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It will be a smorgasboard of carryovers and guaranteed pools for harness racing fans on Thursday, July 21st at Hawthorne as the non-stop action starts at the opening bell and goes all the way through the 11thand final race of the night. Kicking off the action is the .50 Cent Early Pick 5 (races 1-5) which features a carryover of $6,198. Hawthorne’s track management along with the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program have joined forces to offer up a $20,000 guaranteed pool to get the festivities started. Next on the docket is the .50 Cent Early Pick 4 (races 2-5) which will feature a guaranteed pool of $30,000 thanks in part to a $7,104 carryover which will be added to the pot. The .50 Cent Late Pick 4 (races 8-11) also features its usual $15,000 guaranteed pool on Thursday night. If that isn’t enough to get gamblers pumped about the chance to take home a big payday on Thursday the popular .20 Cent Jackpot High 5 (race 11) also has a carryover pool of $18,589 just waiting for someone who can create the one winning ticket on the Thursday finale. Handicappers across North America can get a head start 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. Once again post time at Hawthorne is 7:35 pm (central). Remember this will be a shortened week at Hawthorne with no live racing on Saturday, July 23rd. Racing will resume as usual on Sunday, July 24th.   Tom Kelley    

Almost three-years to the day after notching his 1,000th career driving victory, Hawthorne's defending winter-meet harness racing driving champion and current summer-meet leading reinsman Casey Leonard had cause to celebrate another milestone as he posted his 2,000th career victory with the Nelson Willis trained Uncle Bud in Saturday's fourth race. A third generation horseman, who sports a business management degree from Western Illinois University, Leonard has been dominating the driving ranks in the Chicagoland area over the past few seasons winning titles at Hawthorne and the now shuttered Balmoral & Maywood Park racetracks. Despite growing up in and around the sport becoming a driver or trainer in the game was never number one at the top of the charts for the 38-year-old Leonard. "I worked in warehouse and supply chain management before my uncle (Gary) passed away in 2000," said Leonard. "That's when dad (Terry) asked me if I would come back home and help with the farm so I did. Initially I had just planned on training some horses to help out but then I received the opportunity to drive some very nice horses and wound up making some good money with them. That's when the driving end of the business really started to get into my blood." Having come a long way from his first career victory at the Woodstock County Fair back in 1996, the quiet but confident Leonard has been like a fine wine, continuing to get better and better with age. Casey has posted more than 1,600 of his 2,000 career wins since 2010 while more than $8.2 million of his $11.8 million in career driving earnings have come in the past 7 seasons. "I don't regret for one minute starting my career a little later than most guys do," said a joyful Leonard in the winner's circle. "Things have really taken off for me over the past few years so maybe it was some master plan that it's all worked out the way it has." When asked if the grind of commuting nearly 80 miles each way from his home ever seemed like it was just a little too much Leonard answered with a resounding no. "It does make for some long days and nights training horses in the mornings and then coming into drive at night but this is my job and how many people get the chance to say they can have this kind of fun at their job," said Leonard. "I also get the honor to drive for most of the top trainers here on the Chicago circuit so I darn well better get them some winners." Leonard also wasted no time starting on the path to 3,000 career victories by guiding Summer Shandy, who is trained by his dad Terry, in the next race of the night. Tom Kelley  

While harness racing fans received a bit of a respite from the near 100 degree temperatures that gripped the Chicagoland area over the weekend, leading driver Casey Leonard remained red-hot on Sunday night at Hawthorne as the 38-year-old reinsman posted a six-pack of winners on the 11-race program. The big night on Sunday left the third generation horseman, who started his career with a victory at the Woodstock County Fair back in 1996, just four victories shy of the coveted 2,000 win mark for his career. Sunday's sizzling performance started with a 17-1 upset behind the Curt Grummel trained trotter Rose Guida and concluded with an easy four-length triumph with Ken Rucker's 8-5 favorite Capelo in the nightcap. In between the bookend victories Leonard managed to sweep races three through six with a variety of mid-level betting choices and one favorite for his many followers. Sporting a gaudy .383 UDRS going into Sunday's action the Harvard, Illinois native has a double-digit lead over Todd Warren in the driver standings for the summer meet after easily taking home leading driver honors for the five-week winter meet that concluded in early Feb. Live racing at Hawthorne resumes on Thursday, June 16th with a 10-race card on tap. First post is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. (central). Tom Kelley  

Racing fans will have some "free money" to make things interesting on Thursday night at Hawthorne Race Course as a trio of carryovers, headlined by the $25,000 Guaranteed Late Pick 5, should give fans plenty of opportunities to take home a pocketful of cash on the 11-race program. With a carryover of $9,479 in the .50 cent Late Pick 5 Hawthorne's track management along with the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program have joined forces to offer up a $25,000 guaranteed pool on the popular wager which takes place on the final five races of the night (7-11) on Thursday. If that wasn't enough to get fans excited about the Thursday card there is also a carryover of $20,901 on .20 cent Jackpot High 5 wager which takes place on the final race of the night (11). That wager is a "jackpot" type of wager meaning there must be only one ticket that selects the top five finishers of the nightcap in the exact order. The .20 cent Place Pick 10 wager, which is on races 1-10 each night, also has a carryover of $1,503 heading into Thursday's card so Hawthorne's fans can jump right into the action which gets underway at 7:20 p.m. (central) on Thursday, May 19th. Handicappers across North America can get a head start 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. Please note that post time for next Sunday's Hawthorne card (May 22) will be moved back to7:35 p.m. (central). by Tom Kelley, for Hawthorne Race Course

In an effort to help horsemen prepare for the upcoming Hawthorne summer meet Harness Racing Secretary Pete Hanley has announced that Hawthorne will host a "second round" of qualifiers this week which be conducted on Saturday, May 7th, prior to the start of the regular Saturday night program. The qualifiers will get underway at 4:30 p.m. with the live card getting started at 7:20 p.m. Entries will be accepted until 10 a.m. on Friday, May 6th for the Saturday qualifiers. Drivers participating in qualifiers are reminded that training suits or colors are mandatory for all qualifying sessions. Hawthorne will host live racing on Friday, May 6th and Saturday, May 7th this week. Post time will be 7:20 p.m. each night. There will be no live racing on Sunday, May 8th. Hawthorne will then begin its four night a week schedule (Thur-Sun) starting on Thursday, May 12th. Tom Kelley

Racing Secretary Peter Hanley has released the condition sheet for the opening weekend of the upcoming 2016 "Summer" Harness meet at Hawthorne Race Course. The condition sheets can be found at http://www.hawthorneracecourse.com/horsemen/condition_sheet.php or at www.ustrotting.com. Racing will kick off on Friday, May 6th and continue on Saturday, May 7th. There will be no racing on Sunday, May 8th for Mother's Day. Hawthorne will then begin its regular four night a week a schedule, Thursday-Sunday on Thursday, May 12th. Post time each night will be at 7:20 p.m. (central). Also please note that any "Late Closing Series Events" that had been scheduled to begin on Sunday, May 8th will now begin one week later on Sunday, May 15th while any other late closing events that had been scheduled for Wednesday nights will now be contested on Thursday nights. The same will hold true for any ICF Stakes that had been scheduled for Wednesday's beginning in June. Qualifiers are scheduled to be held on Wednesday, May 4th at 11:00 am and another round of qualifiers will be held on Saturday, May 7th if need be. Qualifiers will be held throughout the summer on Wednesday's at 11:00 am. Entries will close at 10 am on Tuesday for this Wednesday's qualifiers. Horsemen are reminded that they can begin moving in on Tuesday, May 3rd. From Tom Kelley, for Hathorne Race Course

Stall allocations for the upcoming summer harness meet at Hawthorne Race Course have been assigned by Stall Superintendent - Director of Publicity Jim Miller. The updated list can be found by going to www.hawthorneracecourse.com/horsemen The upcoming summer meet kicks off on Friday, May 6th and Saturday, May 7th and will continue through Sunday, Sept. 25th. Post time will be 7:20 p.m. and after the opening weekend of action, Hawthorne will race on a four night a week schedule, Thursday-Sunday beginning on May 12th. Horsemen are reminded that they can begin moving in no earlier than Tuesday, May 3rd and dorm rooms will also become available that day. Rooms may be obtained at the backstretch security office next to the track kitchen. A $150 per room deposit is required. Horsemen who made deposits on rooms during the winter meet will have that deposit carried over to the summer meet for them. "With more than 500 horses scheduled to arrive at Hawthorne for the summer harness meet and more than 800 thoroughbreds heading out of Hawthorne for the summer we are asking for horsemen to arrive as late as possible and to please be patient upon their arrival," said Miller. The first qualifying day is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, May 4th at 11:00 am and a Wednesday qualifying schedule will stay in effect throughout the remainder of the meet. Racing Secretary Pete Hanley would also like to remind horsemen that there is still time to make nominations for the "Have Em Ready To Roll" Late Closing Series as that deadline has been pushed back to Wednesday, April 27th. All the series information and nomination forms can be found at http://www.hawthorneracecourse.com/hawthorne_news/. ABOUT HAWTHORNE RACE COURSE Founded in 1891, Hawthorne Race Course is the 4th oldest racetrack in the nation and the oldest sporting venue in Illinois. Located in Stickney, Illinois on the edge of Chicago's city limits, the 125 year old facility hosts thoroughbred racing in the Spring and Fall/Winter, and standardbred harness racing in January and the Summer. The family-owned and operated business has been an innovator in horseracing for more than 100 years and features the nation's most rewarding players program. For additional information: www.HawthorneRaceCourse.com | Facebook.com/ClubHawthorne | @ClubHawthorne. by Tom Kelley, for Hawthorne Race Course

Hawthorne Race Course would like to remind horsemen that the stake payment for this season’s Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old crop must be postmarked no later than Friday, April 15th. The single staking payment of $1,250 will keep horses eligible to all four legs of the stakes series and the final or consolation which will all be contested at Hawthorne. The top 10 highest point earners in the four legs will make the finals which will be contested on Hawthorne’s Night of Champions which is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 10th.  The consolations are scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 11th. Please make nominating checks payable to:  Hawthorne Race Course C/0 Horseman’s Bookeeper 3501 S. Laramie Ave Cicero, IL 60804 (708) 780-3700 A complete list of the dates for the legs of the stakes and a nomination form can be found at www.hawthorneracecourse.com Racing Secretary Pete Hanley has also decided to push back the deadline for this spring’s “Have Em Ready to Roll” Late Closing Series. Originally scheduled to close on April 15th horsemen will now have until Wednesday, April 27th to get their nominations in for the bevy of series fashioned by the ambitious Hanley. “With April 15th being “tax day” and all the other stakes in Illinois being due that day I just wanted our horsemen to have a few days to catch their breath and take a good look at what we hope will be another well-received Late Closing program,” said Hanley. All of these late closers will carry an entry fee of $200 and nominations will close on April 15th.  The complete late closing series schedule as well as instructions and nomination forms are attached and also available at www.hawthorneracecourse.com. CARDINAL & VIOLET ALSO DUE BY APRIL 15 Hawthorne Race Course, the IHHA and the Illinois Department of Agriculture would like remind horsemen that nominating payments for the 2016 Cardinal and Violet Stakes, to be contested at Hawthorne Race Course in September, are due to the Illinois Department of Agriculture by Friday, April 15th.   The two-year-old Violet and Cardinal Finals are tentatively scheduled to be contested on Sept. 24th and 25th. Eliminations will be held (if needed) the week prior to the finals. (Dates are subject to change). Purses for these races are yet to be determined. Staking payments for the Cardinal and Violent events are made to the Illinois Department of Agriculture.  Nomination forms and payment information may be found here: https://www.agr.state.il.us/pdf/genericpaymentform.pdf " Please continue to check the IDOA website or the IHHA website for updates. If you have questions, please call the Bureau of County Fairs & Horse Racing at 217-782-4231.   by Tom Kelley, for Hawthorne Race Course

Racing Secretary Peter Hanley would like to remind all horsemen that stall applications for the 2016 Summer Harness Racing meet at Hawthorne Race Course are due by April 1st. Racing will kick off on Friday, May 6th and Saturday, May 7th which is Kentucky Derby weekend. The following week Hawthorne will move to a four day a week schedule with live racing being conducted on a Thursday thru Sunday schedule. Post time each night during the Summer meet will be 7:20 p.m. (central). Qualifiers will be held on Wednesday morning's throughout the summer meet with the first qualifiers tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, May 4th. The deadline for nominations to all the "Have Em Ready To Roll" late closing series races is April 15th. The entry fee for all those events is $200. More information and nomination forms can be found at www.HawthorneRaceCourse.com. The deadline for the ICF 2yo stakes program is also April 15th. Information on that can be found on the Hawthorne website and also on the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association website at www.harnessillinois.com Tom Kelley  

Although they may be newcomers to Chicago harness racing fans driver Simon Allard and brother-trainer Rene Allard are clearly in the hearts and minds of the local brethren after joining forces with Hawthorne Race Course to spearhead a fundraising drive to help those whose lives were devastated by the tragic barn fire at Classy Lane Farm in Canada on January 4th. Simon, who had a driving double along with several other in the money finishes donated his driving earnings from Saturday's Hawthorne card to the fund which has been set up by Central Ontario Standardbred Association. Rene, who sent out six starters at Hawthorne on Saturday night as well as several others at Yonkers also pitched in by donating his training percentage to help his fellow horsemen. With a great deal of help from horsemen Nicole Agosti and Angie Coleman along with a group of "high energy" youngsters donations were also collected from fans and horsemen throughout the track during the night. Hawthorne President & General Manager Tim Carey also stepped up in a big way to help the fund, promising to match the donations while setting up an account with the horsemen's bookkeeper at Hawthorne for those who still wish to donate to the fund. The account will remain open until Friday, January 22. On-line donations can also be made by using the official Go Fund Me page set up by the Central Ontario Standardbred Association or by calling (905) 854-2672. Checks can also be made payable to "Classy Lane Barn Fire", Central Ontario Standardbred Association, PO Box 297, Campbellville, ON LOP 180, Canada. Tom Kelley

Neither rain, nor snow, nor sub-zero wind chills could stop the return of live harness racing to Hawthorne Race Course as the "Stickney Spa" enjoyed a very successful opening weekend for its first Standardbred meet in nearly 10 years. With a nice crowd on hand braving day long rain and sleet to witness the live racing card and all the on track festivities on Friday, Jan 8th, Casey Leonard, last season's driving kingpin on the Chicago circuit put on quite a show as he bagged four straight wins to open the 2016 season. Leonard would pick up another victory behind Hudson Jesse in the featured seventh race to wind up with a five-bagger on the night. On Saturday night (Jan 9) local fans had a good look at some of the top stables that have decided to call Hawthorne home for this winter-meet as such national power houses like Rene Allard, Ron Burke and Ken Rucker all sent out winners on the 10-race card. The Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi's Ontario Success turned in the most impressive score of the night as he scooted to a front stepping victory in the featured Open pace, tripping the timer in 1:53.4 for driver Sam Widger on a sloppy track after heavy snow fell throughout the late afternoon and evening hours. Casey Leonard continued to weave his magic as well, piloting three more winners on the Saturday program. The up and coming Travis Seekman also had a driving double on Saturday which included the longest price of the weekend as he lit up the board at $75.40 with the Rucker trained Winning Dream in race four. As if Mother Nature had not played enough tricks on the Chicago area, an arctic blast rolled through on Sunday, Jan. 10th plunging temperatures into the single digits. Once again the fabulous work of the track crew had the surface in tip top shape though and driver Robert Smolin started out red-hot as he notched both ends of the early daily double and wound up with a driving triple for the night. Simon Allard began to familiarize himself to the Hawthorne winner's circle with a driving double as did Kyle Wilfong. Leonard posted another victory as well giving him a total of nine wins on opening weekend. The support shown by the horsemen who dropped nearly 500 entries in the box for the opening weekend helped contribute to a 20% increase in the anticipated handle at Hawthorne despite the rough weather conditions. For those "carry-over" seekers, the Jackpot High 5, which is a 20 cent wager, will have a carryover of more than $14,000 as week two of the meet gets started. Live racing resumes on Wednesday, Jan. 13th with first post for the 10-race card at 7:20 p.m. (central) Qualifiers will be held prior to the live card on Wednesday night with that action getting started at 6:00 p.m. (central). Racing will be conducted on a Wednesday thru Sunday schedule until Saturday, Feb 6th. Post time is 7:20 p.m. (central). ABOUT HAWTHORNE RACE COURSE Founded in 1891, Hawthorne Race Course is the 4th oldest racetrack in the nation and the oldest sporting venue in Illinois. Located in Stickney, Illinois on the edge of Chicago's city limits, the 125 year old facility hosts thoroughbred racing in the spring and Fall/Winter, and Standardbred harness racing in January and the summer. The family-owned and operated business has been an innovator in horseracing for more than 100 years and features the nation's most rewarding players program. For additional information: www.HawthorneRaceCourse.com | Facebook.com/ClubHawthorne | @ClubHawthorne. Ontario Success came splashing home a winner for Sam Widger in Saturday's featured Open Pace at Hawthorne Race Course.   Tom Kelley

After nearly 10 years away, live harness racing action returns to Hawthorne on Friday evening with a 10 race card of full fields.  With racing returning to Hawthorne, horsemen will see increased purses in Illinois, along with five day a week racing through Saturday, February 6.   Live racing will take place every Wednesday through Sunday evening with a 7:20 PM post nightly.     For the fans, Chicago’s in-town track will provide numerous promotions and many great wagering options with lowered betting minimums and reduced takeout rates.    On the racing end, stall applications for nearly 1,000 horses were sent in for the winter meet.    Horsemen from Illinois will be joined by those from Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and New York as fields are expected to fill well throughout the entire meet.    Hawthorne welcomes Pete Hanley as the racing secretary for the harness meet.  Pete has a long history in the industry, doing nearly every job in harness racing and comes to Hawthorne most recently from his position as racing secretary at Rosecroft Raceway.    While track announcer Peter Galassi recovers from recent stem cell replacement, Mike Bozich from Harrah’s Philadelphia will be in to call races until Galassi’s return.  Bozich will be joined nightly by track handicapper Jim Miller to preview races from the Revel Stoke Box at 6:30 PM as they will provide insight and preview the racing action.  Miller will also have selections nightly on the Hawthorne website, along with on TVG and TVG2 as live coverage of harness racing action in Illinois returns.   For the bettors, the Hawthorne gimmick lineup will offer $.20 minimums on Trifectas, Superfectas, the Jackpot High-5 and all multi-race wagers.  Hawthorne will offer two Pick 5 wagers nightly, starting with Race 1 and the second covering the final five races on the card.  Pick 4’s will be offered starting on Race 2 and for the final four races on the card.  Both the Pick 5 and Pick 4 will have only a 15% takeout as the Pick 4 takeout has been reduced in 2016.  The popular Jackpot High-5 will be offered on the final race nightly as bettors try to cash in on the top 5 finishers in order in the evening’s final race.  Hawthorne is also adding a $.20 Place Pick 10 with a $.20 minimum that begins with race one.    Hawthorne President and General Manager Tim Carey expressed his excitement for the upcoming meet, “We can’t wait to get started!  It has been a lot of hours of hard work to prepare the track as quickly as we have as our thoroughbred meet just ended on January 2.  We were ready to go for training and qualifiers just 4 days later.  We welcome in the Illinois harness horsemen and look forward to a very successful meet all around.”   Tom Kelley

Once again Balmoral Park will be offering some very lucrative guaranteed pools on Friday, Nov. 27th. With the 10 cent Hi-Five 5 going unclaimed last Saturday night, a nice carryover of $14,755 will be added to this Friday's pool. With that in mind, Balmoral Park will offer fans a chance to grab some Black Friday shopping money by posting a $30,000 guaranteed pool on the 10 cent wager. The Hi-Five is on race 12 on Friday Night. In addition to the Hi-Five guarantee fans will have a chance to snag some additional money they can use to expand their tickets earlier in the night as Balmoral Park will also offer up a guaranteed pool of $15,000 on its 50 cent Pick 5 wager. The low cost wager also went unclaimed last Saturday meaning an additional $4,427 in carryover money will be added to the pool on Friday night. The Pick 5, which is on races four through eight on Friday once again features a low 50 cent minimum. As usual on Friday's the $1 Pick 4 with its low takeout of 15% will be offered on races nine through 12. The Pick 4 will have a guaranteed pool of $15,000 as well. 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 Friday's opener at Balmoral is 7:10 pm (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            

Chicago, IL - Illinois conceived and foaled fillies and mares stepped into the spotlight on a frigid Saturday night at Balmoral Park but things warmed up in a hurry for longshot players as Ronald Phillips and Jesse Ferge's Fox Valley Aubrey, the longest shot in the race at 30-1, lit up the board with a 1 ¾ length victory in 1:53.3 to win the $8,060 Fox Valley Memory Stake. Perfectly handled by driver Travis Seekman, the three-year-old daughter of Yankee Skyscaper--Assailed worked out a perfect ground saving trip in third as Rev Me Up (Brian Carpenter) carved out splits of 26.3 56.4 & 1:26.0. With a weary leader beginning to drift off the pylons in the lane, Seekman patiently waited for room in the passing lane while huge favorite Ryleigh's Lilly (Casey Leonard) began to pick off horses from the back of the pack. Securing room at just the right time, the Bob Phillips trained miss shot through an opening at the pylons and quickly drew clear of the big chalk to secure her fifth win of the season. Ryleigh's Lilly was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role on this night while another longshot, Joyful Game (Mike Oosting) rallied late to finish third. The win was the 15th of Fox Valley Aubrey's career and helped propel her over the $90,000 mark in lifetime earnings. Those lucky enough to back the sophomore facing older company were rewarded with mutuels of $63.80, $18.00 & $8.60. The exacta returned a healthy $241.80 with the 2-5 favorite while the trifecta came back at $1,569 for a $2 investment. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

State-bred pacing colts headlined the harness racing action on Friday, Nov 20th at Balmoral Park as a field of six freshmen were sent postward in a $7,980 Xpressbet Stake. When the smoke cleared from this battle it was Caffeine Kid who proved victorious, notching a three-quarter-length victory in 1:55.0 for owner Peter Karras and trainer Rodney Freese.   Confidently handled by driver Mike Oosting the gelded son of Sportsmaster--Rachel Hanover ranged up first over on the final turn drawing right along the pace setting Eddie Eddie Eddie (Sam Widger) as the field turned for home.   After watching a hard charging Party Falls (Brian Carpenter) scoot past the top two in the center of the track a game Caffeine Kid, who was making just his third lifetime start, gamely battled back like a seasoned veteran regaining the lead in the final 50 yards and drawing clear in the shadow of the wire for his second lifetime victory. Longshot Trixsen Gram, (Chris Loney) shook loose late to rally for the place money while Party Falls held on for third.   Sent off as the 9-5 second choice in the wagering Caffeine Kid returned $5.60, $3.60 & $2.60 to his backers. Live racing continues on Saturday, Nov. 21st at Balmoral Park. Once again all the action gets underway at 7:10pm on Saturday night and as always the $1 Pick 4 (races 9-12) features a $20,000 guaranteed pool. The 10-cent Hi Five (race 12) also features a guaranteed pool of $15,000. The live racing action will be headlined by older ICF pacing distaffers as a field of seven are scheduled to go postward in the $8,060 Fox Valley Memory Stake which goes as race three on the 12-race program. Tom Kelley

Despite the fact he tasted defeat for the first time as a three-year-old Dr. Patrick Graham’s Homicide Hunter and his trainer Curt Grummel are coming into Saturday’s American National for 3yo trotting colts at Balmoral Park brimming with confidence as they return to their “home base”.    After stepping into “open” company and finishing a close up second behind Crazy Wow in last week’s Carl Erskine at Hoosier Park the Indiana bred son of Mr. Cantab renewed his camp’s enthusiasm in their Indiana bred champion.   “We were extremely happy with the way he raced against some of the best trotters in the country in the Erskine,” said conditioner Curt Grummel. “It cost us $20,000 to supplement to that race and we wound up earning around $68,000 so we figured we’d roll the dice right back and supplement him to the American National.”    So another check was cut, this time for $21,000, to make him eligible to the richest race on the Saturday night card at Balmoral.   “Even though we felt he had a bit of a home field edge at Hoosier because he had raced there so much and he put together those 16 straight wins this year on that track he may have an even bigger advantage here at Balmoral,” chuckled Grummel. “This is where he’s been based at, this is where he trained down at to get ready for this year and this is where he qualified at so really this is home for him.”    Up until tasting defeat for the first time in last week’s battle there had been 75 trotters in North America who had won 10 races or more in 2015, but only Homicide Hunter was still toting around a perfect record.   Despite that win streak coming to an end his conditioner was still in good spirits heading into Saturday’s American National.    “That win streak was not that big of a deal to me,” Grummel said. “He ranks but when you have to go up against the horses he faced last week and the one’s he’ll be up against on Saturday night it’s an entirely different world.”   Grummel said Graham did not hesitate to put up another large sum of money to make Homicide Hunter eligible to Saturday night’s battle.    “He came out of the Hoosier race in very good shape so we’re going to hope to get our supplement money back and then some,”Grummel laughed. “He’s been unbelievably sound and healthy his entire career and we are not hard on him at all. He  basically gets no training between starts, only his usual light jogging and he seems to enjoy the routine we’ve got him on.”    The first foal out of the mare Evening Prayer, Homicide Hunter enters Saturday’s American National with and an eye catching record of 19-3-3 in 27 lifetime starts with earnings of nearly $540,000.   by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

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