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Hawthorne Racecourse (6/2/06)

Contact: DAK Productions
(708) 222-4540

What Opposition?

Hawthorne Race Course will present its second annual Night of Champions on Saturday night, and the stars of the harness game will duke it out for early season divisional supremacy.

The undisputed queen of Illinois racing, the 6-year-old mare Loyal Opposition, is widely regarded as one of the top pacing females of her generation. Loyal Opposition’s illustrious career actually began at Hawthorne on June 27, 2002, as the Erv Miller trainee won her first pari-mutuel start in leg one of the Red White and Blue Stake Series by seven lengths in 1:55.3, but she hadn’t raced over this track since 2003.

Following a pair of rough efforts at the Meadowlands, royalty returned home, and last week she served notice that she’s back on top of her game with a rousing win in leg two of a stakes named in her honor.

Loyal Opposition

6yo bay mare (Cole Muffler-Tising Tising-Life Sign)

Owner: Daniel Waxman, ONT

Trainer: Erv Miller

  • Illinois Horse of the Year in 2004 and 2005
  • Winner of $2,682,028 lifetime
  • Richest Illinois-Bred of all-time
  • Her race record of 1:48.4 ties her as the fastest pacing mare of all-time
  • Winner of 49 of 82 lifetime starts
  • Won both the $331,500 Breeders’ Crown and the $316,910 Milton last year at Woodbine

Q & A with trainer Erv Miller:

Q: She started out her 6-year-old campaign in good shape, but what happened to her in those two May races at the Meadowlands?

A: “She had been racing against the best and you could tell she was a little run down and beat up. She needed to get out of that environment. It was time for her to come home.”

Q: Did you bring her back to Hawthorne and race her in this series to help her get her confidence back?

A: “Yeah, that’s what she needed, a boost of confidence. It’s a lot easier beating the best of the Illinois-breds than it is beating the best in the world. She’s not the best she’s ever been right now, but she’s 6 (years old). She’s in pretty good shape sound-wise. She’s been there before. Through all these battles, and there have been some tough ones, but she always seems to bounce right back. Now that she’s older, you don’t have to have those big training miles. She’s not as aggressive. She knows what she’s supposed to do.”

Q: What are your plans after Saturday?

A: “Well there’s a race right back for her the following Friday at The Meadowlands. I doubt we’ll go in there, it might be a little quick, but it she comes back great than we’ll think about it. The Roses Are Red eliminations at Woodbine are coming up in a couple weeks (June 24), so we’ll probably point to that.”

Q: Your final thoughts on training Loyal Opposition?

A: "She’s been really nice to train. We have a lot of great memories with her. She’s a fighter, and I really think she will come back and be really good again.”

Hawthorne’s fall 2006 Thoroughbred meet runs September 15 through December 31 with live racing five days per week: Wednesday through Sunday. Post time is 1:10 p.m.

Hawthorne’s spring 2006 Thoroughbred meet ran February 24 through May 2.

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