Hinsdale, IL — It’s long been known that the only certainty in horse racing is its uncertainly and we were reminded of that in last Sunday’s Hawthorne leg of its Night of Champion series for 2- and 3-year-old ICF trotters.
Of the six stakes series races conducted the favorite was beaten in five of the $25,000 series legs. Only the talented 3-year-old Niko Man, driven by Cordarious Stewart, came through for “chalk” players in his Erwin F. Dygert Memorial leg.
Some of the results weren’t major surprises, such as the Curt Grummel trained Calypso Moon’s victory in the first Fox Valley Flan division. The 2-year-old Lou’s Legacy filly was the second post time choice at 2-1 behind the 6-5 favorite Gjlindagrit. In addition, the win from Tru Cash (Cordarious Stewart) came as the public’s second selection at 7-2 behind the 4-5 “chalk” Fireballs Pride in their Kadabra leg.
On the other hand, Illini Diva (Cordarius Stewart) popped at $13.20 in her Fox Valley Flan grouping, and Fox Valley Parker (Gary Rath) got his maiden win at $13.40 in his Kadabra split.
The biggest surprise was when Bell Boots, driven by her trainer Matt Avenatti, captured the single $25,000 division of the Beulah Dygert Memorial at nearly 12-1 odds, holding off the 6-5 favorite Radiant Diamond (Travis Seekman) by a half-length.
The Lou’s Legacy-Honey In A Hurry homebred, owned by Toni Jo Bell, who along with Freddie Patton Jr. bred her, got a great trip from her driver and proved best in 1:56.2, knocking more than five seconds off her previous lifetime mark of 2:02 set at the Charleston Fair.
“We were able to get a good inside trip with her Sunday and she showed what she can do (in the stretch),” said Avenatti. “She’s been good at the right time.”
That she has.
Bell Boots dead-heated for second with Radiant Diamond in the $30,000 Windy Skeeter at Du Quoin, picking up 25 series points to go along with 50 from Sunday’s win, locking up a starting berth in the Plum Peachy championship on Oct. 14.
Matt was able to get Bell Boots away from the two-slot and into third in the early going. Fox Valley Shania, winner of both State Fair ICF stakes, never made the gate, going off stride before the start and again at the half.
The 4-1 second choice Dawn Of Creation never fired, the pacesetting Shespertifulikpert was on empty in the stretch, and favorite Radiant Diamond, winner of three of her four previous races, was more than five lengths behind with a quarter of a mile to go.
Obviously, the door was open for an upset, and Bell Boots trotted her way through it at $25.80 for her sixth win in a busy 22 season’s starts.
Bell Boots raced out of the barn of owner Toni Bell as a 2-year-old and was one for 10, although she never missed a check on the County Fair circuit. She made a modest $6,417. However, she’s added another $38,218 on her card this year while under the care of the much-traveled Avenatti.
Matt has crisscrossed the state many times while competing on the County Fair circuit and driving on the Springfield and Du Quoin Fairgrounds.
“It’s a 3-1/2 hour drive from my place in Chrisman (IL) to Hawthorne and I’ve already made the trip three times,” said Matt.
As long as Bell Boots keeps showing she has the ability to race with the bigger names in the Illinois bred second season filly pacing division, Matt won’t mind the drive a bit.
Matt and his younger brother Wyatt are sons of the veteran Illinois horseman David Avenatti who has been a staple on the state’s County Fair Circuit for decades.
Matt dropped Bell Boots right back in the entry box and she’ll race in Saturday’s first race in a major class drop. Next up could be next week’s (Oct. 6) fourth and final leg of the Beulah Dygert trotting series.