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illiniharnessracing/ news article

The First Week Recap.

Feb 1, 2010



Racing resumed on Wednesday January 27 with a new scheduled post time of 7:10pm (Central) -- the new post for Wednesday thru Saturday-- after a 24 day break with some changes. First, and most important was the cut of purses -- this will effect thousands of people.  Second was the “quick start” at Maywood Park--starting 175 feet earlier that will help the horses with outside post--by giving them a better chance to win.  Third was; more 9 horse fields at Maywood--management adds a hundred dollars to every race with a nine horse field—a total of seven races a week will be raced. Fourth was never assigning the rail to anybody anymore.


In the betting side of things once again there were changes-- the 50 cent pick five will be the second thru the sixth race now-- so the pick four can be moved back to the seventh race —in order not to go head to head with the Meadowlands pick four on Wednesday thru Saturday. On Sundays bettor will be able to bet 50 cent trifectas—a first in Illinois harness racing history. Superfectas will continue to be offered for a minimum of a dime at Balmoral—and a minimum of a dollar at Maywood.  The high five will be offered as race ten with a minimum of a dime at both tracks. The pick three will be the last three races of the card also with a minimum of a dollar. Are all these changes good or bad changes. Only time will tell!


Now let’s move to a recap of last weeks racing action. 


Wednesday action


The young guns stole the opening night spotlight by winning ten of the eleven races carded on the program at Balmoral Park. Marcus Miller visited the winners circle four times (2 Jitterbug Jack, 4 Bring The Rain, 8 AJS Delight & 10 Little Mischevious)--Tyler Buter won three races (1st Abrells Johnathan , 3rd Escape Trouble, and 9th Mike Lanigan)--while three other young guns won a race apiece--Trace Tetrick (5th Fox Valley Rival)--Josh Sutton (6th Notorious Bigslick) -- and Robert Smolin (11th Moneyline).  Veteran catch driver Sam Widger (7th Strawberry Scoop) was the only veteran to win a race on the opening night.  In training news ten different trainers won at least a race apiece on opening night--Perry Smith was the only one with two wins by winning races three and nine. The George Dremonas owned and Erin Elliott trained Notorious Bigslick had the fastest time of the night when he covered the mile in 1:56.4/5 in race seven.


Thursday action


Racing action moved over to Maywood and the “quick start” was introduced-- a new obstacle for both horsemen and bettors --this is a new method for everybody that are involved in Chicago racing. (In the next couple of weeks we will see what both horsemen and bettors think of this new method).  The highlight of the evening came in race 9 when older condition mares competed for a purse of $5,600-- Wisconsin Girl made quick work out of her seven rivals as she went gate to wire in 1:57, Casey Leonard handled the driving duties for owners Rodney Banks and Leroy Fox--James Banks does the training.


Todd Warren returned to the windy city winner circle after guided home She’s A Peach in the opener for the father/son owning team of Clarence and Randy Jacobs of Harvard—Charles Wolf took over the training duties on the pacing mare for the 2010 debut.


Gary Rath drove the winners of race four and five with two mares that he also conditions (Park Lane Dawn and Gypsys Little Star); Rath co owns them with his wife Kathryn of Marengo. Sam Widger managed to also win two races on the evening with mares when he guided home both Little Sweetheart in race seven for trainer David Rowney who co owns the mare with James Rowney of Marseilles, and Ronny Be Good in the finale for owner Z Tam Racing of New York…..David McCaffrey handles the training -- last year dash training champ at Maywood Park.


Friday action


Claiming action started in race seven when owners Alan and Pearl Beals re-claimed Celebrity Best for trainer Karl Williams who will once again handle the training of the seven year old pacing gelding, Williams and the Beals lost Celebrity Best thru the claiming box on December 26 to trainer Billy Farmer.


The feature of the evening came in race eleven when the betting public seen it as a walk in the park for Dylan Rocks making him the 2/5 odds on favorite. The five year old son of Cole Muffler didn’t disappoint them as he went gate to wire from his rail spot for trainer Kim Roth--Rick Dane Jr guided him to victory in 1:57 for the Rock & Roll stables of Chicago.


Speaking of rock and roll; that’s exactly what Josh Sutton did with Snilloc Five in race eight as he rocked and rolled the five year old Indiana bred as far and as fast as he could go (the way the pacer likes to race). The John Price owned and trained gelding stopped the clock in 1:56.3/5 to have the fastest mile of the night.   


In driving news Josh Sutton (8th Snilloc Five 10th Go Tuffy14th TJ’s Bob C), and Sam Widger (1st Entertainment , 5th Hazel May , 12th Paul T) both got driving triples on the evening-- Casey Leonard (3rd Wes Mantooth , 13th Magical Five) and Todd Warren (6th JDs Personalstatis ,7th Western Jet) both got driving doubles. In the training news veteran conditioner Vince Accardo got a double (Entertainment and Magical Five) on the evening--high percentage trainer Bruce Pacitti picks up right where he left off last year by winning with his only starter(Hazel May).  


Saturday action


Racing moved back to Balmoral to finish the first week back. Trainer Bob Phillips got all the early attention by winning races 4, 5, and 6 with Peekasoogly (R.Smolin), Little Mischeivous(M.Miller), and Who(R.Smolin)--those three winners finished the last three legs of the pick five ($88.70) in that order.  Little Mischeivous returned back to racing action in three days and got her second win in as many tries since racing returned to the Chicago area.


The attention switched over to the feature race (nw $8,750 in the last five) with a purse of $6,000, and just like Friday night once again another one of the Kim Roth horses (Classy Character) came out on top but this time it was driven by Casey Leonard--the second place finisher (Distinct Color) was also trained by Roth, and driven by Rick Dane Jr. Classy Character covered the mile in 1:54 to have the fastest mile of the evening, the eight year old gelding is owned by Kimberly Silpath of New Jersey.  


Sutton and Widger led drivers again with two wins apiece on the Saturday night card. Owner/trainer Guy Calvert claimed Little More Ram off owner/driver Rick Dane Jr and trainer Kim Roth in the finale-- last years horse with most wins at Balmoral Park with 13.


Sunday action


To close the first week of action the 50 cent tri was introduced for the first time in Chicago harness racing history; some may like it and some might not but again only time will tell. The feature on the Sunday program included two newcomer series divisions for trotting colts with a purse of $4,800. In the first trotting division the Hosea Williams owned and trained Captain Ramius (S. Widger) drifted out in the lane but managed to draw away from his rivals by seven open lengths stopping the clock in a career best 1:59.  In the second trotting division the Joel Smith trained Fox Valley Rival (Tr. Tetrick) left from there rail spot and led the eight prairie state bred trotters gate to wire stopping the clock in 2:00.2/5 under mild urging giving him his second win of the week.  In other trotting news the pacing bred trotter Boiler Spur Blur (A. Gregory Jr) was able to just hold off Good Ride Cowboy (Da. Magee) to win by a head in 1:58 the Kentucky Spur son is trained by Bruce Pacitti who co owns with his wife Linda.


Four drivers (J. Sutton, S. Widger, M. Miller, and C. Leonard) had driving doubles on the evening; thirteen trainers had victories on the twelve race card on Sunday.  For the first time since the break handle reached the one million dollar mark, but how much of it was on track handle is the question?         


Will the fields, on track handle, and purses get bigger? For now only time will tell!

That has been the first week recap.