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Horse slaughter in Illinois
|Balmoral Park (10/28/09)
Contact: Tom Kelley
UPSETS ABOUND IN HANOVER STAKES
A field of nine fillies was sent postward for a purse of $52,500 in the first battle of the night, and when the smoke cleared it was 33-1 longshot Meghan’s Halfmoon who emerged with a surprising neck victory in a career best of 2:00.0.
Taking advantage of an inside starting spot, driver Mike Oosting positioned the daughter of Valley Victor-Meghan’s Memories in third as Yansky (J. Duke Sugg) sped to the front from post position nine, leading the field through opening splits of 29.3 and 59.4.
“She felt good behind the gate so I figured I’d try to maintain our good early spot,” explained Oosting. “Once some of those other favorites in the race decided to take back I was absolutely thrilled where we landed.”
Under no pressure through the opening half, Yansky continued to show the way around the far turn as the 4-5 favorite Southern Maebelle (Tyler Buter) toiled along in seventh looking for cover.
That gave Oosting a chance to maneuver his charge off the pylons and he had Meghan’s Halfmoon trotting up first over into second as Yansky rolled by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:30.1.
“I actually pulled a little earlier than I was hoping to but she really felt good and I knew the big guns in the race were starting to make their moves on the outside,” said the veteran reinsman. “Once we moved to the outside she picked it right up and went right after the leader without much urging.”
Through the lane a game Yansky continued to cling to the lead while a determined Meghan’s Halfmoon tried to get by her. After tipping three-wide as the field turned for home, Southern Maebelle had finally found her best stride and was taking dead aim on the top pair as they moved through the lane.
With these three spread across the track for the final sixteenth of a mile, Meghan’s Halfmoon finally managed to stick a head in front in the closing strides to pull off the upset. Southern Maebelle was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Yansky was a solid third in the three-horse photo.
Coming into Wednesday’s Hanover Stake the Steve Carter-trained miss had just one win and $13,000 in earnings through her first 15 lifetime starts for the partnership of Chuck Grubbs, Robert Reid and Carter, which could explain why she wound up returning $68.00, $14.40 and $7.40 to those lucky enough to back her.
Living up to his name Powerful Speed hustled away as soon as the wings of the starting gate folded, forcing the rest of the field to settle into post position order as they trotted through an opening quarter in 29.2.
“My horse can be a little funny in the mouth and he shows nothing but speed so I was hoping the rest of the field would respect that and we wouldn’t get hooked up early,” said Sutton. “I was pretty happy when it wound up working out exactly the way I had hoped.”
Cruising through middle splits of 59.2 and 1:28.1, the Tom Graham Jr.-trained gelding appeared comfortable despite getting pressure from a first over Jailhouse Scorpion (Mike Oosting) as the field moved around the final turn.
“He had been sick in a couple of his previous starts but tonight he was 100 percent and he had a pretty good hold of me so I was content to just let that other horse trot alongside of us,” explained Sutton. “He was giving me every indication that he still had plenty left in the tank tonight.”
Quickly dispatching the 7-5 favorite in the lane, Powerful Speed sprinted away to a 3 ½ length advantage. With Sutton “sitting chilly” in the bike, the son of Powerful Emotion-Balto-slavic rolled under the wire with a 1 ¾ length decision. Hokey Pokey (Dave Magee) came on late to finish second while Trot To Victory (Robert Taylor) rallied for third.
With the win, Powerful Speed now boasts a record of 5-3-2 in 18 starts this year with almost $74,000 in earnings. Despite having the inside starting spot the Illinois bred gelding returned a healthy $48.20, $13.00 and $4.60 to his backers.
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