Graham Jr's Vin who prevailed by the slimmest of margins over 1-9 favorite Tour Hall in 1:59.1 for driver Casey Leonard.   Positioned in mid-pack as Nino Marino (Dean Magee) and Tour Hall (Dave Magee) led the field through splits of 29.4 & 1:00.0 Leonard sent the Thomas Graham trained colt on a power sweep around the far turn, pulling to within a head of Tour Hall as the two passed the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:31.0.   With the two sophomores battling tooth and nail through every inch of the 1,360 foot stretch, Vin was able to hold off one final surge from the division leader to record his first win in 12 career starts. Tour Hall was a tough luck second while Bobby B Breeze (Todd Warren) finished third.   Dispatched at odds of 8-1, the son of Powerful Emotion--Valli Gram returned $18.80, $4.60 & $2.60 while pushing his career bankroll up to $9,000.   With a carryover of $7,665 the wagering public once again showed a great deal of support for the Balmoral Park signal pushing another $45,166 into the pool for a total of $52,831 in the 50 Cent Pick 5 pool to get the Wednesday night card underway!   by Tom Kelley, for Harnesslink.com

Hinsdale, IL --- The Mike Brink Stable’s King Mufasa, who dominated last season’s 3-year-old ICF colt and gelding trotting division, was named the 2013 Illinois Horse of the Year at last Saturday’s USTA District 5 awards banquet in Springfield. The son of Powerful Emotion, out of the Muscles Yankee mare Foxy N Diamonds, joined Brink after a modest 2-year-old campaign where he won two of eight starts and banked under $10,000 for owners H H Wright and Mystical Marker Farms. King Mufasa was absolutely sensational under the care of Brink, winning every major Illinois bred stake -- including the $50,800 Cardinal, the $51,000 Kadabra, both State Fair crowns at Springfield and Du Quoin and the $124,000 Su Mac Lad on Super Night -- along with open added money triumphs in Balmoral Park’s $37,000 Hanover and the $31,000 Circle City at Hoosier Park. At one time King Mufasa rattled off 12 consecutive victories when he earned $238,590 racing out of Brink’s barn. And to the surprise of many, the ICF star wasn’t sold out east after his huge season and will be back to campaign in Illinois and Indiana in 2014. “His owners like him so well that they didn’t want to put him in a sale. They’re letting me race him in the Midwest for another year,” said Brink, who turned 61 earlier this month. The veteran Springfield based conditioner concluded his most successful year in 2013 with career highs in winners (68) and money earned ($717,414) from his barn. King Mufasa was also voted the Illinois 3-year-old champion male trotter. Other sophomore division winners honored at the banquet were Mystical Walter (1:50, $195,259) as the male pacer for owners Paymaq Racing, D & M Trading of Illinois and Mystical Marker Farms; Auniqueaquistion (1:52.2, $249,235), owned by John Carver and Dandy Farms Inc., as the pacing filly; and Trot Fudge Sundae as the top trotting filly for the Illinois trio of James Bafia, Gene White and Sam Daddono. The 2013 ICF freshmen divisional champions were PQ Three (1:50, $111,899), owned by Obermeier & Quaid Stables as the male pacer; Thesleazyprincess (1:54, $159,615), owned and bred by the Marty Engel Stable of Illinois as the filly pacer; Jerry’s Graham’s Photo Surprise (1:57, $96,825) as the male trotter; and Bailey’s Wish (1:59, $112,710), co-owned by Illinoisans James Bafia and Gene White, as the top filly trotter. John Prentice and Neva Jane Ikeler’s Fort Silky (1:49.3, $269,075) took ICF older horse pacer honors. Jesse De Long’s Let’s Go Higher (1:50.3, $198,236) was the older mare pacing winner. Randall Bendis’ Zumba Mouse (1:54, $103,474) was best among the older trotting mares and Run And Tell Pap (1:53.2, $126,510) took the top spot for older trotting horses for owners Burke Racing LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. The state’s 2013 champion pacing stallion was Yankee Skyscaper while Powerful Emotion was named the trotting stallion division titleholder. Shesoluvabull was voted the champion pacing broodmare for a second consecutive year while Just Having Fin took that honor in the trotting broodmare division. District 5 Director and Chairman Sam Lilly was the Master of Ceremonies at the well-attended banquet and dinner where USTA Executive Vice-President Mike Tanner was a special guest. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

Fresh off the two biggest wins in his career, Jerry Graham’s Photo Surprise continued his late season surge towards divisional honors among the Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old colt trotting set as he cruised to an easy 3 ¾ length victory in Wednesday’s $42,200 Cardinal Stake at Balmoral Park. Confidently handled by driver Mike Oosting the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Gloria Wyoming was unhurried early from his inside post content to trot along in third as Nino Marino (Dean Magee) and Tour Hall (Dirk Simpson) battled through an opening quarter in 30.0. Heading up the backstretch Oosting moved the Nelson Willis trainee to the outside where hemade a steady advance to the front finally taking command just as the field moved by the half-mile in 59.0. Heading around the far turn Photo Surprise continued to show the way past the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:28.4. Leaving the field in his wake as he splashed through the lane, this year’s Lincoln Land & Hanover Stake winner was on cruise control the rest of the way widening his margin all the way through the wire while posting his fourth win in nine starts. Fox Valley Veto (John Roberts) rallied from far back to be a sharp second while Nino Marino held onfor third. The even-money favorite returned $4.00, $3.00 & $2.60 while upping his career bankroll to $96,825. by Tom Kelley for Balmoral Park  

Just as he’s done all season long “Bill” Wright and Mystical Marker Farms King Mufasa continued to rule the Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old colt trotting ranks as he cruised to a very easy five-length victory in 1:56.1 while overpowering five rivals in Sunday’s $12,000 Betzotic Stake. Confidently handled by leading driver Mike Oosting, the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Foxy N Diamonds was unhurried away from the inside starting spot, landing in third as Semper Fit (Dave Magee) and Fox Valley Camo (Jamaica Patton) battled through an opening quarter in 28.2.   After straightening up on the backstretch, Oosting then moved the Mike Brink trainee to the outside where he quickly rushed to the front, swallowing up the leaders with no trouble while showing the way through middle splits of 56.3 & 1:26.2.   With plenty still in reserve “The King” began to drawn clear with every stride, leaving his rivals in his wake while cruising under the wire with his 13th win in 14 starts this season.  Fox Valley Camo held on well to finish second while Semper Fit finished third.   Bet as though defeat was out of the question, King Mufasa returned $2.40 & $2.10. Show wagering was not allowed in the race. With the $6,000 winner’s check, the good looking brown gelding now boasts a bankroll of $209,840 in 2013.    by Tom Kelley for Balmoral Park  

A busy stakes-filled night of action was contested on Sunday, October 13th as the Crete plant welcomed Grand Circuit action back to town. On tap was a pair of $27,950 splits for two-year-old filly trotters while their male counterparts slugged it out later in the night for a $46,700 jackpot. In the first Hanover split for the freshman trotting fillies Bobby Brower and Mystical Marker Farms Petticoat Affair had no trouble living up to her favored status as she cruised to a 4 ¾ -length triumph in 1:57.1 with Brad Hanners at the controls. Sweeping from fifth to first on the backside after watching Dancing Dynamite (Dean Magee) cruise through an opening quarter in 28.2, the daughter of Valley Victor—Katie Hall was in complete control of the proceedings as she rolled through middle splits of 58.0 & 1:27.3. With plenty still in reserve the Bobby Brower trained miss trotted home in 29.3 while continuing to put daylight between herself and her five rivals to notch her fifth win in eight starts this year. Dancing Dynamite held on for second while Fox Valley Lotus (John Roberts), who made a break leaving the gate, rallied to finish third. Sent off as the 4-5 favorite Petticoat Affair returned $3.60, $2.40 & $2.40 while upping her career bankroll to $185,124. In the second division the Brower-trained, Hanners-driven connection clicked again as Victory Hill Farms and Bobby Brower’s Pray With Me demolished six rivals by seven-lengths in 1:58.4. After saving ground in third while Dress For Success (Dale Hiteman) carved out leisurely splits of 30.0 & 1:00.1, Hanners set the daughter of Broadway Hall—Hail Mary Hanover on a mission for the lead heading into the final bend.  Effortlessly sweeping past her foes on the turn, the Brower trained miss was in front by a length and starting to leave her rivals in her wake as she stepped by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:29.4.  Leaving no doubt as to who was the best in this group Pray With Me trotted home in 29.0 to post her third win in eight lifetime starts. Simply Class (Joe Putnam) finished second while Pinking Of You (Casey Leonard) was third. Bet as though defeat was out of the question Pray With Me returned $2.40, $2.20 & $2.10 while upping her bankroll to $64,026. A field of nine two-year-old trotting colts was sent postward for the $46,700 Hanover and when all was said and done it was last week’s Lincoln Land Stake winner Photo Surprised who emerged victorious as he trotted to a one- length victory in a career best of 1:57.4 for driver Mike Oosting. Gamely “toughing it out” first over as Nino Marino (Dean Magee) put up splits of 28.2 & 58.1 the Nelson Willis trainee swept past his rivals on the far turn and began to draw away from the field as he rolled by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:28.1. Continuing in full stride as he headed for the wire the state-bred son of Powerful Emotion—Gloria Wyoming was straight and strong as he continued his late season surge with his third win in eight career starts. Big Bad Bob (Dale Hiteman) rallied late to finish second while Explosive Cash (Casey Leonard) was third. Fresh off that win in the biggest event of the year for diagonally gaited Prairie State freshmen the Jerry Graham owned gelding returned just $3.80, $2.40 & $2.10 while running his career bankroll up to $76,725. State-bred pacing fillies were also in action on the busy Sunday night card as a field of eight youngsters squared off in a $12,000 Betzotic Stake. In a re-match of the Violet Stake at Maywood Park last week, Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly once again proved best as she reported home with a three-quarter-length triumph in 1:54.1 with Mike Oosting at the controls. Content to bide her time in the middle of the pack as Mae Flynn (Ryan Anderson) put up splits of 28.3, 57.2 & 1:26.1 Oosting maneuvered his charge into a live outer flow as the field moved around the final turn. Tipping three and then four wide from her third over position, the Nelson Willis trained miss then uncorked a blistering 27.0 final quarter to blow right by her rivals for her fifth win in 12 lifetime starts. Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) came up with a solid effort to finish second while Fox Valley Shiver (Todd Warren) was third. With the win the daughter of Lexington Legend—Waggle sports a record of 5-1-3 in 12 career starts with earnings of $50,895.  David Baum

The richest trotting event of the season for two-year-old state-bred trotting colts received top billing on Sunday night at Balmoral Park as a field of 10 diagonally gaited youngsters squared off in the $105,000 Lincoln Land Stake. Despite taking the overland route from post 10, Jerry Graham’s Photo Surprise struck a winning pose as he rallied gamely in the final strides to win by a head in 1:59.1 with leading driver Mike Oosting at the controls. After getting away near the back of the pack as last week’s elimination winner Nino Marino (Dean Magee) led the field through opening splits of 29.0 & 58.3 Oosting maneuvered his charge to the outside where they quickly began to gobble up ground. Tipping three wide as the colts moved around the far turn, the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Gloria Wyoming was all the way up to fourth as Nino Marino moved past the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:29.1. Grinding away through the lane as a leg weary Nino Marino began to back up the Nelson Willis trainee eventually reeled in Fox Valley Veto (John Roberts) in the last stride to notch his second career win in seven starts. Fox Valley Veto was forced to settle for the runner-up role while Big Bad Bob (Dale Hiteman) was third, 4 ¼ lengths behind the top pair. With the win Photo Surprise now sports a record of 2-1-0 with $52,375 in earnings.The beaten favorite from last week’s elimination returned $8.80, $6.40 & $4.00 to those who stayed loyal to the gelding. Sophomore trotting fillies were also in action on Sunday night as a field of seven battled in a $12,000 Betzotic Stake. Continuing her fine second season on the track, the Todd Warren owned and driven Sara The Spy recorded her seventh win of the year as she cruised to a 2 ¼ length victory in 1:57.0. Hustled right to the front from post position three the daughter of Powerful Emotion—Sarabella posted leisurely splits of 29.2, 59.4 & 1:28.2 before sealing the deal with a 28.3 final quarter. Divination (Mike Oosting) followed the winner’s every move but was relegated to the bridesmaid role while Just For Fun (Casey Leonard) was third. Amodel of consistency from the time she hit the track in 2013 the Mike Croucher trained miss now boasts a record of 7-4-3 in 15 starts this season with career earnings of $97,017. The odds on choice in the wagering returned $3.60, $2.40 & $2.10 to her legion of followers. Sunday’s Pick 4 was not hit so $27,661 will be carried over to Wednesday’s Pick 4. There will be a guaranteed pool of $75,000 for Wednesday’s Pick 4 which is on races 7-10. Once again the Pick 4 has a low 15% takeout with a one dollar minimum and features a guaranteed pool each night. Handicappers across North America can get a headstart on their competition with free 12 line program pages for the guaranteed pool courtesy of the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative and Track Master on the handicapping section at www.ustrotting.com. Sara The Spy and owner-driver Todd Warren cruised to an easy win in Sunday's $12,000 Betzotic Stake. Mike Oosting guided Photo Surprise to thrilling head victory in Sunday's $105,000 LIncoln Land Stake. David Baum  

llinois biggest night of racing, Super Night took place at Balmoral Park Saturday. With clear skies and temperatures in the upper 60’s a large crowd continued to file in as the big 14-race card kicked off with a pair of trotting events for Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-olds.               Diagonally gaited fillies were first onto the track with a field of 10 squaring off in the $105,000 Lady Ann Reed Championship. In a division that has remained fairly wide-open throughout the season it was last year’s two-year-old champion Trot Fudge Sundae who continued a late season surge as she trotted to a very impressive one-length victory in 1:55.2 with Super Night’s all-time leading driver Dave Magee at the controls.             Confidently handled by Magee the daughter American Native—What A Joy was sent right to the front from post position four. Turning back an early challenge from Little Ms Chrissy (Robert Taylor) the Dirk Simpson trainee put up splits of 28.3, 56.3 & 1:25.0.             “My filly was very aggressive tonight,” said Magee. “Once she heard those other horses coming after her near the quarter-pole she grabbed on and there was no way she was going to let them go.”             After putting away a second challenge from a game Sara The Spy (Todd Warren) who was outside every step of the mile, Trot Fudge Sundae dug in determinedly as Just For Fun (Casey Leonard) began to cut into her lead. Showing the grit that earned her divisional honors last season Trot Fudge Sundae held firm to the wire for her 15th career victory. Just For Fun was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Sara The Spy turned in a big effort to hang on for third.             In the winner’s circle a relieved Simpson talked about the thrilling stretch drive.             “I swear that was the longest stretch drive of my life,” said the Illinois based conditioner. “I just kept looking at her, looking at the horse that was coming on the outside and looking for wire. It seemed like it took forever to get there but she showed once again how tough she is.             Sent off as the 8-5 favorite by the large crowd Trot Fudge Sundae returned $5.20, $2.80 & $2.20 while running his career bankroll up to $272,370 for proud owners Sam Daddono, James Bafia and Eugene White.             Chalk players were rewarded again in the second race of the night as H. “Bill” Wright and Mystical Marker Farms King Mufasa reigned supreme but not without some anxious moments as he held on to win by a diminishing head in 1:56.2 with Mike Oosting at the controls.             After getting away in third from the inside post Oosting sent the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Foxy N Diamonds to the top where he proceed to trot through splits of 29.2, 59.2 & 1:27.3.             “I probably could have out-footed them out of there but I figured I would just let them trot out of there, settle in and then send my horse to front. With the fractions we were going I really thought we were going to win the race pretty handily.               After drawing away to a three-length advantage mid-way down the lane it as appeared as though the only thing in doubt would be the final margin of victory. That’s when a fit and fresh Fox Valley Camo (Jamaica Patton) pulled from the pocket and began to cut into the “Kings” advantage. That forced Oosting to get after the brown gelding through the final sixteenth of mile and the wire arrived just in time for the 1-5 favorite who notched his 12th win in 13 starts this season. Fox Valley Camo was a hard charging second while Fox Valley Legend (Dale Hiteman) rallied to be third.             “I was chasing after him pretty hard down there at the wire,” said a relieved Oosting. “I don’t really think he was quite himself tonight. It’s been a long year for him and he may be getting just a little bit tired right now.”             The Mike Brink trainee returned $2.40, $2.20 & $2.10 while running his career record to 14-2-0 in 21 starts with earnings of $213,382 for his proud owners.   Jesse De Long’s Let’s Go Higher soared to an impressive three-length victory over nine other filly and mare pacers in Saturday’s $130,000 Lorna Propes Stake stopping Mystical Victress’s bid to become the first four-time Super Night winner. The final time was 1:50.4.              Sweeping from fourth to first for driver John De Long after an opening quarter in 27.2 the five-year-old daughter of Cole Muffler then proceeded to roll through splits of 55.0 & 1:22.3.             “I didn’t want to rough up my mare too much early on so I thought I would just see how they got away and then move to the front once things settled down,” explained De Long. “I was a little surprised Mike didn’t leave a little more with his mare (Mystical Victress) so I was pretty happy to wind up in control of things like we did.”             After putting away a first over bid from Just By Design (Dave Magee) Let’s Go Higher began to put daylight between herself and her rivals quickly opening up a three-length advantage by the mid-stretch call.             “I looked back and saw Dave’s horse was starting to back up the outer flow a bit and we were starting to get away from the rest of them so I was pretty confident at that point,” said De Long.             On cruise control the rest of the way the Heidi Rohr trainee was never seriously threatened as she rolled under the wire with her ninth win in 29 starts this season. Mystical Victress (Mike Oosting) managed to rally for the second place check while Fox Valley Absolut (Robert Smolin), who was used hard to find a good early spot from her outside post held on for the show dough.             Bet down to 4-5 after her impressive elimination win Let’s Go Higher returned $3.60, $2.20 & $2.10 while winning for the 18th time in her career. The victory helped push her career bankroll to a gaudy $235,505.   by Tom Kelley for Balmoral Park        

With all the preliminary action in the books it’s now “go-time” for everyone involved in Illinois’ biggest night of standardbred racing as Super Night 2013 is just six nights away at Balmoral Park. After a hectic weekend which saw 12 elimination tussles on Saturday the action slowed down just a bit on Sunday night with six more elimination’s contested for a trio of Super Night events. Kicking off the action were three-year-old trotting colts as a total of 17 diagonally gaited sophomores battled in a pair of $15,000 Su Mac Lad Stake elimination’s.The top five finishers in each division will be back on Saturday, Sept. 14th for the $121,000 final. In the first elimination “Bill” Wright and Mystical Marker Farms King Mufasa continued his domination of this division as he rolled to a one-length victory in 1:56.3 with Mike Oosting at the controls. Sent to the front by Oosting after an opening quarter in 29.1 the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Foxy N Diamonds was in complete control the rest of the way as he rattled off middle splits of 58.1 & 1:28.1. With the “soft” middle half under his belt, the Mike Brink trainee had plenty in reserve for the stretch drive, trotting home in an effortless 28.2 for his 11th win in 12 starts this season. Semper Fit (Dave Magee) finished a nice second despite leaving from the outside post while Fox Valley Camo (Jamaica Patton) was third.Happy Balance finished fourth and Riet’s Kid was fifth. The division leader has now banked over $156,000 this year for his proud connections and he figures to be an overwhelming favorite on Super Night. In the second elimination Mystical Marker Farms and Jack & Peggy Hood’sPowerful Poe shed the runner-role he had assumed seven times already this season knocking off eight rivals by two-lengths in 1:56.2 with Todd Warren handling the driving duties. Despite leaving from an outside post the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Fox Valley Poetry landed in a good early spot as Powerful Valor (Jared Finn) and Skyline Road (Marcus Miller) battled through splits of 30.0 58.4 & 1:28.1. After securing racing room in the lane Warren asked the Dirk Simpson trainee for his best and the gelding responded beautifully as he trotted home in a brisk 27.3 to post his third win in 14 starts this year. Fox Valley Legend (Dale Hiteman ) rallied well to be second for red-hot trainer Joel Smith while Fox Valley Dubai (Dave Magee) finished third. Skyline Road and Powerful Valor finished fourth and fifth respectively to earn the last two spots into the Su Mac Lad final. Next up were three-year-old trotting fillies as a field of 10 looked for nine spots in next week’s $106,000 Lady Ann Reed Stake. They will be joined in the finale by Divination who received a bye into the Super Night  tussle. Flashing the form that netted her divisional honors in her two-year-old season, James Bafia, Eugene White and Samuel Daddono’s Trot Fudge Sundae reported home with a half-length victory in a career best of 1:56.0 with “Mr. Super Night”, Dave Magee in the bike. Givena confident steer by Magee the Dirk Simpson trained daughter of American Native—What A Joy shot right to the front from post six putting up splits of 29.1, 59.3& 1:28.1 while under a snug hold from her Hall of Fame pilot. Fit and fresh as she straightened for the money, the long striding bay put up a 27.4 final quarter to secure her 14th career victory in her 26th lifetime start. Little Ms Chrissy (Robert Taylor) finished a game second while Sara The Spy (Todd Warren) was third. Also securing spots in the final were Just For Fun, Fox Valley Yavonne, Powerful Goddess, American Empress, Kelsey’s Star and High Stepper. A total of 25 filly and mare pacers, three-year-olds and up, were entered for the $123,000 Lorna Propes Stake necessitating a trio of $15,000 elimination tussles. The top three in each division along with one fourth place finisher,(drawn by lot) will be back for the big cash next Saturday night. In the first elimination James Strzalka, Nancy Magnus, Norma Schulfer and James Skvarla’s Fox Valley Absolut exhibited the form that has netted her more than $361,000 in career earnings as she shook off a tough first over trip to score by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:52.4 for driver Robert Smolin. Taking advantage of a nice inside draw the seven-year-old daughter of Sportsmaster was able to save ground through opening splits of 27.2 & 56.2 before moving to the outside as the field headed around the final bend. Grinding her way towards the top the Mike Schulfer trainee was right on the pace setting Tamarac Sassy’s flank as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.2. Seemingly finding another gear as the distaffers moved through the lane Fox Valley Absolut swallowed up the pace setter with a 27.1 final quarter as she began to widen her margin while scoring for the fifth time in 25 starts this year. Kimberley R (Dale Hiteman) shook loose late to be the bridesmaid while Tamarac Sassy (Casey Leonard) held on for third. Willow Gram finished fourth. In the middle split the Terry Leonard owned and trained Whistle Pig looked like a princess as she pulled off an 18-1 stunner, scoring by a neck in a career best of 1:52.0 with Casey Leonard handling the driving chores. Placed near the back of the pack despite leaving from post position three the six-year-old daughter of Park Place moved into the outer flow on the far turn as Rev Me Up (John Roberts) sped through splits of 27.2, 55.4 & 1:24.0. Moving up with live cover Leonard tipped his mare four deep turning for home and she responded beautifully, speeding home in 27.1 to put up a career best. Fox Valley Touche (Dale Hiteman) closed well to finish second while Mystical Victress (Mike Oosting), the 1-9 favorite in the race finished third. Kate The Great was fourth. In the final elimination east coast invader Let’s Go Higher made it known that she will be a force to be reckoned with next week as the Heidi Rohr trained  five-year-old posted an eye catching eight-length romp in 1:50.4 with John DeLong at the controls. Perfectly positioned in third as Party Hangover charged through splits of 26.3 & 54.2 De Long moved the daughter of Park Place to the outside as the field moved mid-way around the final turn. Leaving the others in her wake Let’s Go Higher sped by the three-quarter-mile station in 1:22.3 as she set sail for the wire. Finishing off the mile in grand fashion Let’s Go Higher sped home in 28.1 to post her eighth win of the year for owner Jesse De Long. Just By Design (Dave Magee) finished second while Tune In (John Roberts) finished fourth but was moved up to third via a disqualification of Fox Valley Hermia who was cited for interfering with several horses near the top of the stretch. Cole Blue finished fifth but was moved up to fourth because of the DQ. Sunday’s 50 cent Pick 5 wager was not hit so there will be a carryover of $10,416 into Wednesday night’s pool. There will now be a $30,000 guaranteed pool on Wednesday’s Pick 5. The Pick 5 entails races 2-6 each night. Handicappers across North America can get a headstart on their competition with free 12 line program pages for the guaranteed pool courtesy of the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative and Track Master on the handicapping section at www.ustrotting.com. Tom Kelley ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- KING MUFASA POSTED HIS 11TH WIN IN 12 STARTS THIS SEASON AS Mike Oosting STEERED THE DIVISION LEADER TO AN EASY WIN IN THE FIRST OF TWO SU MAC LAD STAKE ELIMINATIONS ON SUNDAY NIGHT. TROT FUDGE SUNDAE AND HALL OF FAMER Dave Magee TEAMED UP TO WIN THE LADY ANN REED STAKE ELIMINATION IN 1:56.0 ON SUNDAY NIGHT. LET'S GO HIGHER ROMPED TO AN EIGHT-LENGTH DECISION WITH JOHN DE LONG AT THE CONTROLS IN THE LAST OF THREE LORNA PROPES STAKE ELIMINATION'S ON SUNDAY NIGHT. THE 5YO DAUGHTER OF Park Place STOPPED THE CLOCK IN A BLISTERING 1:50.4. -----Original Message----- From: David Baum To: Tom Kelley ; Mike Paradise Sent: Sun, Sep 8, 2013 9:09 pm  

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

Illinois conceived and foaled trotters closed out a big weekend of racing action at Balmoral Park on Sunday, August 4th as a field of eight three-year-old colts battled in the $25,000 Mikes A Mystery Stake. As has been the case throughout the entire 2013 season, H. “Bill” Wright & Mystical Marker Farms King Mufasa toted home top honors as he posted a hard fought head decision in 1:55.1 for driver Mike Oosting. Leaving from post eight the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Foxy N Diamonds was unhurried early on allowing Maplegrove Shaelyn (Jamaica Patton) to dictate terms through splits of 28.4, 58.3 & 1:27.2. Getting underway as the field moved towards the half-mile mark Oosting tried to flush cover as he proceeded his march towards the front but with his rivals electing to sit in King Mufasa pulled alongside of the pace setter as the diagonally gaited sophomores hit the top of the stretch. Zipping right by Maplegrove Shaelyn Oosting and King Mufasa then dug in gamely to hold off a late surge from the ground saving Powerful Poe through the final sixteenth of a mile for his eighth win in nine starts this year. Powerful Poe settled for the runner-up role for the eighth time in 11 starts this season while Monticello Lane (Robert Taylor) benefitted from a disqualification to move into the show spot. The Mike Brink trained King Mufasa now boasts 10 wins and 2 seconds in 17 career starts with earnings of $117,452. Grand Circuit action highlighted the Saturday, August 3rd program as a pair of Hanover Stakes for two-year-old attracted 27 colt and filly pacers. An overflow field of 12 colts were sent postward for a $46,100 jackpot and when the smoke cleared it was Lawrence Gary’s good looking Quik Pulse Mindale—Hast yDewer colt Blooming Genius who emerged on top with a wire to wire score in1:54.1 for driver Dave Magee. Despite making only his third career start, the Todd La Fountaine trainee looked like a seasoned pro as he took full advantage of the inside starting spot while leading the field through splits of 28.0, 57.1 & 1:25.1. With plenty in reserve Blooming Genius sealed the deal with a 29.1 final marker towin for the second time in three starts. PQ Three (Mike Oosting) rallied nicel yto finish a fast closing second despite being outside every step of the mile while another Erv Miller trainee, Badger Quinn (Lewayne Miller) finished third. Fresh off his back to back wins after finishing second in his career debut Blooming Genius now boasts $26,475 in career earnings. With a total of 15 fillies dropped into the entry box the filly tussle was split into a pair of $29,600 divisions. In the opening battle Engel Stable of Illinois’ Marzy Bearzy came up with a career best as she rallied from mid-pack to score by a half-length in 1:54.3 with Casey Leonard at the controls. After saving ground through splits of 28.0 56.3 & 1:25.2 Leonard moved the Nelson Willies trained daughter of Rocknroll Hanover—Sleazebiscuit to the outside as the field headed around the final bend. Hitting her top gear with an eighth of a mile to go Marzy Bearzy cruised right by the leaders with a 28.2 final quarter to notch her second win in four starts. Rock Groupie (Brian Carpenter)battled through a tough first over trip to finish in the bridesmaid role while Boxed Chocolates (Dave Magee) was third. In the second division the Jesse De Long owned and trained Delco Voracious pulled off the upset as the Running Aces invader found room late and rallied sharply for a 2 ¾ length triumph in a career of 1:53.1 with John De Long handling the lines. The home-bred daughter of Voracious Hanover—Gypsys Good Girl used her inside starting spot to perfection, saving ground throughout the mile as Western Dame(Casey Leonard) put up splits of 28.2, 57.2 & 1:26.0. After finding racing room in the lane Delco Voracious unleashed a wicked 27.0 final quarter to roll right by for her fourth win in five career starts. Western Dame held on for second while Thesleazyprincess (Mike Oosting), the even-money favorite was forced to settle for the show dough after a tough first over journey. Sent off at 19-1 despite opening her career with three straight wins in Minnesota Delco Voracious returned $40.20 while pushing her career bankroll over the $24,000 mark. by Tom Kelley  

State bred pacers and trotters were front and center on Saturday, July 27th as Balmoral Park presented its Southland Festival of Racing. A total of five championship tilts were contested with more than $290,000 in purse money up for grabs as the Prairie States top two and three-year-old pacers slugged it out in one of 2013’s biggest nights. Trotters kicked off the racing action with a field of seven diagonally gaited three-year-old colts and geldings battling in the $51,000 Kadabra Stake. Just as he’s done throughout his entire second season H. Bill Wright and Mystical Marker Farms King Mufasa proved to be way too much for this group as he trotted to a 1 ¼ length triumph in 1:55.2 for driver Mike Oosting. Unhurried early the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Foxy N Diamonds settled in sixth as Semper Fit (Dave Magee) led the field through opening splits of 28.1 & 58.0. Oosting then put the Mike Brink trainee into gear as the field headed down the backstretch and the division leader responded beautifully, charging right by the pace setter on the final turn while taking the field by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.2. “We were going into a pretty decent wind there so I just allowed him to trot on as much as he wanted to,” said Oosting. “I didn’t even realize we were going a 28.2 third quarter. That’s how smooth he is.” Under a hand drive through the lane, King Mufasa turned aside a challenge from entrymate Powerful Poe (Todd Warren) as he reported home with his seventh win in eight starts this year. Powerful Poe was forced to settle for the runner-up role for the sixth time this year while Skyline Road (Casey Leonard) was third. “I was a little concerned when Powerful Poe came up alongside us but then he just took off again,” said a happy Oosting. “He knows what he’s got to do and he just keeps going out there and doing it. Not only is that a credit to him but to Mike (Brink) as well. He’s kept him quiet and sound all year long and he’s just as sharp now as he was early in the year.” With the win King Mufasa now has seven wins and one second in eight starts this year with earnings of $95,410. With no place or show wagering King Mufasa returned $2.10. Next up were two-year-old pacing fillies as a field of 10 youngsters squared off in the $65,000 Loyal Opposition Stake. After a furious stretch drive Engel Stable of Illinois ’ Thesleazyprincess gave Oosting his second stakes triumph of the night as she recorded a 3 ¼ length victory in 1:54.3. After rushing to the front after an opening quarter in 27.3 Oosting allowed a hard charging Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) to grab command as the field reached the half-mile mark in 56.2. That pocket sitting journey nearly turned into a nightmare for the Nelson Willis trained miss as Fox Valley Amanda began to tire after passing the three-quarter mile mark in 1:25.1. “Those two up front (Fox Valley Amanda & Western Dame) were starting to tire and I wasn’t sure if I was going to get carried to the open stretch,” said a relieved Oosting. “That’s when I decided to back my filly off a little and we were able to get out of that spot.” Patiently sliding off the pylons with an eighth of a mile to go Oosting maneuvered the daughter of Sagebrush—Da Sleazy One three wide around her rivals and the long striding filly quickly swept past the tiring leaders for her second win in three career starts. My Little Bit (Casey Leonard) shook loose late and rallied to be the bridesmaid while favored Western Dame (John De Long) finished third. “That was a giant effort from a two-year-old filly,” Oosting commented in the winner’s circle. “I really wound up starting and stopping her three different times during that race but she still had an answer for them when she needed it most. That was huge.” The second choice in the wagering returned $5.00, $3.40, & $2.10 while upping her bankroll to $37,450. Oosting did not wait long to strike for a third time taking the $63,500 Mini Me Stake for two-year-old pacing colts in the next event of the night guiding Obermeier & Quaid Stables good looking youngster, PQ Three to a half-length triumph in a career best of 1:54.2. Floating away from post position nine Oosting had the son of Yankee Skyscaper—Sweltering underway as R Duneshine (John Roberts) and Traffic Cop (Todd Warren) battled through opening splits of 27.3 & 56.2. Picking up cover from Badger Quinn (Kyle Wilfong) as the field moved into the turn Oosting did not wait long to attack from his second over position, moving three wide as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.3. “I knew Todd’s horse (Traffic Cop) was going to be tough to beat so I did not want to let them get away from us,” explained Oosting. “I would have loved to have sat in there longer but I wanted to be in top gear when we straightened up for home.” Setting sail for the wire the Erv Miller trainee paced home in 28.3 to secure his third win in five lifetime starts. Traffic Cop was a hard fought second while Badger Quinn held on for third. After the win Oosting was quick to praise Miller for the conditioning job on PQ Three. “Erv has done a nice job with this one,” said Oosting. “He was a nice horse the first time I ever sat behind him but he’s even better now. They’ve taken pretty much all of the equipment off of him and he’s very simply rigged now. He’s just an absolute pleasure to drive.” The 2-1 second choice returned $6.00, $2.80 & $2.20 while moving his record to 3-2-0 in five starts with earnings of $41,874.  Balmoral’s leading reinsman continued his “one-man-show” in the fourth event of the evening, this time guiding John arver’s Auniqueaquistion to a one-length victory in 1:53.1 to take the $60,000 Ann Vonian Stake for three-year-old filly pacers. Confidently handled by her red-hot pilot the daughter of Cole Muffler—Shessoluvabull made a bold move to the front after watching Feel Like Dancing (Kyle Wilfong) lead the field through an opening quarter in 28.0. Rolling through middle splits of 56.1 & 1:24.0 the Donna Lee Ozment trained miss was forced to brace for a first over challenge from her chief rival, Aliyah Maria (Todd Warren) as the field turned for the money. After gamely putting away that challenge Auniqueaquistion held firm the rest of the way for her seventh win in 10 starts this year. Feel Like Dancing came on again to finish a nice second while Dallas Jones (Casey Leonard) was third. “My horse was starting to get a little complacent on me so I had to get after her a little harder than I usually do,” said Oosting. “She really started to dig in at that point and I felt pretty confident we could hold off whoever was going to take a shot at us. That’s the big difference with her this year. She really gets after it in the last 200 yards or so and Donna’s done a great job with her after she had the heart issue a few weeks ago.” Now sporting a record of 10-5-0 in 18 career starts, Auniqueaquistion returned $4.00, $2.60 & $2.60 while upping her career bankroll to $240,985. The final stake of the night provided a bit of an upset as John & Mary Krasnican’s Big Brad, a 5-1 shot came flying through the stretch for driver Robert Smolin to win the $59,000 Incredible Finale Stake for three-year-old colt pacers in 1:51.2. Reserved through opening splits of 28.0 & 55.3 while Fancy Creek Elusiv (Dave Magee), Sage Ruck (Mike Oosting) and Mystical Walter (Casey Leonard) all took turns on the lead, Smolin finally worked Big Brad into the outer flow as the field reached the halfway point. “Ever since he tried to pull himself up while on the lead a few starts back I’ve been ducking with him,” Smolin explained. “I was hoping  that we were going to catch some decent cover tonight and I was pretty happy with the way he felt on the last turn.” Storming up three wide as Mystical Walter led the way past the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:23.2 the son of Henry Clay—One Sure Thing set sail for the wire. Flying home in 27.1 the Bob Phillips trainee picked off one rival after another while bobbing and weaving his way to his sixth win 14 starts this year. Sage Ruck came on again late to finish second while Crankin’ It Up (Kyle Wilfong) rallied to be third. After the win Smolin seemed a bit relieved that the journey resulted in a victory. “At the top of the stretch I was just hoping to be second or third,” he said. “My horse was running out at that point, then he started diving in on me. He didn’t know which line he wanted to be on. Once he finally decided to go straight he was as fast as he’s ever been!”  Big Brad returned $13.80, $6.80 & $5.40 while running his record to 9-4-7 in 23 career starts with earnings of $166,540. Stakes action continues on Sunday night with the $45,000 Fox Valley Evita Stake for three-year-old trotting fillies headlining the card. Post time on Sunday is 7:10 p.m. (central). Tom Kelley ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Big Brad and driver Bobby Smolin came flying through the lane to win the $59,000 Incredible Finale Stake in 1:51.2. King Mufasa continued his dominance of the three-year-old colt trotting set with an easy score in the $51,000 Kadabra Stake. Thesleazyprincess knocked off nine other two-year-old pacing fillies to win the $65,000 Loyal Opposition in 1:54.3. PQ Three won for the third time in five career starts as he rolled to victory in the $63,500 Mini Me Stake for two-year-old pacing colts. Auniqueaquistion gave Mike Oosting his fourth stakes win of the year as she knocked off nine rivals in the $60,000 Ann Vonian Stake.  

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