Day At The Track

Top horses give Night Of Champions preview

02:28 PM 24 Aug 2020 NZST
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Hawthorne,Harness racing
Four Footed Fotos

STICKNEY, IL – With races shifted from Springfield and DuQuoin to Hawthorne this summer, many of the top harness racing horses in the state were on hand for what turned out to be a preview of next month’s Night of Champions.

Friday night kicked off impressively as two-year-old Hot Mess Express defeated Topline company by 11 ½ lengths, winning in 1:52.1 for trainer Jamaica Patton and driver Ridge Warren.  That win by Hot Mess Express began a string of ten straight winning favorites on the Friday card.

After favorites Crankin’ It Up (1:54.1) won for Kyle Wilfong and Nicole Agosti won the second race and Sudden Approach (2:03.4) took the third for Clifton Bell and Jerry Mims, the Championship finals kicked off.

Race four saw a field of male juvenile pacers compete in the $32,000 final.  Driver Marcus Miller gave Erv Miller trained Well Basically a perfect stalking trip, rallying late to win by three-quarters of a length.  Covering the mile in 1:56.4, Well Basically held off longshot Diamond Diesel.  Pacesetter Frontier Charley held on to finish third.

Two-year-old male trotters were next in the $32,000 final.  Another favorite, and another impressive effort was seen as Curt Grummel trained and driven Bobalou made the lead and never looked back.  A winner by nine lengths in 2:01.0, Bobalou was well clear of 55-1 shot Loyz Say When and 26-1 Fistfullofdollars, who finished third.

Race nine on Friday featured three-year-old male pacers for $30,000. Avenging a defeat from last week, trainer Don Filomeno’s He’zzz A Wise Sky left no doubt in the final.  Instead of rating, the 1-5 favorite moved to the front early for driver Robert Smolin and was in full control, winning by 5 ½ lengths in 1:52.1. Rg’s Tracer rallied for second while Ryans Ambassador finished third.

Race 13 went for $30,000 as three-year-old male trotters brought forth the first upset of the championship races.  Trainer Mike Brink finished one-two in the race as 10-1 winner On Higher Ground (1:56.2) got up in the shadow of the wire for Kyle Wilfong to catch 9-5 Crooked Creek, winning by a neck. 3-5 favorite Fox Valley Quest closed late to finish third.

Saturday evening continued the festivities as the card kicked off with juvenile filly trotters competing for $32,000. Continuing the trend of favorites dominating, Loulita did just that as Casey Leonard guided the Steve Searle trainee to a 6 ¼ length triumph in 2:02.1. Myonly Sin finished second while Lucky Valerie was third.

Three races later, two-year-old filly pacers brought about a bit of an upset in the $32,000 event.  Carving out the fractions and never looking back was the Mike Brink trained Hart’s Heart as Juan Franco drove her to a 4 ¾ length score in 1:55.3.  Longshot  Bootsy Bombay rallied for second while favored Princess Moose chased the pace and held on for third.

It was Juan Franco right back in the winner’s circle for the following race as three-year-old filly pacers competed for the $30,000 pot. Juan pulled another upset, this time with 7-1 shot Sign Her Up, winning by 3 ¼ lengths.  Heavy favorite Fox Valley exploit battled but was only second best while Harper finished third.  Sign Her Up covered the mile for trainer Charles Arthur in 1:54.1.

The final championship race of the weekend was for three-year-old filly trotters in the tenth race, carrying a $30,000 purse.  This time the favorite was able to get the job done as Casey Leonard drove Lous Abigail to the victory in 1:58.1. 33-1 shot was game in defeat, battling to the wire and coming up a head short. Fox Valley Lush finished third.  Both Lous Abigail and Bee See were trained by Steve Searle.

Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago’s Hometown Track, returned for live harness racing on Saturday, February 15 and races through Sunday, September 20.  Post time nightly is 7:10 PM.  Hawthorne races live during the summer harness meet every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Fall thoroughbreds close out the year, running from October 2 through December 26.  For more information, visit or contact Hawthorne at 708-780-3700.


Jim Miller

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