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The opening weekend of ICF stakes action continued on Sunday night at Balmoral Park as a field of six state-bred sophomore trotters met in the $8,000 Speedy Rodney Stake. As we've seen in the past these trotting events can provide some surprises and Sunday's test was no different as Phil Langley & Jim Eaton's Divinely Floozy pulled off the 19-1 harness racing shocker, winning by 1¾ lengths in 1:58.   Dismissed by the betting public after making breaks in her only two career starts, the daughter of Yankee Valor--Selma was smooth as silk on Sunday night, getting away third in the compact field for driver Tim Curtin as Meabh (Mike Oosting), the overwhelming 2-5 favorite in the race, led the way through snappy early splits of 28.2 & 57.4.   Moving confidently off the pylons as the field trotted midway around the final bend, the $3,500 yearling purchase looked like a million bucks on this night, zipping right by the pace setter as the field rolled past the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:28.0.   Through the lane the Jim Eaton trainee was straight and strong as she began to draw away from the overwhelming favorite and then calmly held off a late bid from Patient ID (John De Long) to notch her first career victory. Patient ID was a nice second, giving the fillies a 1-2 finish in this race, while Southern Special (Brian Carpenter) came on late to finish third.   Unraced as a two-year-old bigger and better things could be on the horizon for Divinely Floozy who returned a healthy $40.80, $13.60 & $5.80 to her backers. Tom Kelley  

State-bred pacing fillies stepped into the spotlight late on Saturday night as a field of eight sophomores battled in the $8,000 Direct Balance Stake to get the 2015 harness racing stake season underway at Balmoral Park. When the smoke cleared it Kristopher Heim, Connie Hochstetler and James Michels Southern Girl who emerged victorious as she came storming through the lane to win by a length in a career best of 1:55.0.   Content to sit near the back of the pack as the heavily favored Lex, (Brian Carpenter) led the field through splits of 28.2 57.2 & 1:26.1 driver Casey Leonard finally moved Southern Girl into the outer flow as the field neared the top of the stretch.   After being some 16 lengths off at the opening station, the daughter of Sportsmaster-Biloxi, took dead aim on the pace setter as the fillies moved through the lane picking off one rival after another as she charged home in 27.4 to secure her third win in four career starts. A tired Lex held on well to finish second in her first start back after more than six months on the shelf while Galley Wench (Todd Warren) was third.   A $34,000 yearling purchase who was unraced at two, Southern Girl now has three wins in four lifetime starts for trainer Rob Ritoff with earnings of $8,329.   The state-bred stake action continues on Sunday, April 12th as a field six diagonally gaited sophomores will square off in the $8,000 Speedy Rodney Stake which goes as race three 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

State-bred pacing fillies will get the 2015 stake season underway at Balmoral Park on Saturday, April 11th as a field of eight sophomoreâs will line up behind the gate for the $8,000 Direct Balance Stake which goes as race 12 on the harness racing card.   Kay Willis's homebred Lex, a multiple stakes winner during her freshman season, has been accorded the morning line favoritism in this event as she makes her sophomore debut after a resounding seven-length triumph in her qualifier here at Balmoral on April 1st. The daughter of Lexington Legend closed out a very successful two-year-old campaign in which she posted a record of 4-2-2 in nine starts with nearly $65,000 in earnings, with a second place finish in the year's richest event for the ladies the $162,000 Filly Orange & Blue on Super Night. Brian Carpenter is scheduled to handle the driving duties for the Nelson Willis trainee as she starts from post position five.   The Rob Ritoff trained Southern Girl has turned home heads with back to back wins coming into this event and the lightly raced daughter of Sportsmaster figures to garner plenty of attention at the betting windows. A $34,000 purchase at the 2013 Land Of Lincoln sale, the good looking brown filly debuted with a fifth place finish here on March 22nd before posting a pair of impressive come from behind scores for the ownership group of Kristopher Heim, Connie Hochstetler and James Michels. Casey Leonard gets the call on Saturday as Southern Girl leaves from post position six.   Another to keep an eye on is Galley Wench who hails from the red-hot barn of conditioner Roger Welch. This filly also fetched a big price at the 2013 Land Of Lincoln Sale bringing a $30,000 bid from William C and William P Delong who have enjoyed plenty of success here in the Prairie State in the last few seasons. This daughter of Sportsmaster debuted with a last to first victory on March 22nd before shipping to Hoosier Park where she posted a third place finish in the opening leg of the Rosie Harness Series. A sloppy track and the dreaded 10-hole combined to do her in in the final of that event as she wound up a disappointing seventh. Todd Warren will be in the sulky behind Galley Wench as the pair starts from post position four.   Rounding out the field from the pylons out are Gracie On My Mind, Duneside Perttie, The Doe, Sporty Project and Simply Burbon. Tom Kelley

Chicago's leading harness driver for the past 30-plus years, Dave Magee, is retiring after his drives this Saturday night (Feb. 28) at Balmoral Park. Magee is a Hall of Famer and has been one of the classiest individuals the sport of harness racing has ever known. He has almost 12,000 career victories and more than $101 million in career earnings during his illustrious career. He is one of only 18 drivers in the history of the sport to eclipse that $100 million mark in earnings and is the only Illinois based driver to go over $100 million in earnings. Magee has had 10 seasons with $2 million-plus in earnings, 13 more seasons with $3 million in earnings and a trio of $4 million seasons. He won a whopping 630 races in 1994, which led all drivers in North America. Dave also proved victorious in the 1995 World Driving Championship, defeating drivers from Canada, Australia, France, Sweden, Germany, Italy and other European stops. He was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2001. On the local scene Dave has been dominant throughout his career, winning driving titles at every Illinois racetrack. His 12 Maywood Park driving titles and 11 Sportsman's Park titles are both records. He is also the leader in Super Night victories among drivers. He has also posted an amazing 36 straight seasons with more than $1 million in earnings and 38 straight seasons of 100 wins or more. The 61-year-old Magee is a resident of Big Rock, Ill. He will be moving on to a new career as a State Steward (Judge) at Hoosier Park in Anderson, Ind. "I'm happy that Dave has found a new challenge for his life," said Balmoral Park racing director and USTA President Phil Langley. "With his experience, integrity and plain old smarts he might well become the best judge ever. The Illinois laws prevented us from hiring him two years ago so Indiana gains him. "On the other hand it was almost with much sadness that I received an e-mail from him telling me of his decision. I was so choked up telling my wife that she thought something bad had happened. We will always be great friends and I wish the best to Dave and Cathy." by Tom Kelley

The 2015 stake schedules for both Balmoral and Maywood Park have been released by harness racing secretary Doc Narotsky. The action kicks off at Balmoral on March 28th with the Taurus Bomber Stake for Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing colts. Maywood's stake season gets underway on Friday, April 10th with sophomore pacing colts slugging it out in the Sportsmaster Stake. The first "major" state-bred stake of the season will be contested on Sunday, May 17th with three-year-old pacing fillies squaring off in the $45,000 Violet Stake at Balmoral. There will also be Violet and Cardinal Stakes for Illinois conceived and foaled sophomore pacers and trotters on Sunday, May 24 and Saturday, May 30th at Balmoral Park. Maywood's first big event of the season will be the $70,000 Filly Maywood Pace for ICF three-year-old fillies on Friday, June 12th. The $70,000 Maywood Pace for ICF sophomore pacing colts will be held the following Friday, June 19th. The first Hanover Stakes of the season at Balmoral Park will feature a pair of events for three-year-old trotters on Saturday, July 4th. Another pair of Hanover Stakes for sophomore pacers will be contested the following week on Saturday, July 11th. The Southland Festival of Racing will provide a weekend filled with state-bred action at Balmoral on Saturday, July 25th and Sunday, July 26th with pacers and trotters squaring off in $40,000 battles like the Mini Me Stake, Loyal Opposition Stake, Incredible Finale Stake, Ann Vonian Stake, Kadabra Stake, Fox Valley Evita Stake, Fox Valley Flan Stake and Plesac Stake. A pair of $30,000 Hanover's for two-year-old colt and filly pacers are scheduled for Saturday, August 1st at the Crete oval while another pair of $30,000 events for freshmen trotters will be contested on Sunday, August 2nd. The prestigious American National's kick off on Sunday, Sept. 6th, with a pair of $90,000 trotting stakes for two-year-olds. Balmoral will also play host to one of Illinois' biggest nights of racing & festivities as another edition of Super Night will be held on Saturday, Sept. 12th. As always, the state's top pacers and trotters will be on display as they square off in a bevy of six-figure events with more than $1 million in purse money on the line. Late September and early October will be a busy month for the youngsters as the $80,000 Lady Lincoln Stake for two-year-old trotting fillies takes place on Sunday, Sept. 27th, while their male counterparts battle in the $80,000 Lincoln Land Stake on Sunday, Oct. 4th at Balmoral Park. Maywood will also host the $50,000 Cardinal and Violet Stakes for two-year-old colt and filly pacers on Friday, Oct. 2nd. Racing fans will need to circle Saturday, November 7th & Friday, Nov. 13th on their calendars as some of North America's best pacers and trotters are once again expected to visit the Chicagoland area as the Grand Circuit comes to town. Balmoral Park will play host to the $250,000 three-year-old colt pace, $225,00 American National three-year-old colt trot, $190,000 American National Aged Pace, $180,000 aged trot, $175,000 American National three-year-old filly pace, $150,000 three-year-old filly trot, $80,000 two-year-old colt pace and the $80,000 two-year-old filly pace in what should be another huge night of racing excitement. Maywood's biggest card of the season is just six days later on Friday, Nov. 13 with the $180,000 Windy City Pace for three-year-old pacing colts, the $100,000 Abe Lincoln Stake for two-year-old pacing colts, the $100,00 Galt Trot for three-year-old trotting colts and the $75,000 Cinderella Stake for three-year-old pacing fillies sharing the spotlight. The $20,000 Associates-McKeever Stake for ICF pacers is also scheduled for that same night. *All stakes scheduled after July 1st can be moved by plus or minus two days due to any changes in the Chicagoland area harness racing schedule. Below is a complete list of both tracks stake schedules. All purse values are estimated. Date Day Track A-S-G ICF Name Est Purse 3/28/2015 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Taurus Bomber 8,000 4/4/2015 Sat Bal 3+p ICF Song Cycle 14,000 4/4/2015 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Direct Balance 8,000 4/10/2015 Fri May 3cp ICF Sportsmaster 8,000 4/12/2015 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Trotting Tilly 8,000 4/12/2015 Sun Bal 3ct ICF Speedy Rodney 8,000 4/17/2015 Fri May 3fp ICF Desperate Lady 8,000 4/25/2015 Sat Bal 3+p ICF Rambling Willie 14,000 4/25/2015 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Betzotic 8,000 4/26/2015 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Koochie 8,000 5/1/2015 Fri May 3cp ICF Taser Gun 8,000 5/2/2015 Sat Bal 3ct ICF Iggy Magoo 8,000 5/3/2015 Sun Bal 3fp ICF Betzotic 8,000 5/10/2015 Sun Bal 3fp ICF Violet Eliminations 7,500 5/10/2015 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Betzotic 8,000 5/15/2015 Fri May 3cp ICF Gosox 8,000 5/16/2015 Sat Bal 3ct ICF Betzotic 8,000 5/17/2015 Sun Bal 3fp ICF Violet 45,000 5/17/2015 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Violet Eliminations 7,500 5/23/2015 Sat Bal 3ct ICF Cardinal Eliminations 7,500 5/23/2015 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Cardinal Eliminations 7,500 5/24/2015 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Violet 40,000 5/30/2015 Sat Bal 3ct ICF Cardinal 40,000 5/30/2015 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Cardinal 45,000 6/5/2015 Fri May 3fp ICF Filly Maywood Pace Elim 8,000 6/6/2015 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Jimmy Sunshine 4,000 6/7/2015 Sun Bal 2fp ICF Egyptian Grande 4,000 6/12/2015 Fri May 3cp ICF Maywood Pace Elim 8,000 6/12/2015 Fri May 3fp ICF Filly Maywood Pace 70,000 6/13/2015 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Bingo Johnnie 4,000 6/13/2015 Sat Bal 3+p ICF Broadway Preview 14,000 6/13/2015 Sat Bal 3ct ICF Southern Rocketop 8,000 6/14/2015 Sun Bal 2fp ICF Misty Misty Misty 4,000 6/20/2015 Sun Bal 2cp ICF Wicked Brew 6,000 6/14/2015 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Million Dollar Bye 4,000 6/19/2015 Fri May 3cp ICF Maywood Pace 70,000 6/20/2015 Sat Bal f&m p ICF Sue Fee 14,000 6/21/2015 Sun Bal 2fp ICF Incredible Tillie 6,000 6/21/2015 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Star Slinger 4,000 6/21/2015 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Betzotic 8,000 6/25/2015 Thur May 2fp ICF Juxtaposition 5,000 6/26/2015 Fri May 2cp ICF Enzo The Baker 5,000 6/27/2015 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Betzotic 8,000 6/28/2015 Sun Bal 3ct ICF Betzotic 8,000 6/28/2015 Sun Bal 3fp ICF Mystical Victress 8,000 *------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 7/3/2015 Fri May 3+p ICF Cook County 20,000 7/4/2015 Sat Bal 3ct Hanover 35,000 7/4/2015 Sat Bal 3ft Hanover 35,000 7/4/2015 Sat Bal 3ft ICF Sorce Ann 7,000 7/4/2015 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Hot Head 7,000 7/4/2015 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Ohyouprettything 7,000 7/5/2015 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Vaporize 5,000 7/5/2015 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Psychic Spirit 5,000 7/9/2015 Thur May 2fp ICF My Metallica 5,000 7/10/2015 Fri May 2cp ICF Fox Valley Barzgar 5,000 7/11/2015 Sat Bal 3cp Hanover 30,000 7/11/2015 Sat Bal 3fp Hanover 30,000 7/12/2015 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Fox Valley Diva 7,000 7/12/2015 Sun Bal 3ct ICF Brandenburg 7,000 7/18/2015 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Mini Me Elim 7,000 7/18/2015 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Loyal Opposition Elim 7,000 7/18/2015 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Incredible Finale Elim 7,000 7/18/2015 Sat/Sun Bal 3ct ICF Kadabra Elim 7,000 7/18/2015 Sat/Sun Bal 3fp ICF Ann Vonian Elim 7,000 7/18/2015 Sat/Sun Bal 3ft ICF Fox Valley Evita Elim 7,000 7/19/2015 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Plesac Eliminations 7,000 7/19/2015 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Fox Valley Flan Elim 7,000 7/25/2015 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Mini Me 40,000 7/25/2015 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Loyal Opposition 40,000 7/25/2015 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Incredible Finale 40,000 7/25/2015 Sat Bal 3ct ICF Kadabra 40,000 7/25/2015 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Ann Vonian 40,000 7/26/2015 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Fox Valley Evita 40,000 7/26/2015 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Plesac 35,000 7/26/2015 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Fox Valley Flan 35,000 8/1/2015 Sat Bal 2cp Hanover 30,000 8/1/2015 Sat Bal 2fp Hanover 30,000 8/1/2015 Sat Bal 3+T ICF Mikes A Mystery 18,000 8/2/2015 Sun Bal 2ct Hanover 30,000 8/2/2015 Sun Bal 2ft Hanover 30,000 8/15/2015 Sat Bal 3+P ICF Big Tom 25,000 8/15/2015 Sat Bal f&m p ICF Parklane Powerful 25,000 8/28/2015 Fri May 3+p ICF Egyptian 20,000 9/5/2015 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Orange & Blue Elim 12,000 9/5/2015 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Filly O&B Eliminations 12,000 9/5/2015 Sat/Sn Bal 3+p ICF Tony Maurello Elim 12,000 9/5/2015 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Pete Langley Mem Elim 12,000 9/5/2015 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Grandma Ann Elim 12,000 9/5/2015 Sat/Sn Bal f&m p ICF Lorna Propes Elim 12,000 9/6/2015 Sun Bal 2ct American National 90,000 9/6/2015 Sun Bal 2ft American National 90,000 9/6/2015 Sun Bal 3ct ICF Su Mac Lad Elim 12,000 9/6/2015 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Lady Ann Reed Elim 12,000 9/12/2015 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Orange & Blue Cons 20,000 9/12/2015 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Orange & Blue 200,000 9/12/2015 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Filly O&B Cons 20,000 9/12/2015 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Filly O&B 200,000 9/12/2015 Sat Bal 3+p ICF Tony Maurello Cons 20,000 9/12/2015 Sat Bal 3+p ICF Tony Maurello 110,000 9/12/2015 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Pete Langley Mem Cons 20,000 9/12/2015 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Pete Langley Mem 160,000 9/12/2015 Sat Bal 3ct ICF Su Mac Lad 100,000 9/12/2015 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Grandma Ann Cons 20,000 9/12/2015 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Grandma Ann 160,000 9/12/2015 Sat Bal 3ft ICF Lady Ann Reed 100,000 9/12/2015 Sat Bal f&m p ICF Lorna Propes Cons 20,000 9/12/2015 Sat Bal f&m p ICF Lorna Propes 110,000 9/13/2015 Sun Bal 3ct ICF Su Mac Lad Cons 20,000 9/13/2015 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Lady Ann Reed Cons 20,000 9/19/2015 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Yates Eagle 10,000 9/19/2015 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Thrifty Way 10,000 9/20/2015 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Lady Lincoln Land Elim 12,000 9/25/2015 Fri May 2cp ICF Cardinal Elim 8,000 9/25/2015 Fri May 2fp ICF Violet Elim 8,000 9/26/2015 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Bye Bye Byrd 10,000 9/27/2015 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Lincoln Land Elim 12,000 9/27/2015 Sun Bal 3fp ICF Direct Dottie 10,000 9/27/2015 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Lady Lincoln Land Cons 18,000 9/27/2015 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Lady Lincoln Land 80,000 10/2/2015 Fri May 2cp ICF Cardinal 50,000 10/2/2015 Fri May 2fp ICF Violet 60,000 10/4/2015 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Betzotic 7,000 10/4/2015 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Lincoln Land 80,000 10/4/2015 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Lincoln Land Cons 18,000 10/11/2015 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Violet Elim 8,000 10/17/2015 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Beecher 7,000 10/18/2015 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Cardinal Elim 8,000 10/18/2015 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Violet 40,000 10/23/2015 Fri May 3ct ICF Lifes A Holiday 7,000 10/24/2015 Sat Bal 3ct ICF Betzotic 7,000 10/25/2015 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Cardinal 40,000 10/29/2015 Thur May 3ft ICF Speed N The Tunnel 7,000 10/30/2015 Fri May 3cp ICF Betzotic 7,000 10/30/2015 Fri May 3fp ICF Giggles The Clown 7,000 10/31/2015 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Crete 7,000 11/1/2015 Sun Bal 2fp ICF Betzotic 7,000 11/1/2015 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Monee 7,000 11/1/2015 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Betzotic 7,000 11/7/2015 Sat Bal 2cp American National 80,000 11/7/2015 Sat Bal 2fp American National 80,000 11/7/2015 Sat Bal 3cp American National 250,000 11/7/2015 Sat Bal 3ct American National 225,000 11/7/2015 Sat Bal 3fp American National 175,000 11/7/2015 Sat Bal 3ft American National 150,000 11/7/2015 Sat Bal ap American National 190,000 11/7/2015 Sat Bal at American National 180,000 11/13/2015 Fri May 2cp Abe Lincoln 100,000 11/13/2015 Fri May 3+p ICF Associates‐McKeever 20,000 11/13/2015 Fri May 3cp Windy City Pace 180,000 11/13/2015 Fri May 3ct Galt 100,000 11/13/2015 Fri May 3fp Cinderella 75,000 11/20/2015 Fri May 3fp ICF Betzotic 7,000 11/20/2015 Fri May 3cp ICF Cole Muffler 7,000 11/21/2015 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Betzotic 7,000 11/21/2015 Sat Bal f&m p ICF Fox Valley Memory 10,000 Tom Kelley  

The 2015 harness racing season kicks off in earnest on Thursday, Jan. 29th, at Maywood Park as the half-mile oval jumps back into its familiar Thursday-Friday live racing schedule.   Right from the start bettors will have a chance to play into what will hopefully become the "norm" at Maywood Park as the Pick 6 wager features a carryover of $2,329.00. There will also be a mandatory payoff in the Pick 6 wager on Friday, Jan. 30th as Maywood Park will debut its new 20 Cent Jackpot Pick 6 wager starting on Thursday, Feb. 5th.   The new 20 Cent Jackpot Pick 6, which became wildly popular at Gulfstream Park's thoroughbred meet, should help spur plenty of carryovers as it requires a bettor to hold the ONLY ticket with all six winners from the designated Pick 6 races.   When there is no single winner in the Jackpot Pick 6, 50% of the pool will be paid out to those with the most winners while the remaining 50% goes back into the carryover pool.   The 20 Cent Jackpot Pick 6 is scheduled to be contested on races one through six on Thursday's and races three through eight on Friday's at Maywood Park. Post time for the opener each night will be 7:10 p.m. (central). Balmoral Park will return to live racing on Saturday, Jan. Feb. 1st with a post time of 7:10 p.m (central) as well. There will be no live racing at the Crete oval on Sunday, Feb. 1st due to the Super Bowl. Balmoral is then scheduled to race Saturday's and Sunday's throughout the 2015 season. Tom Kelley    

With live racing set to resume in about two weeks Balmoral & Maywood Park have announced the initial qualifying dates and entry times for the Chicago area standardbred tracks. Balmoral Park will host qualifiers on Wednesday, January 21 and Wednesday, January 28 at 11:00 am (central). Entries for these qualifiers will close on the Tuesday before each date at 10:00 am. Maywood Park will host its qualifiers on Thursday January 22 at 11:00 am. Entries will close Wednesday, Jan. 21st at 10:00 am. When live racing resumes at Maywood Park on Thursday, Jan. 29th, qualifiers will be held prior to the live race cards every Thursday night. Horses must show a satisfactory racing line within 45 days in order to race at both tracks. The first draw will be Monday January 26 at Maywood for the Thursday, Jan. 29th card and the Friday, Jan. 30th program. Balmoral Park will draw on Wednesday January 28 for the Saturday, Jan. 31st card. As reminder, Balmoral Park will be dark for live racing on Super Bowl Sunday, February 1st. Tentative plans call for Maywood to conduct 10 race cards on Thursday's and 12 races on Friday's. Balmoral will go with 12 race programs on Saturday's and 10 races on Sunday nights. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral-Maywood Park

Once again Balmoral Park will offer a lucrative guaranteed Pick 5 pool of $25,000 on Sunday, Jan. 4th. Because the 50 cent minimum wager was not hit on Saturday night a nice carryover of $4,694 will be added to Sunday night's pool. The popular low cost Pick 5 wager will be offered on races two through six on Sunday 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 $25,000 guaranteed pool on their $1 Pick 4 wager. The Pick 4, which is on races seven through 10 on Sunday 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 Sunday's opener at Balmoral is 7:10 pm (central). Balmoral Park will head to a short break after Sunday's program with live racing returning to the Crete oval on Saturday, Jan. 31st. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

State-bred filly and mare pacers headlined the final night of the 2014 racing season at Balmoral Park as a field of seven distaffers squared off in the $15,000 Fox Valley Memory Stake. In what has been a very competitive division all season long John Barnard's Ryleigh's Lilly came up with a big effort to close out her four-year-old season as she powered to the top after the quarter and never looked back in route to a 1 ½ -length victory in 1:53.4 for Balmoral's leading driver Casey Leonard. Confidently handled by Chicago's leading reinseman, the daughter of Western Hero--Fox Valley Chosen came away fourth in the field of seven as Party Hangover (Ridge Warren) and State Street Liz (Robert Smolin) battled through an opening quarter in 28.2. Quickly hitting top gear as the field settled on the backstretch the Bill Crone trained miss charged from fourth to first in a flash, leading the field through middle splits of 57.2 & 1:25.2. With plenty in reserve for the stretch drive, Ryleigh's Lilly sealed the deal with a 28.2 final quarter while keeping her rivals at bay for her eighth victory of the season. State Street Liz held on for second while Just By Design (Dave Magee) turned a ground saving trip into a third place finish. With the win Ryleigh's Lilly closed out the 2014 season with a record of 8-4-6 in 35 starts while adding another $59,000 to a career bankroll which now stands at $82,538. Heavily backed at the windows the 4-5 betting favorite returned $3.80, $3.00 & $2.10. Balmoral also honored Leonard as the 2014 driving champion while longtime veteran Nelson Willis took home the 2014 training title at the Crete oval. Leonard, a third generation horseman who did not start driving regularly until 2009 ended the 2014 season with 204 victories at Balmoral Park easily outdistancing second place finisher Todd Warren by more than 60 victories. Leonard put up a U.D.R.S. of .330 at Balmoral while horses driven by him earned more than $1.38 million in purses. Willis, who also captured the training title here in 2012, finished up the 2014 season with 71 victories, 23 win ahead of runner-up Erin Elliott. With more than 500 starts at the meet, Willis put up a U.T.R.S. of .266 while his horses earned more than $563,000 in purses. Live racing resumes on Saturday, Jan 3rd. Post time is 7:10 p.m. (central). Balmoral will also race on Sunday, Jan. 4th before heading to a short break. Live racing will then return on Saturday, Jan 31st. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

Once again Balmoral Park will be offering a pair of lucrative guaranteed pools on Saturday, Dec. 20th. With the $1 Pick 4 going unclaimed on Wednesday night, a big carryover of $17,317 will be added to this Saturday's pool.   With that in mind, Balmoral Park will offer fans a chance to grab some last minute Holiday cash by posting a $50,000 guaranteed pool on the $1 wager with its low takeout of 15%. The Pick 4 is offered on races 10-13 on Saturday night's program. In addition to the Pick 4 guarantee fans will have a chance to snag some additional money they can use to expand their Pick 4 tickets as Balmoral Park will also offer up a guaranteed pool of $20,000 on its 50 cent Pick 5 wager earlier in the night. The low cost wager also went unclaimed last Wednesday meaning an additional $5,877 in carryover money will be added to the pool on Saturday night. The Pick 5, which is on races five through nine on Saturday night and once again features a low 50 cent minimum. 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). The Pick 5 is expected to kick off around 8:35 p.m. (central). Don't miss this great last minute opportunity to grab some extra spending money for the Holiday season. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

Once again Balmoral Park will offer a lucrative guaranteed Pick 5 pool of $20,000 on Saturday, Dec. 13th. Because the 50 cent minimum wager was not hit last Wednesday a nice carryover of $5,026 will be added to Saturday night's pool. The popular low cost Pick 5 wager will be offered on races five through nine 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 Saturday $20,000 guaranteed pool on their $1 Pick 4 wager. The Pick 4, which is on races 10-13 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). Don't miss this chance to pick up some extra spending money for the Holiday season. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park    

Veteran reinsman Sam Widger was shaken-up slightly in a spill at Maywood Park on Thursday, Dec. 11th but luckily walked away without any further damage. Widger and provisional driver Artie Dick were involved in an incident towards the back of the pack in Thursday's sixth race as the field neared the top of the homestretch. Both drivers were unseated from their bikes and Widger was knocked unconscious momentarily. The 51-year-old Widger was conscious and speaking to medical personnel while being transported by ambulance to nearby Gottlieb Memorial Hospital for further observation. He was expected to be released early Friday morning. Dick was checked on-site by medical personnel and cleared. The horses involved, Alaughandasmile and Classical Imagery were not injured.  by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park

Drivers Kyle Wilfong and Mike Oosting were involved in a nasty spill in Saturday's ninth race but both somehow managed to get away relatively unscathed with what appears to be just minor bumps and abrasions.   Oosting's mount Special Joe appeared to take a bad step and fell while in contention with less than a sixteenth of a mile to go, catapulting him to the track where he appeared to get hit by a trailing horse. Wilfong, who was driving Extravagant Art was trapped with nowhere to go right behind the fallen horse and was unseated from the bike but wound up being dragged down the track after becoming entangled in his driving lines.   Wilfong was checked on-site by paramedics and taken off the remainder of his drives while Oosting was transported to St.JamesHospital for observation after complaining of pain in his shoulder. Neither horse was injured.     Tom Kelley    

Ladiesith a total of 15 state-bred filly and mare pacers dropped into the entry box, Saturday's Sue Fee Stake was split into a pair of $13,250 divisions. The stake had been scheduled to go back on June 21st but was washed out when torrential rains caused the remainder of the card to be cancelled that evening. In the opening split Paula Smith, James Runyan and Frank Pike's Dallas Jones regained her early season form as she came charging through the lane to score by 2¼ lengths in 1:54.1 over a sloppy track for driver Tim Curtin. Unhurried early as Just By Design (Dave Magee) and then Auniqueaquistion (Dale Hiteman) put up splits of 27.3, 56.0 & 1:25.0 Curtin moved from fifth at the half-mile pole. Moving into a perfect second over spot in fourth as the field turned for home the Joel Smith trained four-year-old set sail for the wire, quickly gobbling up the tired leaders while slicing through a strong headwind. In full flight, the daughter of Sportsmaster--Cams Bett confidently cruised under the wire with her sixth victory of the year. Just By Design shook loose late at the pylons to finish second while Whistle Pig (Casey Leonard) rallied for the show dough. Sent off as the 9-2 choice in the wagering Dallas Jones returned $11.00, $4.40 & $3.60 while running her record to 6-3-3 in 29 starts with earnings of nearly $47,000. In the nightcap John Barnard's Ryleigh's Lilly came flying through the lane to post an impressive 1 ¾ -length victory in 1:53.0 with Mike Oosting at the controls. Ducked off the gate by Oosting, the four-year-old mare settled in fifth as Party Hangover (Todd Warren) led the field through splits of 27.4, 56.2 & 1:24.1. After getting caught up in a stalled outer flow as the field neared the top of the stretch, a confident Oosting tipped three and then four-wide around the tired challengers. Effortlessly picking off one rival after another the Bill Crone trained daughter of Western Hero--Fox Valley Chosen zipped past them all for her sixth victory of the season. State Street Liz (Robert Smolin) turned a ground saving trip into a second place check while Party Hangover held on for third. Sent off as the second choice in the wagering Ryleigh's Lilly returned $5.20, $3.20 & $2.20 while moving her record to 6-3-6 in 29 trips postward with earnings of just over $41,000. Live racing continues on Sunday, Nov. 23rd at BalmoralPark with a 10-race card getting underway at 7:10 p.m. (central). Sunday's $1 Pick 4 features a guaranteed pool of $25,000. With no racing on Thursday, Nov. 27th at MaywoodPark (Thanksgiving) BalmoralPark will present an 11-race card on Wed. Nov. 26th as well. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

The final stake of the season for Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old pacing colts was contested on Saturday night at Balmoral Park as a field of seven youngsters met in the $10,200 Betzotic Stake. Division leader Earndawg was dispatched as the 1-9 favorite in the race but it was John Barnard's Mighty Hot Shot who earned the top honors as he rallied in the passing lane to earn a half-length decision in 1:55.2 for driver Casey Leonard. Given a perfect steer by Balmoral's leading reinsman, the gelded son of Hawaiian Cowboy left quickly from post four and proceeded to lead the field through an opening quarter in 29.3. With the heavy favorite getting antsy In The Pocket, Todd Warren pulled Earndawg and quickly charged to the top leading the field through middle splits of 59.1 & 1:28.1. After staving off a first over bid from longshot Dinky Dune (Kyle Wilfong) as the field moved through the stretch Earndawg appeared to be on his way to his ninth win of the season. But the Bill Crone trained Mighty Hot Shot still had plenty left in the tank after the golden journey, storming home in 27.0 to nail the favorite in the closing strides. Earndawg was forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night while Dixie's Boy (Dale Hiteman) was third. The win was the second in 14 starts for Mighty Hot Shot who returned $15.40 & $2.40. Show wagering was not allowed. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

"Chalk" players were forced to sweat out the result of Wednesday's $10,200 Betzotic Stake for two-year-old ICF trotting colts but in the end 1-5 favorite Jake Quaider finally prevailed, getting up in the last stride to win by a head in 1:58.1 for driver Casey Leonard. Unhurried while sitting fourth in the seven-horse field as Powerful Above All (Mike Oosting) and RT Habenero (Dave Magee) traded blows on the front through opening splits of 29.4 & 58.1. Heading around the final bend Leonard tried to follow a hard charging Captain Greedy (JD Finn) as that colt made a powerful move to the top taking the field by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.2. Desperately trying to reel in the leader who was trotting along nicely with a 2 ½ length advantage at the mid-stretch call, the Nelson Willis trained son of Photo Color--Grace Elizabeth finally found his best stride with 100 yards to go. Gobbling up ground as a leg weary Captain Greedy tried to fight through a stiff headwind Jake Quaider finally poked his head in front in the last stride to win for the fourth time this season. Captain Greedy was forced to settle for the runner-up role while RT Habenero was third. With the win Jake Quaider now boasts a fine record of 4-2-2 in nine starts with earnings of $61,660 for Quaid Racing LLC. The winner returned $2.60, $2.20 & $2.10. Casey Leonard and Jake Quaider managed to rally in the final stride to win Wednesday's $10,200 Betzotic Stake at Balmoral Park. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

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