Balmoral Park (5/15/11)
Contact: Tom Kelley
HITEMAN SWEEPS VIOLET ELIMINATIONS
State bred distaffers took center stage as the first “major” stake of the 2011 season for Illinois conceived and foaled pacers kicked off on Sunday night with eliminations for the $45,600 Violet Stake grabbing the spotlight on a very cold and damp night at the Crete oval. With a total of 14 three-year-old pacing fillies dropped into the entry box, a pair of $7,000 eliminations were contested with the top five finishers in each division moving on to next week’s final.
|Fox Valley Touche and driver Dale Hiteman cruised to an easy win in the first of two Violet Stake eliminations on Sunday night at Balmoral Park.|
In the opening battle Paula Smith and James Runyan’s Fox Valley Touche proved once again that she will be a force to be reckoned with in this division, as she grabbed command right from the word go and made every call a winning one en route to a 1 ¼ length victory in 1:56.3 over a track listed as fast despite day-long rains.
Leaving from post position two the daughter of Sportsmaster-Thongundercolrsoops showed no ill effects after being scratched sick last week, as she grabbed command in the first turn and proceeded to lead the field through splits of 30.0, 100.1 and 1:30.0.
“She tied up last week and wound up getting scratched so I wanted to be careful with her tonight but she felt good and we were not going that fast so I just let her go on about her business,” said winning driver Dale Hiteman.
With the field stacked up behind them, Hiteman turned the Joel Smith trainee loose as the field turned for home. The good looking bay responded beautifully as she proceeded to uncork a wicked 26.3 final quarter while posting her seventh win in 18 career starts. Primrose Path (Brian Carpenter), who sat right on the leaders back throughout the mile, wound up taking home the second place check while Just By Design (Mike Brink), who made a first over bid on the far turn, wound up finishing third. The final two spots in the final went to Bigdreamsnhihopes (Mike Oosting) and Nina Coleada (Casey Leonard).
After the victory a relieved Hiteman commented about Fox Valley Touche.
“Coming off the sick scratch and needing only to finish fifth I did not plan on using her that hard tonight,” he said. “But given the fact we got away with such easy splits and the fact that she really felt strong I decided to let her go on about her business and she was just super again tonight.”
The second division provided quite an upset as Patrick Graham’s Shake That Thing rallied from last to first to win in the final stride by a nose in 1:56.1.
|Rallying in the final strides at odds of 31-1, driver Dale Hiteman wound up with a sweep of the Violet eliminations by guiding Shake That Thing to victory in a career best of 1:56.1 on Sunday night.|
After watching divisional champion and 2010 Horse of the Year Pardon carve out fractions of 28.0, 58.0 and 1:27.0 for driver Dean Magee, Shake That Thing appeared to be in jeopardy in gaining a spot in the final let alone winning this elimination. But much to the surprise of Hiteman, the daughter of Cole Muffler-Undeniably You had other ideas.
“At that point I was just figuring let’s get a spot in the final for this filly but she really felt strong and things were starting to open up for us,” said Hiteman. “It was a total surprise to me that she had this kind of final kick in her but obviously Pardon wasn’t quite at her best tonight and my filly just kept picking them off one by one until we hit the line in front.”
Off the strength of a 28.0 final quarter mile the Leo Grummel trained miss, who was sent off at odds of 31-1, continued to pick off one rival then another as she arrived a nose in front of the late rushing Mystical MJ (Marcus Miller) at the wire. Pardon, the 1-5 favorite, battled gamely but was forced to settle for a third place check as she tasted defeat for only the second time in 17 lifetime starts.