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Hawthorne Night Of Champions Recap

Published: September 24, 2017 12:57 pm ET

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On Saturday evening (September 23) at Hawthorne Race Course, over $1.4 million in purses were awarded to the top Illinois-bred trotters and pacers during Hawthorne’s Night of Champions.

While 11 stakes champs were crowned on the 12-race Hawthorne card, a pair of juveniles stole the show. A recap of the entire Night of Champions card appears below

Open Pace (Race 1)

The favoured Granite took the lead going into the first turn and led most of the way through fractions of :27, :56.1. 1:24. He was tackled at the three-quarter pole by A Bettors Risk, but was able to put his rival away. He was able to draw away from the field at that point, but started to tire a bit and they got to him late.

Driver Casey Leonard had Terry Lee Leonard and Christopher J Schick’s Trashytonguetalker, trained by Terry Leonard, with dead aim on the early leader.

They flew by late to earn a length-and-a-quarter victory over OK Heavenly. It was another length and a half back to Takeadiveoffdipper.


Kevin E. Miller’s Illinimight, under a masterful drive by Tony Morgan, scored the victory in the Kadabra Championship. When leader True Detective broke stride, Morgan sent his gelding through a hole and got to the rail. They took the lead and were able to withstand the strong stretch move of Cruzen Cassi, holding on to win by a half length.

Mike Brink, the leading trainer of the meet, had this to say: “This colt has gotten better every time we raced him in the last five or six starts. I kept saying that is they made any mistakes, he would beat them. That’s what happened on the last two starts. He’s a nice colt. I called Tony Morgan and talked to him. Racing for this kind of money, I want Tony Morgan.”

They covered the mile in 2:00.1 after fractions of 30.1, 1:00.2, and 1:30.3.

Illlinimight paid $6.60, $3.40 $3.00.

Cruzen Cassi got up for second and returned $2.80 and $2.20.

Fox Valley Strpwr, who originally finished fifth, was moved up to third after a double disqualification, and returned $4.40 to show.

Illinimight earned $51,750, which boosted his earnings to $78,830.


In the fastest mile ever by a two-year-old filly trotter at Hawthorne, Mr. Lynn G Wilfong’s Good Design, trained by Brett Wilfong and driven by Kyle Wilfong, overcame a wide trip to win by a half-length over Trotting Grace. It was another four lengths back to the favourite, Maui Mama.

Lynn Wilfong said the following: “It is wonderful. We had a stroke of luck a week ago. I saw a friend of mine that was racing up here and I asked him to go over and check her out. He did and he told me that he thought he found something. And I think he did.

“And Kyle took his advice and worked on her all week, 10 times a day. Things were much better tonight.”

“Brett told me before she even left the yearling pen that she was something special.”

“When you win from the nine hole at Hawthorne, you know you did something.”

Brett Wilfong said the following: “We said from Day One that this filly showed so much natural talent, but she’s got a tendency to explode if things don’t materialize right. I thought Kyle drove her tonight and the filly focused tonight.”

Good Design paid $14.00, $8.60, $3.60.

Trotting Grace returned $5.00, $2.80.

Maui Mama returned $2.10

They covered the mile in 1:58 after fractions of :28.4, :58.4 and 1:29.1

She earned $60,750 for the victory. Her career earnings now stand at $94,187.


Cathy-Finn-Kanitz’s Fox Valley Jazzy, with Ridge Warren in the bike, extended her win streak to four and earned her eighth victory in 13 starts in Saturday’s Incredible Tillie.

Trainer Dale Kanitz was proud of the accomplishment. “She’s a really nice filly. I have to give a lot of credit to a friend, Gary Brown. He originally saw this horse, got her trained up and brought her up here. I looked at her, I liked her, and I offered some money for her. We came to an agreement. I only made a few changes. She’s a wonderful horse to work with. Ridge (Warren) has been fantastic. He drove her in her last six or seven races and did a fantastic job. My vet, Cabe McMurry, helps us out a lot. He kept her healthy and sound.”

Racing in second early, she moved up to wrestle the lead from The New Americana in the stretch and held Rollin Coal safe in the final sixteenth.

Fox Valley Jazzy won by a length and a quarter over Rollin Coal. It was another length and a half back to Allbeastnobeauty. Odds-on favourite The New Americana faded to fourth after having led for the first half.

Fox Valley Jazzy paid $6.40, $4.00 and $3.20.

Rollin Coal returned $6.60 and $6.00.

Allbeastnobeauty paid $4.20 to show.

They got the mile in 1:54.3 after fractions of :28.2, :56.4, and 1:26.1, Fox Valley Jazzy finished only a one tick off the track record for two-year-old filly pacers.

Fox Valley Jazzy’s share of the purse, $78,750, boosted her career earnings to $130,265.


Annas Lucky Star, owned by Danny S. Graham and trained by Terry Winemiller, scored her eighth straight victory and her ninth from 11 races this year. She also went six for six as a two-year-old and was named two-year-old champion filly Illinois trotter.

Annas Lucky Star took the lead at the start and set brisk fractions of :28.3, :58.4, 1:27.3 and got the mile in 1:56. She was never seriously challenged and finished two and three-quarter lengths over runner-up Beatrice. It was another two lengths and three-quarters back to Lous Credit Report.

Driver Kyle Wilfong said the following: “She’s fast. I guess she has a couple of races coming up at Hoosier Park. We’re looking forward to going down there and seeing what she really is. I looked back and saw Beatrice coming but we just grinded it out. It was all good.”

Annas Lucky Star paid $2.40, $2.20 and $2.10.

Beatrice returned $5.60 and $3.60.

Lous Credit Report paid $2.10.


Shelley M Steele’s Picky Picky Valor had the misfortune of starting from Post 10, but some of the horses weren’t on the gate at the start, and a savvy Mike Oosting sent the gelding and got good position quickly, and stalked the pace in third place.

When he did tip out, he went right to the lead and never looked back. He drew off to win by three and a quarter lengths over Muscle Image. Early leader Bands Houdini held on for third. The favoured Louscipher was never a factor.

Trainer Gerald Hansen was happy. “It was fantastic drive. I was sick when we drew the 10. He’s turning into one heck of a trotter. He’s our best right now.”

Picky Picky Valor earned $51,750 and has now earned $102,162 in his career.

Picky Picky Valor paid $10.20, $4.20, $3.60.

Muscle Image paid $5.60 and $2.10.

Bands Houdini $2.10.


The favoured Tricky Nick left early and was used pretty hard to get to the lead, but, once there, never relinquished it and ultimately won by three and a quarter lengths. Owned by Thomas G. Mattingly and trained by Richard Perfido. Tricky Nick set the fractions and hit the wire in 1:55.3. The $27,000 winner’s share of the purse increased Tricky Nick’s career earnings to $247,014.

Driver Jim Pantaleano said the following: “He’s a strong horse. My hat goes off to Richie Perfido and Teresa Martino because they put in painstakingly long hours to keep that horse sharp and it obviously paid off tonight. I got stretched out pretty good and I tried to rest ‘Nick’ through the last turn. He felt good at the head of the stretch and responded when I called on him.”

Tricky Nick beat Fox Valley Shout by three and a quarter lengths. It was another three and a quarter back to Reit’s Kid.

Tricky Nick paid $2.60, $2.60 and $2.40.

Fox Valley Shout returned $21.60 and $10.20.

Reits Kid paid $5.60.


Jim Ballinger’s Fox Valley Gemini, trained by Terry Leonard, stretched his unbeaten streak to nine races. Driver Casey Leonard drove him with extreme confidence. Although they raced wide early, there was more than enough left in the tank to just fly by his rivals late. Fox Valley Gemini ultimately won by three and a half lengths over Backstreet Lawyer with early pacesetter Fox Valley Hijinx another four and three-quarter lengths back.

Jim Ballinger said the following: “I brought up a busload of 47 people. I rented the whole bus to bring the hometown up here. He’s a terrific horse I’ve been in the horse business for a long time, but I’m never had a horse that is this good, that has dominated things like he has. Casey and Terry (Leonard) had done a terrific job. My son broke him and got him ready to go. What a terrific horse. I think he’s the best in Illinois.”

They got the mile in 1:53.3 after fractions of :28.4, :58.1 and 1:26.3. The winner‘s share of the purse, $87,750 boosted the career earnings of Fox Valley Gemini to $157,750.

Fox Valley Gemini paid $2.20, $2.20, $2.10.

Backstreet Lawyer $7.60 and $3:40.

Fox Valley Hijinx $2.40.


Rick Howles’ Gibbs, trained by James Eaton, got the perfect stalking trip. Close up throughout, though a little wide, he was able to kind of box in the favoured Evergreen Elite and got the drop on him. By the time the favorite got out, Gibbs had a clear lead and drew off to a length-and-three-quarters victory. It was three and three quarter lengths back to Evergreen Elite.

Kyle Husted said the follwing: “He was sharp tonight. He had the race last week and I had to move him pretty good around the turn and he ran out of racetrack. Tonight, we were a lot closer. He did everything right. I just fell into place and got an absolute dream trip.”

Gibbs paid $8.80, $5.40 and $3.00.

Crankin It Up paid $5.00 and $3.20.

Evergreen Elite returned $2.20.

They went :28.3, :57.2, 1:25.3 with a final time of 1:52.2.

With the winner’s share of $27,000, Gibbs has now earned $281,661 in his career.


Longshot Captain Rhett, owned by Harvey J. Grieff and Robert K. Verdun, surprised nine opponents in the Robert F. Carey Memorial Championship after doing the same thing to many of the same rivals in the ISFCS back in August.

Trainer James Horvath Jr. said the following: “He did it really good at Springfield and got roughed up a couple of times after coming back here, but Marcus (Miller) drove him really phenomenal tonight. We loved the fast pace. That’s what he likes. He just sits there all day long. Once he gets comfortable sitting in a hole, he’s fine. A few drivers taught him to relax, especially Tim Curtin and Kyle Husted. He was kind of nervous as a two-year-old and always wanted to leave. You couldn’t hold him in a hole. But we re-rigged him and he’s fine. He’s been taught all season. He’s had so many seconds because he’s just learning. He figured out at the right time.”

Captain Rhett beat Fox Valley Inferno by two and three-quarters. It was another three and a quarter lengths back to Slzburgerslzburger.

They got the mile in 1:50.3.

The winner’s share of the purse, $81,000, boosted Captain Rhett’s earnings to $127,263.

Captain Rhett paid $24.20, $9.20 and $4.60.

Fox Valley Inferno paid $4.40 and $3.00.

Slzburgerslzburger returned $4.20 to show.


San Antonio Rose, owned by George W Pollock and D Kay Bartlow and trained by Nick Prather, grabbed the lead on the backstretch and led the rest of the way, opening up a four-length lead in the stretch and able to withstand the dramatic late surge by the favoured Fox Valley Jolene. She was still a length and a half to the good when they crossed the wire. Third-place finisher Filly Forty was another nine and a quarter lengths back.

Kyle Husted said the following: “Last year I drove her a couple of times. I drove her in Springfield and she put up a big mile, the same way, right in the front. I just happened to be driving another filly, for Nick, actually. This year it worked out that I got to drive her. She’s such a big filly that we can’t just get her started. She can’t start up that quick but she can go big halves like you saw tonight. She had a lot tougher trip this week. But she really dug in.”

San Antonio Rose paid $6.40, $3.00 and $3.00.

Fancy Creek Jolene paid $3.00 and $2.60.

Filly Forty paid $16.40.

With the winner’s share of $74,250, San Antonio Rose has now earned $112,042.

Time for the mile was 1:52.1 following fractions of :27, :54.3, and 1:22.4.


Such a great night of racing deserved a great finish, and it got one in the Tony Maurello Championship. H Walker, R J & C G Walker and R M Klingler’s Bucklegirl Bobette, trained by Robert Walker, rushed up to take the lead on the backstretch with Fox Valley Charm in close pursuit. Fox Valley Charm made one last valiant effort to overtake her rival, but Bucklegirl Bobette dug in and was able to hold off Fox Valley Charm to win by a nose. LKs Nancy Lee finished another length and a quarter back.

Kyle Wilfong was in the bike for the mare’s third straight win. Bucklegirl Bobette earned $27,600, giving her $116,210 in her career.

They got the mile in 1:53.3 after fractions of :28.2, :57.3, 1:26.2.

Bucklegirl Bobette paid $7.20, $5.00 and $3.80.

Fox Valley Charm returned $5.40 and $3.40.

LKs Nancy Lee brought back $4.60.

(Hawthorne Race Course)

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