Day At The Track
Search Results
33 to 48 of 133

With one major Super Night championship on her résumé the year-old ICF mare Party Hangover is looking to add another next Saturday on Illinois’ most anticipated evening of racing at Balmoral Park. Party Hangover, the 2012 Grandma Ann champion for trainer Jesse De Long, had won her first six first pari-mutuel starts after owner-trainer Ken Rucker sent Party Hangover back to Illinois under the care of his wife Catrina and driver Todd Warren before her second place finish last night in her Propes elimination. Dune In Red (1:51.2), given a pocket trip by Dave Magee, overtook Party Hangover in the lane to win the second elimination while defending Propes champion Let’s Go Higher breezed in 1:52 flat in the first split. I asked Catrina to fill me in about Party Hangover. “We bought Party Hangover privately near the end of last year and sent her out East to race,” said Catrina. “She did very well there this year making almost $28,000. But she’s been ever better since she’s been back in Illinois.” In her seven starts ion the Chicago circuit this year Party Hangover has raked in almost $40,000 for the Rucker family. What has made the mare so good in her home state? “In Pennsylvania there was no consistency with drivers,” replied Catrina. “You would get a different driver every week. A couple of times our mare got locked-in with a ton of pace but nowhere to go. You look at those lines it would appear she wasn’t racing well but she was racing great. “Here in Illinois it’s a different type of racing on a different type of track. Party Hangover is a mare that you can race any way you want, on the front or out of a hole. “Todd (Warren) has been great with the mare and he likes her a lot, too. He told us she’s done everything he’s asked her. “We scratched her out her Springfield race when the day of race got moved because of the rain they had down there. We wanted her fit and ready for the Parklane Powerful and she was, coming up with her second new lifetime mark (1:51.2). “We put her in a qualifier last Wednesday to keep her sharp because there wasn’t a race for her last Saturday and we didn’t want to go three weeks in between starts. “Party Hangover is kind of like the barn star right now and she likes being pampered. “A baby can jog her but once you turn her she’s all business on a racetrack. If you train her with another horse she won’t let that horse get past her. She’s just a monster on the track.” As a 3-year-old Party Hangover was an eight-time winner for the De Long stable and put over $161,000 on her card with the bulk of that money coming with consecutive wins in the Springfield and Du Quoin State Fair championships, and triumphs in both her Grandma Ann elimination and its final. Nailing Down Another: Al’s Hammered (Bobby Smolin) uncorked a season fastest 1:49.1 mile last night in his Maurello elimination victory, avenging his recent loss to Fort Silky in the Egyptian stake at Maywood. The win was No. 13 of the season for Al’s Hammered, owned and trained by Bob Phillips, and likely sewed up his role as the morning line favorite for Saturday’s $120,000 Championship. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

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

Most of the circuit’s top drivers are doing double-duty Saturday. They’ll compete in the afternoon in southern Illinois at the Du Quoin State Fair and then at night at Balmoral Park, wrapping up their day up some 12 hours after the first downstate post. “This year a lot of us plan to drive back to Balmoral instead of renting a plane like we did in the past,” said John De Long who will handle the favorites in 2 of the 5 major ICF trotting championships at Du Quoin. “Dave (Magee) drove back last year while we took a plane and Dave was at Balmoral around the second race and this year there are only 10 races at Du Quoin Saturday. The last one goes before 3 o’clock so we should be o.k.” De Long’s best chances Saturday afternoon are with the Curt Grummel Stable’s sister-brother Springfield champion tandem of Fox Valley Yoko in the Time Dancer, and Fox Valley Veto in the Pronto Don, and Say No Mo in the Windy Skeeter who earlier won the $42,000 Fox Valley Evita. “Yoko” may not have been 100 per cent when she was second in the Fox Valley Flan and Hanover,” said De Long. “They told me she had been a little sick. But last week at Springfield she bounced back and had a :26.4 last quarter for me and did it well in hand. “Veto has been awesome. The horse does everything absolutely perfect. “Say No Mo just didn’t fire at Springfield. She just wasn’t very good in her race. I had tipped her out near the half but she didn’t have any trot so I ducked her back in. They were going to scope her and do blood work if needed. Hopefully she’ll be good for the Du Quoin stake.” When De Long arrives from his 290 mile trip from Du Quoin to Balmoral he’ll have live drives on the Saturday night card including the Nick Giberson Stable’s Fashion Delight (5-1) in the fifth race Invitational Handicap. Owned by Illinoisan Mark Winship (Canton), the 6-year-old Fashion Delight is the winner of over $856,000 in his career. He’ll take-on some tough cookies like Al’s Hammered (programmed 8-5), last week’s Big Tom champion Fort Silky (5-2, Casey Leonard), Best Man Hanover (9-2, Todd Warren), Iam Bonasera (6-1, Kyle Wilfong) and Furious Frank (12-1, Ridge Warren). “Fashion Delight is just a nice older race horse,” continued De Long. “He likes to leave and he comes off a strong (1:49.4) mile last week. The 25-year-old Wisconsin native has the 5-2 favorites in a pair of high level conditioned paces that follow, Firstclassallthway in the seventh and Our Dragon King in the ninth. Both have the pole position. “I’ve driven Our Dragon King in the past, said De Long. “He’s a nice horse. He’s a American National and Hanover champion. The horse did get tortured last week so maybe that’s why I’m driving him this time around.” Our Dragon King cut bruising fractions of :26.4, :53.1 and 1:20.4 before going into retreat and finishing a far back sixth behind De Long and Fashion Delight. Du Quoin’s three-day harness met concludes Sunday (12 noon first post) with a number of championships to be decided including the $40,000 Governor’s Cup for ICF 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

When the draw came out for Maywood Park’s Friday program I was more than a little surprised to see the Roger Welch Stable’s Indiana champion Always About Katey in-to-go on the circuit’s half-miler. The 5-year-old Indiana bred mare has put over $736,732 on her card in 2 and 1/2 years of racing for owners William De Long (Clinton, WI), Pat De Long (South Beloit, IL) and her namesake Katey McClymont (Janesville, WI). It’s rare to see Always About Katey not racing in Indiana Invites and it’s even rarer to see the mare at Maywood Park. She finished second in last year’s Cinderella, the only time she’s competed on a half-mile track. “She’s hasn’t been racing well,” said her trainer Roger Welch. “She hasn’t been trying and I was looking for a softer spot to drop her in and maybe braven her-up. There wasn’t anything in Indiana for her and nothing at Balmoral. So I thought I’d shake things up and race her at Maywood. “She’s no lock in Friday’s race. There are some nice mares in it and Katey hasn’t been good lately.” However, Always About Katey is the class of the race and the heavy 6-5 morning line favorite. She was the 2012 Indiana Filly of the Year when she won 10 of 12 races, including a pair of $200,000 Indiana Sire Stakes Gold events, the $75,800 Circle City at Indiana Downs, and both Balmoral’s $53,900 Hanover and $113,000 American National, racking up $406,545. Last season as a 3-year-old Katey added another $284,657 to her bank account, capturing 7 of 17 starts including another $200,000 Indiana Gold stake in a career best time of 1:51.3. This year Katey is 3-for-16 and while 2 of those wins came earlier in Hoosier Park Invites, the mare has dropped 10 of her last 11 decisions and has a modest $45,530 on this year’s card. Kayey did draw well Friday with the 3-slot for Todd Warren, the stable’s regular Illinois driver. Inside of Katey are Weekend Update (programmed 8-1) and Whistle Pig (10-1). The 4 through 8 slots will be manned by Sealark Hanover (15-1), Poco Granny (9-2), Sleazy Does It (6-1), Auniqueaquistion (12-1) and Mu Caliente (12-1). Windy City Diane (20-1) has the second tier 9-post. The $9,100 eighth race distaff event for non-winners of $9,500 in their last five starts, will share of Maywood spotlight with the same conditioned ninth race for colts and geldings. Bob Phillips Holdingallthecards is listed at 8-5 despite the seven-slot. The Tom Simmons Stable’s Kansas Wildcat is next at 3-1, followed by Dandy Farms Rhombus (4-1) who will make his first career start on a half-miler. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

After a two-week hiatus live racing returned to BalmoralPark with a pair of state-bred stakes for older pacers sharing top billing on the 13-race program. The ladies kicked off the action with a pair of $21,400 divisions of the Parklane Powerful Stake. In the first division Kenneth Rucker's Party Hangover continued her dominance of this division as she cruised to a 3 ¼ length victory in a career best of 1:51.1 for driver Todd Warren. After leaving alertly from the outside starting spot, Warren sent the five-year-old daughter of Party At Artsplace on her way from fourth after an opening quarter of 27.0. Quickly moving to the front, the Catrina Rucker trained miss proceeded to lead the field through middle splits of 54.1 & 1:22.2. Through the lane the only thing in doubt was who would pick up the minor spoils as Party Hangover effortlessly reported home with her sixth straight victory. Just By Design (Dave Magee) rallied from last to finish second while Fox Valley Touche (Dale Hiteman) was third. With the win Party Hangover boasts a record of 7-3-2 in 21 starts this season. The overwhelming favorite returned just $3.20, $2.60 & $2.10 while upping her career earnings to $292,511. The second division provided an upset as Mark Winship's No Respect took advantage of a miscue in the lane by favorite Dallas Jones in route to a 2 ¾ length victory in a lifetime best of 1:51.4 for driver John De Long. Settling near the back as the action up front was hot and heavy De Long was happy to watch Incredible Filly (Ronnie Gillespie), The Bruzilian Blur (Todd Warren) and then Dallas Jones (Kyle Wilfong) all trade blows through red-hot splits of 27.3, 54.1 & 1:23.1. In the lane, State Fair Stake winner Dallas Jones made a very uncharacteristic break jamming up several rivals while leaving a fit and fresh No Respect with clear sailing to the wire. The Nick Giberson trained daughter of Sportsmaster then proceeded to uncork a 28.0 final quarter to notch her seventh victory of the season. Dune In Red (Dave Magee) who inherited the lead after the miscue by the favorite held on for second while Kimberly R (Dale Hiteman) finished third. Sent off at 9-1 the brown five-year-old returned $22.80, $4.00 & $3.20 while pushing her career earnings up to $314,428. A full field of 10 pacers went postward in the $35,200 Big Tom Stake and when the smoke cleared in this wild and wooly affair it was John Prentice and Neva Jane Ikeler's FortSilky who emerged with an impressive 6 ¾ length victory in 1:49.3 for driver Casey Leonard. With even money favorite Al's Hammered saddled with a starting spot in the second tier Leonard left quickly with Fort Silky sitting right on the back of the hard leaving Ice Scraper (Ross Leonard) through splits of 27.2 & 55.0. Deftly averting disaster when the pace setter made a break approaching the top of the stretch, Fort Silky was in full in stride as he sailed by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:22.3. Leaving his rivals in his wake the eight-year-old Ft. ApacheHanover gelding sealed the deal in grand fashion, pacing home in 27.0 to post his 20th win over the past two seasons. Iam Bonasera (Kyle Wilfong) turned a nice ground saving trip into a second place check while Al's Hammered was forced to settle for third on this night. The Terry Leonard trainee returned $9.20, $5.60 & $3.20 while upping his career bankroll to an eye popping $650,650. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

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

After a big Saturday night of stakes action it was time for freshmen trotters to bring the Southland Festival of Racing to a close with a pair of big money events for Illinois conceived and foaled youngsters sharing top billing on the Sunday night card in Crete.               The ladies kicked off the Sunday night stake action as a field of eight were sent postward in the $44,000 Fox Valley Flan Stake.   After coming close in each of her first three career starts Homer Hochstetler & Robert Buddig’s Persuasive Look picked the right night to break into the win column as she shook loose late and then proceeded to overpower her foes in the lane in route to a one-length victory in 1:58.2 for driver Casey Leonard.             Patiently handled by Balmoral’s leading reinsman, the home-bred daughter of Powerful Emotion—Black N Bluegenes left alertly, then settled into a pocket spot as Jazzie Mermaid (Nick Prather) led the field through an opening quarter in 29.1.             Electing to sit inside as Bi Polar Rose (Travis Seekman) stormed to the front to lead the field through middle splits of 59.4 & 1:29.3 Persuasive Look wound up getting shuffled all the way back to fifth as the field turned for home.   That’s when Leonard began to work his magic with the Homer Hochstetler trained miss. After angling his filly to the outside, Leonard then knifed through a small seam between horses and a fit and fresh Persuasive Look rewarded her pilot as she charged home in 28.1 to secure her maiden breaking victory. Fox Valley Yoko (John De Long), the 6-5 favorite in the wagering despite drawing the outside post turned in a big effort to finish second while 32-1 outsider Fox Valley Harrah (Matt Krueger) rallied to be third.     Sent off as the third choice in the wagering Persuasive Look returned $7.00, $3.20 & $2.80 while moving her record to 1-1-2 in 4 career starts with earnings of $25,050.   The final stake race of the weekend was the $48,000 Plesac Stake for two-year-old trotting colts and this race wound up being another showcase for owner-trainer Herman Wheeler’s division leader Fox Valley Qatar as the good looking gelding kept his perfect record intact with an effortless four-length victory in 1:59.1 with Todd Warren in the bike. After getting away an unhurried fifth as RT Habanero (Robert Taylor) led the field through an opening quarter in 30.0, Warren moved to the outside with the altered son of Pizzazzed—Armbro Bahrain and quickly rolled to the top, leading the field through splits of 59.4 & 1:30.   Leaving nine rivals in his wake, Fox Valley Qatar set sail for home leaving no doubt as to who was the best in this event as he sealed the deal with a 29.1 final quarter to notch his fourth straight victory.  Southrncomfortzone (John De Long) uncorked a belated rally to finish in the runner-up role while his entry mate Fox Valley Theboss (Dave Magee) was a distant third, 10 ¾ lengths behind the winner.   Sporting a perfect four for four record with earnings of $29,625, Fox Valley Qatar was bet as though defeat was out the question returning just $2.60, $2.20 & $2.10.      Live racing continues at Balmoral Park on Wednesday, July 30th,  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

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.      

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  

Getting a confident steer from driver Travis Seekman, Dennis Nehmer & Robert Phillips Dakota Roadster powered by his rivals nearing the half-mile mark and never looked back in route to an impressive 3 ½ length victory in Friday's $10,000 Fox Valley Barzgar Stake at Maywood Park. The final time was 1:57.4. Despite starting in the second tier Seekman managed to get his charge away in fourth as Fox Valley Cadet (Todd Warren) and Pathologist (Brian Carpenter) battled through an opening quarter in 29.0. Heading into the stretch for the first time Seekman made what would prove to be the winning move, pulling from fourth and powering to the top as the field reached the half-mile mark in 58.4. Quickly facing pressure from a hard charging Gett'er Done Dune these two battled neck and neck by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:28.1. A fit and fresh Dakota Roadster then seemed to find another gear on the final turn, rebuffing the challenge of the favorite as he began putting daylight between himself and his rivals while pacing away to his first career victory. Joel's Z Tam (Casey Leonard) who got away to a slow start, rallied from last to finish second while Gett'er Done Dune held on for third. An $8,500 yearling purchase, Dakota Roadster returned $7.80, $5.00 & $7.40 while running his record to one win and two seconds in three career starts with earnings of $8,500. Driver Travis Seekman and Dakota Roadster were on cruise control as they strolled under the wire with an easy win in Friday's $10,000 Fox Valley Barzgar Stake. by Tom Kelley, for Maywood 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

After playing second fiddle to division leader Tour Hall in their last three match-ups Curt and Craig Grummel's Fox Valley Veto turned the table on his chief rival Wednesday night as he posted a hard fought neck decision in the $10,000 Betzotic Stake for ICF three-year-old trotting colts. The final time of 1:55.4 was a career best for the Curt Grummel trainee. With only five diagonally gaited sophomores contesting this event driver John De Long placed Fox Valley Veto in third through the early going as Tour Hall (Dave Magee) led the field through splits of 28.4 & 58.4. Moving up first over on the far turn Fox Valley Veto began to carve into the pace setters lead as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:28.3. Just as they did in the Southern Rocketop Stake back on June 14th, Tour Hall and Fox Valley Veto left the rest of the field in their wake as they battled tooth and nail through the final eighth of a mile. With the two colts racing side by side nearing the wire, Fox Valley Veto found a little something extra, poking a neck in front in the shadow of the wire for his first win of the season. Tour Hall was a game second while Bobby B Breeze (Todd Warren) was third, 5 ¾ lengths behind the winner. The win was the first in five starts this year for the gelded son of Pizzazzed--Yankee Victory who now sports career numbers of 2-6-0 in 15 starts with earnings of $90,666. The second choice in the wagering returned $5.60 & $2.40. There was no show wagering on the race. 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  

Sophomore trotting colts received top billing on Wednesday night at Balmoral Park as a field of 10 state-bred three-year-olds battled in a $47,100 Cardinal Stake. Once again the sidewinders in this division provided another thrilling finish as Mike Brink & Loren Tournear's Tour Hall stuck a nostril in front right at the finish line to edge Fox Valley Veto in 1:56.1. Sent to the top by driver Dave Magee Tour Hall led the field through an opening quarter in 28.4.   After relinquishing the lead on the backstretch to a hard charging Big Bill Breeze (Dale Hiteman), Tour Hall enjoyed a pocket ride through middle splits of 58.4 & 1:28.3.   The garden spot almost turned out to be the undoing of the 7-5 favorite though as a first over Fox Valley Veto (John De Long) stormed into command as the field turned for home.   After being forced to patiently wait for room in the passing lane as Big Bill Breeze began to fade, Magee finally revved up the Mike Brink trained gelding with a sixteenth of a mile to go.   This year's Betzotic and Speedy Rodney Stake winner then showed the mettle that made him the division favorite coming into the year as he gamely overtook Fox Valley Veto in the final stride to win for the third time in four starts this season. Bobby B Breeze (Todd Warren) rallied late to finish third.   With the win Tour Hall who returned $4.80, $3.20 & $2.60 now boasts a career record of 7-4-1 in 14 starts with earnings of $109,851. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

33 to 48 of 133