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Horse slaughter in Illinois
|Balmoral Park (4/21/07)
Contact: Tom Kelley
DUAL FREE-FOR-ALLS PRODUCE BLISTERING MILES
In the opening split Redbud Stable and Michael McNeely’s Thisbigdogwillfight once again lived up to his moniker as he confidently held five rivals at bay to win by 2 ¼ lengths in a snappy 1:50.4.
Sent to the front after an opening quarter in 27.0 by driver Dave Magee, Thisbigdogwillfight proceeded to rattle off splits of 55.0 & 1:24.0 while maintaining a 1 ¼ length advantage.
Looking fit and fresh as the field straightened for the stretch drive, the Jim Eaton trainee effortless clicked off a 26.4 final split to notch his second straight Balmoral Park victory. Winslow Hustler (Sam Widger) used a strong 26.3 final panel to rally for the place honors while Blue Apache (Mike Oosting) was third.
Sent off as the even-money favorite, this Illinois bred champion returned $4.00, $3.20 and $2.60 while pushing his career earnings up to $217,775.
Allowed to settle in third as Manhardt (Dave Magee) rolled through an opening split in 27.1, driver Brent Holland tugged on the right line as the field settled onto the backstretch. With the long fluid strides that helped earn him a Breeders Crown title in 2006, Shark Gesture effortlessly charged by his rivals leading the way by the halfway point in 54.3.
Gracefully gliding around the final bend, Shark Gesture braced for a first-over challenge from 10-1 shot Falcatraz (Mike Oosting). These two were just heads apart as the sped by the three-quarter-mile station in 1:23.3.
The field then got a taste of Shark Gesture’s class as he quickly sprinted away to a 2 ½ length advantage by the mid-stretch call. Despite being under a stranglehold by Holland, Shark Gesture paced home in 27.1 to open his 2007 account. Manhardt (Dave Magee) followed the winner’s every move from the quarter-pole on but was forced to settle for the runner-up role, while Make It Brief (Joe Anderson) was 4 ¼ lengths back in third.
Under the tutelage of top conditioner Erv Miller, Shark Gesture appears poised to put together another huge season for his connections. Pounded at the windows despite being away since November, Shark Gesture returned $3.60 & $2.60. With only four betting interests in the contest show wagering was not offered on the race.
Balmoral Park presents live racing again on Sunday night with a post time of 6:30 p.m. The featured event on the 12-race program is the $15,000 Iggy Magoo Stake for Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old trotting colts which features the return of two-year-old sensations Oxford Brilliance and Vapor Maker. The top class of filly & mare pacers will go postward as well as a field of eight very evenly matched distaffer’s battle for $15,500 in the Sea Fiddler Open-Handicap.
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