With Night of Champions just three weeks away, the final legs to determine who makes the Illinois finals will be conducted over the next two weeks at Hawthorne Race Course.
Freshman fillies were the focus on Friday night (September 7) at Hawthorne as trotters competed in two divisions of the Fox Valley Flan and pacers contested two divisions in the Incredible Tillie.
The evening’s opener was the first division of the Fox Valley Flan and a field of eight lined up. Puddin Cheeks and J D Finn got away quickly, passing the quarter in :30.1. The favourite maintained his advantage through a half in 1:01 as he cruised into the final turn. After three-quarters in 1:31.4, Puddin Cheeks faced a challenge from Lous Paramour to her outside. Mid-stretch, Puddin Cheeks dug in, and drew clear at the wire, winning in 2:00.2. Loussolataire came up along the inside to finish second while Lous Paramour was third. Puddin Cheeks is owned by Dennis Gardner and Finn Racing LLC and trained by Jared Finn.
Race two on the card was the first division of the Incredible Tillie, with Fox Valley Lolo being a late scratch. Fox Valley Halsey was sent away as the choice with Casey Leonard driving. Valar Morghulis was sent hard from the outside as she passed the quarter in :27.4. On the backside, the leader drifted out, allowing Fox Valley Halsey to slide through along the inside, taking the lead at the half in :58. In the turn, Fox Valley Halsey remained in control, passing three-quarters in 1:27.1. Opening up a lead in the lane, the favourite crossed the line unchallenged, winning in 1:57. Longshot Grace Ann closed to finish second while Valar Morghulis held third. Fox Valley Halsey is owned by Cynthia Kay Willis, Ronnie and Jerry Graham and trained by Nelson Willis.
Race seven was the second division of leg three of the Incredible Tillie with a field of seven. Perch was sent away as the favourite for driver Kyle Wilfong. At the start, Lilly Von Shtupp made the lead, passing the quarter in :28.4. On the backside, Perch looked to move to contend but Lilly Von Shtupp fought back, leading the field past the half in :58. After three-quarters in 1:28.1, the field bunched up turning into the stretch. Mid-stretch, Lilly Von Shtupp began to tire, while Perch was locked in behind her as Fox Valley Lil Kim and Fox Valley Torrid both had clear sailing. Perch was able to slide through along the inside, but it was too late as Fox Valley Torrid and Casey Leonard had gotten the jump and won in 1:55.4. Perch was able to get up for second while Fox Valley Lil Kim finished third. Fox Valley Torrid is owned by Fox Valley Standardbreds and trained by Rodney Freese.
Race nine was the second division of the Fox Valley Flan with eight trotters led by Encantado. Heidi High left for the lead but Encantado used the inside post to her advantage and led the field past the quarter in :30.1 for Casey Leonard. In control on the backstretch, Encantado passed the half in 1:02.3. On the turn, Louzotic was on the move to challenge but Encantado had something left. After three-quarters in 1:32.1, Encantado was roused as Louzotic was trying hard. Mid-stretch, Encantado was in full control but broke stride and dropped back along the inside. Louzotic inherited the lead and cruised home in 2:00.3. E L Game On finished second while Skippymalou closed to finish third. Louzotic is owned by Flacco Family Farms LLC and trained by Steve Searle.
(With files from Hawthorne Race Course)