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Illinois' top two-year-old pacers were in action on Friday night as a pair of state-bred stake events helped bring the curtain down on the 2015 harness racing season at Maywood Park.   Fillies kicked off the night's action with a compact field of five lining up behind the gate for the $20,500 Violet Stake.   Fresh off her win in the Filly Orange & Blue on Super Night division leader Char N Marg had no trouble disposing of this group as she hustled to the front from post three and made every call a winning one in a leisurely 1:58.0 for driver Casey Leonard.   Taking advantage of a break by Sara's Terror (Matt Krueger) as the wings of the gate folded Leonard sent the daughter of Sportsmaster-Zip Up Your Pans right to the top where she strolled through pedestrian like splits of 29.1, 1:00 & 1:29.1.   After shrugging off a first over bid from Sara's Terror as the field moved around the final bend the Nelson Willis trained miss was on cruise control through the lane as she paced under the wire with a 1¾ length decision. LK's Nancy Lee (Kyle Wilfong) turned a pocket sitting journey into a second place check while Sara's Terror did well to finish third after the miscue and the first over trip.   The win was the sixth in 12 starts this year for Char N Marg who returned $2.20 & $2.10 to her legion of backers while upping her career bankroll to $106,541 for Quaid Racing LLC.   A full field of eight freshmen pacing colts were entered for the $23,900 Cardinal Stake and once again the public was right on in this tussle as Nicole Potts' Royale Rose, the 2-5 favorite in the wagering went "right down the highway" for driver Matt Krueger posting a three-length triumph in 1:56.2.   Zipped away from post position two by Krueger the gelded son of Ashlee's Big Guy--Caribe Royal sped through the opening quarter in 28.2 before slamming on the brakes while leading the field through an opening half-mile in 59.2.   With pressure coming from a first over Dan D Dune (Mike Oosting), the top two were neck and neck as they raced by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.4. That's when the Lyle Scurlock trainee found another gear, quickly leaving his rivals in his wake on the final turn and then drawing away to his eighth win in 11 career starts. JB's Hero (Robert Smolin) shook loose late to rally for the place money while Wondrous Sport (Casey Leonard) finished third. Bet as though defeat was out of the question Royale Rose returned $2.80, $2.40 & $2.10 while upping his career earnings to $53,879. A couple of familiar faces toted home the 2015 driving and training awards as Mike Oosting, who is rapidly approaching 6,000 career driving wins, took home the driving title while David Mc Caffrey led the training ranks.   Tom Kelley

Maywood Park will kick off its closing weekend in style for harness racing players across North America, offering a trio guaranteed pools this Thursday, Oct. 1st. The USTA and Maywood Park have announced an instant guarantee of $40,000 on the Thursday High 5. Race 10, the final leg of the Guaranteed Pick Four will offer the High Five wager with a one day carryover of $18,549 and a minimum wager of ten cents. The Pick Four offers a guaranteed pool of $10,000 and starts on Race Seven. There is also a guaranteed trifecta pool of $20,000 on Race Nine. Free 12-line program pages are available every night at courtesy of Track Master.   HOW TO PLAY THE 10 CENT SUPER HIGH FIVE ON RACE 10   BOXING KEYING WHEELING   5 HORSES $ 12 1 WITH 2345 $ 2.40 1 WITH 2 WITH 345 $ .60   6 HORSES $ 72 1 WITH 23456 $ 12.00 1 WITH 2 WITH 3456 $ 2.40   7 HORSES $ 252 1 WITH 234567 $ 36.00 1 WITH 2 WITH 34567 $ 6.00   8 HORSES $ 672 1 WITH 2345678 $ 84.00 1 WITH 2 WITH 345678 $ 12.00   9 HORSES $1512 1 WITH23456789 $ 168.00 1 WITH 2 WITH 3456789 $ 21.00   PARTIAL WHEELING   1 WITH 23 WITH 23 WITH 45 WITH 45 ................................................... $ .40   1 WITH 23 WITH 234 WITH 2345 WITH 6 ................................................. $ 1.60   1 WITH 234 WITH 234 WITH 234 WITH 567............................................... $ 1.80   1 WITH 2345 WITH 2345 WITH 2345 WITH 6............................................. $ 2.40   12 WITH 123 WITH 1234 WITH 12345 WITH 123456 .................................... $ 3.20   1 WITH 234 WITH 234 WITH 234 WITH 567890 .......................................... $ 3.60   1 WITH 23 WITH 234 WITH 2345 WITH 234567890....................................... $ 4.80   1 WITH 234 WITH 2345 WITH 23456 WITH 234567....................................... $ 8.10   1 WITH 2345 WITH 2345 WITH 2345 WITH 234567890.................................. $ 14.40   1 WITH 234 WITH 2345 WITH 23456 WITH 234567890.................................. $ 16.20   12345 WITH12345 WITH 12345 WITH 12345 WITH 123456............................. $ 24.00   123 WITH 1234 WITH 12345 WITH 123456 WITH 1234567.............................. $ 24.30   1 WITH 2345 WITH 23456 WITH 234567 WITH 2345678................................. $ 25.60   1234 WITH 12345 WITH 123456 WITH 1234567 WITH 12345678...................... $102.40   123456 WITH 123456 WITH 123456 WITH 123456 WITH 12345678.................... $144.00   Tom Kelley    

The richest event of the season for Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old trotting fillies put a familiar face back in the winner's circle as veteran harness racing conditioner Roger Welch sent out his sixth career winner of the $80,400 Lady Lincoln Land Stake when the Lynn Wilfong owned More Than Likely rallied in the final strides to win by a half-length in a career best of 1:58.1. Given a perfect steer by driver Kyle Wilfong the home-bred daughter of Designer Lindy--Midori Hanover left alertly from post four as the even-money favorite Vengeful (Casey Leonard) made a costly miscue behind the gate.   Landing in the garden spot as a head strong Powerful Princess (John De Long) led the field through splits of 29.3, 59.3 & 1:28.4 More Than Likely was still fit and fresh as the fillies straightened for their journey home.   Continuing to grind away at the pace setter while Vengeful, who had spotted the field some 13-lengths with the early miscue, circled the field on the outside of horses More Than Likely found clear sailing as Powerful Princess went off stride. Just when it looked as though the "chalk players" were going to be able to breathe a sigh of relief as Vengeful struck the front a game More Than Likely seemed to find a little something more overtaking the heavy favorite in the shadow of the wire for her second win in nine career starts. Vengeful was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Praise Singer (Pat Curtin) took home the show dough.   In the winner's circle a very happy Welch was beaming with pride over his charges winning effort and his record setting sixth triumph in this event.   "Mr. Wilfong sent me this horse a few months back when they were starting to lose a little patience with her," explained Welch. "I told them at that time my goal was to have her at her best for one race that she had on her card and that was this one. We took our time with her and the patience paid off tonight. I love it when a game plan comes together like this one did."   With the victory More Than Likely, who was dispatched at odds of 7-1 now boasts a record of 2-1-1 in nine lifetime starts with earnings of $47,063. Tom Kelley

State-bred trotting fillies grabbed center stage on Sunday night at the harness racing meeting at Balmoral Park as a field of 10 diagonally gaited youngsters met in a $12,500 Lady Lincoln Land Stake elimination.    The top seven finishers will return for next week's $80,000 (est.) final, which is the richest event of the season for these Prairie State youngsters.   They will be joined by Shez A Devil Woman, Surviver Di and Awfully Emotional.   Taking advantage of a perfect pocket sitting trip after leaving from post position two Providence West's Vengeful returned to her winning ways as she trotted to a hard earned three-quarter-length victory in 1:59.2. Perfectly positioned in the garden spot as Powerful Princess (John De Long) carved out splits of 30.3, 1:01.2 & 1:30.4, Casey Leonard moved to the outside with the Kenny Collier trained daughter of Powerful Emotion--Over The Top with an eighth of a mile to go. Gradually wearing down the stubborn first time starter this year's Hanover Stake winner finally moved past the pace setter with 50 yards to go and began to draw clear in the shadow of the wire for her fourth win in eight lifetime starts. Powerful Princess turned in a very respectable effort in her career debut to be the bridesmaid while More Than Likely (Kyle Wilfong) finished third. Also gaining spots in the final were Fox Valley Honey, Praise Singer, Lilbitoftrixie and Swift Cougar. Heavily backed at the betting windows Vengeful returned $4.60, $3.00 & $3.00 while running her career earnings over the $25,000 mark.   Sophomore trotting fillies were also in action on Sunday night as a field of six ICF trotters battled in a $13,550 Lady Ann Reed Stake consolation.   Lynn & Barbara Wilfong's None Of That Stuff proved to be far too much for this field to handle as she powered up first over on the far turn then left her rivals in her wake while cruising to a 3½ length victory in a career best of 1:57.0 for driver Kyle Wilfong. She'z So Sassy (Todd Warren), the 6-5 favorite of the betting public finished a hard fought second while Divinely Floozy (Tim Curtin) was third. The Amanda Cope trained daughter of Designer Lindy--No Joshin returned $9.20, $3.80 & $2.60 while pushing her career bankroll over the $14,000 mark in this her first season of racing.   Tom Kelley

Illinois conceived and foaled pacers grabbed the spotlight on Saturday night at Balmoral Park as the Crete oval played host to four stake races which were fashioned for pacers who competed on the harness racing Super Night.   Freshman pacing fillies kicked off the night's action as a field of six youngsters battled for $11,700 in the Thrifty Way Stake.   After a tough first over trip got the best of her on Super Night the Robert Phillips owned and trainer Fox Valley Gypsy avenged that loss with an impressive 3¼ length come from behind victory in 1:56.1 for driver Clifton Bell. Sassy Ellie (Robert Smolin) rallied to be second while Infatuated Love (Mike Oosting) finished third.   The winner, who is daughter of Yankee Skyscaper--Genna Blair was bet as though defeat was out of the question returning just $2.80, $2.40 & $2.10.   A total of 13 freshman pacing colts were dropped into the box for the Yates Eagle Stake necessitating a split into a pair of $8,000 divisions.   In the opening split Jerry Graham's Bayside Tequilla was given a confident steer by driver Mike Oosting and the son of Duneside Perch--Fox Valley Tulip responded with a sharp first over half-length victory in a career best of 1:55.0. Fox Valley Chino (Kyle Wilfong) finished as the runner-up while Bowedfortyova (Pat Curtin) who posted a consolation victory on Super Night, was forced to settle for third.   The Tom Simmons trained gelding returned $8.00, $3.60 & $2.20 while posting his second lifetime victory.   In the second division Ervin Miller Stable and Robert McCormick's Goinduneside, the even-money choice of the betting public rewarded his legion of backers with a thrilling nose decision in a lifetime best of 1:54.1 for Casey Leonard. Moving up second over on the final bend the son of Duneside Perch--Artisocracy powered home in 27.3 to notch his second win in 11 starts. Red Red Redneck (Ridge Warren), who carved out all the splits held on gamely to finish second while Silver Sage (Mike Oosting) was third.   The Ervin Miller trainee returned $4.20, $2.40 & $2.10 while moving his career bankroll over the $20,000 mark.   A field of seven sophomore pacing fillies faced the starting gate for the $15,970 Grandma Ann Consolation as the fast paced action continued.   After being hampered by an outside draw in last week's Super Night final the Alex Adam trained BS Tyrichess took advantage of a mid-pack post on Saturday night as she cruised to an easy 2½ length front stepping score in 1:54.1 with Brian Carpenter in the bike. Lockport Legend (Todd Warren) wound up in the bridesmaid role while Duneside Perttie (Mike Oosting) was third.   Hammered at the windows the daughter of Richess Hanover--Fox Valley Tyra returned just $2.60, $2.20 & $2.10 while upping her career bankroll to $50,048 for the partnership of Alex Adam, Frank Santilli, M. Klimas and Green Acres.   The final event of the night featured three-year-old pacing colts as a field of 10 squared off in the $16,680 Langley Memorial Consolation.   This test produced another winner who was victimized by a poor post on Super Night as the Nelson Willis trained Fox Valley Elijah took advantage of a much better starting spot as he zipped by his rivals in the lane to record a head decision in a career best of 1:52.2. Longshot Casey At Bat (Kyle Wilfong) came flying late to finish second while Dixie's Boy (Matt Krueger) was third.   The win was the third in 13 starts for the altered son of Sportsmaster--Eternal Gift who returned $6.40, $4.40 & $2.60 while pushing his career bankroll over the $45,000 plateau.   Tom Kelley

Super Night XXVII at Balmoral Park is in the books as Saturday’s eight championship events showcased the Prairie States top harness racing pacers and trotters. Despite heavy rains early in the day and fall temperatures in the air the track was lightning fast as the fans enjoyed the fast paced action on and off the track with a variety bands and party packages keeping the festivities flowing.     The championship action kicked off in race three with a full field of 10 sophomore trotting fillies squaring off in the $79,000 Lady Ann Reed Stake.   Despite the fact that four of the starters wound up making early breaks it still turned into a thrilling finish as Bi Polar Rose held off the late bid of Fox Valley Yoko to prevail by a head in 1:57.1, giving Matt Krueger his first Super Night championship. Patient ID (Robert Smolin) was third.   “When I saw all those horses inside of me making breaks I really had no choice but to leave out of there and try to get to the front,” said a very happy Krueger. “I was able to settle in for a quick bit early but she felt really good so I let her go on she did her own thing on the front end.”   After opening up a two-length lead at the top of the stretch the daughter of Polar Winner—I Still Owe appeared to be tiring in the late stages as Fox Valley Yoko (Kyle Wilfong) was suddenly finding her best stride after a second over journey.   “I stepped on the gas with her coming out of the turn because I wanted to put some distance between my filly and Kyle’s filly,” explained Kreuger. “I heard her coming strong as we got down by the wire but my horse just dug in and came up huge to hold her off.”   The winner is trained by Ronnie Roberts who also picked up his first Super Night championship. Overlooked a bit in the wagering Bi Polar Rose returned $13.80, $5.20 & $4.20 while pushing her record to 4-3-0 in 14 starts this year with career earnings of $132,282.   Sophomore trotting colts were next on the docket as a field of eight diagonally gaited three-year-olds battled in the $74,000 Su Mac Lad Stake.   This one took a while to decide but after a long look at the photo it was Charles Doehring and John D Finn’s Captain Greedy who prevailed by the slimmest of margins, edging out 40-1 longshot Vick Valor in 1:57.3 for J D Finn.   Sent to the front from post six by his driver-trainer Captain Greedy carved out splits of 29.0, 58.3 & 1:27.3.   “He was a little bit sick last week so I kind of took it easy on him in that prep,” said Finn. “Tonight I had every intention of getting him to the top and going as far as we could go.”   Battling his chief rival Fox Valley Qatar (Pat Curtin), who pulled from the pocket as the field neared the top of the stretch, the gelded son of Yankee Valor—Tropical Trixie appeared to be beaten several times. Showing the grit and determination that had netted him 15 career victories coming into this race, Captain Greedy continued to battle back, putting away that rival with 50 yards to go and then doggedly keeping a nostril in front of a hard charging Vick Valor (Jeffrey Kirk) who was closing in the center of the track. Fox Valley Qatar was forced to settle for the show dough.   The never die say die attitude that Captain Greedy exhibited did not surprise Finn who recently notched his 1,000th career victory.   “He will never stop trying for you,” said his proud pilot. “If you keep driving on him he will give you everything he’s got. He’s overcome a lot of things already and he just keeps getting better and better.”   The 3-2 favorite returned $5.00, $3.40 & $2.80 while running his career slate to a very impressive 15-5-4 in 31 starts with earnings of $151,806.   The first pacing championship of the night was next as a field of nine two-year-old fillies lined up behind the gate for the $155,000 Filly Orange & Blue Stake.   After some early excitement which saw the fillies battling three across the track through the entire first turn Quaid Racing LLC’s Char N Marg wound up parlaying a pocket sitting trip into a four-length victory in 1:52.4 with Casey Leonard at the controls.   After all the early action Lexington Lady (Brian Carpenter) finally grabbed control of things on the backstretch leading the field through splits of 28.0, 55.2 & 1:24.0.   With the leader starting to drift out while getting a leg weary in the lane. Leonard guided the Nelson Willis trained daughter of Sportsmaster—Zip Up You Pans up the inside where she exploded past the pace-setter to notch her fifth win in 10 lifetime starts. Lexington Lady held on for second while Dandy’s Diva (Mike Oosting) rallied to be third.   The bay filly who was a close second choice in the wagering returned $5.00, $2.40 & $2.20 while upping her career earnings to $96,211 which did not surprise Willis who now boasts nine Super Night titles.   “I told the owners when this horse was training down over the winter that she was going to be a nice filly,” said Willis. “Of course it’s always great when you turn out to be right about one but she’s always been ahead of the grade so to speak and she definitely shows up every week for you.”   Older mare pacers were next on the program as a field of 10 stepped on to the track for the $95,000 Lorna Propes Championship.   As she’s done so often this season John Barnard’s Ryleigh’s Lilly overpowered her rivals in the late going as she went sailing past her rivals in the stretch to win by two-lengths in 1:52.4 for driver Casey Leonard.   Confidently handled by her red-hot pilot the five-year-old daughter of Western Hero was positioned in mid-pack while the lead changed hands several times through opening splits of 28.0, 55.4 & 1:24.2.   “It looked like there was going to plenty of speed to keep things honest up front and it certainly worked out that way tonight,” Leonard explained. “I didn’t want to go three-wide quite as early as I did but I wasn’t about to let those front horses get away from us.”   Zooming by her rivals in the lane, Ryleigh’s Lilly was on cruise control through the final sixteenth of a mile as she reported home with her 19th career victory. Just By Design (Dale Hiteman) shook loose late to rally for the place money while Rev Me Up (Brian Carpenter) was third.   The overwhelming 2-5 favorite returned $2.80, $2.40 & $2.10 while hiking her career bankroll up to $173,968.   A stretch of four straight championship tilts to close out the night kicked off with a field of 10 older pacers slugging it out in the $92,000 Tony Maurello Stake.   This race produced the fastest mile of the night as the rock-solid speedball Ice Scraper made every call a winning one in route to 1 ½ length decision in a stakes record time of 1:49.1.   Driven like he was the best by Brian Carpenter the six-year-old son of Yankee Skyscaper ripped through splits of 26.3, 53.2 & 1:20.4 while going along unchallenged on the front end.   “He loves the front and that was the plan going into this,” said Carpenter. “Mike (Brown) said that if Unlocked came at us hard to go ahead and cut him loose but my horse felt so good there was no way I wanted to do that tonight.”   Sprinting away from his rivals in the lane, the Mike Brown trainee was never seriously threatened the rest of the way as he strolled under the wire with his 30th lifetime victory. Cole Heat (Dale Hiteman) shook loose late to rally for second while Fiveknuckleshuffle (Robert Smolin) was third.   The third choice in the wagering despite a pair of sub-1:50 wins over his last three starts Ice Scraper returned $9.60, $5.20 & $4.60 while upping his career bankroll to $380,854 for owner James Behrendt.   Sophomore pacing fillies followed as a field of nine ladies met in in the $116,000 Grandma Ann Stake.   Parlaying a superb steer and a perfect trip into the biggest win of her career D Kay Bartlow’s Fox Valley Brooke came charging through the passing lane for a two-length victory in a career best of 1:52.3 for driver Ridge Warren.   Perfectly positioned along the pylons as Lex (Kyle Wilfong) and Fox Valley Aubrey battled for control of the proceedings Warren had the daughter of Yankee Skyscaper—B R Golden Girl fit and fresh as the field turned for the money.   “She showed me last week that she was a really nice filly,” said Warren. “I kind of got her boxed in and bottled up last week but she paced good and strong all the way to the wire. I knew if I could find some room for her tonight she was going to be a big threat.”   Unleashing a wicked closing burst after moving into the passing lane the Nick Prather trained miss easily reeled in the pace setters and then drew clear for her eighth win in 14 career starts. Lex was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role on this night while Fox Valley Aubrey was a hard fought third. Heavy favorite Fox Valley Charm made an early break and wound up finishing last.   Fox Valley Brooke obviously caught the eye of the astute handicappers with her effort last week as she returned $11.20, $4.40 & $3.40 off an 8-1 morning line. With the win the filly now has earnings of $56,684.   Up next was the $112,000 Pete Langley Memorial which attracted a field of 10 sophomore pacing colts.   Fresh off a win in the Dudley Hanover Stake down in DuQuoin Dinky Dune continued his “dream season” as he rolled to a one-length victory in a career best of 1:51.4 giving driver Pat Curtin and trainer Dane May their first Super Night championships.   Working out a second over trip while Earndawg (Todd Warren) carved out splits of 28.0, 56.1 & 1:24.0 Curtin had the son of Duneside Perch—Dream Hand in perfect striking position as the field turned for home.   “All night I had my mind set on wanting to get into the two-hole with this horse,” said a very excited Curtin. “Then right before we went out there Dane said to me Pat please just give him a trip and try to be second over with him and that’s what happened. Dane was definitely right on with that one!”   Gradually reeling in a tiring Earndawg Dinky Dune was well in hand to Curtin as he charged home in 27.2 to record his sixth win 14 starts this season. Earndawg turned in a game effort from the 10-hole to finish second while longshot Mighty Hot Shot (Ridge Warren) was third.   The winner returned $7.80, $4.40 & $3.20 while upping his career earnings to $84,852.   The richest event of the night was saved for last as a field of nine closed out the night in the $187,000 Orange & Blue Stake.     Taking advantage of some brisk early fractions, Kay Willis’s Dan D Dune came flying through the stretch to win by a half-length in a career best of 1:53.3 for driver Mike Oosting.   Pacing along third over while Royale Rose (Matt Krueger) faced constant pressure through splits of 26.4, 56.2 & 1:25.1 Oosting moved the Nelson Willis trained son of Duneside Perch—Witch Hanover three deep as the field hit the head of the stretch.   “I was a little concerned with how far back we were but I knew those horses up front were getting roughed up pretty good,” said Oosting. “This horse has always finished up a mile well though and I knew if they faltered at all up there we were going to get there in time.”   Picking up one rival after another the Governor’s Cup winner zoomed right on a by with a well measured move from Oosting for his fifth win of his career. Wondrous Sport (Casey Leonard) was a tough luck second while BS Tyrrific (Kyle Wilfong) was third.   The ultra-consistent gelding returned $17.20, $6.80 & $3.80 while running his record to 5-5-1 in 12 starts with earnings of $119,431.     A crowd of just over 6,000 turned out and wagered more than $1.4 million on the 13-race card.   Tom Kelley

The definition of a war horse couldn't be more appropriate than for Fort Silky, who continues to impress harness racing fans week after week--despite being a healthy and hardy 9-year-old. What's the secret for his success?   Perhaps the key lies with his home life. The Leonard family--trainer Terry and driver Casey--have a long history of campaigning older horses. Fans will recall the tough Well To Do Guru, among others.   A winner of $781,376 in his career, the gelded son of Ft Apache Hanover has raced consistently since age three. He has been part of the Leonard team since late November 2012, and will be trying for career triumph 57 in Saturday's $92,000 Maurello Memorial for aged pacers at Balmoral Park.   Since joining team Leonard he's amassed slightly more than $500,000 for owners-breeders John Prentice and Neva Jane Ikeler--both of Paw Paw, IL.   "My father and uncle (Gary "Wiggles" Leonard) bought and paid for our farm by working with old sore claimers week after week--keeping them sound and racing," Casey, 38, explained. "They passed that program down to myself and my brother Ross and we continue with those today. It doesn't hurt that my dad shoes all of our horses himself, either. I think these kinds of horses respond well to our program, which includes a lot of fresh air, swimming and patience."   "Fort Silky has more guts than any other horse I've driven in the past," Casey continued. "He's the type that does the heavy lifting--he goes out week after week and grinds out the miles so other horses can sit in the pocket and benefit from his hard work."   "When I first got him, (Hall of Famer) Dave Magee came up to me and said, 'Fort Silky is one tough horse.' That's saying a lot--those words--coming from someone like Dave Magee, who has seen and driven all kinds of horses over the years."   This season Fort Silky has earned $56,709 from six wins, seven seconds and two thirds in 20 starts. Unfortunately, his last few races have been sub-par.   "I really wish this Super Night was either a month earlier or a month later from now," Casey admitted wistfully. "This horse just isn't himself. He's had a breathing issue and we just can't seem to get it under control right now. He's been on antibiotics and they're not helping him. I believe that it's part chronic allergies and part virus. If he steps up and wins Saturday, I can honestly say I'll be surprised."   Fort Silky was third in this same event in 2014, and second in the 2013 edition.   "The other side of the coin is that Fort Silky is another year older and another year less sound than he has been in the past," Casey assessed. "In addition, this year's race is made up of the toughest field of horses that I've seen in the last ten years. In the past, there were always one or two standouts that were going to be tough to beat, but this year, the whole field is outstanding. In fact, this field is made up of horses that could be an invitational field at any track in North America. That's how impressive it is."   Lifetime, Fort Silky has been behind the starting gate 226 times, with 56 wins, 51 seconds and 33 thirds. He recorded his career mark of 1:49.3 at Balmoral Park on Feb. 23, 2103 at age seven.   "He's gritty and he's tough," Casey said. "And he always gives 200 percent on the track. You can't ask for anything more from a horse so I would not count him out."   Tom Kelley

Earndawg--who captured the 2014 Orange & Blue in a freshman best 1:52.4 for trainer Roger Welch--will be trying for his second consecutive Super Night victory in the $112,000 Pete Langley Memorial at Balmoral Park. Though he has drawn the dreaded ten-hole, Welch is still confident of his colt's chances. Owned by William C (Bo) DeLong of Clinton, WI; William (Pat) DeLong of South Beloit, IL and Earnest Miller of Mount Horeb, WI, Earndawg was purchased for $35,000 at the 2013 Walker Sale. The son of Sportsmaster, out of the Western Hanover mare Pacific Sister K 4, 1:54M ($107,550), is a full brother to Mystical MJ p,3,1:51.1 ($298,918) and has half-siblings in: Doubleshotascotch (by Dragon Again) p,4,1:51.f ($739,491); Sunshine Sister (by Real Artist) p,3,1:54f ($147,217); and MJ's Sista (by Yankee Skyscraper) p,3,1:54.2 ($22,683). Despite earning $217,015 as a 2-year-old, Earndawg was no walk in the park to be around early in his career, Welch recalled.   "This colt initially was very spooky--he was scared to death of everything and it took a lot of work to get him to go around the track and pace a flat mile," Roger said.   Earndawg wore a blind bridle with an elaborately-designed fly screen to help keep him calm. Welch jogged and trained the nervous gelding behind another horse every time he went to the track in the beginning, to get him used to sounds and dirt being thrown up in his face.   Welch's efforts paid off, as the youngster won the $43,350 Cardinal at Maywood Park in 1:55.4 by 4½ lengths in wire-to-wire fashion and the $57,000 Abe Lincoln at Maywood in similar style. From 17 starts at two he amassed eight wins, four seconds and two thirds. The rambunctious youngster was then turned out for the winter at an Indiana farm. It was late April before he qualified and was ready to begin his sophomore contests.   "The colt matured a lot over the winter," Welch noted. "He came back and was better physically and sharper mentally as well. For a long time, we jogged and trained him in an open bridle and he seemed to be over his previous nonsense of shying from things."   Not so fast though. As Earndawg got closer to his qualifying date, he began "seeing" things on the track again.   "He kind of reverted back to his 2-year-old ways once he started getting close to qualifying, and as a result we had to put the mask back on him," Welch said. "I really thought he had it licked, but I think it's more of a game with him, then a case of him really being scared of things."   With or without his fly mask, Earndawg has continued to add money to his coffers despite a depleted Illinois purse account.   This season he has amassed $70,203 to date, with five wins, five seconds and a pair of thirds to his credit in 14 trips postward. He won the $36,000 Maywood Pace in 1:54.2 on June 19 and the $45,000 Incredible Finale at Balmoral in 1:51 on July 25. He captured his Illinois State Fair test on Aug. 15 in 1:52.3 and was a close second in his Langley elimination to Engine One O One last week. "The sad state is he's won every major 3-year-old test and still doesn't have a lot of money to show for it on his card," Welch lamented. "And now we have the ten-hole in the biggest race of the year. We'll see what happens. The trip is going to be crucial in here. We'll just hope for the best and hope that Earndawg continues to be as gritty as he has been all year long." Tom Kelley

All eyes will be upon the speedy Captain Greedy in the $74,000 Su Mac Lad Trot for harness racing 3-year-old colts and geldings at Balmoral Park.   A winner of $117,026 lifetime, Captain Greedy is a homebred son of Yankee Valor and is the first foal out of the Armbro Tropicana mare Tropical Trixie. He was foaled at Brownstown, IL on March 6, 2012 and is co-owned by trainer-driver JD Finn and partner Charles Doehring and was bred by Cary and Kimberly Doehring.   "He was just super from day one, and had a ton of natural ability," JD reported. "He rates right up there with some of the best I've trained and driven, including Koochie."   As a freshman, Captain Greedy was a terror on the Illinois County Fair tracks, winning two Big Ten Colt stakes; at Newton in 2:06 and at Altamont in 2:03.3 when he stormed to victory by an astonishing 36½ lengths with his trainer at the lines.   "It's difficult for me to say which of his races has impressed me the most," JD said. "He's given me so many good efforts and outstanding races that it's really tough for me to choose."   Captain Greedy's first pari-mutuel victory as a freshman came on July 9at Balmoral, when he trotted in 1:59.4. His other 2-year-old triumphs include a 2:05.1 victory in the Downstate Classic at Lincoln, before taking the $30,000 Illinois State Fair Stake at Springfield in 1:58~his best effort as a 2-year-old. He followed that up with a 1:59.3 mile in the $17,000 Darn Safe at DuQuoin. He wrapped up the season with a 9-2-3 record from 17 starts, with earnings of $60,953.   This season, the now 3-year-old Captain Greedy scored a trio of second-place finishes before scoring his first won on July 13 at Balmoral in 1:56.1. He also won the $7,706 Downstate Classic at Carrollton in 2:04.1; the $20,600 Hanover at Balmoral in 1:56.2 and the $6,800 Pronto Don at DuQuoin--when he was timed in a career best 1:55.4 for the one mile test.   "He's become even more of a Cadillac this year," JD offered.   Captain Greedy finished a strong second in his Su Mac Lad prep here one week ago to Tricky Nick, timed in 1:56.3. In just 13 starts this year he's amassed six wins, six seconds and a third in 13 trips postward with seasonal earnings of $56,433.   "I really can't say much about him except that he's one of the most naturally talented horses I've ever driven," JD concluded. "Trotting fast just is part of his make-up." Tom Kelley

Royale Rose, a winner of six of eight career starts, including a blistering 1:52.3 clocking in last week's elimination action has been installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite for Saturday's $187,000 Orange & Blue for harness racing 2-year-old pacing colts at Balmoral Park. The son of Ashlee's Big Guy-Caribe Royale-Sportsmaster has $30,449 in career earnings for owner Nicole Potts of Bourbonnais, IL, who plunked down just $3,800 at the 2014 Illini Classic Yearling Sale for the youngster.   Royale Rose was bred by Orville Rursch and foaled on April 8, 2013 at Taylor Ridge, IL, and is the fifth foal out of his dam. He is a half-brother to Majestic Royal (by Jody's Cam) p, 6, 1:52.4 ($103,114).   Despite the low purchase price for the youngster trainer Lyle Scurlock had high hopes for the colt right from the get-go.   "He had perfect confirmation and was just a great looking yearling," said Spurlock. "I remembered how tough his dam was and how she was able to grind out a pretty nice career bankroll despite racing in strictly overnight events. I figured if he had any of her heart in him for the price we were able to get him for it was definitely worth the risk for a first crop foal."   While training down for Scurlock the good looking bay did nothing but raise the hopes of all his connections.   "He was completely level headed and never gave us a problem at any point," explained Scurlock. "He never got pouty or anything like that no matter what came his way and he did everything and more that we asked of him. I wanted to avoid taking a chance at getting him "colt-sore" so I wasn't real tough on him but he always acted like he wanted to do more and that was very encouraging."   Royale Rose began his career by winning the $4,000 Bingo Johnnie Stake for ICF horses on June 13 at Balmoral Park in 1:57.2 by four lengths. He followed that up on June 20 with another victory in 1:56.1, leading every step of the way in a $5,000 ICF Stake at Balmoral.   On July 11 he finished a strong second to BS Tyrrific in 1:56.3 on the Crete oval, despite pacing his final panel in 26.3. He then returned to action on July 18th, capturing his $8,000 Mini Me elimination in 1:56.2 at Balmoral.   The only blemish on his otherwise near-spotless career came on July 25, in the Mini Me Final, when he stopped badly, finishing ninth.   "I changed a few things around after that start with his rigging and he immediately started to show signs of getting sharper once again," Scurlock explained. "Once he became accustomed to those changes he just continued chugging right along like an old pro which is why I like him so much."   Royale Rose rebounded with a big victory on Aug. 1, taking the $21,325 Hanover Stake at Balmoral in 1:54.3. He followed that up with a career best of 1:52.2 en route to winning the $8,000 Illinois State Fair Stake at Springfield on Aug. 14.   After being scratched sick on August 29 from an overnight test here at Balmoral Park the gelding once again shook off the effects of a three-week layoff while romping to a four-length victory in last week's elimination action.   "I just thought here we go again," said an astonished Scurlock. "He gets more adversity tossed at him but he handles it like an old pro and comes back with a huge effort last week to win his elimination. He just continues to shrug everything off, he never lets anything bother him and he's going into Saturday's race at 100%. We're set, he sure appears set and and we're all looking for another big effort from him!" By Tom Kelley  

Lexington Lady, a winner of seven of 10 starts this season, looks to be the one to beat in the $155,000 Orange & Blue Filly Championship at Balmoral Park on Saturday.   Trained and owned by Hosea Williams, the daughter of Lexington Legend-Sephie Kay-Sportsmaster was bred by Jerry Graham and was foaled May 18, 2013 in Salem, IL.   A bargain price at just $2,500 at the 2014 Illini Classic Yearling Sale, Lexington Lady is a half-sister to: Captain Obvious p,4,1:55 ($46,914); Stephie Clay p,6,1:56.1 ($36,260); Tornado Henry p,4,1:53.4 ($19,074); and Runinthrudabridle p,4,2:01.1f ($11,686)--all by Henry Clay.   "I always liked her sire, Lexington Legend, and had always followed his career," Hosea explained. "She was the only one by him in the sale and I studied the bloodline and I knew the mare too and I decided to look at the filly."   When Hosea went to take a look at the filly, he wasn't initially impressed.   "I really didn't like her," he offered. "She was sway-backed. But she had a nice barrel on her and her legs were straight and she stood well. I went and looked at a few other fillies, but in the end, I came back to her. I thought she might grow into herself and grow out of being sway-backed, and she just about has."   Being a bit sway-backed sure hasn't affected Lexington Lady's performance on the racetrack.   She began her career by finishing second in a Balmoral 2-year-old test, clocked in 1:56.3 on June 6 and two weeks later broke her maiden in a Balmoral overnighter in 1:55.4.   "John DeLong drove her those first two starts and told me when he won with her, 'Hosea, you can throw these hobbles away.' I thought well, maybe, I do have something here," Hosea remembered.   Five days later she won in wire -to-wire fashion (which would become her mantra) in 1:57.4 by four lengths at Maywood Park, with Brian Carpenter driving for the first time.   "When we first broke her to the cart and she hit the track, she did nothing but pace," Hosea explained. "I kind of thought then she might be a pretty nice filly."   On June 9 Lexington Lady posted a 1:55.4 clocking at Maywood and ten days later won by six lengths with a front-stepping 1:54.1.   On Aug. 2 she prevailed by 3¼ lengths in another wire-to-wire performance at Balmoral, than was a close second at Balmoral on Aug. 8 in 1:53.4.   Hosea then decided to ship his prize filly to Springfield for Illinois State Fair action.   "The morning of her Springfield race I put her grain in her bucket and she walked away from her feed, which wasn't like her.   But I took her temperature and she was fine," said Hosea. "Then, I got a call from Brian (driver Carpenter) who told me he was sick and wasn't going to be able to be there to drive her.   So after a while, I find a driver, but then he doesn't show up to drive and the horses are going out of the paddock, and I have to score her down.   I borrow a race bike and I'm out there warming her up with my knees up to my chin, because the bike was set for a shorter driver, and I'm thinking, 'there's no way I can drive this filly with this bike.'   I go around Springfield and on the backside I see Casey Leonard leaning on the fence and realized that he didn't have a horse in my race, so I get him to drive her at the last minute and he did a fine job with her."   Lexington Lady finished second in 1:54.2 , beaten just a neck, for Leonard.   "Casey told me afterward he thought she was just a little sick, so I gave her some time off before her next start," Hosea related. "But that whole Springfield experience was a bit nerve-wracking, to say the least."   Lexington Lady returned to Balmoral, where she posted a 1:53 score by 2½ lengths on Aug. 29, reunited with Carpenter, before winning her Orange & Blue elimination a week ago in an impressive 1:53.4.   Hosea said he doesn't believe in training fillies too much and that Lexington Lady had an easy week since her last race. "I grew up around Bruce Nickells and he didn't believe in training fillies really hard and I kind of follow his line of thinking," Hosea said.   "We've got the ten-hole, which isn't where I'd like to be, but I'm happy just to have a horse in this race."   Tom Kelley

Fresh off a very convincing 1¾ length score in last week's elimination action Peter Karras's Fox Valley Charm will put a three-race winning streak on the line when she steps on to the track as the morning line harness racing favorite in Saturday's $116,000 Grandma Ann Championship for three-year-old pacing fillies.   After admittedly flying under the radar a bit during her freshman season, the $2,500 yearling purchase has really started to blossom under the tutelage of veteran conditioner Dirk Simpson who seems to be quite smitten by the bay daughter of Yankee Skyscaper--Fox Valley Cherub.   "She's really a nice horse to be around every day," said Simpson. "She loves to do her work, she's happy to go out to the track and she's a big strong filly who is as consistent as they come and just seems to keep getting better and better."   Lightly raced during the 2014 season Fox Valley Charm gave her connections a pretty good preview of the talent she possessed right out of the box as she opened her career with three straight victories, which included a Department of Ag. Stake score in 1:55.1 at Springfield. After closing out her first season with a win in a Betzotic Stake at Balmoral in early November Simpson turned the filly out for some "growing up time". For the year Fox Valley Charm wound up with a record of four wins, three seconds and a third in 10 starts while racking up just over $25,000 in earnings.   "I was really happy with the way she finished up last year and when we put her away for the year she was still fresh and not worn down a bit," explained Simpson. "Her owner, (Peter Karras) believes in giving his horses plenty of time out in the field so we just took our time bringing her back and that's probably why it's starting to pay dividends later in the year like it is now."   An even bigger and stronger Fox Valley Charm made her sophomore debut in early June, tuning up for her second season with a sharp qualifying effort at Simpson's home base at the State Fair Grounds in Springfield. From there it was on to Hoosier Park for a couple of starts before returning to Illinois where she captured the Mystical Victress Stake in 1:53.3 on June 28th.   After a couple of uncharacteristic breaks cost her better finishes in the Ann Vonian Stake and the State Fair Stake in Springfield Simpson decided to make a couple of changes with the filly and those "tweaks" have seemed to do the trick. "One of the main things we wanted to do was get the same driver on her every week so we turned to Mike Oosting and he's done a great job with her," said Simpson. "We added a couple of head poles as well and covered her up a little bit and she's really been good these last few weeks. We're certainly hoping it continues right into Saturday's final for us." Oosting seems to be equally impressed by Fox Valley Charm's recent victories.   "She likes to leave out of there in a hurry and she really surprised me with how long she can carry that high turn of speed," said Maywood Park's leading driver. "I've been trying to teach her a few things in these last few starts as well and she really seems to get it. She is getting better and better with each start and I believe she's got some big things ahead of her if she continues to progress like she has."   Tom Kelley

A pair of American Nationals for 2yo trotters and another Super Night elimination closed the books on a busy holiday weekend of harness racing stake action at Balmoral Park. In the opening American National a field of seven diagonally gaited fillies lined up behind the gate to battle for a purse of $46,750. Overlooked in the wagering after having some "breaking" issues to start her career, Diamond Creek Racing and Robert & Lynda Stewart's Catch All was as sure footed as could be while stepping her way to a three-quarter length victory in a snappy 1:56.4 for driver Trace Tetrick. Ducked off the gate as Bold Dresser (Oyvind Hegdal) led the field through opening splits of 28.3 & 58.4 Catch All was positioned perfectly in third as she moved to the outside with the field heading around the final bend.   "I wanted to let her get settled in for a bit before I asked her for anything," said Tetrick. "When I raced her at the Indiana State Fair she felt great to me and she showed me that day that she could grind away on the outside if you needed her to."   Grind away she did on this night, drawing to within a head of the pace setter as the two fillies reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.1. In the lane the Bob Stewart trained daughter of Muscles Yankee--Clever Catch wore down the leader and proceeded to draw clear for her first career win in start number four. I Luv Blackhawkred (Lewayne Miller) turned a pocket sitting trip into a second place check while Bold Dresser held on for the show dough. After the impressive win, which was just three ticks off the track record of 1:56.1, Tetrick was quick to praise the $17,000 Lexington Select purchase. "I thought a lot of her after that second place finish in Indy," said Hoosier Park's leading reinsman. "Everything is still pretty new to her with this being only her fourth career start but I though she really stepped up tonight and showed that she's going to be a very serious race horse." The fourth choice in the wagering Catch All returned $21.40, $7.60 & $2.80 to her backers. Another 9-1 choice captured the $60,400 American National for 2yo trotting colts as Mystical Marker Farms, Bobby Brower, Ben Graber and Victory Hill Farms Barryscourt rallied in the final strides to nip 1-9 favorite Waitlifter K by a neck in 1:56.1. Perfectly handled by driver Lewayne Miller, the gelded son of Northern Kid--Katie Hall left alertly from post six and was able to find a seat in third as Waitlifter K (Trace Tetrick) carved out uncontested splits of 28.3, 57.3 & 1:26.2. With the heavy favorite opening up a three-length advantage at the top of the lane things looked bleak for the Bobby Brower trainee but Miller never stopped urging his charge as he gradually cut into the margin while racing on the outside of horses. With a sixteenth of a mile to go Barryscourt edged alongside the leader and gamely managed to poke a neck in front in the final strides to post his third win in four career starts. Waitlifter K was forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night while JD Cheese (Dale Hiteman) was third, 4¾ lengths behind the top pair. With the win the Kentucky Sire Stakes champion, who returned $20.20, $2.60 & $2.20 now boasts a gaudy bankroll of $125,400 in just four career starts. The final Super Night elimination of the busy weekend also put trotters in the spotlight as a field of 10 sophomore fillies battled in a $12,500 Lady Ann Reed Stake elimination. The top 9 finishers will return next Saturday for the $80,000 (est.) final where they will be joined by Persuasive Look. This battle produced one of the most impressive performances of the weekend as Dr. Patrick Graham's Fox Valley Yoko rallied from far back to win by a half-length in 1:58.2 for driver Kyle Wilfong. Hampered in the draw with post nine, the daughter of Pizzazzed--Hallie Rose saved ground for most of the mile while sitting near the back of the pack. After finally securing racing room in the lane, the Curt Grummel trained miss uncorked a huge rally going from eighth to first in the final quarter mile to notch her third win in 10 starts this year. Shez So Sassy finished in the bridesmaid role while Lc'snmotion (Mike Oosting) rallied to be third. Also gaining spots in the final were Bi Polar Rose, Fox Valley Harrah, Patient ID, Maple Grove Karen, None of That Stuff and Divinely Floozy. Tom Kelley  

The countdown to Super Night XXVII began in earnest on Saturday, September 5th at the harness racing meeting at Balmoral Park as a bevy of stake elimination's for Illinois biggest night of racing were contested. The action kicked off with a pair of $12,500 Filly Orange & Blue elimination's for two-year-old pacing fillies . With 16 entered for this stake, the top five finishers in each elimination will return for next week's $155,000 est. final. In the first division the Hosea Williams owned and trained Lexington Lady continued her mastery of this division, gamely fighting back in the closing yards to win by a head in 1:53.4 for driver Brian Carpenter.   Placed on top as the field moved to the half-mile mark the daughter of Lexington Legend--Stephie Kay drifted out a bit through a thrilling stretch drive and appeared headed with 100 yards to go by chief rival Char N Marg (Casey Leonard) before digging in late to hold on for her seventh win in 10 career starts. Char N Marg was forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night while Narcissistic (Brent Holland) rallied to be third. Fox Valley Bailey and Fox Valley Addison also gained spots in the final. In the second elimination Dandy Farms and John Carver's Dandy's Diva took the shortest route around the track to victory as she came rolling through the passing lane to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:55.4.   Perfectly handled by driver Mike Oosting, the Jim Ellison trained daughter of Sportsmaster--C Suzabelle sat inside throughout the mile as Likeafireballshot (Jared Finn) led the way through pedestrian splits. With plenty in reserve for the stretch battle Oosting secured racing room with a sixteenth of a mile to go and Dandy's Diva reeled in the embattled leaders to notch her second win in career start number five. Fox Valley Gypsy (Clifton Bell) overcame the outside starting spot to wind up second while Sara's Terror (Matt Krueger). Likeafireballshot and Lexirose earned the last two spots in the final with fourth and fifth place finishes respectively. Next up were older pacing colts as a field of 10 battled in a $12,500 Tony Maurello Memorial elimination. The top seven finishers will be joined by Ice Scraper, Fort Silky and Fiveknuckleshuffle in the $95,000 (est.) final. This battle produced another thrilling finish as Hugh Lacey's Cole Heat came storming up the passing lane to stick a head in front in the final strides while stopping the clock in a career best of 1:49.4.   Content to save ground while the heavily favored Unlocked (Brent Holland) led the field through some brisk splits, Cole Heat was shuffled all the way back to fifth as the field turned for home. But veteran reinsman Dale Hiteman never panicked, eventually finding a seam in the passing lane and the Ray Hanna trained seven-year-old responded marvelously as he stormed home in 26.2 to prevail in the blanket finish. Iam Bonasera (Ridge Warren) was a game second while Unlocked held on for third. A Cool Card was a close up fourth while the remainder of the spots in the final went to Uncle Bud (5th), Big Brad (6th) and Gibbs (7th). Sophomore pacing fillies were next on the docket as a field of 10 lined up behind the gate for the $12,500 Grandma Ann elimination. Once again the top seven finishers will move on to next week's $116,000 (est.) final where they will join Lex, Fox Valley Aubrey and Southern Girl. Chalk players were rewarded here as the Peter Karras owned Fox Valley Charm, the 1-5 favorite in the wagering cruised to an easy 1 ¾ length victory in 1:53.0 for driver Mike Oosting.   Confidently handled from post three the Dirk Simpson trainer daughter of Yankee Skyscaper--Fox Valley Cherub had things her own way on the "engine" after pulling off an early give and go with Sportsmuffler (Todd Warren). In control of things the rest of the way Fox Valley Charm opened up an insurmountable lead at the top of the stretch and was on cruise control the rest of the way as she recorded her sixth win in 12 starts this season. Fox Valley Brooke (Ridge Warren) shook loose late after getting shuffled back on the far turn to finish second while Luvniecestopieces (Casey Leonard) finished third. Also gaining spots in the final were Mr Leland's Filly, I Y Q Too, BS Tyrichess and Lockport Legend. As usual the Orange & Blue for 2yo pacing colts attracted the most entrants as a total of 29 youngsters were sent out in a trio of $12,500 elimination's. The top three in each elimination and one fourth place finisher (drawn by lot) will be back for Super Night's richest event with a purse of $186,000 (est.).   In the first division BS Tyriffic, one of the division leaders up to this point, had no trouble overcoming post eight as he scooted home with a 1 ½ length victory in 1:55.4 for driver Kyle Wilfong.   Making a steady advance on the outside of horses despite being parked for most of the mile, the Robert Sanders trained son of Richess Hanover--Fox Valley Tyra mowed down the leaders in the stretch to notch his fifth win in seven career starts. The pride of owners Robert, Jeremy and Louis Buttice and Frank Santilli also has a pair of seconds in his brief career. Goinduneside (Brent Holland) rallied nicely to pick up the place money while Silver Sage (Dale Hiteman) fought through a tough first over journey to get the show dough. Shootin To Kill was fourth. In the second division Frank Chick's Grizzer Bear staged a determined rally in the lane to get up in the final strides, winning by a neck in 1:54.3 with Brent Holland at the controls.   After saving ground through the early portion of this battle the Erv Miller trained son of Sportsmaster--Czarina Katrina appeared to be hopelessly shuffled to seventh at the top of the stretch. After running into another road block in mid-stretch, Holland made an aggressive move to the inside. The lightly raced youngster then gunned through along the pylons like a seasoned veteran to notch his first lifetime victory in start number four. Red Red Redneck (Ridge Warren) was a hard luck second while JB's Hero (Robert Smolin) was third. He Gone Jack went a long mile while finishing fourth. In the final division of the Orange & Blue eliminations Nicole Potts Royale Rose returned from a stint on the "sick" shelf to post a very impressive four-length victory in 1:52.3 for Matt Krueger. Despite facing constant pressure while posting wicked splits of 28.2, 55.1 & 1:23.2 the gelded son of Ashlee's Big Guy--Caribe Royale turned aside every challenge then left his rivals in his wake as he rolled to his sixth win in eight lifetime starts for trainer Lyle Scurlock. Dan D Dune (Mike Oosting) shook loose in time to rally for second while Wondrous Sport (Casey Leonard) was third. Longshot Big Monty finished fourth. A total of 19 distaffers were entered for the $95,000 (est.) Lorna Propes Stake for 3yo and up necessitating a pair of $12,500 eliminations with the top five advancing to next week's final.   In the first split it was John Barnard's Ryleigh's Lilly who lived up to her heavily favored status as she shook off a five week layoff to win by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:53.1 for Casey Leonard. After making a long first over sweep to the lead as the field moved down the backstretch the Bill Crone trained miss then held off several challenges as she stood tall to the wire for her seventh win in 19 starts this season. Togetherforever (Mike Oosting) turned in a solid effort to finish second while Incredible Filly (Mike Rogers) used a ground saving trip to get the show dough. Also gaining spots in the final were Just By Design and Moon Bay Dancer. In the nightcap the Merle P'Pool leased Rev Me Up overcame a tough trip to post a hard fought three-quarter-length victory in 1:53.1 for driver Brian Carpenter.   Despite being five-wide in the first turn and then having to rough it first over for the final five-eighths of a mile the eight-year-old daughter of Park Place still had enough to wear down the pace setting State Street Liz for her ninth win in 32 starts this season for trainer Mark P'Pool. Party Hangover (Mike Oosting) rallied late to finish second while Kimberly R (Dale Hiteman) was third. Also gaining spots in the final were State Street Liz and Thesleazyprincess. In a "prep" for the $112,000 (est.) Langley Memorial on Super Night, the red-hot Engine One O One continued his winning ways as he teamed up with Mike Oosting to record a sharp 1½ length victory in a career best of 1:52.4. Favored Earndawg (Todd Warren) held on well to finish second after carving out all the splits while Mighty Hot Shot (Ridge Warren) was third. Live racing continues on Sunday, Sept. 6th with a pair of American National Stakes for 2yo trotting colts and fillies sharing top billing while elimination's for the Lady Ann Reed and a Su Mac Lad Stake Prep will also be contested.   All the action gets underway at 7:10pm on Sunday night with the $1 Pick 4 (races 7-10) now featuring a $30,000 guaranteed pool.   The 10-cent Hi Five (race 10) will feature a guaranteed pool of $20,000 on Sunday's while the highly successful trifecta guarantee on race nine will give fans the chance to play into a $25,000 guaranteed pool.   Tom Kelley

Starting Friday, Sept 4th, Maywood Park and the USTA Strategic Wagering Program will increase the guaranteed Pick-4 pool from $10,000 to $15,000 on Friday nights. The increase is possible thanks to the success of the new wagering model that has Maywood and Balmoral offering three guaranteed pools every night. The total guaranteed pools offered by Maywood and Balmoral in September will exceed $1,000,000.   Maywood will now offer $95,000 per week in guaranteed pools. The Thursday guarantees will remain the same. A guaranteed pool of $20,000 on the ninth race trifecta, $10,000 on the tenth race High Five and $10,000 on the Pick Four, which is offered on the final four races of the night. The Friday guaranteed pools are led by a $25,000 trifecta pool on race 11, $15,000 on the High Five and the Pick Four with the new guarantee of $15,000.   Balmoral Park will also be raising guarantees in September. This Saturday, Balmoral Park will offer $100,000 in guaranteed pools on their Super Night Eliminations, which include a Pick Five guarantee of $20,000 thanks to a carryover of $5,399 from last Sunday night.   Free program pages are available each racing night courtesy of Track Master at The Pick-4 wager has a low 15 percent takeout every night. Tom Kelley

The top state-bred pacers in the Prairie State had the chance to strut their stuff on Saturday, August 22nd at Balmoral Park as a pair stake events shared top billing on a very strong Saturday night harness racing program   First on the docket were the state's top older pacers as a very evenly matched field of eight squared off in the $29,600 Big Tom Stake.   When the smoke cleared after a heated stretch drive it was Megan Rogers Racing Stable Inc.'s Unlocked who once again returned to the local scene in a big way, as he prevailed by a hard fought half-length in 1:49.4 for driver Lewayne Miller.   Given a perfect steer by Miller the four-year-old son of Duneside Perch used his inside post to save ground in third while the speedy Ice Scraper (Brian Carpenter) ripped through splits of 26.0, 54.0 & 1:21.1.   Engaging the pace setter with a first over bid as the field hit the top of the stretch these two prolific pacers battled tooth and nail through the lane before Unlocked finally forged to the front in the closing strides to notch his fourth win of the season. Ice Scraper was hard fought second while 66-1 outsider Cole Heat (Dale Hiteman) rallied to be third.   The win was the 16th in 45 career starts for the Erv Miller trainee who returned $4.40, $2.60 & $2.80 while upping his career bankroll to $310,692.   An overflow field of 11 distaffers, 3yo old and up, closed out the night's stake action as they lined up behind the gate for the $30,200 Parklane Powerful Stake.   Using an aggressive steer and a little "racing luck" to their advantage driver Robert Smolin hustled Jesse Ferge and Ron Phillips Fox Valley Aubry to the front and the speedy three-year-old made every call a winning one, hanging on gamely to score by a head in 1:53.2.   Sprinting away from post seven in the big field the daughter of Yankee Skyscaper--Assailed made the top without too much trouble leading the ladies through opening splits of 27.4 & 57.1.   That's when disaster struck for most of the field as a first over Joyful Game made a nasty break, taking herself out of the race and severely impeding seven of the trailing horses in this battle.   With things all her own way on the front end Fox Valley Aubry cruised by the three-quarter-mile mark with a two-length lead in 1:24.3.   Through the lane the Bob Phillips trained miss continued to show the way while bracing for the challenge of the pocket sitting Just By Design (Dale Hiteman). With the lead starting to evaporate in the final sixteenth of a mile, Fox Valley Aubry dug in gamely keeping Just By Design at bay just long enough to record her third victory of the year. Just By Design was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role on this night while Financial Effort (Casey Leonard) turned a ground saving trip into the show dough.   The third choice in the wagering Fox Valley Aubry returned $10.80, $6.20 & $4.20 while running her lifetime record to 14-5-5 in 32 starts with earnings of $67,714.   Live racing continues on Sunday, August 23rd at Balmoral Park. Once again all the action gets underway at 7:10pm on Sunday night and as always the $1 Pick 4 (races 7-10) features a $25,000 guaranteed pool. The 10-cent Hi Five (race 10) also features a guaranteed pool of $15,000 while the highly successful trifecta guarantee on race nine will give fans the chance to play into a $25,000 guaranteed pool. Tom Kelley

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