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FOX VALLEY LOVER UPSETS IN VIOLET STAKE FINAL
Handled perfectly by veteran Dale Hiteman, Fox Valley Lover floated away from post position three in the field of 10. Taking advantage of a miscue in the first turn by elimination winner Queen Creek (Dean Magee), Hiteman masterfully tucked his filly into the pocket as a hard charging Fox Valley Strata (Tyler Buter) led the field through an opening quarter in 30.0.
“I really didn’t plan on having her up close that early but once I saw Queen Creek make that break I decided to put my filly into contention early on,” explained Hiteman.
Quickly popping out of the pocket, Fox Valley Lover trotted to the top where she was able to get away with leisurely middle splits of 1:00.0 and 1:30.0 while under no pressure whatsoever from her rivals.
“That was the key to winning this race,” said Hiteman. “I knew we were getting away with some pretty easy fractions and with the way my filly felt right from the word go I knew they were going to have a tough time catching us.”
With plenty of horse left and a traffic jam keeping the heavily favored Miss Vickie (Brandon Simpson) and the highly regarded Luna Marker (Marcus Miller) from getting into good striking position, Hiteman and Fox Valley Lover simply trotted away from their rivals with a 27.2 final quarter to secure the victory. Luna Marker rallied late to be the bridesmaid while Miss Vickie came from eighth at the top of the stretch, trotting home in a wicked 26.1, to finish third.
After the race a very happy Joel Smith was singing the praises of his trainee. “I was a little bit worried since she only had one start in the last three weeks and she was sick in that race,” he said. “That was the reason I qualified her on May 20. Once I took her through her warm-up tonight I knew she was back on her game and that she was going to give us a big effort.”
Hiteman was equally impressed after getting off the bike. “She was terrific tonight and I never really had to worry about a thing,” he said. “She wasn’t 100 percent last time but with the time off and with the adjustments Joel made on her she was an absolute pleasure to drive.”
The win was the third in four starts this year and the eighth in 18 career starts for Fox Valley Lover. Sent off as the third choice in the wagering, the winner returned $17.00, $6.20 and $2.80 while pushing her career earnings up to $126,633.
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