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Balmoral Park

Balmoral Park (11/14/09)

Contact: Tom Kelley
(708) 672-1414

AMERICAN NATIONALS PROVIDE PLENTY OF THRILLS

Yellow Diamond
Yellow Diamond
Some of North America’s top horses and drivers invaded Balmoral Park on Saturday, Nov. 14 as the Crete plant played host to the American National Festival of Racing. With six championship tilts on the card and more than $1.1 million in purse money up for grabs, the action was fast and furious all night long. Here is a recap of all the championship races.

$185,000 AMERICAN NATIONAL 3YO FILLY PACE

Proving once again that she’s among the best sophomore pacing fillies in the country, Bulletproof Enterprises' Yellow Diamond had no trouble disposing of seven rivals as she cruised to an effortless 5 ¾ length triumph in 1:51.2 for driver Tim Tetrick.

Sent to the front from post position seven by Tetrick, the daughter of Western Terror-Mattatonic cleared to the top just after an opening quarter in 27.0.

“Tracy (Brainard) said that she loves the front end and that's what her lines showed so that’s where I put her,” said Tetrick.

Cruising through middle splits of 54.3 and 1:23.3, Yellow Diamond was well in hand to the country's leading money-earning driver as she rolled to the top of the stretch.

“Once we turned for home I just let her loose a little and she just took off from the rest of them,” Tetrick said.

Opening up her lead as she headed for the wire, Yellow Diamond was completely “wrapped up” by her driver as she easily reported home with her 13th victory in 21 starts this season. My Heart Was True (Brandon Simpson) chased the winner every step of the way but was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role, while Not Justapretty Face (Peter Wrenn) was third.

With the victory Yellow Diamond now boasts an incredible record of 13-3-4 in 21 starts, with earnings of a whopping $1,263,671 in this her first season of racing.

In the winner’s circle Tetrick continued to marvel at Yellow Diamond’s accomplishments.

“She’s just a sweetheart of a filly to drive and things couldn’t have been much easier tonight,” exclaimed Tetrick. “She’s been facing the best in the country all season long and she hasn’t missed a beat.”

According to Brainard Yellow Diamond will remain on the local scene, as plans call for her to head to Maywood Park for next Friday’s (Nov. 20) Cinderella Stake.

$154,000 AMERICAN NATIONAL 2YO FILLY PACE

Gigglicious
Gigglicious
What looked to be one of the most wide open races of the night was exactly that as the Roger Welch-owned and trained homebred Gigglicious picked a great time to post her maiden victory, pacing to a 1 ¾ length victory at odds of 8-1 for Tim Tetrick.

Despite drawing post position nine in the field of 10, Tetrick was able to work out a golden second over journey after coming away ninth.

“They weren’t going much up on the front end (27.4 and 57.3 and 1:27.3) so I never even had to use my filly to get into good striking position at the top of the stretch,” explained Tetrick.

Second over and a close up fourth as the field turned for home, Tetrick liked his chances of pulling off the upset.

“As we were rolling along I was thinking to myself what a dream trip this was turning into,” said Tetrick with a grin. “My filly still felt very strong to me and I could see the ones up front were starting to struggle a bit to get home.”

After tipping off her cover with just over an eighth of a mile to go, Gigglicious began picking off filly after filly as she made her way to the front. Blowing by the field in the closing yards, the daughter of Giggles The Clown tripped the timer in 1:55.1. The pace setting Makes You Wonder (Peter Wrenn) held on for second while Rolldownthehiway (Marcus Miller) was a hard fought third.

In the winner’s circle a jubilant Welch seemed to be a bit stunned by the upset his filly had just pulled off.

“This is what you dream of when you go through all the work with these horses,” he said. “I guess if you’re going to break your maiden the best time to break it is when you’re going for $150,000.”

$180,000 AMERICAN NATIONAL 2YO COLT & GELDING PACE

OK Commander
OK Commander
Once again a youngster picked a very opportune time to pick up his first career score, as William Switala and James Martin’s OK Commander held on gamely in the late going to record a three-quarter length victory in 1:51.4.

Hustled away from the gate by driver Brian Sears, the son of Art Major-Double Crème landed in third as stablemates Morgan Shark (Peter Wrenn) and Perrito Caliente (Travis Seekman) battled through an opening quarter in 28.1.

“Going into the race it looked there was going to be plenty of speed, but when the gate opened nobody really left out of there so I decided to send my colt and look for a good early spot,” Sears explained.

Sitting in third after an opening quarter in 28.1, Sears sent the Gregg McNair trainee up to the front as the field reached the half in 56.2.

“I knew the horse on the lead had to be used pretty hard to get there, so that’s when I decided to send my horse up to see if I could gain control of things,” said Sears.

Rolling along on the front end OK Command was a length in front as he passed by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.1.

Digging in gamely through the lane, OK Commander was all out as he held off a big late rally from Allthatgltrsisgold (Dave Magee) to notch his first win in 12 attempts. Perrito Caliente held on for third. The winners share of $86,400 helped push OK Commander’s bankroll up to $143,533.

$200,000 AMERICAN NATIONAL AGED PACE

Won The West
Won The West
With both Mister Big and Art Official making the final starts of their storied careers, it was Strollin Stables, William Robinson and James Koehler’s Won The West, the defending champion in this event, who stole the show again as he crushed a field whose career earnings totaled almost $14 million by six lengths in a blistering 1:48.2.

Strategies changed right from the word go as speedball Shark Gesture (George Brennan) made a break as the wings of the gate folded, leaving Mister Big (Brian Sears) all alone on the lead through an opening quarter in 26.3.

Heading to the half Mister Big was still in control of the proceedings, which forced driver Dave Palone to get Won The West out and rolling. The five-year-old son of Western Hanover was moving first over into third as the field reached the halfway point in 54.3.

“My horse loves to grind and when Shark Gesture made that early break I didn’t want Brian to get loose by himself on the lead,” said Palone. “I figured I’d just try to get myself up alongside of Mister Big by the time we hit the top of the stretch and that’s exactly the way it worked out.”

With the familiar foes battling neck and neck by the three-quarter mile mark in 1:22.1, the field set sail for home. It did not take long to see who would emerge victorious on this night though, as Won The West quickly blew by a tiring Mister Big. Opening up his margin with each powerful stride, the Ronnie Burke trainee etched his name into the record books, joining the great Bret Hanover as only the second horse in the rich history of the American Nationals to win three consecutive titles. Art Official (Peter Wrenn) turned in a solid effort to finish second while longshot Robin I Scoot (Trace Tetrick) rallied to be third.

After the victory, which pushed the five-year-old's career bankroll up to $2,164,935, Palone was quite impressed by his charge's effort.

“Once we hit the top of the stretch I kicked out the plugs on him and he just took off,” said Palone. “He hit a gear that I didn’t even know he had tonight.”

$150,000 AMERICAN NATIONAL AGED TROT

Lanson
Lanson
There were no surprises here as the heavily favored Lanson turned a perfect pocket sitting journey into a 1 ½ length triumph in 1:53.4 for driver Mike Lachance.

Zipped away from post position five, Lachance elected to let a hard leaving Michaelrowyourboat (Jimmy Smith) take control of the race as the field moved to the opening quarter in 27.0.

“It’s been a long year for him so when that other horse gave me a chance to be covered up for as long as he did I was more than happy to let him go,” said Lachance.

Continuing to sit right on the back of the pace setter through a half in 55.4, Lachance finally pulled from the pocket as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.4.

“It’s a long stretch here but my horse felt strong after the trip he had, so I figured I had better get him out and moving,” Lachance explained.

Trotting strongly on the outside, Lanson moved past the early leader and then gamely fought off late challenges from Wind Surfer (Dave Palone) and ABC Mercedes (Mark O’Mara) to post his eighth win in 19 starts this year. Wind Surfer was a fast closing second while ABC Mercedes was a hard luck third after getting trapped between horses in the late stages. The victory pushed the Don Swick trainee’s career bankroll up to $574,231 for the Royal Wire Products of North Royalton, Ohio.

$265,000 AMERICAN NATIONAL 3YO COLT PACE

Straight Shooting
Straight Shooting
What figured to be a showcase for another Tracy Brainard trainee, If I Can Dream, turned into a nightmare when the colt made a break heading to the gate and came away eighth, allowing another Bulletproof Enterprises owned sophomore, Straight Shooting, to record a one-length victory in a snappy 1:50.1 for driver George Brennan.

With the 2-5 favorite sitting near the back of the pack for most of the mile, driver Brian Sears pointed Standupnkissme right for the front where he proceeded to rattle off splits of 27.2, 55.3 and 1:22.4.

With a first over Sheer Desire (Dave Palone) providing live cover for Straight Shooting, Brennan had the Ronnie Burke trained colt perfectly positioned in fourth as the field set sail for home.

“Yannick Gingras told me last night that he thought the bigger track would pick up this horse a little since he struggled through the turns at Yonkers last week,” said Brennan. “He was handling the surface perfectly tonight and with the great second over cover taking me just where I needed to be, I knew my colt would get home well.”

In the stretch Sheer Desire quickly swallowed up Standupnkissme but that lead was short lived as Straight Shooting came calling. Finishing up his mile with a big 27.0 final quarter, the son of Western Terror-Mattcheck Girl blew right by the leader en route to his second win in 18 starts this year. Annieswesterncard (Travis Seekman) was a solid second while Sheer Desire held on for third. If I Can Dream (Tim Tetrick) found his best stride late after a troubled trip and wound up fourth.

With the win Straight Shooting now boasts career earnings of $562,531.

 

 

 

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