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Horse slaughter in Illinois
|Balmoral Park (9/19/06)
Contact: Tom Kelley
UPSETS THE ORDER OF THE NIGHT IN FRESHMAN TROTS
The state’s two-year-old trotting set took center stage on Tuesday night at Balmoral Park as these diagonally gaited youngsters battled in their richest engagements of the Illinois-bred stakes season.
A field of nine colts and geldings kicked off the action as they were sent postward for a purse of $120,000.
Despite a tough first-over journey for the final 5/8ths of a mile, Eric & Kenneth Collier’s Sweet Willie rallied gamely in the lane to record a hard-fought neck victory in a career best of 1:59.3.
Floating away from post position five for driver Dean Magee Sweet Willie was trotting comfortably along the pylons in sixth as Longbeach Victory (Brandon Simpson) went charging through an opening quarter in 28.4.
Moving down the backstretch, division leader Oxford Brilliance (Craig Banks), who had left and found a nice spot in third, decided to head for the top and he quickly moved up to engage the pace setter. Battling hard to the half-mile mark Oxford Brilliance finally gained control as the field reached the halfway station in 59.0.
Magee maneuvered Sweet Willie to the outside just before the half and the Ken Collier trainee began to grind away at the advantage of Oxford Brilliance while first over. Steadily cutting into the lead of the heavy favorite, Sweet Willie was just 1 ¼ lengths behind the leader as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:30.0.
Through the lane it looked as though Oxford Brilliance was in great shape to post victory number 12 on the season as he pulled away to a 2 ½ length advantage. But a determined Sweet Willie would not say die and continued to press the leader. Vapor Maker (Brent Holland) had also shaken loose after being shuffled back at the top of the stretch and that gelding had a full head of steam as he moved into the passing lane. Racing three across the track for the final sixteenth of a mile it was Sweet Willie who finally prevailed in a very game effort. Vapor Maker was a hard fought second while Oxford Brilliance had to settle for third.
The victory was the third in 13 career starts for this son of Wilson Wyoming. With the winner’s share of this purse Sweet Willie’s career earnings now stand at $63,263. Sent off at odds of 6-1 the winner returned $13.80, $5.40 & $4.00.
The $123,000 Lady Lincoln Land provided another mild upset but this time the verdict was never in doubt as Robert Rietveld, Paul Gibson, Roger Welch and Michael Silberberg’s Victor’s Phantom completely overwhelmed her rivals with an impressive 8 ¾ laugher in a career best of 1:59.0.
Taking advantage of the fact that several of the ladies had miscues in the early stages, driver Andy Miller whisked his charge away from post position eight. Masterfully tucking in third this pair looked more than content as even-money favorite Maple Grove Native charged through an opening split in 28.4.
Continuing to bide their time in third while closing the margin, Victor’s Phantom had moved to within 3 3/4 lengths of a headstrong Maple Grove Native as that filly continued in high gear past the half-mile mark in 57.4.
Heading around the final turn Maple Grove Native continued to show the way, but her advantage was dissolving quickly as a first over Victor’s Phantom began to swallow up last week’s elimination winner.
With the timer showing 1:29.0 at the three-quarter-mile mark Victor’s Phantom set sail for home. Drawing clear of her rivals with long powerful strides, the Roger Welch-trained miss widened her advantage to six-lengths by the mid-stretch call and was well in hand as she completely dismantled this group of fillies. Mogo On The Gogogo (Dave Magee), who wound up stuck inside behind the tiring pace setter, finally shook loose in time to be the bridesmaid while 34-1 outsider Gumcorner Flo (Connel Willis) was third.
This rapidly improving daughter of Valley Victory now sports a record of 2-1-2 in seven lifetime starts with earnings of $77,730 for her proud connections. Overlooked at 8-1 in the wagering, Victor’s Phantom returned $18.60 $7.40 & $7.40 while keying a $1,182 trifecta payout.
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