UI Stallion Cassis Named 2017 Illinois Trotting Stallion of the Year

For the second straight year, The University of Illinois Horse Farm is home to an Illinois Stallion of the Year, as recognized by voters in the United State Trotting Association’s District 5.

At the January 2017 USTA District 5 Awards banquet, The UI pacing stallion, Sagebrush, was named Illinois Pacing Sire of the year for 2016, and now his diagonally-gaited stable mate, Cassis, has matched his honor by being named the 2017 Illinois Trotting Stallion of the Year at the 2018 USTA District 5 banquet held on January 20th in Springfield, IL.

Cassis, owned by the Cassis Syndicate and primary shareholder and Syndicate Manager Carl Becker, and standing stud at the University of Illinois since the beginning of his career, set the standard for Illinois trotting stallions in 2017 primarily on the strength of siring numerous stakes-winning 2 year olds. His top 2 year old stakes-winners included Maui Mama 2, 1:56 ($ 81,280), Trotting Grace 2, 1:59 ($ 64,782), Illinimight 2, 2:00.1 ($ 84,330) and Cruzen Cassi 2, 2:01.3 ($ 59,256). Cassis also strengthened his credentials with strong performances from his 3 year old race horses like Anna’s Lucky Star 3, 1:53.3 ($ 190,300) and Trixie’s Jethro 3, 1:57 ($ 96,116). Maui Mama was named 2 Year Old Illinois Trotting Filly of the Year, and Anna’s Lucky Star was named 3 Year Old Illinois Trotting Filly of the Year.

The University of Illinois Horse Farm continues to stand Cassis for a 2018 stud fee of $2,500 and the pacing stallions Sagebrush and Major Bombay for stud fees of $2,000 each.

Two year old UI-bred fillies shine in the 2017 Illinois Sires Stakes

A pair of University of Illinois-owned fillies that were sold in the 2016 UI consignment to the Illini Classic Sale proved to be bargains for their new owners in 2017.

Rollin Coal P, 2, 1:56.1 ($90,729), the incredibly consistent Sagebrush daughter out of the University of Illinois-owned broodmare Emission Control P, 2, 1:54.1 ($19,597) raced near the top of her class all season long after being purchased by Hosea Williams for just $3,600. Rollin Coal started her career with 3 straight wins at Hawthorne Raceway in the first leg of the Incredible Tillie Stakes and the elimination and final of the Violet Stakes. After one sub-par effort in a two year old filly overnight pace when she finished 4th, Rollin Coal never again finished off-the-board in the remainder of her stakes races. In 3 more legs of the Incredible Tillie Series, Rollin Coal placed third once and second twice, then was second in the $175,000 Incredible Tillie Final to eventual 2 YO filly Pacer of the Year Fox Valley Jazzy P, 2, 1:54.3 ($130,265). Rollin Coal finished the 2017 season with 2 straight wins in a pair of Fall Review Stakes at Springfield. Rollin Coal was the second-richest 2017 Illinois 2 Year Old Pacing Filly, and was also the 3rd fastest race-timed filly when her furious rally from 5 lengths back at the ¾ pole in the Illinois State Fair Championship ended with her finishing a close 3rd , beaten just 1 ¾ lengths in 1:53.3. Hosea Williams has good reason to believe that Rollin Coal can race at the top of her class in the 2018 Illinois Sires Stakes.

Trotting Grace, T, 2, 1:59 ($64,782) was purchased by H.W. Wright from the UI consignment to the Illini Classic Sale for just $5,700, and she was also near the top her division all season long. She had 5 wins, 2 seconds and 1 third out of 10 starts – all in stakes races. Her only off-the-board finishes happed when she finished 5th in the Violet Stakes final after suffering an entrapped epiglottis, and in the Shawnee Stakes at DuQuoin, being placed 5th in a heartbreaking loss due to interference with another horse after finishing first by 7 lengths in a sparkling 1:56.3. Trotting Grace showed extreme 2 year old trotting speed in the State Fair Final as well, trotting in 1:57 after a very tough journey left her in 3rd place. Mr. Wright has plans to race Trotting Grace against the top Illinois stakes fillies in 2018, as well as top regional foes in surrounding states this upcoming year.

The Hosea Williams trained Rollin Coal (Casey Leonard) captured last night’s first division of Hawthorne’s Incredible Tillie stake series. (Four Footed Photo)

UI Stallion Sagebrush Named 2016 Illinois Pacing Stallion of the Year

The University of Illinois stallion Sagebrush, P, 1:49 ($646,967) was named Illinois Pacing Stallion of the Year during the USTA District 5 meeting held Jan. 21, 2017 at the State Fairgrounds in Springfield, IL.

The regally-bred son of Western Hanover, out of the 100% producing Abercrombie daughter Just Say Go P, 3, 1:54.3 ($93,840) “outpaced” his fellow Illinois stallions in 2016 on the strength of an outstanding crop of 2 year-olds that included Illinois Horse of the Year, Princess Sage P, 2, 1:53.3 ($90,527), as well as other freshmen standouts like Artemesia P, 2, 1:53.2 ($26,585), Razzleme Dazzleme P, 2, 1:54.4 ($55,567), Slzburgerslzburger P, 2, 1:54.2 ($12,681), Spirited Encounter P, 2, 1:54.3 ($27,142), Dee Tumbleweed P, 2, 1:55 ($27,557) and Uptown Sleaze P, 2, 1:55 ($25,739). Sagebrush’s seven 1:55 two-year-old credits in 2016 led all Illinois Stallions by a wide margin.

Sagebrush Filly Earns 2016 Illinois Harness Horse of the Year

Keli Bell is a sophomore at Neoga High School who enjoys playing softball for the Indians and, in her spare time, riding horses with her sister, Katie. She also happens to own a harness horse which was recently named tops for all of Illinois.

Princess Sage, a two-year-old pacing filly bred and co-owned by Bell, earned honors as 2016 Illinois Harness Horse of the Year by a vote of members of the United States Trotting Association residing in the Prairie State. The award was made official with a special presentation which took place Jan. 21 in Springfield.

Bell’s parents, Barry and Toni Bell of rural Windsor, have raced Standardbreds for many years. But they decided to register Katie Mack, the dam (or “mother”) of Princess Sage, in Keli’s name when Keli took an interest in the mare after her racing days and broke her to ride. As a result, when Katie Mack’s first foal was born, she too would belong to Keli, and the name “Princess Sage” was chosen because of the filly’s sire being named “Sagebrush.”

The Bell family offered a 50-percent interest in the filly to family friend Freddie Patton Jr. of Mississippi, with the condition that he would train the filly free of charge. Patton accepted, and he guided Princess Sage through a campaign of eight wins in 11 starts, with earnings of $90,000. The highlight of the season came Sept. 10, when the filly won the $100,000 final of the Incredible Tilly series at Hawthorne Racecourse in Stickney.

Princess Sage earned a rest over the final two months of 2016, but she has since returned to training with the Midwest string of the Patton Stable at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. Defense of her Horse of the Year title will begin later this spring.

Kurt Becker

UI Pacing Fillies Complete “Illini Exacta” at Illinois State Fair

The 2 YO pacing fillies raised and sold by the UI Horse Farm finished 1 -2, and daughters of UI Horse Farm Stallion Sagebrush finished 1-2-3 in the $35,000 Filly Pace Championship of the Illinois State Fair Colt Stakes on Wednesday, August 17th. Razzleme Dazzleme moved first-over just before the half-mile pole while brisk fractions of 26.3 and 54.4 were set by her stablemate San Antonio Rose. Razzleme Dazzleme continued to stalk the pace-setter while parked 2-wide; pulling within a half-length of San Antonio Rose at the ¾ pole in a time of 1:24. As Razzleme Dazzleme bore down on her barn mate through the stretch, a fresh Artemesia, who had followed Razzleme Dazzleme’s every move from the half-mile mark, tipped off cover and brushed past the game Razzleme Dazzleme in the shadow of the wire. Artemesia’s win came with a new lifetime mark of 1:53.2. The very brave Razzleme Dazzleme finished a half-length behind the winner and held second by a nose over a rapidly closing Dee Tumbleweed who claimed third ahead of the tiring San Antonio Rose. The win-place-show order of Artemesia, Razzleme Dazzleme and Dee Tumbleweed completed the “Sagebrush Trifecta”, as all 3 fillies on the tote board were daughters of the outstanding UI pacing stallion Sagebrush.

Also of note was the fact that both Artemesia and Razzleme Dazzleme were trained by Rushville, IL Conditioner Nick Prather, who sent out 3 fillies in the Championship race, including San Antonio Rose.

Kevin H. Kline

Invitation to Illinois Standardbred Breeders

The University of Illinois Horse Farm invites all Illinois Standardbred Breeders to partner with us in the resurgence of the ICF program.

While the horse racing landscape remains uncertain in the Land of Lincoln, the University of Illinois Horse Farm remains optimistic that the recent events in the industry will mark a resurgence of Illinois horse racing and breeding. The reduction and consolidation of harness racing dates into one major track, Hawthorne, along with increased purses during the spring through fall months could well be a positive development for Illinois racing and breeding, even without an immediate gaming bill. More opportunities for young ICF horses, especially trotters, are very likely – both for stake races and conditioned races that were not typically offered at the now closed Maywood and Balmoral Parks. The projected ICF stakes purses, probably very similar to those offered in 2015 in the absence of a gaming bill, still offer value to the small group of Illinois breeders that produce quality animals for our limited pool of ICF stakes-eligibles. A new gaming law could, of course, breathe new life into the ICF program and transform the breeding industry over night.

The key to being a “big fish in the small pond” of the ICF program is to breed outstanding stakes horses in a limited stakes pool of animals that can then go on to be competitive in conditioned races in Illinois and throughout North America. We invite you to breed one or more of your good mares to one of our proven producing stallions that have displayed the ability to produce “the right kind” over and over.

On the pacing side, for example, our stallion Sagebrush has posted some stunning numbers so far in his limited career. His offspring that are old enough to have raced at least through their 2 and 3 year old seasons number only 42 total foals. From that group, he has sired the likes of NJ’S Big Deal P 4, 1:50.1 M ($306,372); Sleazy Does It P 5, 1:51.3 M ($301,819); Thesleazyprincess P 3, 1:52.2 M ($280,298); Dee Dee Sage P 4, 1:52.0 M ($225,716) and Hostess Lisa P 4, 1:51.0 F ($212,266). Breeders have finally caught on to Sagebrush’s ability to sire top performers from many types of mares, and Sagebrush’s 2016 crop of 2 year olds is represented by a robust 47 foals – by far his biggest crop to date. Watch for them to make a lot of noise in the 2016 ICF stakes. Don’t overlook Duneside Perch either, as “all he has done for us lately” was to sire both of the 2015 winners of the two “glamor division” Super Night Stakes, the Orange and Blue and the Langley Memorial, in Dan D Dune P 2, 1:53.3 M ($120,626) and Dinky Dune P 3, 1:51.4 M ($85,975), respectively. His recent “out East” winners in PA and DE include Unlocked P, 4, 1:49.1F ($359,169); Duneside Chella P, 5, 1:51.4F ($94,172) and Beach Boy Brody P, 4, 1:52.1F ($77,337).

On the trotting side, no one questions that Cassis has the most modern pedigree, and is the fastest trotting stallion ever to stand stud in Illinois. This Hambletonian heat-winning and multiple stakes-winning son of Cantab Hall has a first crop of 38 living foals that will be heard from this summer. Southwind Breeze, although overshadowed by his on-farm neighbor Cassis, has shown the type of siring consistency that most trotting stallions can only dream of. Southwind Breeze has sired winners all over the United States including Little Ms Chrissy, T 4, 1:53.4 ($248,688); Big Bill Breeze T 4, 1:54.1f ($169,986); Divination T 5, 1:54.4f ($127,176); Bailey’s Wish T 3, 1:55 ($223,035) and Bobby B Breeze T 4, 1:55.1f ($155,731).

Kevin Kline, PhD

University of Illinois Stallion Duneside Perch has double Super Night scores with Dinky Dune and Dan D Dune

Sunday, September 13, 2015 – excerpted from “Super Night Championships produce star studded efforts” by Tom Kelley, publicity director, Balmoral Park

Fresh off a win in the Dudley Hanover Stake down in DuQuoin Dinky Dune continued his “dream season” as he rolled to a one-length victory in a career best of 1:51.4 giving driver Pat Curtin and trainer Dane May their first Super Night championships in the $112,000 Pete Langley Memorial for 3 YO colt and gelding pacers.

Working out a second-over trip while Earndawg (Todd Warren) carved out splits of 28.0, 56.1 & 1:24.0 Curtin had the son of Duneside Perch—Dream Hand in perfect striking position as the field turned for home.

“All night I had my mind set on wanting to get into the two-hole with this horse,” said a very excited Curtin. “Then right before we went out there Dane said to me Pat please just give him a trip and try to be second-over with him and that’s what happened. Dane was definitely right on with that one!”

Gradually reeling in a tiring Earndawg, Dinky Dune was well in hand to Curtin as he charged home in 27.2 to record his sixth win 14 starts this season. Earndawg turned in a game effort from the 10-hole to finish second while longshot Mighty Hot Shot (Ridge Warren) was third.

The winner returned $7.80, $4.40 & $3.20 while upping his career earnings to $84,852.

The richest event of the night was saved for last as a field of nine closed out the night in the $187,000 Orange & Blue Stake. Taking advantage of some brisk early fractions, Kay Willis’s Dan D Dune came flying through the stretch to win by a half-length in a career best of 1:53.3 for driver Mike Oosting.

Pacing along third over while Royale Rose (Matt Krueger) faced constant pressure through splits of 26.4, 56.2 & 1:25.1 Oosting moved the Nelson Willis trained son of Duneside Perch—Witch Hanover three deep as the field hit the head of the stretch.

“I was a little concerned with how far back we were but I knew those horses up front were getting roughed up pretty good,” said Oosting. “This horse has always finished up a mile well though and I knew if they faltered at all up there we were going to get there in time.”

Picking up one rival after another the Governor’s Cup winner zoomed right on by with a well measured move from Oosting for his fifth win of his career. Wondrous Sport (Casey Leonard) was a tough luck second while BS Tyrrific (Kyle Wilfong) was third.

Dinky Dune captured the Pete Langley Memorial by a length over Earndawg in 1:51.4.

Tomn Kelley, Publicity Director, Balmoral Park

University of Illinois-bred Ryleigh’s Lilly wins Lorna Propes Championship on Super Night at Balmoral Park

Sunday, September 13, 2015 – excerpted from “Super Night Championships produce star studded efforts” by Tom Kelley, publicity director, Balmoral Park

Ryleigh’s Lilly, the daughter of Western Hero and Fox Valley Chosen defeated a field of 10 older mare pacers in the $95,000 Lorna Propes Championship on Super Night, Saturday, September 12th at Balmoral Park.

As she’s done so often this season John Barnard’s Ryleigh’s Lilly overpowered her rivals in the late going as she went sailing past them in the stretch to win by two-lengths in 1:52.4 for driver Casey Leonard.

Confidently handled by her red-hot pilot the 5-year-old daughter of Western Hero was positioned in mid-pack while the lead changed hands several times through opening splits of 28.0, 55.4 & 1:24.2.

“It looked like there was going to plenty of speed to keep things honest up front and it certainly worked out that way tonight,” Leonard explained. “I didn’t want to go three-wide quite as early as I did but I wasn’t about to let those front horses get away from us.”

Zooming by her rivals in the lane, Ryleigh’s Lilly was on cruise control through the final sixteenth of a mile as she reported home with her 19th career victory. Just By Design (Dale Hiteman) shook loose late to rally for the place money while Rev Me Up (Brian Carpenter) was third. The overwhelming 2-5 favorite returned $2.80, $2.40 & $2.10 while hiking her career bankroll up to $173,968.

Tom Kelley, Publicity Director, Balmoral Park


U of I stallions sired the winners of 8 of the 12 Super Nite ICF races, including:

UNLOCKED -Winner of the $146,000 Langley Memorial by 11 1/2 lengths.
SILVER DEVIL -Winner of the Maurello Cons.
DUNESIDE PERTTIE -Winner of the filly Orange & Blue Cons.

THE SLEAZY PRINCESS -Winner $142,000 Grandma Ann
THE BIG SLEAZY -Winner of the colt Orange & Blue Cons.

BIG BILL BREEZE – Winner of the $100,000 Sumac Lad
BAILEY’S WISH – Winner $100,000 Lady Ann Reed

AL’S HAMMERED – Winner of the $112,000 Maurello Final, his third Super Nite win.

Plus they sired these runners-up:

DUNE IN RED – Second in the $118,000 Progress
UNCLE SI – Second in the Orange & Blue Cons.
OVERLOADED – Second in Langley Cons.

BOBBY B BREEZE – Second in the $100,000 Sumac Lad
LORA LEE BREEZE – Second in the $100,000 Lady Ann Reed

Thanks to all the breeders and owners for making this Super Nite happen. We’re looking forward to offering you the first crop by CASSIS 3,1:52.4, the Cantab Hall son that won the fastest elim. of his Hambletonian. See them at next year’s yearling sales.

Silver Devil Streaks to Upset in Friday’s Cardinal Stake at Maywood

Melrose Park, IL — Taking advantage of a mid-race speed duel, driver John De Long slid 24-1 longshot Silver Devil to the outside of horses on the backstretch the final time, then rallied sharply in the lane to post a half-length upset in Friday’s (May 30) $34,380 Cardinal Stake for older state-bred pacers at Maywood Park. The final time was 1:53.3.

Using post position two to perfection, De Long positioned the handsome roan son of Duneside Perch along the pylons while Elkhorn Damien (Todd Warren) and Crankin’ It Up (Kyle Wilfong) battled through a :27.3 opening quarter. After letting the field settle into position through that opening split, driver Casey Leonard sent 4-5 favorite Fort Silky on his way from fifth as the field headed into the stretch the first time, prompting some strong urging from Warren with Elkhorn Damien. With these two quickly engaged in a speed duel the dominant Fort Silky made a very uncharacteristic break as the field moved to the half-mile mark in :56.1.

Quickly righting the ship with Fort Silky, the top two continued to battle tooth and nail as the field raced by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.3. By this point De Long had slipped to the outside with Silver Devil and had the 4-year-old gelding powering up three wide around the top pair as the field moved into the final turn. Sweeping around the tiring leaders as the field turned for home, the Nick Giberson trainee paced home in :28.3 for his first win of the season, holding off a big late move from another longshot, Fancy Creek Elusiv (Ryan Anderson), who made a huge four-wide surge around the last bend. Elkhorn Damien held on for third.

After an impressive 11-win campaign in his first season of action in 2013, Silver Devil, who returned $50.80, $20.40 and $7.40, now boasts career earnings of nearly $105,000 for the ownership group of Amy Giberson, Stephanie Winship, Carl Lacy and Monty Thompson.

John De Long guided the good looking Silver Devil to an upset score in Friday's $34,380 Cardinal Stake at Maywood Park. (Maywood Park Photo)

Tom Kelley, publicity director, Maywood Park