For Immediate Release
Contact: Jim Miller (708) 780-3700
Illinois Honors on the Line in Night
of Champions at Hawthorne
Autograph Session, Food Trucks and
Invite Races Spice up Huge Card
STICKNEY, IL – Over $1.1 million in purse money will be on
the line Saturday night at Hawthorne as Night of Champions will take
place. Eleven stakes finals for
Illinois-breds will highlight the card and will be
joined by a pair of tough invite races to compile the 13 race program. In addition to the races, top drivers in
Illinois racing history will be on hand for an autograph session from 7:30 – 8:30
PM on the first floor of the grandstand.
Food trucks and the outdoor barbeque will serve food as fans can get up
close and personal with all of the racing action. A preview of the 13 race card:
Race 1 - $136,142
Incredible Finale Championship – 2yo Colt & Gelding Pacers
Illinois-bred juvenile pacers kick off the action as a full
field lines up. Two horses have been
standouts at this level throughout the summer as Meyer on Fire and The Bucket
look to battle to the finish. Meyer on
Fire comes from the barn of trainer Erv Miller for
owner Engel Stable of Illinois LLC as he rides a four race win streak into this
final. He got the best of The Bucket
last week, winning leg four of this event by three lengths and will look to get
the jump again tonight. Mike Oosting drives Meyer on Fire on Saturday. The Bucket races for owners Ken Rucker and
George Dremonas as he has won seven times on the year
and finished in the money in all ten starts.
He was parked without cover in last week’s final leg but may look to
take the race to Meyer on Fire earlier on Saturday night. Casey Leonard will be in the bike once again
for trainer Terry Leonard.
Race 2 - $45,000 Plesac Championship – 3yo & up Trotters
Illinois-bred aged trotters take to the track as the top
female trotter in the state looks to beat the boys. Annas Lucky Star
will start from the outside for owner Danny Graham and trainer Nelson
Willis. A winner of half of her 16
starts on the year, Annas Lucky Star controlled the
pace for driver Kyle Wilfong from the rail in last
week’s prep but may have to work out a trip from the eight-hole on
Saturday. Picky Picky
Valor has been equally impressive this year for owner Shelley Steele and
trainer Gerald Hansen. With eight
victories and 20 top three finishes from 22 starts, Picky Picky
Valor and driver Casey Leonard will look to turn the tables on Annas Lucky Star from his second-place finish to her last
Race 3 - $132,874
Incredible Tillie Championship – 2yo Filly Pacers
Juvenile Pacers match up in one of the more wide open
divisions of the Night of Champions card.
Fox Valley Torrid looks to benefit from the inside draw as she was
narrowly defeated last week after winning four consecutive races prior to that
start. Owned by Fox Valley Standardbreds
and trained by Rodney Freese, Fox Valley Torrid has
shown versatility as she may look to rate close from the inside post on
Saturday. Casey Leonard drives. Perch got off to a bit of a later start this
summer but has been sharp, winning half of her eight starts and finishing in
the top three in all of her races. She
is familiar with outside draws, closing strongly from the back in championship
races from the outside in both Springfield and DuQuoin. Jay Garrels trains
Race 4 - $119,470 Kadabra Championship – 2yo Colt & Gelding Trotters
The Kadabra became a very
interesting race after the Monday draw as the top two contenders both drew in
the outer half of the field. A winner of
the last two legs of this race, Trixie’s Turbo drew the ten-hole Saturday for
owner Charles Doehring, trainer Jared Finn and driver
J D Finn. A winner of six of nine on the
year, Trixie’s Turbo is normally committed to the front end early but showed
some versatility in an elimination victory from off the pace in
starts in post seven as he has speed but has battled staying on stride
throughout the summer. Racing for the
partnership of Flacco Family Farms LLC and Dr.
Patrick Graham for trainer Steve Searle, Louscardamon
has shown flashes of brilliance, winning five of his eight starts. He broke stride just after the start last
week though, leaving some questions going into the Saturday final. Mike Oosting will
be in the bike behind Louscardamon.
Race 5 - $45,000 Tony
Maurello Championship – 3yo & up Filly & Mare
The Maurello final brings forth
one of the most consistent older pacers of the summer to face off against
another that may be peaking at the right time.
has been very good throughout the summer, winning nine of 21 races and taking
on tough open company pacers at Hawthorne throughout the summer. Coming from the barn of trainer Rob Rittof, Travis Seekman will
likely have her in her familiar front-end position early. A pacer with the opposite racing style, Fancy
Creek Jolene will be hoping for a quick and contested pace upfront early for
her to close into late. Trained by Kim
Hamilton, Fancy Creek Jolene and driver Bobby Smolin
teamed up mid-August, winning three races in just over a month, including a
score in last week’s elimination.
Normally one to come from off the pace, she could be the horse that is
hitting her stride at the right time.
Race 6 - $122,504 Fox
Valley Flan Championship – 2yo Filly Trotters
Multiple horses vie for the title of top female juvenile
trotter in the state as half of this field can make a strong case that they are
looks to benefit from the inside draw for owner Flacco
Family Farms and trainer Steve Searle as she has won six of ten starts on the
year, along with winning her division of the last two legs of this race. E L Game On has finished in the top three in
10 of 11 races this summer, closing as the runner-up to Louzotic
in her last two starts. Donald and Sharri Huddleston own for trainer Mike Rogers. The winningest juvenile trotter in North America
starts right next to E L Game On as Loussolataire looks
for her 17th victory of the year for owner Steven Renard. Also trained
by Steve Searle, Loussolataire snuck through along
the inside late to score in the final leg of this race last week. Puddin Cheeks has
early speed and has been a bit of a later bloomer this summer. Racing for trainer Jared Finn, Puddin Cheeks was a strong winner in leg three of this
series and just missed to Loussolataire here last
will have to work out a trip from her outside draw as she races for trainer Jim
Eaton. A winner of four of seven on the
year, she has shown she can close late and looks to get a heated pace ahead of
her early on Saturday.
Race 7 - $45,000
Robert S. Molaro Championship – 3yo & up Pacers
Aged pacers line up Saturday as Unlocked leads this field
off a game victory in last week’s elimination.
Owned by Megan Rogers Racing Stables Inc. and trained by Norm Parker,
Unlocked has made only five starts in 2018.
After a bit of a slow start to the year, the seven-year-old gelding put
together a good pair of qualifiers at the Meadows before shipping into
Hawthorne last week. Driven by Jim Pantaleano, Unlocked got a perfect tracking trip and was
able to draw clear at the wire. With 32
victories from 100 career starts for over half a million in earnings, Unlocked
will be the likely favorite again on Saturday.
Race 8 - $99,032
Beulah Dygert Memorial Championship – 3yo Filly
Trainer Steve Searle has a bunch of live trotters on the Night
of Champions card as he sends out Trotting Grace in this final. After a good two-year-old campaign in 2017,
she got off to a bit of a slow start in 2018.
Things have turned around at the right time for her for owners Mystical
Marker Farms LLC, Bill Wright and Steve Searle as she has won five of her last
six races coming into this final.
Regular driver Kyle Husted will be back in the bike once again. Just to Trotting Grace’s inside may be her
toughest competition, coming from Maui Mama.
Also owned by Bill Wright, Maui Mama is trained by Mike Brink and gets
Casey Leonard in the bike. She has found
the board in all nine of her races in 2018, but has finished behind Trotting
Grace in each of her last four races.
Race 9 - $25,000
The first of two full field invitational races on the Night
of Champions card pits a strong field of trotters, coming together from five
different locations. With nearly
$700,000 in career earnings, Satin Dancer draws well in the middle of this
field for owner Summit Pacing Acres LLC and trainer Byron Hooley. A winner three times on the year, Satin
Dancer has been competitive in open races at Pocono, The Meadowlands, and
Yonkers. Swan Chase draws the far
outside, but comes into the invite hitting the board 12 times from 14 starts on
the year. He comes in off a strong string of races at Hoosier Park into this
spot and has shown an ability to close with a rush late. Swan Chase is owned by John Barnard for
trainer Bill Crone.
Race 10 - $25,000
A very fast field of pacers will look to go sub-1:50 as
trainer Ron Burke sends out Dancin Yankee on
Saturday. With over $1.8 million in
career earnings, Dancin Yankee has won nine times on
the year for over $160,000 in earnings.
A versatile pacer in style, Dancin Yankee
looks to go favored in this tough field.
New Talent comes in off back to back sub 1:49 miles at Hoosier as he
will look to overcome the far outside draw.
Owned by Thomas Pollack and Jeffrey Cullipher
and trained by Tim Clevenger, New Talent returned off a tough trip in the Dan Patch
at Hoosier to come back with a seven-length triumph in 1:48.3 in his next
Race 11 - $160,080
Robert F. Carey Jr. Memorial Championship – 3yo Colt & Gelding Pacers
Reigning 2017 Illinois-bred Horse of the Year Fox Valley
Gemini looks to continue his string of undefeated races over the Hawthorne
track as he leads this talented field.
With 17 victories at Hawthorne, Fox Valley Gemini made amends after
facing his first two career defeats in Springfield at the Illinois State Fair
this summer. He returned to Hawthorne
and qualified with the addition of Lasix and then proceeded to destroy a field
by over seven lengths in the final leg of this series. Casey Leonard drives for trainer Terry
Leonard and owner Jim Ballinger. You’remyhearthrob is the one that snapped Fox Valley Gemini’s
streak in Springfield, when he scored in driver Kyle Wilfong’s
1,000 career driving victory. Trained by
Brett Wilfong, You’remyhearthrob
has finished in the top three in all 14 starts this season, including a strong
victory in his division of the final leg of this race last week.
Race 12 - $125,140
Plum Peachy Championship – 3yo Filly Pacers
Allbeastnobeauty headlines the
field in the Plum Peachy final as she enters this race with eight victories
from 14 starts on the year. Owned in
partnership by trainer Mike Brink, Josh Carter, Mark Brown, and Lawrence
Crawford, Allbeastnobeauty was game in victory in
four straight races before finishing third in the final leg of this
series. Her versatility should put her
close to the pace as she will look to take over late for driver Mike Oosting. A champion
in 2017, Fox Valley Jazzy will be looking to get the jump on Allbeastnobeauty as she draws inside of her on Saturday
night. After winning eight of 13 races
in 2017, she has scored just twice from eleven 2018 starts, but has finished in
the top three nine times. She races on
Saturday for owner Cathy Finn-Kanitz and trainer Dale
Kanitz as Ridge Warren drives.
Race 13 - $83,696
Erwin F. Dygert Memorial Championship – 3yo Colt
& Gelding Trotters
The final race on the Night of Champions card looks to be
very competitive as Majistic Caprice and Illinimight lead this field of ten. Illinimight races
for owners Keith and Kevin Miller and trainer Mike Brink as he looks to follow
the same pattern that was successful for him in 2017. After a slow start last year, he peaked late,
racing well in the final month of the meet.
He has had a similar season this year, posting wins in three of his last
four races, including a strong score in the final leg of this series last
week. Casey Leonard drives. Majistic Caprice
has won half of his 18 starts on the year as he draws in the middle of this
field. A horse with versatility, he
finished fourth behind Illinimight last week, but
also had to overcome an outside draw. Majistic Caprice races on Saturday for trainer Roshun Trigg.
Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago’s Hometown Track, continues
the summer harness season through September 24.
Fall thoroughbreds close out the year, running from October 5 through
December 29. For more information, visit
contact Hawthorne at 708-780-3700.