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Hawthorne Racecourse (6/3/06)

Contact: DAK Productions
(708) 222-4540

A Night of Champions!

Seven Illinois Stakes and a Sensational Free For All Spark an Explosive Night of Racing and Entertainment at Hawthorne


Go Go Gabby and driver Dave Magee took no chances in the $49,000 Silhouette Star Stake Final for Illinois Bred 3 year-old trotting fillies as they shot right to the lead and made every pole a winning one enroute to a 1:58 victory in the first race on the big Night Of Champions card Saturday at Hawthorne.

The Roger Welch trainee had to work a bit during the first 1/8th of the race as Go Go Gabby left from post nine and was three-wide around the first turn as driver Lavern Hostetler left with Hi-Tri from post two and Ginatjellybean held position from the rail. However, the daughter of Valley Victor cleared at the quarter pole and once in command had easy fractions of :29.1, :59.4 and 1:30.4. Her :27.1 final panel was plenty to hold off stablemate Tomato by 1 ¾ lengths while Hi-Tri stayed inside and held third. The victory kept Go Go Gabby’s sophomore record perfect at 4 for 4 and pushed her seasonal earnings to over $37,000.

Winning driver, Dave Magee, on his first win of this big night, was typically low key. “She did it pretty much on her own. It was a pretty easy mile for her. You never know when they are going to run out of gas but she was full of trot and she just dominated today. She’s very versatile. Most of her wins have been from off the pace. It’s nice to be able to participate and not just watch.”


In the $47,500 Plum Peachy Stake Final for sophomore ICF fillies pacers, Free used a perfect second-over trip to collar pace-setting Street Dancer right at the wire and register a head victory in 1:52.3 Driven by Sam Widger, Free moved up second-over on the cover-train headed by 7-5 favorite Bow Wow Wine. Street Dancer was on the lead at the half when Bow Wow Wine attacked and these two excellent fillies went eyeball to eyeball until midstretch when Widger swung out and nailed Street Dancer for the victory. Just Believe rallied to grab third while Bow Wow Wine faded to fifth. Trained by Stan Miller, Free won for the 7th time this season and established herself as the leader in the division.

“Last week I didn’t want to be first up because she’s been first up a couple of weeks in a row and it’s a long year”, said winning driver Sam Widger. “So, I just wanted to steer away from that first up trip. She’s been getting a little high out of the gate so I just let her have her head and see what happened from there. The trip worked out perfect.”


After making a break in last week’s leg two of the stake series, Litigator more than redeemed himself with an easy 2 ½ length victory in the $47,500 Brandenburg Stake Final for 3 year-old trotting colts. Driven by Ryan Anderson, Litigator bided his time early on racing in sixth position as favored Trivoli sat in the pilot’s seat. Just before the half, Litigator attacked first-over and engaged Trivoli approaching the three-quarter pole and once alongside the favorite, looked him in the eye and said goodbye and rolled to the 1:57.3 triumph. Trivoli made a break in the lane and finished 7th, while Crown Vic edged out Dancing Offtoplay for place money. It was trainer Roger Welch’s second victory on the Night Of Champions card.

Ryan Anderson, who guided Litigator to victory, was ecstatic, “Roger just told me to duck him off and bring him up with cover if I could. We knew Homer (Trivoli) would be on the front so there was no reason to get into a battle for the lead. He was under wraps. On the last turn, when I got to Homer’s throat and asked him, He just took off. He’s very good right now. He just might be the top 3-year-old trotter around here.”


While all the pre-race press went to Hot N Sporty and his undefeated streak at Hawthorne going into the $45,000 Hothead Stake Final for state bred 3 year-old pacing colts, Thisbigdogwilfight failed to read those clippings and the son of The Big Dog rolled to a 1:50.3 victory, establishing a new track record for 3 year-old colt pacers.

Driver Brent Holland rolled the Jim Eaton trainee out of post one and put all his competition in a hole with a :27 first quarter. Dave Magee brought up 3-5 favorite Hot N Sporty first-over approaching the half and attempted to wear down the pace-setter through the halfway panel of :55.3 and the three-quarter stop of 1:23.4. At the top of the lane, Hot N Sporty threw in the white flag, as My Boy David came on resolutely through the inside. However, that charge fell ¾’s of a length short and Thisbigdogwilfight prevailed. Fox Valley Tribal finished well to gain third money, while Hot N Sporty faded to seventh.


Battleshoe Victor was a $5,500 supplement entry to the Eddy Oakley Stake for aged ICF trotters and trainer Tom Harmer and owner Mike Polansky ended up looking like geniuses as the chestnut son of Valley Victor was an easy winner in the $53,500 Final. Dave Magee sent Battleshoe Victor right to the top from the rail position and they were never seriously challenged in the brilliant 1:53.3 mile.

Victor’s Pursuit came on the scene late to finish second, 3 lengths behind the winner, and veteran Lifes A Holiday raced well to grab third.

The main question that was being asked after Battleshoe Victor’s fine performance was whether Harmer and Polansky would supplement their new found trotting star to the $100,000 est. Erwin F Dygert Memorial Trot scheduled for closing night, Saturday, June 17th. Eliminations for the Dygert are scheduled for next Friday and the supplemental fee would be $11,000.

Dave Magee, on his second stakes victory of the night, “I’m really fortunate to be here and driving some real quality horses. Supplementing him to the Dygert would be entirely up to his owners and Tom Harmer. He’s a real quality colt and I’m sure he would give a good accounting of himself wherever they put him. I urged him out there a little bit. I just established the lead. He was strong enough to sustain the lead and still have a lot of trot coming from out of the turn.”


After a pair of opening leg victories where several of his opponents had road trouble, Live Out Loud left no doubt about who was the champion with a dominating 1:50.4 victory in the $53,500 Jimmys Pilot Stake Final for older Illinois Bred pacers. Dave Magee behind Live Out Loud let veteran Constant Change take control early before retaking the lead just past the quarter. King Johnny attacked first-over past the half but was no match for the winner. Fox Valley Gallant, who had lost in photos to Live Out Loud in both preliminary legs, was never a factor. Constant Change stayed inside and raced well, finishing 1 ¾ lengths behind the Dave McCaffrey trained winner, while 31-1 shot Cheyenne Bodie garnered third money. The victory moved Live Out Loud’s lifetime earnings to just under $500,000.

Guess who? Dave Magee on his victory in Jimmy’s Pilot, “Dave McCaffrey had him really sharp tonight. He was the best he’s been since I’ve driven him. He just did it all on his own.”


Loyal Opposition’s grand return to the track where her career started ended in glorious fashion as the daughter of Cole Muffler cruised to an easy 2 ¼ length victory in the $48,000 Loyal Opposition Stake Final for ICF pacing mares 4 years old and older. In the race named after the richest Illinois Bred harness horse of all-time, Loyal Opposition was sent out hard by driver Dave Magee, who registered his fourth stake win on the card. Of course the speedy Lou Annie went right to the top, but Magee was not content with the two-hole and rolled the distaff champion right to the pilot’s seat. Once there, the verdict, for all practical purposes, was sealed. Lou Annie held on well for second, while Fox Valley Fussy rallied past Parklane Powerful, who had a difficult journey trying to come from last, to nail the third spot. The 1:52.3 victory sent Loyal Opposition’s lifetime bankroll over $2.7 million.

“She’s a beautiful mare. Very talented. Her record speaks for itself. She’s going into the Hall of Fame this week. The younger horses coming up keep getting faster and faster but she can still hold her own. If you guessed Dave Magee again, you get a prize.”

The final big event on the Night Of Champion’s card was a super-competitive $21,500 Free For All Pace as several horses were gearing up for the $100,000 est. Robert F Carey Memorial Pace in two weeks. The pace was wicked as Odds On Big Tom left to gain control in a :26.3 first quarter and that wasn’t fast enough for Town Champion who assumed control en route to a :53.3 half. As the field approached the top of the lane the field fanned out and two-time Hawthorne Free-For-All winner, Yukon Cornelius came from dead-last to register his third FFA win of the meet in 1:50.1. Wesley Snip was a length back in second and Abouttolosecontrol finished third.

Todd Warren, driver and trainer of Yukon Cornelius, “It looked like there was a lot of early speed in the race. I was hoping they would get into a battle. He seems a lot sharper off the pace. I had him last summer and he was a nice horse, winning a couple of Free-for-Alls and such, but he really came into his own in the last two months. He turned into a super horse. I discussed supplementing him to the Carey with the owners. Actually, they said if he won this race they would really consider it. I’d like to see him in it. It’s a tough race but he’s a nice horse.”

It was a fantastic night of racing as Hawthorne’s second annual Night Of Champions was a resounding success. With two weeks remaining on Hawthorne’s harness schedule, several exciting events still remain to be contested. In addition to the Dygert and Carey $110,000 est. finals on closing night, the Grand Circuit will visit Hawthorne for the first time in history during the final week of racing and the four finals for the Forest View, Berwyn, Stickney and Cicero Pacing Series’ will also share centerstage.

Hawthorne’s spring 2006 Standardbred meet runs May 6 through June 17 with live racing six days per week: Tuesday through Sunday. Post time is 7:20 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, and opening day, Saturday May 6 (special early post).

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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