The march to Hawthorne’s Night of Champions continues Friday night

Hinsdale, IL — The march to Hawthorne’s Night of Champions continues Friday night (Sept. 22) for ICF male pacing 2- and 3-year-olds with one major change in the sophomore division.

Returning to the races for only his second start of the year and his first in almost three months is last season’s ICF 2-year-old pacer of the year Fox Valley Langley for trainer Jamaica Patton.

Fox Valley Langley’s lone 2023 trip to the starting gate came in a division of the Cardinal stake on June 22 at Springfield where he was a non-threatening fourth.

“The horse has been dealing with an abscess on his right front leg. We’ve been working on it for months. I thought about bringing him back for Du Quoin, but I wanted to make sure he was at 100 percent when he raced, so I waited for this series leg at Hawthorne.”

Fox Valley Langley faces a difficult task to make next month’s Robert F. Carey championship. The final field is based on the total number of points earned in the four legs of the series with a limit of a 10-horse field. Fifty points for a win, 25 for second, 12 for third, eight for fourth and five for fifth. A single point is awarded for a series start.

“If he does well enough in these last two legs to make the final, that’s great. If not, that’s okay, too. He’s a good horse with a good future ahead of him.”

In his freshman season Fox Valley Langley was a seven-time winner, mostly state-bred stakes, and banked almost $58,000 for Illinois owners Lyle Lipe and Melvin Schoneweis.

“The horse raced very well in his qualifier (1:55.1, :27.2 last quarter),” continued the Mississippi native. “He gets excited to race and now that there are no issues with him, he’ll get his chance.”

Fox Valley Langley drew nicely with the two-post for driver Travis Seekman in Friday’s seventh race, second Carey division where he’ll have to take on the ICF 3-year-old leader Fox Valley Landen (post five, Kyle Husted) currently on an eight-race winning streak with a pair of 1:50 miles on his card this season.

Awaiting “Langley” and “Landen” are Fox Valley Treason (Phil Knox), Fox Valley Cayman (Casey Leonard), Fox Valley Steeler (Cordarius Stewart), Illini Jetset (Todd Warren), Kage Daniel (Juan Franco) and Unhynged Speed (Kevin Lambright).

The first $25,000 Carey split goes as the second race with six starters. From the pole position out you’ll find Shark Solicitor (Matt Avenatti), Fox Valley Presley (Todd Warren), Fox Valley Patriot (Casey Leonard), Fox Valley Jasper (Cordarius Stewart), Ghost Shark (Travis Seekman) and Dinger Gram (Wyatt Avenatti).

With 24 horses entering the first Hawthorne leg of the Incredible Finale series, three $25,000 divisions, each with eight juvenile pacers, were necessary.

The current “King of the Hill” in the ICF freshman male pacing division, Guitar Man, heads up the first race grouping. The Rob Rittof trained gelding has won his last three races by an average of more than eight lengths and owns the fastest time this year in his state-bred class of 1:51.3.

Taking on Guitar Man (Kyle Husted) are Who’zzz This Sky (Watt Avenatti), Love Is Blue (Gary Rath), Rayjen (Travis Seekman), Rockonbigstar (Jamaica Patton), JR Strike Three (Casey Leonard), Fox Valley Kodiak (Cordarius Stewart) and You Never Can Tell (Juan Franco),

The fourth race second Incredible Finale division has both recent ISFCS champions dueling — Fox Valley Julian (Casey Leonard) and Gorgeous Big Guy (Todd Warren).

The Mike Brink trained Fox Valley Julian paced a Hawthorne freshman track record 1:52.1 mile two starts ago. Meanwhile, Gorgeous Big Guy has new connections for tonight’s race. He was sold to Doug Overhiser and Mark Winship and now is in the barn of trainer Erv Miller’s Midwest Division.

They’ll be confronted by Downtownleroybrown (Travis Seekman), R Tyler Towne (Wyatt Avenatti), Erico Pallazzo (Juan Franco), Mooss Trax (Gary Rath), Freedom’s Playboy (Kyle Husted) and My Buddy Steve (Kevin Lambright).

The Erv Miller stable’s Fox Valley Durham (Cordarius Stewart) will open as the 6-5 favorite on the sixth race third grouping. Ashleecoldmuffler (Todd Warren), Redhot Sky (Casey Leonard), Catatonic Iguana (Phil Knox), Holy Lucifer (Matt Avenatti), Bellas First Mooss (Gary Rath), Fox Valley York (Kyle Husted) and Gotta Go Gram (Travis Seekman) all are looking to pull off an upset.

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