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Balmoral Park

Balmoral Park (5/13/07)

Contact: Tom Kelley

STATE-BRED SOPHOMORES STAR ON SUNDAY

Illinois bred three-year-olds took center stage on Sunday night as trotters were sent to battle in a pair of I.S.O.B.A. Stakes.

With a total of 14 colts dropped into the box the “boys” event was split into two fields of seven with each carrying a purse of $15,370. The Mother's Day action kicked off in the fourth race of the night.

After opening his second season by posting back-to-back wins against conditioned foes, Mystical Marker Farms, Thomas Pollard and Dirk Simpson’s Mystical Banker stepped up to take on stakes competition. The rise in class did nothing to slow down this good-looking gelding as he turned in a very game front-stepping performance, winning by one length in 1:58.4.

Taking advantage of the inside starting spot driver Brandon Simpson positioned his charge much closer than normal to the early action as Orphan Action led the field through an opening quarter in 29.2.

Simpson quickly moved the son of Valley Victor out of the pocket as the field headed down the backside. Trotting along effortlessly, Mystical Banker was up by 1 ¼ lengths as he moved by the half-mile mark in 59.3.

Heading around the final turn Mystical Banker continued to show the way, but the margin was only a head as Fox Valley Impulse (Dale Hiteman) came calling. These two were trotting side by side as they passed the three-quarter-mile station in 1:30.2.

Trading blows through the lane, Fox Valley Impulse stuck a head in front with just over an eighth of a mile to go. Unfazed by the hot competition, Simpson calmly urged his trotter on and the Dirk Simpson trainee responded beautifully, pulling away from Fox Valley Impulse in the closing yards to get the victory. Spunky Vic (Ryan Anderson) rallied mildly to get the show dough.

Bet to the near exclusion of his rivals, Mystical Banker returned $3.00, $2.40 & $2.10 while keeping his perfect 2007 record intact.

The second division was carded as race 11 on the 12-race card and this event featured Bruce and Dean Alexander & Connie and Homer Hochstetler’s freshman sensation Vapor Maker.

Despite making breaks in his first two outings of the year the overwhelming 1-2 favorite in the field was handled like he was much the best by driver-trainer Homer Hochstetler. Gunning right to the front from post position two, Vapor Maker effortlessly trotted through splits of 29.0, 58.4 & 1:28.3.

Turning for home with a 1 ¼ length advantage, the brown gelding opened the advantage up to 2 ½ lengths while under no urging at all from Hochstetler. Trotting straight and true to the wire, Vapor Maker was all alone as he opened up his 2007 account. Pourmeatequlashela (Mike Oosting) followed the winner’s every move but was no match for him while finishing second, while Watt A Keeper (Brent Holland) was third.

After a great two-year-old season in which he posted five wins and almost $110,00 in earnings Vapor Maker appears back on track and he figures to be a force to be reckoned with in the sophomore ranks. The half-money favorite returned $3.00, $2.80 & $2.10.

Sophomore trotting fillies grabbed the spotlight in race eight with a field of nine ladies looking to take home the winner’s share of a $20,000 purse in race eight.

This looked to be the most wide-open of the three stakes events and it proved to be just that as Robert Rietveld, Paul Gibson, Roger Welch and Michael Silber’s Victor’s Phantom held on gamely for a half-length triumph in 1:58.3.

Given an aggressive and heady steer by leading reinsman Ryan Anderson, the precocious Victor’s Phantom was eased around the opening turn, getting away seventh, in the nine horse field. That proved to be a wise decision as Scarlet Valley (Brent Holland) and Mogo On The Gogogo (Dave Magee) battled through an opening quarter in 28.4.

Holland then hit the brakes after getting to the front, jamming things up a bit as the trotters moved down the backside. That gave Anderson the break he needed as he sent Victor’s Phantom from seventh to second during a 32.0 second quarter.

With a full head of steam, Anderson let his filly trot on and she easily cleared to the front by the mid-way point of the final bend. Looking as smooth as she’s been in quite some time, Victor’s Phantom passed by the three-quarter mile pole with a 1 ¼ length lead in 1:30.0.

Through the lane Victor’s Phantom continued to hold firm with a 1 ½ length advantage. Holland maneuvered Scarlet Valley, the even money favorite in the race, to the outside where she continued in vain to try and cut into the margin. Mogo On The Gogogo was still in the thick of things while third at the pylons while the others were far back.

Coming to the line a determined Victor’s Phantom held sway, trotting a final quarter in 28.3 to post her first win of the season. Scarlet Valley was a hard-fought second while Mogo On The Gogogo settled for third.

Overlooked in the wagering, Victor’s Phantom returned $21.40, $8.20 & $4.20 while pushing her career earnings over $116,000 for her proud owners.

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