The Cardinal Final looked to be a wide open race and it turned out to be just that as Z Tam Stables, Mike Polansky and Joe & Dave Mc Caffrey’s Ringo’s Z Tam came flying down the stretch to win by a half-length in 1:56.0 at odds of 8-1. Content to sit at the back of the pack in the field of eight as Traffic Cop (Todd Warren) carved out splits of 27.1, 57.1 & 1:26.2 driver Casey Leonard had the son of Yankee Skyscaper—Rons Girl underway in a live outer flow as the field headed into the final bend. Circling rivals while following the cover of I Bizel The Shizel (John De Long), Ringo’s Z Tam blew by the field as the speed collapsed, charging home in 28.3 to notch his third win in eight lifetime starts. I Bizel The Shizel finished a hard knocking second while One Sure Apache (Mike Oosting) was third after being first over for the final five-eighths of a mile. Overlooked at windows despite being coupled in the wagering with Manny’s Z Tam, Ringo’s Z Tam returned a healthy $18.00, $5.80 & $2.80 while upping his bankroll to $39,654. In the Violet Stake favored Molly Go Lightly shook off constant pressure and held firm through the lane to win by a half-length in a quick 1:54.4 for Jim Jesk’s Sawgrass Farms. Taking advantage of the inside starting spot driver Mike Oosting whisked the daughter of Lexington Legend—Waggle right to the front but was confronted with immediate pressure from a hard leaving My Little Bit (Casey Leonard). With the two fillies battling tooth and nail through opening splits of 28.0 & 56.1 Molly Go Lightly finally put away the challenge from her main nemesis as the field headed for the three-quarter-mile mark. Drawing away from the rest of the field as she stormed by that mark in 1:25.3, the Nelson Willis trainee then held firm to the wire as a ground saving Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) came charging through the passing lane. Party Hangover Two (John De Long) was a distant third, five lengths behind the winner. The victory was the fourth in 11 starts for Molly Go Lightly who now boasts $44,895 in career earnings. The 4-5 choice of the betting public returned $3.80, $2.80 & $2.40. by Tom Kelley for Maywood Park
The red-hot combination of trainer Perry Smith and driver Mike Oosting clicked again for Sawgrass Farms LLC as the trio combined to get Fox Valley Norman home with a 1½ length victory in Saturday’s $13,900 Bye Bye Byrd Stake. The final time was a career best of 1:51.2 for the three-year-old gelding. Leaving alertly from post seven for Oosting the son of Yankee Skyscaper—Lake Hills Nan settled in third as Drunk On You (Dave Magee) led the field an opening quarter in 27.3. With the action continuing to heat up on the backstretch Oosting maneuvered his charge to the outside where they began to carve into the advantage of Fox Valley Action (Todd Warren) as that sophomore put up middle splits of 55.1 &1:23.4. Through the stretch a determined Fox Valley Norman eventually wore down the pace setter, sealing the deal with a 27.2 final quarter to post his third win in 19 starts this season. Silver Devil (Casey Leonard) rallied late to finish second while Fox Valley Action held on for third. Sent off at 8-1 by the betting public Fox Valley Norman returned $18.20, $5.40 & $3.40 while upping his career bankroll to $74,708. David Baum
Illinois’ two-year-old crop of pacers were in action on Friday, Sept. 27th at Maywood Park as freshmen fillies battled in two Violet Stake eliminations while their male counterparts slugged it out in a pair of Cardinal Stake eliminations. With a total of 12 fillies dropped into the box for the Violet eight spots were available for the $48,000 final. In the first division Obermeier & Quaid Stables My Little Bit made every call a winning one as she cruised to a one-length victory in 1:55.2 for driver Casey Leonard. Storming right to the front from post three the Erv Miller trained miss carved out splits of 28.1, 56.4 & 1:26.0 while holding her rivals at bay for her fifth win in 10 career starts. Party Hangover Two (John De Long) parlayed a perfect pocket sitting trip into a second place finish while Filly Orange & Blue winner Thesleazyprincess (Mike Oosting) finished third after being forced to make a three-wide sweep as the field headed to the half-mile mark. Green Valey was a distant fourth. The favorite prevailed in the second division as well as Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly exploded out of the pocket on the final turn and then rolled to a convincing four-length victory in 1:55.4 for leading driver Mike Oosting. After sitting right on the back of Fox Valley Shiver (Todd Warren) as that filly showed the way through fractions of 28.2, 58.2 & 1:27.3 Oosting deftly maneuvered the Nelson Willis trainee off the pylons. Quickly swallowing up the pace setter, the daughter of Lexington Legend—Waggle charged home in 28.0 to post her fourth win 10 starts. Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) rallied from far back to be the bridesmaid while Fox Valley Shiver held on for third. Fox Valley Flora finished fourth. A total of 13 colts were entered for the Cardinal with the top four in each of the two $10,000 eliminations moving on to compete in next week’s $48,000 final. In the first elimination Laura Hendricks and Benita Simmons I Bizel The Shizel led from pillar to post as he reported home with a hard fought one-length victory in 1:55.3 with John De Long in tow. Parked through an opening quarter in 28.1 the Tom Simmons trained son of Yankee Skyscaper—Whata Bizy Body then proceeded to put up middle splits of 57.3 & 1:26.1. After turning aside a challenge from a hard charging Dunside Art (Mike Oosting) I Bizel The Shizel drew away from his rivals in the lane to score for the fourth time in 11 career starts. Traffic Cop (Todd Warren) came on late to be second while Fox Valley Cupid (Ryan Anderson) rallied from last to get the show dough. Manny’s Z Tam was fourth. In the nightcap Jerry Graham’s One Sure Apache took advantage of his inside starting spot rolling to a three-quarter-length victory in wire to wire fashion. Hustled away from the gate by Mike Oosting the Nelson Willis trained son of Ft Apache Hanover—One Sure Thing strolled through leisurely splits of 29.2, 59.2 & 1:28.3 while relatively unchallenged for most of the mile. With plenty in reserve the good looking gelding kept a late charging Ringo’s Z Tam (Casey Leonard) at bay to win for the fourth time in 12 starts. Overloaded (Kyle Wilfong) finished third while Fox Valley Deuce was fourth. Unlocked, the 7-5 morning line favorite was a judge’s scratch from the race. Kellie Lachata
State-bred pacers were front and center on Saturday, Sept. 21st at Balmoral Park as a pair of two-year-old events shared top billing on the 13-race program. An overflow field of 12 freshman pacing fillies was sent postward in the $14,200 Thrifty Way Stake to kick off the Saturday action. When the dust settled it was Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly who emerged with a 2 ½ length victory in a career best of 1:54.4 with Mike Oosting at the controls. The Nelson Willis trained daughter of Lexington Legend—Waggle was reserved in the early going as Party Hangover Two (John De Long) and Western Dame (Dale Hiteman) led the field through splits of 28.0, 56.1 & 1:25.2. Tipping three and then four deep off excess cover at the top of the stretch, Molly Go Lightly then rattled home in 28.2 going from fifth to first to notch her third win in nine career starts. Party Hangover Two (John De Long), the even-money favorite in the race finished second while Ms Solongbyebye (Casey Leonard) overcame a starting spot in the second tier as she staged a long rally to salvage the show dough. A field of 11 two-year-old pacing colts was sent post ward in the $14,100 Yates Eagle to complete the stakes action. After managing to avoid traffic problems that were caused by a breaking horse just after the half-mile mark, driver Dave Magee guided Z Tam Racing, Mike Polansky, Joseph Mc Caffrey and David Mc Caffrey’s Ringo’s Z Tam to a three-quarter-length victory in 1:54.0. Aggressively handled by the Hall of Fame reinsman Ringo’s Z Tam stormed to the front from post three leading the field by an opening quarter in 27.2. After working a give and go on the backside the striking chestnut was still in command as the field reached the half in 55.4. With the confusion in the back of the back caused by the breaker Fox Valley Deuce (Dale Hiteman) swept up on the far turn to lead the field by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.4. Magee then went to work on the gelded son of Yankee Skyscaper—Rons Girl through the stretch and the Dave McCaffrey trainee responded beautifully, reeling in a tiring Fox Valley Deuce and holding firm for his second win in six lifetime starts. One Sure Apache (Mike Oosting) rallied to be second while longshot Dunside Art (John De Long) worked his way around the traffic problems to rally for third. David Baum
Proving once again that he is tops among the Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old colt pacing ranks Paymaq Racing, D&M Trading & Mystical Marker Farms Mystical Walter knocked off nine rivals by three-quarters of a length to win the $173,000 Pete Langley Memorial. The final time was 1:52.1. Using the big quarter move that has become his signature in his second season of action driver Casey Leonard had the gelded son of Yankee Skyscaper—Yankee Blue out and rolling from fifth as Crankin It Up (Kyle Wilfong) led the field through an opening quarter in 27.4. “I was basically forced to make that move with him tonight”, explained Leonard. “A lot of those horses left out of there pretty hard tonight so I was just happy to land in the spot that we did.” Charging to the front Mystical Walter was in complete control of the proceedings as he showed the way through middle splits of 56.0 and 1:24.2. Through the lane the Ervin Miller trainee was forced to find a little something extra as he gamely dug in through the final 100 yards to hold off one last late surge from Crankin It Up for his eighth win in 16 starts this year. Crankin It Up was a hard knocking second while last year’s Orange & Blue winner Fancy Creek Elusiv (Dave Magee) turned in a nice effort to rally for third. “He’s been waiting on horses a little bit because of how easy he’s been winning some of those races,” said Leonard. “Tonight he felt good all the way but I definitely had to keep after him because I knew some of those good horses in this division were right behind him and they weren’t going to be letting up at all.” Basically putting a lock on divisional honors with his win on Saturday night Mystical Walter now has 11 wins, four seconds and three thirds in 21 lifetime starts with earnings of $212,266. The odds on favorite in the race returned $3.20, $2.40 & $2.20 to his many backers. Mystical Walter (5)_held firm to the wire to win the $173,000 Langley Memorial by three-quarters of a length in 1:52.1 for driver Casey Leonard. David Baum
The count down to Illinois biggest night of racing action, Super Night 2013, began in earnest on Saturday, Sept. 7th at Balmoral Parkas 12 eliminations battles were contested by some of Illinois top pacers. Kicking things off were a trio of $15,000 Orange & Blue Stake elimination’s for two-year-old pacing colts. The top three finishers in each elimination as well as one fourth place finisher (drawn by lot) will advance to next Saturday’s $200,000 est. final. In the first division Obermeier & Quaid Stable’s PQ Three continued his recent winning streak as the Erv Miller trainee posted a 1 ¼ length decision in 1:54.1. Sent right to the front from his outside starting spot by driver Mike Oosting the son of Yankee Skyscaper—Sweltering cruised through splits of 28.2, 57.3 & 1:26.2 while easily keeping his rivals at bay throughout the mile. Overloaded (Kyle Wilfong) sat right on the winner’s back the entire way to earn the place money while Cotton Eyed Joe (Robert Smolin) rallied to be third. Dave’s Skyscaper was fourth. The win was the sixth in 10 starts this year for PQ Three who now boasts $114,399 in career earnings. In the second elimination Paula Smith & James Runyan’s Fox Valley Deuce prevailed in a thrilling three-horse photo, winning by a nose in a career best of 1:54.3 for Dale Hiteman. Perfectly positioned while saving ground in fourth as Fox Valley Cupid (Ryan Anderson) carved out splits of 28.2, 58.1 & 1:26.4 the Joel Smith (2 wins) trainee pulled as the field neared the top of the stretch. Battling tooth and nail through the lane the son of Sportsmaster—Dodger Girl managed to get a nose in front in the final strides to earn his second win in 10 tries. Fox Valley Cupid held on for second while I Bizel The Shizel (John De Long) rallied up the passing lane to be third. Manny’s Z Tam was fourth. The final division was taken by Jack & Peggy Hood, Mystical Marker Farms and Dirk Simpson Stables Traffic Cop who reported home with a 3 ½ length score in a lifetime best of 1:54.2. Zipped right to the front as 4-5 favorite Badger Quinn went off stride right at the start, driver Todd Warren did a nice job of directing the proceedings as he rolled through splits of 28.1, 58.1 & 1:27.3. After turning away a first over challenge from Duneside Art in the lane the son of Sportsmaster-Dixiegirl proceeded to draw away from her rivals for her second win in 10 lifetime appearances. One Sure Apache (Mike Oosting) rallied to be second while Fox Valley Van (John De Long) finished third. Duneside Art was fourth. Next up were sophomore pacing fillies as a total of 18 ladies looked for 10 starting spots in next week’s $173,000 (est.) Grandma Ann Stake. In the first of two $15,000 elimination tussles John Carver’s Auniqueaquistion gave the chalk players a thrill as she shook loose from a precarious position in mid-stretch to win by a half-length in1:53.0. Positioned near the front by driver Mike Oosting as the lead changed hands several time through splits of 28.4, 57.4 & 1:26.1 the daughter of Cole Muffler—Shesoluvabull was desperately searching for racing room behind a tiring leader as the field turned for the money. Maneuvering outside then back inside again with the Donna Lee Ozment trained miss Oosting finally secured racing room with just less than a sixteenth of a mile to go. Responding beautifully, Auniqueaquistion bulled her way to the front and steadily began to draw clear for her 12th win in 21 career starts. Schmatie (John De Long) finished a game second while Aliyah Maria (Dave Magee) was third. Dune In Red & State Street Liz also gained spots in the final. In the second elimination Paula Smith, James Runyan and Frank Pike’s Dallas Jones continued an amazing second season transformation as she came flying home to win by 1 ¾ lengths in 1:53.1. Well-handled by a red-hot Casey Leonard the daughter of Sportsmaster—Cams Bett was reserved through the early stages as Feel Like Dancing (Kyle Wilfong) and Mystical Danica (Marcus Miller) battled through splits of 27.4, 56.4 & 1:24.4.Tipping four deep as the ladies turned for home the Joel Smith trained miss then picked off one rival after another on her way to her eighth win of the season. Mystical Danica held on for second while Thank You Doc (Mike Oosting) rallied sharply to finish third. Feel Like Dancing was fourth while Fox Valley Isabella was fifth. A total of 17 sophomore pacing colts were dropped into the box for a pair of $15,000 Pete Langley Memorial eliminations. Once again the top five will be back on Super Night to go for an estimated purse of $173,000. The first division provided a thrilling finish as Paymaq Racing, D&M Trading & Mystical Marker Farms Mystical Walter emerged with a hard fought three-quarters of a length victory in 1:51.0. Confidently handled by driver Casey Leonard the gelded son of Yankee Skyscaper—Yankee Blue ranged up first over to engage Crankin’ It Up (Kyle Wilfong) after watching that rival post splits of 27.3, 56.0 & 1:23.3. After battling head and head through the lane Mystical Walter finally began to pull clear in the final one-hundred yards, notching his 10th career win in 20 starts for trainer Erv Miller. Crankin’ It Up was a sharp second while Alequash Hotspur (Dale Hiteman) finished third. Fox Valley Norman was fourth while Big Brad was fifth. In the second Langley elimination Stephanie Winship, Carl Lacy, Amy Giberson & Monty Thompson’s Silver Devil parlayed a perfect pocket sitting trip into a 1 ¾ length victory in 1:52.2. Riding along in the pocket while Monopoly Man (John De Long) strolled through splitsof 28.0, 57.3 & 1:25.1 driver Casey Leonard patiently waited for the passing lane to make his move with the Nick Giberson trainee. Swinging down to the inside with a sixteenth to go the roan son of Duneside Perch—Armbro Wahine came charging home in 26.4 to secure his seventh win in this his first season of action. Monopoly Man held on well to finish second while Ready (Brian Carpenter) used a pylon skimming journey to get the show dough. Fancy Creek Elusiv was fourth while Fox Valley Action was fifth. With a total of 21 three-year-olds and up entered for the Tony Maurello Stake a trio of $15,000 elimination’s were needed. Once again the top three along with a fourth place finisher (drawn by lot) will be back for next week’s $125,000 final. In the first elimination Stevanna Turner’s NJ’s Big Deal rallied in the final strides to win by a head in 1:50.1 for driver Mike Cox. After leading the way through an opening quarter in 28.1, Cox elected to let a hard charging Uncle Smoothie (John De Long) go, winding up in the three-hole as the field sped through middle splits of 55.3 & 1:23.0. The John Fletcher trainee was then moved to the outside at the top of the stretch where he gamely wore down Ice Scraper (Kyle Husted) and Uncle Smoothie (John De Long) for his11th win of the year. Whirlwindiplomacy was fourth The middle elimination provided no surprises as heavily favored Fort Silky cruised to an easy 1 ¾ length victory in 1:51.1 for owners John Prentice and Neva Jane Ikeler. Sent to the front by driver Casey Leonard after a quarter in 27.0 the seven-year-old gelding then went unchallenged through middle splits of 55.4 & 1:24.3.Setting sail for home the Terry Leonard trainee sealed the deal in fine fashion, rattling off a final quarter in 26.3 to notch his 12th win of the year. Cole Heat (John De Long) finished second while Fox Valley Yukon (Marcus Miller) was third. Uncle Bud finished fourth. Chalk players were dancing again in the final Maurello elimination as Paymaq Racing, Mystical Marker Farms, Ken Duffy & Shim Racing’s A Cool Card notched his fourth straight win rolling to a one-length decision in 1:50.4 with Marcus Miller in tow. Working out a perfect second over trip as King’s Legend (Todd Warren) put up splits of 27.3, 56.0 & 1:23.4 A Cool Card tipped three-wide off his cover as the field straightened for home. The Erv Miller trainee then stormed home in a wicked 26.2 to record his sixth win in 10 starts this year. Iam Bonasera (Kyle Wilfong) finished a hard knocking second while Gibbs (Dave Magee) rallied to be third. Sports Fanatic wound up fourth. Freshman pacing fillies closed out the elimination action with a total of 20 youngsters battling in a pair of $15,000 Filly Orange & Blue elimination’s. The top five in each will return on Super Night to slug it out for a $200,000 jackpot. In the first elimination Team Miller clicked once again as Marcus (2 wins) made a successful return to the local scene guiding Obermeier & Quaid Stable’s (2wins) My Little Bit to an easy one-length triumph in 1:54.1, giving his father Erv, his fourth training win of the night. Powering to the front after an opening quarter in 28.1, the daughter of Sportsmaster-Parade Of Love rattled off middle splits of 58.1 & 1:26.1. With plenty still in reserve the good looking filly paced home in 28.0 to win for the fourth time in eight life time starts. Party Hangover Two (John De Long) was second while Thesleazyprincess (Mike Oosting) was third. Fox Valley Amanda was fourth while Simplyirresistible was fifth. In the second division Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly took advantage of a ground saving trip as she charged up the passing lane to win by a half-length in1:55.0. Perfectly handled by Mike Oosting (3 wins) the daughter of Lexington Legend-Waggle was forwardly placed while skimming the pylons through splits of 29.0, 58.3 & 1:27.3. With the fillies fanning out for the stretch drive, Oosting moved the Nelson Willis trainee up the inside where she rallied gamely for her second win in eight trips postward. Kiwi Party (John De Long) overcame post nine to be the bridesmaid while Mae Flynn (Dave Magee) was third. Tessa finished a hard fought fourth while M A Refling overcame a miscue at the start to finish fifth. The elimination action for Super Night continues on Sunday, Sept. 8th at Balmoral Park as a trio of Lorna Propes Stake elimination’s (three-year-old & up filly & mare pacers), a pair of Su Mac Lad Stake elimination’s (three-year-old trotting colts) and one Lady Ann Reed (3yo trotting filly) will all be contested. Post time on Sunday is 7:10 p.m. (central). Tom Kelley
State bred pacers and trotters were front and center on Saturday, July 27th as Balmoral Park presented its Southland Festival of Racing. A total of five championship tilts were contested with more than $290,000 in purse money up for grabs as the Prairie States top two and three-year-old pacers slugged it out in one of 2013’s biggest nights. Trotters kicked off the racing action with a field of seven diagonally gaited three-year-old colts and geldings battling in the $51,000 Kadabra Stake. Just as he’s done throughout his entire second season H. Bill Wright and Mystical Marker Farms King Mufasa proved to be way too much for this group as he trotted to a 1 ¼ length triumph in 1:55.2 for driver Mike Oosting. Unhurried early the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Foxy N Diamonds settled in sixth as Semper Fit (Dave Magee) led the field through opening splits of 28.1 & 58.0. Oosting then put the Mike Brink trainee into gear as the field headed down the backstretch and the division leader responded beautifully, charging right by the pace setter on the final turn while taking the field by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.2. “We were going into a pretty decent wind there so I just allowed him to trot on as much as he wanted to,” said Oosting. “I didn’t even realize we were going a 28.2 third quarter. That’s how smooth he is.” Under a hand drive through the lane, King Mufasa turned aside a challenge from entrymate Powerful Poe (Todd Warren) as he reported home with his seventh win in eight starts this year. Powerful Poe was forced to settle for the runner-up role for the sixth time this year while Skyline Road (Casey Leonard) was third. “I was a little concerned when Powerful Poe came up alongside us but then he just took off again,” said a happy Oosting. “He knows what he’s got to do and he just keeps going out there and doing it. Not only is that a credit to him but to Mike (Brink) as well. He’s kept him quiet and sound all year long and he’s just as sharp now as he was early in the year.” With the win King Mufasa now has seven wins and one second in eight starts this year with earnings of $95,410. With no place or show wagering King Mufasa returned $2.10. Next up were two-year-old pacing fillies as a field of 10 youngsters squared off in the $65,000 Loyal Opposition Stake. After a furious stretch drive Engel Stable of Illinois ’ Thesleazyprincess gave Oosting his second stakes triumph of the night as she recorded a 3 ¼ length victory in 1:54.3. After rushing to the front after an opening quarter in 27.3 Oosting allowed a hard charging Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) to grab command as the field reached the half-mile mark in 56.2. That pocket sitting journey nearly turned into a nightmare for the Nelson Willis trained miss as Fox Valley Amanda began to tire after passing the three-quarter mile mark in 1:25.1. “Those two up front (Fox Valley Amanda & Western Dame) were starting to tire and I wasn’t sure if I was going to get carried to the open stretch,” said a relieved Oosting. “That’s when I decided to back my filly off a little and we were able to get out of that spot.” Patiently sliding off the pylons with an eighth of a mile to go Oosting maneuvered the daughter of Sagebrush—Da Sleazy One three wide around her rivals and the long striding filly quickly swept past the tiring leaders for her second win in three career starts. My Little Bit (Casey Leonard) shook loose late and rallied to be the bridesmaid while favored Western Dame (John De Long) finished third. “That was a giant effort from a two-year-old filly,” Oosting commented in the winner’s circle. “I really wound up starting and stopping her three different times during that race but she still had an answer for them when she needed it most. That was huge.” The second choice in the wagering returned $5.00, $3.40, & $2.10 while upping her bankroll to $37,450. Oosting did not wait long to strike for a third time taking the $63,500 Mini Me Stake for two-year-old pacing colts in the next event of the night guiding Obermeier & Quaid Stables good looking youngster, PQ Three to a half-length triumph in a career best of 1:54.2. Floating away from post position nine Oosting had the son of Yankee Skyscaper—Sweltering underway as R Duneshine (John Roberts) and Traffic Cop (Todd Warren) battled through opening splits of 27.3 & 56.2. Picking up cover from Badger Quinn (Kyle Wilfong) as the field moved into the turn Oosting did not wait long to attack from his second over position, moving three wide as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.3. “I knew Todd’s horse (Traffic Cop) was going to be tough to beat so I did not want to let them get away from us,” explained Oosting. “I would have loved to have sat in there longer but I wanted to be in top gear when we straightened up for home.” Setting sail for the wire the Erv Miller trainee paced home in 28.3 to secure his third win in five lifetime starts. Traffic Cop was a hard fought second while Badger Quinn held on for third. After the win Oosting was quick to praise Miller for the conditioning job on PQ Three. “Erv has done a nice job with this one,” said Oosting. “He was a nice horse the first time I ever sat behind him but he’s even better now. They’ve taken pretty much all of the equipment off of him and he’s very simply rigged now. He’s just an absolute pleasure to drive.” The 2-1 second choice returned $6.00, $2.80 & $2.20 while moving his record to 3-2-0 in five starts with earnings of $41,874. Balmoral’s leading reinsman continued his “one-man-show” in the fourth event of the evening, this time guiding John arver’s Auniqueaquistion to a one-length victory in 1:53.1 to take the $60,000 Ann Vonian Stake for three-year-old filly pacers. Confidently handled by her red-hot pilot the daughter of Cole Muffler—Shessoluvabull made a bold move to the front after watching Feel Like Dancing (Kyle Wilfong) lead the field through an opening quarter in 28.0. Rolling through middle splits of 56.1 & 1:24.0 the Donna Lee Ozment trained miss was forced to brace for a first over challenge from her chief rival, Aliyah Maria (Todd Warren) as the field turned for the money. After gamely putting away that challenge Auniqueaquistion held firm the rest of the way for her seventh win in 10 starts this year. Feel Like Dancing came on again to finish a nice second while Dallas Jones (Casey Leonard) was third. “My horse was starting to get a little complacent on me so I had to get after her a little harder than I usually do,” said Oosting. “She really started to dig in at that point and I felt pretty confident we could hold off whoever was going to take a shot at us. That’s the big difference with her this year. She really gets after it in the last 200 yards or so and Donna’s done a great job with her after she had the heart issue a few weeks ago.” Now sporting a record of 10-5-0 in 18 career starts, Auniqueaquistion returned $4.00, $2.60 & $2.60 while upping her career bankroll to $240,985. The final stake of the night provided a bit of an upset as John & Mary Krasnican’s Big Brad, a 5-1 shot came flying through the stretch for driver Robert Smolin to win the $59,000 Incredible Finale Stake for three-year-old colt pacers in 1:51.2. Reserved through opening splits of 28.0 & 55.3 while Fancy Creek Elusiv (Dave Magee), Sage Ruck (Mike Oosting) and Mystical Walter (Casey Leonard) all took turns on the lead, Smolin finally worked Big Brad into the outer flow as the field reached the halfway point. “Ever since he tried to pull himself up while on the lead a few starts back I’ve been ducking with him,” Smolin explained. “I was hoping that we were going to catch some decent cover tonight and I was pretty happy with the way he felt on the last turn.” Storming up three wide as Mystical Walter led the way past the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:23.2 the son of Henry Clay—One Sure Thing set sail for the wire. Flying home in 27.1 the Bob Phillips trainee picked off one rival after another while bobbing and weaving his way to his sixth win 14 starts this year. Sage Ruck came on again late to finish second while Crankin’ It Up (Kyle Wilfong) rallied to be third. After the win Smolin seemed a bit relieved that the journey resulted in a victory. “At the top of the stretch I was just hoping to be second or third,” he said. “My horse was running out at that point, then he started diving in on me. He didn’t know which line he wanted to be on. Once he finally decided to go straight he was as fast as he’s ever been!” Big Brad returned $13.80, $6.80 & $5.40 while running his record to 9-4-7 in 23 career starts with earnings of $166,540. Stakes action continues on Sunday night with the $45,000 Fox Valley Evita Stake for three-year-old trotting fillies headlining the card. Post time on Sunday is 7:10 p.m. (central). Tom Kelley ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Big Brad and driver Bobby Smolin came flying through the lane to win the $59,000 Incredible Finale Stake in 1:51.2. King Mufasa continued his dominance of the three-year-old colt trotting set with an easy score in the $51,000 Kadabra Stake. Thesleazyprincess knocked off nine other two-year-old pacing fillies to win the $65,000 Loyal Opposition in 1:54.3. PQ Three won for the third time in five career starts as he rolled to victory in the $63,500 Mini Me Stake for two-year-old pacing colts. Auniqueaquistion gave Mike Oosting his fourth stakes win of the year as she knocked off nine rivals in the $60,000 Ann Vonian Stake.
After a busy weekend of elimination’sthe fields have been set for one of the biggest nights of racing at Balmoral Park and now the count down begins to next Saturday’s (July 27th) Chicago Southland Festival of Racing. After a trio of stakes were filled on Saturday, July 20th the last two elimination tussles were contested on Sunday night with a total of 16 Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing fillies squaring off in a pair of $10,000 Ann Vonian Stake elim’s. The top five finishers in each division will be back next Saturday to slug it out for a purse of $60,000. In the first elimination Roy Drevsand Brett & Candice Wilfong’s Feel Like Dancing came charging through the passing lane to win by a length in a career best of 1:52.3 for driver Kyle Wilfong. After leading the field through anopening quarter in 28.3 Wilfong elected to allow a hard charging Dallas Jones(Casey Leonard) take command. That filly proceeded to rattle off middle splitsof 56.2 & 1:25.1 while the Brett Wilfong trained miss enjoyed a perfect pocket sitting ride. After finding room in the passing lane, the daughter of Skydancer Hanover—Fox Valley Funny exploded past the pace setter finishing offthe mile with a 27.1 final panel to post her seventh win in 14 starts thisyear. Dallas Jones held on to be second while the heavily favored Aliyah Maria(Todd Warren) finished third. Incredible Filly (Mike Cox) and My Marissa Clair(Phil Knox) also earned spots in the final. The second elimination was notwithout its anxious moments for “chalk” players but when the smoke cleared it was John Carver’s Auniqueaquistion who came out on top with a hard fought half-length victory in 1:52.2 for driver Dave Magee. Placed well off the pace while DuneIn Red (John De Long) and R Ciao Baby (Casey Leonard) sped through splits of28.2, 55.3 & 1:24.1, Magee had Auniqueaquistion in the outer flow as the fillies turned for the money. Picking off one rival after another, the Donna Lee Ozment trained daughter of Cole Muffler—Shesoluvabull went from fifth to first with a 27.3 final quarter to notch her sixth win in nine starts this year. Dune In Red turned in a solid effort to finish second while State Street Liz (Robert Smolin) shook loose late to be a fast closing third. The last two spots in the final went to R Ciao Baby and Mystical Danica (Lewayne Miller). Saturday’s action started with a total of 19 state-bred two-year-old pacing fillies battling in a pair of $10,000 Loyal Opposition elimination’s. The top five in each split will return next week to meet for a purse of $65,000. In the opening division Bruce & Mary Alexander’s Western Dame made it two in a row as she cruised to an impressive two-length victory in a career best of 1:54.2 for driver John DeLong. Charging from fifth to first after an opening quarter of 28.2, the daughter of Sagebrush—Dixie Dame left no doubt as to who was the best in this event as she continued on through middle splits of 57.0 & 1:26.0. Rolling home in 28.2, the $14,000 yearling purchase was never seriously threatened through the stretch as she scored for the second time in three starts. Thesleazyprincess (Mike Oosting) rallied late to be the bridesmaid while Anything I Want (Todd Warren) was a game third. My Little Bit (Robert Smolin) finished fourth and Fox Valley Rockn (Kyle Wilfong) was fifth. The second division of the Loyal Opposition elimination’s also provided a sharp winner as Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly posted her maiden breaking win, reporting home with a 2 ¾ length verdict in 1:55.1 with Mike Oosting in tow. The homebred daughter of Lexington Legend—Waggle was confidently handled in the race ranging up first over through opening splits of 29.3 & 58.4. After sweeping into the lead as the field moved around the final turn, the Nelson Willis trainee led the fillies by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.4. The issue was never in doubt from that point on as Molly Go Lightly was a cruise control through a 28.2 final quarter to post her first win in four starts. Green Valey (Robert Smolin) came on late to finish second while April May Dune (Dave Magee) was third. Also gaining spots in the final were Fox Valley Amanda(Dale Hiteman) and Ms Solongbyebye (Jamaica Patton). Next on the docket were three-year-old pacing colts as a total of 15 state-bred sophomores battled in apair of $10,000 Incredible Finale Stake elimination’s. Once again the top five will be back for the “festival” where they will battle for a purse of $59,000. In the first elimination Paymaq Racing, D&M Trading & Mystical Marker Farms Mystical Walter continued to turn heads in this division as he posted his Third Straight victory, reporting home with a deceptively easy 2 ¼ length score in 1:51.1 for driver Casey Leonard. Fresh off his win in last week’s Hanover Stake, the gelded son of Yankee Skyscaper—Yankee Blue put his powerful brush to good use rushing from fifth to first after an opening quarter in 28.0. The Erv Miller trainee never looked back the rest of the way, effortlessly posting middle splits of 56.2 & 1:24.1 before sealing the deal with a wicked 27.0 final quarter for his seventh win in 15 career starts. Monopoly Man (John De Long) followed the winner’s every move after giving way on the backside to finish second while Fancy Creek Elusiv (Dave Magee) was third. Also grabbing spots in the final were Sage Ruck (Mike Oosting) and Fox Valley Action (Todd Warren). In the second division John & Mary Krasnican’s Big Brad came storming through the stretch to win by a neck in a lifetime best of 1:51.0 for Robert Smolin. Moving up second over as pace setter Silver Devil put up splits of 28.0, 56.3 & 1:23.4 Smolin moved the Robert Phillips trainee off cover as the field turned for the money. Flying home in 26.4, the bay son of Henry Clay—One Sure Thing swept by his rivals and then was game to the wire as held off a final surge by Crankin’ It Up (Kyle Wilfong) for his fifth win in 13 starts this season. Crankin’ It Up was second while Kostas Wine (Dave Magee) rallied to finish third. Fox Valley Norman (John De Long) salvaged a fourth place finish after a tough first over bid while the last spotin the final went to Darth Quaider (Mike Oosting). Rounding out the Saturday action were Mini Me Stake elimination’s for ICF two-year-old pacing colts. With a total of 17 youngsters dropped into the entry box a pair of $10,000 splits were contested with the top five moving on to next week’s $63,500 final. In the first division Obermeier & Quaid Stables good looking youngster PQ Three lived up to his favored status winning by a well measured neck in 1:54.3 with Mike Oosting at the controls. Ranging up first over as Traffic Cop(Todd Warren) and R Duneshine (Dave Magee) battled through splits of 28.2, 58.27 1:26.4, Oosting had the son of Yankee Skyscaper—Sweltering just off the pace setters flank as the field turned for the money. Quickly swallowing up R Duneshine in the lane, the Erv Miller trainee then held firm to the wire for his second win in four starts. Traffic Cop re-rallied to finish a game second while Fox Valley Cupid (Robert Smolin) turned a ground saving trip into a third place check. Fox Valley Deuce (Dale Hiteman) was fourth while R Duneshine wound up fifth. The last elimination on the Saturday card provided the tightest finish as the Robert Phillips owned and trained Cotton Eyed Joe found racing room in the final sixteenth of a mile then rallied sharply for a head decision in 1:56.4 with Robert Smolin at the controls. After saving ground while Wimpy Doodle (Dean Magee) and Dunside Art (Mike Oosting) took turns leading the field through splits of 29.3, 1:00.3 & 1:29.2 Smolin appeared to be hopelessly locked in at the pylons. Smolin’s patience paid big dividends though as a seam opened up late in the stretch, allowing the son of Big Green Machine—Secret Dial to come roaring home with his first win in five career starts. Badger Quinn (Todd Warren), who made a power sweep to the front from the outside post wound up finishing a tough luck second while Fox Valley Van (John De Long) was third. The last two spots in the final went to Dunside Art (4th) and Wimpy Doodle (5th). Big Brad and Robert Smolin captured an Incredible Finale Stake elimination for 3yo pacing colts in 1:51.0 on Saturday night at Balmoral Park. PQ Three was a well measured winner for driver Mike Oosting in the first of two Mini Me Stake eliminations on Saturday. Cotton Eyed Joe found room late while rallying for a big win in the second Mini Me Stake elimination on Saturday. Western Dame cruised to an easy win for driver John De Long in the first of two Loyal Opposition Stake elimination's on Saturday night. Molly Go Lightly and driver Mike Oosting teamed up for an easy win in 1:55.1 in the second Loyal Opposition Stake elimination on Saturday. Mystical Walter continued an impressive recent run as he posted his Third Straight victory in the first of two Incredible Finale Stake elim's for 3yo colt pacers.
A busy weekend of harness racing action which included the USTA's Back To The Track promotion came to a close on Sunday, July 7th with more Illinois conceived and foaled stakes action providing the fireworks for fans of the sport, both old and new.
Summer may not be officially be here until June 21 but for many Illinois horsemen the summer-time season arrives three weeks earlier with tonight's $6,000 Jimmy Sunshine, the first stake race of the season for 2-year-olds.
The field for next Saturday's $57,300 Cardinal Final will be decided tonight with a pair of eliminations. A fifth place or better finish is needed to advance to the 3-year-old colt and gelding pace harness racing showdown.
Sawgrass Farms Fox Valley Norman returned ready to roll for his harness racing sophomore debut cruising to an easy two and quarter length triumph in 1:54.0 while knocking off eight other Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing colts in Friday night's $12,000 Gosox Stake at Maywood Park.
Versado rang out the month of February scoring his fourth win of the meet overpowering five foes in a 1:50.1 front-pacing mile in the $35,000 Preferred Handicap on Thursday, Feb. 28 at Dover Downs while Rusty's All In returned to the $30,000 Delaware Special with a 1:50 triumph. For the third time this meet leading harness racing reinsman Corey Callahan drove seven winners.
A pair of Josh Green-trainees swept the Valentine 's Day double feature paces at the Dover Downs harness racing meeting on Thursday, Feb. 14 when Dancin Yankee won the $35,000 Preferred and Summer Camp was winner of the $23,000 Open.
Illinois conceived and foaled pacers took center stage on a very strong Saturday night card as a field of six three-year-olds lined up to do battle in the in the $13,600 Bye Bye Byrd Stake.
Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old pacers were in harness racing action on Friday night at Maywood Park as elimination's for two of the tracks most prestigious events, the Violet and Cardinal Stakes were contested.