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With a busy weekend of two-year-old action in the books the countdown to one of Balmoral Park’s biggest events in history, American National Stake Night will begin in earnest. A pair of American National elimination tussles for freshmen pacers headlined the Saturday, Nov. 2nd action with 10 two-year-old pacing fillies battling for a purse of $18,530. The top eight finishers will return on Saturday, November 9th to battle for $115,000.   Using a two-hole trip to perfection, driver Todd Warren guided the Roger Welch trained Always Electric to a one-length victory in 1:54.2.   After being used hard to grab control of the proceedings Warren elected to allow a hard charging Shell Bell (Dale Hiteman) go after pacing through an opening quarter in 28.0.   Sitting in the garden spot through middle splits of 56.4 & 1:26.0 the Roger Welch trained miss was locked and loaded as the field turned for home. Maneuvering his charge into the passing lane, Warren sent the daughter of Always A Virgin—Miss Yankee Doodle on her way and the filly responded beautifully as she swallowed up her rivals with a 28.1 final quarter to post her sixth win in 13 starts. Shell Bell held on for second while Thesleazyprincess (Mike Oosting) was third. Also gaining spots in the final were Jaded Dream, Boxed Chocolates, One Jazzy Lady, Game of Dreamers and Tough Rose.   Another field of 10 was sent postward in the $17,330 colt elimination with the top eight again moving on to next week’s $113,000 final.   Once again a perfect two-hole journey proved to be the winning ticket as the Chris Ryder trained Bushwacker zipped by his rivals in the lane to score by a deceptively easy length in a career best of 1:51.4 with Mike Oosting at the controls.   Taking advantage of an inside starting spot Oosting positioned the son of Rocknroll Hanover—Dolphins Can Talk, who was a $135,000 yearling purchase, in the garden spot as Somesizesomestyle (Brett Miller) ripped through splits of 27.0, 54.1 & 1:22.1.   Moving out of the pocket at the top of the lane Bushwacker overpowered the pace setter with an eighth of a mile to go then drew clear in the shadow of the wire for his second win in five lifetime starts. Somesizesomestyle held for second while Wicked Business (Travis Seekman) finished third. Also gaining spots in the final were Odds On Rhodonite, Archetto Hanover, Rocknroll Reality, Unlocked and Traffic Cop.   State-bred trotters were in action on Sunday, Nov. 3rd as a field of nine diagonally gaited fillies met in the $10,000 Monee Stake. After struggling with breaking problems in two of her last three outings Dr. Patrick Graham’s Fox Valley Lotus was on her best behavior on Sunday and the filly showed the type of ability she has with a sharp 2 ½ length come from behind win in 2:00.4.             Patiently saving ground as Bailey’s Wish (Dave Magee) put up splits of 30.0, 59.1 & 1:29.0 the daughter of Pizazzed—Love You More shook loose in the lane and zipped right by the pace-setter for her second win in 11 lifetime starts. Bailey’ Wish held on for second while Fox Valley Skylar (Dale Hiteman) finished third. The win helped push the Curt Grummel trainee’s career bankroll over the $50,000 plateau.   by Tom Kelley for Balmoral Park  

A pair of state-bred stake events for two-year-olds shared top billing on Saturday, Oct. 19th at Balmoral Park as a field of eight freshmen pacing fillies squared off the $12,000 Beecher Stake while seven of their male counterparts met in the $12,000 Crete Stake. Continuing her late season run at divisional honors Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly parlayed a perfect two-hole trip into her fifth straight victory as she prevailed by a well-measured length in 1:54.2.   Perfectly positioned in the pocket behind Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) by driver Mike Oosting, the homebred daughter of Lexington Legend—Waggle saved ground the entire way as the pace setter put up splits of 29.1, 57.4 & 1:27.0.   Sitting behind their cover until the eighth-pole, Oosting then maneuvered the Nelson Willis trainee to the outside eventually wearing down the leader with a 27.1 final quarter to post her sixth win in 13 career starts. Fox Valley Amanda was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Thesleazyprincess (Casey Leonard) was third, five lengths behind the winner.   With the win the 1-5 favorite in the betting who returned $2.40 $2.10 & $2.10 now boasts a record of 6-1-3 with $56,895 in career earnings despite missing the division’s richest event of the year, the Filly Orange & Blue on Super Night.             Fresh off an impressive win in a $12,000 Betzotic Stake last week, Jack and Peggy Hood, Mystical Marker Farms and Dirk Simpson Stables Traffic Cop curbed six rivals for the second straight week as the Dirk Simpson trainee cruised to a 2 ½ length score in 1:52.2.       Taking advantage of perfect two-hole trip that driver Todd Warren worked out for the son of Sportsmaster-Dixiegirl the bay gelding was fit and fresh after sitting on the back of heavily favored Unlocked (Mike Oosting) as that colt clicked off splits of 28.0, 57.0 & 1:25.0.   Quickly swallowing up the pace setter in the stretch, Traffic Cop sped home in 27.0 to notch his fourth win in 15 tries. Unlocked was forced to settle for the runner-up role for the second straight week while I Bizel The Shizel (John De Long) finished a distant third, 9 ¾ lengths behind the victor.   The win moved Traffic Cop’s career earnings up to $77,635 on the strength of a 4-4-2 record in 15 starts. The 2-1 second choice returned $6.00 & $2.80. There was no show wagering on the race. by Tom Kelley for Balmoral Park  

A busy stakes-filled night of action was contested on Sunday, October 13th as the Crete plant welcomed Grand Circuit action back to town. On tap was a pair of $27,950 splits for two-year-old filly trotters while their male counterparts slugged it out later in the night for a $46,700 jackpot. In the first Hanover split for the freshman trotting fillies Bobby Brower and Mystical Marker Farms Petticoat Affair had no trouble living up to her favored status as she cruised to a 4 ¾ -length triumph in 1:57.1 with Brad Hanners at the controls. Sweeping from fifth to first on the backside after watching Dancing Dynamite (Dean Magee) cruise through an opening quarter in 28.2, the daughter of Valley Victor—Katie Hall was in complete control of the proceedings as she rolled through middle splits of 58.0 & 1:27.3. With plenty still in reserve the Bobby Brower trained miss trotted home in 29.3 while continuing to put daylight between herself and her five rivals to notch her fifth win in eight starts this year. Dancing Dynamite held on for second while Fox Valley Lotus (John Roberts), who made a break leaving the gate, rallied to finish third. Sent off as the 4-5 favorite Petticoat Affair returned $3.60, $2.40 & $2.40 while upping her career bankroll to $185,124. In the second division the Brower-trained, Hanners-driven connection clicked again as Victory Hill Farms and Bobby Brower’s Pray With Me demolished six rivals by seven-lengths in 1:58.4. After saving ground in third while Dress For Success (Dale Hiteman) carved out leisurely splits of 30.0 & 1:00.1, Hanners set the daughter of Broadway Hall—Hail Mary Hanover on a mission for the lead heading into the final bend.  Effortlessly sweeping past her foes on the turn, the Brower trained miss was in front by a length and starting to leave her rivals in her wake as she stepped by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:29.4.  Leaving no doubt as to who was the best in this group Pray With Me trotted home in 29.0 to post her third win in eight lifetime starts. Simply Class (Joe Putnam) finished second while Pinking Of You (Casey Leonard) was third. Bet as though defeat was out of the question Pray With Me returned $2.40, $2.20 & $2.10 while upping her bankroll to $64,026. A field of nine two-year-old trotting colts was sent postward for the $46,700 Hanover and when all was said and done it was last week’s Lincoln Land Stake winner Photo Surprised who emerged victorious as he trotted to a one- length victory in a career best of 1:57.4 for driver Mike Oosting. Gamely “toughing it out” first over as Nino Marino (Dean Magee) put up splits of 28.2 & 58.1 the Nelson Willis trainee swept past his rivals on the far turn and began to draw away from the field as he rolled by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:28.1. Continuing in full stride as he headed for the wire the state-bred son of Powerful Emotion—Gloria Wyoming was straight and strong as he continued his late season surge with his third win in eight career starts. Big Bad Bob (Dale Hiteman) rallied late to finish second while Explosive Cash (Casey Leonard) was third. Fresh off that win in the biggest event of the year for diagonally gaited Prairie State freshmen the Jerry Graham owned gelding returned just $3.80, $2.40 & $2.10 while running his career bankroll up to $76,725. State-bred pacing fillies were also in action on the busy Sunday night card as a field of eight youngsters squared off in a $12,000 Betzotic Stake. In a re-match of the Violet Stake at Maywood Park last week, Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly once again proved best as she reported home with a three-quarter-length triumph in 1:54.1 with Mike Oosting at the controls. Content to bide her time in the middle of the pack as Mae Flynn (Ryan Anderson) put up splits of 28.3, 57.2 & 1:26.1 Oosting maneuvered his charge into a live outer flow as the field moved around the final turn. Tipping three and then four wide from her third over position, the Nelson Willis trained miss then uncorked a blistering 27.0 final quarter to blow right by her rivals for her fifth win in 12 lifetime starts. Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) came up with a solid effort to finish second while Fox Valley Shiver (Todd Warren) was third. With the win the daughter of Lexington Legend—Waggle sports a record of 5-1-3 in 12 career starts with earnings of $50,895.  David Baum

Freshmen pacing colts received top billing on Saturday, October 12th at Balmoral Park as a field of eight state-breds gathered for the $12,000 Betzotic Stake. When the smoke cleared it was Jack and Peggy Hood, Mystical Marker Farms and Dirk Simpson Stables Traffic Cop who came away with the top honors as he rallied for a three-quarter-length victory in 1:52.1. Given a perfect steer by driver Todd Warren the gelded son of Sportsmaster—Dixiegirl came away third while heavily favored Unlocked (Mike Oosting) rattled off splits of 27.3, 56.3 & 1:24.3. Things looked bleak for the rest of the field as Unlocked sped away to a 3 ½ length lead at the mid-stretch call but Warren angled his charge to the outside where the Dirk Simpson trainee began to cut into the leader’s margin. With a six-week layoff finally beginning to take a toll on Unlocked, a hard charging Traffic Cop curbed the pace setter with 100 yards to go and eventually drew clear with a 27.0 final quarter to notch his third win 14 lifetime starts. Unlocked held on for second while I Bizel The Shizel (John De Long) finished third, 5 ½ lengths behind the winner. With the win Traffic Cop now sports a record of 3-4-2 in 14 starts with earnings of $71,635. David Baum

The $21,750 Lady Lincoln Land Consolation is for ICF 2-year-old filly trotters who didn’t finish in the top four in last week’s $105,000 championship so it’s somewhat surprising to find a trio of past stakes winners in Wednesday’s starting field. Nonetheless that’s the case. Going postward in the third race feature is S V Spirit, a Springfield elimination winner and the Downstate Classic champion at Lincoln, Du Quoin’s Shawnee victor Fox Valley Hosana, along with Vienna who won the Fox Valley Flan Final at the end of July at Balmoral. “Hosana” was fifth best in the Lady Lincoln Lane Final for trainer Dirk Simpson, Bob Phillips’ Vienna broke and ended up seventh, and S V Spirit went off stride in contention and finished eighth for the Roger Welch Stable. The trio could get the bulk of the money bet in Wednesday’s Consolation event. S V Spirit, the 8-5 beaten favorite in the final, will open as the 5-2 choice with Todd Warren Wednesday. Fox Valley Hosana (Mike Oosting) is at 5-1, while Vienna (Kyle Wilfong) is at first flash odds of 6-1. They’ll be challenged by Say No Mo (Dale Hiteman), another Simpson trainee who will race un-coupled with Fox Valley Hosana and is the 4-1 second programmed choice, Green Acres (8-1, Jon Anderson), High Balance (12-1, Lavern Hostetler), Macie Rae (8-1, Mike Rogers) and Graceful Spirit (10-1, Casey Leonard). Macie Rae, a first-time Lasix user, was an eight-time winner with past summer fair circuit and took the Country Fair Challenge at Do Quoin by over 13 lengths in 2:00.4 with Rogers. Stakes Aplenty: There are a half-dozen more stakes raced to be contested this week starting with a pair of $12,000 Betzotic’s at Maywood. The ICF 3-year-old filly pacers vie on Thursday night while the state-bred sophomore colts tangle on Friday. Grandma Ann champion Auniqueaquistion makes her first start since Super night in the eighth race Thursday feature. Fox Valley Norman and Silver Devil, the 1-2 finishers in the recent Bye Bye Byrd at Balmoral are in Friday's ICF stake. There’s another $12,000 Betzotic Saturday at Balmoral and it’s for Illinois bred 2-year-old colts and geldings. The freshman filly version goes on Sunday evening where it’ll be joined by the last two Hanover stakes for this season. Both the 2-year-old colt and filly Hanover’s have estimated purses of $60,000. Recent Lady Lincoln Land champion Bailey’s Wish will head up the local contingent of freshman distaff trotters Muscle Network, a 1:53.2 winner last Friday, the fastest of a trio of $86,000 International Stallion stakes decided at The Red Mile, is eligible for Sunday’s Hanover colt trot and is a likely starter for trainer Tony O’Sullivan. Photo Surprise and Fox Valley Veto, the one-two-finishers in last Sunday’s $105,000 Lincoln Land Final, are both expected to also enter. Oosting Moves Up. With 10 winning drives over the weekend at Balmoral Mike Oosting is now at 447 for the season, moving him into sixth place in dash winners throughout the country and Canada. The Michigan native entered this week only one winner out of fifth. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

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    

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