Balmoral Park (10/21/10)
Contact: Tom Kelley
CARDINAL AND VIOLET FINALS PRODUCE RUNAWAY WINNERS
Illinois’ top two-year-old trotters were back in action on Wednesday night at Balmoral Park as a field of nine diagonally gaited colts battled for supremacy in the $44,300 Cardinal Stake while 10 of their female counterparts squared off in the $45,850 Violet Stake.
|Hammer Head and driver Marcus Miller teamed up to pull off a 14-1 upset in the $44,300 Cardinal Stake in a career best of 1:58.0.|
The Cardinal final looked to be a two-horse battle between division leaders Detailer and Powerful Charger, but when the smoke cleared it was 14-1 outsider Hammer Head who wound up coming out on top with an impressive 5 ¼-length triumph in a lifetime best of 1:58.0.
Given a very confident steer by driver Marcus Miller (5 wins on the night), the gelded son of Armbro American-She’s Pumped came away fourth in the early going as Powerful Charger (Todd Warren) and Detailer (Dave Magee) battled through an opening quarter in 28.3.
“My horse has a ton of gate speed but I knew those others would be out and winging for early position, so I decided to try and back him off a bit tonight,” explained Miller.
Trotting down the backside Miller quickly moved Hammer Head to the outside and the Jerald Viviani trainee had no trouble trotting right by the favorites, leading the way by 2 ¼ lengths as the field reached the half in 58.2.
“I knew it was all the `big ones' up in front of us but they weren’t going very much at that point so I figured it was worth taking a shot to get to the front,” said Miller. “I figured what the heck, I’ll let them try and catch me tonight and my horse was very manageable once he made the lead.”
Continuing to show the way around the final turn, Hammer Head was still in front as Warren decided to pull from the pocket as the field reached the three-quarter mile mark in 1:27.0. At that point Dave Magee also tried to slide to the outside with Detailer, but that move never really materialized as the gelding went off-stride.
With Powerful Charger pulling right alongside of Hammer Head at the top of the lane Miller thought he might be in trouble, but only for a second.
“I know how tough the other horse is but once he got right alongside of us my horse really seemed to pick it up,” said a beaming Miller. “I saw Todd was driving pretty hard on his (horse) and my horse still felt fresh. I just chirped at him a few times and off he went.”
Quickly dispatching the 1-2 favorite, Hammer Head opened up a three-length advantage by the mid-stretch call and was under no pressure whatsoever as he reported home with his second win in 13 career starts. SH’s Snap Shot (Jamaica Patton), another longshot at 20-1, rallied late to finish second while Powerful Charger held on for third.
Owned by Jerald & Donna Viviani and Sue Phillips, Hammer Head now boasts earnings of $42,877. The 14-1 shot returned $30.00, $7.60 and $3.40.
There were no such surprises in the Violet Stake as La Bella Vita Stable, Robert Taylor and Kevin Dixon’s superstar filly My Miss Caroline turned the race into a stroll in the park as she reported home with an eight-length triumph in an effortless 1:59.0.
|My Miss Caroline romped to an eight length victory, her 10th in 11 career starts, in the $45,850 Violet Stake for two-year-old trotting fillies on Wednesday night at Balmoral Park.|
Given another perfect steer by Dave Magee, the daughter of Psychic Spirit-Miss Clara T was allowed to settle in fourth after leaving from post position five, and she had dead aim on Make It Rain (Robert Smolin) and Maple Grove Emily (Jamaica Patton) as those two battled through an opening quarter in 28.4.
After tipping to the outside as the field moved up the backstretch, My Miss Caroline then unleashed a powerful brush. Sprinting right by her rivals with the greatest of ease, the long-striding filly was in complete control of the proceedings as she hit the half-mile mark in 59.0.
“I was a little worried going into the race because she didn’t have a race last week but man she was sharp tonight,” said Magee. “I guess those fears were for naught because she just blew by those leaders like they were standing still.”
Relaxed and on cruise control around the turn, the Robert Taylor-trained miss began to pull away from her rivals as she hit the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:29.4.
“She was well within herself all the way,” said Magee. “She just seems to wait to hear her competition, she doesn’t need to see them, and once she hears them she just takes off.”
Even though she wasn’t hearing much from her rivals as she quickly opened up a four-length lead, My Miss Caroline continued to put space between herself and her opponents as she cruised under the wire with her 10th win in 11 career starts. Fox Valley Ruffian (Mike Oosting) turned in a nice effort to finish second while Make It Rain was third.
A winner in 10 of 11 starts now with earnings of $155,425, My Miss Caroline has never lost to ICF competition.
After yet another easy victory, trainer Robert Taylor continued to marvel over his prize trotting filly as he assessed her accomplishments.
“To be honest with you she hasn’t changed that much from her first career start till now,” said her humble yet highly successful conditioner. “She has grown some and put on a little weight. If there’s one thing I’d really have try and find different in her it’s that she’s learned to relax during a race a little more. From day one she’s always had a great attitude and was always very willing to do her work. We’ll give her one more start in the Hanover here at Balmoral and then shut her down and hopefully she’ll come back around next May just as good or hopefully even better than she was this year.”
Sent off at odds of 1-9, My Miss Caroline returned $2.10, $2.10 and $2.10 while running her career bankroll up to $155,425.