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Horse slaughter in Illinois
|Balmoral Park (6/16/09)
Contact: Tom Kelley
A PAIR OF STATE-BRED STAKES SHARE TOP BILLING ON TUESDAY
A field of eight sophomore trotting fillies was spotlighted in the $12,000 Fox Valley Diva Stake, which was carded as the fourth race of the evening.
With heavy rains pelting the track for most of the day and night the oval was turned into a sea of mud. The adverse conditions did not seem to matter to Paula Smith and James Runyanís Fox Valley Lover though, as she methodically trotted to a 1 ľ length victory in 1:58.3 over the sloppy track.
Confidently handled after taking the Violet Stake Final in her last start here, Hiteman positioned the daughter of Vaporize-Love You More in fourth as 50-1 longshot Matilda Coe (Todd Warren) splashed through splits of 29.0 and 58.2.
Grinding into position while first over on the final turn, Fox Valley Lover was just three lengths behind the pace setter as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:28.2.
Through the lane a determined Fox Valley Lover continued to cut into the leaderís margin, finally gaining control with just over a sixteenth of a mile to go. The Joel Smith trainee then continued to trot away from her rivals for the victory. Beba (Brian Carpenter) shook loose late and managed to rally in time to be the bridesmaid while Matilda Coe hung on well to be third.
After a big two-year-old season in which she earned over $86,000 while posting a record of 5-3-2, Fox Valley Lover is off to a great start this year with four wins in five starts and earnings of $45,900.
Again it was driver Dale Hiteman who toted home top honors in this event, as he guided Shirley LeVinís homebred Mystic Major to a three-length victory in 1:57.1.
After saving ground in mid-pack throughout most of the mile as Thingsleftunsaid (Brian Carpenter) carved out splits of 28.2, 56.4 and 1:27.4, Hiteman finally secured racing room and elected to move the daughter of Majestic Blue-Fighting Major USA off the pylons as the field moved midway around the final turn.
That strategy changed quickly though as the outer flow came to an abrupt halt. Hiteman then made the winning move with his filly guiding her back down to the pylons where things opened up nicely for them. While the leaders began to tire in the lane, Mystic Major was fit and fresh as she roared up the passing lane to record her first win in two career starts. Echoes In My Soul (Todd Warren) finished second while Things Left Unsaid held on for third.
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