Searle off to hot start at Hawthorne

Stickney, IL — Week two of the harness season at Hawthorne was vastly different from opening weekend in regards to weather as temperatures rose by 20 degrees and a feeling of spring was in the air. Week two also produced some fine results for horses and barns that showed they were fit and ready for the early start to the racing season.

One barn that has benefited early on is trainer Steve Searle’s stable. After a strong opening weekend that saw three Searle entrants find their way into the winner’s circle along with four others finish second from nine starts, there was no slowing them down in week two.

Things got off to a quick start for Searle on Saturday evening (Feb. 22) as Louscardamon trotted to victory in the night’s opener in 1:58 for driver Casey Leonard, making her the first two-time winner of the meet.

In the very next race we had our second repeat winner as Searle trained trotter Louzotic (1:56.4) was impressive in winning right back over another Searle trainee in Lousraptor. Casey Leonard was in the bike with Louzotic, giving him the early double.

After Illinois-bred Rollin Coal (1:55.4) was game in victory for driver Juan Franco and trainer Hosea Williams in race three, we had another two-time winner on the meet in the fourth race. Todd Warren trained and driven Always A Law (1:53.4) just held off Salvatore to win the fourth by a nose.

The middle part of Saturday’s 13-race card belonged to trainers Merv Chupp and Derek Burklund.

Chupp trained Its Chocolate Time (1:58.4) who trotted to a win for Brandon Bates in race five. Chupp also sent out Northern Angle (1:54.2) to a score for Casey Leonard in race eight.

Derek Burklund trainees found the winner’s circle three times Saturday. Race six saw a 6-1 upset as Luke’s Rocketman (1:56) scored for Kyle Wilfong. The duo of Burklund and Wilfong was right back in the winner’s circle the following race, this time with Castle Flight (1:51.1), a five length winner in a tough open pace. Tyler Shehan guided home 20-1 shot Holdonwe’rerolling (1:54.2) to a clear victory in race ten, leading a $161.80 Burklund exacta which saw his Adventure Bound finish second in that race.

Saturday night closed with driver Casey Leonard getting his fourth win on the card as Ponda’s Prospect (1:55) won race 12. Driver Kyle Wilfong capped Saturday night, grabbing his third victory of the evening as Boogie On Down (1:55.2) won the nightcap.

Sunday night at Hawthorne was a tale of two halves as the first half of the card saw upsets aplenty while the second half was very chalky.

The evening kicked off with 7-1 winner Toxic Rock (1:55.3) for driver Ridge Warren and trainer Mike Brink. It was bombs away in race two as Perfectly Dune (1:59) got up in the shadow of the wire for driver Travis Seekman to win at odds of 96-1 for trainer Matt Rodriguez. With a 48-1 third-place finisher and 28-1 fourth-place finisher in that race, the 20-cent superfecta returned $12,187 to a single winner.

In race three it was 10-1 shot Downwyn Shark (1:54.2) who was game on the front end for trainer Marna Shehan and driver Tyler Shehan. Third choice My Uptowne Girl (1:57) won race four, making her the fourth repeat winner at the meet, before 8-1 winner Queens N Tens (1:55.4) become the fifth two-time winner at the meet, scoring in race five.

Despite the far outside draw, Dirt E Rock (1:56.2) was very impressive at first asking, winning her debut in race six for trainer Mike Brink as he was driven by Mike Oosting. Thought Provoking (1:55.4) won race seven, making her the sixth repeat winner in the first two weeks of racing. Leonard and Searle teamed up to win the eighth with Joe Joes Violet (2:00.4) before Tyler Shehan and Derek Burklund closed out the weekend with Pirates Alley (1:56.1) winning the Sunday finale.

Two weeks in, driver Casey Leonard has moved to the top of the driver standings with nine wins. Brandon Bates continued his hot start as he is second in the standings with eight victories. Mike Oosting follows with six wins and Todd Warren has five.

Trainer Steve Searle has sent out six winners to open the meet while 13 of his first 18 starters have found the board. Derek Burklund’s good weekend moved him to second with four victories while Jace Sundeen and Terry Leonard are tied with three wins apiece.

Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago’s Hometown Track, races through Sunday (Sept. 20). Post time nightly is 7:10 p.m. For more information, visit or contact Hawthorne at 708.780.3700.

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