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Illinois conceived and foaled two-year=old pacers shared top billing on the Friday, Oct. 3rd card at Maywood Park as some of the state's top fillies gathered for the $43,600 Violet Stake while their male counterparts battled in the $43,350 Cardinal Stake. Both races left no doubt as to who was best on this night as Jessie De Long & the Hamm Family Trust's Sportsmuffler romped to a 6½ length victory in the Violet while Bo & Pat De Long and Ernest Miller's Earndawg continued his recent dominance of his division with a devastating 4 ½ length romp in the Cardinal. Taking advantage of a perfect pocket sitting journey as Luvniecestopieces (Ryan Anderson) rattled off splits of 28.0 & 57.1 driver John De Long moved Sportsmuffler to the outside as the field hit the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.1. Fit and fresh as the fillies moved around the final bend the Jessie De Long trained daughter of Sportsmaster--Whatthere'smore overpowered the pace setter as the field turned for home then drew off impressively, tripping the timer in 1:56.3 for her seventh win in 11 lifetime starts. Fox Valley Charm (Kyle Wilfong), who picked up brief cover from the winner turned in a nice effort to be the bridesmaid while Luvniecestopieces held on to be a distant third. A close second choice in the wagering Sportsmuffer returned $5.00, $3.20 & $3.20 while upping her career bankroll to more than $67,000. Using the "give and go" to perfection in the Cardinal Stake driver Todd Warren allowed entrymate King Of The Swamp (Ridge Warren) to grab command through a quick opening split of 27.2. Sweeping back to the top after the opening panel Earndawg proceeded to pace through fractions of 57.2 & 1:26.2 while keeping Lucpark (Dave Magee) hung on the outside. With the difficult trip finally taking a toll on that one, the Roger Welch trained son of Sportsmaster--Pacific Sister K simply sprinted away from the rest of his rivals leaving them in his wake as he cruised under the wire in 1:55.4 for his fifth win in 12 tries this season. King Of The Swamp followed the winner all the way but was simply second best on this night while C Note (Travis Seekman) shook loose late to finish third, 8 ¾ lengths behind the winner. This year's Orange & Blue champion may have put a stamp on divisional honors with Friday's win as he now boasts a record of 5-2-2 in 12 starts with earnings of more than $141,000. Bet as though defeat was out of the question the Welch trained coupling returned $2.20, $2.40 & $2.10. by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park  

Super Night 2014 at BalmoralPark kicked off with a pair of trotting events for harness racing three-year-olds as the $100,000 Lady Ann Reed Stake and the $100,000 Su Mac Lad started the biggest night of racing for the state-bred set. It was only fitting that Super Night's leading reinsman, Hall of Famer Dave Magee piloted the winner of the opener as he guided James Bafia and Eugene White's Bailey's Wish to a neck victory in the Lady Ann Reed. The final time was 1:58.1.   Given a perfect steer despite leaving from post position nine the daughter of Southwind Breeze--Jen was able to work her way to the front after being parked through opening splits of 29.1 & 57.2.   "I was a little concerned and a little surprised we had to work that hard to make the front," said a relieved Magee. "Like most any horse she's best off a trip but that wasn't going to happen from the 9-hole tonight."   Continuing to roll along on the front end as the ladies passed the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.3 Bailey's Wish began to brace for the challenge of heavily favored Macie Rae (Ryan Anderson) who was out and rolling from third.   As the two hooked up with just over an eighth of a mile to go disaster struck for the favorite as she made a nasty break leaving Bailey's Wish alone on the front.   The Dirk Simpson miss then dug in gamely as she neared the wire, holding off a late bid in the passing lane from longshot Lora Lee Breeze for her fourth win of the season. Lora Lee Breeze was a hard charging second while Say No Mo (John De Long) was third.   "I knew my horse was going to try all the way down the lane but I really wasn't sure how much she had left when that horse came at her," said Magee. But the other filly made the break and my horse seemed to get more confidence at that point and she just kept going long enough to get there."   The second choice in the wagering, Bailey's Wish returned $8.00, $4.00 & $3.20 while running her career numbers to 9-8-3 in 26 starts with earnings of $238,438.   Magee was right back in the winner's circle in the Su Mac Lad picking up a late drive as Marcus Miller was delayed getting to Balmoral and making the most of it, notching his 31st career Super Night win by steering Donald Emond's Big Bill Breeze to a 2 ¾ length victory in 1:56.1.   Sent right to the front from post position six the gelded son of Southwind Breeze--Big Z Cornsilk proceeded to stroll through splits of 29.0, 58.4 & 1:27.0 while under very little pressure from the rest of the field.   "I was very pleased by the way the opening splits went out there," explained Magee. Once I got control of things I knew I could always let somebody and go and still get the good trip but we never had to."   Easily fending off a first over bid from heavy favorite Fox Valley Veto (John De Long), the Monte Gelrod trainee was pretty much under wraps as he pulled away from his nine rivals for his 12th win in 16 starts this year. Bobby B Breeze (Todd Warren) parlayed a perfect pocket sitting trip into a second place check while Tour Hall (Mike Brink) rallied to finish third.   After the win Magee was quick to sing the praises of Nick Prather who conditioned Big Bill Breeze up until his recent sale.   "Nick really did a great job with this horse, developing him, teaching him and getting him to race up to his abilities," said Magee. "Now Monte has continued with him and he's really a very nice and solid trotter."   Now sporting an impressive slate of 19-2-5 in 28 career trips postward with earnings of $102,616 Big Bill Breeze returned $8.80, $6.00 & $5.00.   Bailey's Wish and Dave Magee held on gamely to win the Lady Ann Reed.   Magee was right back in the winner's circle with Big Bill Breeze in the Su Mac Lad.   Tom Kelley

The harness racing meet at the Du Quoin State Fair wraps up today with a number of ICF championships to be decided on the 11-race card that will get under way at 12 noon. The showcase event is the $40,000 Governor’s Cup for ICF 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings. Springfield champion Thisishowweroll (John De Long) is the 2-1 morning line favorite to capture the 10th race headliner. The Nick Giberson trainee did draw the outside 7-slot. Trainer Erv Miller sends out a pair of major threat in the Governor’s Cup, Lucpark (Dave Magee) and Engine One O One (Casey Leonard). Lucpark has been no worse than fourth in six career starts, winning twice. Engine One O One earned a trip to Du Quoin with an impressive 1:54.4 victory (:27.1 last panel) debuting at Springfield in an Illinois Department of Agriculture event. The Sportsmaster gelding sold for $42,000 as a yearling to Quaid Racing and Paymaq Racing and is a half-bother to King’s Legend (1:51), the runner-up in the 2012 Incredible Finale and Hanover for Team Miller. A pair of overwhelming favorites should be Herman Wheeler’s Fox Valley Qatar in the first $17,000 Darn Safe for ICF freshman males (No Show Wagering) and Megan Roger’s Unlocked in the $22,000 Dudley 3-year-old colt and gelding pace (No Place or Show Wagering). Fox Valley Qatar (1-1, Todd Warren) is unbeaten in five career starts and comes off easy victories in the Plesac and Springfield championships. Unlocked (4-5, Dave Magee) was dominating in both his Incredible Finale (1:50.2) and Springfield (1:49.1) championships. In the latter he motored his last quarter in a sizzling 25.4 seconds. The most intriguing stake race of the afternoon could be in the second Dudley Hanover split with rematch of Captain Greedy (2-1, J D Finn) and Cruisin Valor (5-2, Brian Carpenter), the one-two at Springfield in a division of the Illinois State Fair Colt Stakes. After a second place finish behind Fox Valley Qatar in Balmoral’s mid-June Million Dollar Bye stake Captain Greedy has strung together six consecutive victories. He held off Crusin Valor by a neck at Springfield. The Gerald Hanson Stable’s Cruisin Valor (Brian Carpenter) was much the best in a Hanover, drawing away by five lengths in 2:00.1 for Illinois owners (Sam) Lilly Racing Stables (Downers Grove), Shelley Steele (Monee) and Payton Ode (Joliet). They’ll be challenged by Bulldog Benji (programmed 15-1, Dave Magee), Jake Quaider (9-2, Casey Leonard), Southerncomfortzone (9-2, John De Long), RT Habenero (7-1, Robert Taylor) and Broadway Emotion (25-1, Mike Brink). Also on the line Sunday afternoon are a couple of $8,000 Championships for older ICF pacing mares and pacing horses or geldings. The fifth race distaff stake lines up with Just By Design (9-2, Dave Magee), Springfield champion Dallas Jones (3-1, Casey Leonard), Parkland Powerful victor No Respect (9-5, John De Long); Rev Me Up (7-2, Todd Warren) and Incredible Filly (6-1, Ronnie Gillespie). The ninth race championship brings out Sadies Art (15-1, Tom T. Tetrick), Mystical Walter (6-5, Casey Leonard), Big Daddy Woo Woo (5-2, Dale Hiteman), My Boy Luke (20-1, Dave Magee) and Fancy Creek Elusiv (2-1, Ryan Anderson). There is no Show wagering on either of the older ICF pace championships. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

Freshmen pacers stepped into the spotlight on Saturday, August 2nd at BalmoralPark as a pair of Hanover Stakes for two-year-olds shared top billing on the big 13-race card.   The boys kicked off the action as a field of nine were sent postward for a $34,900 jackpot. Despite a win in his last start and the fact he was part of a three-horse entry Kay Willis's Gold Star Image escaped at odds of 7-1 and the rapidly improving youngster made his doubters pay as he rolled to a 2 ¼ length victory in a career best of 1:53.2 for driver Dale Hiteman.   Leaving quickly from post 10, the gelded son of Rockin Image--Village Mimic settled into a nice spot in fourth as Lucpark (Dave Magee) and Indian Outlaw (Travis Seekman) battled through an opening quarter in 27.2.   With several horses getting underway from the back of the pack, Hiteman quickly maneuvered the Nelson Willis trainee to the outside, charging to the front as the field reached the half in 56.4.   In control of things around the bend Gold Star Image proceeded to lead the field through three-quarters in 1:25.2.   After turning aside a first over bid from Earndawg (Pat Curtin) the $4,000 bargain yearling buy dug in gamely holding last week's Mini Me Stake winner King of the Swamp (Todd Warren) and the ground saving Lucpark at bay through the lane. A late charging Indian Outlaw shook loose in time to rally for the place money while King Of The Swamp salvaged the show dough.   Gold Star Image returned a healthy $17.80, $6.40 & $4.60 while running his record to 2-0-1 in 4 starts with earnings of $19,930.   A compact field of five fillies was sent postward in their Hanover test and once again Leyland Mathias and Paymaq Racing's Mr Leland's Filly continued to turn heads with her big closing kick as she rallied for a 1 ½ length triumph in 1:54.3 with Casey Leonard in tow.   Content to save ground while chief rival Lex (Kyle Wilfong) strolled through splits of 29.1 & 58.3 Leonard finally moved the daughter of Sportsmaster--Incredible Katie to the outside as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.3.   With the pace setter begin to drift a bit in the lane, Leonard dove back to the inside with the Ervin Miller trained miss and she responded beautifully, gobbling up the leader and quickly drawing clear for her second straight stakes score. Lex held on for second while another Miller trainee, Angel Demon (Ryan Anderson) was third.   Heavily backed at the betting windows after her win in the Loyal Opposition Stake last week Mr Leyland's Filly returned $3.40, $2.20 & $2.10 while upping her record to 2-0-0 in four starts with earnings of $35,770.   The Hanover Stakes action continues on Sunday with a pair of events for two-year-old trotters. State-bred trotters will also be in action in the $25,000 Mikes A Mystery Stake. Post time is 7:10 p.m. for the Sunday card. Both Balmoral & Maywood will then be dark for live racing until Friday, August 15th (Maywood) and Saturday, August 16th (Balmoral) as the action heads to Springfield for the State Fair Stakes. Tom Kelley

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

A pair of Hanover Stakes for three-year-olds shared top billing on the Saturday program at Balmoral Park. A total of 14 sophomore pacing fillies were dropped into the box necessitating a split into a pair of $22,750 divisions while a total of eight pacing colts were sent postward for a purse of $37,600. The fillies kicked things off with Burke Racing Stables, Weaver Bruscemi, Frank Baldachino & Lawrence Karr's U R It BB's posting a 2 ¼ length victory in a career best of 1:51.4 for driver Casey Leonard. Given a perfect steer by Balmoral's leading driver the daughter of Always A Virgin--U Neek B B sat second while a headstrong Kayla Grace (Brad Kramer) showed the way through an opening quarter in 28.1. After grabbing command midway down the backside, Leonard elected to let a hard charging Hello My Dream (Dave Magee) go as the field rolled by the half-mile mark in 55.2. Sitting patiently In The Pocket as Hello My Dream and a first over Kayla Grace battled head and head around the far turn, Leonard had U R It BB perfectly positioned as the ladies hit the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:23.3. Maneuvering into the passing lane with a sixteenth of a mile to go the Ronnie Burke trained miss quickly moved into full flight finishing off the mile with a 28.0 final quarter to notch her first win in eight starts this season. One Jazzy Lady (Travis Seekman) rallied late to finish second while Kayla Grace held on for third. Sent off as the second choice in the wagering U R It BB returned $7.60, $4.20 & $3.20 while running her career slate to 5-6-3 in 19 starts with earnings of $207,923. In the second division Brent Hopper, James Davis & Kyle Gray's Platinum Spirit also used the passing lane to perfection as she came roaring through inside of her rivals to win by three-quarters of a length in a lifetime best of 1:52.0 for Kyle Wilfong. The diminutive daughter of Tell All---Platinum Hanover protected early position getting away third as Cuzimalegend (Travis Seekman) led the field through an opening quarter in 27.2. After a backside brush to the lead Wilfong and Platinum Spirit faced immediate pressure from Always Dee One (Ryan Anderson) as the field moved past the half-mile station in 55.1. After watching that rival clear on the final bend Platinum Spirit settled into the pocket nicely as Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) came calling to challenge Always Dee One as the field hit the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:23.4. Hidden behind her bigger rivals, Platinum Spirit emerged at full speed as the passing lane opened up, zipping right by the embattled leaders to post her sixth win in 14 starts this year. Always Dee One finished a hard fought second while Cuzimalegend (Travis Seekman) was third. Unraced as a two-year-old Platinum Spirit now sports five wins, one second and three thirds in 14 starts with earnings of $33,385. The Ben Davis trained miss returned $18.80, $11.80 & $5.20 to her backers. In the colt match-up Erv Miller Stables and Bert Hochsprung's Dinner At The Met scored in impressive fashion as he came charging through the lane for John De Long to win by three-lengths in a lifetime best of 1:50.2. Reserved in the early going as Blooming Genius (Travis Seekman), Pumped Up Kicks (Todd Warren) and PQ Three (Ryan Anderson) all took turns leading the way through hotly contested splits of 26.4, 54.0 & 1:22.3, De Long finally made his move first over as the field neared the top of the stretch. Taking dead aim on the leaders the gelded son of Metropolitan--Grabbersome flew home in 27.4 to post his fifth win in 18 tries this season. PQ Three fought on gamely to hold on for second while Pumped Up Kicks was third. With the win Dinner At The Met who was unraced as a two-year-old now boasts a record of 5-2-3 in 18 starts with earnings of $70,875. Well supported at the betting windows the Ervin Miller trainee returned $5.00, $2.80 & $2.40. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park  

Jubilation quickly turned to heartbreak in a pair of trotting events at Balmoral Park on Wednesday, July 9th as a pair of diamond gaiters looked to be home free only to have late miscues cost them what looked to be sure victories in these state-bred stake events.   In what looked like it was going to a replay of their last two encounters Macie Rae (Ryan Anderson) carved out splits of 28.0, 58.1 & 1:27.3 and appeared to be holding firm to the wire before going off stride with less than a sixteenth of a mile to go. That allowed the pocket sitting Bailey's Wish and driver Dave Magee to capitalize on their good fortune as they zipped right on by for the victory in the $10,000 Fox Valley Diva Stake for state-bred three-year-old trotting fillies. Macie Rae settled for the place spot while Lora Lee Breeze (Matt Krueger) was a distant third.   The three-quarter-length triumph in a career best of 1:56.1 pushed the daughter of Southwind Breeze--Jen's career record to 7-6-3 in 22 starts for owners James Bafia and Eugene White. The good looking brown filly has also banked a hefty $151,983 while under the guidance of conditioner Dirk Simpson who is zeroing in on the 1,000 victory plateau.   In the first of two $5,000 divisions of the Psychic Spirit Stake for ICF two-year-old trotting colts Southrncomfortzone (John De Long) looked to be home free after a pocket sitting journey behind Captain Greedy and driver-trainer J.D. Finn. That's when disaster struck for that colt as he "jumped it off" allowing Captain Greedy, who had put up splits of 29.3, 1:00.2 & 1:31.2 to reclaim the lead and cruise to a six-length triumph in 1:59.4. Cardinal Yankee (Mike Brink) rallied to be second while Pizzalicious (Dale Hiteman) was moved from fourth to third because of the disqualification of Southrncomfortzone.   The win was the third in four starts for the son of Yankee Valor--Tropical Trixie who now has $6,692 in career earnings.   The second division of the Psychic Spirit proved to be far less dramatic as the Herman Wheeler owned and trained Fox Valley Qatar made it three in a row to open his career posting an impressive 2 ¾ length victory in a career best of 1:58.3.   After saving ground while Allpowernoemotion (Ronnie Gillespie) put up splits of 30.1, 1:00 & 1:29.2, driver Todd Warren eased Fox Valley Qatar through the passing lane and the gelded son of Pizzazzed--Armbro Bahrain responded beautifully as he charged right by the tiring pace setter for an easy score. Allpowernoemotion held on for second while RT Habenero (Robert Taylor) rallied to be third.   Fox Valley Qatar now sports career earnings of $5,625 and looks like he'll be the one to beat heading into the State Fair Stakes at Springfield in August.   by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

The 2014 Maywood Park Pacing Series kicked off on Friday, July 4th with the first of the three leg series, the $30,000 Cook County Stake attracting a field of seven ICF pacers. After taking this series last year, John Prentice and Neva Jane Ikeler's Fort Silky showed that taking "champs" belt will be no easy task as he cruised to a two-length victory in a snappy 1:51.2 for driver Casey Leonard. Taking advantage of the defection of morning line favorite Al's Hammered who was scratched sick, Leonard charged away from post position four with the eight-year-old son of Ft Apache Hanover easily made the top as the field rolled through an opening quarter in 27.2. Keeping a first over Fancy Creek Elusiv (Ryan Anderson) at bay Fort Silky continued to pace along steadily on top through middle splits of 56.0 & 1:23.2. With plenty in reserve the Terry Leonard trainee found another gear heading around the final turn, quickly widening his advantage as he cruised home with his second win in 11 starts this season. Silver Devil (John De Long) rallied late to finish second while Fancy Creek Elusiv held on for third. A 17-time winner in 2013 Fort Silky continues to put up big numbers now boasting $628,850 in earnings for his proud connections. Bet to the near exclusion of his rivals Fort Silky returned $3.00, $2.10 & $2.10. The Maywood Pacing Series awards a $25,000 bonus to the higher point earner of its three-race series. The bonus has gone to a Terry Leonard trainee the past four seasons with Fort Silky taking last year's championship after the great Well To Do Guru had taken home top honors in 2010, 2011 & 2012. Fort Silky took the first step towards defending his Maywood Park Pacing Series with an easy win in Friday's $30,000 Cook County Stake. by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park

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

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

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

Despite getting off to a nice start in her sophomore season Paula Smith, Lucas Smith, James Runyan and Kathleen O’Neill’s Fox Valley Amanda was a bit overlooked at the betting windows in Friday’s $89,000 Filly Maywood Pace for ICF three-year-olds. The home-bred harness racing filly wound up making her “doubters” pay though as she parlayed a perfect pocket sitting trip into a half-length victory in a career best of 1:55.1 with Dale Hiteman at the controls.   Taking advantage of post position two, Hiteman positioned the daughter of Yankee Skyscaper—Thongundrcolrsoops right on the back of My Little Bit (Casey Leonard) as that filly led the field through splits of 27.3, 56.4 & 1:25.1. After being softened up by a first over bid from Molly Go Lightly (Ryan Anderson), a game but leg weary My Little Bit could not hold off the open stretch move of Fox Valley Amanda as she powered home in 29.3 to post her fourth win in nine starts this season. My Little Bit held to be the bridesmaid while Molly Go Lightly finished third, three-lengths behind the top filly. Dispatched as the 5-1 third choice in the wagering the Joel Smith trained Fox Valley Amanda returned $12.80, $3.60 & $2.20 while running her career record to 5-7-3 with earnings of nearly $139,000. State-bred pacing colts were in action as well on Friday night as a field of eight squared off in a Maywood Pace elimination. The top seven finishers will be back next Friday (June 20) to join Unlocked in one of tracks signature events. Despite a tough trip Megan Rogers Stables Beach Boy Brody posted an impressive 2 ¼ length victory for driver Dave Magee in 1:53.1. He will be joined in the final by Uncle Ugly, PQ Three, R Duneshine, Fox Valley Cupid, Fox Valley Van and Traffic Cop. The 20 cent Pick 6 wager went unclaimed for a third straight card so thanks to a carryover of $4,283 there will be a Guaranteed Pool of $15,000 for Thursday, June 19th. Tom Kelley

Living up to his status as the even-money favorite, Paymaq Racing's Uncle Ugly made it look pretty in Saturday's $48,100 Cardinal Stake Final for ICF three-year-old pacing colts at Balmoral Park as he cruised to a 2 ¾ length victory in 1:51.2 for driver John De Long.   Zipped away from post position seven by De Long, the gelded son of Yankee Skyscaper--Yankee Blue was under wraps as he led the field through splits of 27.1, 55.2 & 1:23.0.   "Erv (Miller) told me earlier in the day not to be afraid to leave with him because he was really sharp right now," said De Long. "Once I got him to the top he relaxed perfectly for me through the middle half-mile of the race and he was ready to go again when I asked him at the top of the stretch."   With stablemate PQ Three (Ryan Anderson) making a bid at the pace-setter as the field turned for home Uncle Ugly set sail for the wire finishing up the mile in grand fashion as he paced home in 28.2 for his fourth win in eight career starts. Fox Valley Deuce (Casey Leonard), the early season leader among this set, parlayed a nice ground saving trip into a second place check while longshot Fox Valley Van (Brian Carpenter) rallied to finish third.   After the victory De Long was still singing the praises of his charge who was unraced as a two-year-old.   "He's still a little green at times and doesn't even realize just how fast he's going or how easy he's doing it," explained De Long. "He's learning pretty quickly though and when he gets it all figured out he's going to be a pretty serious race horse."   Uncle Ugly looked beautiful to his backers returning $4.00, $2.40 & $2.40 while running his record to 4-1-2 in 8 starts with earnings of $34,856. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park      

State-bred trotting fillies were the focus of attention on Sunday, May 25th, as a field of 10 three-year-olds went toe to toe in the $47,600 Violet Stake as part of a big Memorial Day weekend of festivities at the Crete oval.   Proving that she will once again be a force to be reckoned with in this division James Bafia and Eugene White's Bailey's Wish reported home with a hard fought neck decision in a career best of 1:57.3 for driver Dave Magee.   After leaving quickly from post five Magee elected to let the hard charging Macie Rae (Ryan Anderson) and Say No Mo (John De Long) battle it out through splits of 29.0, 57.2 & 1:27.1.   After carving out a perfect pocket sitting journey while those two fillies battled tooth and nail Magee showed his Hall of Fame skills as he slipped to the outside of Macie Rae as the field straightened for the money. Gradually wearing down the pace setter, the Dirk Simpson trained miss gamely moved to the front with a sixteenth of a mile to go and then held off a late charge from longshot Rollette (Dean Magee) for her sixth lifetimevictory. Macie Rae held on for third.   After starting this season with uncharacteristic breaks in two of her first three starts the daughter of Southwind Breeze--Jen was as smooth as could be on Sunday night as she pushed her lifetime numbers to 6-4-2 in 18 starts with earnings of just over $129,000. Sent off as the 5-2 second choice in the wagering Bailey's Wish returned $7.40, $3.60 & $2.80. Bailey's Wish (inside) held off the late charge of longshot Rollette (outside) to win Sunday's $47,600 Violet Stake for three-year-old trotting fillies. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

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

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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