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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.      

It was only fitting that a stake named for a rugged Erv Miller trained filly was taken by another Miller trainee on Sunday night at Balmoral Park as Quaid Racing's My Little Bit hung on gamely to record a head decision in the $10,000 Mystical Victress Stake for ICF three-year-old pacing fillies. The final time was 1:53.2. Confidently handled by driver Casey Leonard, the daughter of Sportsmaster--Parade Of Love was sent to the front but quickly relinquished the top spot to a hard leaving Cuzimalegend (Dean Magee) as the field moved by the opening split in 26.4. Showing the confidence he had in his filly, Leonard quickly moved the Miller trained miss back to the top where she put up middle splits of 56.0 & 1:24.1. After repelling the challenge of a first over Molly Go Lightly (Brian Carpenter) as the field turned for home, My Little Bit drew off to a 2-length advantage in the lane. All out as the distaffers made their way to the wire My Little Bit dug in gamely to fight off the bid of M A Duty (Kyle Wilfong) who had been saving ground throughout the mile to post her second win of the season. M A Duty was a hard fought second while Party Hangover Two (John De Long) rallied from far back after being shuffled out of contention early to finish third. With the victory My Little Bit now boasts a record of 7-3-2 in 17 career starts with earnings of $149,260 for her proud connections. Coming off her second place finish in the Filly Maywood Pace, My Little Bit was heavily backed at the betting windows returning just $3.80, $2.80 & $2.80. Live racing continues at Balmoral Park on Wednesday, July 2nd, win a nine-card card getting underway at 7:10 pm (central). The Wednesday Pick 4 will have a $10,000 guaranteed pool and will entail races six through nine. Past performances for the Pick 4 races, courtesy of Trackmaster and the U.S.T.A. can be found at www.ustrotting.com. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

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

With a total of 14 filly and mare pacers dropped into the box Friday's Violet Stake for Illinois conceived and foaled distaffers, three-year-olds and up, was split into a pair of $21,390 divisions. Both splits provided eye-catching payouts as Fox Valley Touche, a 25-1 outsider came flying through the lane to score by a neck in 1:53.2 for driver Dale Hiteman to open the action. Just four races later The Bruzilian Blur employed similar tactics as James Kennedy steered the mare to a 1 ½ length come from behind score in 1:54.2 at odds of 12-1. Always a threat in this division Fox Valley Touche was reserved through the early stages of her division as Poco Granny (Todd Warren) zipped through splits of 27.1 57.0 & 1:24.4.   That's when Hiteman began his bid with the Joel Smith trained six-year-old, circling up three deep from sixth as the ladies moved around the final turn. Swinging to the outside as the field straightened for the money the daughter of Sportsmaster uncorked a big 27.4 to overtake the pace setter in the final strides. Poco Granny held on for second while the heavily favored No Respect (John De Long) faded to third after a tough first over journey.   A career winner of more than $497,000 for the partnership of James Runyan and Paula Smith Fox Valley Touche returned $52.20, $10.80 & $3.80 while winning for the 27th time in her illustrious career.   In the nightcap Julius Millman's The Bruzilian Blur overcame a tough first over journey after getting away fifth, eventually grinding her way into contention at the top of the stretch to engage Dune In Red (Todd Warren) after that mare had put up splits of 27.0, 56.0 & 1:25.3.   Shrugging off the difficult journey the Kathy Millman trained daughter of Ft. Apache Hanover zipped right by Dune In Red and then kept the pocket sitting Feel Like Dancing (Kyle Wilfong) at bay through the lane for her third win in 13 tries this season. Feel Like Dancing was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Dune In Red was third.   With the win The Bruzilian Blur now boasts eight wins, nine seconds and five thirds in 51 lifetime starts with earnings of more than $70,000. Overlooked at the windows The Bruzilian Blur returned $27.80, $7.00 & $3.40.   With no elimination's needed for next Friday's (June 13) $100,000 Filly Maywood Pace some of the state-bred sophomores expected to compete in that affair used "conditioned" events on Friday's card as tune-ups for next week's big showdown.   Among those in action who looked very good in their tighteners were Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly who cruised to an easy win in 1:56.2, Ervin Miller Stables & Omer Miller's M A Refling, who overcame a spot in the second tier to win by four lengths in 1:56.4 and the Joel Smith trained Fox Valley Amanda who also overcame a second tier starting spot to rally for a sharp win in 1:57.1. by Tom Kelley, for Maywood 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

After being relegated to the runner-up role in his last two starts Paula Smith & James Runyan's Fox Valley Deuce gained a measure of revenge on his three-year-old pacing colt rivals on Friday, May 2nd at Maywood Park as driver Casey Leonard guided him to a 1 ¼ length victory in the $10,000 Taser Gun Stake. The final time was 1:55.2 over a fast track. After getting away fourth in the field of six Leonard was content to let the son of Sportsmaster--Dodger Girl bide his time as Dunside Art (Kyle Wilfong) and Cotton Eyed Joe (Robert Smolin) battled through an opening quarter in a brisk 27.3.   Getting underway as the state-breds hit the half in 58.0 Fox Valley Deuce stormed to the top just as the field reached the three-quarter-mark in 1:27.0.   Drawing clear in the final turn, the Joel Smith trainee sealed the deal with a 28.2 final quarter to post his fourth win in six starts this season. Dunside Art held on to the second spot while 3-5 favorite Cotton Eyed Joe was forced to settle for the show dough.   With the win Fox Valley Deuce now boasts six wins, two seconds and a third in 21 lifetime starts with earnings of $38,147. The second choice in the wagering returned $6.40, $3.80 & $2.20.   Driver Casey Leonard guided Fox Valley Deuce to an 1 1/4 length victory in Friday's $10,000 Taser Gun Stake at Maywood Park.   by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

ANDERSON, Ind.-April 25, 2014 - For the second consecutive week, No Respect earned her respect after she turned in a gutsy performance to take home top honors in the featured harness racing event, a $22,000 Fillies and Mares Invitational Pace, at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday. Guided by Sam Widger, No Respect scored in 1:53.3 and extended her win streak to three. Using the same off the pace tactics as the previous week, No Respect was unhurried from the gate and settled along the rail in eighth. American Girl, driven by Peter Wrenn, and Igottafeelinfran, driven by Brad Hanners, were in a battle for early position as soon as the gate folded. American Girl reached the front through an opening panel in a brisk :26.3 but her lead would be short lived. Igottafeelinfran pressed on for the lead and reached the front at the second station in :56. Love This Place and Trace Tetrick were the first to commit to the outer flow and the field began to tighten as they approached the final turn. Reaching the three-quarter clocking in 1:25, Igottafeelinfran continued to call the shots and braced herself for the stretch battle that was about to ensue. As the field turned for home, Love This Place was able to wear down the tiring leader while a host of others closed. With much of the damage being done on the front, No Respect loomed large in the background. Tipping around tiring cover late in the lane, No Respect powered home in :27.4 to finish a length in front of her closest competitor. Love This Place held on gamely to finish second while Always About Katey rallied late for third. Dismissed at 10-1, No Respect returned $22.20 to her backers at the window. The victory was No Respect's 18th career victory from 56 lifetime outings. The daughter of Sportsmaster-Justalittlerespect notched her fifth win of the season from 11 outings while increasing her bankroll to $58,625 for the season. Trained by Nick Giberson, No Respect has now amassed $282,553 lifetime for her owner Mark Winship. Live racing continues at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday, April 19 with an abbreviated eight race card at its' regularly scheduled post time of 5:15 p.m. Two-time Emmy winner and Grammy award-winning comedian Kathy Griffin will perform at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino's Terrace Showroom on Saturday, April 26 following the live racing card. by Emily Gaskin, for Hoosier Park

Laissez Moi Passer has developed into a solid 3-year-old pacer for Sal Wenceslao and driver Williams Hernandez and will attempt to earn his second straight Sire Stakes trophy in Saturday nights main event." "I won a Sire Stakes with Exquisite Gem as an owner five years ago, but this is my first as an owner and trainer," noted Sal, who took out his conditioning license a little over a year ago and races his stable with his wife Georgette. "It was quite a thrill nd it would be nice to do it again." Laissez Moi Passer is by Disco Devil out of the stakes-winning Nirvana mae My Passing Fancy and Wenceslao has had both the pacer and his dam since the day he was born. "He was something special right from the start and I didnt want to rush him," Wencesiao said. "I remember driving Williams out of the farm one day when Laissez was just six months old and I told him this was going to be his first stakes winner." After making menacing noises behind divisional leaders King Of The Crop and Rikybrnthegaragdwn, the most recent stakes together found the Wenceslao performer doing the track-and-attack to perfection for Hernandez, prevailing by three-quarters of a length in a lifetime-best 1:55 clocking. "Turning for home that night," Wencesiao recalled, "I knew those other horses were in trouble because my horse has a real nice closing kick. He finished very strong." Sal also related that he is currently putting a full brother through his paces, with Laissezmoipicoler expected to make his debut near the end of the year. Its the stuff dreams are made of, and so far so good according to his mentor. Sire Stakes entices top pacing colts A $10,000 California Sire Stakes for sophomore pacing colts is on tap Saturday night at Cal Expo, with Laissez Moi Passer, King Of The Crop and Rikybrnthegaragdwn looming the major players. Laissez Moi Passer picked up his first stakes victory when he did the stalk-and-pounce to perfection two weeks ago and prevailed by three-quarters of a length. The 1:55 clocking shaved a full second off his previous mark. The Disco Devil offspring is owned by Salvador and Georgette Wenceslao with Salvador the conditoner and Williams Hernandez in his usual place in the sulky. King Of The Crop and Rikybrnthegaragdown have three stakes trophies each and were second third, respectively, behind Laissez Moi Passer in that last big-money gathering. King Of The Crop is by Little Steven and is owned, trained and driven by James Kennedy, while Rikybrnthegaragdown carries the banner of Maryann Plano with Tim Brown training and Rich Wojcio at the controls. King Of The Crop picked up his most recent stakes tally on March 15, sitting a pocket trip and then exploding in the stretch to win going away for Kennedy. He made a break in the slop in the next added-money affair and set all the fractions in that last stakes before getting overhauled and having to settle for second. King Of The Crop returned in a conditioned affair last week and was a dominating winner six and a half-length winner, lowering his lifetime standard to 1:54 3/5 in the process. Rikybrnthegaragdwn is a son of Livin It Up out of the Sportsmaster mare Sports Bra he last posed for pictures following a stakes race on Marcy 29. He had no trouble with the off going that evening and made every pole a winning one, coming home with five and a half-lengths to spare. Holme Base and Tony Cheesecake complete the field. There will be an 11-race card with first post at 6:15 p.m. and the headliner goes as the second event on the evening. by Mark Ratsky, for Cal Expo Harness

ANDERSON, Ind.-April 18, 2014 - Dismissed at odds of 8-1, No Respect turned in a gutsy harness racing performance to take home top honors in the $22,000 Fillies and Mares Invitational Pace, at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday. Guided by Sam Widger, No Respect left early for position and was game in the stretch to score her fourth win of the season in 1:52.2. Leaving from post three, No Respect was sent from the gate as soon as the wings folded but found herself in an early battle for position with the heavily favored American Girl and Peter Wrenn. No Respect was able to grab the lead at the first quarter clocking in :27.2 but her lead would be short lived. Ritascape and Frank Davis were well placed in the pocket as Wrenn sent American Girl to the front from their spot along the rail in third. American Girl reached the top spot at the half mile mark in :56.2 and continued to call the shots approaching the final turn with a three-quarter clocking in 1:24.4. Blissful Romance and Ricky Macomber Jr. were the first to take aim at the leader with the Indiana Sire Stakes champion, Always About Katey and Tyler Smith in tow. As the field turned for home, it was a cavalry charge to the wire. The field began to fan out across the track and American Girl appeared to be up to the task as she fought off Blissful Romance. As the top pair battled on the front, Widger sat patiently along the rail in third but was desperately looking for racing room. Tipping three wide late in the lane, Widger asked No Respect for more and she responded gamely with a :27.2 final panel to grind out the victory. "She was really good last week and I knew I wanted to leave out of there to get position," Widger noted after the race. "Turning for home, I wasn't sure if she had enough to get the job done but as soon as I asked her for more she found another gear and paced all the way to the wire. I was really impressed with her tonight." As the public's fifth choice in the field of eight, No Respect returned $19.40 at the windows. Blissful Romance held on for second while Love This Place and Trace Tetrick rallied late for third. The 1:52.2 victory was No Respect's 17th career victory and just two ticks off her lifetime best. The daughter of Sportsmaster-Justalittlerespect notched her fourth win of the season from 10 outings while increasing her bankroll to $47,625 for the season. Trained by Nick Giberson, No Respect has now amassed $271,553 lifetime for her owner Mark Winship. By Emily Gaskin, for Hoosier Park

One of the recent additions to the Cal Expo drivers room is Sean Smithpeters, a 31-year-old native of Illinois who drove two winners last weekend for his mother, owner/trainer Gretchen Smith. "I first got involved with harness racing at the same time my mom did", Sean explained. "She took over a boarding facility at the Champaign County fair grounds back home in Illinois when I was in high school. "At the time, we only had riding horses, but on the grounds was a half mile limestone track and several Standardbreds were training there. We decided to try our hand and I began driving on the fair circuit the few horses we had. In 2008 we had enough horses that I was able to get the qualifying drives to obtain my "P" license. I actually made my first starts here in 2009 while out on vacation." As can happen, Smithpeters explained that soon after events in his life conspired to keep him from perusing this driving ambition, but now things have come full circle and he is back in California and the sulky. "Recently my family and I decided it was time for a change of scenery and made the move out here from Illinois," Smithpeters said. " A few weeks back, after a couple weeks here jogging and qualifying a few, I made my first starts since 2009. "Everyone here has been very helpful and kind while I'm trying to shake off the rust and hit my stride driving," Smithpeters said. "Hopefully everything keeps moving forward well and I'll be driving here for quite some time." And so far for Gretchen, shes happy to be joining forces on the racetrack once again with her son. "Its exciting for me to see him back in the bike and watch him develop his skills," Gretchen Smith said. "Being able to see him everyday again is great. I'm very happy he and his family have come to California." Sire Stakes, Open Trot, Open Pace on tap A $10,000 California Sire Stakes for pacing males headed by Rikybrnthegaragdwn and King Of The Crop; an Open Trot featuring Hellogottagobuhbye and Sharpshootennorris and an Open Pace share the spotlight at Cal Expo Saturday night. A 12-race card is on tap with first post set for 6:15 p.m. The Sire Stakes will go as the second event, with the Open Pace the third race and the Open Trot the fourth on the evening. Rikybrnthegaragdwn is a 3-year-old son of Livin It Up out of the Sportsmaster mare Sports Bra who has accounted for three of the stakes events decided for the division with King Of The Crop capturing the other three. He is owned by Maryann Plano and is now conditioned by Tim Brown with Rich Wojcio handling the lines. In the most recent big-money clash two weeks ago, Rikybrnthegaragdwn took advantage of a mid-race break by his arch-rival over a sloppy track and made every pole a winning one. With former driver/trainer Luke Plano at the controls, he waltzed home by five and a half lengths that evening. His 1:55 standard was established in a February 22 conditioned affair. King Of The Crop is son of Little Steven who is owned, trained and driven by James Kennedy. He comes into this assignment having posed for pictures following five of his 10 trips to the post. He has been alternating stakes scores with his main rival, picking up his most recent trophy on March 15 and then losing his chance in that last get-together two weeks ago with the break over the off going. He established his lifetime mark of 1:55 1/5 with his February 1 score. Completing the field are Laissez Moi Passer, who leaves from the rail with Williams Hernandez; Holme Base with Steve Desomer at the controls; and Tony Cheesecake, who will have the services of Chip Lackey. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness        

After opening his second season with two very impressive scores over "older open" company, Paula Smith and James Runyan's Fox Valley Deuce took his first crack at state-bred stakes company on Saturday night at Balmoral Park in the $10,000 Taurus Bomber Stake. The gelded son of Sportsmaster--Dodger Girl had no problem keeping his perfect slate intact as he cruised to an easy 4 ½ length score over five rivals in 1:56.1 for driver Casey Leonard. Hustled away from the outside post in the field of six, the Joel Smith trainee was parked through an opening quarter of 29.4. After grabbing command as the field straightened up onto the backstretch for Leonard, the issue was never really in doubt again as the good looking sophomore put up leisurely middle splits of 1:00.2 & 1:29.4.   Fit and fresh as he headed for the money Fox Valley Deuce finished off the mile in grand fashion, rattling off an eye opening 26.2 final split to make it three in a row in 2014. Orange & Blue winner Cotton Eyed Joe (Robert Smolin), who was making his sophomore debut, finished a fast closing second while Dune Dude (Dean Magee) turned in a solid try to rally for third.   With the win Fox Valley Deuce now boasts fives wins and a third in 18 lifetime starts with earnings of $28,147.   A trio of Newcomer Series finals were contested on Saturday night as well. The $7,800 Filly & Mare final was taken by Brett Wilfong's Chariots Afire (Jimmy Daniel) as she cruised to her second win in three starts this year. The home-bred daughter of Skydancer Hanover stopped the clock in 1:55.0. The $8,000 colt & gelding final was captured Nelson & Kay Willis's Shark Vision (Kyle Wilfong) as the royally-bred son of Cam's Cam Shark made it three in a row in 2014 while tripping the timer in 1:55.1.   On the trotting side of the docket, the Lester Banks owned, Steve Bauder trained Mary Queen (Dale Hiteman) was able to mind her manners again as she uncorked a big closing burst to knock off eight other diagonally gaited specialists in the $7,750 final of that series.The final time was a career best of 1:59.2.   There will be no live racing this Wednesday April 2, 2014 due to lack of entries.    By Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

The 2014 stake schedules for both Balmoral and Maywood Park have been released by racing secretary Doc Narotsky. The action kicks off at Balmoral on March 29th with the Taurus Bomber Stake for Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing colts. Maywood’s stake season gets underway on Friday, April 11th with sophomore pacing colts slugging it out in the Sportsmaster Stake. The first “major” state-bred stake of the season will be contested on Sunday, May 18th with three-year-old pacing fillies squaring off in the $45,000 Violet Stake at Balmoral. There will also be Violet and Cardinal Stakes for Illinois conceived and foaled pacers and trotters on Sunday, May 25th, Wednesday, May 28th, and Saturday, May 31st at Balmoral Park. Maywood’s first big event of the season will be the $100,000 Filly Maywood Pace for ICF three-year-old fillies on Friday, June 13th.  The $100,000 Maywood Pace for ICF sophomore pacing colts will be held the following Friday, June 20th. . The first Hanover Stakes of the season at Balmoral Park will feature a pair of events for three-year-old trotters on Saturday, June 7th.    The Southland Festival of Racing will provide a weekend filled with state-bred action at Balmoral on Saturday, July 26th and Sunday, July 27th with pacers and trotters squaring off in $50,000 battles like the Mini Me Stake, Loyal Opposition Stake, Incredible Finale Stake, Ann Vonian Stake, Kadabra Stake, Fox Valley Evita Stake, Fox Valley Flan Stake and Plesac Stake. A pair of $50,000 Hanover’s for two-year-old colt and filly pacers are scheduled for Saturday, August 2nd at the Crete oval while a pair of $60,000 events for freshmen trotters will be contested on Sunday, August 3rd. Balmoral will also play host to Illinois’ biggest night of racing, Super Night, on Saturday, Sept. 13th.  As always, the state’s top pacers and trotters will be on display as they battle for more than $1 million in purse money. The prestigious American National’s kick off on Wednesday, Sept. 17th with a pair of $90,000 trotting stakes for two-year-olds. October will be a busy month for the youngsters as the $100,000 Lady Lincoln Stake for two-year-old trotting fillies takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 1st while their male counterparts battle in the $100,000 Lincoln Land Stake on Sunday, Oct. 5th Balmoral Park. Maywood will also host the $60,000 Cardinal and Violet Stakes for two-year-old colt and filly pacers on Friday, Oct. 3rd. If the last few years were any indication of things to come then racing fans throughout the country will want to circle Saturday, Oct. 11th and Friday, Oct. 17th, on their calendars as some of North America’s best pacers and trotters are expected to visit the Chicagoland area as Grand Circuit action comes to town. Balmoral Park will play host to the $250,000 three-year-old colt pace, $225,00 American National three-year-old colt trot, $200,000 American National Aged Pace, $180,000 aged trot, $175,000 American National three-year-old filly pace, $150,000 three-year-old filly trot, $125,000 two-year-old colt pace and $125,000 two-year-old filly pace approximately one month earlier than in recent years.    Maywood’s biggest card of the season is just six days later on Friday, Oct. 17th with the $225,000 Windy City Pace for three-year-old pacing colts, the $130,000 Abe Lincoln Stake for two-year-old pacing colts, the $110,00 Galt Trot for three-year-old trotting colts and the $100,000 Cinderella Stake for three-year-old pacing fillies sharing the spotlight. The $30,000 Associates-McKeever Stake for ICF pacers is also scheduled for that same night. Below is a complete list of both tracks entire stake schedules. All purse values are estimated. Date       Day Track A-S-G ICF Name Est Purse 3/29/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Taurus Bomber 10,000 4/5/2014 Sat Bal 3+p ICF Song Cycle 17,000 4/5/2014 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Direct Balance 10,000 4/11/2014 Fri May 3cp ICF Sportsmaster 10,000 4/13/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Trotting Tilly 10,000 4/16/2014 Wed Bal 3ct ICF Speedy Rodney 10,000 4/18/2014 Fri May 3fp ICF Desperate Lady 10,000 4/26/2014 Sat Bal 3+p ICF Rambling Willie 17,000 4/26/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Betzotic 10,000 4/27/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Koochie 10,000 4/30/2014 Wed Bal 3ct ICF Iggy Magoo 10,000 5/2/2014 Fri May 3cp ICF Taser Gun 10,000 5/3/2014 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Betzotic 10,000 5/11/2014 Sun Bal 3fp ICF Violet Eliminations 10,000 5/11/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Betzotic 10,000 5/14/2014 Wed Bal 3ct ICF Betzotic 10,000 5/16/2014 Fri May 3cp ICF Gosox 10,000 5/18/2014 Sun Bal 3fp ICF Violet 45,000 5/18/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Violet Eliminations 10,000 5/21/2014 Wed Bal 3ct ICF Cardinal Eliminations 10,000 5/24/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Cardinal Eliminations 10,000 5/25/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Violet 40,000 5/28/2014 Wed Bal 3ct ICF Cardinal 40,000 5/31/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Cardinal 45,000 6/1/2014 Sun Bal 2cp ICF Jimmy Sunshine 5,000 6/4/2014 Wed Bal 2fp ICF Egyptian Grande 5,000 6/5/2014 Thur May 3fp ICF Filly Maywood Pace Elim 10,000 6/7/2014 Sat Bal 3ct Hanover 35,000 6/7/2014 Sat Bal 3ft Hanover 35,000 6/8/2014 Sun Bal 2cp ICF Bingo Johnnie 5,000 6/11/2014 Wed Bal 2fp ICF Misty Misty Misty 5,000 6/13/2014 Fri May 3cp ICF Maywood Pace Elim 10,000 6/13/2014 Fri May 3fp ICF Filly Maywood Pace 100,000 6/14/2014 Sat Bal 3+p ICF Broadway Preview 30,000 6/14/2014 Sat Bal 3ct ICF Southern Rocketop 10,000 6/15/2014 Sun Bal 2cp ICF Wicked Brew 10,000 6/15/2014 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Million Dollar Bye 5,000 6/18/2014 Wed Bal 2fp ICF Incredible Tillie 10,000 6/18/2014 Wed Bal 2ft ICF Star Slinger 5,000 6/20/2014 Fri May 3cp ICF Maywood Pace 100,000 6/21/2014 Sat Bal f&m p ICF Sue Fee 20,000 6/22/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Betzotic 10,000 6/25/2014 Wed Bal 3ct ICF Betzotic 10,000 6/26/2014 Thur May 2fp ICF Juxtaposition 10,000 6/27/2014 Fri May 2cp ICF Enzo The Baker 10,000 6/28/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Betzotic 10,000 6/29/2014 Sun Bal 3fp ICF Mystical Victress 10,000 7/2/2014 Wed Bal 3ft ICF Sorce Ann 10,000 7/4/2014 Fri May 3+p ICF Cook County 30,000 7/5/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Hot Head 10,000 7/5/2014 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Ohyouprettything 10,000 7/6/2014 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Vaporize 10,000 7/9/2014 Wed Bal 2ct ICF Psychic Spirit 10,000 7/9/2014 Wed Bal 3ft ICF Fox Valley Diva 10,000 7/10/2014 Thur May 2fp ICF My Metallica 10,000 7/11/2014 Fri May 2cp ICF Fox Valley Barzgar 10,000 7/12/2014 Sat Bal 3cp Hanover 45,000 7/12/2014 Sat Bal 3fp Hanover 40,000 7/13/2014 Sun Bal 3ct ICF Brandenburg 10,000 7/19/2014 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Mini Me Elim 10,000 7/19/2014 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Loyal Opposition Elim 10,000 7/19/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Incredible Finale Elim 10,000 7/19/2014 Sat/Sun Bal 3ct ICF Kadabra Elim 10,000 7/19/2014 Sat/Sun Bal 3fp ICF Ann Vonian Elim 10,000 7/19/2014 Sat/Sun Bal 3ft ICF Fox Valley Evita Elim 10,000 7/20/2014 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Plesac Eliminations 10,000 7/20/2014 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Fox Valley Flan Elim 10,000 7/26/2014 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Mini Me 50,000 7/26/2014 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Loyal Opposition 50,000 7/26/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Incredible Finale 50,000 7/26/2014 Sat Bal 3ct ICF Kadabra 50,000 7/26/2014 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Ann Vonian 50,000 7/27/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Fox Valley Evita 50,000 7/27/2014 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Plesac 50,000 7/27/2014 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Fox Valley Flan 50,000 8/2/2014 Sat Bal 2cp Hanover 50,000 8/2/2014 Sat Bal 2fp Hanover 50,000 8/3/2014 Sun Bal 2ct Hanover 60,000 8/3/2014 Sun Bal 2ft Hanover 60,000 8/3/2014 Sun Bal 3+T ICF Mikes A Mystery 25,000 8/16/2014 Sat Bal 3+P ICF Big Tom 40,000 8/16/2014 Sat Bal f&m p ICF Parklane Powerful 40,000 8/29/2014 Fri May 3+p ICF Egyptian 30,000 9/6/2014 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Orange & Blue Elim 15,000 9/6/2014 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Filly O&B Eliminations 15,000 9/6/2014 Sat/Sn Bal 3+p ICF Tony Maurello Elim 15,000 9/6/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Pete Langley Mem Elim 15,000 9/6/2014 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Grandma Ann Elim 15,000 9/6/2014 Sat/Sn Bal f&m p ICF Lorna Propes Elim 15,000 9/7/2014 Sun Bal 3ct ICF Su Mac Lad Elim 15,000 9/7/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Lady Ann Reed Elim 15,000 9/10/2014 Wed Bal 2ct American National Elim 15,000 9/10/2014 Wed Bal 2ft American National Elim 15,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Orange & Blue Cons 25,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Orange & Blue 250,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Filly O&B Cons 25,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Filly O&B 225,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 3+p ICF Tony Maurello Cons 25,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 3+p ICF Tony Maurello 115,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Pete Langley Mem Cons 25,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Pete Langley Mem 170,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 3ct ICF Su Mac Lad 100,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Grandma Ann Cons 25,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Grandma Ann 170,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 3ft ICF Lady Ann Reed 100,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal f&m p ICF Lorna Propes Cons 25,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal f&m p ICF Lorna Propes 115,000 9/14/2014 Sun Bal 3ct ICF Su Mac Lad Cons 25,000Date Day Track A-S-G ICF Name Est Purse 9/14/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Lady Ann Reed Cons 25,000 9/17/2014 Wed Bal 2ct American National 90,000 9/17/2014 Wed Bal 2ft American National 90,000 9/20/2014 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Yates Eagle 15,000 9/20/2014 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Thrifty Way 15,000 9/24/2014 Wed Bal 2ft ICF Lady Lincoln Land Elim 15,000 9/26/2014 Fri May 2cp ICF Cardinal Elim 10,000 9/26/2014 Fri May 2fp ICF Violet Elim 10,000 9/27/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Bye Bye Byrd 15,000 9/28/2014 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Lincoln Land Elim 15,000 9/28/2014 Sun Bal 3fp ICF Direct Dottie 15,000 10/1/2014 Wed Bal 2ft ICF Lady Lincoln Land Cons 25,000 10/1/2014 Wed Bal 2ft ICF Lady Lincoln Land 100,000 10/1/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Betzotic 10,000 10/3/2014 Fri May 2cp ICF Cardinal 50,000 10/3/2014 Fri May 2fp ICF Violet 60,000 10/5/2014 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Lincoln Land 100,000 10/5/2014 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Lincoln Land Cons 25,000 10/11/2014 Sat Bal 2cp American National 125,000 10/11/2014 Sat Bal 2fp American National 125,000 10/11/2014 Sat Bal 3cp American National 250,000 10/11/2014 Sat Bal 3ct American National 225,000 10/11/2014 Sat Bal 3fp American National 175,000 10/11/2014 Sat Bal 3ft American National 150,000 10/11/2014 Sat Bal ap American National 200,000 10/11/2014 Sat Bal at American National 180,000 10/17/2014 Fri May 2cp Abe Lincoln 130,000 10/17/2014 Fri May 3+p ICF Associates-McKeever 30,000 10/17/2014 Fri May 3cp Windy City Pace 225,000 10/17/2014 Fri May 3ct Galt 110,000 10/17/2014 Fri May 3fp Cinderella 100,000 10/18/2014 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Beecher 10,000 10/19/2014 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Violet Elim 10,000 10/22/2014 Wed Bal 2ct ICF Cardinal Elim 10,000 10/26/2014 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Violet 40,000 10/26/2014 Sun Bal 3ct ICF Betzotic 10,000 10/29/2014 Wed Bal 2ct ICF Cardinal 40,000 10/30/2014 Thur May 3ft ICF Speed N The Tunnel 10,000 10/31/2014 Fri May 3cp ICF Betzotic 10,000 10/31/2014 Fri May 3fp ICF Giggles The Clown 10,000 11/1/2014 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Crete 10,000 11/2/2014 Sun Bal 2fp ICF Betzotic 10,000 11/2/2014 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Monee 10,000 11/5/2014 Wed Bal 2ct ICF Betzotic 10,000 11/6/2014 Thur May 3ct ICF Lifes A Holiday 10,000 11/14/2014 Thur May 3fp ICF Betzotic 10,000 11/15/2014 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Betzotic 10,000 11/21/2014 Fri May 3cp ICF Cole Muffler 10,000 11/22/2014 Sat Bal f&m p ICF Fox Valley Memory 15,000 by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral & Maywood Park

Saturdays finale of the Jim Grundy Trotting Series is named for the driver/trainer who was a California mainstay for four decades. He passed away in 2009 at the age of 74. Jim Grundy made 2,617 trips to the charmed enclosure as a driver, with more than $10.3 million in earnings and was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2007. Originally a hockey player in his native Canada, a knee injury forced Grundy to hang up his skates and stick in 1958. Going into the family business of harness racing, he found his second niche in life as a driver/trainer. Grundy apprenticed under famed horsemen Eddie Cobb, Clint Hodgins and Frank Popfinger before going out on his own in the early 1960s. He was the leading driver at Monticello for three straight years beginning in 1971 before heading west with his wife Deborah, a former schoolteacher and bookkeeper for the stable. It was here that Grundy blossomed into one of the states top harness horsemen. Teaming with owners like Chris Bardis, Lloyd Arnold and Ron Zumbrun, he won countless stakes races with the likes of Googie, Hugabear, Steam and Easel. He was especially noted as an outstanding trainer of young trotters. Steve Desomer, Gene Vallandingham and Rick Kuebler competed against Grundy for many years and have high praise for his skills. Jim was not only our friend, but partners with us on many memorable horses, Desomer said. He was an exceptional horseman and that resulted in a long and successful career. Vallandingham related, I knew Jim from the time he came to California. He was a nice guy and a great horseman and I always enjoyed his company. Kuebler also did battle with Jim on many occasions at Cal Expo, Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos. Id have to say he was the most accomplished trainer of young trotters weve ever had in the state. Even after his retirement, horsemen would seek him out to get advice in shoeing and balancing a trotter. It was all about his expertise and passion and he is missed. Jim Grundy Series final, Open Pace, Sire Stakes set A $10,000 California Sire Stakes headed by Rikybrnthegaragdwn and King Of The Crop; the $12,300 finale of the Jim Grundy Trotting Series and an Open Pace featuring One And Only are the highlights on Saturday evenings 14-race card at Cal Expo. Rickybrnthegaragdwn and King Of The Crop have divided up the first four stakes races at the meeting for the 3-year-old pacing colts. Rikybrnthegaragdwn races for Maryann Plano with Luke Plano driving and training, while King Of The Crop carries the banner of his breeder Frank Nevarez and is trained and driven by James Kennedy. A son of Living It Up out of the Sportsmaster mare Sports Bra, Rikybrnthegaragdwn captured the first stakes race of the season for this group on January 18, then was second and third in the next two big-money events while King Of The Crop was posing for pictures. In the most recent stakes two weeks ago, he made every pole a winning one, holding safe by nose over King Of The Crop in a 1:55 2/5 clocking, two ticks off the mark he established in his previous decision in a conditioned affair. The latter is by Little Steven accounted for back-to-back stakes on February 1 and 15 in game fashion, including a 1:55 1/5 tally. Sent off the 4-5 choice in that last added-money clash, he sat the pocket behind his arch-rival and just missed while coming a :26 3/5 final quarter. In the Open Pace, One And Only is a 6-year-old son of Bettors Delight who carries the banner of Richard Morita and David Yamada, takes his lessons from Lino Pacheco and will once again have Luke Plano giving directions. He comes into this assignment having posed for pictures following five of his seven starts on the year and is closing in on the $100,000 mark in career earnings with a 1:52 2/5 standard. The field for the Jim Grundy finale will line up this way from the rail out: Axle, with David Siegel at the controls; Donna Letsgo, Luke Plano; Try This with Williams Hernandez; High Dollar for Tim Maier; Giles L S Hanover, Mooney Svendsen; and Silverlode, to be guided by Steve Desomer. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness  

Chip Lackey gave the Gene Vallandingham-trained Giant Sculpture a perfect drive in last weeks Open Handicap Pace, working out a two-hole trip with the son of Village Jolt and posting a four-length decision in a lifetime-best 1:52 clocking. "I dont have many winners circle pictures on my wall, but this is one Ill be proud to put up there," said the veteran Lackey. "Winning an Open Pace and having the picture taken with Gene and Lou Pena was very special." Vallandingham and Lackey go back to 1973, when Gene first came to California. I went to work for Gene when he first got out here, and then I went back with him to Maywood Park the next year and he was the leading trainer. The victory with Giant Sculpture was the second in five starts with Lackey in the sulky. The first time I drove him back in January he was 11-1 and put in a real game, first-over effort and got there by a nose. He had also put in some solid races coming into last week, giving me a good finish every time. According to Chip, post position played a big role in his strategy last week. We had been drawing outside Docs Zippy every week and I didnt want to battle with him early, but this time we were inside and I sent my horse and was able to work out a pocket trip. They may have been going :55 to the half that night, but I knew I had a ton of horse. I made sure to ease out a little early so we didnt get trapped in, and he gave me a super kick. It was very gratifying to go out there and win a race like this for such great people. Sire Stakes, Open Pace, Jim Grundy Series on tap A $10,000 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds that finds King Of The Crop and Rikybrnthegaragdown renewing their rivalry; the opening leg of the Jim Grundy Trotting Series featuring Donna Letsgo and an Open Pace are the main attractions at Cal Expo Saturday night. King Of The Crop had to settle for second in the first stakes clash for the sophomore pacing colts on January 18, but has posed for pictures following the last two big-money events. The Little Steven homebred carries the banner of Frank Nevarez with James Kennedy doing the driving and training. The bay performer left little doubt in the February 1 clash, drawing off by five and a half-lengths that evening in a snappy 1:55 1/5 mile. Backed down to 1-5 for the most recent gathering of this group two weeks ago, he had to work much harder as he opened up on the lead at the head of the lane and held by a head over Rikybrnthegaragdown. The latter is by Living It Up out of the Sportsmaster mare Sports Bra and races for Maryann Plano with son Luke reining and training. He made every pole a winning in the first Sire Stakes of the season on January 18, was a distant third in the next one and then fell just short of catching his arch-rival in that last added-money affair two weeks ago. He returned last week to post a convincing score in a conditioned event. Last weeks Open Pace saw Giant Sculpture pulling off the upset. He is a 6-year-old son of Village Jolt who carries the banner of A Piece Of The Action LLC, is conditioned by Gene Vallandingham and will once again be handled by Chip Lackey. He was able to work out a perfect trip in the most recent clash at the head of the class, sitting the pocket and then exploding in the stretch for a four-length score in a lifetime-best 1:52 performance. One And Only had to settle for the exacta completion that evening while leaving from the outside post as the 1-2 favorite for owners Richard Morita and David Yamada, conditioner Lino Pacheco and pilot Luke Plano. He rattled off five straight victories at this top rung between December 21 and January 21, including a score from the demanding No. 10 post. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness    

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