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The richest trotting event of the season for two-year-old state-bred trotting colts received top billing on Sunday night at Balmoral Park as a field of 10 diagonally gaited youngsters squared off in the $105,000 Lincoln Land Stake. Despite taking the overland route from post 10, Jerry Graham’s Photo Surprise struck a winning pose as he rallied gamely in the final strides to win by a head in 1:59.1 with leading driver Mike Oosting at the controls. After getting away near the back of the pack as last week’s elimination winner Nino Marino (Dean Magee) led the field through opening splits of 29.0 & 58.3 Oosting maneuvered his charge to the outside where they quickly began to gobble up ground. Tipping three wide as the colts moved around the far turn, the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Gloria Wyoming was all the way up to fourth as Nino Marino moved past the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:29.1. Grinding away through the lane as a leg weary Nino Marino began to back up the Nelson Willis trainee eventually reeled in Fox Valley Veto (John Roberts) in the last stride to notch his second career win in seven starts. Fox Valley Veto was forced to settle for the runner-up role while Big Bad Bob (Dale Hiteman) was third, 4 ¼ lengths behind the top pair. With the win Photo Surprise now sports a record of 2-1-0 with $52,375 in earnings.The beaten favorite from last week’s elimination returned $8.80, $6.40 & $4.00 to those who stayed loyal to the gelding. Sophomore trotting fillies were also in action on Sunday night as a field of seven battled in a $12,000 Betzotic Stake. Continuing her fine second season on the track, the Todd Warren owned and driven Sara The Spy recorded her seventh win of the year as she cruised to a 2 ¼ length victory in 1:57.0. Hustled right to the front from post position three the daughter of Powerful Emotion—Sarabella posted leisurely splits of 29.2, 59.4 & 1:28.2 before sealing the deal with a 28.3 final quarter. Divination (Mike Oosting) followed the winner’s every move but was relegated to the bridesmaid role while Just For Fun (Casey Leonard) was third. Amodel of consistency from the time she hit the track in 2013 the Mike Croucher trained miss now boasts a record of 7-4-3 in 15 starts this season with career earnings of $97,017. The odds on choice in the wagering returned $3.60, $2.40 & $2.10 to her legion of followers. Sunday’s Pick 4 was not hit so $27,661 will be carried over to Wednesday’s Pick 4. There will be a guaranteed pool of $75,000 for Wednesday’s Pick 4 which is on races 7-10. Once again the Pick 4 has a low 15% takeout with a one dollar minimum and features a guaranteed pool each night. Handicappers across North America can get a headstart on their competition with free 12 line program pages for the guaranteed pool courtesy of the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative and Track Master on the handicapping section at www.ustrotting.com. Sara The Spy and owner-driver Todd Warren cruised to an easy win in Sunday's $12,000 Betzotic Stake. Mike Oosting guided Photo Surprise to thrilling head victory in Sunday's $105,000 LIncoln Land Stake. David Baum  

The Cardinal Final looked to be a wide open race and it turned out to be just that as Z Tam Stables, Mike Polansky and Joe & Dave Mc Caffrey’s Ringo’s Z Tam came flying down the stretch to win by a half-length in 1:56.0 at odds of 8-1.   Content to sit at the back of the pack in the field of eight as Traffic Cop (Todd Warren) carved out splits of 27.1, 57.1 & 1:26.2 driver Casey Leonard had the son of Yankee Skyscaper—Rons Girl underway in a live outer flow as the field headed into the final bend.   Circling rivals while following the cover of I Bizel The Shizel (John De Long), Ringo’s Z Tam blew by the field as the speed collapsed, charging home in 28.3 to notch his third win in eight lifetime starts. I Bizel The Shizel finished a hard knocking second while One Sure Apache (Mike Oosting) was third after being first over for the final five-eighths of a mile.   Overlooked at windows despite being coupled in the wagering with Manny’s Z Tam, Ringo’s Z Tam returned a healthy $18.00, $5.80 & $2.80 while upping his bankroll to $39,654.   In the Violet Stake favored Molly Go Lightly shook off constant pressure and held firm through the lane to win by a half-length in a quick 1:54.4 for Jim Jesk’s Sawgrass Farms.   Taking advantage of the inside starting spot driver Mike Oosting whisked the daughter of Lexington Legend—Waggle right to the front but was confronted with immediate pressure from a hard leaving My Little Bit (Casey Leonard).   With the two fillies battling tooth and nail through opening splits of 28.0 & 56.1 Molly Go Lightly finally put away the challenge from her main nemesis as the field headed for the three-quarter-mile mark.   Drawing away from the rest of the field as she stormed by that mark in 1:25.3, the Nelson Willis trainee then held firm to the wire as a ground saving Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) came charging through the passing lane. Party Hangover Two (John De Long) was a distant third, five lengths behind the winner.   The victory was the fourth in 11 starts for Molly Go Lightly who now boasts $44,895 in career earnings. The 4-5 choice of the betting public returned $3.80, $2.80 & $2.40.    by Tom Kelley for Maywood Park  

The slogan “You’ve Come a Long Way,” wasn’t written with the Illinois-bred filly My Little Bit in mind but as the old proverb says: “If the shoe fits, wear it.” And the (horse) shoe does fit the Erv Miller star freshman according to her driver Casey Leonard. “This filly has come a long way from her last start at Maywood Park when I drove her,” said Casey after steering My Little Bit to a comfortable one-length win in last week’s first Violet elimination. “My Little Bit had the 8-hole the first night at Maywood and when she came out of that turn for the first time and saw the grandstand, she wasn’t sure what was going on. She has a much better idea now of what’s she’s doing.” Her June 27 race in Maywood’s Juxtaposition stake was My Little Bit’s very first start. She ended up sixth, beaten almost 15 lengths by the winner April May Dune, and was timed in 2:00.4. Last Friday she won in 1:55.2 and pretty much coasted the second half of the mile. It was season win No. 5 for the Sportsmaster filly who captured both State Fair titles with Marcus Miller and was second with the 22-year-old in the $200,000 Orange & Blue Filly Final on Super Night behind Thesleazyprincess, one of her main threats in Friday’s Violet Championship. My Little Bit was also second in late July in the $65,000 Loyal Opposition stake with Casey at her lines. “I’m really happy to be back driving this filly” said the 35-year-old Leonard. “She can get out of there really well and she won her elimination pretty easily. The race didn’t go as I expected so when one of the longshots (Fox Valley Rockn) made a quarter move at us I couldn’t let her (the 38-1 longshot) go so I let my filly out a notch.” My Little Bit needed a :28.1 first quarter to get command and a :28.3 second quarter to keep it. After that :56.4 first half, the issue wasn’t in doubt. You can count on fastest fractions throughout in tonight’s $48,000 Championship. The 2-1 morning line favorite My Little Bit can use her speed from the inside three-slot to likely race on or close to the front again which is where we also probably see last week’s second elimination victor Molly Go Lightly, the 3-1 programmed second choice. “The filly is sharp right now,” said driver Mike Oosting after Molly Go Lighty’s four-length victory in 1:55.4. “She’s a handy filly. “You can race her pretty much anyway you want.” The Nelson Willis trainee could very well get another favorable trip with the pole position and that's probably why we’ll see Oosting at her lines instead of Willis’ another filly in the race Thesleazyprincess (6-1). The Orange and Blue Filly champion landed Maywood’s dreaded eight-hole for new driver John Roberts, making her chances of a fourth season win an arduous task. She’ll race on Lasix for the first time Friday. The third program choice is Jesse and John De Long’s Party Hangover Two (p.p. 5), second behind My Little Bit a week ago Hoping to pull off a surprise victory in the ninth race Violet Final are Fox Valley Flora (15-1, Brain Carpenter), Fox Valley Amanda (12-1, Dale Hiteman), Green Valey (20-1, Bobby Smolin) and Fox Valley Shiver (8-1, Todd Warren). Pricey Pick: The 14-1 longshot Fox Valley Lena (John Roberts) was a $30 top winner for us last night at Maywood Park. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

While nothing is a certainly in Illinois horse racing—or Illinois politics for that matter—going into last week’s Cardinal eliminations it looked to me that Unlocked was pretty much of a “lock” to win this Friday’s $44,000 Championship. With multi-stakes champion PQ Three absent for Maywood’s premier ICF 2-year-old colt and gelding stake, his chief rival Unlocked was a heavy morning line favorite in his Cardinal elimination. However, Unlocked never got the opportunity to compete and reward his potential backers The talented ICF freshman was a judge’s scratch for being late to the detention barn. While the hard-luck mishap on the way to Maywood Park was a costly misfortune for the horse’s owner and trainer it did turn the Cardinal Final into a wide-open brouhaha. “With Unlocked out of this stake it’s been opened up for a lot of other horses who haven’t made a lot of money yet and my horse is one of them,” said driver John De Long after guiding I Bizel The Shizel to a 1:55.3 one-length victory in the first Cardinal elimination last Friday over the favorite Traffic Cop. I Bizel The Shizel had less than $10,000 on his card going into September for trainer Tom Simmons. The Yankee Skyscraper gelding has made almost $20,000 more since and could add another with a victory in Friday’s of the $49,000 Cardinal. Not surprisingly the elimination triumph came on the front-end. “I drove against I Bizel The Shizel in a couple of fair races during the summer,” continued the 24-year-old Wisconsin native. “The horse made a break one afternoon at Aledo so I was conscious of that going into his elimination. I was a little cautious with him in the first turn, but he handled the track o.k. “I started driving the horse at Du Quoin and I’ve left with him in every start since but I wanted to be careful with him tonight and make sure he made the final. He’s aggressive behind the car and I didn’t want to roll out with him too hard. However after the first turn he just rolled on. “My horse was waiting on other horses on the backstretch and when Mike’s (Oosting) horse (Dunside Art) came up on us he started to take off. When Mike’s horse stopped my horse wanted to stop with him, but I got after him a little and he took off again.” I Bizel The Shizel drew well with the three-slot in Friday’s eighth race co-feature. His entry-mate Overloaded (Kyle Wilfong) drew even better with the rail. They’ll open as the 5-2 programmed favorites. The Nelson Willis trained One Sure Apache, who was also an easy front-stepping winner in his elimination is in a great spot with the two with Mike Oosting. He’s the 4-1 morning line second choice. Traffic Cop, with $63,235 on his card which is tops in the field, has the six-slot for Todd Warren. Despite being 15-1 in the program he’s another major contender in the stake. The Dave Mc Caffrey trained entry of Manny’s Z Tam (p.p. 4, John Roberts) and Ringo’s Z Tam (p.p. 7, Casey Leonard) opens at 8-1. Fox Valley Deuce (p.p. 5, Dale Hiteman) is at 10-1 while Fox Valley Cupid (Ryan Anderson), saddled with the 8-hole is 5-1. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

Quantity and quality is often a successful combination and that’s what trainer Dirk Simpson has going for him in Wednesday’s $105,000 Lady Lincoln Land Championship at Balmoral Park. The Springfield based trainer has 4 of the 10 finalists in the richest stake race of the season for ICF 2-year-old trotting fillies; including the 7-2 second morning line favorite Bailey’s Wish in the fourth race feature. Owned by James Bafia of Minooka, IL and his co-worker Gene White of Chicago, Bailey’s Wish was much the best in last week’s Lady Lincoln single elimination for the two brokers at the Chicago Board of Trade. Bailey’s Wish led at every pole and was more than four lengths the best at the end of her winning 1:59.4 mile. National Hall of Fame driver Dave Magee was all smiles talking about the Simpson trainee. “She was really good the other night, probably as good as she has ever been,” said Dave. “Bailey’s Wish was straight and she was solid. She really raced well and she comes into this championship very sharp. “The filly is great gaited. While she’s not big she’s filling out nicely. I think she has the potential to be a very good trotting filly.” Bailey’s Wish didn’t draw well, landing the 8-slot in the 10-horse field, but she has shown she has the gate speed to leave for position if asked. Du Quoin champion Fox Valley Hosanna leaves (8-1) from the middle of the pack for driver Mike Oosting, while Bands Pippa and Say No Mo, two fillies that Dirk also shares ownership with have the one and three slots, respectively. Casey Leonard will be behind Bands Pippa (6-1) for the first time after the filly drew a bye into the Land Lincoln land Final. John De Long (10-1) is back to guide Say No Mo, who had a big effort in last week’s elimination. Say No Mo left from the 10-hole and got good up-close position, She raced third on the inside most of the way, following her two more successful stable-mates Bailey’s Wish and Fox Valley Hosanna but when the latter stalled in the lane, Say No Mo was pushed back before finishing strong. All four fillies Wednesday will race un-coupled. The Roger Welch Stable’s S V Spirit (Todd Warren), moves to the inside two-slot for the championships where she looks very dangerous for her driver Todd Warren and opens as the 3-1 morning line favorite. She didn’t have the easiest of trips when she was third in last Wednesday’s elimination. Also looking for pull off an upset in the Lady Lincoln Land are Green Acres (15-1, Jon Anderson), Lora Lee Breeze (15-1, Matt Krueger), Graceful Spirit (12-1, Brian Carpenter, Fox Valley Skylar (9-2, Dale Hiteman) and Fox Valley Flan champion Vienna (8-1, Kyle Wilfong) who has the 10-slot. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

The red-hot combination of trainer Perry Smith and driver Mike Oosting clicked again for Sawgrass Farms LLC as the trio combined to get Fox Valley Norman home with a 1½ length victory in Saturday’s $13,900 Bye Bye Byrd Stake. The final time was a career best of 1:51.2 for the three-year-old gelding. Leaving alertly from post seven for Oosting the son of Yankee Skyscaper—Lake Hills Nan settled in third as Drunk On You (Dave Magee) led the field an opening quarter in 27.3. With the action continuing to heat up on the backstretch Oosting maneuvered his charge to the outside where they began to carve into the advantage of Fox Valley Action (Todd Warren) as that sophomore put up middle splits of 55.1 &1:23.4. Through the stretch a determined Fox Valley Norman eventually wore down the pace setter, sealing the deal with a 27.2 final quarter to post his third win in 19 starts this season. Silver Devil (Casey Leonard) rallied late to finish second while Fox Valley Action held on for third. Sent off at 8-1 by the betting public Fox Valley Norman returned $18.20, $5.40 & $3.40 while upping his career bankroll to $74,708. David Baum   

Illinois’ two-year-old crop of pacers were in action on Friday, Sept. 27th at Maywood Park as freshmen fillies battled in two Violet Stake eliminations while their male counterparts slugged it out in a pair of Cardinal Stake eliminations.     With a total of 12 fillies dropped into the box for the Violet eight spots were available for the $48,000 final.   In the first division Obermeier & Quaid Stables My Little Bit made every call a winning one as she cruised to a one-length victory in 1:55.2 for driver Casey Leonard.   Storming right to the front from post three the Erv Miller trained miss carved out splits of 28.1, 56.4 & 1:26.0 while holding her rivals at bay for her fifth win in 10 career starts. Party Hangover Two (John De Long) parlayed a perfect pocket sitting trip into a second place finish while Filly Orange & Blue winner Thesleazyprincess (Mike Oosting) finished third after being forced to make a three-wide sweep as the field headed to the half-mile mark. Green Valey was a distant fourth.   The favorite prevailed in the second division as well as Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly exploded out of the pocket on the final turn and then rolled to a convincing four-length victory in 1:55.4 for leading driver Mike Oosting.   After sitting right on the back of Fox Valley Shiver (Todd Warren) as that filly showed the way through fractions of 28.2, 58.2 & 1:27.3 Oosting deftly maneuvered the Nelson Willis trainee off the pylons. Quickly swallowing up the pace setter, the daughter of Lexington Legend—Waggle charged home in 28.0 to post her fourth win 10 starts. Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) rallied from far back to be the bridesmaid while Fox Valley Shiver held on for third. Fox Valley Flora finished fourth.   A total of 13 colts were entered for the Cardinal with the top four in each of the two $10,000 eliminations moving on to compete in next week’s $48,000 final.   In the first elimination Laura Hendricks and Benita Simmons I Bizel The Shizel led from pillar to post as he reported home with a hard fought one-length victory in 1:55.3 with John De Long in tow.   Parked through an opening quarter in 28.1 the Tom Simmons trained son of Yankee Skyscaper—Whata Bizy Body then proceeded to put up middle splits of 57.3 & 1:26.1.  After turning aside a challenge from a hard charging Dunside Art (Mike Oosting) I Bizel The Shizel drew away from his rivals in the lane to score for the fourth time in 11 career starts. Traffic Cop (Todd Warren) came on late to be second while Fox Valley Cupid (Ryan Anderson) rallied from last to get the show dough. Manny’s Z Tam was fourth.   In the nightcap Jerry Graham’s One Sure Apache took advantage of his inside starting spot rolling to a three-quarter-length victory in wire to wire fashion.   Hustled away from the gate by Mike Oosting the Nelson Willis trained son of Ft Apache Hanover—One Sure Thing strolled through leisurely splits of 29.2, 59.2 & 1:28.3 while relatively unchallenged for most of the mile. With plenty in reserve the good looking gelding kept a late charging Ringo’s Z Tam (Casey Leonard) at bay to win for the fourth time in 12 starts. Overloaded (Kyle Wilfong) finished third while Fox Valley Deuce was fourth.   Unlocked, the 7-5 morning line favorite was a judge’s scratch from the race.   Kellie Lachata

Elimination races for both the Cardinal and Violet two-year-old ICF stakes will be contested Friday night at Maywood Park. With all six-horse fields, a freshman pacer only needs to beat out two horses in an elim to advance to next week’s finals. With division leader PQ Three and Orange and Blue Colt winner Cotton Eyed Joe absent, the Nick Prather trained Unlocked will likely be a heavy favorite for next Friday’s $55,000 (est.) Cardinal Championship. Unlocked will open as the 7-5 morning line choice in race nine, the second Cardinal elimination division. The Duneside Perch colt was not eligible for Super Night and hasn’t competed since he dropped a photo to PQ Three on August 25 in the Governor’s Cup at Du Quoin. However, Unlocked drew off in a Springfield qualifier on Tuesday by 21 lengths, pacing a :26.4 last quarter at the end of a 1:54.4 mile for trainer Nick Prather. The colt has also showed a fondness for Maywood’s half-mile oval.  Earlier in the summer he breezed to victories in the $12,000 Enzo The Baker and Fox Valley Barzgar stakes and then pulled away by 11 lengths in a Illinois Stallion Stake at the Charleston Fair in late July. Even though Unlocked has 6 season victories in 8 starts and a pair of seconds at both State Fair Championships, his $51,587 earnings are only third best among the 12 horses entered for the Cardinal. The Dirk Simpson trained Traffic Cop (9-5, Todd Warren), the fifth race first Cardinal elim favorite, has $60,735 on his card, and Fox Valley Cupid (2-1, Ryan Anderson) has made $53,355 for the Mike Schufler Stable and the Yankee Skyscraper gelding has done it despite going winless in his first 10 career starts. Fox Valley Cupid earned a hefty $44,000 with his game second place finish in the O&B Final, losing by only a neck to Cotton Eyed Joe for his quartet of Illinois owners. My Little Bit and Thesleazyprincess, the top two leaders in the ICF freshman filly division, renew their rivalry in the first race initial Violet elimination and both are making their half-mile debuts Thesleazyprincess (9-5, Mike Oosting) has annexed both the Orange and Blue Filly and Loyal Opposition crowns at Balmoral for trainer Nelson Willis, while the Erv Miller Stable’s My Little Bit (8-5, Casey Leonard) took both the Springfield and Du Quoin titles. The fourth race second Violet elim brings out Molly Go Lightly (9-5, Oosting) and Fox Valley Shiver (8-5, Todd Warren); two talented fillies who didn’t get a chance to show what they can do on Super Night. Molly Go Lightly won her Orange and Blue elimination but had to be scratched in the final because of sickness. The Willis trainee bounced back with an easy triumph in the Thrifty Way stake at Balmoral. Fox Valley Shiver, the runner-up to My Little Bit in the Springfield Final, wasn’t eligible to the Orange and Blue. She’s been off a month but she also qualified impressively Tuesday morning at Springfield when she was 19 lengths the best in 1:56 with her trainer Dirk Simpson in the bike. Both Fox Valley Shiver and Kiwi Party (4-1, John De Long) are making their Maywood Park debuts however they spent the summer on the County Fair Circuit and should get around the half-mile turns just fine. Oosting drove six winners and De Long had four winning drives on Maywood’s 12-race Thursday evening card. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old trotting fillies were in the spotlight on Wednesday night at Balmoral Park as a field of 10 looked for eight starting spots in next week’s $105,000 Lady Lincoln Land Stake Final. Those top eight finishers in Wednesday’s $15,000 event will join Bands Pippa and Graceful Spirit who received byes into the final on a money earned basis.   When all was said and done James Bafia and Eugene White’s Bailey’s Wish emerged with a very easy wire to wire score, reporting home with a 4 ¼ length verdict in 1:59.4.   Confidently handled by Dave Magee the daughter of Southwind Breeze—Jen zipped right to the front from post position two and proceeded to cruise through splits of 30.0, 1:00.2 & 1:30.2.   With plenty still in reserve the Dirk Simpson trained miss trotted home in 29.2 to secure the third win in her career. Fox Valley Skylar (Dale Hiteman) finished second while S V Spirit (Todd Warren) was third. Also gaining spots in the final were Green Acres, Say No Mo, Lora Lee Breeze, Vienna and Fox Valley Hosanna.   Sent off as a close second choice in the wagering Bailey’s Wish returned $7.60, $4.60 & $3.40 while moving her record to 3-2-2 in 10 starts while upping her bankroll to $40,838.   by Tom Kelley for Balmoral Park

Springfield based trainer Dirk Simpson will send out a trio of fillies in Wednesday’s Lady Lincoln Land stake single elimination and has a fourth already in next week’s $110,000 final via a bye. Only an eighth place or higher finish is needed in the 10-horse first race field to advance and therefore many trainers turned their thumbs down for a free pass into the 2-year-old ICF trotting deciding instead to keep their filly sharp and take their chances in the elim. Division’s leading money earner Fox Valley Lotus ($40,615), the Springfield champion and the Du Quoin runner-up, took the bye and Simpson’s Bands Pippa will by-pass her way into the final as well. “All the other top money earner trainers passed on the bye before I took it with Bands Pippa,” said Simpson. “She’s earned less ($11,636) than the three of my other fillies racing in the elimination and less than several others entered.” Simpson’s top two freshman fillies, Bailey’s Wish, the Springfield runner-up, and Du Quoin champion Fox Valley Hosanna, disappointed in last week’s elimination. Bailey Wish made a break and was distanced while Fox Valley Hosana also finished far up the track in seventh. Simpson’s other elimination starter is Say No Moe who was third in the Shawnee. “I was totally surprised by the break from Bailey’s Wish,” continued the Illinois Harness Hall of Fame trainer. “We did some things we believe will take care of the problem and I expect her to race just find in the elimination. “Hosana displaced a palate so it wasn’t her fault she did so poorly. We worked on taking care of that issue and with the rail Wednesday instead of the 10-hole she had in the American National, she should do just fine, too. “Say No Moe landed the 10-hole Wednesday but she should be all right to move along to the final where hopefully she’ll draw better.” Bailey’s Wish ($33,338), programmed as the 4-1 second choice with Dave Magee, drew the two-slot Wednesday while here stable-mate Fox Valley Hosana (6-1, Mike Oosting), with $30,495 in earnings landed the one. The 7-2 morning line favorite is the Roger Welch Stable’s S V Spirit (p.p. 6, Todd Warren), a four-time season winner in 10 starts. Starting to her right is Fox Valley Flan champion Vienna (5-1, Kyle Wilfong). Also looking to advance to the Lady Lincoln Land showdown are Green Acres) 15-1, Jon Anderson), Fox Valley Skylar (12-1, Dale Hiteman), Lora Lee Breeze (15-1, Matt Krueger), High Balance (15-1, Lavern Hostetler), Macie Rae (10-1, Brian Carpenter) and Say No Mo(8-1, John De Long). Simpson’s Super Night champ Trot Fudge Sundae is racing in Thursday’s Hoosier Park Invitational where the 3-year-old ICF filly landed the 9-hole against older trotters. “She’s got some stakes still coming up and I wanted to keep her sharp so that’s why she’s there,” said Dirk. “There was nowhere else to race her.” By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

Despite atrack that had been drenched by heavy rains during the late afternoon hoursBurke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi and Stable 45’s had no problem negotiating hisway over the sloppy going as the $105,000 yearling purchase etched his name intothe Balmoral Park record books knocking off nine other two-year-old trottingcolts by 11 ¼ lengths in 1:54.1 while taking the $69,000 American National fortwo-year-old trotting colts. The previous mark of 1:54.3 had been set in 2008by Swan For All. The goodlooking son of Muscle Hill—Spice On Ice effortlessly trotted to the top frompost two for driver Mike Oosting putting up splits of 29.2, 58.2 & 1:26.2while widening his margin at each call. Under nourging whatsoever from Balmoral’s leading reinsman Southwind Spirit continuedto make it look like a stroll in the park as he sealed the deal with a 27.4final quarter to become the fastest two-year-old trotter in the history of Balmoral Park. Hot Type (D.R. Ackerman) finishedsecond while Big Bad Bob (Dale Hiteman) was third. “I neverpulled his plugs, never spoke to him or even showed him the whip at any timetonight,” marveled Oosting in the winners circle. “I shook the lines right atthe finish line and he actually took off on me again so there was still plentyleft in his tank. That was a huge last three-quarters he trotted tonight. He’squite an animal.” Bet asthough defeat was out of the question Southwind Spirit returned $2.20, $2.40& $2.10 while running his record to 5-2-1 in 8 starts with earnings of $138,400while under the guidance of conditioner Ron Burke. In the$63,000 Filly division Robert & Lynda Stewart’s Herroyalhighness shruggedoff a first over trip as she splashed to an impressive 6 ¼ length triumph in1:57.0 for driver Trace Tetrick. Settlinginto a nice early spot in mid-pack as Pray With Me (Todd Warren) led the fieldthrough splits of 28.1, 57.4 & 1:28.1 Tetrick began a nice steady advanceas the field moved into the final turn. Quicklyblowing by the pace setter as the field turned for home the daughter of MuscleHill—Ok To Play left her rivals in her wake through the lane as she reportedhome “under wraps” with her second win in four career starts for trainer BobStewart. Pray With Me held on to be second while Muscle Babe (Dave Magee) wasthird. After thevictory Tetrick seemed quite pleased with the way his charge had performed. “She wasgood and strong the entire way tonight,” he said. “I really didn’t want to befirst up against the favorite but that’s just the way it worked out for us. She’sbeen getting better each week and she continued that progression tonight. I wasreally happy with the way she finished up that mile in the slop.” Overlookedat the windows Herroyalhighness returned $16.40, $6.00 & $5.80 while uppingher bankroll to $39,199 by Tom Kelley    

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

Saving the biggest fireworks of the night for the last race of the night the Robert Phillips owned and trained Cotton Eyed Joe pulled off a 16-1 shocker in the nightcap winning the $200,000 Orange & Blue by a neck in a career best of 1:54.3. Well handled by driver Robert Smolin the son of Big Green Machine—Secret Dial appeared to getting hopelessly shuffled out of contention as the lead changed hands several times through some brisk splits. With Fox Valley Cupid (Ryan Anderson), Overloaded (Kyle Wilfong) and 1-5 favorite PQ Three (Mike Oosting) all taking turns on the lead through splits of 27.4, 56.4 & 1:25.1 Cotton Eyed Joe was all the way back to eighth while trying to move up three wide as the field turned for home. With the heavy favorite and several others near the front end starting to collapse from the fast fractions Smolin continued to pick off one rival after another while racing down the grand stand side. A game Fox Valley Cupid, who was 37-1 was starting to come on again in the passing lane but the hard charging Cotton Eyed Joe managed to blow by them all with a 28.0 final quarter to post his second lifetime win in start number 13. Fox Valley Cupid turned in a super effort to finish second while Traffic Cop (Todd Warren), who barreled up first over to challenge the pace setting PQ Three on the far turn was third, just a 1 ¾ lengths behind the winner. “Things set up pretty well for somebody to come from out of in this race,” said Smolin who posted his first two Super Night wins on last year’s card. “He likes to run out in the stretch when he hits his top gear so you have to stay after him pretty good. Tonight he went straight enough long enough to go by them.” Sporting a modest record of 1-1-2 in12 starts coming into Saturday’s Orange & Blue Cotton Eyed Joe now boasts a bankroll of $108,054. While the mutuels of  $35.20, $12.40 & $40.00 indicate that Cotton Eyed Joe’s win was quite a surprise his driver did not seem that shocked by his effort. “I actually thought coming into this we had a decent chance to get a big piece of it,” laughed Smolin. “We had been babying him for most of his starts and he raced very well in his elimination last week despite getting jammed up by a breaking horse. This is even more special for me because my first pari-mutuel win came while driving his dam Secret  Dial.” “Where did ya come from? Where did ya go? Where did ya come from Cotton Eyed Joe? That’s what a lot of people were wondering as the big crowd exited after another exciting Super Night at Balmoral Park! With all the longshots coming through in the $25,000 guaranteed Hi Five wager nobody correctly selected the top five finishers in the race. That means a whopping $24,159 will be carried over into Sunday’s 10 Cent Hi-Five so there will be a guaranteed pool of $50,000 on Sunday night at Balmoral. Post time for the Sunday opener is  David Baum

Division leader Auniqueaquistion had no problem overcoming the dreaded 10-hole thanks in part to another perfect steer from the red-hot Mike Oosting as the filly rolled to a 1 ½ length triumph in the $174,000 Grandma Ann Stake for three-year-old pacing fillies. The final time was 1:52.4. Floating away from the outside post Oosting had the daughter of Cole Muffler—Shessoluvabull in seventh as Dune In Red (Todd Warren) sped through an opening quarter in 27.0. The action really started to heat up going to the half as Feel Like Dancing (Kyle Wilfong) vacated the pocket and quickly swept into the lead as the fillies reached the half-way point in 56.4. “I was really happy we were able toget a hole even if was just for a little bit,” said Oosting. “I was prepared to go towards the front the entire way if I had to because this filly felt better tonight than she has been for most of the year.” A live outer flow continued around the far turn as Dallas Jones (Casey Leonard) moved up to challenge Feel Like Dancing, towing up a fit and fresh Auniqueaquistion who was cruising along in a perfect second position as the field hit the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.3. Setting sail for the money Oosting moved the Donna Lee Ozment trained miss to the far outside and she responded beautifully as she rattled off a final quarter to score for the ninth time in 14 starts this season.Schmatie (John De Long) rallied well to finish second while Dune In Red held on for third. “Considering we had the 10-hole you couldn’t have dreamed up a better trip,” explained Oosting. “She was just awesome tonight which is a credit to Donna. She really felt like her old selfout there.” At the top of her division for two straight years now Auniqueaquistion boasts 13 wins and five seconds in 22 starts with career earnings of $330,155 for owner John Carver. Despite being saddled with the outside post Auniqueaquistion was well backed at the windows returning $5.80, $3.80 & $3.60. David Baum   

llinois biggest night of racing, Super Night took place at Balmoral Park Saturday. With clear skies and temperatures in the upper 60’s a large crowd continued to file in as the big 14-race card kicked off with a pair of trotting events for Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-olds.               Diagonally gaited fillies were first onto the track with a field of 10 squaring off in the $105,000 Lady Ann Reed Championship. In a division that has remained fairly wide-open throughout the season it was last year’s two-year-old champion Trot Fudge Sundae who continued a late season surge as she trotted to a very impressive one-length victory in 1:55.2 with Super Night’s all-time leading driver Dave Magee at the controls.             Confidently handled by Magee the daughter American Native—What A Joy was sent right to the front from post position four. Turning back an early challenge from Little Ms Chrissy (Robert Taylor) the Dirk Simpson trainee put up splits of 28.3, 56.3 & 1:25.0.             “My filly was very aggressive tonight,” said Magee. “Once she heard those other horses coming after her near the quarter-pole she grabbed on and there was no way she was going to let them go.”             After putting away a second challenge from a game Sara The Spy (Todd Warren) who was outside every step of the mile, Trot Fudge Sundae dug in determinedly as Just For Fun (Casey Leonard) began to cut into her lead. Showing the grit that earned her divisional honors last season Trot Fudge Sundae held firm to the wire for her 15th career victory. Just For Fun was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Sara The Spy turned in a big effort to hang on for third.             In the winner’s circle a relieved Simpson talked about the thrilling stretch drive.             “I swear that was the longest stretch drive of my life,” said the Illinois based conditioner. “I just kept looking at her, looking at the horse that was coming on the outside and looking for wire. It seemed like it took forever to get there but she showed once again how tough she is.             Sent off as the 8-5 favorite by the large crowd Trot Fudge Sundae returned $5.20, $2.80 & $2.20 while running his career bankroll up to $272,370 for proud owners Sam Daddono, James Bafia and Eugene White.             Chalk players were rewarded again in the second race of the night as H. “Bill” Wright and Mystical Marker Farms King Mufasa reigned supreme but not without some anxious moments as he held on to win by a diminishing head in 1:56.2 with Mike Oosting at the controls.             After getting away in third from the inside post Oosting sent the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Foxy N Diamonds to the top where he proceed to trot through splits of 29.2, 59.2 & 1:27.3.             “I probably could have out-footed them out of there but I figured I would just let them trot out of there, settle in and then send my horse to front. With the fractions we were going I really thought we were going to win the race pretty handily.               After drawing away to a three-length advantage mid-way down the lane it as appeared as though the only thing in doubt would be the final margin of victory. That’s when a fit and fresh Fox Valley Camo (Jamaica Patton) pulled from the pocket and began to cut into the “Kings” advantage. That forced Oosting to get after the brown gelding through the final sixteenth of mile and the wire arrived just in time for the 1-5 favorite who notched his 12th win in 13 starts this season. Fox Valley Camo was a hard charging second while Fox Valley Legend (Dale Hiteman) rallied to be third.             “I was chasing after him pretty hard down there at the wire,” said a relieved Oosting. “I don’t really think he was quite himself tonight. It’s been a long year for him and he may be getting just a little bit tired right now.”             The Mike Brink trainee returned $2.40, $2.20 & $2.10 while running his career record to 14-2-0 in 21 starts with earnings of $213,382 for his proud owners.   Jesse De Long’s Let’s Go Higher soared to an impressive three-length victory over nine other filly and mare pacers in Saturday’s $130,000 Lorna Propes Stake stopping Mystical Victress’s bid to become the first four-time Super Night winner. The final time was 1:50.4.              Sweeping from fourth to first for driver John De Long after an opening quarter in 27.2 the five-year-old daughter of Cole Muffler then proceeded to roll through splits of 55.0 & 1:22.3.             “I didn’t want to rough up my mare too much early on so I thought I would just see how they got away and then move to the front once things settled down,” explained De Long. “I was a little surprised Mike didn’t leave a little more with his mare (Mystical Victress) so I was pretty happy to wind up in control of things like we did.”             After putting away a first over bid from Just By Design (Dave Magee) Let’s Go Higher began to put daylight between herself and her rivals quickly opening up a three-length advantage by the mid-stretch call.             “I looked back and saw Dave’s horse was starting to back up the outer flow a bit and we were starting to get away from the rest of them so I was pretty confident at that point,” said De Long.             On cruise control the rest of the way the Heidi Rohr trainee was never seriously threatened as she rolled under the wire with her ninth win in 29 starts this season. Mystical Victress (Mike Oosting) managed to rally for the second place check while Fox Valley Absolut (Robert Smolin), who was used hard to find a good early spot from her outside post held on for the show dough.             Bet down to 4-5 after her impressive elimination win Let’s Go Higher returned $3.60, $2.20 & $2.10 while winning for the 18th time in her career. The victory helped push her career bankroll to a gaudy $235,505.   by Tom Kelley for Balmoral Park        

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

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