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Balmoral Park

Balmoral Park (6/15/07)

Contact: Tom Kelley

HANOVER STAKES HIGHLIGHT A BUSY WEEKEND AT BALMORAL

The stakes action will be fast and furious at Balmoral Park on the final weekend before the Crete plant takes a six-week hiatus from live racing.

A total of five Hanover Stakes will be contested on Saturday’s 14-race program with three of those events being split into two divisions because of the number of entries received for these prestigious stakes.

Freshman pacing fillies get the action underway in a pair of $25,000 splits that go as races two and three.

In the opener Bart Seales & Angie Nessa’s I’m All Sporty, fresh off a 29-1 upset in the Egyptian Grande Stake, has been installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite from post position five. Others to keep an eye on include Beachy Girl, who has a pair of winning qualifiers for trainer Joe Seekman, and Kelly’s Keepsake, who hails from the powerful barn of conditioner Ervin Miller.

The second division looks like a toss-up with a pair of hometown favorites – Al Johnson’s Ali Cat and the Roger Welch trained Mokey – getting a big share of the betting public’s support.

Next up are the two-year-old pacing colts with a total of 15 youngsters going postward for $26,000, in races five and six.

Rob & Tracie Rittoff, Mark De Vience & Gail Sanders Ascot Cognac is the early favorite in here after a third-place finish in the Jimmy Sunshine Stake and a second place in last week’s Bingo Johnnie Stake.

In the second split Mack Racing’s Youth Uprising, the co-holder of the fastest mile by a two-year-old pacer this season, will look to make it two in a row after a big win in the Bingo Johnnie Stake to open his career. The main opposition figures to come from the Tom Harmer-trained Littlebitoflife who is a perfect two for two in his brief career.

The only Hanover trotting stake on the card comes in race eight as an overflow field of 11 vies for a $38,700 jackpot.

Included in this evenly matched group are: Kent Sherman’s Ohio Sire Stakes winner R U A Chip, who is a perfect two for two on the year; Scott Leaf & Kenneth Wecksteins Buck ID, another Ohio Sire Stakes victor; and Doug Ackerman’s Superior Judge, who boasts a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes win this season. The Dirk Simpson-trained Mystical Banker, this year’s Cardinal Stake winner, will carry the hometown hopes.

Another big field has been entered for the $53,300 three-year-old colt and gelding pace, which has been carded as race nine. Gwinnie Lou Stables, James Davis and Earl Stryker’s Travis Lou, the Burlington Stakes runner-up last week, and Steel A Mile LLC’s The Steelman, a recent winner in 1:51 on this oval, have been installed as the 7-2 & 4-1 choices respectively.

A total of 14 sophomore pacing fillies were dropped into the box for their Hanover, necessitating a split into two $29,800 divisions which go as races 11 & 12.

The opener features the seasonal debut of L & L DeVisser, Sawgrass Farms and Helping Hands Stables' great two-year-old Cabana Fever. The multiple stakes-winning filly pocketed almost $360,000 in her first season, including an American National Stake victory right here at Balmoral in her final start of the year.

The second division will put the top three-year-old pacing filly in the state on display as HBH Standardbreds' Sportsfancy, a winner of five of her six starts this year, goes for yet another score. The Homer Hochstetler trainee is fresh off her victory in the $100,000 Maywood Pace. The daughter of Sportsmaster has racked up more than $217,000 in earnings and she has been made the even-money choice from post position one.

The Hanover action continues on Sunday with a pair of $27,050 splits for three-year-old trotting fillies.

A pair of Illinois-bred ladies highlights the first division as Rose Between 2 Thorns' J C Josie, this year's Violet Stake winner, and Blackfoot Farms' Mogo On The Gogogo, a multiple stakes winner as both a two and three-year-old, square off for the fifth straight week.

In the nightcap, DM Stables' Sun Sentinel, a Kentucky Sire Stakes winner who is a perfect two for two this year, will have to contend with the likes of Mike Silber, Robert Rietveld, Paul Gibson and Roger Welch’s six-figure earner Victor’s Phantom, who has really flourished under the watchful eye and guidance of Amy Welch.

On tap for a busy Father's Day card are the $15,000 Mini Me Stake for Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old pacing colts and the $5,000 Fox Valley Evita Stake for state-bred two-year-old trotting fillies. The latter will go as a non-wagering event prior to the start of the 6:30 p.m. card. The Billings Amateur Driving Championships also pay a visit to Crete on Sunday with that tussle being contested right after the Fox Valley Evita Stake.

As mentioned earlier Balmoral Park will be dark from live racing starting June 21. Live racing will resume on August 7. The facility will be open for simulcasting day and night during the “down” time. Also, with the break coming up there will be mandatory payouts in Tuesday’s (June 19) Pick 4 and Wednesday’s (June 20) Pick 5 and Bal-Cal Pick 4.

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