Most of the circuit’s top drivers are doing double-duty Saturday. They’ll compete in the afternoon in southern Illinois at the Du Quoin State Fair and then at night at Balmoral Park, wrapping up their day up some 12 hours after the first downstate post. “This year a lot of us plan to drive back to Balmoral instead of renting a plane like we did in the past,” said John De Long who will handle the favorites in 2 of the 5 major ICF trotting championships at Du Quoin. “Dave (Magee) drove back last year while we took a plane and Dave was at Balmoral around the second race and this year there are only 10 races at Du Quoin Saturday. The last one goes before 3 o’clock so we should be o.k.” De Long’s best chances Saturday afternoon are with the Curt Grummel Stable’s sister-brother Springfield champion tandem of Fox Valley Yoko in the Time Dancer, and Fox Valley Veto in the Pronto Don, and Say No Mo in the Windy Skeeter who earlier won the $42,000 Fox Valley Evita. “Yoko” may not have been 100 per cent when she was second in the Fox Valley Flan and Hanover,” said De Long. “They told me she had been a little sick. But last week at Springfield she bounced back and had a :26.4 last quarter for me and did it well in hand. “Veto has been awesome. The horse does everything absolutely perfect. “Say No Mo just didn’t fire at Springfield. She just wasn’t very good in her race. I had tipped her out near the half but she didn’t have any trot so I ducked her back in. They were going to scope her and do blood work if needed. Hopefully she’ll be good for the Du Quoin stake.” When De Long arrives from his 290 mile trip from Du Quoin to Balmoral he’ll have live drives on the Saturday night card including the Nick Giberson Stable’s Fashion Delight (5-1) in the fifth race Invitational Handicap. Owned by Illinoisan Mark Winship (Canton), the 6-year-old Fashion Delight is the winner of over $856,000 in his career. He’ll take-on some tough cookies like Al’s Hammered (programmed 8-5), last week’s Big Tom champion Fort Silky (5-2, Casey Leonard), Best Man Hanover (9-2, Todd Warren), Iam Bonasera (6-1, Kyle Wilfong) and Furious Frank (12-1, Ridge Warren). “Fashion Delight is just a nice older race horse,” continued De Long. “He likes to leave and he comes off a strong (1:49.4) mile last week. The 25-year-old Wisconsin native has the 5-2 favorites in a pair of high level conditioned paces that follow, Firstclassallthway in the seventh and Our Dragon King in the ninth. Both have the pole position. “I’ve driven Our Dragon King in the past, said De Long. “He’s a nice horse. He’s a American National and Hanover champion. The horse did get tortured last week so maybe that’s why I’m driving him this time around.” Our Dragon King cut bruising fractions of :26.4, :53.1 and 1:20.4 before going into retreat and finishing a far back sixth behind De Long and Fashion Delight. Du Quoin’s three-day harness met concludes Sunday (12 noon first post) with a number of championships to be decided including the $40,000 Governor’s Cup for ICF 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA
The I.H.H.A. honored the top driver, trainer, owner and breeder of our County Fair circuit last Sunday, closing day of harness racing at the Du Quoin State Fair. The leading driver trophy was presented to Ronnie Gillespie who brought home 48 winners on the fair circuit, two more than his fellow Mississippian Freddie Patton Jr. last year’s champion. Patton did successfully defend his county fair circuit leading trainer title by conditioning 42 winners, far and away the best. John D Finn was second with 27. The leading owner and leading breeder awards both went to Flacco Family Farms of Alexis, Illinois. Dr. Richard Flacco and his wife Arlene accepted the awards in Du Quoin’s “Victory Lane.” The Flacco Family were the owners 23 victorious horses on this summer’s fair circuit and bred the winners of 39 races. Mary Jeffers and Fox Valley Standardbreds each had 32. Big Numbers for Casey: With four months of racing still left for 2013 Casey Leonard has already surpassed his best year for winning drives by 33 and his best season for money won by over $200,000. Going into Wednesday’s Balmoral program Casey has 268 dash winners in 2013. His previous highest was 238 in 2011 and that was with 250 more drives than his current 1616 for this season. Horses Casey has driven have earned $1,825,302 this far this year. The 35-year-old’s previous best was $1,620,445 last year when he had 444 more opportunities than he has had thus far in 2013. Herculean Effort Not Needed: Celebrity Hercules was written out of this week’s Wednesday feature when instead of another “Winner’s Over” event the headliner for trotters is for non-winners of $10,500 in earnings in their last five starts. Homer Hochstetler’s Evil Urges (p.p. 3, Dave Magee) was installed as the 3-1 first flash favorite in the ninth race feature after he was second best to Celebrity Hercules by ¾’s of a length. Brad Moffit’s New Zion (p.p. 6, Ridge Warren), a six-time season winner, is next at 4-1, with the Erv Miller Stable’s Nonverbal Hanover (p.p. 8, Casey Leonard) at 5-1. While the latter was beaten by more than 7 lengths last week, the Yankee Guide gelding did trot a :27.4 last quarter when he rallied from ninth to third in the lane. Mischievous Jesse (8-1), Classy Chassy (10-1), Big Sky Revenue (10-1), KK’s Bandit (8-1), New Zion (4-1), Ants Iner Pants (8-1), Squonk (12-1), and Itz Alive (15-1) complete the trotting feature. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association
COLUMBUS, MN. - Drivers Lemoyne "Moonie" Svendsen and Ridge Warren both scored hat tricks on the Saturday night program at Running Aces. Svendsen won a $7250 race for Minnesota-sired three-year-old colts with Reds Place in 1:55.4. The colt, owned by Ron Emerson and Mark Holtan and trained by Bob Lems, now has seven wins and two place finishes in nine seasonal starts. The green and gold clad reinsmans other two triumphs were behind the trotter Flameon and the pacer A Stitch In Time, both owned and trained by Mark Anderson. Warren won a pair of races for trainer Joe Mapes when he scored behind Taffy Towne and Allusive Annie. Between those two races he guided Love My Terror to an impressive maiden victory for trainer Scott Banitt. Gregg Keidel
A pair of minor stakes events for Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-olds headlined another busy harness racing weekend at the Crete oval. On Saturday night, Sawgrass Farms Uncle Smoothie rallied from far back to take the $10,500 Crete Stake while Ciara Stables and John Carver's good looking filly No Respect cruised to an easy score in Sunday's $10,200 Beecher Stake.
Big Daddy Woo Woo had the harness racing driver with the right philosophy in the $120,000 Tony Maurello. Dismissed at 23/1, Big Daddy Woo Woo, from Nick Prather's barn, was driven by Ridge Warren. The key was finding early position. Ride Warren left with Big Daddy Woo Woo and was able to duck and be sixth passing a 27.4 opening quarter.
It was a gutsy decision but when Kyle Husted made the choice to shift to from his home town of Altamont to Chicago in January this year it was career move that could have easily back-fired. After-all the 19-year-old's mother Pam Coleman wanted her son to firstly get a degree to fall back on.