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Horse slaughter in Illinois
|Balmoral Park (7/18/09)
Contact: Tom Kelley
JAM PACKED NIGHT OF HANOVER STAKES ACTION
Freshmen pacing fillies kicked off the festivities as a total of 23 youngsters met in a trio of $23,467 divisions.
The first division of the night provided an upset as Tina & Jared Seekman’s Vegas Date, a 16-1 outsider in the field of seven, posted her first career victory holding on gamely to prevail by a half-length in 1:54.3.
After drawing the outside post in the race, driver Travis Seekman knew exactly what his strategy was going to be with the daughter of Cole Muffler-Smitten.
“We’ve raced her both ways and I told my dad (trainer Joe Seekman) she seemed to be much better coming off somebody’s helmet,” said an excited Seekman. “So the plan was to duck and hope for live cover which is exactly what we got.”
Following a hard charging Don’t Hold Me Back (Dave Magee) all the way to the top of the stretch, Vegas Date then wore down that filly before gamely holding off a late rush along the inside from Artcam (Pete Wrenn). Lyfslykaboxachoclt (Marcus Miller) rallied late to finish third.
In the second division another Illinois-bred filly toted home top honors as the Mike Schulfer-trained Fox Valley Naomi powered up first over then held firm in the late going to win by a half-length in 1:55.3.
Given a confident steer by driver Robert Smolin, the daughter of Sportsmaster-No Uglies began a steady advance from sixth as the field headed down the backstretch.
Collaring the pace-setting Things Left Unsaid (Tyler Buter) at the top of the stretch, Fox Valley Naomi quickly opened up a 2 ¼ length lead in the lane and then held tough as the favored Houlihan (Dale Hiteman), who had followed Fox Valley Naomi’s every move, tried in vain to reel her in but was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role. Fox Valley Adios (Josh Sutton) finished third, 4 ½ lengths behind the winner.
In the winner’s circle a relieved assistant trainer Hans Schulfer was quite impressed by the effort his filly had just turned in.
“I was pretty nervous when she had to come first over for that long,” said Schulfer. “I always knew she had plenty of ability but I was waiting for her to get tired because of the trip, but she hung tough tonight and we’re awfully proud of her effort.”
In the final division, Stretch It Again Stables Fox Valley Oracle came flying down the stretch to post an impressive come from behind score in 1:53.4.
Content to sit at the back of the back as Flip Flop Summer blazed through some very quick fractions, driver Tyler Buter swung Fox Valley Oracle four wide as the field turned for home. Gobbling up ground as the fillies up front began to get a little leg weary, the John Butenschoen-trained daughter of Sportsmaster-Our Golden Promise uncorked a wicked 26.4 final split to blow right by her rivals. Flip Flop Summer held on gamely to finish second while a first over Leanmean Normajean (Sam Widger) was third.
After the race a confident Buter was quick to sing the praises of his charge.
“I knew that they were going pretty quick fractions up front and would probably come back to us in the late going,” he said. “Once I got her tipped three wide at the top of the stretch she just took off and I could see that the others were laboring a bit. This is not a horse that is afraid to pass horses when it counts!
Next up were two-year-old pacing colts as a total of 28 entries were split into a three divisions with each carrying a jackpot of $26,067.
After leaving alertly from post position 10, the gelded son of Cole Muffler-Vavoom found a nice spot in fifth as the field settled into position. Driver Josh Sutton then sent the Roger Welch trainee on a mission for the lead, storming up three wide around a battling Perrito Caliente and a first over Fools Gold (Todd Warren).
“Of course I didn’t want to be three-wide that early in the race but man this horse drives like a Cadillac,” he gushed. “I knew he could out sprint everybody enough for me to still get to the front because he takes off like a Thoroughbred when you want him to.”
Continuing to steamroll towards the finish line, Voomerang had opened up a 3 ½ length by the mid-stretch call. Despite the rugged journey, Sutton managed to get some more out of this good looking youngster as he held on gamely for the victory. Morgan Shark was a strong second while Perrito Caliente was just a half-length back in third.
In the winners circle driver Josh Sutton was more than a little impressed by the effort of Voomerang.
“He had a right to get a little tired after that kind of trip but it was really more of him kind of waiting on horses since he’s never been on the lead before,” explained Sutton. “This is some kind of horse that Roger’s developed.”
In the middle split the Jackie Butenschoen-owned and John Butenschoen-trained Indescribable used the passing lane to perfection, charging through along the pylons to win by 1 ½ lengths in 1:54.1.
Given a perfect steer by driver Brandon Simpson, the son of Cole Muffler-Glorious Future swept into command after the quarter and then elected to let a hard charging Charlie Beans (Sam Widger) take command nearing the half-mile mark.
Enjoying the perfect pocket-sitting journey the rest of the way, Simpson then maneuvered his charge into the passing lane and Indescribable did the rest as he cruised by Charlie Beans to get the victory. Rocknroll Fever (Peter Wrenn) was a hard fought third.
While enjoying the winners circle celebration, Simpson seemed pretty confident that things were going to go the way they did for Indescribable.
“He’d been raced easy up to that point and I thought he was ready to make a couple of moves if need be,” he explained. “Once I got on the leaders back I was pretty sure he was going to carry us to where we needed to go and then my horse just went by in pretty easy fashion.”
In the final division of the two-year-old colt pace, Sawgrass Farms Four Starz Trace looked like a seasoned veteran as he dug in through the lane to post a front stepping half-length win in 1:53.4.
Handled perfectly by driver Peter Wrenn, the royally bred son of Western Hanover-Four Starzzzz Hope came away third but then was sent to the top after an easy opening quarter.
“They weren’t going much and trainer Joe Seekman had this colt prepped very well, so I decided to send him up to the front,” explained the veteran reinsman.
Moving along comfortably on the front end, Four Starz Trace continued to lead despite getting heavy pressure from a first over Harmony Oaks Rage (Dave Magee). These two continued to duel around the far turn and through the stretch, but in the end it was Four Starz Trace who wound up making his debut a winning one. Harmony Oaks Rage held on for second while Nightmare Affair (Todd Warren) rallied from far back to finish third.
According to Wrenn, being on the front end suited Four Starz Trace just fine.
“I wasn’t really worried about that horse that was right beside us because my horse really seems to pick it up when somebody comes up to him,” he said. “He’s lazy in a good kind of way and I think he’s really got a chance to become a very, very nice horse.”
A total of 13 sophomore pacing colts were split into a pair of $26,200 divisions as the non-stop Hanover Stake action continued on.
In the first division Robert Mondillo and Donald Robinson’s royally bred colt Nob Hill High lived up to his 1-5 favoritism, as he dug in late to hold on for a head decision in 1:51.3.
After allowing things to settle as the field moved on to the backstretch, driver Dave Magee pulled his charge from third and the son of Mcardle-Anniecrombie then rolled to the front.
Pacing along comfortably just as he did during his prep victory here last week, the Bill Webb trainee turned aside the challenge of a first over Who’s The Boss (Sam Widger) and then gamely held off a late bid from I’m So Blue to post his fourth win in eight starts this season. Fox Valley Seth (Brandon Simpson) came on late to finish third.
After guiding Nob Hill High to his victory from the 10-hole last week, Magee felt pretty confident leaving from the inside post in Saturday’s Hanover.
“He showed me a lot last week and he’s a very nice horse who has a big turn of speed yet is still very easy on himself,” said the Hall of Famer. “In fact tonight he almost made it a little too easy on himself and that’s the reason it wound up being so close and I had to get after him at the wire.”
In the second division, veteran Dale Hiteman put Shirley LeVin’s Park Lane Deputy in the perfect spot and the colt parlayed a pocket-sitting journey into a three-quarter-length triumph in a blistering 1:50.2.
Hustled away from post position four, Hiteman was able to drop in right behind the favored My Boy Luke in the early going.
“I just couldn’t see it happening any other way going into this race because My Boy Luke has been very sharp lately,” said Hiteman. “I knew that if I was going to have a chance to beat him I was going to have to be sitting on his back while the others came first up.”
More than content to spy all the action from the garden spot as My Boy Luke and a first over Annieswesterncard (Travis Seekman) battled it out, Hiteman patiently awaited the passing lane. Swinging to the inside with an eighth of a mile to go, the Homer Hochstetler-trained son of Sportsmaster-Darling Katherine then flew home in 26.3 to notch his ninth win in 13 starts this year. My Boy Luke was second while Smellthecolornine (Marcus Miller) was third.
A total of 18 entries were dropped into the box for the three-year-old filly pace, which meant a pair of nine-horse fields were sent postward with each going for a purse of $25,300.
The opening split found yet another Illinois bred toting home the top prize as L & L DeVisser’s My Heart Was True parlayed a second-over journey into a half-length victory in 1:52.0 for driver Brandon Simpson.
Floated away from post position eight, Simpson allowed his filly to settle in sixth before moving her into the outer flow as the field headed down the backstretch. Flushing out the favored Fox Valley Topaz (Tyler Buter) as the field moved around the turn, Simpson then tipped his filly off that cover and the daughter of Cole Muffler-Would I Lie roared home in 27.2 to record her sixth win in seven starts this year. China Gal (Todd Warren) parlayed a ground-saving journey into the place money while Fox Valley Topaz settled for the show dough.
Proving that the Shawn Nessa-trained miss is going to be a major force all season long, Simpson was ecstatic with the performance his filly turned in on Saturday.
“I was more than happy to pick up the cover from Fox Valley Topaz but I think we probably could have won the race even without it,” said Simpson. “Shawn has done it right with this filly and picked his spots with her, and each time I sit behind her it just seems like she’s better than the last time.”
The second division was taken by Ron Michelon’s lightly raced Miss Olivia as she came flying through the stretch to win by 2 ¼ lengths in a career best of 1:53.1.
Following a live outer flow from sixth as the field moved down the backside, driver Marcus Miller had the daughter of Cole Muffler-Expresso Gypsy in a perfect spot as the field headed to the top of the stretch.
“That turned out to be a dream trip for us,” exclaimed Miller. “Going into the race that was exactly what I was hoping for and when we reached the top of the lane I knew my filly still had a lot left, and that’s a pretty nice feeling to have.”
Picking off fillies as she cruised home in 28.1, Miss Olivia made it look easy as she recorded her second win of the year. Fox Valley Absolut (Sam Widger) was second while Hillary (Dale Hiteman) was a hard-trying third.
Despite having only two career victories, Miller felt that his filly was “sitting on a big one” coming into Saturday’s Hanover.
“She doesn’t have that much experience so we’ve been teaching her to finish up a mile like that,” he explained. “Tonight all that work came together and this filly came up with the best race of her career.”Hanover Stakes action continues on Sunday night with an overflow field of 12 three-year-old trotting colts battling for a purse of $39,900. Post time on Sunday is 6:30 pm (central).
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