For Immediate Release | Contact: Jim Miller (708) 780-3700, JimMiller@ClubHawthorne.com
STICKNEY, IL – Ominous skies loomed over Hawthorne Race Course much of the day on Saturday evening but the rains cleared as the track was listed as good for Night of Champions. Twelve stakes finals were contested as the best in the state of Illinois lined up. A recap of the Night of Champions finals, as nearly $1.2 million in purses was on the line:
Race 1 – $83,000 Beulah Dygert Memorial Championship – Bell Boots Rallies to the Victory.
The evening’s festivities kicked off with a full field of three-year-old filly trotters in the Beulah Dygert Memorial. Grabbing the early lead from the outside was Shespertifulikpert as she passed the quarter in :29.4. Tracked by Lou Sangreal on the backside, Shespertifulikpert took the field through an easy half in :59.3. On the turn, Shespertifulikpert opened up through three quarters in 1:28.4. In the lane, Bell Boots split horses for Matthew Avenatti and closed with a rush, rolling by a tiring Shesperifulikpert in the final sixteenth to win in 1:58.0. Shesperifulikpert held second while longshot Xena Lou rallied for third. Owned by Toni Jo Bell and trained by driver Matthew Avenatti, Bell Boots won for the ninth time on her career. The 5-2 third choice in the wagering, Bell Boots returned $7.80, $4.80 and $2.80. At 22-1, Shespertifulikpert came back $17.20 and $7.40 while 50-1 longshot Xena Lou paid $7.20 to show.
Race 2 – $45,000 Tony Maurello Memorial Championship – Skeeter Machine with Another NOC Triumph
Filly and mare pacers took to the track in the Tony Maurello Championship as the only scratch on the card, morning line favorite Apple Valley, came out of the race. The remaining seven saw past champ Fox Valley Exploit sent off as the 2-1 favorite. Quick away was Double Parked as she had to work a bit to clear Skeeter Machine for the lead through the quarter in :27.4. Opening up on the backstretch, Double Parked passed the half in :55.3. After three quarters in 1:24.4, Skeeter Machine moved alongside to grab the lead. Kept to task by Travis Seekman, Skeeter Machine held on by a length and grabbed her second career Night of Champions win in 1:53.3. Dandy’s Mnm rallied for second while Fox Valley Exploit was third. Owned by James Greer and trained by Nick Prather, Skeeter Machine returned $9.80, $4.20 and $2.60. Dandy’s Mnm paid $4.40 and $3.00 while Bombay Parkway returned $2.40 to show.
Race 3 – $45,000 Carl Becker Memorial Championship – Stewart’s Smart Drive Pays Off
Aged female trotters contested the Carl Becker Memorial with a field of five that was led by an Illinois-bred legend in Annas Lucky Star. At the start, an uncharacteristic move by Cordarius Stewart and Reign and Shine as they made the lead from the outside in :28.2. Tracked by Funky Wiggle on the backside through the half in :59, Reign and Shine was able to slow down the second quarter. In the turn, Kyle Wilfong guided Annas Lucky Star off the inside as she moved to challenge while Reign and Shine maintained her advantage through three quarters in 1:28.4. The early decision by Stewart paid off as Reign and Shine was able to hold on and draw clear late, winning in 1:57.0. Longshot Loulita rallied down the center to finish second while Annas Lucky Star held third. Owned and bred by Mr. Carroll and Diane Hays and trained by Carroll Hays, Reign and Shine won for the 17th time in her career in start 90. At 10-1, Reign and Shine returned $23.20, $7.60 and $3.00. Loulita paid $13.00 and $3.00 while Annas Lucky Star paid $2.10 to show.
Race 4 – $45,000 Robert S. Molaro Memorial Championship – He’zzz A Wise Sky Impressive on the Lead
The fastest male pacers in the state contested the Robert S. Molaro Memorial Championship as past Night of Champions winner He’zzz A Wise Sky was sent away as the heavy 1-9 favorite. The was no messing around at the start as Kyle Wilfong immediately sent He’zzz A Wise Sky to the front through a snappy quarter in :27.0. Pushed along by Get E Up, He’zzz A Wise Sky passed the half in :54.4. On the turn, He’zzz A Wise Sky was still going strong as he covered three quarters in 1:22.1. In the lane, Get E Up battled on but He’zzz A Wise Sky was too good, drawing away late to win in 1:50.0. Get E Up held place while Fox Valley Gemini was third. Owned by Triple Zzz Stable and trained by John Filomeno, He’zzz A Wise Sky paid $2.10, $2.10 and $2.10. At 47-1, Get E Up returned $10.80 and $3.20 while Fox Valley Gemini paid $2.10 to show.
Race 5 – $119,000 Fox Valley Flan Championship – Stand By Your Man Game in Victory
A full field of two-year-old filly trotters matched up in the Fox Valley Flan Championship as Whiskey Lou, from the barn of Curt Grummel was favored with Kyle Wilfong in the bike. Sprinting away from the outside at the start was longshot Lous Enchantress as she beat Lous Amazon to the lead through the quarter in :28.3. All out on the backside was this duo as they passed the half in :58.1. On the turn, Stand By Your Man and Brandon Bates ranged up to challenge followed by Whiskey Lou through three quarters in 1:28.2. Stand By You Man battled on through the lane and was able to hold off Whiskey Lou by a half length at the wire in 1:57.2. Calypso Moon finished third. Trained in partnership by Brink, Brown, Clauson and Lacey and trained by Mike Brink, Stand By Your Man returned $12.40, $4.20 and $4.00. Whiskey Lou paid $2.60 and $2.20 while Calypso Moon paid $2.60 to show.
Race 6 – $105,000 Robert F. Carey, Jr. Memorial Championship – A Championship Effort from Fox Valley Landen
Three-year-old male pacers lined up as a full field contested the Robert F. Carey, Jr. Memorial Championship. A winner of nine of 11 starts on the year entering this final, Fox Valley Landen was sent off as the favorite with Kyle Husted driving. At the start it was the outside horses looking to clear with Ghost Shark and Fox Valley Langley sent hard for the lead through the quarter in :27.3. On the backstretch, Travis Seekman and Fox Valley Langley grabbed a brief lead but Ghost Shark was right back to challenge through the half in :56.0. On the turn, Fox Valley Jasper and Atlee Bender made their move to take over in 1:24.4. Biding his time was Husted with Fox Valley Landen as he got into the clear in the lane and took off, drawing away to win easily in 1:51.2. Fox Valley Jasper held on for second while Fox Valley Cayman closed well late to finish third. Owned by Kyle Husted, David Brigham and John Schwarz, Jr. and trained by Amy Husted, Fox Valley Landen won as the 1-2 favorite.
Race 7 – $90,000 Erwin F. Dygert Memorial Championship – Goomster Does It Again
In a battle of the heavy favorites, 4-5 shot Goomster and even money Niko Man faced off in the Dygert. It was Goomster to move first, passing the quarter in :28.4 and half in :58.2 for Travis Seekman. Chased into the turn by Niko Man and Atlee Bender, Goomster held onto the lead through three quarters in 1:27.0. In the lane Goomster looked to give the field the slip but Niko Man was charging strong late. Late in the stretch Goomster was all out and had just enough left, holding off Niko Man by a half length to win in 1:54.3. Lous Andiamo rallied late to finish third. Owned by Dennis Gardner, Goomster won on Night of Champions for the second straight year, this time for trainer Desirae Seekman. Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, Goomster paid $3.80, $2.10 and $2.10. Niko Man paid $2.10 and $2.10 while Lous Andiamo returned $7.20 to show.
Race 8 – $45,000 Plesac Championship – Worth the Ship for On Higher Ground
A field of six aged male trotters contested the Plesac Championship as last week’s prep winner, On Higher Ground returned to Illinois from the East coast and was sent away as the heavy favorite with Kyle Husted driving. At the start it was Talk About Valor showing his typical early speed as he cleared the lead for Travis Seekman through the quarter in :29.1. Chased by Heath Bar on the backstretch, Talk About Valor maintained his advantage through the half in :58.3. On the turn Husted said it was time to go with On Higher Ground as he moved alongside Talk About Valor through three quarters in 1:27.0. In the lane, Talk About Valor couldn’t go on as On Higher Ground faced a fresh challenge from Heath Bar. At the wire, On Higher Ground had enough left, winning by just over a length in 1:55.1. Heath Bar was a strong second while Talk About Valor held third. Owned by Robert Weinstein and JB Racing of trainer Jennifer Bongiorno, On Higher Ground paid $2.60, $2.40 and $2.10 as the 1-5 favorite. Heath Bar returned $8.20 and $3.40 while Talk About Valor paid $2.20 to show.
Race 9 – $121,000 Kadabra Championship – Late Rally a Winner for Lous Private Eye
Two-year-old male trotters battled in the Kadabra Championship as a wide-open field of ten lined up. Clearing the early lead was Kyle Wilfong with Fireballs Pride and he cruised through an easy quarter in :29.2 Chased by El Champee’onn on the backstretch, Fireballs Pride extended his lead to the half in :59.0. On the turn, El Champee’onn and Robert Smolin moved alongside to challenge as the pair passed three quarters in 1:29.0. In the stretch, Fireballs Pride repelled the first bid but Casey Leonard and Lous Private Eye were closing fast and rolled by to a strong win in 1:58.0. 45-1 longshot Fox Valley Parker followed behind to finish second while Fireballs Pride held on for third. Owned by Flacco Family Farms LLC and trained by Steve Searle, Lous Private Eye won as the 2-1 favorite. He returned $6.80, $5.00 and $3.20. Fox Valley Parker paid $27.40 and $12.20 while Fireballs Pride paid $3.40 to show.
Race 10 – $174,000 Incredible Finale Championship – Gorgeous Big Guy Wins His Fifth Straight
Male juvenile pacers contested the Incredible Finale Championship with a full field led by a pair of Erv Miller trainees in Gorgeous Big Guy and Fox Valley Durham. Moving early to the lead was longshot Redhot Sky but an early break dropped him out of it as Guitar Man inherited the lead through the quarter in :28.2. Chased by You Never Can Tell through the half in :56.0, Guitar Man and Kyle Husted held the lead into the turn. The pair were side by side at the top of the lane through three quarters in 1:24.2 but in the lane it was Gorgeous Big Guy and Todd Warren shifting to the center of the stretch to rally fastest of all, winning by nearly three lengths in 1:52.1. Fox Valley Julian raced well to finish second while Fox Valley Durham also closed late to finish third. Owned by Douglas Overhiser and Mark Winship, Gorgeous Big Guy returned $4.00, $2.60 and $2.10. Fox Valley Julian paid $4.20 and $2.40 while Fox Valley Durham paid $2.20 to show.
Race 11 – $187,000 Incredible Tillie Championship – Chickabell Gets the Trip
Two-year-old filly pacers took to the track in the most wide-open race on the card as favoritism moved amongst numerous horses in the Incredible Tillie Championship. As the rain began to fall it was Platinum Shark sent from the outside as Fox Valley Sadie broke stride shortly after the start. After a quarter in :28.4, the lead of Platinum Shark was short lived as Chickabell and Todd Warren took over. Passing the half in :57.3, Chickabell faced a challenge from longshot Stevie Mae as these two drew clear from the field through three quarters in 1:25.4. Chickabell fought back in the stretch and was able to draw clear late as Hypeyourbestieup rallied for second while Fox Valley Gina finished third. Chickabell covered the mile in 1:54.3 for owners Husted Racing, Viva Las Vegas Racing, Norder and Argila and trainer Amy Husted. Chickabell was bet down to even money favoritism and returned $4.20, $2.80 and $2.40. Hypeyourbestieup paid $4.00 and $4.20 while Fox Valley Gina returned $10.60 to show.
Race 12 – $116,000 Plum Peachy Championship – Fox Valley Leah Wins for Tenth Time on Season
In the evening finale, three-year-old filly pacers contested the Plum Peachy Championship. Trainer Erv Miller had another solid duo in the race with Fox Valley Leah and The Magical Woman. Fast leaving was Senorita Mouse as she worked to clear Fillys Revenge for the lead through the quarter in :28.4. Early on, Fox Valley Leah headed to challenge and took over for Atlee Bender before the half in :56.3. On the Turn, My Daddys Revenge contested the pace and grabbed the lead through three quarters in 1:25.0. In the lane, My Daddys Revenge was all out as Fox Valley Leah fought back. At the wire it was Fox Valley Leah getting up in time to win by a neck, her tenth win in 11 career starts. My Daddys Revenge finished second while longshot Fox Valley Kia was third. Fox Valley Leah paid $4.40, $2.40 and $2.20. My Daddys Revenge returned $2.60 and $2.20 while Fox Valley Kia paid $3.80 to show.