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Last week we saw the "ladies" meet in one of Maywood Park's signature events, the Filly Maywood Pace, Friday night their male counterparts will step into the harness racing spotlight as a field of eight Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing colts will slug it out in the $36,000 Maywood Pace which goes as race eight on the 12-race program. Earndawg has been the "top dog" in this division in each of his first two seasons of racing and the Roger Welch trainee has been installed as the 9-5 favorite on Friday as he guns for his 11th win 23 career starts. The gelded son of Sportsmaster received a bye into this battle and elected to use a "conditioned" event at Balmoral as his tune-up for tonight's showdown. Unfortunately he encountered some traffic issues that night and never had a chance to be a factor. In his previous start against this type of company, last year's Orange & Blue Stake winner looked like a winner in the Cardinal Stake at Balmoral as he unleashed a huge rally but wound up getting nipped at the wire by Dinky Dune who had slipped through along the pylons late in the mile. Todd Warren will handle the driving duties behind Earndawg who will be looking to add to a career record of 10-5-3 $230,325 when he leaves from post two. Lucpark captured last week's elimination in wire to wire fashion and the Ervin Miller trainee figures to garner plenty of attention once again despite drawing post position seven for Friday's encounter. The gelded son of Sportsmaster looked much the best in last week's action cruising through easy early splits before storming home with a 2½ length verdict in 1:55.1. A model of consistency this year, Lucpark comes into this race with a record of 2-2-1 in six starts for owner Rocco Ruffolo. A six-time career winner who sports nearly $90,000 in earnings, Lucpark, the 3-1 second choice on the morning line, will have leading driver Mike Oosting in the bike when they leave from post seven on Friday. If you are searching for a possible upset in Friday's main event don't overlook the chances of Dixie's Boy who will have to overcome post position eight on Friday night. The Joel Smith trained son of Duneside Perch also received a bye into tonight's final and will come into this event as a "fresh" horse after being away since May 30th.   The long striding bay turned in a huge effort here at Maywood Park in the Gosox Stake back on May 15th, finishing second behind Lucpark after spotting the field some 12 lengths after a miscue behind the starting gate. A three-time winner this season for James & Terri Blackman Dixie's Boy will be handled by Casey Leonard.   Rounding out the field are Gifted By Nature, Rockin Cassinova, Dupage's Z Tam, Gett'er Done Dune and Frosty Dune.   Tom Kelley

Illinois conceived and foaled stakes action continued on Sunday, June 14th, at Balmoral Park as a full field of 10 two-year-old pacing fillies made their career debuts in the $4,000 Misty Misty Misty Stake. After a heated battle it was Ron Phillips and John Carver's highly regarded youngster, Foxvalleytiramisu who wound up with a neck in front at the wire, prevailing in a snappy 1:56.3 after a thrilling stretch drive.   Confidently handled by driver Robert Smolin, the daughter of Sportsmaster--Theladyappealstome shot right to the top from post position six carving out very evenly rated splits of 29.0, 59.1 & 1:27.4 for the recent member of the 1,000 win club.   As a host of foes began to close in on her through the stretch, the full sister to such Illinois bred stars as Fox Valley Topaz, Fox Valley Appeal and Fox Valley Escort dug in gamely, turning aside bids from the favored pocket sitting Fox Valley Addison (Todd Warren) and late rushing longshots Lexington Lady (John De Long) and Char N Marg (Casey Leonard). With the fillies spread four across the track the Robert Phillips trainee managed to keep her neck in front while down at the pylons making her career debut a winning one for her proud connections. Lexington Lady, a $2,500 yearling purchase overcame post position nine to finish a fast closing second while Fox Valley Addison held on for third. Char N Marg also turned some heads as she flew home in 27.1 to wind up just a half-length back at 28-1.   Sent off as the second choice in the wagering after posting a win and a second in her preps leading up to Sunday's debut Foxvalleytiramisu returned $7.20, $4.00 & $2.60 while opening her bankroll.   Tom Kelley

A trio of Illinois conceived and foaled stakes action highlighted a busy harness racing Saturday both on and off the track at the Crete plant.   With the 7th Annual Runnin' With the Horses 5K run held earlier in the day and a large crowd enjoying the live music and fun at the annual "Brewhaha" craft beer festival on the apron fans were able to get their first look at some of this season's two-year-old pacing colts in the $4,000 Bingo Johnnie Stake. Sophomore trotters were also on the docket as a field of 10 met in the $8,000 Southern Rocketop Stake while the top older pacers in training closed out the action in the $14,000 Broadway Preview Stake.   In the Bingo Johnnie, Nicole Potts Royale Rose lived up to his favored status as he rolled to a four-length victory in 1:57.2 for driver Brian Carpenter.   The $3,800 yearling purchase used his inside starting spot to perfection saving ground early as Spending Cash (Todd Warren) led the field through splits of 30.1 & 1:00.1.   After pulling from third midway around the final turn, Carpenter deftly maneuvered the son of Ashlee's Big Guy--Caribe Royale around an off-stride Spending Cash who made a nasty break as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:29.3. With nothing but clear sailing ahead of him the Lyle Scurlock trained colt sped home in 27.4 to take his career debut. Eddie Eddie Eddie (Clifton Bell) finished third but was moved up to second and Sagebrush Sam (Casey Leonard), who was knocked off-stride in the first turn when My Man Red (Mike Oosting) made a break, finished fourth but was moved up to third. My Man Red originally finished second but was disqualified and placed fourth for the incident in the first turn.   The 4-5 favorite returned $3.80, $3.00 & $2.60 after posting a nice win in his qualifier just four days prior to Saturday's debut.   The Southern Rocketop Stake was not so kind to the "chalk players" as 1-5 favorite Fox Valley Qatar made a break leaving the gate allowing Charles Doehring & John D Finn's Captain Greedy to speed right to the top where he proceeded to make every call a winning one in an easy 5½ length romp while stopping the clock in a career best of 1:56.1.   Hustled away from post eight by driver J D Finn the gelded son of Yankee Valor--Tropical Trixie cruised through splits of 29.0, 58.3 & 1:27.2 while going along unchallenged on the front end.   With plenty still in reserve and the division leader distanced at the back of the pack Captain Greedy sealed the deal with a 28.4 final quarter to notch his first win in four starts this season. The bay gelding had been second behind Fox Valley Qatar in his first three outings. Longshot Southern Appeal (Pat Curtin) turned a nice ground saving trip into a second place finish while Southern Special (Brian Carpenter) was third.   With the win Captain Greedy now boasts a career record of 10-2-3 in 21 starts with earnings of $72,643. Dispatched as a healthy 8-1 second choice Captain Greedy returned $19.80, $8.00 & $3.80.   Just a compact field of five faced the gate for the Broadway Preview Stake but the top "older" pacers in the Prairie State still produced an eye-catching mile as James Behrendt's Ice Scraper led from pillar to post while recording a 1½ length victory in a snappy 1:50.0 for driver Brian Carpenter.   Hustled away from the outside starting spot the speedy six-year-old son of Yankee Skyscaper was in total control of the proceedings as he zipped through splits of 26.1, 54.0 & 1:21.2.   Despite having the always dangerous Fort Silky sitting right on his back, Ice Scraper casually shrugged off a belated challenge from the pocket sitter through the final sixteenth of a mile as he reported home with fifth win in 14 starts this season. Fort Silky was forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night while Big Brad finished a distant third.   The 3-5 favorite returned $3.20, $2.20 & $2.10 while running his career numbers to 27-26-14 in 124 starts with earnings of $321,983 while under the guidance of conditioner Mike Brown.   The state-bred stake action continues on Sunday, June 14th as a field of 10 freshmen pacing fillies will square off in the $4,000 Misty Misty Misty Stake which goes as race four on the 10-race program. All the action gets underway at 7:10pm on Sunday night and as always the $1 Pick 4 features a $25,000 guaranteed pool. The Pick 4 is on races seven through 10 on Sunday night. Tom Kelley

Illinois' top sophomore pacing fillies renewed acquaintances again on Friday night at Maywood Park as a field of eight second year distaffers went postward in one of the season's biggest harness racing events on the half-mile oval the $35,600 Filly Maywood Pace.   Taking advantage of a bye into the final of this event a fit and fresh Lex stormed right to the front and made it look easy as she cruised home with an effortless three-length victory in 1:54.2 for driver Kyle Wilfong over a track listed as fast despite day long rains and temperatures in low 50's.   Sent right to the front from post position four by Wilfong the daughter of Lexington Legend--I Bet U had things her own way as she strolled through opening splits of 28.0 & 56.4.   A first over bid came from Sportsmuffler (Casey Leonard) as the field moved onto the backstretch for the final time but Lex dug in gamely as she continued to lead the field by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.0.   After turning aside the challenge of Sportsmuffler the Nelson Willis trained miss seemed to find another gear, quickly drawing away from the pocket sitting Fox Valley Kit (Pat Curtin) and a tired Sportsmuffler to secure her fourth win in seven starts this year. Fox Valley Kit, a 17-1 outsider turned that perfect two-hole trip into a nice second place check while another longshot Duneside Perttie (Brian Carpenter) shook loose late to finish third at odds of 32-1.   Lex, who also captured this season's Violet Stake at Balmoral Park is enjoying a very nice start to her second season boasting a record of 4-2-1 in 7 starts while adding another $37,363 to her bankroll. For her career the ultra-consistent homebred sports a record of 8-4-3 in 16 tries with earnings of $102,163 for proud owner Kay Willis.   Bet as though defeat was out of the question Lex returned $2.60, $2.40 & $2.10 to her legion of backers. The "boys" were also in action on Friday night as a field of eight sophomore pacing colts squared off in their Maywood Pace Stake elimination. The top six finishers will return next week where they will be joined by Earndawg and Dixie's Boy in the $36,000 final. Using the inside starting spot to perfection driver Mike Oosting put heavily favored Lucpark right on the "engine" and the gelded son of Sportsmaster--Treasure The Best was never seriously threatened as he strolled home with a 2½ length verdict in 1:55.1.   With the exception of a mild first over bid from Gifted By Nature (Todd Warren) as the field neared the three-quarter pole the Erv Miller trained Lucpark was relatively unchallenged while putting up splits of 29.0, 58.3 & 1:26.1.   Off the mild fractions Lucpark had plenty in reserve, sprinting away from his rivals in the lane for his second win in six starts this season. Rockin Cassanova (Ridge Warren) sat on the winner's back every step of the way to grab the second place check while Frosty Dune (Kyle Wilfong) shook loose late to finish third after a ground saving trip. Also gaining spots in the final were Gifted By Nature, Dupage's Z Tam and Gett'er Done Dune.   With the win Lucpark now boasts career numbers of 6-3-3 in 18 starts with earnings just shy of $90,000 for owner Rocco Ruffolo. The 3-5 favorite in the wagering returned $3.40, $2.20 & $2.10. Tom Kelley    

One of Maywood Park's signature harness racing events, the $35,600 Filly Maywood Pace will put a field of eight Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing fillies in the spotlight as they do battle in race eight on Friday, June 12th. Leading the way in here is this year's Violet Stake winner Lex who comes into this tussle off a third place finish while facing the top "older" distaffers on the grounds at Balmoral Park last time out.   The Nelson Willis trained miss earned a bye into tonight's final giving the daughter of Lexington Legend a week off to freshen up for this tussle. Sporting a career record of 7-4-3 in 15 starts with earnings of nearly $85,000 for owner Kay Willis Lex has been installed as the 9-5 favorite as she leaves from post four. Kyle Wilfong is scheduled to handle the driving duties.   Southern Girl (4-1) turned some heads with a big come from behind victory in last week's elimination and the Homer Hochstetler trained miss could make it two in a row if she's able to uncork another closing move like that.   Unraced as a two-year-old the daughter of Sportsmaster began her career this spring by reeling off a couple of sharp wins before running into stakes company. After a couple of "even" efforts the good looking brown filly regained her form last week, exploding through the final sixteenth of a mile to pick up her fourth win in 10 career starts. Southern Girl will start from post two as she teams up with driver Travis Seekman again.   Last week's elimination favorite Sportsmuffler was victimized by a tough trip from post eight and this ultra-consistent filly also figures to make her presence felt as she starts from post six on Friday.   The Jesse De Long owned and trained miss has put up a sparkling record of 8-3-3 in 15 lifetime starts with earnings of just over $75,000. Installed as the 5-2 second choice in the morning line odds, Casey Leonard will handle the driving chores.   The "boys" will also be in Friday evening as a field of eight ICF sophomore pacing colts will battle in an $8,000 elimination for next week's Maywood Pace. The top six finishers will move on to the final where there will be joined by Earndawg and Dixie's Boy in the $36,000 final. Tom Kelley  

On an historic day for the sport of horse racing, Balmoral Park regular Bobby Smolin reached his own career milestone on Saturday, June 6th, notching the 1,000th win of his harness racing driving career as he guided the four-year-old trotter Red Solo Cup to victory in Balmoral Park's seventh race.   The 29-year-old resident of Bourbonnais, IL posted the 999th win of his career earlier in the evening steering Rocknroll Crystal to victory in the fourth race of the night. Both wins came behind Robert Phillips trained horses, a major source of winning drives for Smolin over the past few seasons.   "It's really a great thing that it happened with one of "R. Bob's" (Phillips) horses because he's stood by me so much ever since I've started my driving career," said a very thankful Smolin. "There have been many others like Mike Schulfer, Ronnie Roberts, John Barnard and Alex Adam just to name a few and I'm very thankful to everyone that has allowed me to drive their horses."   The south suburban born and raised reinsman who began his driving career in earnest back in 2007 has posted more than 100 wins in each of the past six seasons. His best year to date came in 2012 when he piloted 168 winners while racking up his only seven-figure earnings season with $1,282,510 in purses that year.   When asked after the winner's circle ceremony if the impending milestone had been weighing on his mind a relieved Smolin seemed to be happy that he finally hit the magical number.   "I had been thinking about it the past few weeks especially every time I would get snapped right at the wire," he joked. "I really think it was supposed to happen tonight though since my wife, my daughter and my entire family were here to help celebrate the occasion."   For his career horses driven by Smolin have amassed nearly $6 million in purse earnings.   Tom Kelley

Sophomore pacing fillies stepped into the harness racing spotlight on Friday, June 5th at Maywood Park as a field of eight Cstate-breds squared off in an $8,000 Filly Maywood Stake elimination. The top seven finishers on Friday night will return next week where they will be joined by Lex in the $35,600 final.   After saving ground all the way to the top of the stretch, driver Travis Seekman tipped Southern Girl to the outside as the field straightened for the money and the Homer Hochstetler trained miss exploded like she had been shot out of a cannon, blowing right by her rivals to win by a length in 1:57.2.   Content to save ground throughout the mile as Galley Wench (Todd Warren) and heavily favored Sportsmuffler (Casey Leonard) battled through splits of 28.2, 58.3 & 1:27.1 Seekman appeared to be hopelessly locked in fifth as the field turned for home.   Craftily working their way to the center of the track the daughter of Sportsmaster--Biloxi quickly kicked it into high gear picking off one rival after another in the blink of an eye to score for the fourth time in 10 starts this season. Angel Demon (Mike Oosting) came on late to finish second while Galley Wench held on for third.   Also gaining spots in the final with fourth through seventh place finishes were Fox Valley Kit, Sportsmuffler, Duneside Perttie and I Y Q Too.   With the win Southern Girl now boasts a record of four wins and one third in 10 starts with earnings of $15,097 in this her first season of action for owners Connie Hochstetler, Kristofer Heim and James Michels. The third choice in the wagering returned $14.40, $7.40 & $5.00. Tom Kelley

Maywood Park will kick off the month of June in style for harness racing players across North America, offering two guaranteed pools this Thursday, June 4.   The USTA and Maywood Park have announced an instant guarantee of $40,000 on the Thursday High 5.   Race 10, the final leg of the Pick Four will offer the High Five with a one day carryover of $14,710 and a minimum wager of ten cents.   The Pick Four offers a guaranteed pool of $7,500 and starts on race seven.    Free twelve line program pages are available every night at ustrotting.com courtesy of Track Master.                                                   HOW TO PLAY THE 10 CENT SUPER HIGH FIVE ON RACE 10                   BOXING                                                  KEYING                                                          WHEELING             5  HORSES   $   12                             1 WITH 2345                  $     2.40              1 WITH 2 WITH 345                 $     .60                       6  HORSES   $   72                              1 WITH 23456                $   12.00              1 WITH 2 WITH 3456               $   2.40          7  HORSES   $  252                             1 WITH 234567             $   36.00              1 WITH 2 WITH 34567             $   6.00          8  HORSES   $  672                             1 WITH 2345678           $   84.00              1 WITH 2 WITH 345678            $ 12.00          9  HORSES   $1512                             1 WITH 23456789        $ 168.00              1 WITH 2 WITH 3456789         $ 21.00                                                                                                                                                                                         PARTIAL WHEELING                               1 WITH 23 WITH 23 WITH 45 WITH 45 ……………………………………………      $      .40                           1 WITH 23 WITH 234 WITH 2345 WITH 6 ………………………………………….     $    1.60                           1 WITH 234 WITH 234 WITH 234 WITH 567………………………………………..     $    1.80                           1 WITH 2345 WITH 2345 WITH 2345 WITH 6………………………………………     $    2.40                           12 WITH 123 WITH 1234 WITH 12345 WITH 123456 ………………………………    $    3.20                           1 WITH 234 WITH 234 WITH 234 WITH 567890  …………………………………...    $    3.60                           1 WITH 23 WITH 234 WITH 2345 WITH 234567890………………………………...    $    4.80                           1 WITH 234 WITH 2345 WITH 23456 WITH 234567…………………………………   $    8.10                           1 WITH 2345 WITH 2345 WITH 2345 WITH 234567890…………………………….    $  14.40                           1 WITH 234 WITH 2345 WITH 23456 WITH 234567890…………………………….    $  16.20                           12345 WITH12345 WITH 12345 WITH 12345 WITH 123456………………………..    $  24.00                           123 WITH 1234 WITH 12345 WITH 123456 WITH 1234567………………………...    $  24.30                           1 WITH 2345 WITH 23456 WITH 234567 WITH 2345678……………………………   $  25.60                           1234 WITH 12345 WITH 123456 WITH 1234567 WITH 12345678………………….    $102.40                           123456 WITH 123456 WITH 123456 WITH 123456 WITH 12345678………………..   $144.00   Tom Kelley

Jack Dye, 86, of Moline, Illinois, well-known teacher and coach, died Sunday, May 3lst, 2015, at Heartland Health Care Center, Moline Visitation will be Thursday, June 4th, from 3 until 8 p.m. in the Horizon Room at Trimble Funeral Home at Trimble Pointe, 701 12th Street, Moline. Services to mark a life well-lived will be at 11 a.m. Friday at First Congregational Church in Moline, with The Reverend Craig Jan-McMahon officiating. Interment will follow at Moline Memorial Park. Memorials may be made to the Jack Dye Scholarship Fund at Moline High School. Jack was born in Rock Island on October l2th, 1928, to Frank and Edith (Wold) Dye. He graduated from Rock Island Public Schools where he enjoyed a variety of work and athletics. He graduated from Augustana College with a degree in History and Education. He worked briefly at IBM but the classroom called, and he returned to start his teaching career at the Roosevelt Military Academy in Aledo, Illinois, soon to move on to the Moline School District #40, teaching first at John Deere Junior High and later Moline High School. He loved coaching basketball, golf and tennis and enjoyed the daily challenge of engaging students in timely discussions about the social sciences. He earned his Master's Degree from Western Illinois University in Administration and served as Department Head for many years in Social Studies. Jack was instrumental in starting the Moline Hall of Honor for Moline graduates, and recently earned induction into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. His razor wit and rapid fire delivery coupled with a near photographic memory was feared and admired throughout the community. He met the love of his life Charlotte Joy Shipley in 1953, and after a whirl wind courtship they married on March 20, 1954, in Moline. He raised three true Moliners and several Boston terriers while maintaining his park like lawn. Jack also kept busy, as was his habit, by working outside of education as well. He loved the Moline downtown and enjoyed working at Ydeen's Men's Wear where he would hold court and sell quality suits. Jack did not fully embrace retirement in that he stayed busy volunteering with the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and Arrowhead ranch. He also attended countless athletic events of his grandchildren and kept many Moline athletes supplied with special laminated accounts of their achievements. Jack also served as historian of Wharton Field House and co-authored a book with George Van Vooren on the history of Moline basketball. Jack was a lifelong "Dye-hard" Chicago Cub fan and really believed that this could be their year. Jack is survived by his children and their spouses, Brad and Joanna Dye of Moline, Jeff Dye and Tammie Newvine -Erskine of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Jodi and Mark Zimmerman of Moline; grand-children, Jared and Derek Dye and Jessica and Jenna Zimmerman;brothers-in-law, Gene Shipley and Ron and Lou Shipley, all of Moline; and several nieces and nephews. He was proceeded in death by his lovely wife, Joy, and brothers, William and Donald Dye. Jack's family extends thanks and appreciation to the staffs at Heartland Health Care Center and the Wound Care Clinic, and invites friends to share stories and condolences and light a free candle in his memory at www.TrimbleFuneralHomes.com. Tom Kelley

On a night in which temperatures plummeted into the low 40's and were accompanied by strong winds and soaking rains that made it seem more like mid-October than the end of May, a pair of Cardinal Stakes put Illinois conceived and foaled trotters and pacers in the harness racing spotlight at Balmoral Park on Saturday, May 30th.   Trotters were first on the docket as a field of eight diagonally gaited sophomore colts lined up behind the gate to battle for a purse of $16,200.   Once again the Herman Wheeler owned and trained Fox Valley Qatar proved that he's just too much for this division as he came powering through the slop to post a two-length victory in 1:57.4 under some confident handling by driver Todd Warren.   Ducking off the gate after showing high speed in his first two starts of the year the gelded son of Pizzazzed -Armbro Bahrain was content to trot along in sixth as longshot Allpowernoemotion (Ronnie Gillespie) led the field through splits of 30.0 & 1:00.1.   "There was no way I was leaving with him for a third straight week," explained Warren. "He was really "hot" last week and it's a long year so I didn't want him to get roughed up again."   Continuing to sit in mid-pack, Warren finally moved last year's division champ to the outside, picking up cover while third over as a hard charging Tricky Nick (Mike Oosting) quickly opened up a two-length advantage as he rolled by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:29.2.   With a 20mph tailwind in the homestretch Fox Valley Qatar quickly found his best stride and began gobbling up ground on the far outside of horses. Zipping right by the leader with a sixteenth of a mile to go Fox ValleyQatar left his rivals in his wake as he reported home in 27.3 to post his third win in as many starts this season. Captain Greedy (J.D. Finn) rallied to finish second while Tricky Nick held on for third.   Bet as though defeat was out of the question the 2-5 favorite returned $2.80, $2.20 & $2.10 while running his career numbers to 11-1-0 in 12 starts with earnings of $100,315.   In the winner's circle Warren was quick to sing the praises of his trotting star.   "He's just a pleasure to drive and he's perfectly fine sitting in a hole like he did tonight," said Warren. "He's very easy on himself and he's come back great after that awesome two-year-old season. I would expect him to have a lot of success with this group."   Sophomore pacing colts were featured in the second Cardinal Stake of the night as a field of 10 three-year-olds braved the elements for a purse of $18,400.   In a thrilling hotly contested affair the Dane May owned and trained Dinky Dune shook loose very late in the mile then came flying on the outside of horses to win by a head in a career best of 1:53.1 despite the sloppy surface.   Leaving alertly from post eight driver Pat Curtin had control of the early proceedings, battling Lucpark (Mike Oosting) through an opening quarter of 27.4.   "Going into the night Dane and I were kind of undecided on whether to wrangle him off the gate or to charge out of there and try to be up close," said a very happy Curtin. "With the weather and track conditions turning out the way they did we figured we better have him right up there in contention every step of the way."   Sitting in the pocket while Lucpark continued through middle splits of 56.3 & 1:25.1 the gelded son of Duneside Perch--Dream Hand was raging with pace as the bunching field began to move through the lane.   With Lucpark, Dixie's Boy (Casey Leonard) and Earndawg (Todd Warren) battling three across the track a patient Curtin was still searching for room with the fit and fresh Dinky Dune.   "I thought about trying to split those three because there was an opening for just a minute but I figured they would close that up on me in a hurry," explained Curtin. "So I just decided I was going to have wait a little longer until I could slide to the outside of all them because this horse can really rattle once he gets in gear."   Finally securing room on the outside of horses Dinky Dune unleashed a wicked kick, putting up a 27.4 final quarter to nip the favored Earndawg in the final strides. Last season's champ was forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night while Dixie's Boy finished third.   Coming off an impressive elimination win the previous week Dinky Dune took plenty of action at the windows returning $6.40, $3.60, $2.80 while running his career record to 3-1-1 in nine career starts with earnings of $18,852. Tom Kelley  

Once again Balmoral Park will offer another lucrative guaranteed Pick 5 pool of $25,000 on Saturday, May 30th. Because the 50 cent minimum wager was not hit last Sunday night a nice carryover of $11,081 will be added to Saturday's pool. The popular low cost Pick 5 harness racing wager will be offered on races four through eight on Saturday night.   In addition to the Pick 5 guarantee, fans will have a chance to walk away with a big payday right after that as Balmoral will also offer its usual Sunday $15,000 guaranteed pool on their $1 Pick 4 wager. The Pick 4, which is on races nine through 12 on Saturday night features a low takeout of just 15%.   Handicappers across North America can get a head start on their competition with free 12 line program pages for the guaranteed pools courtesy of the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative and Track Master on the handicapping section at www.ustrotting.com.   Post time for Saturday's opener at Balmoral is 7:10 pm (central). There will be plenty of televisions with Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Western Conference finals on as well so Blackhawk fans will not miss a moment of the action during the game. Saturday is also another Miller Lite Saturday Night with live entertainment on the apron as well as great food and drink specials throughout the night.   Balmoral Park has also announced that beginning on Saturday, June 6th, the Pick 4 guarantee on Saturday's will be boosted to $20,000 instead of the current $15,000 guarantee that has been in place. Tom Kelley    

With some good sized crowds filling the apron for a festive Memorial Day weekend of fun-filled activities at Balmoral Park, a pair of harness racing Illinois conceived and foaled stake events for three-year-olds shared top billing on the racing oval.   Trotters grabbed the spotlight on Sunday, May 24th as a very evenly matched field of nine diagonally gaited fillies squared off in the $16,400 Violet Stake.   Continuing the fast start she's enjoyed in her second season Cynthia De Marlie and Jason Van Winkle's Bi Polar Rose shot right to the top and proceeded to make every call a winning one as she reported home with a four-length decision in a career best of 1:57.3 for Travis Seekman.   Gunned away from post six the daughter of Polar Winner--I Still Owe carved out splits of 29.4, 59.2 & 1:28.4 while rolling along relatively unchallenged on the front end.   With plenty still in reserve, the Ronnie Roberts trained miss trotted home in 28.4 while drawing away from stretch challenges by Persuasive Look (Casey Leonard) and Fox Valley Yoko (John De Long) who wound up second and third respectively.   Hammered at the betting windows, Bi Polar Rose returned $4.60, $3.00 & $2.40 while running her career record to 6-3-3 in 15 starts with earnings of $93,457.   On Saturday, May 23rd a total of 12 state-bred colts and geldings met in a pair of $7,500 Cardinal Stake eliminations. The top five finishers in each division will return next Saturday night to battle in the $18,400 final.   In the first division the Dane May owned and trained Dinky Dune continued his second season improvement as he came charging through the passing lane to record a two-length triumph in 1:53.4 for driver Pat Curtin.   Given a perfect steer, the gelded son of Duneside Perch--Dream Hand settled in third early on but as the pace slowed Curtin zipped the bay gelding to the front leading the field through an opening quarter in 30.0.   The action continued to heat up through middle splits of 58.0 & 1:26.4 as a hard charging Dixie's Boy ( Casey Leonard) showed the way with Dinky Dune right on his back in second.   Through the lane Dixie's Boy managed to fend off the first over challenge of 6-5 favorite Lucpark (Mike Oosting) but a fit and fresh Dinky Dune was full of pace and ready to roll as he moved down to the passing lane. Sealing the deal with a wicked 26.4 final quarter Dinky Dune cruised right on by the pace setter to notch his second career win in eight starts. Lucpark came on again late to edge Dixie's Boy for the place and show spots. Rockin Cassinova & Mighty Hot Shot also earned spots in next week's final.   In the second elimination last year's division leader Earndawg showed that he's ready to defend his crown as he posted a very comfortable 1 ½ length victory in 1:54.1 with Todd Warren at the controls.   After easing away from the gate in third while stablemate King Of The Swamp (Ridge Warren) led the field through opening splits of 28.4 & 58.2, the Roger Welch trained gelding grabbed command of the proceedings as the field moved around the final bend.   After taking the field by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.4 the son of Sportsmaster--Pacific Sister K gamely held off his rivals with an impressive 27.2 final quarter to notch his 10th win in 20 career starts for the partnership of Bo & Pat De Long and Ernest Miller. Frosty Dune (Casey Leonard) saved ground throughout then rallied nicely to finish second while King Of The Swamp held on for third. Also gaining spots in the final were C Note and Comecatchme.   The 50 Cent Pick 5 wager was not hit on Sunday, May 24th so there will be a carryover of $11,081.42 added to next Saturday's (May 30th) Pick 5. Because of the carryover BalmoralPark will guarantee a $25,000 pool for next Saturday's Pick 5. Handicappers across North America can get a head start on their competition with free 10 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 beginning on Thursday, May 28th.   Tom Kelley  

Illinois conceived and foaled stakes action was in full swing on Sunday, May 17th, at Balmoral Park as a pair of state-bred events for harness racing three-year-old trotters and pacers shared top billing on the 10-race program.   Leading the way were ICF pacing fillies as a full field of 10 second season ladies met in the $17,800 Violet Stake. As she did in last week's prep for this tussle, Kay Willis's Lex overpowered her rivals in this event, storming up first over to grab command on the far turn and then drawing clear late to win by 2¾ -lengths in a career best of 1:52.3.   Confidently handled by driver Kyle Wilfong, the daughter of Lexington Legend--I Bet U left alertly from post five tucking in third as a hard charging Fox Valley Aubrey (Robert Smolin) sped to the top from post 10, leading the field through splits of 27.2 & 56.4.   After cruising along relatively unchallenged through the opening half, things heated up on the last bend as Lex came rolling up first over to challenge while the field charged by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.0.   Quickly overtaking the pace-setter, the Nelson Willis trainee zipped away to a two-length length advantage. The issue was still in doubt though through the final sixteenth of a mile before last season's Filly Orange & Blue runner-up imposed her will on her challengers, drawing clear late to win for the third time in five starts this season. Sportsmuffler (John De Long), who was used hard in the early going from post seven turned in a big effort to finish as the bridesmaid while Fox Valley Aubrey held on for third. A multiple stakes winner during her freshman campaign the homebred bay returned $3.00, $2.20 & $2.10 while upping her record to 7-4-2 in 14 starts with earnings of $83,100. Sophomore trotting colts were also on the docket Sunday night as a field of nine lined up behind the gate for an $8,000 Betzotic Stake.   Once again the Herman Wheeler owned and trained Fox Valley Qatar showed that he's the one to beat among his peers, rolling to a deceptively easy "neck" decision in a career best of 1:56.0 with Todd Warren at the controls.   Using the inside starting spot to his advantage the gelded son of Pizzazzed--Armbro Bahrain grabbed control of the proceedings after eyeballing RT Habenero (Kyle Wilfong) and Tricky Nick (Mike Oosting) battle through an opening panel in 28.4.   After allowing a hard charging Captain Greedy (J.D Finn) to grab a short lived lead, Warren had Fox Valley Qatar back out and rolling to the top as the field moved through middle splits of 57.0 & 1:26.4.   Through the stretch, last year's divisional champion appeared to be well in hand despite a shortening margin, casually shrugging off a late challenge from the pocket sitting Captain Greedy to record his 10th win in 12 career starts. Captain Greedy was forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night while Allpowernoemotion (Ronnie Gillespie) turned in a nice effort to rally for the show dough.   With the win Fox Valley Qatar boasts a record of 10-1-0 in 11 lifetime starts with earnings of $92,215. Bet as though defeat was out of the question, the bargain priced $7,000 yearling returned $2.60, $2.10 & $2.10 to his legion of backers.   Tom Kelley

Sophomore pacing colts kicked off the 2015 stakes action at the harness racing meeting at Maywood Park on Friday, May 15th as a compact field of six ICF three-year-olds met in the $8,000 Gosox Stake.   The youngsters showed some rust early on in their first foray over the half-mile oval but when the smoke cleared it was Rocco Ruffolo's Lucpark, the even-money choice in the wagering who emerged with a half-length triumph in 1:55.2 for driver Mike Oosting.   Leaving from the outside post in the field of six, Lucpark actually wound up in a decent spot as Oosting guided him over to the pylons in fourth as both Dixie's Boy (Casey Leonard) and Casey At Bat (Tim Curtin) committed early miscues. That left Rockin Cassinova (Todd Warren) to stroll through leisurely early splits of 29.1 & 59.1. The action began to heat up as the field moved onto the backstretch for the final time with Oosting rushing the Erv Miller trainee up to engage Rockin Cassinova. These two were head and head for the lead as they began to separate from the pocket sitting Dakota Roadster (Robert Smolin) while charging by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.3. Around the final turn Lucpark managed to poke a head in front of the pace-setter eventually putting that one away as the field turned for home.   The gelded son of Sportsmaster--Treasure The Best was not out of danger yet though as Dixie's Boy, who spotted the field 11 lengths at the opening station because of his miscue behind the gate, came charging up four-wide to throw a scare into the "chalk players" but the wire came just in time for Lucpark as he held on for his first win in three starts this season. Dixie's Boy was an impressive second considering his journey while Dakota Roadster finished third. With the win, Lucpark who returned $4.20, $2.40 & $2.10 now boasts a career record of five wins, two seconds and three thirds in 16 trips to the gate with earnings of $82,480 for his proud owner. Tom Keeley

Illinois conceived and foaled stakes action continued on Sunday, May 10th at the harness racing meeting at Balmoral Park as a field of eight state-bred three-year-old trotting fillies lined up behind the gate for the $8,000 Betzotic Stake.   After a fourth place finish in her seasonal debut, the Homer Hochstetler trained Persuasive Look was ready to roll in her second start of the season as she came charging out of the fog to post a half-length victory in a career best of 1:57.2 for driver Casey Leonard.   After getting away in mid-pack as Shez So Sassy (Todd Warren) led the field through an opening split in 30.0 Leonard moved the homebred daughter of Powerful Emotion--Blacknbluegenes second over behind the race favorite Bi Polar Rose (Travis Seekman) as the field rolled by the half-mile mark in 59.1.   With the favorite clearing to the front midway around the final bend, Persuasive Look gapped a bit allowing Shez So Sassy to slide out of the pocket while providing "live" cover as the field hit the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.4.   Once the field straightened for home and came dashing out of the heavy fog that had settled over the track early in the card Leonard was able to rouse Persuasive Look into her best stride and the good looking bay steadily wore down the pace setting Bi Polar Rose with a 28.4 final quarter to notch her first victory of the season. Bi Polar Rose held on gamely to finish second while Shez So Sassy grabbed the show dough. Overlooked a bit in the wagering despite some very impressive freshman credentials, Persuasive Look returned a generous $14.40, $4.40 & $2.80 to her backers. The ultra-consistent filly now boasts a record of 5-4-4 in 15 career starts with earnings of $100,826 for the partnership of Homer Hochstetler and Robert Buddig. Sophomore pacing fillies were also in action on Sunday night as a field of eight battled in a Violet Stake "prep". When the "fog" cleared from this event it was Kay Willis's Lex who emerged victorious, posting a 2 ¼ length front stepping score in 1:53.4 for driver Kyle Wilfong.   Fox Valley Aubrey (Robert Smolin) finished second while Sportsmuffler (John De Long) was third. Last season's divisional leader, Mr Leland's Filly wound up an even fourth in this event.   Tom Kelley

This weekend's ICF harness racing stakes action at Balmoral Park continued on Sunday, April 26th with a field of seven diagonally gaited sophomore fillies squaring off in the $8,000 Koochie Stake. After a nice tune-up in a conditioned event in her seasonal debut, Cynthia Demarlie and Jason Van Winkle's Bi Polar Rose was ready and raring to go for this event as she grabbed command from the start and never looked back in route to a four-length victory in 1:59.0 for driver Travis Seekman.   Taking advantage of post position two, Seekman hustled the daughter of Polar Winner--I Still Owe away from the gate and the filly was comfortably in front by two-lengths as she rolled by an opening quarter in 30.0.   Allowed to have things her own way on the "engine" the Ronnie Roberts trained miss proceeded to effortlessly click off middle splits of 1:00.2 & 1:30.1 while gaining confidence with each passing station.   Through the lane last year's Lady Lincoln Land Stake winner was straight and strong, trotting home in 28.4 while under mild urging at best from Seekman. Divinely Floozy (Tim Curtin), the winner of this year's Speedy Rodney Stake sat in the pocket throughout but could not muster up enough to challenge the eventual winner while Meabh (Mike Oosting), who spotted the field some 16 lengths at the opening call after making a break behind the gate, rallied nicely to finish third.   A model of consistency in her first season of racing Bi Polar Rose now sports a record 4-2-3 in 12 career starts with earnings of just over $70,000 for her proud connections. The third choice in a fairly wide open betting race, Bi Polar Rose returned $7.60, $4.20 & $2.80 to her backers.   Tom Kelley    

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