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Horse slaughter in Illinois
|Balmoral Park (6/21/09)
Contact: Tom Kelley
THISBIGDOGWILLFIGHT PULLS OFF UPSET IN BROADWAY PREVIEW STAKE
With the 12 starters combining for well over $4 million in career earnings, this race figured to be a heated affair from start to finish. The race certainly did not disappoint the large crowd that made its way onto the track apron to get a close up look at the proceedings, as Redbud Stable and Michael McNeely’s Thisbigdogwillfight unleashed a furious rally, blowing by his rivals in the final strides, to win by a half-length in 1:50.1.
Leaving from post position nine in this classy field, Thisbigdogwillfight floated away from the gate with Hall of Famer Dave Magee in tow as I Can Only Imagine (Rick Dane Jr.) zipped to the front, taking the field by the opening marker in 26.4.
It was non-stop action from that point on as Dane elected to let a hard charging Well To Do Guru (Casey Leonard) take over the top spot midway down the backside. That put I Can Only Imagine into the pocket spot while the live outer flow continued to develop with a first over Oliver Cleo (Brandon Simpson) moving into third, while Mucho Sleazy (Mike Oosting) was shuffled back to fourth as the field reached the half-mile mark in 54.0.
Heading around the final turn Well To Do Guru maintained a short lead as Oliver Cleo moved right alongside him in second. I Can Only Imagine was still saving ground at the pylons in third, while Magee had craftily maneuvered Thisbigdogwillfight into a perfect second over position in fourth as the pacers hit the three-quarter-mile station in 1:22.3.
The stretch drive looked more like a cavalry charge, as horses and drivers fanned out across the width of the track while desperately searching for racing room. Well To Do Guru continued to cling tenaciously to a short lead, but nine of the 12 starters were five lengths or less away from the pace setter. In the final sixteenth of a mile Thisbigdogwillfight really seemed to find another gear as he began swallowing up rivals in a hurry. Pacing home in 27.2, the six-year-old gelded son of The Big Dog flew by them all while on the far outside to get the victory. Mucho Sleazy managed to survive an inquiry while bobbing and weaving his way around rivals to finish in the place spot, while a game Well To Do Guru was third. Fox Valley Gambler (Tyler Buter), who started in the second tier was and was 10th at the mid-stretch call, also uncorked a furious rally to finish fourth just 2 ½ lengths behind the winner.
Dispatched at odds of 10-1 because of his outside starting spot, the Jim Eaton-trained Thisbigdogwillfight returned a hefty $23.60, $8.80 and $6.00 while posting his 31st career victory in 87 starts. The $20,000 first place check also moved his career earnings up to $647,398.
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