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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

Quaid Racing's Jake Quaider continued his late season surge as he knocked off six other Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old trotting colts by one and one-half lengts in Wedneday's $40,200 Cardinal Stake at Balmoral Park. The final time was 1:58.2. Confidently handled by leading driver Casey Leonard the altered son of Photo Color--Grace Elizabeth was placed in mid-pack while Powerful Above All (Todd Warren) led the field through splits of 29.2 & 59.1. Getting underway while following live cover from his main rival RT Habanero (Dave Magee) as the field moved around the final bend, Leonard was able to drop in right behind that colt as the pair quickly swallowed up a tiring Powerful Above All while rolling by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:29.1. Through the lane Jake Quaider effortlessly began to reel in RT Habanero, cruising right by that one while under very minimal urging from Leonard for his third win in eight trips postward. RT Habanero was forced to settle for the runner-up role while Captain Greedy (JD Finn) was a distant third, 5 ¼ lengths behind the winner. Now under the guidance of veteran conditioner Nelson Willis after starting his career in the barn of Ervin Miller, Jake Quaider boasts a record of 3-2-2 in 8 starts with earnings of $51,560. Bet as though defeat was out of the question Jake Quaider returned $2.60, $2.10 and $2.10. The 10-cent Hi-Five was not hit on the night's final race so there will be a carryover of more than $9,600 added to Saturday's Hi-Five wager at Balmoral Park. The Hi-Five, the "ultimate get-out" wager will be held on Race 13 on Saturday's Balmoral Park card. Casey Leonard and Jake Quaider made it look easy in Wednesday's $40,200 Cardinal Stake for 2yo trotting colts. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park  

Continuing her quest to lock up divisional honors among the ICF two-year-old trotting filly set, Dr. Patrick Graham's Fox Valley Yoko took another step towards securing those honors on Sunday night at Balmoral Park as she came charging through the lane to record a 1 ¼ length victory over five rivals in the $40,050 Violet Stake. The final time of 1:58.2 was a new career mark for the good looking youngster. Masterfully handled by driver John De Long, the pair was content to save ground near the back in the compact field of five while Bi Polar Rose (Travis Seekman) strolled through splits of 29.4, 1:00.4 and 1:30.0. After watching their chief rival, Persuasive Look (Casey Leonard) overtake the pace setter as the field moved into the lane, De Long quickly maneuvered the Curt Grummel trained miss into position with a sixteenth of a mile to go. The daughter of Pizzazzed--Yankee Victory Om responded beautifully, finding her top stride in the blink of an eye as she roared home in 27.4 to blow right by her opponents for her fifth win of the year. Persuasive Look was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role for the second straight week while Bi Polar Rose held on for third. With the win Fox Valley Yoko, who was the second choice in the wagering returned $4.40, $2.20, & $2.10 while running her record to 5-3-2 in 11 starts with earnings of nearly $95,000. Also on Sunday night, the $1 Pick 4 went unclaimed so a carryover of $23,792 will be added to Wednesday's (Oct. 29th) pool. Because of the large carryover, there will be a $50,000 guaranteed Pick 4 pool on Wednesday's card. The Pick 4 will be contested on races six through nine on Wednesday night. 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 by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

Once again Balmoral Park will offer a lucrative guaranteed Pick 5 pool of $25,000 on Sunday, October 26. Because the 50 cent minimum wager was not hit on Saturday night's card a nice carryover of $5,677 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). The racing action is highlighted by the $40,050 Violet Stake for ICF two-year-old trotting fillies which goes as race four. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

With the help of a nice $33,277 carryover from the big American National card on Saturday night and racing fans throughout the country pouring another $106,318 into Sunday's $1 Pick 4 wager at Balmoral Park the popular bet with its low 15% takeout produced a record setting payoff with a single winner taking home a whopping $121,533.70 payout, a new record for a Pick 4 payout in harness racing. The 2-1 favorite State Street Liz (#7) captured the first leg of the wager. Next up 17-1 longshot Nitty Gritty (#2) prevailed by a neck. After that it was the mid-priced 10-1 shot Fox Valley Shiver (#5) who toted home top honors. That set up the big payoff as 7-2 choice Ready (#5) prevailed by a head over 6-5 favorite Rex Passus in the nightcap to give one lucky patron a night to remember. The winning ticket combination of (7,9)-2-5-5 was purchased at an OTB in Brooklyn, New York. The previous record of $67,998 was set in 2010 at the Meadowlands. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

Balmoral Park will offer a guaranteed Pick 4 pool of $75,000 this Sunday, Oct. 12th. Because the $1 minimum wager was not hit on Saturday's American National card, a big carryover of $33,277 will be added to Sunday night's wagering pool. The popular Pick 4 wager is offered on races seven thru 10 on Sunday's card. Once again the Pick 4 which has a low 15% takeout has a one dollar minimum and features a guaranteed pool each night. 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). Don't miss the chance to cash in on a big payday at Balmoral Park. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

Market Share, the 2013 Hambletonian winner and victor in the $235,000 American National for 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters, returns to Balmoral Park on Saturday night in Race 9 to defend his harness racing crown in the $166,300 American National Aged Trot. The son of Revenue S-Classical Flirt-Yankee Glide was clocked in 1:53.3 with driver Tim Tetrick at the lines for the Linda Toscano-trained, then-sophomore. Owned by Richard S. Gutnick of Pennsylvania, TLP Stable and J Augustine of New Jersey, Market Share will leave from post five in the field of eight trotters. "Never, never in a million years did we dream that Market Share could be this kind of horse," Toscano offered. "He's just one of those horses that enjoys his work and tries real hard. It's surprising, but that's a good thing." Bred by Hayley Moore of Paris, Kentucky, Market Share, a $16,000 yearling purchase from the 2010 Lexington Selected Sale, won all five of his 2-year-old starts over Freehold Raceway's half-mile oval. Toscano and principal owner Richard Gutnick were uncertain if he could excel at the bigger tracks, such as the Meadowlands. So it was up to Market Share to show them. In 2012, at age 3, Market Share won the $1.5 million Hambletonian at the Meadowlands and the $1 million Canadian Trotting Classic at Mohawk en route to earnings of $2 million. He also trotted the fastest mile in the history of Maywood Park when he captured the $108,000 Galt in 1:54.4, erasing Green Day's previous track record of 1:55.1, set in 2007. As a result, he was named the Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old male trotter. Last season, his wins included the Breeders Crown Open Trot, Maple Leaf Trot, TVG Free For All Series Championship and American-National Stakes. He led all older trotters with $1.07 million in purses and received the Dan Patch Award for best older male trotter. "It's a treat to be able to bring one back like that as a 5-year-old," Toscano said. "By bringing back the older horses, people recognize the names and the horses become the stars again. I think that's what is missing in our industry. I think it's a real good thing." This year Market Share has added another $357,296 to his bank account, pushing his career earnings to $3,471,308 via a $37,200 Maple Leaf elimination at Mohawk, the $250,000 Maxi Lee at Harrah's Chester--when he set a new world record and career best clocking of 1:50.2 for an aged gelding trotter on a five-eighths mile oval--and a victory in a $40,000 Cutler elimination in 1:50.3. Driven by Tim Tetrick, Market Share surpassed the previous world mark of 1:50.3 that was co-held by Uncle Peter and Sevruga, both set in 2013 when he scored that record clocking in the Maxi Lee. Market Share now has 24 wins, seven seconds and 12 thirds in 53 career starts. On Oct. 5, he was race-timed in 1:52, finishing fifth by three lengths in the $173,000 Allerage Trot at Lexington's Red Mile. Market Share is the fourth of six foals out of his unraced dam Classical Flirt, and is a half-brother to Photogenic Legs (by Classic Photo) 3, 1:57.2h ($102,892) and to Broadway Legs (by Broadway Hall) 3, 1:55 ($57,225). By Kimberly Rinker

Illinois conceived and foaled trotting fillies stepped into the spotlight on Wednesday night at BalmoralPark as a field of seven diagonally gaited youngsters battled in a $20,000 Lady Lincoln Land Stake Consolation. On paper it appeared to be a "one-horse race" and it turned out to be just that as Homer Hochstetler & Robert Buddig's Persuasive Look romped to an easy five-length victory in 2:00.1 for driver Casey Leonard. Reserved through the early stages, Leonard moved the daughter of Powerful Emotion--Black N Bluegenes into contention while following cover on the far turn. The Homer Hochstetler trained miss then simply blew right by the field while under no urging whatsoever from Balmoral's leading driver as she widened her margin all the way to wire while posting her third win in 10 career starts. Band's Muse (Rick Magee) turned in a nice effort to finish second while Butterthantherest (Pat Curtin) was third. Bet as though defeat was out of the question Persuasive Look returned $2.10, $2.10 & $2.10 while upping her bankroll to $79,924. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

After finishing in the runner-up role behind the undefeated Fox Valley Qatar the last two weeks Taylor & Robert Rietveld and Robert Taylor's RT Habenero picked the right night to turn the tables on the division leader.   He turned in a sterling effort to win the year's richest event for Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old trotting colts taking Sunday's $97,000 Lincoln Land Stake by a widening four-length margin in 1:58.0 for driver Dave Magee. Firing off the wings of the gate from post seven for his Hall of Fame reinsman the gelded son of Armbro Tropicana--Heather Jenna grabbed control of the early proceedings leading the field through opening splits of 28.3 & 58.0. "With Fox Valley Qatar drawing outside of us I knew I needed to get my horse out of there in a hurry," explained Magee. "I wasn't necessarily dead-set on being on the front end but it worked out that way when another leaver made an early break so that's where we wound up landing." Moving around the far turn the unbeaten Fox Valley Qatar (Todd Warren) came flying up on the outside of horses, zipping right by the pace setting RT Habenero as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.1. Never one to panic, Magee kept after RT Habenero through the stretch and the Robert Taylor trained youngster responded beautifully, reeling in the heavy favorite with a sixteenth of a mile to go and quickly drawing clear heading to the wire for his second win in nine career starts. Fox Valley Qatar was forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night while Jake Quaider (Casey Leonard) shook loose late after a tough trip to rally for the show dough. When asked in the winner's circle if he was worried when the undefeated odds-on choice flew right by him nearing the top of the stretch the always calm and cool Magee responded in his typical laid back fashion. "My horse really wanted to "race" that horse when he came up alongside of us but I didn't want to use him up right then and there," said Magee. "I knew my horse still had plenty of trot left in him and it seemed like Fox Valley Qatar was really all out to get around us so maybe he wasn't at his best tonight. This horse has really been sharp in his last three starts and while he's not all that big he's got a great deal of grit and desire which he definitely showed out there tonight." With the win RT Habenero who returned $19.20, $4.60 & $2.80 now boasts a career record of 2-3-2 in nine starts with earnings of just over $67,000. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

Illinois conceived and foaled two-year=old pacers shared top billing on the Friday, Oct. 3rd card at Maywood Park as some of the state's top fillies gathered for the $43,600 Violet Stake while their male counterparts battled in the $43,350 Cardinal Stake. Both races left no doubt as to who was best on this night as Jessie De Long & the Hamm Family Trust's Sportsmuffler romped to a 6½ length victory in the Violet while Bo & Pat De Long and Ernest Miller's Earndawg continued his recent dominance of his division with a devastating 4 ½ length romp in the Cardinal. Taking advantage of a perfect pocket sitting journey as Luvniecestopieces (Ryan Anderson) rattled off splits of 28.0 & 57.1 driver John De Long moved Sportsmuffler to the outside as the field hit the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.1. Fit and fresh as the fillies moved around the final bend the Jessie De Long trained daughter of Sportsmaster--Whatthere'smore overpowered the pace setter as the field turned for home then drew off impressively, tripping the timer in 1:56.3 for her seventh win in 11 lifetime starts. Fox Valley Charm (Kyle Wilfong), who picked up brief cover from the winner turned in a nice effort to be the bridesmaid while Luvniecestopieces held on to be a distant third. A close second choice in the wagering Sportsmuffer returned $5.00, $3.20 & $3.20 while upping her career bankroll to more than $67,000. Using the "give and go" to perfection in the Cardinal Stake driver Todd Warren allowed entrymate King Of The Swamp (Ridge Warren) to grab command through a quick opening split of 27.2. Sweeping back to the top after the opening panel Earndawg proceeded to pace through fractions of 57.2 & 1:26.2 while keeping Lucpark (Dave Magee) hung on the outside. With the difficult trip finally taking a toll on that one, the Roger Welch trained son of Sportsmaster--Pacific Sister K simply sprinted away from the rest of his rivals leaving them in his wake as he cruised under the wire in 1:55.4 for his fifth win in 12 tries this season. King Of The Swamp followed the winner all the way but was simply second best on this night while C Note (Travis Seekman) shook loose late to finish third, 8 ¾ lengths behind the winner. This year's Orange & Blue champion may have put a stamp on divisional honors with Friday's win as he now boasts a record of 5-2-2 in 12 starts with earnings of more than $141,000. Bet as though defeat was out of the question the Welch trained coupling returned $2.20, $2.40 & $2.10. by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park  

After going unclaimed on Thursday night, horseplayer's will have a shot at a big payoff on Friday night at Maywood Park as the 10 cent Hi-Five will have a carryover of $6,210.47. Thus with the help of Maywood Park management and the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Initiative, Maywood will offer a guaranteed Hi-Five pool of $30,000 on the Friday night finale! Once again the Hi-Five can be played for as little as a .10 cent investment giving all gamblers, regardless of the size of the their bankrolls, a chance to play for a nice payday tonight. The wager is often referred to as the "ultimate get out bet" by handicappers throughout the country. There will also be a $10,000 guaranteed Pick 4 pool on races 10-13 this evening. The Pick 6 also has a carryover of $719.38 for Friday night's action. The Pick 6, which features a low 20 cent minimum wager is on races four through nine. 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 the opener on Friday, Oct. 3rd at Maywood Park is 7:10 p.m. (central). The racing action is headlined by a pair of two-year-old pacing events as the $43,600 Violet Stake (Race 7) & the $43,350 Cardinal Stake (Race 9) share top billing on the 13-race program. by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park  

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