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The first pair of American National stakes of the season, both for two-year-old trotters, highlight Wednesday’s Balmoral Park card. The sixth race $69,000 American National colt and geldings has a clear-cut favorite while the fifth race $63,000 added money stake doesn’t. The Ron Burke Stable’s Southwind Spirit should be a heavy favorite by post time after opening up at 2-1. The $105,000 yearling purchase has won 3 of his last 4 races and finished third in the other, the prestigious $250,000 Peter Haughton Final at The Meadowlands. Southwind Spirit comes off a career best 1:54.1 mile in a division of the Kindergarten at Lexington and with Mike Oosting at his lines and the two-slot the Muscle Hill colt looks hard to beat. Chuck Sylvester’s Toss Cartwright (programmed 4-1, Trace Tetrick), a three-time season winner including the $37,339 Wilfong stake at the Indianapolis State Fair last month should get plenty of play and so should Dwayne Minor’s Hillustrious (5-1) who dropped at neck decision in his Kindergarten event a week ago at The Red Mile. Among the local hopes are Plesac stake champion Bobby B Breeze (8-1, Todd Warren) from the Roger Welch Stable and Joel Smith’s (10-1, Dale Hiteman) Big Bad Bob, third best in the Springfield Final. In the filly division, Bobby Browner’s Pray For Me (7-2, Dave Magee) was a double stakes winner in Pennsylvania and took third in the $108,050 Kentuckana stake at Hoosier Park. Herroyalhighness (5-1, Trace Tetrick), the fourth place finisher in that same stake, was a $60,000 purchase by trainer Bob Stewart. Muscle Hill (4-1, Dave Magee) is 2-for-2 since joining the Mike Brink Stable and is 2-for-2 at Balmoral for her Norwegian owner Kjeli Magne Anderson who only paid $15,000 for her at last year’s Lexington Selected Sale. Fox Valley Lotus (6-1, John Roberts) had a strong 1:57.3 winning mile in her Springfield championship and it came in only her third career start, her first was a third-place finish in the July 31 Fox Valley Flan. “We got a late start with the filly because she was having breathing problems,” said her trainer Curt Grummel. “I tried a number of things to help her and when I tried what they call ‘The Cornell Collar’ (a throat support device developed at Cornell University), knock on wood, it’s worked.” Grummel’s familiarity with Fox Valley Lotus’s dam Love You More was the primary reason he purchased the filly for Pittsfield owner Dr. Patrick Graham. “We bought ‘Lotus’ for $20,000 as a yearling at last year’s Walker Sale,” said 41-year-old Carrollton native. “What attracted me the most to her was the filly’s family. I raced two of her sisters, Fox Valley Luxury and Fox Valley Lexus. “So far ‘Luxury’ has been the best of the three sisters. She won the Springfield Final, the Land Lincoln Land and another big stake at Balmoral (the Fox Valley Flan) in her first season but never made a start as a three-year-old.  Her career was cut short in 2010 when she developed a couple of bone chips in an ankle. “I stopped racing ‘Lexus’ earlier this year. She had a breathing problem, just like her younger sister ‘Lotus’ but ‘Lexus’ wasn’t able to overcome it and go fast enough to race on the Chicago circuit.” By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

ANDERSON, Ind.-September 11, 2013-Hoosier Park Racing & Casino highlighted their 20th season of live Standardbred racing with the annual Hoosier Champions night on Wednesday, September 11. Eight new Indiana Sire Stakes champions were crowned on the evening that featured a 14-race card boasting record purses over the $1.8 million mark. The Anderson track played host to four $200,000 Indiana Sire Stakes finals for three-year-old trotters and pacers and four $200,000 Indiana Sire Stakes finals two-year-old trotters and pacers. The evening was highlighted by two track record performances, marking sixteen track records that have been re-established over Hoosier Park's seven-eighths mile oval this season. "Tonight was a celebration for Indiana harness racing," Hoosier Park's vice president and general manager of racing, Rick Moore noted. "We brought the best of the best together to compete for record purses. We continue to be impressed with the quality of horses that are being bred in Indiana and the track records and competitive racing we watched tonight are a direct reflection of that improving quality." U R It BB became Hoosier Park's newest track record holder with a 1:53 victory in the $200,000 Indiana Gold Sire Stakes final for two-year-old pacing fillies. With Brett Miller at the lines, U R It BB was able to find late racing room deep in the stretch to track down the bettors' choice, Color's A Virgin and Jason Dillander, to win by a nose. Trained by Ron Burke, the freshman filly lowered a 14-year-old track record of 1:53.1 that was previously held by Musical Dreamer and driver Don Irvine Jr. "This filly raced really tough tonight," Miller noted of his mount. "They didn't tell me much about her coming into the race but when we got behind the gate she felt good and it didn't look like anyone was leaving. I was able to get good early position and coming around the last turn, I knew if I could find room, I had enough horse to win. When I asked her for more, she dug in all the way to the wire." From the second crop of Always A Virgin, U R It BB notched her second win from seven seasonal outings and pushed her career bankroll over $120,000 for her connections of Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, and Frank Baldachino. The two-year-old pacing colts did not disappoint and followed suit with a track record performance in the $200,000 Indiana Gold Sire Stakes final when Bluehourpower and Ricky Macomber Jr. found the wire in 1:52. Dismissed at the windows at 14-1, Bluehourpower rallied from well off the pace to notch his third win of the season. Trained and owned by Wilbur Eash, the gelded son of Sand Shooter established a new lifetime best mark and lowered the track record by a full second. The previous track record for three-year-old pacing geldings was 1:53, a mark set by Next Thing Smoke'N and Tyler Smith in the last leg of the $30,000 Indiana Gold Sire Stakes action on September 3, 2013. "He's been such a nice colt to train all winter," Eash noted in the winner's circle. "He is a real easy going colt that I think races better from off the pace. The trip worked out for him tonight and he was able to find racing room when he needed it, I couldn't be happier with him." The freshman trotting counterparts opened up the million dollar night and did so in impressive fashion. Andi's Alana and Lewayne Miller overcame a tough trip to score in 1:57.1 in the $200,000 Indiana Gold Sire Stakes final for two-year-old trotting fillies. Trained by Erv Miller, the daughter of Swan For All became the sport's newest $100,000 earner and notched her sixth win from seven seasonal outings for owners Paymaq Racing, Greg Gillis, and Harvey Eisman. The two-year-old trotting colts were up next and it was Justice Jet and Ed Hensley who pulled a 10-1 to upset to score in 1:57.3. Trained by Roger Welch, the gelded son of Justice Hall battled gamely in the stretch to score his sixth win from eight seasonal outings. Welch and Hensley teamed up once more to find the winner's circle with Always About Katey scoring in a lifetime best effort of 1:51.3 in the three-year-old filly pacing ranks. An Indiana Sire Stakes champion at two, Always About Katey used a sharp, front running effort to defend her title and notch her fourth win of the season.  Right Touch and Ray Paver also defended their title and scored a second Indiana Sire Stakes championship trophy when they rallied home a winner in the $200,000 final for three-year-old pacing colts in 1:50.1. The Verlin Yoder-trained trotting duo of Lady Blitz and Natural Herbie were heavily backed at the windows and did not disappoint as they found the winner's circle in each of their respective finals. Owned, trained, and driven by Verlin Yoder, Lady Blitz was home a winner in 1:55 in the three-year-old trotting filly final and just two races later, Natural Herbie followed suit in 1:55.2 in the final for three-year-old colt and gelding trotters. Live racing continues at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Thursday, September 12 with a daily post time of 5:30 p.m. The 160-day, all harness racing meet began on April 2 and will be conducted through November 9. Photos: 1) U R It BB and Brett Miller winning the $200,000 final for two-year-old pacing fillies 2) Bluehourpower and Ricky Macomber Jr. winning the $200,000 final for two-year-old pacing colts. Photos  Courtesy of Linscott Photography. Emily Gaskin  

Elimination races were not necessary Wednesday night for the first American National stakes of the year when 10 two-year-old trotters were entered in each of the colt and filly divisions. Instead seven of next week American National finalists will prep in Wednesday night races with five of them going in the fourth race, a 2-year-old trotting events with “American National Entered Preferred.” The three fillies prepping are the Mike Brink Stable’s Muscle Babe (programmed 3-1, Dave Magee) and the Trenton Watson Stable entry of Pinking Of You (5-2, Casey Leonard) and Dancing Dynamite (5-2, Dean Magee), both winners of a Pennsylvania Sire Stake last month at The Meadows. Among their fourth race competitors are a pair of geldings who are American National bound, the Joel Smith trainee Big Bad Bob (6-1, Dale Hiteman), and the Roger Welch trained Bobby B Breeze (4-1, Todd Warren), winner of Balmoral’s $50,000 Plesac on July 31. Fox Valley Lotus (John Roberts), another starter in next Wednesday’s $63,000 (est.) American National filly stake is the 3-1 favorite in the first race trot. She captured the Springfield State Fair 2-Year-Old Filly Trot crown and was the runner-up in the Shawnee at Du Quoin. The Trenton Watson Stable’s Explosive Cash (Mike Oosting), who will vie in the $67,000 (est.) colt division of the added money stake, is the 3-1 program choice in Wednesday’s second race. While winless in his first six career starts Explosive Cash was second in a division of Philadelphia’s Historic, in a Pennsylvania Sire Stake at Pocono, and third in another at The Meadows. Probably the biggest name to be coming in is Southwind Spirit in the American National colt division. A son of Muscle Hill, this colt has been third or better in all six career starts against some well-regarded youngsters. A $105,000 yearling buy at the 2012 Lexington Select Sale, Southwind Spirit won his Peter Haughton elimination in 1:57.2 before finishing third in the $280,500 Final at The Meadowlands. He also won a New Jersey Sire Stake and was second in another. Trained by Ron Burke, who shares ownership of the colt, Southwick Spirit already has over $101,000 on his first season card. Here are the horses that entered next week’s American Nationals (listed in each alphabetically): Colt and Gelding Division: Big Bad Bob, Bobby B Breeze, Explosive Cash, Fox Valley Veto, Hillustrious, Hot Type, Maple Grove Joe, Nino Marino, Southwind Spirit and Toss Cartwright. Filly Division: Bailey’s Wish, Dancing Dynamite, Deweyscheatingirl, Don’t Miss A Tweet, Fox Valley Hosana, Fox Valley Lotus, Herroyalhighness, Muscle Babe, Pinking Of You and Pray With Me. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

ANDERSON, Ind.—September 10, 2013—Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will highlight the 2013 Standardbred season on Wednesday, September 11 with Indiana’s finest trotters and pacers convening on Hoosier Park’s seven-eighths mile oval for the annual Hoosier Champions Night, an evening with purse totals topping the $1.8 million mark. A total of 14 races have been established and after the dust settles, eight new Indiana Sires Stakes champions will be crowned. The first race will line up behind the starting gate at 5:30 p.m. All two and three-year-old Indiana Gold Sires Stakes finals will go for purses of $200,000 while the aged pace and aged trot will race for $50,000, respectively. Also, four $40,000 Indiana Silver Sire Stakes finals will be contested on the evening. The Verlin Yoder-trained trotting duo of Lady Blitz and Natural Herbie head the list of entrants in the $200,000 finals for three-year-old trotters. Lady Blitz, a Hoosier Park track record holder for three-year-old fillies on the trot, has scored three wins from the four Indiana Gold Sire Stakes preliminary legs. She will start from post six with Verlin Yoder in the sulky in the $200,000 final for three-year-old filly trotters. Natural Herbie, also a winner in three of the four preliminary legs, will look to score his eighth win of the season in the $200,000 final for three-year-old colt and gelding trotters. The son of Here Comes Herbie will start from post seven in the ten horse field with Verlin Yoder at the lines. Sophomore standout Night Pro will look to sweep the Indiana Gold Sire Stakes final in the three-year-old colt pacing division. The Pro Bono Best—Midnight Jewel colt has dominated the three-year-old pacing colt ranks, winning the first $200,000 final at Hoosier Park and reeling off 14 wins for trainer Dale Decker while bankrolling over $200,000. Owned by Dale Decker, Night Pro has drawn post two in the seven horse field and will be guided by Pete Wrenn. Always About Katey will looks to score back to back wins in the $200,000 final for three-year-old pacing fillies. An Indiana Sire Stakes champion at two, Always About Katey posted an impressive 1:52.2 score in the fourth preliminary leg at Hoosier Park. Always About Katey, trained by Roger Welch, has drawn post four and will be driven by Ed Hensley. Live racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will follow a Tuesday-Saturday schedule with a daily post time of 5:30 p.m. The 160-day, all harness racing meet began on April 2 and will be conducted through November 9. by Emily Gaskin for Hoosier Park  

Harness racing at the Springfield State Fair gets underway this afternoon with a 10-race card mostly for ICF 2-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. First post is 12 noon. Elimination races for next week’s $45,000 Illinois State Fair Colt Stake Championships were needed for each of the freshman trot and pace events. A pair of $10,000 ICF championships will be also decided. Squaring off in the eighth race trotting stake showdown (program odds listed) are Westbound Darin (6-1), Ants Iner Pants (12-1), Maplegrove Shaelyn (5-1), Miss Kylie (8-1), Fox Valley Sienna (8-1), B Fly McQueen (4-1) and Ruby’s And Pearls (3-1). Back to defend her title in the 10th race Illinois State Fair Filly and Mare Championship is Fox Valley Touche (3-1) and the Joel Smith trainee landed the rail in the nine-horse field. Last summer the Sportsmaster mare took her lifetime mark of 1:50.4 in this Springfield stake. Taking on Fox Valley Touche are TJ’s April Angel (6-1), Just By Design (4-1), Nina Coleada (10-1), Cole Blue (12-1), Willow Gram (8-1), Sleazy Does It (8-1), Pardon (5-1) and Miss Kelley Lynne (12-1). With six starters in 4each of the 2-year-old colt eliminations only one youngster in each split won’t advance to that $45,000 final. The opening elim has Polar’s Big Spender (10-1), Finnister (6-1), Rory Borealis (8-1), Gray N Cloudy (4-1), Big Bad Bob (3-1) and Just Leo (5-1). The second race lines up with Nono Marino (10-1), Tour Hall (3-1), Bobby B Breeze (2-1), Fox Valley Veto (5-1), Big Bill Breeze (4-1) and Battleshoe Crown (6-1). The first five finishers in the fourth and fifth race eliminations for 2-year-old trotting fillies return for next Thursday’s $45,000 championship. With Fox Valley Flan champion Vienna not at Springfield, the pre-stake favoritism looks to be between “Flan” runner-up Bailey’s Wish for Springfield based trainer Dirk Simpson, and S V Spirit, a three-time victor in five career starts for trainer Roger Welch who wasn’t eligible to the Fox Valley Flan. Eliminations for the freshman filly pace are races 6 and 7 with the second division pitting recent Hanover stake runner-up Western Dame (3-1, John De Long) against Loyal Opposition champ Thesleazyprincess (4-1, Mike Oosting). They’ll be challenged by Fox Valley Thyme (12-1), Kiss This Perch (8-1), Fox Valley Flora (6-1), First Lady’s Z Tam (5-1), My Girl Pippa (8-1) and Fox Valley Roxanne (10-1). The first filly pace elim 3-1 favorite is My Little Bit (p.p. 6, Casey Leonard), runner-up in the Loyal Opposition who hails from the always strong Erv Miller Stable. She’s owned by Obermeier & Quaid Stables of Evergreen Park, Illinois. Also looking to finish in the top five and advance to next week’s final are Ms Solongbyebye (10-1), Fox Valley Shiver (6-1), Fox Valley Amanda (4-1), Perfectly Clear (6-1), Amazing Summer (5-1), Rds Master Revrac (8-1). April May Dune (12-1) and Ineverkissandtell (12-1). A single elimination will be raced in the 2-year-old colt pacing division where only the 11th place finisher won’t make that final. Posts 1 through 10 will be manned by Fancy Creek Mitch (10-1), Fox Valley Cupid (8-1), Badger Quinn (3-1), Traffic Cop (5-1), Duneside Mike (12-1), Sky Cam (12-1), Fox Valley Deuce (8-1), PQ Three (4-1), Unlocked (6-1), and Rio’s Z Tam (8-1). Fox Valley Van starts in the second tier at program odds of 12-1. Unlocked (Dave Magee) is unbeaten in five career starts that include a trio of stake wins in June at Balmoral and the July 5 Fox Valley Barzgar at Maywood. Nick Prather trains the Duneside Perch colt for Chicago owner Megan Rogers. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association County Fair Report EFFINGHAM COUNTY FAIR AT ALTAMONT    Thursday Afternoon, August 8 FIRST: Free For All Pace, 1st Div, Purse $980: Horse (Driver)                                               Time (Track Fast) Annrenee (Jared Finn)                                           2:03.2 Trainer: Dane May. Owner: Dane May. SECOND: Free For All Pace, 2nd Div, Purse $980: Richard Traci (Jared Finn)                                     2:02 Trainer: Dane May. Owner: Dane May. THIRD: Free For All Pace, 3rd Div, Purse $980: Spill The Beans (Dillon Cox)                                 2:01.3 Trainer: Mike Cox. Owner: Mike Cox. FOURTH:  Non-Winners of $1,000 or 2 Races LT Trot, Purse $1,320: So Photogenic (Jerome Daniels)                          2:05.4 Trainer: Jerome Daniels. Owners: Jerome Daniels and Cornelius Cavett. FIFTH:  Non-Winners of $1,000 or 2 Races LT Pace, 1st Div, Purse $1,020: Frontier Rose (Harold Finn Jr.)                             2:06.2 Trainer: Philip Finn Jr. Owner: Philip Finn Jr. SIXTH:  Non-Winners of $1,000 or 2 Races LT Pace, 2nd Div, Purse $1,000: Wings (Merle Finn Jr.)                                            2:06.3 Trainer: Merle Finn Jr. Owner: Merle Finn Jr. SEVENTH:  Non-Winners of $1,000 or 2 Races LT Pace, 3rd Div, Purse $980: Who Called Kellie (Ronnie Gillespie)                  2:05.3 Trainer: Ronnie Gillespie. Owner: John Carver. EIGHTH: Non-Winners of $1,000 or 2 Races LT Pace, 4th Div, Purse $980: American Desire (Ronnie Gillespie)                    2:03 Trainer: Ronnie Gillespie. Owner: John Carver: NINTH: Amateur Driving Race, Purse $580: AR Sissy (Raymond Morgan)                                2:02.3 Trainer: Michele Morgan. Owners: Michele Morgan, Raymond Morgan, Janet Betley and Todd Weinmann.

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

The Champion On Ice Trotting Series has always proven to be popular with horsemen and it’s no different this time around. A sizable 28 horses passed the entry box for Wednesday’s opening round at Balmoral Park, necessitating three harness racing divisions. Local based horses will be challenged by trotters, mostly youngsters, who have come in from out-east tracks in Pennsylvania and New York, to Midwest facilities in Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota, as well as County Fair tracks. Springfield based trainer Mike Brink has a threat in each of the three splits with Dave Magee driving all three. There’s Nidaros  a $50,000 yearling buy as a yearling in the opener, Jailhouse Rockn a Hoosier Park invader who got her maiden win in 2:00.2 less than two weeks ago in the second, and Justice And Fifth, a son of Justice Hall who was a 1:58.4 victor in Indiana on July 25, Eligible to Champion On Ice Series are trotting colts and geldings with a victory as of July23. Fillies are mares are allowed one won by the same date. A second series round will be contested next Wednesday, the 14th, with the $9,000 (est.) Final slated for Wednesday, August 21. Dirk Simpson, another Springfield based conditioner, has a pair of Champion On Ice hopefuls with I’m A Pop Star (Todd Warren) in race one and Chantilly Hall (he’ll drive) in race three. Both three-year-old fillies didn’t come cheap at yearling sales. I’m A Pop Star sold for $40,000 when her name was Muscany Valley, while Chantilly Hall was a $32,000 purchase. The second division morning line 5-2 favorite is the ICF filly Fox Valley Roxy (Dean Magee) fresh off a 2:00.1 victory. I expect Homer Hochstetler Stable’s Emoticon, who has been campaigning in upstate New York at Vernon Down to go off much lower than his listed program odds of 12-1. The son of Conway Hall was unraced at two after being bought for $37,000 at the 2011 Lexington Select Sale and lands the one-slot for his return to Balmoral.. Third division programmed second choice at 9-2 is We’ve Got It All (Mike Oosting) sold at the same Kentucky sale for $97,000 to the trio Paymaq Racing (Long Grove, IL), Peggy Hood (Valparaiso, IN) and Canadian Greg Gillis. Unraced as a 2-year-old, this year the Yankee Glide filly was winless in her first seven starts out east, campaigning mostly at Pocono Downs. Note that she’s raced with trotting hobbles in her last two starts when she was timed in 1:56.3 and 1:57.3 with fifth place finishes. Springfield Opens: A double-draw for the Springfield State Fair cards of Friday, August 8 and Saturday, August 9 took place this Tuesday morning at Maywood Park.  Most of Friday’s opening program will be filled with Illinois State Fair Colt Stakes elimination races. The 2 and 3-year-old ICF championships for both pacers and trotters will be conducted next Thursday, August 15, the final day of racing at Springfield. County Fair Report LOGAN COUNTY FAIR at LINCOLN     Saturday Afternoon August 3 Results FIRST: Downstate Classic Two-Year-Old Filly Pace, 1st Div, Purse $5,738: Horse (Driver)                                                           Time (Track Fast) Fox Valley Shiver (Freddie Patton Jr.)                             2:00 Trainer: Freddie Patton Jr. Owners: Peter Karras, Thomas Spathies and William Tortoriello. SECOND: Downstate Classic Two-Year-Old Filly Pace, 2nd Div, Purse $5,738: Kiss This Perch (J D Finn)                                                 2:02.1 Trainer: J D Finn.  Owner: Sharon Finn. THIRD: Downstate Classic Two-Year-Old Colt Pace, 1st Div, Purse $6,302: Marty Rocker (Ronnie Gillespie)                                       2:00 Trainer: Ronnie Gillespie. Owners: Ron Phillips, John Carver and Jesse Ferge. FOURTH: Downstate Classic Two-Year-Old Colt Pace, 2nd Div, Purse $6,302: Manny”s Z Tam (Rick Schrock)                                         2:02 Trainer: Dave Mc Caffrey. Owners: Z Tam Stables, Michael Polansky, Joseph McCaffrey and David McCaffrey. FIFTH: Downstate Classic Two-Year-Old Filly Trot, 1st Div, Purse $5,630: S V Spirit (Todd Warren)                                                     2:07.2 Trainer: Roger Welch, Owners: William De Long and Wm. Patrick De Long. SIXTH: Downstate Classic Two-Year-Old Filly Trot, 2nd Div, Purse $5,630: Say No Mo (Dirk Simpson)                                                 2:06 Trainer: Dirk Simpson. Owners: Dr. Patrick Graham, Flacco Family Farms and Dirk Simpson Stable. SEVENTH: Downstate Classic Two-Year-Old Colt Trot, 1st Div, Purse $5,374: Finnster (J D Finn)                                                              2:06 Trainer: J D Finn. Owner: J D Finn and Allison Finn. EIGHTH: Downstate Classic Two-Year-Old Colt Trot, 1st Div, Purse $5,374: Gray N Cloudy (Dirk Simpson) Trainer: Dirk Simpson. Owners: Sam Daddono, Dr. Patrick Graham, Dirk Simpson and Simpson Racing Stables. EFFINGHAM COUNTY FAIR AT ALTAMONT    Sunday Afternoon, August 4 FIRST: Big 10 Three-Year-Old Filly Trot, Purse $3,173: Horse (Driver)                                               Time (Track Fast) High Stepper (JD Finn)                                          2:05.3 Trainer: J D Finn. Owners: Mary Jeffers and Adele Everett. SECOND: Big 10 Three-Year-Old Colt Trot, Purse $3,341: Powerful Valor (Jared Finn)                                  2:05.1 Trainer: J D Finn. Owner: Hinshaw Homestead Farms. THIRD: Big 10 Two-Year-Old Filly Pace, Purse $3,574: M A Duty (Ronnie Gillespie)                                  2:05.1 Trainer: Ronnie Gillespie. Owners: Ron Phillips, John Carver and Jesse Ferge. FOURTH: Big 10 Two-Year-Old Colt Pace, Purse $3,597: Tower Power (Freddie Patton Jr.)                         2:04.4 Trainer: Freddie Patton Jr. Owner: Marvin Kendrick. FIFTH: ICF Four-Year-Olds & Up Male Pace, Purse $3,500: T J’s April Angel (Ronnie Gillespie)                     2:02.2 Trainer: Roshun Trigg. Owner: Roshun Trigg. SIXTH: ICF Four-Year-Olds & Up Mare Pace, Purse $3,500: Fox Valley Barbosa (Jared Finn)                          2:03.2 Trainer: Ray Hanna. Owners: Ray Hanna and Jim Edgar. SEVENTH: Free For All Trot, 1st Div, Purse $1,250: LW Jaynie Flyer (Cassidy Melloy)                                    2:03.4 Trainer: Cassidy Melloy. Owner: Cassidy Melloy. EIGHTH: Free For All Trot, 2nd Div, Purse $1,250: He’s Lucky (Kyle Husted)                                       2:03.4 Trainer: Pamela Coleman. Owners: Horseman’s Financial Agency and Premier Racing Stables.  EFFINGHAM COUNTY FAIR AT ALTAMONT    Monday Afternoon, August 5 FIRST: Big 10 Two-Year-Old Trot, Purse $6,104: Horse (Driver)                                               Time (Track Fast) Bessiebearcat (Eric Collier)                                   2:12 Trainer: Delbert Burkett. Owners: Delbert Burkett and Eric Collier. SECOND: Big 10 Three-Year-Old Filly Pace, Purse $3,329: Queen Beatrice (Darla Martin)                              2:02 Trainer: David Lohman. Owners: Fred and David Lohman. THIRD: Big 10 Three-Year-Old Colt Pace, Purse $3,574: Party Cove (Tom Simmons)                                   2:01.3 Trainer: Tom Simmons. Owners: Beat Seales and Dennis Beccue. FOURTH: Filly and Mare Open Pace, 1st Div, Purse $1,000: Wild Berry Muffler (J D Finn)                                 2:04.2 Trainer: J D Finn. Owner: Catherine and Ritzel. FIFTH: Filly and Mare Open Pace, 2nd Div, Purse $1,000: Prosper (Kyle Husted)                                             2:01 Trainer: Pamela Coleman. Owner: Fair Meadow Farm. WILLIAMSON COUNTY FAIR AT MARION   Monday Afternoon, August 5 FIRST: ECS Two-Year-Old Pace, Purse $6,204: Horse (Driver)                                               Time (Track Fast) Syd’s Lollipop (Freddie Patton Jr.)                        2:05 Trainer: Freddie Patton Jr. Owner: Perry Tillman Jr. SECOND: ECS Two-Year-Old Filly Trot, Purse $3,202: Bands Giant Star (Freddie Patton Jr.)                  2:12.1 Trainer: Freddie Patton Jr. Owner: Flacco Family Farms. THIRD: ECS Two-Year-Old Colt Trot, Purse $3,212: Battleshoe King (Buddy Simpson)                                   2:12 Trainer: Buddy Simpson. Owners: Buddy and Clay Simpson. FOURTH: Non-Winners of $1,500 Lifetime, 1st Div, Purse $600: Wings (Merle Finn)                                                  2:08.4 Trainer: Merle Finn Jr. Owner: Merle Finn Jr. FIFTH: Non-Winners of $1,500 Lifetime, 2nd Div, Purse $600: Dusty Dunes (H. Joe Haught)                               2:09 Trainer: H. Joe Haught. Owner: H. Joe Haught. SIXTH: Free For All Trot, Purse $800: Elmar (E. Leroy Moore)                                           2:08.4 Trainer: E. Leroy Moore. Owner: E. Leroy Moore. SEVENTH: Non-Winners of $3,500 Lifetime Pace, Purse $800: Lion Of Judah (H. Joe Haught)                             2:08.1 Trainer: H. Joe Haught. Owner: Thomas Throgmorton. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

Balmoral Park hosts its annual Southland Festival of Racing on Saturday evening with five ICF stake championships to be decided. The $51,500 Kadabra for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings was moved to the second race to kick off the track’s Pick 5 which, at least on paper, looks more like a Pick 4 with the powerhouse entry of King Mufasa, Skyline Road and Powerful Poe. King Mufasa has been dominant, breezing to victories in his last four races that included a Hanover and a career fastest 1:54.1 mile two weeks ago and he wasn’t urged to go any faster. “I don’t know how fast he can go,” said King Mufasa’s trainer Mike Brink. “Mike (driver Oosting) told me he never pulled the earplugs in his last start when the horse went in 54. All I can say is that he’s a very nice trotter and that we haven’t found his bottom yet.” “King Mufasa is loaded with talent,” added Oosting. “Mike (Brink) has done a wonderful job with the horse. Last year he was uncontrollable. Now you can do anything you want with him.” Powerful Poe, the runner-up to King Mufasa in the Hanover, went to Michigan earlier this month and was second in hazel park’s $100,000 Connors championship. Regular driver Todd Warren made the trip to drive the Dirk Simpson trainee with over $210,000 on his card in one and a half seasons of racing. While the morning line on the Kadabra has King Mufasa and friends is at 6-5, anything over 2-5 odds would be a gift for the entry supporters. Saturday’s $60,000 Ann Vonian Final Auniqueaquisition (programmed 5-2) and Aliyah Maria (3-1) square off for the fifth time this year with the each filly beating the other twice. Aliyah Maria beat her when the Roger Welch trainee took the Violet title back in May. Auniqueaquisition handled open company fillies in a Hanover, a stake Aliyah Maria wasn’t eligible to. “Donna (trainer Lee Ozment) has just done a heck of a job with Aquiqueaquisiton,” said her driver Oosting “Last year the filly didn’t always want to finish but this year that’s not a problem. “She and Todd Warren’s horse (Aliyah Maria) look like the best in their division. They’ve beaten each other and they figure to battle that way all through the rest of the year.” The other Southland Festival of Racing ICF showdowns are the $65,000 Loyal Opposition for freshman pacing fillies, the $63,500 Mini Me for 2-year-old male pacers and the $59,000 Incredible Finale for second season pacing colts and geldings. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

Continuing her early season roll Rocco Ruffolo's prize acquisition, Aliyah Maria had no trouble dispatching 10 other Illinois conceived and foaled harness racing three-year-old pacing fillies in Sunday's $12,000 Betzotic Stake as she cruised to a one and three quarter length victory in 1:53.3 for driver Todd Warren.

When the season began harness racing trainer Roger Welch didn't have one of the very elite ICF 3-year-old filly pacers fillies in his barn. However, that all changed in early May when Aliyah Maria arrived. Acquired privately by Chicago owner Rocky Ruffolo, Aliyah Maria has risen near the top of her division in the last seven weeks.

Aliyah Maria, a recent acquisition for long-time harness racing owner Rocco Ruffolo, looked like a wise investment on Sunday night as the daughter of Duneside Perch-Maria Maria handily knocked off nine other Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing fillies in the first 'major' stake of the season, winning the $55,300 Violet Stake Final by a widening length in a career best of 1:52.4 for driver Todd Warren.

For the second consecutive year the Kankakee, IL based newspaper The Daily Journal has named harness racing trainer Roger Welch as its Illinois Trainer of the Year

Iam Bonasera, who established himself as the top ICF aged male pacer of 2012, is back competing Saturday night after a six-week absence. Harness racing trainer Roger Welch quit with the 5-year-old son of Cole Muffler after the horse had some trouble in the turns in his November starts but not after Iam Bonasera turned his season around when he joined the Beecher, IL stable in the middle of July.

Always About Katey captured the $113,000 American National Stake for harness rcing freshman pacing fillies in a career best 1:53.1 Saturday night, Nov.10 at Balmoral Park in suburban Crete, IL.

A pair of Illinois conceived and foaled stakes, each with jackpots in excess of $50,000 shared top billing on Friday night's Maywood harness racing program as a field of eight two-year-old colt pacers squared off in the $55,000 Cardinal Stake while their female counterparts slugged it out in the $51,000 Violet Stake.

Illinois conceived and foaled pacers and trotters were back in action on Saturday, Sept. 22nd and Sunday, Sept. 23rd as Balmoral Park played host to a trio of stakes events for two and three-year-olds.

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