Day At The Track
Search Results
17 to 19 of 19

About three weeks ago former two-time Super Night champ Iam Bonasera returned to Illinois under the care of veteran harness racing trainer Nelson Willis with almost nothing thing on his card after his first four season starts out east. The 2012 Illinois Harness Horse of the Year earned over $700,000 in his career before stumbling out of the starting gate as a 6-year-old. However that has all turned around since he’s been back in Illinois. Saturday night he’ll carry a three-race winning streak with almost $10,000 in purse earnings raked-in for owners John Carver and Erv Miller in his trio of starts at Balmoral Park. “Iam Bonasera has been in much easier here so far than he was out east,” explained Willis. “He can dominate these lower classes. Saturday he’s taken on better horses. He does like a big track. It’ll be interesting to see how the horse does against them. If he’s right he’ll come on with authority, that’s for sure.” Iam Bonasera opens as the 5-2 second choice when he steps up in Balmoral’s “Winner’s Over” feature against five tough foes, headed up by the 2-1 morning line favorite Ice Scraper (Brian Carpenter). Sawgrass Farms Best Man Hanover (3-1, Todd Warren) has the pole position while last week’s 10-1 surprise winner Firstclassallthway (4-1, John De Long) has the five-slot. If I Lose) 8-1, Bobby Smolin) and Feel N Funk E (8-1, Tim Curtin) are the other ninth race challengers. I asked Nelson if he made any changes to Iam Bonasera since he joined his stable. “Not at all,” he replied. “The horse has the same equipment on that he had when he came here. I don’t know if I changed his training tactics. The week before he made his first start for me I trained him on a Saturday in 2:02 and came back with him the following Tuesday in ’58’ “In between his races with me I’ve been training him in about 2:12, the last half in ‘04’ and the last quarter in 30 seconds, “The horse had a little blood issue. One of them has been straighten out and the other is well on its way to being taken care off. He’s just a big old pleasure horse to be around. I had to race against him in the past so it’s nice to have him on my side now.” Travis Seekman, who drove Iam Bonasera to his Maurello Super Night elimination victory last year, is 3-for-3 with the son of Cole Muffler for Willis. “Travis has been doing a real great job with the horse. He drives a very smart race out there. Travis drives a horse good and he doesn’t bring him back with the horse’s tongue hanging out. I like the young man.” In the co-featured second race :Winner’s Over” for distaffers, six mares will try to start the high-flying Wings from extending her winning streak to four in a row and 7 out of the last 8 for her trainer and owner Merle Finn Jr. Last week Wings dominated, winning by three lengths and pacing a 26 flat last quarter with her regular pilot Tim Curtin. Wings has the outside 7-slot while the first 6 posts will be manned by Window Wiper (programmed 10-1, Casey Leonard), Our Miss Lilly 10-1, Mike Oosting), State Street Liz (5-1, Bobby Smolin), Feel Like Dancing (8-1, Kyle Wilfong), Muy Caliente (10-1, Travis Seekman) and Just By Design (4-1, Ryan Anderson). Price Shot Nailed: Friday night’s eleventh race winner Island Jet was a Mike Paradise Price Shot winner at $13.60. The $40.20 Exacta of 3-6 was also correctly picked. By Mike Paradise

Last night’s trio of “Winner’s Over” co-features at Balmoral Park saw Justice Jet continue his dominance in the trot division, Fort Silky show is back class against other older male pacers, and Wings bounce back in a big way in the harness racing distaff department, all on a Saturday evening with a wind chill of 14 below zero. Justice Jet’s triumph was his fourth in a row for the combination of driver Ryan Welch and trainer Roger Welch who shares ownership of the 4-year-old Indiana bred with Bo De Long and Pat De Long. Bet down to 30 cents on the dollar Justice Jet ($2.60) was settled into seventh and last in the early going while Ants Iner Pants took the field to a slow 59 first half. Ryan took Justice Jet out on the backside, raced his confident trotter first up and powered past at the 3/4 pole to end up 1 and 1/2 lengths ahead of runner-up Fox Valley Veto in the 1:56 mile. Despite an eight-week layoff the venerable Fort Silky came out in “ready to rumble” in the very next race and handled four other solid male pacers in comfortable fashion with a heady drive from Casey Leonard. The now 9-year-old ICF pacer was hustled out by Casey and grabbed a quick lead before giving it up to Cam B Zipper (John De Long) at the 26.4 first quarter. Fort Silky found himself out of second and into third when Major Monet came out and took over command into a very cold headwind and hit the half-mile pole in :56 flat. Casey then had Fort Silky on the move and the 1-2 favorite rolled into the lead near the 3/4‘s, reached in 1:24.4 and then held off a late-charging Lennox Blue Chip to post a neck victory. It was career win No. 51 in his distinguished career for Paw Paw, Illinois owners John Prentice and Neva Jean Keeler. Next up was the $9,400 “Winner’s Over” for fillies and mares and while Wing’s victory wasn’t a surprise, her $12 winning mutuel was when you consider that the Merle Finn Jr. trainee had won three consecutive top level distaff events before last week’s fourth place finish. Driver Tim Curtin used Wings aggressively and the 7-year-old mare sizzled on a very chilly night with the temperature at 5 degrees. Wings was scooted away from the outside seven-slot and dropped into third in the first turn. Curtin didn’t wait long to make another move with the mare, brushing her to the top and in control before the half-mile pole (:57.2). From there Wings just pulled away from her six rivals, posting a four and one-half length victory in 1:53 flat over the pocket-horse Just By Design. Later in the night two-time Super Night champion Iam Bonasera (Travis Seekman) was very impressive in his return to Illinois, coming from the back of the pack at the half to first at the finish for his new trainer Nelson Willis. The 8-year-old gelding paced a wicked :26.2 last quarter in his 1:54.1 mile. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

A number of the young harness racing drivers on the Chicago circuit made great strides in 2014 but none were greater than the giant leap that came from Travis Seekman. The 24-year-old Michigan native, who now resides with his wife Desirae in Beecher, Illinois, had 60 more winning drives than in any other season and more than five times his total in 2013. “Definitely having more opportunities is the main reason and I did so much better,” said Travis. “With those opportunities come more chances to learn. I’m a little older now and I know how important it is to do well when those chances do come along. “It’s a continuous learning process out there and as you do better it gives you more confidence in yourself. And trainers see that and trust you more with of their good horses.” When the opportunity arrived to drive a top-notch horse, Travis often took advantage of that situation. A few examples are Travis driving Bi Poplar Rose to her 2-year-old Lincoln Land Championship, winning the Super Night Tony Maurello elimination and a Balmoral Invite with Iam Bonasera, and steering Kanaris to a trio of victories that include an open handicap victory at Northfield in Ohio. Travis and his wife own a few horses racing on the circuit. “It gives us something to do together,” said Seekman. “It’s been nice working side by side with her and also having her in the winner’s circle to enjoy the success of a ictory.” Seekman ended up with 937 drives last year, that’s 300 more than his previous highest total in 2010 and 768 more drives than he had in 2013 when he had 25 winners. We’ve only had a couple of weeks of racing this far on the local scene however Travis has already visited the winner’s circle 10 times in his first 36 opportunities. Racing on the Chicago circuit swings back into action Thursday night at Maywood Park with its 10-race card. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

17 to 19 of 19