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The first pair of major stakes race for ICF 2-year-old trotters—the $50,000 Fox Valley Flan for fillies and the $50,000 Plesac for colts—head up Wednesday’s mid-week program at Balmoral Park. Since eliminations weren’t needed for either stake or a prep race wasn’t written for these inexeprience freshmen, both horsemen and bettors alike don’t have much of a gauge on both trotting stakes which will go as races 4 and 5 on the card. The 7-2 second morning line favorite in the Plesac is Tour Hall (Dave Magee), winner of the Physic Spirit stake some three weeks ago. However the Mike Brink trainee and Bobby B Breeze (4-1, Todd Warren), the July 10 runner-up, have each had just that one start going into this major ICF first season stake. “Of course like everybody else who has a horse in the race I wanted to race Tour Hall in either in elimination or a prep for this stake,” said Brink. “I wanted to give him a little more education, especially when you’re going for $50,000. “So without an elimination or prep we’re going into this major stake kind of cold with this young horse. He’ll have just one start, and like some of the others in his stake, it came three weeks ago. “Tour Hall is the second foal of that mare (Broadway And Fifth) that I bought. He is a nice horse and he’s been that way from day one. He hasn’t done much wrong,” continued the veteran Springfield based conditioner. “I told Davey when he drove him in his first start to take an easy with him from out of the gate and from then on he was on his own. When Dave came back after the race he said ‘He’s not a very big horse but he is fast.’ “In his only start Tour Hall was far back (7th, almost 10 lengths behind) and he trotted a 58 last half to win. Davey told me he was just trying to steer him and never asked the horse for anything.  So like I said, I think he’s a good colt. “I’ve had offers to sell him but I’ve opted not to at this time. We like him but with just one start we don’t know yet just what we have. I think he’s a player (in his division). I think his best trait is that he doesn’t know how fast he can go.” Tour Hall will have an entry-mate, Just Leo, when he leaves from the 8-slot and also takes on Fox Valley Vero (8-1), Battleshoe Crown (8-1), Gottalovaredhead (20-1), Gray N Cloudy (the 3-1 programed favorite), Rory Borealis (10-1) and Polars Big Spender (20-1). Buddy and Clay Simpson’s Battleshoe Crown and Polars Big Spender will test Balmoral’s big track for the first time. Vienna will be making her seventh career start as the 2-1 favorite in the Fox Valley Flan. The Bob Phillips trainee was an easy winner of the July 7 Vaporize with Wilfong prior to being second to S V Spirit (not eligible to the Flan) in a Balmoral race a week ago Vienna has seven challengers—Reina Bonita (8-1), High Balance (12-1), BS Casino Cowgirl (9-2), Bailey’s Wish (3-1), Fox Valley Lotus (10-1), Fox Valley Hosana (10-1) and Wacko (5-1)—and between them they have made only a total of 12 starts. Unpredictable is probably the best way to describe Wednesday’s two $50,000 ICF trotting stakes. $40,000 Pick 5 Pool: Balmpral’s 50 cent Pick 5 wager was not hit on Sunday night so a carryover of $10,288 will be added to Wednesday’s Pick 5. The guaranteed wagering pool will be $40,000: County Fair Report CLARK COUNTY FAIR at MARSHALL Saturday Evening July 27 Results FIRST: Illini 2-Year-Old Filly Pace, Purse $3,424: Horse (Driver)                                               Time (Track Fast) Fox Valley Corinne (Ronnie Gillespie)                2:02.1 Trainer: Roshun Trigg. Owner: Timothy Williams. SECOND: Illini 2-Year-Old Colt Pace, Purse $3,447: Whawillhebe (Richard Fagan)                              2:06 Trainer: Trenton Watson. Owner: Brenda, Trenton and Baden Watson. THIRD: Illini 3-Year-Old Trot, Purse $6,014: Powerful Anthony (Dou Graham)                         2:04.1 Trainer: Doug Graham. Owner: Doug Graham. FOURTH: Topline, Two-Year-Old Trot, Purse $2,500: Morgan’s Majestic (Ronnie Gillespie)                  2:09.1 Trainer: Jeremy Jones. Owner: Gloria Gillis. FIFTH: Topline, Three-Year-Old & Up Trot, Purse $2,500: Skyline Happy (J D Finn)                                       2:01.2 Trainer: J D Finn. Owners: J D and Brent Finn. SIXTH: Topline, Two-Year-Old Pace, Purse $2,500: Liberal (Cornelius Cavett)                                      2:05.3 Trainer: Cornelius Cavett. Owners: Cedric Daniels and Christopher Spann. SEVENTH: Illini 2-Year-Old Trot, Purse $6,204: Phychicfinn (J D Finn)                                           2:12.1 Trainer: J D Finn. Owner: Mark Finn. EIGHTH: Illini 3-Year-Old Pace, Purse $6,036: Kittitas (Tom T. Tetrick)                                            2:02.3 Trainer: Tom D. Tetrick. Owners: Mary and Tom D. Tetrick. NINTH: Topline, Three-Year-Old & Up Pace, Purse $2,500: B C’s Bad Cat (Michael Johnson)                        2:02.2 Trainer: Michael Johnson. Owners: Gary Crumrin and Mike Davison. WHITE COUNTY FAIR at CARMI Sunday Evening July 28 Results FIRST: ECS Three-Year-Old Colt Trot, Purse $3,220: Horse (Driver)                                               Time (Track Fast) Master Of Excuses (Marcus Turner)                     2:02.2 Trainer: Ronald Knupp. Owner: Ronald Knupp. SECOND: ECS Three-Year-Old Filly Trot, Purse $3,110: High Stepper (J D Finn)                                         2:04.2 Trainer: J D Finn. Owners: Mary Jeffers and Adele Everett. THIRD: ECS Three-Year-Old Colt Pace, Purse $3,050: Tim’s Finale (Antonio Love)                                   1:59.4 Trainer: Timothy Barbre. Owners: Rick, Vernon, Gary and Edwin Barbre. FOURTH: ECS Three-Year-Old Filly Pace, Purse $3,200: Uneek Shuttle (Harold Finn Jr.)                            2:02.4 Trainer: Dakota Birch. Owners: Dakota Birch and Eric Lamay. FIFTH: ICF Four-Year-Olds & Up Pace, 1st Div, Purse $3,500: Mighty Oak Perfect (Marcus Turner)                    2:00 Trainer: Marcus Turner. Owner: Terry Wilson/ SIXTH: ICF Four-Year-Olds & Up Pace, 2nd Div, Purse $3,500: Tinkers Dam (Mike Knicley)                                   2:01.4 Trainer: Mike Knicley. Owner: Randall Denham. SEVENTH: Non-Winners $5,000 Lifetime Trot, Purse $800: Anita’s Dream (Donald Bryant)                             2:08.4 Trainer: Donald Bryant. Owner: Donald Bryant. EIGHTH: Non-Winners $15,000 Lifetime Pace, 1st Div, Purse $800: Jazmin Mykal (Larry L. Ward)                                2:07.1 Trainer: Larry L. Ward. Owner: Larry L. Ward. NINTH: Non-Winners $15,000 Lifetime Pace, 2nd Div, Purse $800: Allstar Gal (J D Finn)                                               2:04.3 Trainer: Gary Gorrell. Owner: Gary Gorrell. TENTH: Non-Winners $15,000 Lifetime Pace, 1st Div, Purse $800: Dusty Dunes (H. Joe Haught)                               2:04.3 Trainer: H. Joe Haught. Owner: H. Joe Haught. COLE COUNTY FAIR at CHARLESTON Monday Evening July 29 Results FIRST: ICF Four-Year-Olds & Up Filly Pace, Purse $3,700: Horse (Driver)                                               Time (Track Fast) Mystical MJ (Tom Simmons)                                  2:00.3 Trainer: Tom Simmons. Owner: Clinard Properties. SECOND: ICF Four-Year-Olds & Up Colt Pace, Purse $3,500: Fox Valley Barbosa (Jared Finn)                          1:58.2 Trainer: Ray Hanna. Owners: Ray Hanna and Jim Edgar. THIRD: Illinois Stallion Stakes Two-Year-Old Filly Trot, 1st Div, Purse $6,175: Say No More (Dirk Simpson)                                 2:06.2 Trainer: Dirk Simpson. Owners: Dr. Patrick Graham, Flacco Family Farms and Dirk Simpson Stable. FOURTH: Illinois Stallion Stakes Two-Year-Old Filly Trot, 2nd Div, Purse $6,175: Bands Pippa (Dirk Simpson)                                 2:06.4 Trainer: Dirk Simpson. Owners: Sam Daddono, Flacco Family Farms and Dirk Simpson Stable. FIFTH: Illinois Stallion Stakes Two-Year-Old Colt Trot, Purse $11,750: Big Bill Breeze (Nick Prather)                                2:04.1 Trainer: Nick Prather. Owners: Derek Jacobus and Nick Prather. SIXTH: Illinois Stallion Stakes Two-Year-Old Filly Pace, 1st Div, Purse $6,175: Kiss This Perch (J D Finn)                                     2:01.2 Trainer: J D Finn. Owner: Sharon Finn. SEVENTH: Illinois Stallion Stakes Two-Year-Old Filly Pace, 2nd Div, Purse $6,175: My Girl Pippa (Ronnie Gillespie)                          2:01.2 Trainer: Ronnie Gillespie. Owners: Ron Phillips, John Carver and Jesse Ferge. EIGHTH: Illinois Stallion Stakes Two-Year-Old Colt Pace, 1st Div, Purse $6,175: Tower Power (Freddie Patton Jr.)                         2:05.2 Trainer: Freddie Patton. Owner: Marvin Kendrick. NINTH: Illinois Stallion Stakes Two-Year-Old Colt Pace, 2nd Div, Purse $6,175: Unlocked (Nick Prather)                                         2:02.1 Trainer: Nick Prather. Owner: Megan Rogers. TENTH: Amateur Pace, Purse $620: Goose On The Rocks (Jazmin Arnold)                2:02.2 Trainer: Jared Seekman. Owners: Tina and Joe Seekman. BROWN COUNTY FAIR at MOUNT STERLING Monday Evening July 29 Results FIRST: Two and Three-Year-Old Open Trot, Purse $1,000: Horse (Driver)                                               Time (Track Fast) Powerful Goddess (Mike Cox) $3.40                    2:06 Trainer: Mike Cox. Owners: Jerry Graham and Mystical Marker Farms. SECOND: Two and Three-Year-Old Open Trot, Purse $1,000: Deacons Valley (Paul Cavett) $5.00                    2:05.3 Trainer: Paul Cavett. Owners: Ron Phillips and John Carver. THIRD: Maiden Pace, Purse $1,000: Kay’s Lucky Day (Paul Cavett) $3.00                   2:04.1 Trainer: Michele Morgan. Owners: Michele Morgan, Janet Betley and Raymond Morgan. FOURTH: Non-Winners of Three Races, Pace, Purse $1,000: Pita (Jerome Daniels) $9.00                                  2:05.1 Trainer: Dirk Simpson. Owner: Simpson Racing Stable. FIFTH: MWIRA Three-Year-Old Filly Trot, Purse $3,173: Fox Valley Yavonne (Vince Espinosa) $3.40     2:03.2 Trainer: Curt Grummel. Owner: Dr. Patrick Graham. SIXTH: MWIRA Three-Year-Old Colt Trot, Purse $3,441: Bandslam (Vince Espinosa) $11.40                     2:04 Trainer: Curt Grummel. Owner: Dr. Patrick Graham. SEVENTH: MWIRA Two-Year-Old Colt Pace, Purse $3,397: Back At Cha (Tom Walker) $5.00                          2:08.1 Trainer: Mark Walker. Owners: Karen and Larry Walker. EIGHTH: MWIRA Two-Year-Old Filly Pace, Purse $3,374: Fox Valley Twist (Jamaica Patton) $5.20             2:05.3 Trainer: Robert Walker. Owners: Hart Walker, Robyn Mullink, Homer Henke and Robert Walker. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

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.  

The Bob Phillips Stable's Big Brad looks to make it back-to-back harness racing stakes victories when Maywood Park hosts its first ICF stake race of the season Friday night. It's the $12,000 Sportsmaster for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings.

Three-year-old pacers from the barn of Bob Phillips captured the first pair of 2013 ICF stake races when Big Brad breezed in the $12,000 Taurus Bomber and Big Zipper held on in the $12,000 Direct Balance. However when I caught up with the veteran harness racing conditioner I learned that all the news out of Phillips stable wasn't good.

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