For Immediate Release
Contact: Jim Miller (708) 780-3700
Night of Champions Brings out the Best in Illinois
STICKNEY, IL – The summer harness season at Hawthorne Race
Course culminates this weekend as eleven stakes finals will compromise Night of
Champions on Saturday night. Four legs
of preliminary events have led to the finals for two and three-year olds while
eliminations were contested last weekend for the aged divisions. With a 7:20 PM post time Saturday, events
will begin earlier in the night, including a driver autograph session at 6:30
PM and the ability to meet past Illinois Champion horse Mini Me on the
$45,000 Robert S. Molaro Handicap kicks off the
stakes evening as reigning Illinois-bred Horse of the Year Fox Valley Gemini
leads the field of six. A winner of 29
of 38 lifetime starts, the Terry Leonard trainee has won 10 times this year,
including last week’s preview. Owned by
Jim Ballinger, Casey Leonard will be in the bike. Unlocked returns to Hawthorne as he recently
surpassed $600,000 in lifetime earnings.
A winner at Hawthorne last year, he races for trainer Nelson Willis with
Jim Pantaleano driving.
filly trotters follow in the $82,000 Fox Valley Flan Championship. The full field of ten is led by of pair of
Steve Searle trainees in Bee See and Lous
Abigail. Bee See draws post position two
and she enters the race a winner of five of nine starts on the year. Regular driver Kyle Husted will be in the
bike. The second Searle trainee, Lous Abigail, isn’t helped by her post draw as she will
start from the outside of the field of ten.
Leading driver Casey Leonard gets the call as Lous
Abigail has finished first of second in all nine of her starts.
filly pacers are next up with a wide open field of ten in the $115,000 Incredible
Tillie Championship. Different horses
have won legs in this series as Fox Valley Exploit leads the way from the
inside. Trained and driven by Kyle
Husted, Fox Valley Exploit has won half of her eight starts on the year, including
the Directors Award two races back. Sign
Her Up races for trainer Charles Arthur as Juan Franco drives. A winner of three of her last five, Sign Her
Up comes in off a victory in the most recent leg of the Incredible Tillie. Sleazy Gal draws the outside for owner Engel
Stable of IL, LLC and trainer Erv Miller. A winner from the outside in the final at the
Illinois State Fair last month, Kyle Wilfong returns
in the bike.
trotters take to the track in the $45,000 Plesac
Championship. The field of five features
top mare Annas Lucky Star as she faces the boys once
again. The track record holder is owned
by Danny Graham and races for Nelson Willis.
A 32-time winner from 56 starts, Annas Lucky
Star was impressive in last week’s preview victory. Kyle Wilfong
returns to drive. Talk About Valor poses the biggest threat to Annas
Lucky Star. Casey Leonard drives the
Gerald Hansen trainee as he has found the board in all 18 starts this year.
$95,000 Beulah Dygert Memorial Championship for
three-year-old filly trotters has a field of ten as the favorite draws the
Family Farms LLC owned Louzotic starts from the
inside for trainer Steve Searle and driver Kyle Husted. A winner of 10 of 14 starts on the year, Louzotic rides a four race win streak into this final. Another in fine form is Skippymalou
as the second of four starters in the race for Flacco
Family Farms. A six time winner on the
year, she enters this final a winner of three of her last four starts. Casey Leonard drives Skippymalou.
male trotters follow in the $92,000 Erwin F. Dygert
Memorial Championship. Flacco Family Farms LLC is featured prominently once again
with a pair in this race. Lousraptor has six victories on the year and has hit the
board in 13 of 16 races. Casey Leonard
returns in the bike. Lourhianon
pulled off the upset of Lousraptor in the final leg
leading into this final for trainer Kennedy Lindsey. He draws the outside in the final for driver
Luke Plano as he looks for his seventh victory of the year.
Kadabra Championship for two-year-old male trotters
is led by the talented Fox Valley Quest from the barn of trainer Tom
Simmons. A winner of nine of 11 starts,
Fox Valley Quest looks to show his speed and control this field from start to
finish for driver Casey Leonard. Crooked
Creek has arrived late on the scene, but comes in off an impressive win on the
front end in his most recent start for trainer Mike Brink. Ryan Anderson picks up the drive once again.
juvenile pacers race in the $102,000 Incredible Finale Championship as the top
contenders are stuck on the outside of this full field. Megan Rogers Racing Stables Incorporated’s
Fox Valley Ren is the one to beat for trainer Nelson Willis. A winner of seven of nine starts this year, he has good early speed and has shown past ability to
overcome the outside draw. Kyle Wilfong remains in the bike. One slot to Fox Valley Ren’s outside is He’zzz A Wise Sky from the barn of
Getting a later start to his season, He’zzz A Wise Sky has been ultra-impressive, winning four straight
races coming into this final.
most competitive race of the evening looks to be the $109,000 Robert F. Carey
Jr. Memorial Championship. Three horses
have traded punches for supremacy at this level led by Maximus, from the barn
of Ken Rucker. The seven-time winner on
the year was third in the final at the Illinois State Fair and was game in
victory in the final leg of the Carey leading into tonight’s race. Trainer Erv Miller
sends out Meyer on Fire, who got the best of Maximus at the Illinois State
Fair. With four wins on the year, Meyer
on Fire has hit the board in 10 of 12 starts this season. Fox Valley Triton races for Terry
Leonard. The runner-up at the State Fair
and in the most recent leg of the Carey, he has hit the board in 12 of 14 this
is on the line in the Plum Peachy Championship for three-year-old filly
pacers. A pair that has battled
throughout the season meet up again as Fox Valley
Torrid and Perch look to settle who is best in this class. Fox Valley Torrid races for Sox Valley
Standardbreds and trainer Rodney Freese. A winner of seven of 15 starts on the year,
he has won three of his last four entering this final. Casey Leonard drives. Perch has been on the wrong end of the battle
with Fox Valley Torrid recently, but did get the best of her in winning the
final at the Illinois State Fair in August.
She has won six of 15 starts this year for trainer Jay Garrels as regular driver Kyle Wilfong
returns to drive.
Night of Champions closes out with a full field of aged female pacers in the
$45,000 Tony Maurello Championship. Trainer Dirk Simpson sends out Fox Valley
Charm who comes off a victory in the elimination last week. Whiskersonkittens
won the second elimination last week as trainer Kim Roth looks to have her in
fine form leading into this final.
Driver Luke Plano has been a good fit for her in recent starts.
Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago’s Hometown Track, returned
for live harness racing on Friday, May 3. The summer harness meet opened on
Friday, May 3 and races through September 22.
Fall thoroughbreds close out the year, running from October 10 through
December 28. For more information, visit
contact Hawthorne at 708-780-3700.