Stickney, IL — A busy return to live racing continued at Hawthorne as races continued to fill very well. With claiming series coming to their conclusion and Night of Champions action moving forward, there was an abundance of competitive racing for the top horses on the grounds. Over the past three day weekend, between added non-wagering events and live racing cards, 45 races were conducted around the Hawthorne oval.
The 15-race Friday card had its share of features with two divisions of leg two of the Robert F. Carey Jr. Memorial, leg one action in the Incredible Finale, as well as a fine field of open pacers.
The Robert F. Carey Jr. Memorial for Illinois-bred 3-year-old male pacers was raced in two divisions over a sloppy racetrack. The first division was won impressively by Megan Rogers Racing Stables Inc.’s Fox Valley Ren. Sent off as the heavy 1-9 choice, Fox Valley Ren was in full control for driver Kyle Wilfong, extending his margin at each call. He would go on to win by 8-1/4 lengths in 1:54.1 for trainer Nelson Willis. Illini Force finished second while Bagman was third.
The second division of the Carey was also won by the heavy choice. This time it was Triple Zzz Stable’s He’zzz A Wise Sky, rolling home for Robert Smolin. Settling early, He’zzz A Wise Sky took over in the stretch and drew clear through the wire in 1:53.4 for trainer Don Filomeno. Rg’s Tracer was second while Ryans Ambassador finished third.
A field of seven 2-year-old Illinois-bred male pacers lined up in leg one of the Incredible Finale. Owned and bred by Flacco Family Farms, Ryans Loan Shark controlled the pace from the start for driver Cordarius Stewart, holding sway to win in 2:01.2. Trained by Roshun Trigg, Ryans Loan Shark pulled off the slight upset as the third choice in the race. Partyatmosasplace was second while Prince Of Style finished third.
Perennial Illinois-bred champ Fox Valley Gemini capped the night as he returned in fine fashion in the night’s open pace. Settling at the back of the pack early, driver Casey Leonard tipped out Fox Valley Gemini in the lane as he rolled home to a win in 1:53.3. Trained by Terry Leonard, Fox Valley Gemini is owned by Jim Ballinger.
With clear skies returning on Saturday, more stakes legs continued. Before the stakes legs were contested, open trotters took to the track early in the evening. Chupp Racing Stable Inc.’s Pine Dream was in full control, leading from start to finish while winning in 1:55. Todd Warren drove for trainer Merv Chupp.
A pair of divisions of leg two of the Plum Peachy followed. The Plum Peachy is for Illinois-bred 3-year-old filly pacers. The first division had a heavy favorite as 1-9 shot Sleazy Gal narrowly held off longshot Amazon Princess to win by a half-length in 1:56.3. Owned by Engel Stable of IL and trained by Erv Miller, Sleazy Gal was driven by Casey Leonard.
The second division of the Plum Peachy had another heavy favorite. This time it was Fox Valley Exploit for owners David Brigham and trainer Kyle Husted. With Husted in the bike, Fox Valley Exploit moved early to the lead and held off the late rally of Sign Her Up to win by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:54.2.
Illinois-bred 2-year-old filly pacers made their Hawthorne debuts in leg one of the Incredible Tillie. Driver Ridge Warren guided Connie On The Go to a late closing victory by a half-length over Princess Mooss in 1:59.3. Clearly The Bomb was a game third. Connie On The Go is owned by Ronald Phillips and John Carver and trained by Jamaica Patton.
Sunday kicked off with three non-wagering events as Night of Champions legs continued. First off was the first leg of the Fox Valley Flan for Illinois-bred 2-year-old filly trotters. Trainer Steve Searle swept the trifecta as Lous Voodoo Woman won for driver Kyle Wilfong in 2:01.3. She was followed by Searle trainees Loulita and Lou Lou Lamour. Lous Voodoo Woman is owned by Steven Renard.
The second of the non-wagering events was for 3-year-old Illinois-bred filly trotters in the first division of the Beulah Dygert Memorial. It was another Steve Searle trainee who was victorious as Lous Abigail held off Fox Valley Extacy in 1:58.1 for driver Casey Leonard. Lous Abigail is owned by Flacco Family Farms.
The final non-wagering event had Illinois-bred 2-year-old male trotters taking to the track in leg one action of the Kadabra. Driver Casey Leonard found himself in the winner’s circle again, this time with Coco D’ Lascito for trainer Jenna Lubeck. In full control from start to finish, Coco D’ Lascito won by five lengths in 2:01.4 for owner Samuel Daddono. Shady Maple Spirit was second while Rndmnunpredictable finished third.
The Sunday pari-mutuel card had three more Night of Champions events with a pair of divisions of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial as well as the second division of the Beulah Dygert Memorial.
Illinois-bred 3-year-old male trotters were the focus in the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial. The first division saw the favorites finish one-two as Ed Teefey’s Crooked Creek held off On Higher Ground to win in 1:57. Crooked Creek was driven by Mike Oosting. Both of the top two finishers were trained by Mike Brink. Lous Paisano would go on to finish third.
The second division of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial went to heavy favorite Fox Valley Quest. Trained by Tom Simmons and driven by Casey Leonard, Fox Valley Quest won by nearly five lengths in 1:58 over Desert Sheik and Mr Red Thunder. Fox Valley Quest is owned by Carl Lacy and Benita Simmons.
The second division of the Beulah Dygert Memorial was won in fine fashion by Bee See. Owned by Molly Baldes, Steve Searle, and Michael and Chris Paloma, Bee See took advantage of a break at the start by favorite Fox Valley Lush and was in control throughout. Driven by Kyle Husted, Bee See won in 1:59 for trainer Steve Searle.