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Illinois County Fairs


Contact: Timothy M. Jones


Illinois bred freshmen had their day at the Logan County Fair in Lincoln, Ill. on Sunday. Six races were carded going for purses of $12,000 (est.) each.

Two-year-old filly pacers were first up. Undefeated in nine starts, Mrs. Grant Seven raced on the point from post six to a gate-to-wire 2:00.2 win.

Capably handled by former owner, but still current trainer Ronnie Gillespie, the Sportsmaster daughter faced her stiffest test to date over Logan County’s half mile oval.

Tom Simmons closed with Past The Evidence in the stretch to finish second, while Gypsys Good Girl, with Andy Miller in the bike, were third.

Gillespie commented following the race that Mrs. Grant Seven will now head to the Illinois State Fair for owner Rattlesnake Ranch Inc. of Dumont, Colorado.

Andy Miller returned to central Illinois to drive two winners in respective divisions of colt pacers, and to equally timed miles also.

Miller gained the front end with All This And More from post four as NJ’S Super Sport and Pirate Image broke stride leaving the gate, scattering the field of seven.

Erv Miller quickly gathered Pirate Image from his miscue, and then was on a mission to reach the front end going up the backstretch the first time. The quarter, reached in :30.2, was passed with All This And More leading a pocket-sitting Cole Combustion (Dale Hiteman), Cyberkid (Tom Simmons) drafting in third, Onthewingsofnangel (Rick Schrock) fifth, and Pirate Image just off his wheel.

Pirate Image raced parked, but leading at the half by All This And More, only to begin tiring heading towards the three quarter pole, and dropping completely out of contention reaching that station. Andy Miller then rolled his mount home to cross the wire in 1:59.2.

Cole Combustion finished second, and Cyberkid was third.

In the second division Itsallindasport, with Robert Taylor driving, led the field of seven single file to the quarter. Tom Simmons raced Place Of Destiny in the garden spot, and Fox Valley Cub Fan was third with Jerry Dudzik behind.

LB Richey, fresh from his track record mile at the Brown County Fair Wednesday evening, was pulled from the rail while racing fifth on the far turn, and then stampeded to the front by Rick Schrock.

Four pacers, two in and two out, blazed by the grandstand going to the half. LB Richey parked on the outside, but a half length in front, by Itsallindasport, Mahdi and Andy Miller followed Schrock’s cover, and Place Of Destiny fourth on the rail.

Schrock dropped his mount to the inside only to be challenged immediately by Miller and Mahdi. Reaching three quarters, Mahdi was still parked by LB Richey, but in front by a half length.

Speeding for home, Mahdi proved to be mush the best and crossed the wire first, Place Of Destiny rallied for second, while LB Richey faded to third.

Mahdi has won three of his last four for trainer Ervin Miller and the ownership of Tanah Merah Farms LLC. of Springfield, Ill.

Both miles being equal, and Andy Miller reining both winners, it was his call of the coin toss in the winners circle to decide who would return home with the trophy. Heads it was, and the trophy will reside on the mantle piece of Tanah Merah Farms.

Dale Hiteman rushed Bandelin from third to first racing to the quarter in the fourth race, only to be parked at that call by Fox Valley Smoothy and Andy Miller. As the field reached the half, Bandelin was able to clear and drop to the rail.

Four horses breezed up the backstretch for the second time led by Bandelin, but Ima Lucky Lady and driver Robert Taylor were pressuring the former just off his number pad. Miller was still racing second in the pocket with plenty of horse, but no where to go because Vapor Rises and Brandon Simpson loomed alongside.

Simpson then lit the afterburners and charged three wide off the final turn, Ima Lucky Lady was sandwiched by Vapor Rises and Bandelin, who was still in the lead on the pylons.

Straining head-to-head in the stretch, Vapor Rises and Bandelin inched away from Ima Lucky Lady, crossing the wire in 2:06.

The win photo revealed Bandelin to be the winner for Hiteman. Vapor Rises and Ima Lucky Lady finished second and third respectively.

Trained by Jerry Logan of Coffeyville, Kansas, the Band’s Gold Chip filly trotter has won three of seven with a bankroll of nearly $40,000.

In the first division for colt trotters, Ernest Smith led with EC Wilson’s Fire for three quarters of the mile only to be edged by a half length at the wire by Rick Schrock-driven Four By Four Mouse.

Swift Departure with Mike Dundee aboard pressured EC Wilson’s Fire, racing on the rim in second, but never quite capable of getting past the stubborn leader. Schrock used Dundee’s cover to pull his mount into contention heading towards the half.

Smith’s steed was able to handle the attack though, and as Swift Departure dropped out leaving Four By Four Mouse uncovered, it was left to those two to decide the end result.

Four By Four Mouse’s win is his second consecutive for trainer/driver Schrock and owner Carol Reynolds of Springfield, Ill.

One division remained for colt trotters, but the battle was on as three horses crossed the wire in unison requiring a detailed photo finish.

Mike Brink moved Just Amos three wide on the first turn, only to be rebuffed by Butterleaf and Andy Miller trotting to the quarter on the front end. Tom Graham cruised in third with Red On The Head, but decided on the far turn he had enough of eating the leaders dust. He pushed the accelerator and cleared to lead Butter Leaf and Just Amos single file past the half.

Brink rolled Just Amos off the rail to race alongside Miller and Butter Leaf while still being led by Red On The Head as they streaked by three quarters.

The same alignment of horses trotted off the final turn, and as those three reached midstretch, Red On The Head drifted slightly towards the middle of the track, allowing Miller to squeeze Butter Leaf through along the rail. Just Amos was trotting all out in the middle of the track, but still alongside those two.

The trio of horses reached the wire in unison. The resulting photo revealed Butter Leaf to be the winner by a “whisker,” as called by track announcer Carl Becker. Red On The Head was second, Just Amos was third.

The 2:07.1 mile was Butter Leaf’s first lifetime start. Ervin Miller trains for the partnership of Bill Wright, Jim & Ruth Geis, all of Illinois.

Andy Miller, who drove three winners on the day after his drives on the Hambletonian program Saturday, commented following the completion of the day’s racing, “I enjoy coming back home where I grew up.”

"I’ll drive at the Illinois State Fair, the Du Quoin State Fair, and Chicago before moving permanently to the East this fall."





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