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Horse slaughter in Illinois
|Balmoral Park (5/24/08)
Contact: Tom Kelley
ACTION APLENTY ON SATURDAY AT BALMORAL
Kicking off the barrage of six straight stake races were filly and mare pacers with a field of six gathering behind the gate for the $25,000 Loyal Opposition Stake.
As expected Paul Bertucci’s rock solid eight-year-old Bobs Minute Maid continued her domination of the distaff set as she completely overpowered her rivals in 1:50.4, equaling her lifetime best.
After getting away in fourth as Heartland Charmer (Brent Holland) led the field through an opening quarter in 27.3, Oosting decided it was time to roll. With a quick tug of the right line the daughter of Tattler’s Torpedo moved to the outside and charged to the front as the field reached the half-mile mark in 56.0.
“I didn’t want to rush her out of there tonight,” explained Oosting. “She’s pretty much of a “push button” horse so I figured we’d let the dust settle and then make our move.”
Cruising along on an easy lead, Bobs Minute Maid passed the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.2.
That’s when Oosting turned his charge loose. Just as she’s done so many times in the past, this great mare sprinted away from her rivals as she unleashed a wicked 26.2 final split to win by a widening six lengths. Heartland Charmer (Brent Holland) had to settle for the bridesmaid role while Spectacular Cam (Dale Hiteman) was third.
Given the ease of her victory Oosting was pretty impressed with his mare. “I really started and stopped her about three times during this race,” he said. “Yet when I called on her in the lane she just took off. Since she’s been racing against the boys a lot this year she seems to have developed another gear she never had in the past.”
In the winners circle owner Paul Bertucci was all smiles as he talked about his pride and joy. “She’s just absolutely awesome and she just continues to do it week in and week out,” said the proud owner. “Mike’s done a wonderful job with her and she’s provided us with a lifetime of memories and I don’t think she’s done yet!”
Bet to the near exclusion of her rivals Bobs Minute Maid returned $2.20, $2.10 & $2.10 while running her career earnings up to $344,125.
While it looked to be an even contest on paper it was anything but that on the track as Patrick and Tina Graham’s Spread The Chips went right to the front and never looked back, en route to a nine-length victory in a career best of 1:55.2.
Whisked away from post position two, the daughter of Band’s Gold Chip was well within herself as she rolled through splits of 29.0, 58.2 & 1:27.1.
“Even though we had the favorite sitting on our back the entire way I still felt pretty confident at the top of the stretch,” said winning driver Brandon Simpson. “We made some changes on her and got her to relax and when she does that she’s a pretty awesome trotting filly.”
Turning for home with a two-length advantage, Simpson then called on his filly and she responded beautifully as she trotted away to lead by 5 ½ lengths at the mid-stretch call.
On cruise control the rest of the way, Spread The Chips continued to increase her margin, reporting home with her second win in five starts this season. Fox Valley Shannon (Ryan Anderson) came on to be a distant second while Campaign Wife (Homer Hochstetler), who was parked the entire mile while battling Spread The Chips, faded to third.
A bit on the inconsistent side this season, Simpson thinks he finally has Spread The Chips at the top of her game. “She got sick after winning the Trotting Tilly Stake earlier in the year and then she was a little sore as well,” he explained. “This is what we were pointing her for though and things worked out just perfectly.”
After posting 13 wins and more than $107,000 in earnings last year, Spread The Chips is now two for five in 2008 with career earnings of $142,200. The second choice in the wagering returned $8.40, $4.40 & $3.60.
Sitting in mid-pack as the heavily favored Westside Gritty (Brent Holland) and Kennnans Kelli (Mike Oosting) traded turns on the front end driver, Ryan Anderson decided it was time to get rolling after splits of 28.2 & 57.4.
“I wasn’t thrilled that I had to go first over but at that point I really had no choice but to try and tough it out,” said Anderson. “I did like the fact that the other two fillies had been taking shots at each other and that I did have them right in my sights.”
With the top three fillies in the race separated by less than two lengths as they raced by the three-quarter-mile station in 1:26.0, things were setting up perfectly for a thrilling stretch duel.
Kennans Kelli continued to cling tenaciously to a short lead with Renovation just to her outside. Westside Gritty was trying to get by those two in the passing lane as she kicked it into high gear. The battle continued all the way down to the wire with Renovation finally getting a head in front in the closing strides. Westside Gritty was a game second while Kennans Kelli wound up third.
Asked about the stretch duel that had the large crowd on the apron up in arms, Anderson seemed quite calm. “I knew my filly still had a little something left as we were getting down near the wire,” said the winning pilot. “Jason Wilson who trains this filly has done a great job with her this year and she showed tonight that she’s right there with the best in the state.”
The victory was the fifth in 15 starts this season for the daughter of Art’s Conquest. Despite winning her elimination in impressive fashion last week, Renovation still escaped at odds of 9-1 returning $21.00, $5.60 & $3.20 to those lucky enough to back her at the windows.
Given a great steer by driver Ryan Anderson, Maxter left alertly from post position eight and was able to find a spot in fourth as longshot Rtpprimetime (Rick Dane Jr.) took the field through an opening quarter in 29.0.
The action started to heat up on the backstretch as Fox Valley Odyssey (Dave Magee) moved up first over to challenge for the top spot, and he was 1 ¼ lengths in front as the field reached the halfway point 57.3.
Continuing to cling to the lead as the field trotted around the final bend, Fox Valley Odyssey was soon joined by a first over Maxter. That gelding was leading up a live outer flow that included Mood Man (Todd Warren) and Mystical Zone (Brandon Simpson). Spirit Lifter (Mike Oosting), the 3-5 favorite in the race, was still eighth at that point but he was finding his best stride while circling up three wide as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.0.
Through the lane Maxter grabbed command, but the issue was far from over as Mood Man and a hard charging Spirit Lifter were still looming boldly. Showing the grit and determination that earned him seven wins and more than $158,000 in earnings last year, Maxter held off the late bid of Spirit Lifter to win by a half-length. Mood Man was third giving trainer Roger Welch a sweep of the top three spots in this race.
In the winner’s circle, a victorious Ryan Anderson sounded a bit relieved that his charge held on for the victory. “Once again it wasn’t the ideal trip for my horse,” he explained. “I had to go first over on that final turn again which isn’t the easiest thing to do with these trotters. If Mike’s horse (Spirit Lifter) hadn’t been so far back it would have been very tough to hold him off.”
Maxter, who returned a nice price of $13.40, $4.20 & $2.60, now has two wins and three seconds in six starts this year. The winner’s share of $24,700 boosted his career earnings up to $197,390.
Once again it was leading driver Mike Oosting returning to the winners circle after guiding Engel Stables Mucho Sleazy to a front-stepping score in 1:51.0.
After watching Littlbitoflife (Todd Warren) lead the field through an opening split in 28.0, Oosting had Mucho Sleazy on the move from third.
Moving with his powerful strides, the gelded son of Sportsmaster grabbed control of the racetrack just after the opening panel, and he was in complete command as he led the field through middle splits of 56.3 & 1:23.3.
“This horse has so much more confidence than he did last year so that’s why I sent him to the front as early as I did,” Oosting said while explaining his strategy. “I wanted to be in control of things and we really had a pretty easy time of it until the top of the stretch.”
That’s when last week’s other elimination winner Chevie Classic Rod came calling. With their main rivals trying to draw alongside of them, Oosting and Mucho Sleazy dug in determinedly as they reported home with a 1 ¼ length verdict. Chevie Classic Rod was second while Choros C (Del Chupp) was third.
Dispatched as the 2-5 favorite of the betting public, the Paul Stafford trainee returned $2.80, $2.10 & $2.10 as he won for the ninth time in 22 career starts. Mucho Sleazy also boasts career earnings $226,646 for his connections.
As he’s done so many times in the past, Shirley LeVin’s My Boy David came up with yet another huge mile as he hung on gamely to win by a neck in a blistering 1:49.3.
Sent right to the front by driver Ryan Anderson, My Boy David battled hard with the other even-money co-favorite, Fox Valley Gambler, around the opening turn and these two were just heads apart as they charged by an opening quarter in 26.4.
“With it being such a short field I was a little surprised that we got “stung” like that in the opening quarter-mile,” said Anderson.
On the backside My Boy David finally cleared to the top, but the pace was still quick as he led the field through splits of 54.2 & 1:22.1.
Despite carving out those fast fractions, the Homer Hochstetler trainee showed his class and determination as he held off the late bid of the pocket sitting Fox Valley Gambler for his fourth win of the season. I Can Only Imagine (Dale Hiteman) was third.
After getting off the bike, the red-hot Anderson – who is starting to return to form after missing four months due to a broken femur – continued to marvel at the five-year-old gelding’s will. “That race right there tonight is why he’s got over a $1,000,000 on his card,” said Anderson. “This horse shows up every week, he’s as game as they come and he hasn’t shown me one thing that would make think that he’s slowing down at all despite all the tough miles he’s gone.”
My Boy David returned $4.00, $2.40 & $2.10 while running his bankroll up to $1,130,564.
Memorial Day weekend action continues at Balmoral Park on Sunday with a 12-race card getting underway at 6:30 pm (central).
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