A pair of state-bred stake events were contested on Friday’s (July 6th) Maywood Park program, but the “king” of the Illinois-bred pacing set stole all the headlines as James Gorman’s Well To Do Guru continued his dominance with an easy 1:51.4 wire-to-wire victory over seven rivals in the $30,000 Cook County Stake.
On the undercard John Carver and Ron Phillips' JPS Mini Me also scored in front-stepping fashion, winning the $12,000 Fox Valley Barzgar Stake in 1:58.1.
Taking advantage of an inside post, driver Casey Leonard employed the same tactics as he has in the “Guru’s” last two victories, sending the eight-year-old gelding right to the top.
Once in control of the proceedings, the Terry Leonard-trained son of Richess Hanover-Gurus Girl rattled off splits of :27, :55, and 1:23.4. Under assault from a first-over Thisbigdogwilfight (Todd Warren) for most of the mile, Well To Do Guru shrugged off that challenge heading into the final turn.
Beginning to draw away from his rivals while still under a snug hold from Leonard, Well To Do Guru left no doubt as to who was the best on this night as he paced home in 28 seconds to win by a widening two and three-quarter lengths. Lazy Lizard (Mike Oosting) parlayed a perfect two-hole trip into the second-place cheque while Fox Valley Yukon (Kyle Wilfong) finished third.
With the win Well To Do Guru boasts a record of 4-3-2 in 12 starts this year, and his career earnings now stand at $629,999. The 1-9 favourite returned $2.20 and 2.10. Show wagering was not allowed.
A field of seven Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old colt and gelding pacers were sent postward in the night’s first race, and driver-trainer Ronnie Gillespie continued his great spring-summer campaign, guiding JPS Mini Me to a one length wire-to-wire victory in 1:58.1.
Hustled away from post position five, Gillespie and the home-bred son of Lifeguard On Duty—Jeffries Peach were parked through much of an opening quarter that went in :28.3.
After grabbing control of the proceedings, Gillespie hit the brakes with the bay colt, and they proceeded to cruise through pedestrian middle splits of 1:00.3 and 1:30.1.
Turning away a challenge in the lane from a hard-charging Singular Sight (Todd Warren), JPS Mini Me then drew away in the closing yards for his second win in as many starts. Singular Sight settled for second while Fox Valley Dijon (John De Long) was third.
Coming off that stakes victory in his debut at Balmoral Park, JPS Mini Me was heavily backed at the betting windows despite being off for a nearly a month, returning $3.60, $2.40 and $2.10.
Veteran driver Todd Warren enjoyed a huge night on Friday, winning seven races on the 14 race card, including the final four of the evening.