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The Illinois State Fair meeting at Springfield came to an end with a bang Thursday afternoon when PQ Three became the fastest Illinois bred 2-year-old pacer in history with a 1:50 flat track record performance for driver Mike Oosting. The Erv Miller trained gelding put an end to Unlocked’s unbeaten streak at six when he went past the front-stepping 4-5 pacesetting favorite in the lane in the meet’s finale, the freshman colt and gelding pace showdown and the last of 8 Illinois State Fair Colt Stakes Championships contested. The first of finals came in the 3-year-filly trot division where owner-driver Todd Warren gave his Sara The Spy ($12.20) a perfect two-hole journey and the filly overtook the favored Little Ms Chrissy in the final stride for a head victory. The time of 1:54 flat was a career best for Sara The Spy who will head next to the Du Quoin State Fair that starts a week from today. King Mufasa ($2.10) was all out to capture the 3-year-old colt trotting final, his seventh straight for the driver-trainer combination of Mike Oosting and Mike Brink, just holding off his fast charging entry-mate Skyline Road. King Mufasa, who this year is 9-for-9 in his division, trotted a lifetime best time of 1:53.4 and went over $130,000 in season earnings for owners Bill Wright and Mystical Marker Farms. Fox Valley Lotus ($8.40) made her third career start the charm, taking the freshman filly trot final despite a first-over journey. John Roberts guided the Curt Grummel trainee to her maiden triumph in 1:57.3 over Bailey’s Wish for Pittsfield, Illinois owner Dr. Patrick Graham. My Little Bit ($7.40) led from start to finish when she annexed the 2-year-old filly pace crown with Marcus Miller, pacing a 1:53.4 mile for trainer Erv Miller and her winning Evergreen Park, Illinois owners Obermeier & Quaid Stables. When Fox Valley Veto went off stride in mid-stretch on the lead it made the task easier for eventual winner Tour Hall ($9.40) who flashed past and drew away to the freshman championship for trotting colts and geldings. “Mike (trainer Brink) made some changes on him since last week and he was much better today,” said driver Dave Magee in the winner’s circle. “When he was keeping up at the quarter mile pole I knew we had a good chance. That had been an issue him in his earlier races. He was full of trot when we turned for home and I couldn’t wait to pull him.” Owned by his Springfield based trainer and Loren Tournear of Liberty, Illinois, Tour Hall knocked almost three full seconds off his first winning mile with a 1:57.3 clocking. Brink, who is recovering from major shoulder surgery from an earlier accident at a County Fair track, had a training triple on the day. He won earlier with King Mufasa and with his 2-year-old filly pacer April May Dune. The 3-year-old filly pace final saw the 10-1 longshot Dallas Jones ($23.40) get her nose in front of the pacesetting Mystical Danica at the end of a quick 1:51.2 mile. Capably driven by Casey Leonard for trainer Joel Smith, the filly erased over three seconds from her lifetime mark with season win No. 7 for Hoosier Paula Smith and Illinoisans James Runyan and Frank Pike. Leonard was back in the winner’s circle a third time with a heady drive behind the favorite Mystical Walter ($3.80) in the championship for sophomore pacing colts and geldings. With the field “walking” to a the first half, timed in :59.3, Casey took Mystical Walter out of fourth on the backside and to the lead before the last turn. The Miller trainee came home in 26.1 at the end of his 1:53.4 mile for Illinois owners Paymaq Racing of Long Grove and Mystical Marker Farms of Dwyer, Indiana. Oosting won the Springfield meet’s driver title and Miller successfully defended his trainer’s crown. Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

Harness racing at the Springfield State Fair gets underway this afternoon with a 10-race card mostly for ICF 2-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. First post is 12 noon. Elimination races for next week’s $45,000 Illinois State Fair Colt Stake Championships were needed for each of the freshman trot and pace events. A pair of $10,000 ICF championships will be also decided. Squaring off in the eighth race trotting stake showdown (program odds listed) are Westbound Darin (6-1), Ants Iner Pants (12-1), Maplegrove Shaelyn (5-1), Miss Kylie (8-1), Fox Valley Sienna (8-1), B Fly McQueen (4-1) and Ruby’s And Pearls (3-1). Back to defend her title in the 10th race Illinois State Fair Filly and Mare Championship is Fox Valley Touche (3-1) and the Joel Smith trainee landed the rail in the nine-horse field. Last summer the Sportsmaster mare took her lifetime mark of 1:50.4 in this Springfield stake. Taking on Fox Valley Touche are TJ’s April Angel (6-1), Just By Design (4-1), Nina Coleada (10-1), Cole Blue (12-1), Willow Gram (8-1), Sleazy Does It (8-1), Pardon (5-1) and Miss Kelley Lynne (12-1). With six starters in 4each of the 2-year-old colt eliminations only one youngster in each split won’t advance to that $45,000 final. The opening elim has Polar’s Big Spender (10-1), Finnister (6-1), Rory Borealis (8-1), Gray N Cloudy (4-1), Big Bad Bob (3-1) and Just Leo (5-1). The second race lines up with Nono Marino (10-1), Tour Hall (3-1), Bobby B Breeze (2-1), Fox Valley Veto (5-1), Big Bill Breeze (4-1) and Battleshoe Crown (6-1). The first five finishers in the fourth and fifth race eliminations for 2-year-old trotting fillies return for next Thursday’s $45,000 championship. With Fox Valley Flan champion Vienna not at Springfield, the pre-stake favoritism looks to be between “Flan” runner-up Bailey’s Wish for Springfield based trainer Dirk Simpson, and S V Spirit, a three-time victor in five career starts for trainer Roger Welch who wasn’t eligible to the Fox Valley Flan. Eliminations for the freshman filly pace are races 6 and 7 with the second division pitting recent Hanover stake runner-up Western Dame (3-1, John De Long) against Loyal Opposition champ Thesleazyprincess (4-1, Mike Oosting). They’ll be challenged by Fox Valley Thyme (12-1), Kiss This Perch (8-1), Fox Valley Flora (6-1), First Lady’s Z Tam (5-1), My Girl Pippa (8-1) and Fox Valley Roxanne (10-1). The first filly pace elim 3-1 favorite is My Little Bit (p.p. 6, Casey Leonard), runner-up in the Loyal Opposition who hails from the always strong Erv Miller Stable. She’s owned by Obermeier & Quaid Stables of Evergreen Park, Illinois. Also looking to finish in the top five and advance to next week’s final are Ms Solongbyebye (10-1), Fox Valley Shiver (6-1), Fox Valley Amanda (4-1), Perfectly Clear (6-1), Amazing Summer (5-1), Rds Master Revrac (8-1). April May Dune (12-1) and Ineverkissandtell (12-1). A single elimination will be raced in the 2-year-old colt pacing division where only the 11th place finisher won’t make that final. Posts 1 through 10 will be manned by Fancy Creek Mitch (10-1), Fox Valley Cupid (8-1), Badger Quinn (3-1), Traffic Cop (5-1), Duneside Mike (12-1), Sky Cam (12-1), Fox Valley Deuce (8-1), PQ Three (4-1), Unlocked (6-1), and Rio’s Z Tam (8-1). Fox Valley Van starts in the second tier at program odds of 12-1. Unlocked (Dave Magee) is unbeaten in five career starts that include a trio of stake wins in June at Balmoral and the July 5 Fox Valley Barzgar at Maywood. Nick Prather trains the Duneside Perch colt for Chicago owner Megan Rogers. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association County Fair Report EFFINGHAM COUNTY FAIR AT ALTAMONT    Thursday Afternoon, August 8 FIRST: Free For All Pace, 1st Div, Purse $980: Horse (Driver)                                               Time (Track Fast) Annrenee (Jared Finn)                                           2:03.2 Trainer: Dane May. Owner: Dane May. SECOND: Free For All Pace, 2nd Div, Purse $980: Richard Traci (Jared Finn)                                     2:02 Trainer: Dane May. Owner: Dane May. THIRD: Free For All Pace, 3rd Div, Purse $980: Spill The Beans (Dillon Cox)                                 2:01.3 Trainer: Mike Cox. Owner: Mike Cox. FOURTH:  Non-Winners of $1,000 or 2 Races LT Trot, Purse $1,320: So Photogenic (Jerome Daniels)                          2:05.4 Trainer: Jerome Daniels. Owners: Jerome Daniels and Cornelius Cavett. FIFTH:  Non-Winners of $1,000 or 2 Races LT Pace, 1st Div, Purse $1,020: Frontier Rose (Harold Finn Jr.)                             2:06.2 Trainer: Philip Finn Jr. Owner: Philip Finn Jr. SIXTH:  Non-Winners of $1,000 or 2 Races LT Pace, 2nd Div, Purse $1,000: Wings (Merle Finn Jr.)                                            2:06.3 Trainer: Merle Finn Jr. Owner: Merle Finn Jr. SEVENTH:  Non-Winners of $1,000 or 2 Races LT Pace, 3rd Div, Purse $980: Who Called Kellie (Ronnie Gillespie)                  2:05.3 Trainer: Ronnie Gillespie. Owner: John Carver. EIGHTH: Non-Winners of $1,000 or 2 Races LT Pace, 4th Div, Purse $980: American Desire (Ronnie Gillespie)                    2:03 Trainer: Ronnie Gillespie. Owner: John Carver: NINTH: Amateur Driving Race, Purse $580: AR Sissy (Raymond Morgan)                                2:02.3 Trainer: Michele Morgan. Owners: Michele Morgan, Raymond Morgan, Janet Betley and Todd Weinmann.

The countdown to the first major stake of the 2013 harness racing season for Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing fillies started on Sunday, May 12th as a total of 14 state-bred sophomores battled in a pair of $10,000 Violet Stake eliminations. The top five finishers in each division will be back for next Sunday's $55,300 (est.) final.

Fox Valley Touche makes a rare appearance Friday night at Maywood Park in the 11th race co-feature for fillies and mares. While the Joel Smith trainee hasn't made a lot of past starts on the harness racing circuit's half-miler when she has competed, she's done very, very well.

What already looked like it was going to be a stroll in the park for Paula Smith, James Runyan & Gary Engel's Fox Valley Steffen became even easier with the defection of two of the six scheduled harness racing starters in Thursday's (November 1) $12,600 Life's A Holiday Stake at Maywood Park.

Just as they did the night before with Fox Valley Steffen, harness racing trainer Joel Smith and driver Dale Hiteman teamed up to pull off another upset, this time getting Powerful Star home with a half-length triumph in the $51,000 Fox Evita Stake final for Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old trotting fillies on Sunday, July 29th.

The action on and off the track was fast and furious on Saturday, July 28th, as a big crowd flocked to Balmoral Park for the Chicago Southland Festival of Racing. Along with a taco eating contest, salsa tasting contest, live music and plenty of other giveaways and food & drink specials there was also plenty of harness racing action on the track as some of Illinois best pacers and trotters battled for more than $300,000 in purse money in five stake finals.

A pair of state bred stakes events shared top billing on Saturday night as two-year-old harness racing colts met in two $11,300 divisions of the Yates Eagle Stake while their female counterparts battled in the $14,500 Thrifty Way Stake.

Fox Valley Arrow took the $100,000 Su Mac Lad trot, the first race in the long 14-race Super Night harness racing card at Balmoral Park on Saturday. Swindler was a scratch and six sophomore trotters went postward.

Continuing her mastery over the Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old filly pacing set Paula Smith & James Runyan's Fox Valley Touche, won for the fifth time in as many tries in 2011, as she easily knocked off nine harness racing rivals in Sunday night's $9,000 Ohyouprettything Stake on Sunday night at Balmoral Park. The final time of 1:52.0 was a career best for the good looking filly.

Flashing the form that netted her a perfect three for three record coming into Friday's $101,000 Filly Maywood Pace final Paula Smith and James Runyan's Fox Valley Touche had no trouble dispatching of seven other Illinois conceived and foaled harness racing three-year-old pacing fillies as she cruised to a three length victory in 1:54.0 for driver Dale Hiteman.

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