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Horse slaughter in Illinois
|Maywood Park (11/21/09)
Contact: Tom Kelley
IN OVER MY HEAD IN WINDY CITY SHOCKER!
Given a perfect steer by veteran Dale Hiteman, this son of I Am A Fool paced in mid-pack as If I Can Dream (Tim Tetrick), the even-money favorite in the race, and Sheer Desire (Dave Palone) slugged it out through tough opening splits of 26.4 and 55.0.
If I Can Dream finally cleared to the top just after the half-mile mark, but he immediately faced pressure from a first over Annieswesterncard (Travis Seekman) as the field headed down the backstretch. That allowed Hiteman to slip off the pylons right behind Annieswesterncard, providing live cover for the John Butenschoen-trained colt.
“The trip we had couldn’t have worked out any better,” said Hiteman. “I knew the two favorites were battling pretty hard up on the front and my colt felt very strong. Once were able to slip off the pylons heading for the three-quarters, I thought we might have a chance.”
Passing the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:23.1, Breeders Crown champion If I Can Dream was still the one to catch. A pocket sitting Sheer Desire was right on his back in second while Annieswesterncard was continuing a steady grind on the outside in third.
As the field turned for the money, a leg-weary If I Can Dream dug in gamely as Sheer Desire moved into the passing lane to begin his final charge. That’s when Hiteman tipped In Over My Head three deep off his cover and the colt responded beautifully as he motored by his two very highly regarded rivals to stick a head in front at the wire. Sheer Desire was second while If I Can Dream was a hard-fought third, just a neck behind.
“I just gave my horse his head at the top of the stretch and he really took off tonight,” said Hiteman in the winner’s circle after the upset. “I had talked to the owners of this horse and they told me before the race to just see if I could work out a good trip for him and see if we could pick up a little piece of the check,” said a smiling Hiteman. “I guess he wound up with a bit more than just a piece of it.”
In Over My Head lit up the board with mutuels of $112.60, $17.60 and $5.40 as he won for the seventh time in 23 starts this year while running his bankroll up to $205,403.
Taking advantage of miscues by two of his seven rivals, Tetrick was able to float OK Commander away from his outside starting spot and neatly tuck in fourth as the heavily favored Allthatgltrsisgold (Dave Magee) led the field through an opening quarter in 27.2.
“It really helped when Fox Valley Emilio made that break mid-way around the first turn,” Tetrick explained. “If that doesn’t happen I have a feeling I would have been stuck outside for the entire mile.”
Picking up live cover from Four Starz Trace (Dave Palone) as the field headed for the half, Tetrick had OK Commander just three lengths behind the pacesetter as the field hit the halfway point in 56.0.
Down the backstretch Four Starz Trace swallowed up Allthatgltrsisgold, leaving OK Commander first over as the field raced by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.2.
With these two engaged in a thrilling duel around the final turn and all through the stretch, OK Commander was finally able to get by Four Starz Trace in the closing yards to get the victory. Fox Valley Voomerang (Josh Sutton) was third, 3 ¼ lengths behind the top pair.
“That was a heck of a horse race,” said a relieved Tetrick in the winner’s circle. “That horse that Dave Palone was driving was as game as they come as well. My horse stuck a neck in front of him but the other horse came right back and I had to work on my horse the length of the stretch to get there.”
After coming to town two weeks ago with just two seconds and two thirds through his first 10 career starts, this son of Art Major leaves the Windy City with two victories and more than $156,000 on his card, a fact that was not lost on trainer Gregg McNair.
“He’s done for this year and now he’ll fit non-winners of three when we start back with him next season,” McNair joked. “He’s a big horse already and if he develops even more over the winter I think we’re going to have a very nice three-year-old on our hands.”
OK Commander, who was the second choice in the wagering, returned $11.80, $6.40 and $4.20.
Sent right to the top by driver Tim Tetrick, this year’s Breeders Crown champion wrestled the lead away from her stablemate Shacked Up (Dave Palone) as the pair sped by an opening quarter in 27.3.
Continuing her stroll around the half-mile oval, the Tracy Brainard trainee cruised through middle splits of 56.1 and 124.3 while Shacked Up sat right on her back. A first over My Heart Was True (Brandon Simpson) tried to make things interesting with a first over bid on the backstretch, but the effort was short lived as Yellow Diamond turned her away and began to sprint away from her rivals heading into the final turn.
“My filly really felt comfortable out there tonight,” said Tetrick. “She paced that opening quarter in 27.3 and did it without any effort at all.
“I wanted to make sure nobody was going to be able to out brush us in the lane so that’s why I asked her for a little something going into the last turn and she took right off again.”
On cruise control the rest of the way, Yellow Diamond reported home with a deceptively easy victory while Shacked Up was second and Fox Valley Topaz (Mike Oosting) was third.
Just as he did after her American National victory last week Tetrick, who will turn 28 on Sunday, had high praise for Yellow Diamond.
“She should get all the credit because she’s just a wonderful filly to drive,” he said. “She’s very fast, she does everything right and she does it very easily. Even though she’s so big she had no problem at all getting around this half-mile oval tonight.”
After being unraced at two, the Western Terror filly has had no trouble making up for lost time posting a record of 14-3-4 in 22 starts this year with earnings of $131,671.
The 2-5 favorite returned $2.80 and $2.10. There was no show wagering.
With Hall of Famer Dave Magee at the controls Southern Rocketop floated away from post position four, neatly negotiating his way around a pair of breaking horses in the opening turn.
After a brief visit to the pylons Magee then sent the gelded son of Psychic Spirit right to front, grabbing command from Motor Inn (Pete Wrenn) just after an opening quarter in 29.0.
Magee was then able to hit the brakes with the Robert Taylor trainee as they casually strolled through middle splits of 58.4 and 1:29.0.
“He felt very strong yet very comfortable out there tonight,” said Magee. “Sometimes he dictates how I drive him because he can be pretty headstrong at times, but tonight he was really nice and relaxed out there.”
Fit and fresh turning for home, Southern Rocketop cruised home in 28.3 to win by a half-length over the pocket sitting Motor Inn and Dashing Earl (Tim Tetrick).
The win was the 11th in 17 starts this season for trainer Robert Taylor, who has turned this once tough-to-manage gelding into a seasoned professional.
“Our goal this season was to educate him and teach him to race,” explained Taylor. “He’s really come along very nicely and he’s a much easier horse to handle now as you saw tonight.”
A recent purchase by Tor Birger Krageboen of Norway, the future plans for Southern Rocketop – who now boasts career earnings of more than $630,000 – are uncertain at this time.
“I’ll turn him out now and then start back with him in the spring,” said Taylor. “I know they’re planning on taking him overseas and the goal is to have him ready to race sometime in late May to June.”
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