Almost $1 million in purses Saturday at Hawthorne
September 17, 2020
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The best in the state of Illinois will be on the track Saturday as 11 stakes races will be contested for Night of Champions at Hawthorne. Although temps are expected to be cool, conditions look to be dry on Saturday as many divisional honors are on the line.
Last week sports wagering kicked off with the partnership between PointsBet and Hawthorne Race Course. While online sports wagering has begun, the on-site sportsbook is expected to open very soon. To celebrate, PointsBet has sponsored an extra $20,000 in purse money for each of the three finals for older horses.
“Horse racing and sports betting really go hand-in-hand,” stated Johnny Aitken, CEO of PointsBet USA. “Our sponsorship will add purse money that not only supports Illinois horsemen but showcases our partnership with Hawthorne and engages new fans who already enjoyed wagering on live sports, whether that’s a race or a football game.”
Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association Executive Director Tony Somone added, “I think Hawthorne’s choice to partner with PointsBet for sports betting in Illinois demonstrates the track’s continued commitment to racing and the hard-working horsemen of Illinois. Horse racing is the original sports betting after all, and this sponsorship adds even more excitement to the competition on the track.”
Race 2 – $68,000 PointsBet & Club Hawthorne Robert S. Molaro Memorial Championship
With the great partnership between PointsBet and Hawthorne, an additional $20,000 in purse money has been added to the Robert S. Molaro Memorial. The Molaro Memorial is for three-year-old and up pacers and drew a full field, led by past Illinois Champion Fox Valley Gemini.
Drawing post eight, Fox Valley Gemini has won 38 of 54 lifetime starts for over $450k in earnings for owner Jim Ballinger and trainer Terry Leonard. Driven by the meet’s leading driver Casey Leonard, Gemini has won eight times on the year, hitting the board in all 12 of his starts. Fox Valley Gemini is the 6-5 morning line favorite.
Second choice in the Molaro Memorial at 9-2 is Salvatore from the barn of Perry Smith. Claimed just two starts back, Salvatore has been very good on the year as well, winning five times from 15 starts and finishing in the top three in 11 of those races. Travis Seekman drives Salvatore who drew post three.
Last week’s Molaro elimination winner drew the rail as Al’s Hammered starts for owner/trainer/driver Robert Smolin. Lightly raced with only seven starts on the year, Al’s Hammered posted a year’s best mark for himself, winning in 1:52.2 last week.
Race 3 - $88,000 Fox Valley Flan Championship
Two-year-old filly trotters follow in the Fox Valley Flan as trainer Steve Searle looks to dominate the race. Searle has four horses in the final, drawing post positions two through five. Leading the way at 4-5 for Searle is Loulita for owners Flacco Family Farms LLC and Dr. Patrick Graham. After getting off to a bit of a slow start on the year, Loulita has rattled off five straight wins, taking the final leg of this series last weekend in a new lifetime mark of 2:01. Casey Leonard gets the call as Loulita drew post four.
Right next to Loulita, drawing post five, is the Searle entrant poised to upset in Lous Voodoo Woman. Owned by Steven Renard, Lous Voodoo Woman has made more starts by a large margin than any other in the field, starting 19 times on the year. A winner of seven of those starts, Lous Voodoo Woman has speed has driver Kyle Wilfong will look to try to steal the race on the front end with her.
Race 4 - $80,000 Incredible Tillie Championship
Two-year-old filly pacers contest the Incredible Tillie in one of the night’s more wide-open finals. The 8-5 morning line favorite is Scorecard Dandy for owners Green Acres LLC and Mike Klimas for trainer Gregory Kain. Driven by Juan Franco and drawing post four, Scorecard Dandy has won three of seven starts on the year. Her most recent race was her best, as she took the final leg of this series last week, rallying to win in 1:55.3.
Right next to Scorecard Dandy in post three is 3-1 second-choice Princess Mooss. Although only posting one win on the year for owner Alan Beals and trainer Gary Rath, Princess Mooss has finished in the top three in eight of nine starts, including each of her last four races. Kyle Wilfong gets the drive for Princess Mooss.
Possibly overlooked in the Trackmaster morning line at 8-1, Connie On the Go draws the rail for owners Ronald Phillips and John Carver and trainer Jamaica Patton. Connie On the Go opened the season strong, winning five of her first six starts. A pair of tiring trips leading into the final may be the reason for the inflated line, but a recent qualifier where she finished strongly could put her into the mix for this final.
Race 5 - $67,000 PointsBet & Club Hawthorne Plesac Championship
Three-year-old and up trotters follow in the Plesac Championship, another stakes final receiving a $20,000 purse boost from PointsBet. The girls will look to crash the boy’s party as talented six-year-old mare Annas Lucky Star is the 7-5 favorite for owner Danny Graham and trainer Nelson Willis. The track record holder for aged mare trotter, Annas Lucky Star has won five of 11 starts on the year. She set the track record in a win against open trotters on August 8, winning in 1:53.3 and then equaled that mark two weeks later. Driven by Kyle Wilfong, Annas Lucky Star is looking for her 40th career victory in start number 73.
The competition for Annas Lucky Star could come from a pair of Steve Searle trained trotters in Lousraptor and Louzotic. Both owned by Flacco Family Farms LLC, Lousraptor draws post two while Louzotic drew outside post nine in the field. Lousraptor has had a fine year, winning five of 18 races while finishing in the top three 13 times. He upset Annas Lucky Star two weeks ago as Juan Franco gets the call on the 4-1 second choice.
Talented mare Louztoic will be driven by Kyle Husted as she has finished first or second in nine of 15 races this year. An 11-time winner in 2019, Louzotic rallied in last week’s Plesac prep, nabbing Annas Lucky Star on the wire for the upset win. Louzotic is 10-1 in the morning line.
Race 6 - $98,000 Beulah Dygert Memorial Championship
Three-year-old filly trotters follow in the Beulah Dygert Memorial as trainer Steve Searle will look to strike once again. This race Searle sends out a pair in Lous Abigail and Bee See. Lous Abigail is the 6-5 morning line choice for owner Flacco Family Farms LLC as she has rattled off five consecutive victories coming into this final. She posted a season best mark of 1:57.3 while winning two starts back and cruised to a nearly ten-length score in her division of the final leg of this series last weekend. Casey Leonard returns in the bike with Lous Abigail.
Owned in partnership by Baldes, Searle, Paloma, and Paloma, Bee See draws post two and is 10-1 in the morning line. Driven by Kyle Husted, Bee See was a five time winner from ten starts last season and has found the board in half of her ten races in 2020. She was beaten only a head in a game effort behind Lous Abigail three starts back.
Second choice at 5-2 and drawing the inside is Fox Valley Extacy. Owned in partnership by Miller, Hochsprung, Hochsprung, and Falzone, Fox Valley Extacy has won half of her ten starts this year, including a game front-end score last out. Travis Seekman gets the drive once again.
Race 7 - $109,000 Erwin F. Dygert Memorial Championship
The second richest final on the card goes for three-year-old male trotters as a talented bunch lines up. Drawing post six is the 3-2 favorite Fox Valley Quest for owners Carl Lacy and Benita Simmons. Trained by Tom Simmons Fox Valley Quest has been very good this year, finishing in the top three in all 11 starts, including six victories. He looked strong in his most recent start, taking the final let of the Dygert by four lengths while leading from start to finish.
Another having a fantastic year is 5-2 second choice Crooked Creek for owner Ed Teefey and trainer Mike Brink. Drawing the rail and to be driven by Todd Warren, Crooked Creek has won eight of 11 starts on the year, including a six-length win in his division of the Dygert last week. Crooked Creek also got the best of Fox Valley Quest at the end of August, holding him off for a length-and-a-quarter score.
Crooked Creek isn’t Brink’s only shot as he also sends out On Higher Ground whom he owns in partnership with All-Wright Racing LLC. On Higher Ground has hit the board in 10 of 11 this year, including a win over both Fox Valley Quest and Crooked Creek on August 21. Kyle Wilfong gets the drive once again with On Higher Ground.
Race 8 - $118,000 Kadabra Championship
The evening’s richest race goes for two-year-old male trotters in a completely wide-open Kadabra final. With no horse in the full field of ten with over three lifetime victories, any could win this event.
The 2-1 morning line favorite drew post four as Lousrolando starts for owners David Brigham and Kyle Husted as Husted trains and drives. Lousrolando is the “now” horse though as he enters this final off a pair of solid victories. Last week he controlled things on the front end, winning the final leg of the Kadabra by six-and-a-quarter lengths.
The lightly raced Fistfullofdollars poses a threat for owners Brink, Toumer, Clauson, and Brown and trainer Mike Brink. Making only four lifetime starts, he has found the board in each race, winning his most recent division of the Kadabra in a game victory. Kyle Wilfong drives as Fistfullofdollars will likely have to look to rate and rally from post eight.
Race 9 - $71,000 Incredible Finale Championship
Two-year-old male pacers line up in the Incredible Finale as the 8-5 favorite Frontier Charley will have to work hard to win from the far outside. Drawing post nine, Frontier Charley is driven by Todd Warren for trainer Jim Eaton. A winner of four of seven starts on the year, he rides a two race streak into this final, including a late closing score last out.
Well Basically races for owner Engel Stable Of IL LLC and trainer Erv Miller. He put together a string of three straight wins early in August before being caught on the wire by Frontier Charley in his last. Marcus Miller was behind him for the last of his streak of three wins and drives again on Saturday.
Ideal Big Guy gets the rail for owners Dandy Farms Racing, trainer Terry Leonard, Ob Stables and Peter Kouchis as the 7-2 third choice. Although entering this final with only one win lifetime, he has found the board in four of his last five starts. His early speed will benefit him in this final from the inside.
Race 10 - $86,000 Robert F. Carey, Jr. Memorial Championship
Three-year-old male pacers are featured in the Carey Memorial as He’zzz A Wise Sky is the 3-2 morning line choice. Owned by Triple Zzz Stable and trained by Don Filomeno, He’zzz A Wise Sky won on Night of Champions last year and has continued his winning ways. Finishing first or second in ten of 11 races this year, he has rattled off three straight wins, including a dominating effort in last week’s prep. Regular driver Robert Smolin returns in the bike.
Western Perch was the last horse to get the best of He’zzz A Wise Sky, pulling off the upset against him on August 14. Owned in partnership by Bowen, Bowen, and Markert, the Nicole Agosti trainee drew post five. A three-time winner on the year, Western Perch is driven in the final by Kyle Wilfong.
Race 11 - $108,000 Plum Peachy Championship
A good field of three-year-old filly pacers line up with multiple horses in with a chance. Although listed as the 3-1 second choice in the Trackmaster morning line, Fox Valley Exploit will go off the favorite for owners David Brigham and Kyle Husted. Husted trains and drives the winner of seven of eight on the year, including a speedy win in 1:53 in the second leg of this series. She will have to overcome her post nine draw but her tactical speed allows her to show speed or rate and rally.
Listed at 2-1 but the likely second choice at off time is Sign Her Up. Getting a favorable inside draw for owners Rb Roper and Fabian Johnson, Sign Her Up has won four times from 14 starts on the year and hit the board in nine of those 14 races. She is the only horse in the field to defeat Fox Valley Exploit this summer, doing so on August 22. Juan Franco drives for trainer Charles Arthur.
Harper has also been very good in 2020 as she starts for owner Peter Karras and trainer Rick Schrock. An eight-time winner from 14 starts, Harper went unraced as a two-year-old but has only missed the board twice this year. Kyle Wilfong drives as Harper comes off a second-place performance behind Fox Valley Exploit last time out.
Race 12 - $68,000 PointsBet & Club Hawthorne Tony Maurello Memorial Championship
The same as last season, aged female pacers round out the championship evening. Last year’s reigning champ Skeeter Machine returns to try to defend her title for owners Francis and James Greer and trainer Nicole Agosti. After winning five times last year, Skeeter Machine has posted five wins once again in 2020. She’s the 9-2 third choice in the morning line as Kyle Wilfong drives.
The deserving favorite at 9-5 is Allbeastnobeauty for driver and trainer Todd Warren. A winner of nine of 21 starts on the year for owners Brookside Stables and Keith Ravis, she enters this final on a four race win streak. She won gamely in last week’s elimination as she looks for her 33rd lifetime win.
Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago’s Hometown Track, returned for live harness racing on Saturday, February 15 and races through Sunday, September 20. Post time nightly is 7:10 PM. Hawthorne races live during the summer harness meet every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Fall thoroughbreds close out the year, running from October 2 through December 26. For more information, visit www.Hawthorneracecourse.com or contact Hawthorne at 708-780-3700. (Hawthorne)