Balmoral Super Night In The Books
Published: September 18, 2011 6:52 pm ET
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Illinois’ biggest night of harness racing took place on Saturday, September 17 at Balmoral Park featuring eight stakes finals worth well over $100,000 each.
Fox Valley Arrow Justifies Favouritism In Su Mac Lad
Fox Valley Arrow took the $100,000 Su Mac Lad trot, the first race in the long 14-race Super Night card at Balmoral Park on Saturday. Swindler was a scratch and six sophomore trotters went postward.
Driver Casey Leonard wasted no time in sending Fox Valley Arrow, the even money favourite, to the front. Powerful Tom, using the fence to advantage, left alertly and Todd Warren disputed the lead for a moment or two. Fox Valley Arrow assumed command as they raced toward the first quarter. Powerful Charger raced third and the quarter came in :29 flat.
There was no change in the order as Fox Valley Arrow flashed past the halfway point in :58.2. Fox Valley Iliad stormed up first over with three-eighths of a mile left. Driver Leonard asked for more and Fox Valley Arrow quickened as the three-quarters was registered in 1:27.3.
Powerful Tom and Powerful Charger went in futile chase of Fox Valley Arrow as Fox Valley Iliad became leg weary because of his exertions. The winner of the Su Mac Lad was sighted with an eighth of a mile to go. Leonard gave a gentle reminder or two as Fox Valley Arrow, a three-year-old gelding by International Chip, raced on to win by two and three-quarter lengths. The mile was trotted in 1:56.2. Unbuckled made a break after the first quarter and Detailer was the victim of an interference break.
Fox Valley Arrow returned $4.00, $2.80 and $2.20.
“I love trotters. I have had a lot of luck with them,” trainer Joel Smith said in the post race interview with Joe Mazzone.
Leonard was enjoying his first Super Night win.
“I’m speechless. When the final turn came up, he kept trotting. Nobody came up to me. I did not let up until we got to the wire. It is pretty exciting,” he exulted.
Great Patton Steer Helps Maplegrove Shaelyn Land Lady Ann Reed
Trotting fifth until the half, Maplegrove Shaelyn came out of the pocket, appeared to stall coming into the lane and found another gear to engage Fox Valley Ruffian, who had taken the lead with a furlong to go, and went one better to land the $103,000 Lady Ann Reed, a stakes race for three-year-old filly trotters at Balmoral Park on Saturday.
Zumba Mouse, bet down to even money, went on an interference break before the half-mile marker much to the chagrin of the followers of the favourite. Fox Valley Ruffian, leaving from Post 9, found the two-hole behind Search For Reality. As the field took the final turn, Fox Valley Ruffian shot ahead. Maplegrove Shaelyn tracked the leader and moved to an outer lane. Responding to driver Jamaica Pattons’s call, the Joseph Mullis-trained American Native filly swept into the lead to score by five lengths. The fractions were :29.1, :57.2, 1:27.4, and the trip was completed in 1:57.3.
Maplegrove Shaelyn was winning her fourth lifetime start and her third in 2011. She took her lifetime earnings to $78,276. She owns a 1:55 mark at Springfield.
Trainer Joseph Mullins also owns Maplegrove Shaelyn.
"I am not a specialist with trotters but I deal exclusively with trotters. This filly did everything right today. Jamaica Patton gave my horse a sensational drive,” he stated.
“I won this race in 2008," said Patton. "I’m back to win in 2011. There was confusion in the back. My horse was going well and I was going about my business. I did not know if I had the race won coming into the turn but my filly was strong."
Fox Valley Ruffian, though out-trotted by the winner, had enough left to retain second place. Maple Grove Emily took a ground-saving trip to salvage third. Zumba Mouse trotted home ninth.
Miller & Mystical Victress Take The Lorna Propes
Mystical Victress was the 1-10 favourite in the $122,000 Lorna Propes Stakes. Did the fans who made the Sportsmaster mare such an overwhelming favourite go through any anxious moments? The answer is a resounding ‘No.’ Marcus Miller sat fifth with Mystical Victress, was out and going by the three-eighths mark, took the lead well before the half and held sway thereafter. With Marcus leaning back in the bike, the ultra sharp four-year-old mare won unextended.
The first quarter came in :27.1 and the first half was covered in :54.4. Mystical Victress paced past the three-quarter pole in 1:22.2 and completed the mile in 1:50.
Mystical Victress, bet to the exclusion of her rivals, returned $2.20.
As a three year-old, Mystical Victress won the Grandma Ann last year and the Erv Miller trainee has now added the Lorna Propes to her resume. Mystical Victress has now won four races in a row.
Rev Me had no hope of catching the winner but was the best of the beaten brigade. Fox Valley Miracle paced on to be third.
Mystical Marker Farms and Peggy Hood own Mystical Victress, who won the 18th race of her career. Her bankroll stands at $437,997.
Owner Dennis Lakomy paid tribute to Erv and Marcus Miller in the winner's circle.
"They gave done a great job. Winning a race on Super Night is a great deal."
Marcus Miller showed a touch of emotion.
"She was super again. I am very pleased," he said. "Winning here is a blast. It has been good here. I want to keep it going."
First Super Night Win For Roberts
“My filly is ready. I have to deliver and I am the one under pressure but I have a willing partner,” driver John Roberts declared in a pre-race statement. Could he have been more prescient? Not only did Fox Valley Praline deliver in a big way but John Roberts was in his elements with a courageous drive in the $159,000 Grandma Ann Pace for three-year-old filles.
Roberts, away with tremendous alacrity, was parked to the first eighth. Striking the front off a :28 first quarter, Roberts had hardly caught a breather when Pardon came calling. Brandon Simpson had the 2010 top freshman filly rolling and Roberts must have been hoping for a trip behind the speed. Pardon did not have too many moments to enjoy the lead off a :56 half.
Marcus Miller and Mystical MJ were on the move and Simpson had no choice but to let Miller go. Now, Fox Valley Praline had receded to third. Undaunted, Roberts took his filly out of the pocket and in an audacious move, challenged Mystical MJ. The duel did not materialize as Fox Valley Praline took the lead with the clock showing 1:23.2 for the three-quarters. Fox Valley Praline put some separation between herself and the rivals as Pardon emerged out of the pack but the bird had flown. The Kris Reynolds-trained Fox Valley Praline crossed the wire in 1:51.2.
Fox Valley Praline paid $5.60, $3.60 and $2,80. By Sportmaster, Fox Valley Praline is out of Carmel Blue Chip, who is by On The Road Again.
In nine career outings, Fox Valley Praline has won seven times. The Grandma Ann marked the filly's sixth win in seven trips to the gate. The $70,755 Grandma Ann winner's purse boosted Fox Valley Praline's earnings to $89,223. For a filly who had all sorts of problems last year, The Kris Reynolds charge has come a long way.
“I was married over the Labour Day weekend. My filly had two moves. She had fresh legs. She proved it tonight. Mr. Reynolds and her connections prepared her for this race. Life is very good now,” said Roberts.
Millers Strike Again In The Filly Orange And Blue
It was Marcus Miller and Erv Miller again in the winner’s circle with MJs Bid in the Filly Orange And Blue at Balmoral Park on Saturday. MJs Bid was giving the Miller team its second Super Night victory.
Away seventh in the 10-horse field in the $184,000 Filly Orange And Blue, MJs Bid began her move with some excess cover. Gaining ground steadily from the three- quarters, the Cole Muffler filly took charge halfway down the lane. No Respect, fourth over and compelled to make up considerable ground, made a late charge but could not match MJs Bid’s resolve. Sleazy Does it, fancied by many a discerning punter, could not overcome the rigors imposed by Post 10.
The Filly Orange And Blue went at a pretty fast clip. A flat :28 was recorded for the first quarter. The half came in :57.2. After the three-quarters came in 1:25.1, MJs Bid paced on strongly to get the mile in 1:53.3. MJs Bid was able to cling to a fast-diminishing lead and win by a neck from No Respect, who, at 13/10, commanded the most respect in the wagering.
MJs Bid returned $8.00, $3.80 and $3.00. The win in the Filly Orange And Blue was the fourth trip to the winner’s circle in nine starts for the Cole Muffler filly. MJs Bid is out of Rons Girl, who is by As Promised. Mystical Marker Farms, with Mary Jane Anderson and John Carver own MJs Bid, who sports a bankroll of $116,567.
Joint owner Mike Anderson made no attempt to conceal his emotions.
"I cannot feel any better," he said. "The filly came through in great style."
Driver Marcus Miller laid all the credit at the filly's door.
"She was out with cover," the younger Miller said. "She kept rolling in the stretch. There is no question that she was ready tonight."
Big Daddy Woo Woo Wins The Tony Maurello
Big Daddy Woo Woo had the driver with the right philosophy in the $120,000 Tony Maurello. Dismissed at 23-1, Big Daddy Woo Woo, from Nick Prather’s barn, was driven by Ridge Warren. The key was finding early position.
Warren left with Big Daddy Woo Woo and was able to duck and be sixth passing a :27.4 opening quarter. The five-year-old was third up with cover approaching the half, which came in 55.3, advanced menacingly and swung wide turning for home.
Southern Sport, always in the vanguard first over, had taken what looked like a winning lead. Well To Do Guru, the 11-10 public choice, had chosen to go for a ground-saving trip and was looking for room when he took the open stretch. He was racing in sixth and four lengths off the lead. Time was running out and Michael Oosting, hard at work, was waiting for the wire to come to his rescue. But Big Daddy Woo Woo and Ridge Warren kept coming.
In the waning yards, the ultra consistent Big Daddy Woo Woo produced that extra to get up. Southern Sport held on for the runner-up berth. Doubletrouble, the Tony Maurello winner last year, came late on the scene to take third. Well To Do Guru got going late and was only beaten three parts of a length in finishing fourth.
The first quarter was traveled in :27.4. Omaha Survivor took the field to the halfway point in :55.3. The three-quarters was reached in 1:23.3. Big Daddy Woo Woo paced the mile in 1:51.1. The winning margin was a head.
The Tony Maurello victory gave Big Daddy Woo Woo his 13th win in 52 starts and the winner’s share of $53,400 took his lifetime bankroll to $185,124.
“I had to find a good spot," said Warren after the race. "Then I had to find over. It all worked out great for us. I love it in Chicago. I love the racing here. The guys are great.”
Gotta Get It Go Beats Upsets In Pete Langley Memorial
Gotta Let It Go, a three-year-old Cole Muffler gelding, was a 10-1 chance in Balmoral Park’s morning line in the Pete Langley Memorial. The race for Illinois-bred sophomores carried a purse of $188,000. The opposition was formidable. If there was a silver lining, it was the presence of Michael Oosting in the sulky. Astute handicappers took a second look at Gotta Let It Go’s elimination in which the Tom Simmons pupil had finished fourth and was off a length and three-quarters behind the winner. The odds were 18-1 as the starter summoned the 10 sophomores.
Boi, Rocking Rumble and Dutch Richman fought one another and Hes So Hot was trying to stage a rally from the rear. Gotta Let It Go was a backmarker and content to save ground. The fast pace took its toll. The speed began to back up. Driver Oosting, already with a winning drive on The Assassinator under his belt, found a seam and Gotta Let It Go began to gain places. With a furlong to go, Gotta Let It Go was four and one half lengths away and in sixth place. Using the open stretch, Oosting and Gotta Let It Go quickened spiritedly to win by a head from Boi, who was prominent all the way and went down fighting in a tight finish. Dutch Richman, coming first up, cleared, led under pressure and was collared late in the lane.
Boi took the field to a :27.1 first quarter. Dutch Richman was in front with the half coming in :54.1. A weakening Dutch Richman covered three-quarters in 1:22.3 and Gotta Let It Go reached the wire in 1:52. The return was $39.80, $12.60 and $4.80.
Gotta Let It Go won $83,660 for his Pete Langley win. The bankroll now is $95,626. In 18 starts, the roan gelding has won three times. Broadway Elite, a Broadway Express mare, is Gotta Let It Go’s dam.
Driver Oosting admitted that he did not know what to expect when he accepted the drive.
“The elimination was good," he said. "It raised our hopes. I did not know if I had the best horse. I got a good trip and found room to go along with it. “
The four-hour drive that brought the owners to Chicago proved to be worth it.
Zall Good Gives Carlson His First Super Night Win
This happens everywhere in the world week after week and stakes after stakes. Marcus Miller had to choose between Crime Of Passion and Zall Good. Back in August, he had opted for Crime Of Passion and subsequent races had confirmed that he had made the right choice. In the Colts and Geldings Orange And Blue eliminations, Miller had driven Crime Of Passion to an easy win. Brandon Simpson steered Zall Good to a facile victory. Crime Of Passion and Zall Good are stablemates and members of the Erv Miller squad. Brandon Simpson was also aboard Peachys Pistol, another impressive elimination winner.
The time came to make picks. Marcus Miller kept his faith with Crime Of Passion. Brandon Simpson went with Peachys Pistol. Erv Miller asked Eric Carlson to be behind Zall Good.
Based on his record, Crime Of Passion was the 9-10 favourite. Icescraper took the 10 freshmen to a brisk :28.4 opening quarter. Crime Of Passion, parked to the quarter, sat third. Zall Good got away fifth. Peachys Pistol, floating out of the gate, was seventh and parked. Icescraper would not relent in a :56 half and Crime Of Passion began a retreat turning for home. The clock showed 1:24 for the three- quarters. Fourth at the half with cover and third at the three-quarters behind Crime Of Passion, Zall Good, in the hands of Eric Carlson, raced past the tiring Icescraper midstretch. Peachys Pistol, overcoming the hazard-filled parked journey, delivered his bid. Zall Good’s better trip was the decisive factor and the Erv Miller ward won by a length and a quarter in 1:53.4.
Zall Good paid $7.60, $4.40 and $3.60. By Yankee Skyscraper out Fox Valley Estella, a Sportsmaster mare, Zall Good is owned by John Carver and Mary Jane Anderson. With five wins in six starts, Zall Good has earned $125,423.
In a pre-race interview with Tom Kelley, Balmoral Park’s Publicity Director, driver Carlson expressed happiness at securing a drive in the Orange And Blue.
“I have to work out a trip. I have spoken to Erv. We have talked about strategy. Hopefully, things will fall into place,” he said.
And that's exactly what happened.
(With files from Balmoral Park)