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Horse slaughter in Illinois
|Balmoral Park (11/3/07)
Contact: Tom Kelley
STARS SHINE BRIGHT ON AMERICAN NATIONAL NIGHT
Freshman pacing fillies kicked off the American National Festival of racing with a field of eight slugging it out for $143,000.
Proving once again that when the big money is on the line there is nobody better, trainer Erv Miller’s Super Night star Kelly’s Keepsake toted home top honors in 1:53.0.
Handled with supreme confidence by driver David Miller, the Illinois-bred daughter of Sportsmaster sped from fourth to first after watching Desirable Cindy (Sam Widger) lead the field through an opening quarter in 28.0.
“We were working pretty hard in the second quarter (26.3) but my plan going in was to settle then work my way back to the front,” explained Miller. “I also wanted to make sure I kept Beachy Girl (the even-money favorite) behind me for as long as I could.”
Holding her chief rival at bay through middle splits of 54.3 & 1:23.2, Kelly’s Keepsake was a length in front as the field turned for home.
In the lane the Erv Miller-trained miss was straight and strong holding off challenges from a ground saving Dragonfest (Jason Dillander), a first over Beachy Girl (Dave Magee) and a second over Wonderous Grace (John Campbell).
“Even though we caught a little bit of a breather going around that turn I know how long this stretch is here, so I knew they were going to be coming after us,” said Miller. “I finally asked my filly for all she had about halfway from home and she just dug in and held them off.
Desirable Cindy (Sam Widger) turned in a big effort to finish second while Dragonfest was third.
With the half-length triumph this daughter of Sportmaster now boasts a record six wins, five seconds and one third in 15 starts with earnings of $278,879. Sent off as the second choice in the wagering, Kelly’s Keepsake returned $8.40, $5.60 & $4.00.
The highly regarded Corleone Kosmos was hammered down to 1-5 at the betting windows and the five-year-old gelding lived up to his advance billing with a very easy 3 ¼ length romp in 1:53.1.
Placed in fourth by driver John Campbell, Corleone Kosmos was perfectly content to watch Two Weeks Notice (Ryan Anderson) and Man About Town (Dave Magee) trade blows through opening splits of 27.4 & 55.4.
“He’s a fun horse to drive because he’s so fast and he loves to do his work,” explained the Hall of Famer. “He never seems to mind coming first up so I was pretty confident at that point.”
Reeling in the pace setters while steadily advancing, Corleone Kosmos was just two lengths behind the leaders as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.2.
In the lane the issue was never in doubt as the son of SJ’s Photo flew right by an overmatched Man About Town. Leaving the remainder of the field in his wake, Corleone Kosmos was on cruise control as he sped home in 27.2. Two Weeks Notice (Ryan Anderson) finished second while Justice Hall (Jason Dillander) was a distant third, seven lengths behind the winner.
Currently in the midst of his biggest season to date, this year's Nat Ray winner now sports a record of six wins, five seconds and one third in 14 starts with earnings of $705,848 for owners Arthur Rudolph, Rudolph Stables Inc. and Bernard Owen. Bet to the near exclusion of his rivals Corleone Kosmos returned $2.40, $2.10, $2.10.
When the smoke cleared it was Sylvia Burke, John Howard & John Koran’s Maltese Artist continuing his recent hot streak with an impressive 1 ¼ length victory in 1:50.1.
Abandoning his pre-race strategy of trying to leave for an early spot, winning driver Greg Grismore elected to take back after watching Jereme’s Jet (John Campbell) and Royal Man (Brent Holland) battle through a quick opening quarter in 26.1.
“I wasn’t quite sure what to do after we left out of there,” explained Grismore. “I knew they were moving pretty good up front though so I just decided to take back and try to follow Mr. Big (David Miller).
Campbell was able to work out a bit of breather for Jereme’s Jet through middle splits of 55.1 & 1:23.1 but there was still plenty of danger lurking as a hard charging Load The Dice (Mike Oosting) was leading up a live outer charge as the field hit the top of the stretch.
Tipping off three-deep cover, Maltese Artist was in high gear as the field neared the eighth pole. Gobbling up ground with the greatest of ease the Mickey Burke-trained gelding flew by his rivals with a 26.1 to post his fourth straight victory. Load The Dice turned in a very solid effort to finish second while Mr. Big was third.
In the winner’s circle a very happy Grismore had nothing but praise for his pacer. “He’s just an unbelievable horse,” said a beaming Grismore. “Week in and week out he goes with the best of them and he just continues to do whatever you want him to do.”
The victory was the 13th in 27 starts this year for the son of Artiscape who also has four seconds and five thirds to his credit. The win also pushes Maltese Artist’s seasonal bankroll over the $1,000,000 mark while running his career total up to $1,917,866. The second choice of the wagering public returned $6.80, $4.00 & $2.60.
This race turned into another showcase for a Mickey Burke trainee as Frank Baldachino’s Go On BB made it look easy while cruising to a 2 ¼ length victory in a career best of 1:51.0.
Placed in mid-pack by driver Dave Palone, Go On BB saved ground in fifth while Platinum Hanover (David Miller) led the field through opening splits of 26.3 & 54.4.
While a first over trip wasn’t exactly the journey Palone had planned for his filly, he decided it was time to move as the field headed around the final bend. Quickly picking off horses while powering up the outside, Go On BB was just a head behind Platinum Hanover as they moved by the three-quarter-mile station in 1:22.4.
“I never planned to have her first up but I couldn’t wait any longer for somebody to give us cover,” explained Palone. “Even though it wasn’t the easiest of trips she was also very comfortable and well within herself.”
Once the field straightened for the stretch drive, Go On BB left no doubt as to who was the best in this field as she quickly sprinted away to a five-length advantage. On cruise control the rest of the way, the daughter of Dontgetinmyway strolled under the wire with her 19th win in 22 starts this season. Real Velocity (Greg Grismore), a 50-1 outsider, rallied late to be the bridesmaid while local sensation Sportsfancy (Ryan Anderson) came from far back to finish third.
Given the fact that this filly was the only horse Palone was driving on the card it should have been a tip off to the “sharps” in the crowd. “I’ve only raced her twice but I absolutely love this filly,” he marveled. “I had her wrapped up during the entire stretch drive and she still took a new life mark. She’s special!”
Go On BB returned $6.80, $4.00 & $3.20 while running her lifetime record to 25-3-2 in 36 starts with earnings of $436,649.
Taking advantage of his “home turf”, Engel Stables homebred Mucho Sleazy gutted out a half-length decision in 1:51.3.
Fresh off an impressive elimination win here last week, the Ken Rucker trainee used an inside spot to get away fourth as Littlebitoflife (Ryan Anderson) tore through fractions of 27.2 & 55.3.
With the outer flow quickly developing on the far turn, Oosting decided to move his charge first over. Moving swiftly on the outside Mucho Sleazy was able to put a head in front of Littlebitoflife as the two raced side by side past the three-quarter-mile station in 1:23.3.
In the stretch Mucho Sleazy quickly put away the early leader, drawing off to a two-length advantage. Last week’s other elimination winner, Sand Shooter (David Miller), who followed Mucho Sleazy’s every move, was now second while Lets Getit Started (Jason Dillander) was finding his best stride from the back of the pack. But that move was in vain as Mucho Sleazy held safe to the wire to win for the sixth time this season. Lets Getit Started was a hard charging second while Art Official (Del Chupp) rallied late to finish third.
A model of consistency with a record of six wins, four seconds and three thirds in 16 starts, Mucho Sleazy provided quite a thrill for owner-breeder Marty Engel. “Winning a big race like this with a horse you own and bred is like watching one of your kids hit a home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning,” he exclaimed. “I had to pinch myself after the race was over to tell myself that we really had won the race.”
Mucho Sleazy returned $7.40, $4.00 & $3.20.
Once again it was a Mickey Burke trainee who stole the headlines as Strollin Stable, William Robinson and James Koehler’s Won The West shot down his rivals, winning by a head, after a thrilling stretch drive.
Given a perfect steer by driver Greg Grismore, the son of Western Hanover floated away from post position nine and was up to fourth as Booze Cruzin (Sam Widger) and Saratoga John (Brent Holland) battled through a tough opening quarter of 26.3.
After a brief tuck Grismore showed a great deal of confidence in his charge, moving back to the outside as the field reached the half-mile mark in 54.1.
“First over wasn’t really the plan,” explained Grismore. “But my horse just kept digging and digging so I just continued on with him.”
Making a steady advance on the outside of horses, Won The West was just a head away from a stubborn Booze Cruzin as these two rolled by the three-quarter-mile mark in a blazing 1:22.0.
Through the lane Booze Cruzin continued to cling tenaciously to a short lead despite drifting towards the center of the track. Won The West was still trying to get by the pace setter while a host of others, including Pop Z Pop (John Campbell), Saratoga John, and Home Bed Advantage (Ryan Anderson) were also taking dead aim. With the leader continuing to drift out Grismore found room to his inside with less than a sixteenth of a mile to go and Won The Rest responded beautifully as he rallied in the final strides to get the victory. Booze Cruzin was second while Pop Z Pop was just a half-length back in third.
In the winner’s circle an elated Grismore was singing the praises of conditioner Mickey Burke, who took home three American National victories on the night. “It’s fun when you drive for a guy like Mickey,” he said. “You know his horses are always going to be sharp and you know they're always going to be placed in a spot where they can win.”
Won The West returned $4.00, $3.00 & $2.60 while running his record to 16 wins, four seconds and two thirds in 26 starts. The bay gelding has now amassed $553,974 in this his first season of racing.
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