Balmoral Park (2/26/11)
Contact: Tom Kelley
BARNARD TICKLED WITH “ELMO’S” 24TH STRAIGHT VICTORY
On a wet and chilly night John Barnard’s St Elmo Hero continued the amazing start to his racing career, easily dispatching four rivals in Saturday’s $10,900 Free For All for his 24th win in as many starts. The final time of 1:50 over a track generously rated as “good” was the second fastest effort of the five-year-old's career.
|St. Elmo comes splashing home with his 24th straight victory with Bobby Smolin at the controls in Saturday's seventh race at Balmoral Park.|
Hustled away from post position five by driver Robert Smolin, the gelded son of Western Hero quickly grabbed command of the proceedings, leading the field through splits of 27.4, 55.1 and 1:21.4.
“We were going faster than I wanted to through the opening half because my horse was so revved up,” said Smolin. “Marcus Miller, who was sitting right behind us, kept popping his wheel disk trying to get his horse to keep up and that was getting Elmo fired up. Then Mike (Oosting) came after us first over on the far turn with Park Lane Hotshot, so I really never had a chance to give him a breather.”
Despite the quick splits and the constant pressure, the Charles Eustis III trainee stepped away from his rivals in the lane opening up a 4 ¼ length advantage by the eighth pole. With only a few pops of his wheel disk, Smolin and St Elmo Hero reeled off a 28.1 final quarter as they cruised under the wire with an easy four-length victory. Park Lane Hotshot finished second while Big Daddy Woo Woo held on for third.
In the winner’s circle Smolin talked about the continued march to fame for St Elmo Hero, who continues to chase Bret Hanover’s 35 for 35 start to his career.
“I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I might be going out there tonight because I drove this horse through the first part of his career,” said a muddy but smiling Smolin. “The difference now is that he’s even bigger, stronger and more mature. Throughout that entire mile it was probably the biggest adrenaline rush I’ve ever had in my life.”
Barnard, a native of Orland Park, IL, donated the winner’s share of $5,450 to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for children’s cancer research.
“I’ve been blessed to have this horse come into my life and I felt that it would be a good thing to help give back something,” explained Barnard. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation always has a nice well attended event here at Balmoral Park (March 19) and their motto is “be a hero for kids with cancer” so tonight was nice that Elmo could be a “hero.”
When asked about the future plans and how long he thought this winning streak could last for St. Elmo Hero, who now boasts career earnings of $202,950, Barnard was cautiously optimistic.
“If he checks out fine after this race he’ll head to Canada on Tuesday or Wednesday for the Cam Fella,” he said. “He’s staked to some other things like the Spring Championship up there so if he takes to the surface up there and all goes well he’ll probably be north of the border for the next month or two.”
For more information visit www.balmoralpark.com or call (708) 672-1414.