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Spoiler Alert (Leon Bailey) takes the $6,000 featured harness racing trot at Vernon Downs on Friday (September 27). Spoiler Alert ($6.40) went to the lead and led to the first quarter in :26.4. Arch Credit (Kyle DiBenedetto) took over and led the way to the half in :57.0. He continued to control the race by hitting three-quarters in 1:26.2. Spoiler Alert, who is owned by Jeffrey Hayes and trained by Misty Carey, sat patient in the pocket as they made the turn for home. Arch Credit still the lead as they reached the stretch but Spoiler Alert would wear him down and go on by to win in 1:56.0. Arch Credit had to settle for second. American JJ (Michael Miller) finished third. Spoiler Alert is a 5-year-old gelding by Chapter Seven. It was his sixth win this season. He now owns 13 career victories. Art Angel Baby (Claude Huckabone III) captures the $6,000 featured fillies & mares pace. Talbot Chanel (John MacDonald) went to the front and controlled all the early fractions as eshe hit the first quarter in :27.1. She used a :28.4 second quarter to lead to the half in :56.0 and led to three-quarters in 1:25.1. Art Angel Baby ($7.00), who is owned by Chad Lennon and trained by Huckabone III, went to the lead in the stretch. She would have to hold off a late charge by second place finisher Classic Can Dream (Kyle DiBenedetto) to win in 1:53.1. Unusual Clarity (Joe Nassimos) picked up third place money. Art Angel Baby is a 6-year-old mare by Sagebrush. It was her fifth win this season. She has 22 career victories. Leon Baily drove three winners on the evening. His other wins came with Try For Art ($33.00), and Brooklets Caleigh ($6.50). Vernon Downs returns to live racing with a 13 race card on Saturday (September 28) at 6:10 p.m. For more information go to by John Horne, for Vernon Downs

Painite (Leon Bailey) charges late to take the $5,000 featured harness racing trot at Vernon Downs on Friday (September 20). East To Cincy (John MacDonald) went to the front and put up all the early numbers (:27.4, :58.0, 1:27.3). Haveitalltogether (Chris Long) got the lead in deep stretch. Painite ($21.20), who is trained by Bailey for owners Donn Lewandrowski and Gail Farrell, looked like she was shot out of a cannon. Just when it looked like Haveitalltogether was going to win, Painite snuck by to win in 1:57.0. Haveitalltogether had to settle for second. East To Cincy was third best. Painite is a 10-year-old mare by Plesac. It was her fourth win this season. It was the 31st victory of her career. Art Angel Baby (Claude Huckabone III) captures the $5,000 featured fillies & mares pace. Talbot Chanel (John MacDonald) laid down all the early fractions (:26.0, :54.4, 1:23.4). She had the lead as they turned for home. Art Angel Baby ($11.00), who is owned by Chad Lennon and trained by Huckabone III, was fourth after three-quarters. She would wear down second place finisher Talbot Chanel to win in 1:53.1. Best American Chic finished third. Art Angel Baby is a 6-year-old mare by Sagebush. It was her fourth win of the season and 21st win of her career. What a night for owners Donn Lewandrowski and Gail Farrell as the teamed up with trainer-driver Leon Bailey to win three straight races. Their other two wins came with Artic Belle ($12.20), and Tiger Boudoir ($29.40). Claude Huckabone III and Chris Long both had driving doubles on the night. Huckabone III got his other win with Heavenly Way ($14.60). Long went to the winner's circle with Dream On A Roll ($10.60), and Story Time Hanover ($5.70). Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Saturday (September 21) with a 12 race card starting at 6:10 p.m. For more information go to by John Horne, for Vernon Downs

HARRINGTON, Del. - Harness racing trainer Brian Malone's Hostess Lisa ($4.20, Tony Morgan) was a 1:54.2 winner in the $16,000 Mares Open Tuesday at Harrington Raceway. Trained by her owner, the 8-year-old Sagebrush mare held off a game effort by Terror At Night for a narrow win. Sweet Bobbie was third. It was the 8th win of the year for Hostess Lisa and 35th in her career. Malone had an owner/trainer grand slam on the program and is the current leading trainer at the meet. One race later, Morgan piloted Aunt Betty to her sixth straight win in 1:56 for owner Ron Davis. The Rock N Roll Heaven mare has won eight of 22 starts this year for trainer Brooks Gray. Matthew Sparacino  

Established in 1903, the University of Illinois horse farm has ties to athletics dating back to its founding. The draft horses initially housed there, or so the story goes, helped with the construction of Memorial Stadium, said Kevin Kline, an animal sciences professor who has worked on the farm since 1974 as a student and faculty member. The 1924 "tile barn," as it's known, likely for its original roof, has huge stalls and thick concrete walls to accommodate draft horses, which were bred for teaching and research as well as work on the south farms. The breeds changed over the years, first to quarter horses after World War II — including from the famed King Ranch in Texas — and later to standardbreds, for harness racing. "We're a production facility for racehorses," said farm operations manager Molly Baldes. "And we are a research, education and teaching farm." The UI is one of the few universities in the country to breed standardbreds, but with the downturn in Illinois' racing industry, it's not as lucrative as it once was. The campus has a stable of 11 mares, plus four mares and three stallions housed there permanently by private owners. They produce nine to 10 foals each year who are eventually sold as yearlings. The income helps keep the farm operating. The farm's offspring are among the most talented in the state. Vocalist, a gentle 27-year-old, produced one of the fastest 2-year-olds in the world a few years ago. Princess Sage, daughter of champion UI pacing stallion Sagebrush, won Illinois Harness Horse of the Year in 2016. And a 2-year-old daughter of a brood mare named Trotting Grace — herself a champion — won two of her first three starts this year. But racing purses in Illinois aren't as big as they once were, which means yearlings sired in-state aren't worth as much, Kline said. 'No one's breeding in Illinois anymore' The farm recently turned to breeding horses from Indiana, Ohio and other states where they can fetch more money. Those states have "racinos" — a combined race track and casino — where the income from slot machines and other gambling is used to supplement horse-racing, Kline said. For the big "stakes" races, horses have to be sired in the state where they race. "No one's breeding in Illinois anymore," Kline said. So the UI farm imports semen from stallions in other states to sire foals. This year's group of yearlings was the first sold out of state. "We had to do something," Baldes said. The foals are also part of several research studies by the College of Veterinary Medicine. In one, researchers X-ray their hocks and fetlocks (knees and ankles) for the first year of life, looking for bone chips to see if they resolve or may eventually require surgery. In another, scientists scan the foals once a week to study umbilical structures with a portable ultrasound and state-of-the-art MRI equipment. The farm is also used for hands-on instruction. Kline teaches all of the undergraduate animal husbandry classes, and Baldes teaches a horse-handling lab, usually for about 70 students at a time. They learn how to approach, stop and lead a horse; how to groom and train it to use a halter; and how to give medicine. The first day of class is known as "selfie day," as the students are generally on "cloud nine" to be finally working with horses, she said. Baldes has seen students break down in tears; one city dweller had never seen a horse before. "That just breaks my heart," she said. Maevy Gravy, Ketchup and 'my girls' Most of her students are animal science majors. But Baldes also runs a "foal-watching" class that draws students from engineering and architecture. The pregnancies last 343 days, and as delivery time approaches, the students sit in shifts from 6 p.m. to midnight or 12 to 6 a.m. to watch the mares. If one goes into labor, the foal-watcher calls Baldes, who lives next door. She can get to the barn in four minutes (and is never more than 20 minutes away during foaling season). "I'm on a no-fly for four months," said Baldes, who once broke three vertebrae after she was bucked off a horse and used a walker to do the foaling. Baldes, who grew up as a "country club" girl in Pekin, always loved horses but never owned one until two years ago. She's a graduate student, research associate and the farm's only full-time employee. She supervises a group of undergraduate part-timers who help keep the farm running. It's a close-knit bunch who stay in touch long after graduation. There are tears when they have to sell the yearlings every year. "We all wear sunglasses," Baldes said. Baldes refers to the brood mares as "my girls," and says they are "spoiled absolutely rotten." She doesn't keep any horses with a bad temperament, as they need to work with students and visitors. Her yardstick: "Can a novice go up and pet her?" She introduces visitors to the popular Maevy Gravy, getting her hooves cleaned by a farrier as her foal, Ketchup, prances nearby in his first-ever halter; and Tsunami Chick, whose foal Cyclone is named for the mark on his face shaped like a tornado. Baldes: 'We're here to be enjoyed' Baldes has watched with unease as traffic has picked up along St. Mary's and Fourth Street with what she calls "urban sprawl." She knows the farm will have to move someday, possibly to an area south of the veterinary medicine research farm. But that's a long way off, according to Neal Merchen, of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, who oversees the relocation plans. "We're sort of in the plans, but we need money," Kline said. "It was a lot closer 15 years ago than it is now." The farm hasn't been affected by the growth of the research park across Fourth Street to the west, though it uses two small pastures in the park to graze horses. On the UI's master plan, the horse farm and areas east of Fourth are designated as "future development zones," said Associate Provost Matthew Tomaszewski. A golf course once envisioned there is no longer part of the plan, now that athletics has indoor and outdoor practice facilities. "We're leaving it a little bit more flexible right now," he said. In the meantime, Kline and Baldes work with the leaky roof and other maintenance issues in the historic horse barn. Baldes would love to save it, citing the "stunning" hayloft with its trusses and wood floor. She worries that the horse farm could be phased out completely someday. "I don't want to see a day where there are not horses at Illinois," she said. "I don't think that would happen," Merchen said. By Julie Wurth Reprinted with permission of The News-Gazette

Two divisions of leg one of the Incredible Tillie Stakes took place at Hawthorne on Friday evening. The Incredible Tillie is for Illinois-bred harness racing two-year-old filly pacers. Race two kicked off the first division as an evenly matched field of six lined up. Getting away for the early lead was The Sis Master, but she was quickly challenged by Rollin Coal through the quarter in :31.1. On the backside, Sheincrediblenasty took over, covering the half in 1:00.0. On the far turn, Kyle Husted kept Sheincrediblenasty out front, going three quarters in 1:29.4. In the lane, Rollin Coal and Casey Leonard moved to take over and prevailed by a length and a half over Sheincrediblenasty and The Sis Master. Final time for the mile was 1:57.2. Rollin Coal is by Sagebrush and is owned and trained by Hosea Williams. Race four on Friday was the second division of leg one of the Incredible Tillie with a field of seven. The heavy favorite was Fox Valley Jazzy with Tyler Shehan in the bike. Making the lead was the favorite as she paced the opening quarter in :31.1. After a half in 1:01.2, Fox Valley Jazzy remained in control. Leading into the stretch through three quarters in 1:30.3, Fox Valley Jazzy was pushed by Shelby Rae through the lane. On the wire, Fox Valley Jazzy held on by a half-length over Shelby Rae. The New Americana rallied to finish third. Fox Valley Jazzy is by Yankee Skyscraper and is owned by Demarrio Brown and trained by Herman Wheeler. Multi-Win Evenings Drivers - Mike Oosting (5 Wins), Tyler Shehan (2 Wins), Casey Leonard (2 Wins), James Lackey (2 Wins) Trainers - Herman Wheeler (2 Wins) Race Winners Race 1 - Sir Mammo (1:51.1) Race 2 - Rollin Coal (1:57.2) Race 3 - Hot Rod Dylan (1:51.3) Race 4 - Fox Valley Jazzy (1:57.4) Race 5 - Ideal Carver (1:55.0) Race 6 - Uncle Si (1:55.0) Race 7 - Heartland Revenue (1:53.0) Race 8 - Major Bliss (1:51.4) Race 9 - McCedes (1:54.4) Race 10 - Cam's Oracle (1:54.4) Race 11 - Boogie Nights (1:50.1) Race 12 - Why Ask Why (1:55.0) Jim Miller

HARRINGTON, Del . - Brian Malone's Hostess Lisa ($3.60, Tony Morgan) notched her 32nd harness racing career win Tuesday with a 1:52.4 win in the featured $17,500 Mares Open at Harrington Raceway. Long shot Matinee Dragon made the early lead and led the field to the half-mile under heavy pressure from Westsluckycam to a half-mile in 56.1 and 1:24.4. Hostess Lisa soon shook loose from the pocket and cleared a tiring Matinee Dragon for a powerful score. Purrfect Bags, last week's winner, rallied for second while Matinee Dragon held third. Trained by her owner, Hostess Lisa, a 8-year-old daughter of Sagebrush recorded her fifth win of the year. Art Stafford Jr. and Ross Wolfenden each won three races while Morgan had a double. Matthew Sparacino

STICKNEY, IL - On another warm evening in the Chicagoland area, three divisions of leg three of the Incredible Tillie Stakes at Hawthorne Racecourse were contested. The Incredible Tillie is for Illinois-bred two-year-old filly pacers. The first division went as race seven on the Friday card over a fast track as Princess Sage (Sagebrush)  was sent away as the favorite. Leaving for lead was Princess Sage as she made the top easily through the opening quarter of :28.3. On the backside, the 1-5 favorite maintained her lead for driver Freddie Patton Jr through the half in :58.3. On the turn Princess Sage opened a five length lead through three quarters in 1:27.0. In the stretch, Princess Sage shortened but held on by a length and a half in 1:56. Fox Valley Charliz closed for second while Pinstripe Pants finished third. Owned by Keli Jo Bell and Freddie Patton, Jr. and trained by Freddie Patton, Jr., Princess Sage paid $2.60, $2.10, and $2.10. Fox Valley Charliz paid $4.60 and $3.20 while Pinstripe Pants returned $3.00 to show. The second division of the Incredible Tillie had a full field of ten as Fox Valley Honor was bet down to favoritism off a 30-1 morning line. Making the lead early was Filly Forty but was quickly pressed by My Mona Me through the quarter in :29.1. On the backside, Razzleme Dazzleme (Sagebrush) took over through the half in :59.2. After three quarters in 1:28.2, Razzleme Dazzleme led the field into the lane. Mid-stretch, a row of four came to challenge but Razzleme Dazzleme and driver Kyle Husted held everyone off, stopping the clock in 1:56.4. Hope Hotspur finished second while Dandy's Dududiddudu was third. Owned by Derek and Amy Jacobus and trained by Nick Prather, Razzleme Dazzleme paid $15.80, $6.80 and $5.00. Hope Hotspur paid $4.80 and $3.80. Dandy's Dududidudu returned $3.00 to show. The third division of the Incredible Tillie had another full field of ten as My Kind of Dance (Skydancer Hanover) took the majority of the wagering action. At the start, A Real Doozie moved to the lead but Jump Right quickly took over through the quarter in :29.0. On the backside, Just Doit Queeny assumed command through the half in :59.2. On the turn, A Real Doozie moved to challenge Just Doit Queeny through three quarters in 1:28.2. In the lane, favored My Kind of Dance and Casey Leonard ranged up to challenge as they were three across. At the wire, My Kind of Dance prevailed by a neck over A Real Doozie. Just Doit Queeny finished third. Owned by Adrian Adam and trained by Alex Adam, My Kind of Dance paid $3.00, $2.40, and $2.60. A Real Doozie returned $9.80 and $6.40 while Just Doit Queeny paid $2.60 to show. Jim Miller

STICKNEY, IL - On a beautiful Friday evening at Hawthorne, four divisions of leg one of the Incredible Tillie Stakes took place. The Incredible Tillie is for Illinois-bred harness racing two-year-old pacing fillies. The card kicked off with the first division as a field of nine lined up behind the starting car. Sent away as the favorite was Princess Sage (Sagebrush) off a debut victory and near miss in her second start. Leaving for the lead was Princess Sage as she cleared the lead in :29.2 for driver Freddie Patton, Jr. Following a half in :58.4, Princess Sage held firm on the front end. Into the lane after three quarters in 1:28.1, Princess Sage led but was challenged by Sheadealer. Late stretch, Princess Sage dug in gamely and prevailed by a quarter of a length. Sheadealer was second, Dandy's Dududidudu finished third. Final time for the mile was 1:56.4. Owned by Keli Jo Bell and Freddie Patton, Jr. and trained by Freddie Patton, Jr., Princess Sage returned $3.60, $2.60, and $2.40 as the 4-5 favorite. Sheadealer paid $8.80 and $4.00 while Dandy's Dududidudu returned $3.00 to show. Race three on Friday night was the second division in the Incredible Tillie as Lili Von Shtupp was a late scratch. Moving early in the second division was the 1-5 favorite Filly Forty and Jamaica Patton through the opening quarter in :29.4 and half in 1:00.4. Filly Forty led the field into the lane through three quarters in 1:30.3 and was all out. Mid-stretch, Kyle Husted and Razzleme Dazzleme (Sagebrush) tipped out for the drive and wore down Filly Forty on the wire. Razzleme Dazzleme prevailed by a length and a quarter over Filly Forty in 1:58.4. My Kind of Dance finished third. Owned by Derek and Amy Jacobus and trained by Nick Prather, Razzleme Dazzleme returned $11.60, $3.00, and $2.60. Filly Forty came back $2.10 and $2.10 while My Kind Of Dance paid $3.00 to show. Race five on Friday was the third division in the Incredible Tillie with a full field of ten to line up. Hope Hotspur was sent away as the heavy favorite at 1-2. Leaving for the lead was Do You Dare through the quarter in :30. Moving early to the lead was the favorite Hope Hotspur and Casey Leonard, leading the field through a half in 1:00.4. On the turn, Pinstripe Pants moved to challenge and take command, covering three quarters in 1:29.4. In the lane, Pinstripe Pants led, but Hope Hotspur came back to lead late before Dale Hiteman and Fox Valley Dandy (Sportsmaster) exploded onto the scene, winning at 27-1. Hope Hotspur was second, Fox Valley Maya finished third. Final time was 1:58.1. Owned by Hugh Lake and Susan Lacey and trained by Ray Hanna, Fox Valley Dandy returned $57.00, $11.60, and $4.20. Hope Hotspur returned $2.60 and $2.20. Fox Valley Maya came back $3.20 to show. The final division of the Incredible Tillie had a field of nine lined up as Jump Right Up (Ideal Towne) was sent away as the 1-5 choice. My Mona Me got away quickly and led through the quarter in :29.4. Moving to the lead early was Da Blue Jay as she led the field into the turn after a half in 1:00.0. On the far turn, Jump Right Up and Todd Warren made their move to challenge through three quarters in 1:29. Leading late, Jump Right Up won by two and a half lengths, stopping the clock in 1:58. My Mona Me was second while Rockin Ashley got up for third. Owned by Quaid Racing, LLC and Cynthia Kay Willis and trained by Nelson Willis, Jump Right Up returned $2.60, $2.10 and $2.10. My Mona Me paid $6.40 and $3.40 while Rockin Ashley paid $4.20 to show. Jim Miller

In what turned into a replay of last year's Filly Orange & Blue on harness racing "Super Night" at Balmoral Park, Engel Stable of Illinois' Thesleazyprincess became a two-time Super Night victress, this time capturing the $142,000 Grandma Ann for three-year-old pacing fillies by a nose over My Little Bit in 1:53.1 Hustled off the wings of the gate by Marcus Miller, the homebred daughter of Sagebrush--Da Sleazy One landed In The Pocket spot right behind My Little Bit as she led the field through splits of 27.3, 56.1 & 1:24.2.   "I wanted to get out of there quickly and get around the two fillies inside of me," explained Miller. When we wound up right on the back of my dad's (Erv Miller) other horse (My Little Bit) I knew we were going to be in pretty good shape."   Continuing to sit right on the leaders helmet until the passing lane, Miller ducked the bay filly inside where she gradually wore down the pace setter, finally getting up in the last stride after a thrilling duel. As was the case last year, My Little Bit (Casey Leonard) was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Party Hangover Two (John De Long) rallied late to get the show dough.   After the race Marcus seemed a bit stunned by it all.   "It's always great to come home and always great to be a part of Super Night," he exclaimed. "At the top of the lane I thought my filly was going to be an easy winner but My Little Bit showed how tough she is tonight as well. I didn't know if I got there or not until the numbers came up. Last year "Sleazy beat me when I was driving My Little Bit so I guess I got a little revenge tonight."   A recent addition to the barn of Erv Miller Thesleazyprincess who returned $8.60, $4.00 & $4.00 now boasts $243,831 in earnings on the strength of a 4-4-7 record in 30 career starts.   Thesleazyprincess (inside) nosed out My Little Bit to win the $142,000 Grandma Ann for driver Marcus Miller. Tom Kelley

With Super Night 2014 less than three weeks away (Saturday, Sept. 13) a number of division leaders have established themselves as clear-cut heavy favorites after sweeping their respective championships at both Illinois State Fairs. However the Randy Tuftie Stable’s Nino Marino surprise victory in the $22,000 Darn Safe showed that division leader and multiple stake champion Fox Valley Veto is indeed vulnerable in the Su Mac Lad Final for ICF 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings. Fox Valley Veto entered the Darn Safe with five consecutive victories, taking both the $41,000 Kadabra at the end of last month and the $25,000 Springfield crown on August 14. In between “Veto” beat older state-bred trotters in Balmoral’s Mike’s A Mystery. The talented Curt Grummel trainee was bet down to 10 cents on the dollar and had command turning in the lane in the Darn Safe but was overtaken by the 9-1 longshot Nino Marino who was winless in 12 season starts going into the Du Quoin final. The son of Piazzazzed, out of the dam Never Ms Still, ended up one length the best, trotting a career fastest 1:56.1 mile, more than three full seconds better than the gelding’s best previous clocking of 1:59.3, taken as a 2-year-old for owners Ron Marino (Fort Myers, FL) and David Herrmann (Ottawa, IL). The Erv Miller trainees Unlocked (Dave Magee) and Mr. Leland’s Filly continued their dominations in their respective divisions and will be heavy favorites in the Langley and Orange and Blue Filly championships on Super Night. Lucpark’s (Dave Magee) victory in the Governor’s Cup came at the expense of Springfield champion Thisishowewroll. Mini Me champ King Of The Swamp sat-out Du Quoin while the Governor’s Cup post-time favorite, Engine One O One went off stride in the first turn. With not much time left until the Orange and Blue Colt showdown, it’s anybody’s guess which freshman will wind-up in the winner’s circle draped with this 2-year-old stake blanket. Macie Rae bounced back from her defeat to filly Bailey’s Wish at Springfield and romped in Du Quoin’s Windy Skeeter, winning by almost 10 lengths 1:55.1 for owner Donald Huddleston. The Mike Rogers trained filly had won her previous nine times this season on the front-end but at Du Quoin it was Bailey’s Wish cutting the fractions before Macie Mae blew past, setting up another big battle in the Lady Ann Reed. With five consecutive triumphs in ICF competition that included Balmoral’s Ann Vonian and the Springfield championship, My Little Bit was a disappointing third in Du Quoin’s Time Dancer, beaten eight lengths by the 9-1 longshot Thesleazyprincess (Dave Magee). Thesleazyprincess was the division’s champion as a 2-year-old with almost $160,000 banked but the Matry Engel Stable’s homebred started off her 3-year-old campaign with 11 consecutive losses and less than $10,000 earned before joining the Erv Miller Stable a couple of weeks ago. Thesleazyprincess was raced inside at Springfield and despite a fourth place finish, she motored home in :26.1 and was beaten only 1 and 1/ 2 lengths. At Du Quoin her 1:52.2 mile put the Sagebrush filly a half-length ahead of Maywood Filly Pace champion Fox Valley Amanda and insuring an enticing Grandma Ann Final on Super Night 2014. The Du Quoin meet’s driving title was won by Dave Magee with six winners to John De Long’s four. Erv Miller successfully defended his trainer’s crown. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

Taking advantage of a perfect two-hole trip Engel Stable’s Thesleazyprincess pounced on the heavily favored My Little Bit in the lane zipping right by the pace setter in the final sixteenth of a mile to record a three-length victory in the $200,000 Filly Orange & Blue. The final time was 1:54.4 Using the inside starting spot to perfection driver Mike Oosting positioned the daughter of Sagebrush-Da SleazyOne In The Pocket as My Little Bit  led the field of eight ladies through splits of 28.1, 57.1 & 1:25.3. “I was more than happy to let Marcus go early on,” said Balmoral’s leading reinsman. “I figured those two horse of the De Long’s (Party Hangover Two & Kiwi Party) would be coming at some point in the mile so I figured I would let those three battle it out while Istayed covered up with my filly.” Executing that plan to perfection the Nelson Willis trainee was full of pace while the battle on the far turn began to take a toll on My Little Bit as the field moved through the stretch. Moving into the passing lane with a sixteenth of a mile to go Thesleazyprincess responded beautifully, blowing right by her rivals and drawing clear in the shadow of the wire for her third win in nine lifetime starts. Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) rallied from far back to be the bridesmaid while My Little Bit held on for third. After the win Oosting was full of praise for the Engle homebred. “She was really good tonight and that’s a tribute to the job Nelson Willis has done with her,” said a beaming Oosting. “She relaxed perfectly when she needed to and then she kicked it into gear again once she secured the room she needed. She was really a professional out there tonight.” Sent off as the 7-2 second choice in the wagering Thesleazyprincess returned $9.60, $5.00 & $2.80. The winner’s share of $94,000 moves the fillies bankroll to $152,452 on the strength of a 3-3-3 record in nine lifetime starts. Mike Oosting picked up his second Super Night victory guiding Thesleazyprincess to a three-length victory championship in the Filly Orange & Blue. David Baum   

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.  

Showing that a little experience can go a long way Bruce & Mary Alexander's Western Dame rebounded from a break in her career debut to post a resounding 5 ¼ length romp over seven other Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old pacing fillies in Thursday's $12,000 My Metallica Stake at Maywood Park.

The fields have been set and now the excitement begins as Balmoral Park gears up for Illinois biggest night of harness racing, Super Night 2012, this Saturday, Sept. 15th. The festivities will get underway around 5:30pm (central) and the first post will be at 6:30 pm (central) for the 14-race card.

The countdown to Illinois biggest night of harness racing racing, Super Night 2012 began in earnest on Saturday (September 8) as 12 eliminations for five of the eight championship tilts were contested. A total of 15 two-year-old pacing fillies were sent postward in a pair of $15,000 eliminations for next week's $188,000 (est.) Filly Orange & Blue to get the night started.

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