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Stablemates Diamonds Are Trump and Flash Me Baby, both impressive winners last weekend, head the cast in Saturday night's $10,200 Gary Budahn Final for pacing fillies and mares. First post for the 11-race harness racing card at Cal Expo is 6:10 p.m. The feature is named for Dr. Gary Budahn, a mainstay of California harness racing for more than 30 years, who passed away in 2009. Dr. Budahn served on the Board of Directors of the California Harness Horsemen's Association for more than 12 years, including three terms as CHHA President. He was a strong voice for California harness racing and was always there for the horsemen, helping them any way he could. Diamonds Are Trump posted a super win in the first of two Budahn elimination heats last week, brushing to command at the half for Luke Plano and taking complete control from that point in a lifetime-best 1:54 2/5 tour. The 4-year-old mare carries the banner of Set The Pace Racing LLC and is one of five Nick Roland trainees in the cast. She will be gunning for her fourth straight snapshot. Flash Me Baby finished strongly to account for the other division last week with James Kennedy at the control and gives the barn another strong look at the outcome Rick Hoffman and Larry Mather are the owners. Completing the field are the Roland-trained trio of Bertha Vanation, Red N Hotallover and Lakota Law; the Richard Schneider-trained Thats How It Goes; Tabbat McRey from the Rene Goulet shedrow; the George Reider-conditioned Brooklyn Moonshine; and Rue Hanover for Chip Lackey. Marced Magic, Magee teaming up nicely While he had to settle for a dead-heat for fourth in last week's Open Pace, go back a race and there is a very game conditioned score by Marced Magic. Considering the fact that Marced Magic and pilot Dave Magee did their work from the outside post in the field of nine that night, were used for early position and then had to come first-over to get the job done, that was a very impressive victory. The 6-year-old pacer is owned and trained by Robin Clements and returned 6-1 to those who had faith that the son of Marced Card could record his first win of the year while leaving from the marooned post in a contentious line-up. If you want to see a textbook definition of "grinding out a win", just watch a replay of that February 7 contest and see this guy refuse to lose while battling an equally-game favorite in Coz And Effect. "This is a very easy horse to drive, and what I really like about him is that he gives his all," said Magee. "When you think he's done, he digs in even more, and that's all heart. This is one tough horse." The victory was the 27th from 108 lifetime trips to the post for Marced Magic, who established a new lifetime standard of 1:53 1/5 with this tally and pushed his career bank account over the $162,000 mark in the process. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

For someone with nearly 12,000 race wins and over $100 million in earnings, that statement would have to be spot-on, no? Not for Dave Magee, whose highly successful harness racing driving career on the Chicagoland circuit has now seen him transition to an associate judge at Indiana's Hoosier Park, a position enhanced by the fact that Magee had a nearly four-decade career in the bike. From the judges' stand, Magee is keenly aware of what drivers are experiencing on the track. But when it comes to rulings, don't call him sympathetic.   "I try to be totally objective," said Magee. "I try it to see it from their perspective. I try to be understanding of their position."   These are big times at Hoosier Park. The Breeders Crown eliminations were held October 20 and 21, with championship events for females on October 27 and males on October 28.   Magee, who was inducted to the harness racing Hall of Fame in 2000, will be a judge for a Breeders Crown, but this isn't his first appearance when it comes to the series. He also won a Breeders Crown. Magee and the great Anniecrombie teamed up to win the 1988 Mare Pace at the Meadowlands in a lifetime-best 1:52.3.   Magee remembered a lot about his mare, but the race itself? Not so much.   "I thought I had a good shot and felt like if the trip worked out, I'd get my first Breeders Crown win," said Magee. "She was really tough and fast and durable. She had all of the tools. She was a good mare. I don't remember much about the other horses in the race," said Magee. "That was a long time ago. I'm not sure if I came up the inside or second up. I'm almost 64. I'm having a hard time recalling."   Anniecrombie brushed to the lead at the three-eighths, then yielded to Singing Strings. She then sat in the pocket as Singing Strings and Kittiwake battled for the lead around the far turn. Magee swung his charge off the rail with a little less than three-sixteenths to go and powered past the top two before holding off Armbro Feather, who had explosive pace in the stretch to get up for second.   Anniecrombie was a serious horse. Her six-year career racing totals read 164 starts, 68 wins and $1.4 million in earnings.   "It was my first and only Breeders Crown win, so it was pretty special," said Magee. "On a national level, it's my biggest win. I won quite a few American-Nationals, but that win was very special. It was at the Meadowlands, which was then in its prime."   Magee's work ethic is hard to beat. He retired from sulky duty at Balmoral Park on February 28, 2015 and started his gig as a judge at Hoosier three days later.   "I was offered the position," said Magee. "It seemed like a great opportunity to transition from driving and stay in the sport."   Magee had let then-presiding judge Tim Schmitz know that he was interested in becoming a judge, and in late winter of 2015, a transition was in the works in the Hoosier judges' booth. "They were replacing judges and my name came up," said Magee. "I was getting a little long in the tooth, as they say, and I got a call from them and interviewed for the job." His resume helped expedite things. "They made an exception in my case," said Magee. "I wasn't certified to be a judge, but my experience, plus the input of the other two judges, went a long way toward me getting the job. Then, the first opportunity I got, I went through the US Trotting Association (USTA) certification course." The trio of judges has all bases covered. Magee brings his driving expertise as one of the associate judges. Kevin Gumm, who has an administrative background, is the other associate, while Mike Hall, who has experience in all sides of the business, is the presiding judge.   "Mike checks with us before giving his opinion," said Magee. "But it's unanimous almost always."   Magee thinks about what could have been in Chicago. "We lived out in the country, about an hour and a half from Balmoral," said Magee. "It was tough to leave. But Illinois is a high tax state and has dysfunctional government, especially concerning horse racing. My first year on the job in Indiana, I watched and saw the decline of racing in Illinois. It was heart-wrenching. I really wanted to get out of Illinois, just because of the frustration I felt over so many years of trying to pass legislation that would impact harness racing in a positive way."   Now that he's moved his family to Indiana - in the country, of course - all is rosy. "I think most everybody is really proud of Hoosier Park. If you visit the facility, you would be impressed. Management puts a lot into racing."   "I'm excited to be a part of it [Breeders Crown]," said Magee. "It's not as exciting or as nerve-racking as if I was participating with a horse. But sometimes, I get an itch to be out there, now that I've been out of the bike for a couple of years. I'll be imagining what it would be like to be back."   Once a harness racing driver, always a harness racing driver. By Dave Little for Breeders Crown

The recent retirement of National Hall of Famer Dave Magee leaves an obvious and enormous void in the circuit’s driver colony. There’s something like 1,000 drives that that will have to be filled by others this year. The most notable vacuum for some trainers will be with young horses, , a specialty that Magee certainly enjoyed. For Springfield based conditioner Mike Brink, Magee was his “go-to” guy for a number of years. The Magee-Brink link was one of mutual respect and it had developed in a successful relationship for both driver and trainer. “I’m going to miss Dave,” said Brink. “Gosh, he was good to me. He picked a lot of my horses and we had a lot of successful. We had 2 or 3 Illinois horses of the year together. Heck, we had a pretty good run. “On the other hand I wanted the best for him. Dave’s a great driver and a great person. I wish nothing but the best for him. “ With Magee moving on to his new career as a steward at Hoosier Park, I asked Brink if he made a choice on his replacement to drive is horses? “I haven’t,” Mike answered. “I’m still looking for a regular driver for my horses and I’m struggling to make that decision. I may try a few different drivers and see what happens. “I’ve got a lot of young trotters that I’ll be taking up to Balmoral and I could always count on Dave bringing them along for me. We would talk about those young horses after a race. Sometimes Dave would have a suggestion and that would be fine with me. Heck I don’t pretend to know everything and I’m willing to listen to anybody that wants and try to help.” “I’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out without Dave.” Happy Ending:: The 6-1 longshot Cee Cee’s Delight (Brian Carpenter), winner of last night’s nightcap at Maywood Park was a Mike’s Price’s Shot selection. The Hosea Williams trainee paid $14.60 in the tenth race. By Mike Paradise

When I heard the news that Dave Magee was retiring from driving after tonight’s Balmoral Park card I have to admit I was disappointed. Selfishly I didn’t want it to ever end for my all-time favorite driver. I’ve known Dave ever since he came up from Quad City Downs as a blond-haired youngster with a moustache (see picture) to old Sportsman’s Park where I was the track’s publicity director some 40-plus years ago Early on you could see Dave was going to be a good and successful    driver and as the years past he turned out to be a great one. At Sportsman’s there was a porch outside of the press box that sat on  the grandstand roof. It was a great view to watch the races. Well, maybe  not-so-much when the wind came out of the south and blew the  backstretch fumes straight at us. Going out pn that porch 10 times a night, five times a week, month after  month you could get a pretty good handle if a late-rusher was going to  catch the horse on the lead. That is except when the horse on the lead  was driven by Dave Magee. Nine out of 10 times when you thought  Dave was going to be caught . . . he wasn’t. The winning margin often wasn’t big but the end result was another win  for Dave. The Green Bay, Wisconsin native and long-time “Packer-Backer” had some kind of “magic” in those hands. Somehow Dave’s horses always seemed to hold on, many times barely, but they did. I’ve done countless interviews with the 2001 National Hall of Fame inductee and Dave has always been always a class act. He would always return your phone call. He would always take the time to answer your questions. The soft-spoken Magee would choose his words carefully—usually while chewing on a stick of gum—and Dave always had something meaningful to say. The more I thought about Dave’s decision to retire from driving to take the position as an associate judge at Hoosier Park, the more it made sense. Dave has accomplished just about everything he could on a race track. He was the 1994 National Driver of the Year. He’s won every major race in Illinois and many elsewhere. He captured dozens of driving titles in our state and he represented his country twice in the World Driving Tournament and won it in 1995. No driver has won Super Night championships. No one is even close to his American National winners. He’s had 36 straight seasons with $1 million in money won, 10 of $2 million-plus, 13 of $3 million plus and a quartet of $4 million seasons. Nevertheless, at the age of 61, the aches and pains have to be more frequent and more lingering than they were when Dave was a younger man (I can speak from experience on that matter). However it couldn’t have been an easy choice for Dave to make after spending over 40 years doing what he loved to do and now giving it all up and moving on to another challenge. So I called my old friend and asked. “No it wasn’t an easy decision,” Dave replied. “I’m melancholy about it. I’m somewhat worried and unsure. I’ve gone through all the emotions however it’s a family decision and we’ve decided it’s time for me to move on. “I’ve tossed the ideal of retiring around for the past couple of years. This offer came about in the last few weeks and actually I turned it done. But it wasn’t just my decision to make. It was a family decision and my wife Cathy approached me and thought we should talk about it. We found out there we were on the same page and if the offer was still open we would take a leap of faith and I’d take the job. “It was, so I did.” Dave has driven in close to 65,000 races and while he’s chalked up records that likely won’t ever be touched by another Illinois driver, there have been some instances where he’s gone down in a race with injuries that left him on the sidelines for several months, He broke a collarbone early on his career at Quad City and suffered another severe shoulder injury at Sportsman’s in 1983 on the same night Cam Fella shattered Albatross’ track record. “As far as getting hurt out there, that’s one thing you can’t think about. I’m sure however my family has. My wife and kids are well aware of my aches and pains and they are relieved that I’ve made this decision to end my driving career.” I told Dave I’m going to miss those conversations we would have every year about the young horses he was driving.” “Me too,” he answered. “Bringing along young horses is what I’ve enjoyed the most as I got older.” While those days are now over for the classy Mr. Magee, it’s a sure thing he’ll excel in his new job at Hoosier Park. Our loss in Illinois is Indiana’s gain. But maybe after a few years when he’s recognized as one of the best in his new endeavor we can steal him back and bring him home where he belongs. Until then, thanks for all those wonderful memories Dave. By Mike Paradise, for IHHA

Chicago's leading harness driver for the past 30-plus years, Dave Magee, is retiring after his drives this Saturday night (Feb. 28) at Balmoral Park. Magee is a Hall of Famer and has been one of the classiest individuals the sport of harness racing has ever known. He has almost 12,000 career victories and more than $101 million in career earnings during his illustrious career. He is one of only 18 drivers in the history of the sport to eclipse that $100 million mark in earnings and is the only Illinois based driver to go over $100 million in earnings. Magee has had 10 seasons with $2 million-plus in earnings, 13 more seasons with $3 million in earnings and a trio of $4 million seasons. He won a whopping 630 races in 1994, which led all drivers in North America. Dave also proved victorious in the 1995 World Driving Championship, defeating drivers from Canada, Australia, France, Sweden, Germany, Italy and other European stops. He was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2001. On the local scene Dave has been dominant throughout his career, winning driving titles at every Illinois racetrack. His 12 Maywood Park driving titles and 11 Sportsman's Park titles are both records. He is also the leader in Super Night victories among drivers. He has also posted an amazing 36 straight seasons with more than $1 million in earnings and 38 straight seasons of 100 wins or more. The 61-year-old Magee is a resident of Big Rock, Ill. He will be moving on to a new career as a State Steward (Judge) at Hoosier Park in Anderson, Ind. "I'm happy that Dave has found a new challenge for his life," said Balmoral Park racing director and USTA President Phil Langley. "With his experience, integrity and plain old smarts he might well become the best judge ever. The Illinois laws prevented us from hiring him two years ago so Indiana gains him. "On the other hand it was almost with much sadness that I received an e-mail from him telling me of his decision. I was so choked up telling my wife that she thought something bad had happened. We will always be great friends and I wish the best to Dave and Cathy." by Tom Kelley

Tim Tetrick has long been one of North America's top harness racing drivers. Now he is ready to take on the world. A native of Illinois who now lives in southern New Jersey, Tetrick will represent the U.S. in the World Driving Championship in Australia. The competition, which brings together 10 drivers from around the world for a 20-race series at six different tracks, begins Saturday at Tabcorp Park Menangle in New South Wales. The 33-year-old Tetrick, a four-time U.S. Driver of the Year who has led North America in purses seven of the last eight years, is making his first appearance in the World Driving Championship. "It's a great honor to be able to represent the United States and hopefully I can win it and make America proud," Tetrick said. "I love competing at a very high level and this is on the international scene. I'm just going to go into it and try to have a good time and enjoy myself and do what I love to do, which is race horses." The World Driving Championship, introduced in 1970, is now conducted every two years. France's Pierre Vercruysse won the 2013 edition, held in his home country, and will defend his title in Australia. Also part of this year's field is Canada's Jody Jamieson, a two-time WDC champion. Past U.S. champs are Joe Marsh Jr. (1974), Ron Pierce (1989) and Dave Magee (1995). "Timmy, good luck over there," Pierce said in a video message to Tetrick. "I hope you get on the right horses and put it on them boys. You know you're better than them. "You're driving for all of us, so we're all rooting for you." Drivers already have received their post positions for the World Driving Championship's 20 races and will drive whichever horse randomly draws the matching starting spot. Tetrick will drive the post No. 10 horse in the opening heat. All drivers will start twice from each of the 10 posts. "Hopefully they give me the best horses," Tetrick said with a laugh. "I'm going to study it the best I can, work with what horses they give me to drive, and hopefully I don't embarrass myself too badly. There are a lot of different (driving) styles. We're all kind of in the same boat, but hopefully I get some good luck with the draws." Learning to compete against various driving styles will be among Tetrick's most difficult challenges. "It was a completely different style of racing than what I was used to," said David Miller, who represented the U.S. in 1999 and finished fifth. "It took me a while (to adjust). We raced at five or six different racetracks and they were action packed. "I think (Tim) could probably watch tapes of races, maybe study the horses. I would just tell him to have fun. Go over there, go all out, and try to win the whole thing. He's a great driver, but you've got to get the horses and you've got to have luck." Andy Miller, who represented the U.S. in 2005 and 2007, with a best finish of fourth, said having a good time is important. "The camaraderie and meeting new people are great memories," Miller said. "I would tell him to have a great time and meet everybody you can and take everything in that you can. It's something you don't get to do very often, so enjoy it. If you're having fun, the wins will come and you'll do better." Tetrick, who in his career has won more than 8,500 races - including the Hambletonian Stakes and 14 Breeders Crowns, is one of five drivers making his first trip to the World Driving Championship. The others are Spain's Guillermo Adrover, Denmark's Knud Monster, France's Tony LeBeller, and Norway's Vidar Hop. Rounding out the field are Australia's Chris Alford, New Zealand's Dexter Dunn, and Finland's Mika Forss. "I definitely want to win," Tetrick said. "But I'm looking forward to visiting the country and seeing what it's like. I'm familiar with a few of (the other drivers). I'm looking forward to hanging out with them and getting to know them, and hopefully coming out with more friends." Ken Weingartner / Harness Racing Communications

The year 1981 was in the hey-days of harness racing at Sportsman’s Park, the center-piece track of the Chicago circuit. There were a number of “firsts” taking place during that summer at the five-eighths mile track in Cicero, Illinois, The first $2 million handle on a single Illinois harness racing card was recorded on July 11 when 20,047 patrons, the largest crowd of the 1981 Chicago harness racing season, wagered $2,069,079 on track on a 10-race program. That evening was also the first time that all 10 races on a Chicago circuit card were timed in 2:00 or faster highlighted by Osborne’s First and Doug Hamilton teaming up for a world record mile of 1:55.2 for an aged pacer on a five-eighths track in that night’s Free For All.. The first Sunday program in Sportsman’s Park history was held on May 17 with Artie’s Dream (Shelly Goudreau) taking the $70,000 American National 3-Year-Old Pace in 1:58. Opening Night, eight days earlier, saw Burgomeister (see photo) and his National Hall of Fame trainer-driver Billy Haughton, follow his victory in the prestigious Hambletonian, with a one and ½ length triumph in the $61,510 American National Maturity Trot with a 2:03.3 mile. Also in the summer of 1981 Banker Barker (Mike Zeller) would come on with a mighty rush to take the American National 3-Year-Old Trot in 2:00.3. The $100,450 American National Maturity Pace was annexed by Bandelier and driver Walter Paisley in 1:56.3. Eugene Waszak’s Madame Butterfilly, the second longest shot on the board, won that season’s $56,750 Violet Stakes. The Roger Davino Stable’s Whizzer R White, driven by Dave Magee, set a track record for a 2-year-old pacer with a 1:59.1 clocking in the July 21 Poplar Byrd stake, The 3-year-old ICF star that summer was the Dan Shetler Stable’s Coffee Dan, a son of Egyptian Dancer who went unraced as a freshman. Coffee Dan went 9-for-12 in his first season of racing for his then Illinois owners George Barounes, Robert Parrish, 809 Corporation and Shetler. Coffee Dan captured the $77,500 Cardinal Final and later the $120,800 Langley on July 3 (see picture) where he defeated Foolish Eyes (Jim Curran) with in 1:58 flat. Coffee Dan would earn $158,349 that year. Shetler also drove the winner of the $60,000 Midwest Derby Final when Tarport Boss uncorked a big move in the stretch. Meanwhile Royce lived up to his billing by winning the $60,000 U.S. Pacing Championship Final in mid-August. Wieker’s Del, driven by Delvin Insko, took advantage of a great trip and notched the $200,000 Orange and Blue Stake, at that time the richest race for 2-year-old ICF pacers. Sportsman’s on-track attendance and handle figures for the summer of 1981were extraordinary, to say the least. The average nightly attendance was 13,196 while the handle nightly averaged a robust $1,627,058. Sadly those glory days of Illinois harness racing are long-gone. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

Longshot Just By Design ($19.40) was the upset victor of Saturday night’s “Winner’s Over” feature for fillies and mares, with as gutty harness racing performance with National Hall of Fame driver Dave Magee at her lines. Overlooked by many of the ninth race players, the 8-1 longshot was the quickest from the starting gate, shooting out from post six and into command before the first turn. The Mike Brink trainee gave up the lead at the first quarter, reached in :27.2 to State Street Liz (Bobby Smolin) and raced in the pocket until local newcomer Shine N Shimmer (Mike Oosting) powered her way out of third at took the lead at the half mile ;pole (55.4). Magee then came out of third with Just By Design and raced outside of the new leader through the last turn and most of the way down the lane before passing Shine N Shimmer. Ryleigh’s Lilly (Casey Leonard) finished a strong second, one length behind the roan daughter of Sportsmaster in the 1:53.1 mile. The 8-5 second choice Shine N Shimmer held on for third, one length ahead of the late arriving 7-5 favorite Wings, beaten a half-dozen lengths. Owned by Joshua David Carter of Williamsville, Illinois, the win was the 7-year-old Just By Design’s 25th of her career and her first this year. Jet Power: The circuit’s “Winner’s Over” trot has been shifted to Sunday evening for this week-end. It’ll go as race four and the start of the track’s $1 Pick 3 Wager. Not surprisingly Justice Jet, winner of the last two “Winner’s Over” and 3 out of the last 4 events, was installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite. Regular driver Ryan Welch will be back at the lines of the confident 4-year-old Indiana bred with over $345,000 in lifetime earnings. With the 5-slot  Justice Jet should have dead aim on the 6-horse field turning for home when he goes after his 15th career victory in 41 trips postward. Dandy Farm’s Celebrity Hercules (5-2, Casey Leonard) and Master Of Excuses (4-1, Mike Oosting), second and third, respectively, last week against Justice Jet, are his chief rivals again. Invite Ahead? Maywood Park Pacing Series champion Fort Silky qualified Thursday evening at Maywood Park with a 1:58.2 front-stepping clocking under the hold of his driver Casey Leonard. The now 9-year-old ICF gelding could be dropped into the entry box Wednesday morning with hopes that the circuit’s Invitational will have sufficient entries to be carded for the time since January 3. The Mike Brown Stable’s Ice Scraper spent the middle two weekends of January competing in the Miami Valley Raceway Open Handicaps in Ohio, winning January 24 (1:52.2) on the Lebanon five-eighths oval. Ice Scraper skipped last night’s Open Pace in Ohio and is a likely local Invite entry for this week. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

The Mike Brink Stable’s Just By Design, sent off at 28-1, the longest priced horse in Saturday night’s third race co-headliner at Balmoral Park, lit up the tote board at a $59.40 winning mutuel in the $11,000 “Winner’s Over” filly and mare harness racing pace. Skillfully driven by National Hall of Famer Dave Magee, the 5-year-old daughter of Sportsmaster used a ground saving inside up-close trip and then proceeded to win the last quarter of a mile dash to the wire, posting a neck victory over 12-1 longshot Ryleigh’s Lilly in 1:52.4. Party Hangover was a close-up third in the tightly bunched field. Magee hustled Just By Design away from the five-slot and had the front before the first turn. The 61-year-old Green Bay native then took the two-hole behind Party Hangover who got to the first quarter pole in 27 flat. The 3-5 favorite Always About Katey took over command by the :55.2 half-mile marker as Just By Design moved back a slot to third. The winner got off the inside near the 3/4 mile pole, found a clear path in the lane and motored home for her fifth win of the year for Williamsville, Illinois owner Joshua David Carter.   “I was thrilled with her trip,” said Magee. “My mare was a facing a tough field. It turned out Always About Katey (fourth, beaten 1 length) didn’t race up to par tonight although by mare came up with a big finish.   “Under the right circumstances just about any of those mares could have won the race.” Dave was spot-on with that statement. The entire seven-horse field ended up being separated at the finish by only two lengths. The winning 5-2 third race Exacta paid a tidy $690.40 while a 5-2-7 Trifecta ticket for $2 was worth $4,090.60. Curl and Craig Grummel’s Fox Valley Veto ($5.00) rattled off his third consecutive “Winner’s Over” trot division victory with John De Long, wearing down the 7-5 co-favorite Justice Jet a second straight Saturday, this time in 1:55 flat. Master Of Excuses was the early leader in the sixth race co-feature but Ryan Welch put Justice Jet out and rolling on the backside, using a powerful three-deep move to clear and wrestle command while leaving the 8-5 choice Fox Valley Veto some seven lengths behind going into the turn. However “Veto” had plenty left in the tank. The son of Pizzazzed surged three wide through the last turn and gobbled up ground. He then was ducked to the inside in the lane by De Long where he swept past for a 1 and 1/2 length decision over Justice Jet. Was De Long worried when Justice Jet made his big move and opened up a substantial lead? “Not at all,” he replied. “My horse was really strong. “This was one of his best races of the year. To be that wide in the last turn and to still race that strong all the way down to the wire was an awesome effort for the trotter. I thought his win last week was impressive but this one was even more so.” The triumph was Fox Valley Veto’s ninth in his 3-year-old season and his fourth against the top older company trotters on the Balmoral Park grounds. Quick first half fractions, first by Fort Silky (:27.1) and then by Kanarsis (:54.2) set things up for the late rushers in the $10,500 top-level conditioned pace with Best Man Hanover ($9.00), driven by Todd Warren, delivering a neck victory over the 16-1 longshot Mosee Terror (John De Long) at the end of a 1:50.3. Fort Silky held on for third in the eleventh race event. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

Jake Quaider and RT Habenero, two late blooming freshmen trotters, will get an abundant amount of the public’s wagering money in Wednesday’s $40,200 Violet Final for ICF 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings at Balmoral Park with the absence of division leader Fox Valley Qatar who is in Louisiana for the winter. Jake Quaider (programmed 8-5 )and RT Habenero (2-1) have traded victories in their last two starts with the former overtaking the latter in last week’s Cardinal Prep after RT Habenero ended Fox Valley Qatar’s eight-race unbeaten streak in the $97,000 Lincoln Land Final earlier this month and Jake Quaider third-best. RT Habenero was winless in his first five career starts for trainer Robert Taylor. The Tennessee native shares ownership of the Armbro Tropicana gelding with Illinoisans Taylor and Robert Rietveld of Bourbonnais. After a non-threating fourth in a division of the Darn Safe at Du Quoin Taylor turned over the lines of RT Habenero to National Hall of Famer Dave Magee and the horse won 2 of his next 5 outings including the Lincoln Land crown, the biggest plum in the division, and was second in the three other starts. Jake Quaider has been 1, 2 or 3 in 6 of his 7 career starts and the only time he wasn’t in a Trifecta wager was his fourth place finish in the $73,000 American National when he ended-up only two lengths behind the winner Iron. After the American National owners Quaid Racing of Evergreen Park, IL switched barns with the Photo Color gelding, going from the Erv Miller Stable to the Balmoral Park based conditioner Nelson Willis. Two and 1/2 weeks after being shuffled back in the Lincoln Land and ending up third, Jake Quaider uncorked a strong :28.1 last panel in last week’s prep, zooming past the front-stepping RT Habenero, winning by almost two lengths in 1:58 flat with regular driver Casey Leonard.. “Casey gets along very well with the horse and he told me the horse was really, really good in that prep race,” said Willis. “Casey said that was the best he’s been in a while. “Jake Quaider is a nice little horse who has been lightly raced. Erv (Miller) had him prior to me and he didn’t race him a lot, I haven’t made many changes on the colt, just a little here and there. He seems to be headed in the right direction in the late part of his season. Jake Quaider is out of the Credit Winner broodmare Grace Elizabeth, making him a half-brother to the former ICF stakes champion Maevey Gravy who chalked up almost $180,000 in his first two seasons for Quaid Racing in 2011 and 2012. Maevey Gravy captured the Lady Lincoln Land Final at two when she raced out of the Roger Welch Stable. As a 3-year-old under the tutelage of trainer Erv Miller she won a Hanover and both State Fair championships. Captain Greedy (J D Finn) winner of 9 races in his first season including a division of Du Quoin’s Darn Safe, landed the one-post in the Wednesday feature and is the morning line 5-1 third choice. Looking to pull off an upset in the fifth race headliner are Arc’s Conquest (12-1, Ryan Anderson), Powerful Above All (6-1, Todd Warren), Southern Special (12-1, Travis Seekman) and Vick Valor (15-1, Mike Brink). by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

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  

Illinois conceived and foaled trotters were back in the spotlight on Wednesday night with a pair of stakes highlighting the nine-race card. Freshmen fillies had the chance to grab their biggest payday of the year for the state-bred set as a field of nine went postward in the $90,000 Lady Lincoln Land Stake while a compact field of six sophomore trotting fillies gathered in a $10,100 Betzotic Stake to start the Wednesday night action. The Betzotic proved to be a walk in the park for Super Night winner Bailey's Wish as the pride of owners Jim Bafia and Eugene White demolished her rivals with a 7 ½ length score in 1:57.3 for driver Dave Magee. Sent to the front by Magee after an opening quarter in 29.0 the daughter of Southwind Breeze--Jen made the top easily and was unchallenged through middle splits of 57.4 & 1:27.3. Quickly putting daylight between herself and the rest of the field, the Dirk Simpson trained miss left her rivals in her wake as she cruised under the wire with her fifth win in 13 starts this season. Band's Alexis (Todd Warren) rallied late to finish second while Say No Mo (John De Long) was third. Even-money co-favorite Macie Rae made a break in the lane and finished last in the field of six. Bailey's Wish returned $4.20, $2.80 & $2.20 while upping her career record to 10-8-3 in 27 starts with earnings of $243,938. With the scratch of last week's elimination winner Jazzie Mermaid (injured) the LadyLincolnLand looked like it would be a showdown between Fox Valley Yoko and Persuasive Look. Unfortunately a break behind the gate took out the latter and the former made a break while challenging in deep stretch allowing a game Bi Polar Rose to post a front stepping half-length victory in 1:59.3 for Travis Seekman. Confidently handled by Seekman the daughter of Polar Winner--I Still Owe trotted right to the top from post five, putting up leisurely splits of 29.4, 59.3 & 1:29.0 while cruising along unchallenged. In the lane the Ronnie Roberts trained miss dug in gamely, turning back a "passing lane" challenge from 29-1 longshot Fox Valley Harrah (Kyle Wilfong) who had enjoyed a perfect pocket sitting trip while also keeping Fox Valley Yoko (John De Long) at bay to notch her third win in eight tries. Fox Valley Harrah was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Fox Valley Yoko did well to salvage a third place finish after the miscue. Sent off at 7-2 by the betting public Bi Polar Rose returned $9.20, $4.00 & $3.00 while running her record to 3-2-1 in eight starts with earnings of $60,515 for owners Cynthia Demarlie and Jason Van Winkle. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park  

With less and less people now days going to Illinois yearling sales, those who do attend and purchase a youngster, especially a trotter, sometimes spend very little money and still end up with a productive and money-making horse. One of those bargain buys is the Nick Prather freshman trotting filly Jazzy Mermaid. The daughter of Pizzazzed, out of the unraced Muscles Yankee mare Yankee Mermaid, was sold for only $2,100 to the Megan Rogers Racing Stable of Chicago at last September's Illini Classic Sale and she’s put nearly $50,000 on her card with a big shot to add a lot more in Wednesday’s $90,000 Lady Lincoln Land, the biggest plum of the season for ICF 2-year-old trotting fillies. Jazzie Mermaid drew nicely in the sixth race feature with the two-slot after going wire-to-wire in a Lincoln Land Prep a week ago with Dave Magee and will open as the 3-1 second choice. Springfield and Du Quoin champion Fox Valley Yoko drew well, too. The Curt Grummel trainee has the pole position after racing first up last week from the 8-slot and is programmed as 5-2 morning line favorite. Regular driver John De Long, who is recovering from burns on his face, arm and hand suffered in a farm accident, returns to the races to handle the filly. The late-rushing Lady Lincoln Land runner-up Bi Polar Rose (8-1, Travis Seekman) is a good fit from 5-post and American National champ Persuasive Look (programmed 7-2, Casey Leonard) has shown she has the gate speed to gain a spot up-close, using it last week to get a pocket-trip and a third-place finish behind Jazzy Mermaid. Jazzie Mermaid spent most of her first season on the County Fair Circuit before Prather turns over the lines to Magee for the State Fairs. The filly prompted won a $30,000 State Fair stake division at Springfield, took second in the $34,000 Shawnee at Du Quoin and Balmoral’s American National, and then last week dug-in won last week in 1:59.1. The National Hall of Fame driver likes what he’s seen from smallish filly.  “She’s really quick off the gate and she’s coming along really nicely. She raced well at Springfield and at Du Quoin and I think she’ll continue to get better and better. She’s a small filly who likes her job.  "Nick does a good job annually with 2-year-olds and this filly is no exception. She’s been taught well at the fairs and then introduced to the top level in her division at Springfield and Du Quoin and she was ready for them.” The Lincoln Land Final is rounded out with longshots Butterthantherst (15-1, Pat Curtin), Bigolwezeweddwess (15-1, Dean Magee), Fox Valley Elaine (15-1, Dale Hiteman), Bands Muse (20-1, Rick Magee), Fox Valley Harrah (10-1, Kyle Wilfong) and Powerfulebbrowing (20-1, Brian Carpenter). Solid Opener: A second ICF trotting stake will open Wednesday’s nine-race card. It’s the $10,000 Betzotic for 3-year-old trotting fillies and it’s headed up by the major champions in the division—Bailey’s Wish, Macie Rae and Say No Mo. Bailey’s Wish (programmed 8-5, Dave Magee) comes off her victory in last month’s $100,000 Lady Lincoln land Final for trainer Dirk Simpson. Earlier she captured the $52,000 State Fair showdown at Springfield. The 6-5 listed favorite Macie Rae (Mike Rogers) went off stride in mid-stretch with the lead in the Lady Ann Reed Final after earlier winning the Windy Skeet at Du Quoin. Trainer Mike Rogers changed bikes for the Lady Ann Reed Consolation and the filly stayed flat and drew off. Say No Mo (5-1, John De Long), another Simpson trainee, captured the $42,000 Fox Valley Evita earlier in the summer and was beaten by only 3/4’s of a length in the Lady Ann Reed Championship. Fox Valley Skylar (10-1, Dale Hiteman), Bands Alexis (10-1, Todd Warren) and Fox Valley Lotus (5-1, Kyle Wilfong), who is coupled with Say No Mo, complete Wednesday’s Betzotic. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

The Herman Wheeler owned and trained Fox Valley Qatar made it eight straight wins to open his career as the good looking youngster cruised to a 3½ length victory over nine other Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old trotting colts in Sunday's $10,000 Lincoln Land Stake elimination at Balmoral Park. The final time was 1:57.4. Placed in mid-pack after floating away from post seven for driver Todd Warren the gelded son of Pizzazzed--Armbro Bahrain worked out a picture perfect journey moving up second over as the diagonally gaited youngsters moved around the far turn. Sitting just three-lengths off the leaders as the field turned for home Fox Valley Qatar unleashed a 28.3 final quarter, storming down the center of the racetrack to keep his unblemished record intact. RT Habanero (Dave Magee) used a nice ground saving trip to finish second while Captain Greedy (John Finn) rallied from far back to be a distant third, 7 ½ lengths behind the winner. Also gaining spots in the final were Powerful Above All, Vick Valor, Cruisin Valor, Arcs Conquest and Beginning Balance. They will be joined by Southerncomfortzone and Jake Quaider in next Sunday's $97,000 final. With the win Fox Valley Qatar, who returned $3.00, $2.20 & $2.10 now boasts career earnings of $65,375. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park    

Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-olds shared top billing on Friday's Maywood Park card as a pair of elimination tussles for freshmen pacers were contested. Fillies kicked off the action with a field of eight gathering behind the gate for a $10,000 Violet Stake elimination. The top five finishers will get the chance to join Sportsmuffler, Angel Demon and Duneside Perttie in next Friday's $43,600 final. With the defection of division leaders Mr Leland's Filly and Lex, the final should be a wide-open event but the betting public was right on for the elimination as 7-5 favorite Luvniecestopieces posted a two-length wire to wire victory in 1:57.1 for driver Todd Warren. Sent right to the front from post six by Warren the daughter of Yankee Skyscaper--Fox Valley Dujour cruised through splits of 27.4, 58.2 & 1:27.3 while never being challenged. With plenty in reserve and an outer flow that was going nowhere, the Hart Walker trained miss rolled home in 29.3 to notch her third win in 10 starts this season. Fox Valley Charm (Kyle Wilfong) shook loose late to wind up as the bridesmaid while Fox Valley Kit (Brian Carpenter) was third. Also gaining spots in the final were Girls Hunt Too and Lyrics Fall. The public's choice returned $4.80, $3.60 & $2.60 while moving her record to 3-4-1 in 10 starts with earnings of $19,551 for the partnership of Hart & Robert Walker, Robyn Klingler and Homer Henke. The Cardinal elimination also brought out a field of eight youngsters and produced another front stepping winner as Engel Stable of Illinois The Big Sleazy reported home with a half-length win in 1:56.4 with Dave Magee at the controls. After working hard to gain control of the proceedings the gelded son of Sagebrush--Decent Lawyer stepped through splits of 28.3, 58.3 & 1:27.4 for his Hall of Fame reinseman. The Nelson Willis trainee appeared to be well within himself through the lane turning back a brief bid from the pocket sitting Mighty Hot Shot (Todd Warren) as he notched his second win in seven lifetime starts. Mighty Hot Shot was forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night while C Note (Travis Seekman) took the "overland" route to a deceptively strong third place finish. With the top four in this event moving on the last spot in next week's $43,350 final went to Thisishowweroll. They will be joined by Dupage's Z Tam, Earndawg, King Of The Swamp and Lucpark. Bet to even-money favoritism The Big Sleazy returned $4.00, $2.40 & $2.10 while pushing his lifetime slate to 2-2-1 in 7 starts with earnings of $23,070. by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park  

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