Balmoral Park (5/29/10)
Contact: Tom Kelley
CARDINAL ELIMS PRODUCE IMPRESSIVE EFFORTS
Illinois' top three-year-old pacing colts headlined Saturday’s Balmoral Park card as a total of 23 sophomores looked for 10 starting spots in next week’s $56,000 (est.) Cardinal Stake final. Each of Saturday’s three eliminations carried a purse of $7,000 with the top three and one fourth place finisher (drawn by lot) returning on June 5.
|Power Of A Moment opened his 2010 season on a winning note by taking the first of three Cardinal Stake eliminations on Saturday at Balmoral Park.|
In the opening battle Power Of A Moment, the 2009 Illinois Horse of the Year, showed that he’s ready for a big sophomore campaign as he cruised to a 1 ¾ length triumph in 1:51.3 for driver Marcus Miller.
Patiently saving ground as Southern Sport (Todd Warren) rolled through splits of 28.1 and 56.2, the son of Cole Muffler pulled from third as the field raced around the final turn.
“I didn’t want to get him fired up leaving out of there,” Miller explained. “I really wanted to give him a good trip but I knew that even if we had to come first up that he would be good enough to win like that.”
Pulling right alongside the pace setter as the two moved by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.3, Power Of A Moment set his sights on the wire. Steadily wearing down Southern Sport, the Erv Miller-trained gelding appeared to be well within himself as he uncorked a 27.0 final split to notch his 13th win in 16 lifetime starts for owners Leland Mathias, Bert Hochsprung and Erv Miller Stable. Southern Sport was a hard-fought second while Burnthemidnightoil (Michael Rogers) finished third.
In the winner’s circle Miller was singing the praises of Power Of A Moment.
“He was just the same as when we put him away last year,” beamed Miller. “He never really just blows right by horses but once he sees the wire you can just see and feel him dig in with everything he’s got.”
Another Erv Miller trainee toted home top honors in the middle elimination as John Carver, Jack Hood and Mystical Markers Farms Iam Bonasera came flying down the lane to win by 2 ¼ lengths in a career best of 1:51.0 for Marcus Miller.
|Iam Bonasera circled rivals at the top of the stretch en route to his Cardinal elimination win for driver Marcus Miller.|
Settling in fifth, Miller was content to spy the action as Voomerang (Mike Oosting) and Ernie Miller (Dean Magee) traded blows through opening fractions of 27.3 and 55.2.
After getting underway as the field moved around the final turn, Miller was forced to negotiate around some traffic problems as Rush Of Fools began to tire badly right in front of Iam Bonasera.
“I was a little concerned right about then because last year he made a couple of breaks and he’s not the best gaited pacer in the world,” said Miller. “He handled that situation like a pro though and I think a lot of that has to do with him maturing over the off season.”
Swinging three and four wide as the field turned for home, Iam Bonasera then proceeded to unleash a wicked 25.4 final quarter while speeding right by his rivals for his sixth win in 10 lifetime starts. Voomerang held on for second while Finance The Master (Casey Leonard) rallied for third.
After winning 11 of 15 career starts while racing solely on half-mile ovals, Jesse DeLong’s Delco Willobee passed his first test on a mile oval with flying colors as he demolished seven rivals en route to a 6 ¾ length victory in a lifetime best of 1:51.0 for John DeLong.
|Despite a tough first over trip, Delco Willobee overpowered his rivals to win the final Cardinal elimination in a career best of 1:51 for driver John DeLong.|
Grinding his way towards the front after getting away fifth, DeLong had the son of Ft. Apache Hanover just a length behind the pace setting Fox Valley Barbosa (Brian Carpenter) as that gelding put up splits of 28.1, 57.3 and 1:25.0.
“I wasn’t worried that we were first over for that long because this horse just loves to take air,” said DeLong. “The last thing I wanted to do was rush to the front and then have to fight off somebody looking to re-take on us.”
After turning for home DeLong asked his prize pupil for his best and Delco Willobee quickly left the pacesetter and the rest of the field in his wake as he stormed home in 25.4 for his 12th career victory. Indescribable (Dean Magee) turned a ground-saving trip into a second place finish while Fox Valley Barbosa held on for third.
DeLong was all smiles in the winner’s circle as he tried to describe the rout that he and Delco Willobee had just been a part of.
“He’s just a freak of nature or something,” said a beaming Delong. “All I did was lay the whip over his back for the first eighth of a mile in the stretch and he just took off. To pace his final half-mile in 52.3 and he wasn’t even all out for a long part of the stretch drive is really amazing.”
Given the performances in Saturday’s eliminations, next week’s final should be quite a battle.
The Memorial Day weekend stakes action continues on Sunday night with three-year-old trotting fillies taking the spotlight as a field of 10 slug it out in the $43,300 Violet Stake final, which goes as race eight on the card. Post time on Sunday is 6:30 pm. There will also be a carryover of $7,040 in Sunday’s High 5 wager and the final pool is estimated to be around $30,000. The High 5 is on race 10.