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There's Nothing Like the First Time (09/15/13)

For Sunday September 15, 2013

                                                       By Mike Paradise

   It’s every Illinois harness racing owner’s aspiration to be in the winner’s circle with a Super Night champion and Jim Bafia didn’t have to wait long last night to have his dream come true.

   Dave Magee sent Trot Fudge Sundae right to the front in the $105,000 Lady Ann Reed Trot Championship and the 3-year-old filly put away nine other first race ICF foes to win in a career fastest time of 1:55.2.

  “Words are how to come by,” said Bafia, who shares ownership of the winning filly with his friends and co-workers Sam Daddano and Gene White. “I’m in the winner’s circle for the first time after a Super Night win and it’s unbelievable. I want to wish good luck to every single owner of a Super Night horse tonight to become a part of this feeling.

  “I love horse racing. I wish everybody loved horse racing. It’s the greatest sport. This is just awesome.” said Bafia.

  Trot Fudge Sundae was the 2012 Illinois 2-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year when she won just about everything and banked over $183,000 for her trio of commodity traders. However, this year it has been and up and down season for the filly, winning 4 of 13 starts going into Super Night.

  Magee had her on the front-end in the filly’s elimination win a week ago and again last night. Was that the pre-race Super Night tactic?

  “Not really,” answered the Hall of Fame driver. “I wasn’t my intention to have Trot Fudge Sundae on the front. I thought we’d get out of there in good shape and then I was willing to let Little Ms Chrissy go and maybe Sara the Spy but my filly would have none of that.

  “When she heard them going she just kept digging in. This has been the best she’s been in a while. She wasn’t 100 per cent earlier but Dirk (trainer Simpson) had her in tip-top shape for this big night and she delivered.”

  It was Super Night championship win No. 29 for the Green Bay native, 14 more than any other driver in the 25 years of Illinois’ gala evening of racing.

  Bafia and his wife Becky gave away a total of $4,000 in college scholarship earlier this year to four different local high school students.

  “We’ll do it again next year to deserving students in the area,’ said Bafia. “If Bailey’s Wish does well in the American National, we’ll do another for her as well. We’ve named one after Trot Fudge Sundae, another for Nina Colada and a third to the school where my wife works as counselor.”

  In the $124,000 Su Mad Lad Trot King Mufasa held off Fox Valley Camo by only a head to post his 10th consecutive win in a time of 1:59.2 with Mike Oosting.

  “I think King Mufasa is a little tired,” said his conditioner Mike Brink after his first Super Night championship training winner. “The horse has raced hard for a few months now and it’s time to give him a couple of weeks off”.

  Let’s Go Higher ended Mystical Victress bid to become the first horse to win four consecutive Super Night championships with a strong front-stepping triumph in the $130,000 Lorna Propes Final with a 1:50.4 mile for the father-son tandem of owner Jesse and driver John De Long.

  Oosting gave the Nelson Willis trainee Thesleazyprincess ($9.60) a perfect pocket trip and the 2-year-old filly drew away in the $200,000 Orange and Blue Filly Final for Buffalo Grove, IL owner Marty Engel. The 40-1 longshot Fox Valley Amanda nipped the heavy favorite My Little Bit for second in the 1:54.4 mile.

  Matt Krueger brought home his first Super Night winner when Sports Fanatic took the $25,000 Tony Maurello Consolation in 1:51.2. Earlier Brian Carpenter drove both Consolation distaff stake winners Fox Valley Matinee and Fox Valley Flora.

  It was a nice touch having the recently retired Jim Eaton trained star pacer Thisbigdogwilfight leading the eighth race Tony Maurello Championship post parade with his long-time caretaker Sondra Brown.

  Not long after A Cool Card (Marcus Miller) wore down the pacesetting Fort Silky in the final strides to take the $125,000 Maurello Championship in 1:50.2, his fifth straight win for conditioner Erv Miller who leads all trainers with 22 Super Night champions.

  Oosting gave Auniqueaquisition a masterful winning drive in the $174,000 Grandma Ann 3-year-old filly Final overcoming the 10-hole. Oosting left hard, dropped in fourth, brought the Donna Lee Ozment trainee second over, and then drew away in 1:52.4 for his third championship drive of the night and his fifth winner on the card.

  Casey Leonard made a winning move on the backside to put Mystical Walter on the lead and the Erv Miller trainee went on to add the $173,000  Pete Langley Memorial to his list of 3-year-old accomplishments. Crankin’ It Up was a game second in the 1:52.1 mile.

 The biggest shocker of the night came in the last race at midnight when the 16-1 longshot Cotton Eyed Joe, driven by Bobby Smolin, came from last at the half to first in the $200,000 Orange and Blue Colt Championship. The 1:54.3 mile was only his second win in 13 career starts for trainer and owner Bob Phillips. The 37-1 longshot Fox Valley Cupid was just a neck behind.

  The Super Night handle was a robust $1,758,945, a little more than $8,000 under last year's total.


   Trot Fudge Sundae's Lady Ann Reed Final victory was Dave Magee's 29th Super Night championship winning drive.

                                                                                                    R.E.B. Photo


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