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STICKNEY, IL - Leg 2 of the Ohyouprettything and Pretty Direct pacing series for harness racing fillies and mares took place on Friday evening at Hawthorne. The Ohyouprettything went in three divisions while the Pretty Direct was a full field of ten. In the first division of the Ohyouprettything, longshot JD's First Lady left and tried to steal things through a quick opening half. She led the field into the stretch but then things bunched up as heavy favorite Mystical Nectar took over with a quick three wide move. She continued her bid for driver Simon Allard as Mystical Nectar rolled to a four length victory in 1:55.2. Tamarac Smoochie finished second while Savoya Cruiser was third. The second division of the Ohyouprettything saw Lollipop carving out the early fractions while Gossip Model tracked her into the turn. Into the lane, Lucky Dali ranged up to challenge while Fox Valley Bailey tipped three wide to contend. It was Fox Valley Bailey who sustained her move and held off the late bid of Gossip Model, winning in 1:56.4. Lucky Dali finished third. The third division of the Ohyouprettything saw Backwoods Barbie sent off as the favorite. She moved early to challenge leader I Y Q Too on the backstretch but was unable to clear and eventually broke stride. In the end it was bombs away as 75-1 shot Don't Dali Around got up in the shadow of the wire for driver Brian Carpenter. Girls Girls Girls finished second while Sandy Win was third. Final time for the mile was 1:56.2. A full field of ten lined up for the second leg of the Pretty Direct pacing Series. Fox Valley Brooke set the early pace, tracked by favored Lovethewayoulook. In the stretch Lovethewayoulook grabbed the lead but couldn't hold off the late charge of Whiskersonkittens and driver Robert Smolin. Whiskersonkittens stopped the clock for the mile in 1:54. Lovethewayoulook was second, If I Didn't Dream finished third. Jim Miller

STICKNEY, IL - The harness racing ladies were the focus on Friday evening at Hawthorne as divisions of the Ohyouprettything and Pretty Direct Pacing Series took place. The Ohyouprettything went in four divisions and was for fillies and mares that had not won two pari-mutuel races or $10,000 lifetime as of December 1, 2015. The Pretty Direct was also for the females, non-winners of five pari-mutuel races or $25,000 lifetime as of December 1, 2015. The opener on Friday was the first division of the Ohyouprettything series as Flight on Time was sent off as the choice. Much like Thursday's card, speed did not hold though as Tamarac Smoochie settled behind the early pace and found room in the stretch to win going away. Driven by Casey Leonard, The Ft Apache Hanover mare was 5-1 and covered the mile in 1:58.3. A Very Nice Dragon was second and Going Shooten finished third. The second division of the Ohyouprettything was a very tight finish and proved to be some tense moments for those playing the favorite. A big late wager pushed Mystical Nectar down to 1-5 favoritism. She tipped out late in the lane and moved late, but just held on to win by a head over Backwoods Barbie. Simon Allard drove the Charley Barley mare for trainer Tyler Nostadt as they covered the mile in 1:56.4. Nashville Nasty rallied late to finish third. The Pretty Direct Pacing Series kicked off in race 3 on the Friday Hawthorne card as a field of seven lined up. Colorful Sky left and set the early fractions as she tried to back down the pace. The field bunched at the top of the stretch as Casey Leonard and favorite Fox Valley Gypsy angled out from sixth and began to rally. The Yankee Skyscraper filly got up in time to win in 1:55.3. Fox Valley Brooke was second while Addie Rose finished third. The third division of the Ohyouprettything Pacing Series proved to be another race where the winner closed from well back. Savoya Cruiser carved out the early fractions but in the lane LK's Nancy Lee angled out and closed strongly to win with Dale Hiteman in the sulky. Burry Me Inthesand rallied late for place as Our Miss Leah finished third. Final time for the mile was 1:58.1 as the Yankee Skyscraper filly was bet down to 2-1 favoritism. The second division of the Pretty Direct followed on the Friday card and featured a heavy favorite in Lovethewayoulook. She was in a tough spot early as she settled at the back of the pack from the start. She was first to move and swept up to the lead into the far turn. She wasn't able to sustain her rally though as Whiskersonkittens and driver Robert Smolin closed for the victory. Pacifire gained late for place while Lovethewayoulook was outfinished for third. The Party At Artsplace filly paced the mile in 1:55.4. The final division of the Ohyouprettything looked to be a wide open race going in and ended up being more than that way in the end. While favorites Gossip Model and Lollipop were contesting things into the lane, 99-1 Luvly Lil Terror found room late and squeezed through for the victory. Driver Pat Curtin won for trainer Loralee Johnson as the Western Terror filly paid $266 for the victory. The final time for the race was 1:55.2. Jim Miller    

The top state-bred pacers in the Prairie State had the chance to strut their stuff on Saturday, August 22nd at Balmoral Park as a pair stake events shared top billing on a very strong Saturday night harness racing program   First on the docket were the state's top older pacers as a very evenly matched field of eight squared off in the $29,600 Big Tom Stake.   When the smoke cleared after a heated stretch drive it was Megan Rogers Racing Stable Inc.'s Unlocked who once again returned to the local scene in a big way, as he prevailed by a hard fought half-length in 1:49.4 for driver Lewayne Miller.   Given a perfect steer by Miller the four-year-old son of Duneside Perch used his inside post to save ground in third while the speedy Ice Scraper (Brian Carpenter) ripped through splits of 26.0, 54.0 & 1:21.1.   Engaging the pace setter with a first over bid as the field hit the top of the stretch these two prolific pacers battled tooth and nail through the lane before Unlocked finally forged to the front in the closing strides to notch his fourth win of the season. Ice Scraper was hard fought second while 66-1 outsider Cole Heat (Dale Hiteman) rallied to be third.   The win was the 16th in 45 career starts for the Erv Miller trainee who returned $4.40, $2.60 & $2.80 while upping his career bankroll to $310,692.   An overflow field of 11 distaffers, 3yo old and up, closed out the night's stake action as they lined up behind the gate for the $30,200 Parklane Powerful Stake.   Using an aggressive steer and a little "racing luck" to their advantage driver Robert Smolin hustled Jesse Ferge and Ron Phillips Fox Valley Aubry to the front and the speedy three-year-old made every call a winning one, hanging on gamely to score by a head in 1:53.2.   Sprinting away from post seven in the big field the daughter of Yankee Skyscaper--Assailed made the top without too much trouble leading the ladies through opening splits of 27.4 & 57.1.   That's when disaster struck for most of the field as a first over Joyful Game made a nasty break, taking herself out of the race and severely impeding seven of the trailing horses in this battle.   With things all her own way on the front end Fox Valley Aubry cruised by the three-quarter-mile mark with a two-length lead in 1:24.3.   Through the lane the Bob Phillips trained miss continued to show the way while bracing for the challenge of the pocket sitting Just By Design (Dale Hiteman). With the lead starting to evaporate in the final sixteenth of a mile, Fox Valley Aubry dug in gamely keeping Just By Design at bay just long enough to record her third victory of the year. Just By Design was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role on this night while Financial Effort (Casey Leonard) turned a ground saving trip into the show dough.   The third choice in the wagering Fox Valley Aubry returned $10.80, $6.20 & $4.20 while running her lifetime record to 14-5-5 in 32 starts with earnings of $67,714.   Live racing continues on Sunday, August 23rd at Balmoral Park. Once again all the action gets underway at 7:10pm on Sunday night and as always the $1 Pick 4 (races 7-10) features a $25,000 guaranteed pool. The 10-cent Hi Five (race 10) also features a guaranteed pool of $15,000 while the highly successful trifecta guarantee on race nine will give fans the chance to play into a $25,000 guaranteed pool. Tom Kelley

Illinois conceived and foaled stakes action continued on Sunday, June 14th, at Balmoral Park as a full field of 10 two-year-old pacing fillies made their career debuts in the $4,000 Misty Misty Misty Stake. After a heated battle it was Ron Phillips and John Carver's highly regarded youngster, Foxvalleytiramisu who wound up with a neck in front at the wire, prevailing in a snappy 1:56.3 after a thrilling stretch drive.   Confidently handled by driver Robert Smolin, the daughter of Sportsmaster--Theladyappealstome shot right to the top from post position six carving out very evenly rated splits of 29.0, 59.1 & 1:27.4 for the recent member of the 1,000 win club.   As a host of foes began to close in on her through the stretch, the full sister to such Illinois bred stars as Fox Valley Topaz, Fox Valley Appeal and Fox Valley Escort dug in gamely, turning aside bids from the favored pocket sitting Fox Valley Addison (Todd Warren) and late rushing longshots Lexington Lady (John De Long) and Char N Marg (Casey Leonard). With the fillies spread four across the track the Robert Phillips trainee managed to keep her neck in front while down at the pylons making her career debut a winning one for her proud connections. Lexington Lady, a $2,500 yearling purchase overcame post position nine to finish a fast closing second while Fox Valley Addison held on for third. Char N Marg also turned some heads as she flew home in 27.1 to wind up just a half-length back at 28-1.   Sent off as the second choice in the wagering after posting a win and a second in her preps leading up to Sunday's debut Foxvalleytiramisu returned $7.20, $4.00 & $2.60 while opening her bankroll.   Tom Kelley

Illinois conceived and foaled trotters and pacers were back in the spotlight on Saturday night at Balmoral Park as the Crete plant played host to four stakes or consolations for Super Night participants as part of the big 13-race harness racing program.   Freshmen pacing fillies kicked off the action with a field of nine going postward in the $13,900 Thrifty Way Stake.   Avenging a pair of recent tough trips that led to sub-par efforts Quaid Racing's Angel Demon came steamrolling down the center of the track to record a 3 ½ length victory in a career best of 1:54.2 for driver John De Long.   Saving ground the entire way, the daughter of Sportsmaster--Miss Swift appeared to be hopelessly shuffled out of contention before De Long managed to shake loose from the pylons.   Storming down the center of the track Angel Demon blew right by a leg weary Girls Hunt Too to pick up her first career victory. Longshot Desi Dune (Todd Warren) turned in a nice effort to finish second while Girls Hunt Too was third.   Now in the barn of conditioner Erin Elliott, Angel Demon returned $5.00, $3.60 & $3.40 while pushing her bankroll to $48,113.   Trotters were next to hit the track as a field of seven diagonally gaited three-year-old fillies battled in the $20,000 Lady Ann Reed Consolation.   Making amends for her costly break in the rich Super Night final of this event, Donald Huddleston's Macie Rae was on her best behavior as she made every call a winning one, reporting home by 4 ¾ lengths in 1:57.1.   With trainer Mike Rogers climbing into the bike for this battle the daughter of Powerful Emotion--Fox Valley Poetry stormed right to the front, putting up splits of 29.1, 58.1 & 1:27.0.   After opening up a big lead at the top of the stretch, Rogers let his filly drift a bit through the stretch and she responded beautifully to that careful handling as she widened her margin while notching her 11th victory in 15 starts this season. Bands Alexis (Todd Warren) tried to follow the winner's every move but was forced to settle for a runner-up role while Fox Valley Skylar (Dale Hiteman) finished third.   Heavily backed off her sparkling record Macie Rae returned just $2.80, $2.80 & $2.20 while upping her career earnings to $89,520 with career win number 19.   Freshmen pacing colts jumped into the fray with a field of nine youngsters battling in the $13,900 Yates Eagle Stake.   Taking advantage of a perfect two-hole trip, Fox Valley Elijah came rolling through the passing lane to win by 1 ½ lengths in a career best of 1:54.2.   Perfectly positioned by driver Todd Warren, the gelded son of Sportsmaster--Eternal Gift had all the best of it while C Note (Travis Seekman) carved out splits of 29.0, 58.3 & 1:27.0.   Fit and fresh off that journey the Nelson Willis trainee gradually wore down the pace setter, drawing clear in the shadow of the wire for his second lifetime win for the partnership of Kay Willis, Engel Stable Of Illinois and Haugen Stables. C Note held on gamely to finish second while Casey At Bat (Dean Magee) found room late to rally for the show dough.   Part of a Willis owned entry Fox Valley Elijah returned $9.60, $4.20 & $4.00 while moving his bankroll to $15,890.   Last but not least were sophomore pacing colts as a field of nine three-year-olds squared off in the $22,400 Pete Langley Memorial Consolation. This race provided the biggest shocker of the night as 19-1 longshot Fox Valley Cupid parlayed a perfect trip into a thrilling nose decision in a career best of 1:52.3.   Hustled off the wings of the gate by Robert Smolin the gelded son of Yankee Skyscaper--Fox Valley Cherub landed in the garden spot right on the back of favored Uncle Ugly as that one put up hot splits of 26.3, 55.1 & 1:23.2.   Moving into the passing lane the Mike Schulfer trainee gradually wore down the favorite and then held on for dear life as Overloaded (Kyle Wilfong) came flying late to just miss. The other half of that Tom Simmons trained entry; Fox Valley Van (Dale Hiteman) was a fast closing third.   The win was just the second in a 34-race career for Fox Valley Cupid who has still managed to earn a "cool" $115,830 for owner James Strazlka, Mike Schulfer, James Skvarla and Nancy Magnus. Those lucky enough to back the bay sophomore were rewarded with mutuels of $40.80, $12.80 & $5.80.   Saturday's 50 cent Pick 5 wager was not hit so there will be a carryover of $6,168 added to Sunday's pool. Thus, there will now be a GUARANTEED POOL OF $50,000 for Sunday's Pick 5 wager. The Pick 5 is contested on races 2-6 on Sunday's.   Past performances courtesy of Trackmaster for the 50 Cent Pick 5 and the $1 Pick with its $25,000 guaranteed pool can be found at ustrotting.com   Tom Kelley  

Continuing his "dream season" while overcoming what could have been a harness racing career ending injury the Robert Phillips owned and trainer Al's Hammered posted his second career Super Night title taking the $112,000 Tony Maurello Championship by two-lengths in 1:49.2. That time equaled the stakes record for this 3yo & up event. .   With his owner-trainer choosing post position five for this event the trip worked out perfectly for the big late rusher as he sat mid-pack while Fort Silky (Casey Leonard) and Iam Bonasera (Marcus Miller) battled through blistering fractions of 26.3, 54.4 & 1:21.4.   Moving first over on the final turn driver Robert Smolin put Al's Hammered into contention alongside the pace setting Iam Bonasera as the field turned for the money.   "When I saw those fractions up front I really thought I was going to be home free," said Smolin. "He's got no problem going first over so I really was where I wanted to be."   As he's done so often this season, the five-year-old son of Droppin'thehammer seemed to find another gear as he eyed the finish line, putting away the leader and then drawing clear in the final 100 yards for his 14th win of the year. Iam Bonasera held on gamely to finish second while FortSilky was third.   The 2012 Langley Memorial champion boosted his career bankroll to $476,497 with his second Super Night championship while returning $3.40, $2.40 & $2.10 to his legion of backers.   Al's Hammered and Bobby Smolin equaled the stakes record of 1:49.2 while capturing the $112,000 Tony Maurello Championship on Super Night.   Tom Kelley  

The countdown to the biggest night of the year for Illinois conceived and foaled pacers and trotters began in earnest on Saturday night at Balmoral Park as a bevy of elimination action brought out some of the Prairie State's best. Freshmen pacing fillies started the Saturday night action with a total of 15 youngsters entered in a pair of $15,000 Filly Orange & Blue elim's. The top five will be back on Super Night to battle for a $163,000 (est) jackpot. In the opening split Jesse De Long & Hamm Family Trust's Sportsmuffler made her local debut a winning one as she rolled to an easy 4 ½ length victory in a career best of 1:54.3. Perfectly placed In The Pocket by driver John De Long, the daughter of Sportsmaster--Whatifthere'smore exploded past the pace setting Cowgirl Chic in the lane as she rolled to her sixth win in nine lifetime starts. Cowgirl Chic held on well to finish second while Girls Hunt Too (Dale Hiteman) was third and Star Gram (Brian Carpenter) was fourth. Angel Demon (Ryan Anderson), the 1-2 favorite in the field of eight, stopped badly after a first over bid on the far turn but still managed to gain a spot in the final with her fifth place finish. In the second division Leland Mathias and Paymaq Racing's Mr Leland's Filly continued her dominance of this division as she cruised to a 2 ¼ length victory in 1:56.1 for driver Casey Leonard. Sent from third to first after a tepid opening quarter the Erv Miller trained daughter of Sportsmaster--Incredible Katie appeared to have plenty in reserve through the lane as she toyed with her rivals while posting her fifth win in seven lifetime starts. BS Tyrichess (Brian Carpenter) turned a pocket sitting trip into a second place check while Lex (Kyle Wilfong) was forced to settle for the show dough after a bold first over bid at the top of the stretch. Luvniecestopieces (Ryan Anderson) was fourth while Fox Valley Redhead (Dale Hiteman) finished fifth. A field of 10 was sent postward in the $15,000 Pete Langley Memorial for three-year-old pacing colts with the top nine finishers joining Fox Valley Cupid, who opted for a bye, in next week's $147,000 (est) final. Living up to his overwhelming 1-9 favoritism Megan Rogers Racing Stables Unlocked completely dismantled this field as he reported home with an effortless 6 ¼ length victory in 1:50.3 for driver Dave Magee and trainer Erv Miller. The issue was never in doubt in this one as the good looking son of Duneside Perch--Miss Major Power worked his way to the front after the opening quarter and proceeded to widen his margin at each call while posting his fourth straight victory over these rivals. Fox Valley Deuce (Casey Leonard) followed the winners every move after relinquishing the lead on the backstretch but was no match for the heavy favorite while garnering the second place check. Svaya Knows (Travis Seekman) rallied late to finish third. Also gaining spots in the final were Fox Valley Van, Uncle Ugly, Overloaded, Cotton Eyed Joe, BlueRiver and Sleazeburgernfries. The older pacers renewed acquaintances as a total of 16 veterans were dropped into the box for a pair of $15,000 Tony Maurello Stake elimination's. Once again the top five finishers will be back for what should be a very entertaining $112,000 (est) final next week. In the first division the Bob Phillips owned and trained Al's Hammered came flying down the lane to win by 1 ¼ lengths in a seasons best of 1:49.1 with Bobby Smolin at the controls. Content to bide their time near the back of the pack through some quick early splits, Smolin put the five-year-old son of Droppin'thehammer--Alberts Magic into contention at the top of the lane. Uncorking the big late kick he's come to be known for Al's Hammered proceeded to wear down FortSilky (Casey Leonard) in the final sixteenth of a mile for his 13th win in 19 starts this season. FortSilky was forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night while Big Daddy Woo Woo (Ridge Warren) was third. Ice Scraper (Todd Warren), who carved out the fast fractions held on for fourth while Ricky Bobbie (Pat Curtin) was fifth. In the nightcap Bert Hochsprung and the Erv Miller Stables classy veteran Iam Bonasera picked a nice time to grab his first win of the season as he rolled to an easy 1 ½ length victory in 1:51.3 with Travis Seekman at the controls. Perfectly positioned In The Pocket while Big Brad (Robert Smolin) carved out pedestrian splits of 27.4, 57.0 & 1:25.1, Seekman maneuvered the seven-year-old Cole Muffler--Shesoluvabull gelding to the outside with an eighth of a mile to go and the lifetime winner of more than $670,000 did the rest, storming home in 26.1 to get the win. Big Brad settled for second while another Miller trainee, A Cool Card (Dave Magee) was third. Crankin' It Up (Kyle Wilfong) was fourth while Doubletrouble (Todd Warren) was fifth. Next up were the two-year-old pacing colts as a total of 19 hopeful's met in a pair of $15,000 battles. The top five in each race will return for what is expected to be next week's biggest purse of the night at $187,000 (est). The first split provided a thrilling finish as the Roger Welch trained entry of Earndawg and Rockin Cassinova finished one-two with Earndawg getting the 1 ½ length score in a career best of 1:54.0 for the partnership of Bo & Pat De Long and E.J. Miller Jr. Sitting near the back of the back of the pack after starting from post position eight, driver Todd Warren did a magnificent job of guiding the altered son of Sportsmaster--Pacific Sister K through the lane charging from eighth to first in the final quarter-mile for his third win in nine lifetime starts. Rockin Cassinova (Dale Hiteman) parlayed a nice ground saving journey into the place check while Dakota Roadster (Robert Smolin) rallied for third. Also gaining spots in the final was the pace setting Dupage's Z Tam (Casey Leonard) and Thisishowweroll (John De Long). The second elimination was also a barnburner and when the smoke cleared it was Rocco Ruffolo's Lucpark who prevailed by the slimmest of noses in 1:55.1 for driver Dave Magee. Given a Hall of Fame steer by Super Night's leading driver, Lucpark left quickly from post nine and settled in nicely at the pylons until the top of the stretch. That's when Magee went to work with the Erv Miller trained son of Sportsmaster--Treasure The Best, deftly maneuvering off the cones then squeezing through a tight hole with an eighth of a mile to go before wearing down the pace setting King Of The Swamp (Todd Warren) in the last stride for his fourth win in eight lifetime starts. C Note (John De Long) shook loose late to finish third. The last two spots in the final went to Mighty Hot Shot (Brian Carpenter) and Fox Valley Elijah (Dale Hiteman). A total of 23 distaffers were dropped into the box for a trio of $15,000 Lorna Propes Stake elimination's with the top three and one fourth place finisher (drawn by lot) advancing to next week's $120,000 (est) championship. In the first division Jesse De Long's Let's Go Higher, the defending champion in this event, returned to town for trainer Heidi Rohr and promptly served notice that she's going to be tough to dethrone as she posted a 4 ¼ length wire to wire victory in 1:52.1. Confidently handled by driver John De Long, the six-year-old daughter of Cole Muffler--Ten Speed shot right to the top and promptly rattled off splits of 28.3, 57.1, & 124.4 before sealing the deal with a brisk 27.2 final panel for her 22nd win in the past two seasons. No Respect (Kyle Wilfong) followed the winner every step of the way but was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Tamarac Sassy (Casey Leonard) was third. Fox Valley Touche finished fourth. In the middle split Wilson Racing Stable, Norm Neff and Mark Eichberger's Dune In Red parlayed a perfect trip into a 2 ½ length victory in a snappy 1:51.2 for driver Dave Magee. Sent hard from post five, the chestnut daughter of Duneside Perch--She Has The Look elected to let a hard charging Party Hangover (Todd Warren) go just after the quarter. That put the Tim Wilson Jr trained miss in a perfect spot the rest of the way. Magee then maneuvered the four-year-old out of the pocket and she responded beautifully as she zipped right by the odds on favorite for her fourth win of the season. Party Hangover held on for second while State Street Liz (Robert Smolin) was third. Zumba finished fourth. In the final elimination of the night fittingly went to another Dave Magee driven mare as he guided Joshua Carter's Just By Design to a one-length victory in 1:52.3. As was the case for nearly all of the night Magee had the roan six-year-old perfectly positioned In The Pocket while Fox Valley Absolut carved out splits of 28.2, 57.2 & 1:25.0. Fit and fresh as she waited for the passing lane, the Mike Brink trained miss cruised right by the pace setter for her third win of the season. Fox Valley Absolut held on for second while Toshie Special (Dean Magee) finished third. Auniqueaquistion finished fourth. The elimination action continues on Sunday, Sept. 7th with a $15,000 Su Mac Lad elimination. That tussle will go as race six on the 10-race card which begins at 7:10 p.m. (central). No eliminations were needed for the Lady Ann Reed for three-year-old trotting fillies or the Grandma Ann for three-year-old pacing fillies. The latter did have a "prep" on Saturday night which was taken by Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly and driver Matt Krueger in 1:55. By Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park    

A very familiar group of older state-bred pacers renewed acquaintances on Friday, August 29th at Maywood Park as a classy field of five local stars knocked heads in the $25,000 Egyptian Stake which was Leg 2 of the Maywood Park Pacing Series. Much like a fine wine, John Prentice and Neva Jane Ikeler's Fort Silky just continues to get better with age as he rolled to an impressive two-length wire to wire victory in a blistering 1:50.4, which was just 2/5th's of a second off the track record on the half-mile oval. Confidently handled by driver Casey Leonard the eight-year-old son of Ft Apache Hanover was sent right to the front from his outside starting spot. In total control of the proceedings, the Terry Leonard trained gelding reeled off splits of 28.1, 56.1 & 1:23.2 while in hand to Maywood's leading reinsman. After turning aside a first over bid from the always dangerous Al's Hammered (Robert Smolin), Fort Silky paced home in a wicked 27.2 to notch his 21st win in the past two seasons. Al's Hammered was forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night while Mystical Walter (John De Long) finished third, 6 ¾ lengths behind the winner. Sent off as the second choice in the wagering Fort Silky returned $5.60, $2.20 & $2.10 while running his career record to an impressive 47-43-28 in 196 lifetime starts with earnings of $664,350 for his proud connections. Fort Silky has now captured the first two legs of this series as he looks to repeat his 2013 win the series. by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park  

A busy night of state-bred stake action is in the books as Illinois conceived and foaled pacers and trotters starred in six stake finals as part of the Crete plant's Southland Festival of Racing. With more than $250,000 in purse money up for grabs for this year's two and three-year-old crops these battles kick off the richest and busiest time of the season for these state-breds. Freshman pacing fillies started the non-stop action with a field of 10 ladies squaring off in the $43,500 Loyal Opposition Stake. This raced provided the most dramatic finish of the night as Leland Mathias and Paymaq Racing's Mr. Leland's Filly rallied from ninth at the top of the stretch to win by a length in a career best of 1:53.2. Patiently handled by leading driver Casey Leonard the daughter of Sportsmaster--Incredible Kate sat near the back of the pack throughout the mile while heavily favored Lex (Kyle Wilfong) mixed it up with several different rivals through splits of 28.4, 56.1 & 1:24.2. Bobbing and weaving his way through traffic Leonard maneuvered the Erv Miller trained miss into a clear path with an eighth of a mile to go and the filly absolutely exploded, charging home in 26.3 to secure her first lifetime win in start number three. Angel Demon (Ryan Anderson) came flying through the passing lane to finish second while Lex held on for third. The winner returned $45.20, $15.00 & $5.80 while helping to key a $577 exacta and $909 ten-cent Superfecta payout. Next up were sophomore trotting fillies as a field of eight diagonally gaited ladies met in the $42,000 Fox Valley Evita Stake. This race also provided a milestone moment as Dr Patrick Graham, Flacco Family Farms and Dirk Simpson Stables Say No Mo gave Dirk Simpson his 1,000th training victory by trotting to a two-length upset for driver John De Long. The final time was a lifetime best of 1:55.4. Perfectly positioned at the pylons in third as favored Bailey' Wish (Dave Magee) cruised through splits of 28.4, 57.0 & 1:25.4 De Long angled the daughter of Band's Gold Chip--Not So Kosher to the outside for the stretch drive and the filly responded beautifully, wearing down the pace setter in the final 100 yards to post her third win in 12 starts this season. Bailey' Wish held on for second while Graceful Spirit (Robert Smolin) was third. Sent off at a nice price of 7-1 Say No Mo returned $17.20, $3.40 & $2.40 while running her career numbers to 7-2-3 in 26 starts with earnings of $59,492. It was back to the pace for the next tussle as a field of 10 sophomore fillies battled in the $48,500 Ann Vonian Stake. Once again it was the duo of driver Casey Leonard and trainer Erv Miller who came out on top as Quaid Racing's My Little Bit used the passing lane to perfection in route to a 1 ½ length victory in a lifetime best of 1:52.2. Leaving alertly from post five Leonard positioned his filly perfectly on the back of the hard leaving Cuzimalegend (Travis Seekman) as that filly put up splits of 27.3, 57.1 & 1:24.2. Fit and fresh for the stretch drive the daughter of Sportsmaster--Parade Of Love zipped right by the pace setter with a little less than a sixteenth of a mile to go as she scored for the fifth time in nine starts this season. M A Duty (Ryan Anderson) rallied to finish second while Molly Go Lightly (Kyle Wilfong) turned a ground saving journey into the show dough. Proving once again that when the big money is on the line she comes up big My Little Bit returned $4.00 $2.60 & $2.20 while improving her record to 10-3-2 in 21 career starts with earnings of $183,147. A compact field of six sophomore trotting colts were up next as they battled in the $41,000 Kadabra Stake. Continuing along with an impressive second season Curt & Craig Grummel's Fox Valley Veto powered past rivals in the lane to win by a widening three-lengths in a career best of 1:55.3. John De Long was in the bike for his second championship score of the night. Content to save ground while co-favorite Tour Hall (Dave Magee) and Bobby B Breeze (Todd Warren) took turns strolling through splits of 30.0, 59.0 & 1:27.4, Fox Valley Veto was raging with trot as De Long pulled from third as the field straightened for the money. Charging right by his main nemesis the gelded son of Pizzazzed--Yankee Victory Om was on "idle" as he crossed under the wire with his third win in seven starts this year. Cardinal Wind (Dale Hiteman) rallied to be second while Bobby B Breeze held on for third. Tour Hall made a late break in the race and wound up last in the field. After posting just one win in 2013, Fox Valley Veto now boasts a record of 4-6-0 in 17 lifetime starts with earnings of $114,694. The even-money co-favorite returned $4.00, $3.00 & $3.20. Next up were freshmen pacing colts as a full field of 10 were sent postward in the $48,000 Mini Me Stake. This test turned into a showcase for conditioner Roger Welch as the veteran conditioner sent out the top two finishers in the race with William C & William P De Long's King Of The Swamp proving best by a length and a half in 1:55.0 for driver Todd Warren. Hustled right to the front the gelded son of Sportsmaster--She's Redhot carved out splits of 29.1, 58.2 & 1:27.0. Showing the grit and determination he exhibited in last week's elimination win, the $85,000 yearling purchase dug in through the lane, keeping his pocket sitting entrymate at bay through a spirited stretch drive. Earndawg (Pat Curtin) was a hard trying second while Lucpark (Dave Magee) benefitted from a disqualification to move up to the show spot. Thisishowweroll (John De Long) had finished third but was disqualified for causing interference while on a break in the first turn. With the win King Of The Swamp, who returned $7.40, $8.60 & $3.80, now sports three wins, a second and a third in five career starts with earnings of $32,858. The last of the six championship tilts on Saturday featured three-year-old pacing colts as a field 10 was sent postward in the $48,000 Incredible Finale Stake. Once again an Ervin Miller trainee found his way to the winner's circle as Megan Rogers Racing Stable's Unlocked lived up to his half-money favoritism with a resounding 5 ½ length romp in 1:50 for driver Dave Magee. Working his way to the front after a quarter in 28.0 the speedy son of Duneside Perch--Miss Major Power effortlessly cruised through middle splits of 56.0 & 1:23.4. With plenty still in reserve the good looking colt sprinted away from his rivals, pacing home in 26.3 while under very minimal urging from his Hall Of Fame pilot. Longshot Fox Valley Cupid (Dale Hiteman) who led at the opening call held on nicely to finish second while another outsider, Fox Valley Van (Brian Carpenter) was third. With the win Unlocked, who has spent a large portion of his second season chasing some of the top sophomores in the country, now sports a record of eight wins and six seconds in 22 career starts with earnings of $142,672. Bet as though defeat was out of the question Unlocked returned $3.00, $2.40 & $2.10. The Southland Festival of Racing action continues on Sunday with a pair of big money events for two-year-old trotters. Post time is 7:10 p.m. for the Sunday card. For entries and more information please visit www.balmoralpark.com. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

State-bred pacers were in the spotlight on a busy Saturday night of harness racing action at Balmoral Park as the Crete plant played host to a pair of ICF Stake eliminations in preparation for next weekends big Southland Festival of Racing.   Freshman pacing fillies kicked off the elimination action as a field of 10 were sent to battle in a $10,000 Loyal Opposition Stake elimination. The top nine finishers will join Lyrics Fall in next week's $43,500 final.   Fresh off back to back victories Kay Willis's good looking filly Lex made it three in a row as she cruised to an easy four-length win in a career best of 1:55.0 with Kyle Wilfong in tow.   Despite having to make three big moves throughout this tussle the bay daughter of Lexington Legend--I Bet U still managed to pace a back half in a brisk 56.0 to secure her third win in four lifetime starts for veteran conditioner Nelson Willis. Duneside Pertie (John De Long) shook loose to rally for the place money while 80-1 longshot Fox Valley Kit (Pat Curtin) took home the show dough. Also gaining spots in the final were Girls Hunt Too, Angel Demon, Mr Leland's Filly, Duneside Splash, Forsaken Glory and BS Tyrichess.   A total of 13 two-year-old pacing colts were dropped into the box for the Mini Me Stake necessitating a pair of $10,000 elimination tussles. The top five in each division will return next Saturday night to battle for a $48,000 jackpot.   In the first elimination Rocco Ruffolo's Lucpark showed a great deal of grit and determination as he overcame a tough trip in route to a 1 ¾ length victory in a lifetime best of 1:54.4 with Dave Magee at the controls.   Grinding it out on for the final five-eighths of a mile while trying to reel in the pace setting Earndawg (Todd Warren) as he put up splits of 29.2, 57.1 & 1:26.4 the gelded son of Sportsmaster--Treasure The Best found his best stride in the late going, sealing the deal with a 27.4 final quarter to notch his second win in three career starts for trainer Erv Miller. Casey At Bat (John De Long) finished second while Earndawg held on for third. Also moving on to the final will be Get Your Camo On and Fox Valley Elijah.   In the second elimination William C & William P. De Long's King Of The Swamp made every call a winning one as he held on to record a three-quarter-length verdict in a lifetime best of 1:55.0.   After cruising through splits of 28.4, 58.3 & 1:27.2 the gelded son of Sportsmaster--She's Redhot, who was an $85,000 yearling purchase dug in gamely keeping Thisishowweoll (John De Long--2nd) and Dakota Roadster (Robert Smolin--3rd) at bay for his second win in four career starts. Also gaining spots in next week's final were Fox Valley Cadet and Gett'er Done Dune.   Sophomore pacing fillies were also in action on Saturday night as a field of 10 state-bred three-year-olds battled in a $7,000 "prep" for next week's Ann Vonian Stake.   This hotly contested division provided another thrilling finish as Quaid Racing LLC's My Little Bit and driver Casey Leonard wound up prevailing by a hard fought head in a career best of 1:52.3. Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) was second while Molly Go Lightly (Matt Krueger) was third in the tight three-horse photo. The top three finishers were all sent off as odds of 2-1.   The Ervin Miller trained daughter of Sportsmaster--Parade Of Love now boasts nine wins, three seconds and two thirds in 20 lifetime starts with earnings of nearly $160,000.   For more information on the big Southland Festival of Racing please visit www.balmoralpark.com.      

What a difference a week makes! After struggling with the turns and the footing on the half-mile oval in the Maywood Pace last week Megan Rogers Racing Stables Unlocked looked like his old self again on Saturday night at Balmoral Park as he completely dismantled eight other ICF three-year-old colt pacers while taking the $10,000 Betzotic Stake by 12½ lengths in a career best of 1:50 over a track listed as "good". Eased away in fourth while a hard leaving Cotton Eyed Joe (Robert Smolin) led the field through an opening quarter in 28.1 driver Dave Magee did not wait long before sending Unlocked to the top as the field straightened up for their journey down the backstretch. Moving like a freight train the son of Duneside Perch--Miss Major Power effortlessly rattled off an eye catching 53.1 middle half while putting up splits of 55.2 & 1:22.0. With a six-length advantage turning for home Unlocked proceeded to widen his lead while finishing off his romp with a 27.4 final quarter despite being under a snug hold from Magee. Sleazeburgernfries (Kyle Wilfong) shook loose late to head up the beaten brigade while Cotton Eyed Joe was third. Despite the disappointing effort last week the Erv Miller trainee was pounded at the betting windows again returning just $2.40, $2.20 & $2.10 running his career record to 7-6-0 in 18 starts with earnings of $118,672. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park    

Looking more like a seasoned veteran than a two-year-old making just his second lifetime start Frank Baldachino & Earl J. Smith's Gett'er Done Dune looped the field on the backstretch and then cruised to an easy 1¾ length victory over five other state-bred freshmen pacing colts in Friday's $10,000 Enzo The Baker Stake at Maywood Park. The final time was 1:58.4. Content to sit near the back of the pack as Just Do It Jesse (John De Long) strolled through leisurely splits of 30.0 & 1:00.3 driver Casey Leonard put Gett'er Dune Dune into motion as the field moved by the halfway mark. Not waiting for his cover to lead him into contention Leonard quickly swung three and then four wide on the backstretch, sweeping from fifth to first with a move not see very often on the half-mile oval as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:30.2. Quickly opening up a 2½ length lead on his rivals around the final turn the gelded son of Duneside Perch--Zsa Zsa Bilmac was under wraps through the lane as he reported home with his first career victory. Dakota Roadster (Robert Smolin) finished second while Quinnocchio (Kyle Wilfong), who tried to follow the winner's big move rallied to finish third. An $1,800 yearling purchase Gett'er Dune Dune returned $3.40, $3.00 & $2.10 while upping his bankroll to $7,500 under the guidance of conditioner Kathy Millman. Casey Leonard had Gett'er Done Dune on cruise control as they hit the wire with an easy win in Friday's $10,000 Enzo The Baker Stake at Maywood Park. by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park

Continuing to show that he is going to be a force to be reckoned with among this seasons ICF three-year-old colt pacing set Paymaq Racing's Uncle Ugly turned Friday's $92,000 Maywood Pace into nothing more than a stroll in the park as he cruised to a beautiful five-length victory in 1:53.3 for driver John De Long. Gunned away from post position five by De Long, the gelded son of Yankee Skyscaper---Yankee Blue took an early tuck behind longshot Fox Valley Cupid (Robert Smolin) before looping that rival as the two sped by an opening quarter in a brisk 27.1. "I was a little surprised that horse (Fox Valley Cupid) was able to get away from the gate as quickly as he did," said De Long. "I never anticipated having to take an early tuck but I knew that horse was a longshot and I wanted to be in control of things so I waited for things to settle down just a bit then just sent my horse back on his way." Rolling along through the heavy humid air Uncle Ugly proceeded to put up middle splits of 55.2 & 1:23.3 while his rivals struggled to maintain a deteriorating outer flow. After turning aside a first over bid from PQ Three (Ryan Anderson) and watching the overwhelming 1-2 favorite Unlocked (Dave Magee) make a break while trying to move up three-wide, De Long and Uncle Ugly began to draw away from the pocket sitting Fox Valley Cupid as the field moved into the final turn. "I was a little nervous heading into that last turn because I knew some of Erv's (Miller) other horses were still looming out there but my horse just picked up the bit again and really started to dig in," said a smiling De Long. Dig in he did, quickly sprinting away from the rest of the field as he left no doubt as to who was the best on this night while cruising under the wire with his fifth win in 10 lifetime starts. Fox Valley Cupid, the 28-1longshot did well to hold on for second while Beach Boy Brody (Casey Leonard) overcame a miscue at the half-mile mark to rally for the show dough. The second choice in the wagering, Uncle Ugly returned $4.80 & $4.80. Show wagering was not allowed on the race. Unraced as a two-year-old, Uncle Ugly, who was a $19,000 yearling purchase now boasts a record of five wins, two seconds and two thirds in 10 starts with earnings of $84,012 while under the watchful eye of trainer Erv Miller. by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park

Racing fans received their first look at some of this seasons Illinois conceived and foaled freshmen trotting and pacing sets as a pair of non-wagering events on Sunday, June 15th capped off a busy weekend of state-bred stakes action.   Pacers kicked off the early action on Sunday night with a field of four youngsters battling in the $10,000 Wicked Brew Stake. After biding his time at the back of the pack as Really Dave (Dean Magee) strolled through splits of 31.1, 1:00.3 & 1:30.2, the Dennis Brightwell owned Casey At Bat uncorked an eye catching 28.0 final quarter to roll right by his rivals for a neck decision in 1:59.2 with Casey Leonard at the controls. Gett'er Done Dune (Dave Magee) was second while Just Do It Jesse (Robert Smolin) was third.   The homebred son of Sportsmaster--Odds On Casey is conditioned is conditioned by Curtis Rice.   A field of five diagonally gaited freshmen went postward in the $5,000 Million Dollar Bye Stake a few minutes later. After a perfect pocket sitting journey while Captain Greedy (JD Finn) put up splits of 30.2, 1:00.3 & 1:32.1, driver Todd Warren popped out of the two-hole at the head of the stretch with the Herman Wheeler owned and trained Fox Valley Qatar and the youngster trotted home powerfully to post a three-length victory in 2:01.2. Captain Greedy held on for second while Arcs Conquest (Dave Magee) was third.   The winner who is a gelded son of Pizzazzed--Armbro Bahrain was a $7,000 Land Of Lincoln Sale purchase by Wheeler.   Pacers and trotters also shared the spotlight on Saturday, June 14th as a field of eight older state-breds met in the $20,000 Broadway Preview Stake while seven sophomore trotting colts squared off in the $10,000 Southern Rocketop Stake.   A pair of frequent visitors to the Balmoral Park winner's circle toted home top honors in these events as the Robert Phillips owned and trainer Al's Hammered zoomed right by the field with his potent closing burst to win by 2 ½ lengths in 1:49.4 while Tour Hall continued his dominance of the sophomore trotting set with a deceptively easy half-length victory in 1:55.2.   Reserved in the early going by driver Robert Smolin Al's Hammered circled around rivals on the final turn before unleashing a wicked 26.1 final quarter to win for the seventh time in 11 starts this season. Silver Devil (John De Long) shook loose late to rally for second while pace setter Ice Scraper (Todd Warren) held on for third.   Mike Brink and Loren Tournear's Tour Hall came into Saturday's stake riding a four-race winning streak and the overwhelming 2-5 favorite lived up to his hype as he shook loose in the lane after a perfect steer from Dave Magee, charging home in 28.2 to stop the clock in a career best. Fox Valley Veto (John De Long) battled hard but was relegated to the runner-up role for the Third Straight week while Bobby B Breeze (Todd Warren) was third. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

Hall of Famer Dave Magee, the 60-year-old reinsman joined some very elite company on Saturday night, eclipsing the $100,000,000 million mark in career earnings. The Big Rock, Illinois native who has more than 11,700 victories, achieved the milestone with a third place finish behind Real Or Magic in Saturday's $15,000 Invitational-Handicap, making him only the 17th driver in the history of the sport to reach the $100,000,000 mark. The 2014 Hanover Stakes season kicked off on Saturday, June 7th at BalmoralPark as a pair of events for diagonally gaited sophomores shared top billing on the 13-race program.   A full field of 10 three-year-old trotting colts started the action in race four as they battled for a purse of $25,900. Fresh off back to back stakes scores over state-bred competition here at Balmoral, Mike Brink and Loren Tournear's Tour Hall made it three in a row as he powered to a four-length victory in a career best of 1:56.0 for driver Dave Magee.   Pointed right for the front from post position four, the altered son of American Native--Broadway And Fifth grabbed command of the proceedings midway around the first turn leading the field through an opening quarter in 29.4.   Pressure came on the backside as Mac Kemp (Dean Magee) rolled up first over battling the pace-setter through middle splits of 59.3 & 1:28.2.   After putting away that bid the Mike Brink trainee kept the remainder of the field at bay with a sharp 27.3 final panel to notch his eighth lifetime victory. Another Illinois bred, Fox Valley Veto (John De Long) rallied from far back to get the runner-up check while Red Solo Cup (Robert Smolin) finished third.   With the win, Tour Hall who returned $8.40, $4.00 & $2.80, now boasts a record of eight wins, four seconds and one third in 18 career starts with earnings of $122,801.   Another full field was sent postward in race six as 10 fillies slugged it out for a purse of $24,400. This time it was an Indiana invader who toted home top honors as Dan & Jo Anne Shetler's homebred DiamondPeak posted a 2 ¾ length victory in wire to wire fashion for her co-owner, trainer and driver Dan Shetler.   Working hard to get to the front in 28.3 from post position five, the daughter of Yankee Glide--Minibar was then able to catch a breather as Shetler guided her through leisurely middle splits of 58.2 & 1:27.3.   The lightly raced bay was never seriously threatened the rest of the way as she trotted home in 28.1 to secure her second win in just five lifetime starts. Pray With Me (Dale Hiteman) overcame a tough first over journey from post 10 to be the bridesmaid while Bailey's Wish (Dave Magee) wound up third after a pocket sitting journey.   Despite the lack of experience DiamondPeak drew plenty of attention for the betting public returning just $4.00, $2.80 & $3.00 while upping her bankroll to $15,559.   by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park        

Continuing his eye opening start to the 2014 season, Paula Smith & James Runyan's Fox Valley Deuce continued to impress knocking off five other Illinois conceived and foaled sophomore pacing colts by a length in Friday's $10,000 Gosox Stake at Maywood Park. The final time was a career best 1:54.2 for the Joel Smith trainee. Gunned right to the front by regular pilot Casey Leonard, the altered son of Sportsmaster--Dodger Girl breezed through splits of 28.3, 57.3 & 1:25.4 while holding a first over Fox Valley Cupid (Ryan Anderson) at bay for the final five-eighths of a mile.   After turning aside that longshot's bid, Fox Valley Deuce began to draw clear of his rivals in the lane, sealing the deal with a 28.3 final quarter to score for the fifth time in seven starts this year. Cotton Eyed Joe (Robert Smolin), the only horse to defeat Fox Valley Deuce this season, shook loose late after a ground saving trip to finish second while Sleazeburgernfries (Kyle Wilfong) finished third.   The 8-5 favorite returned $5.20, $3.00 & $2.10 and now boasts seven wins, two seconds and a third in 22 lifetime starts with earnings of $43,147.   Driver Casey Leonard and Fox Valley Deuce were on top at every call in Friday's $10,000 Gosox Stake at Maywood Park. by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park

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