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Balmoral Park

Balmoral Park (9/13/09)

Contact: Tom Kelley
(708) 672-1414


Nice Big Star
Nice Big Star and driver Mike Cox pulled off the upset in the second of three Filly Orange & Blue Stake Eliminations on Saturday night.
The countdown to Super Night 2009 began on Saturday night at Balmoral Park as eliminations for the $250,000 Orange & Blue Stake, $240,000 Filly Orange & Blue Stake, $190,000 Grandma Ann Stake and $185,000 Pete Langley Memorial Stake were contested. All of the elimination tussles carried purses of $12,500 with the top three finishers in each as well as one fourth place finisher (drawn by lot) moving on to next week’s rich finals. In the Langley elims the top five finishers each earned a spot in next week’s finale.


In the first division Kay Willis & Richard Beere’s Casino Hotspur pulled off the upset at odds of 13-1 as she came charging through the lane to win by a head in 1:55.2.

Perfectly handled by driver Brandon Simpson, the daughter of Cole Muffler-Angel In The Cards moved up second over before unleashing a 27.2 final quarter to notch her second win in seven starts. Fox Valley Angie (Dale Hiteman) came flying up the inside to finish second while M A Maria (Mike Oosting) was third. Redhot’s Memory was fourth.

After the race Simpson said he was a bit surprised that things worked out as well as they did for the Nelson Willis trainee.

“Leaving from the eight-hole I thought we’d encounter much more traffic,” he explained. “But we got into the flow second over and when we hit the top of the stretch I knew I still had a lot of horse and I felt pretty confident that she was going to be able to get there.”

The second division provided quite a shocker as Mary Lea Jeffers Nice Big Star lived up to her name on this night, with a hard-fought neck decision in a career best of 1:54.4.

Floating away from post position seven for driver Mike Cox, the homebred daughter of Partyatartsplace-Nice’n Big neatly tucked into the two-hole behind the pace setting Andrea Cann (Todd Warren).

After sitting on that fillie's back the entire way around the oval, Cox maneuvered the Ray Hanna-trained miss to the outside where she gradually wore down the pace setter, and then dug in gamely to hold off the late rush of 40-1 outsider Rev Me Up (Jamaica Patton). Favored Fox Valley Oracle (Tyler Buter) earned a spot in the final with a late-rushing third place finish while Andrea Cann held on for fourth.

In the winner’s circle Cox had high praise for both the winning filly and her conditioner.

“Ray’s done an excellent job with her and she’s really gone some big miles on the fair circuit this year,” he said. “She can leave as fast as you want her to but she’ll also relax in a hole perfectly if that’s what it takes, just like she did tonight.”

Overlooked at odds of 24-1 despite sporting five wins in eight career starts, Nice Big Star returned a hefty win mutuel of $51.60.

The final division went as expected as Mystical Marker Farms' division leader Mystical Victress, the even-money favorite in the race, came roaring through the lane to win by a widening three-quarters of a length in 1:55.0 for driver Brandon Simpson.

Reserved near the back of the pack as Ribbons N Pearls (John Roberts) carved out the early fractions, Simpson patiently waited for an outer flow to develop with this big late-rushing daughter of Sportsmaster-Sneakheravalentine.

“I knew she was by far the best closer in the race and since all we had to do was be third to get into the final, I didn’t want to use her up too hard too early,” he explained.

Still sitting eighth as the field turned for home, the Erv Miller trainee kicked it into high gear once the field straightened for home and with the strength of a wicked 27.1 final quarter mile she swept right by her rivals to win for the sixth time in eight career starts. Things Left Unsaid (Todd Warren) was a game second while Ribbons N Pearls held on for third. Miss Kellie (Marcus Miller was fourth).


Power Of A Moment
Power Of A Moment continued to dominate the two-year-old pacing colt division as he teamed up with Marcus Miller for his eighth win in 11 career starts in the second of three Orange & Blue Stake Eliminations on Saturday night.
The Erv Miller and Brandon Simpson partnership hooked up for another victory in the first of three Orange & Blue Stake eliminations as Iam Bonasera found racing room in the late going and then exploded in the final sixteenth of a mile to win by 2 ¼ lengths in 1:51.3.

Using the inside starting spot to their advantage, Simpson positioned Iam Bonasera in the pocket while the lead changed hands several times. Unfortunately for the son of Cole Muffler-Shessoluvabull, that wound up pushing the gelding all the way back to fifth as the field turned for home.

Showing great patience and skill, Simpson waited for an opening in the lane as several horses traded blows. Finding a small opening with an eighth of a mile to go, Simpson then maneuvered his charge into the gap between horses and the promising youngster simply exploded once he found clearance, flying home in 27.3 to post his fourth win in seven career starts for the partnership of John Carver, Jack & Peggy Hood, and Mystical Marker Farms. Voomerang (Josh Sutton) was a hard-fought second while longshot Fitz’s Z Tam rallied to be third. Burnthemidnightoil was fourth.

After the race, a cool and collected Simpson seemed to take it all in stride as he always does.

“I had used him hard a couple of times in his earlier races so I wanted to try and take it easy with him tonight,” he said. “I was a bit worried when we got pushed back on the far turn but I knew he was still fit and if there was room in the lane he was going to be mighty tough to stop, which he certainly was.”

Another Erv Miller-trained gelding toted home top honors in the middle division as Power Of A Moment turned in the most impressive effort of the night with a decisive five-length victory in 1:52.4 for driver Marcus Miller.

Sitting fourth through the opening quarter, Miller had the son of Cole Muffler-Panfastic on the move as the field approached the half-mile mark.

Quickly gobbling up ground, Power Of A Moment sped right by the pace-setting Fort Hamilton and effortlessly opened up a 1 ¼ length lead as the field turned for home. On cruise control the rest of the way, the Governors Cup winner was never threatened as he strolled home in 27.1 to post his eighth win in 11 starts this season. Chaser (Tyler Buter) rallied to be second while 78-1 longshot Cole Fired Unit was a distant third.

In the winner’s circle Erv Miller described his division leader in leader in very flattering terms.

“Although he’s not a whole lot to look at, really just a mid-sized horse, he’s got a ton of heart and a ton of desire to win races,” he said. “He really does everything on his own and we’ve never really had to ask him for more, so it will be very interesting when we do find a spot where we have to get after him. Every time Marcus brings him back after a race he just tells me that he did it all on his own and I never asked him for anything. He may be a two-year-old but he sure acts like he’s a much older horse.”

The final division was contested in a heavy fog but that did not stop Engel Stable & Rucker Stable's Fox Valley Escort from notching his second win in five starts this year as he rolled to a 1 ¼ length triumph in 1:53.3.

After a slow start from their inside post, driver Mike Oosting managed to get the son of Sportsmaster-Theladyappealstome to the outside as the field moved around the final turn.

Circling horses while three and four wide the Paul Stafford trainee continued to mow down his rivals, eventually blowing by them all for his second win in five career starts. Apache Renegade (Todd Warren) overcame post position nine to finish a strong second in the race, while Fox Valley Nipper (John Roberts) was third. Plow Guy (Dale Hiteman) was fourth.


Matt's Wolfey
Matt's Wolfey teamed up with driver John DeLong to light up the board with a $63.00 mutuel in the first of the three Grandma Ann Stake Eliminations for three-year-old pacing fillies.
The first of three Grandma Ann Stake eliminations provided the biggest upset of the night, as Robert Phillips and Blackfoot Farms' Matt’s Wolfey unleashed a wicked closing burst to rally for a half-length victory in 1:54.4.

Despite drawing the outside post in the field of eight, driver John DeLong was still able to work out a nice trip for the daughter of Final Cheers-Urka as they moved up second over around the final turn.

With the heavily favored China Gal (Mike Oosting) getting away with some pedestrian fractions, it appeared as though the “chalk” players were home free. But the Bob Phillips-trained sophomore had something to say about that as she uncorked a wicked 26.4 final quarter to notch her second win in 19 starts this year. China Gal held on for second while Park Lane Rhythm (Dale Hiteman) finished a close-up third. Miss Olivia (Marcus Miller) turned in a big effort to finish fourth despite being first over for most of the mile.

Sent off at odds of 30-1 despite being “touted” on the Balmoral Beat pre-race show by handicapper Trottin Tom, Matt’s Wolfey returned a healthy $63.00 mutuel to her backers while keying a $747.00 trifecta with the two favorites in the race behind her.

In the second division the up-and-coming Annie Your Cool gave trainer Erv Milller another winner, this time for the highly respected Tanah Merah Farms ownership group that has sent out so many great Illinois breds throughout the years.

Proving once again that an outside post and being kept off the early pace was a good thing on this night, driver Josh Sutton positioned the daughter of Cole Muffler-Annabcrombie in mid-pack while parked for just about every step of the mile.

Despite the overland journey Annie Your Cool continued to show her grit and determination as she made her way up to second, just a head behind the pace-setting Native Hotspur (Todd Warren) as the field turned for home.

Digging down for even more Annie Your Cool was not going to be denied on this night, as she eventually wore down the pace setter and drew clear in the closing yards to win by a length in 1:53.1. Native Hotspur was second while She’s A Pegase (Tyler Buter) finished third. Kiss My Josie was fourth.

After just missing pulling off the upset at 68-1 in the Time Dancer Final in DuQuoin last week, it appears that Annie Your Cool is finding her best form at just the right time.

“With the trip she had tonight I was just amazed that she kept grinding and grinding,” said Sutton. “She’s the type who can lose focus at times and she almost did that tonight at the top of the stretch, but once she gathered herself up she continued right on and got the job done. She’s hitting her best form at a pretty good time of the year and I hope it continues into next week.”

L & L DeVisser’s division leader My Heart Was True was sent off as the overwhelming choice in the final elimination, and the daughter of Cole Muffler-Would I Lie continued her dominance of this division with a big come from behind one-length victory in 1:52.1 for a red-hot Brandon Simpson.

Leaving from post position eight would normally be a dicey situation, but on this night it provided the perfect spot for Simpson to reserve his filly before unleashing her powerful closing kick. After watching LR Dancing Dream (Todd Warren) and Fox Valley Topaz (Mike Oosting) slug it out on the front end, Simpson moved the Nick Giberson-trained miss into striking position on the far turn.

With clear sailing ahead of her, My Heart Was True flew home in a wicked 26.3 to post her 12th win in 13 starts this season. Fox Valley Absolut (Robert Smolin) was second while LR Dancing Dream was third. Fox Valley Topaz finished fourth.


Park Lane Deputy
Park Lane Deputy and driver Dale Hiteman emerged from the fog with the colts 12th win in 18 starts this year as they captured the second of two Pete Langley Memorial Stake Eliminations.
In the first of two Langley Memorial Stake eliminations, Glen Bauman’s speedy gelding My Boy Luke shot right to the top and proceeded to make every call a winning one in 1:51.2.

Confidently handled by driver Josh Sutton, the altered son of Sportsmaster-Cole-Lossal sped away from post position seven and had no trouble making it to the top before the field reached the midway point of the first turn.

From that point on the issue was never really in doubt, as the Roger Welch trainee kept a comfortable cushion at each call while posting his fourth win in 19 starts this season. Doubletrouble (Brian Carpenter) followed the winner's every move but was forced to settle for second while Fox Valley Seth (Todd Warren) was third. Also gaining spots in the final were Grandma Jan’s Max (Brandon Simpson) and Smellthecolornine (Marcus Miller).

As for the winning strategy, Sutton left no doubt as to what his intentions were going into this race.

“This horse is crazy fast and he can be very aggressive leaving out of there,” he said. “We had been trying to race him out of a hole a couple of times but we decided tonight that we were just going to let him roll and see if they could catch him.”

In the second elimination Shirley LeVin’s Park Lane Deputy parlayed a perfect two-hole trip into his 12th win of the season, as he cruised to a one-length victory in a snappy 1:50.2.

Perfectly handled by veteran Dale Hiteman, the good-looking son of Sportsmaster-Darling Katherine left quickly from the inside starting spot and was placed right on the helmet of the pace-setting Trophy Hunter (Tyler Buter) every step of the way.

With that colt setting some fairly brisk fractions, Hiteman began liking the chances of the Homer Hochstetler-trained colt more and more as the mile progressed.

“He led me all the way up to the open stretch without me ever having to use my horse,” explained Hiteman. “Once I moved him down into the passing lane he just accelerated like the good horse that he is and went right on by him. It should be a very interesting final next week depending on how the draw for post positions shakes out.”

Trophy Hunter managed to hang on for second while Fox Valley Slammer (Mike Oosting) finished third. Also moving on to the final next week were fourth place finisher Daretodogreatthings (Todd Warren) and the fifth place horse Henry Gram (Thomas Graham Jr.).

The elimination action continues on Sunday night with eliminations for the $125,000 Lorna Propes Mare Pace, the $125,000 Tony Maurello colt pace and the $115,000 Lady Ann Reed Trot. No eliminations were needed for the $115,000 Su Mac Lad Trot for three-year-old colts.

Post time on Sunday will be at 6:30 pm (central).




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