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Horse slaughter in Illinois
|Balmoral Park (7/22/06)
Contact: Tom Kelley
SOPHOMORE PACERS STAR IN AMERICAN NATIONAL ELIMS
The opener proved to be a showcase for the Illinois breeding program as Redbud Stables and Michael Mcneely's Thisbigdogwillfight posted a thrilling head victory in a career best of 1:50.2.
Handled perfectly by driver Brent Holland, the son of The Big Dog ducked behind pole sitter Fox Valley Tribal (Tim Tetrick) who led the field through an opening quarter in a tepid 28.0.
Pulling from the pocket as the field headed down the backstretch, Holland had Thisbigdogwillfight in top gear as they swept into command. Fox Valley Tribal was more than happy to get the pocket trip while Hot N Sporty (Todd Warren) saved ground in third as the field reached the half-mile mark in 55.2. "I definitely wanted to be on the lead or in the two-hole," explained Holland. "As soon as we went that easy opening quarter I figured Timmy (Tetrick) wanted me to cut it out so I sent him on his way."
Around the far turn Thisbigdogwillfight continued to show the way but a threat was now looming from the 3-5 favorite Devilfish (Dave Magee) who was ranging up on the outside of horses. That prompted Holland to turn his charge loose as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:23.2. "Had he (Devilfish) come up to me around the half or shortly thereafter I probably would have turned him loose," said Holland. "By the time he did get up to me there was no turning back though, so I called on my horse and he put Devilfish away."
For the second straight week the heavy favorite made a break in the lane and lost all chance. That left Thisbigdogwillfight with only his state-bred rival Fox Valley Tribal to contend with through the stretch drive. Inside the final sixteenth of a mile Tetrick moved his colt into the passing lane where he quickly drew along side the pace setter. These two battled tooth and nail all the way down to the wire with Thisbigdogwillfight living up to his name, winning by a hard fought head. Fox Valley Tribal turned in a super effort to be the runner-up while Real Mean Art came on late to finish third. Joe To Go (Jason Dillander) finished fourth while another Illinois bred pacer, Hot N Sporty, earned a spot in the final with his fifth place finish.
In the winner's circle a beaming Holland had this to say about his pacer: "Tim's horse never got by me even with the trip he had. My horse is so good right now and he's just an all around outstanding horse. With a good draw we'll make some noise in the final."
The win was the sixth in eight starts this year for the Jim Eaton trainee who now boasts a career record of eight wins, five seconds and one third in 20 starts, with earnings of almost $122,000. Sent off as the third choice in the wagering, Thisbigdogwillfight returned $11.80, $6.00 & $3.20.
The nightcap provided quite a performance as Genesis Racing Stable's Jereme's Jet continued his recent upswing with an impressive 1 ¾ length triumph in a career best of 1:49.4.
Given another masterful steer from Hall of Famer Dave Magee, this son of Western Hanover left quickly from the outside post position in this field of eight, but elected to try to find a spot in the middle of the pack once Magee saw the inside three horses were all gunning for the lead. "We were fortunate to catch a hole," he explained. "I saw how fast those inside horses were going out of there and knew there was no way we wanted to go in that direction."
Tucking in fifth, Jereme's Jet had a good view of that up front action as AB's Beach Boy (Todd Warren) and Western Shore (Brent Holland) slugged it out past an opening split of 27.1.
Heading down the backstretch Meadowlands Pace runner-up My Boy David (Dale Hiteman) pulled from the three-hole and quickly blew by the top two. With a full head of steam, the son of Cole Muffler rolled past the half-mile mark in a brisk 54.1.
Moving around the far turn My Boy David continued to show the way with Western Shore right on his back in second. Jereme's Jet was continuing a steady first over advance on the outside of horses and was up to third as the field hit the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:22.4. "He was pacing very comfortably on the outside so I did not want to rush him up there," said Magee. "They were going so fast up front I knew that the leaders would come back to us because they would either be trying to catch a breather or would wind up tiring."
With the leaders right in his sights Jereme's Jet began to pick off horses with the greatest of ease. "Once we straightened out in the lane he just exploded and took off," said his obviously impressed pilot. Powering right by the pace setters, the Tom Harmer trainee flew home in 26.3 to notch his second win in six starts this season. Life Guard On Duty (Tim Tetrick) followed the winner's every move as he rallied to be second while My Boy David hung on for third. Also earning spots in the final were Royal Man (Mike Oosting) and Western Shore.
Last year's Breeders Crown winner appears to be rounding back into the form that earned him over $1,000,000 as a two-year-old, and Magee was definitely optimistic about his chances in the final. "Trainer Tommy Harmer told me that they seem to have solved the problems he was having earlier this year," he explained. "He definitely seems to be back to his form of last season and Tommy said that he expects him to be even better next week."
Sent off as the second choice at 9-5 after his win in the Meadowlands Pace Consolation, Jereme's Jet returned $5.80, $4.40 & $2.10.
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