NEWTON — Following a two-hour rain delay, Illinois Big Ten Colt Stakes harness racing took center-stage on Sunday afternoon at the 136th Annual Jasper County Fair, as Mississippi trainer-driver Ronnie Gillespie captured the featured $6,300 two-year-old filly pace in a wire-to-wire score with Steak And Gravy.

After setting a blistering pace, Steak And Gravy tired in the stretch but had enough to withstand the late-closing onslaught of both Merry Gram and Plum Sporty, as the top three finishers were separated by less than one length. Steak And Gravy stopped the timer in 2:04.1 for the one-mile distance and notched her first victory in four lifetime starts.

Merry Gram finished second for owner Carol Graham, of Salem, while Plum Sporty was third for owners Brian, Philip, and Sherry Cotton, of Fairfield.

Gillespie returned to take a $3900 division of the freshman colt pace behind Money Mac, who led from start to finish and posted a 2:02.3 clocking for the fastest mile of the afternoon. Money Mac won for the second time in three outings, having also prevailed in Big Ten action at Decatur on June 16.

In a special ceremony held trackside, Money Mac received a blanket given by the Jasper County Fair in honor of Amanda Wolke, the recent Cumberland High School graduate who broke numerous school, state, and national records during her varsity girls’ basketball career. Wolke was joined in the winner’s circle by her grandmother, former Jasper County Fair director Libby VanDerList, as well as Illinois Director of Agriculture Charles A. “Chuck” Hartke and Bureau Chief of County Fairs Tex Moats.

The final division of the Big Ten two-year-old pace went to Mitchel K, owned by Dr. Peter Karras, of Sherman, and driven by Freddie Patton, Jr., to a score in 2:02.4. Mitchel K has now won three of his five career starts.

In other action, Earl Avenatti, Jr., of Chrisman, drove Trimmer to a victory in 2:05 in the opening division of the Winners Over $5000 Trot, as Starlit Victory took runner-up honors for owner John W. Finn, of Newton, and driver Jared Finn. Highest Pay finished third for owner-trainer-driver Jason Kennedy, of Newton, while Miss Valley Mieser was fifth for owner Frank Ellison, of Sullivan.

Deanna Wind, owned by Jerald (“Vinnie”) and Donna Viviani, of Charleston, copped the second trotting division in 2:05.3 with Newton’s John David Finn in the race bike, while Sweet Andy was runner-up for Jared Finn. D Yankee Paul, owned by Stacy and Aaron DeRousse, of Charleston, finished third.

The Non-Winners of $500 Two-Year-Old Pace closed Sunday’s program, with Hoosier Trooper, Edmund Fitzgerald, and J D’s Beneficiary taking the event’s three, respective divisions. Each horse is owned by a resident of Mississippi, as 19-year-old Curtis Bradford scored with Hoosier Trooper to rank as the youngest winning driver on the card.

Harness racing was scheduled to continue at 1 p.m. today at the Jasper County Fair, with twilight sessions set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday.


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