Balmoral Park (8/1/11)
Contact: Tom Kelley
MARCUS TURNS SUNDAY STAKES INTO “MILLER TIME”
The bevy of state-bred stakes action that comprise the Southland Festival of Racing continued on Sunday night at Balmoral Park as sophomore trotters took center stage in a pair of big money events.
|Zumba Mouse completely overwhelmed eight rivals with driver Marcus Miller at the controls in Sunday's $49,500 Fox Valley Evita Stake for three-year-old trotting fillies.|
Headlining the action were diagonally gaited sophomore fillies as a field of nine ladies lined up behind the gate for the $49,500 Fox Valley Evita Stake.
Fresh off an eye popping nine-length victory in last week’s elimination, the Erv Miller-trained Zumba Mouse cruised to another easy win as she reported home with a resounding 6 ¾-length victory in a snappy 1:56.4.
After circling rivals from the back of the pack in her elimination score, the daughter of Armbro Tropicana-Tootie Mouse changed tactics thanks in part to a confident steer from driver Marcus Miller. After neatly avoiding a breaking horse in the first turn while getting away third, Miller decided that he did not want to take any further chances, sending Zumba Mouse to the front just after My Funky Farkle (Dale Hiteman) had led the field through an opening quarter in 29.3.
“I talked with Dad (Erv Miller) earlier in the week and he told me that he thought she would be fine on the front end if that’s where she needed to be,” explained Miller. “After escaping that breaking horse in the first turn and getting around the trouble I figured the front end was the safest place to be.”
Rolling along powerfully on the “engine” Zumba Mouse proceeded to lead the field through middle splits of 58.1 and 1:27.3.
After turning for home Miller simply chirped to his filly and she responded beautifully as she left the rest of the field in her rear view mirror with a 29.1 final quarter to win handily. My Funky Farkle was a clear cut second while Look At That Chick (Kyle Wilfong) rallied from far back to get the show dough.
Now riding a four-race winning streak in this her first season of racing for the partnership of C.A. Reynolds, Matt Cox and the Ervin Miller Stable, Zumba Mouse has impressed her pilot with both her speed and versatility.
“She did it all on her own tonight,” beamed Miller. “I had the whip tucked the entire time and never even pulled the earplugs on her tonight. Ever since she’s come back from the east coast she’s been lined out perfectly and she’s been absolutely awesome.”
Hammered at the betting windows Zumba Mouse returned just $2.20, $2.10 and $2.10 while pushing her career earnings up to nearly $40,000.
Next up was the $44,500 Kadabra Stake for three-year-old trotting colts. Once again Marcus Miller found himself greeting the photographer as he guided GJ Photo Victory to a thrilling nose decision in a career best of 1:54.4.
|Miller completed a sweep of Sunday's stakes by guiding GJ Photo Victory (inside) to a nose decision over heavily favored Anthonyskywalker in the $44,500 Kadabra Stake.|
Showing rare early speed on this night, the altered son of Photo Color-Victoria Coe managed to grab the pocket spot behind the pace setting division leader Anthonyskywalker (Kyle Wilfong), who had won eight of his nine starts this season.
Enjoying the view from the garden spot as Anthonyskywalker rattled off splits of 28.1, 57.1 and 1:26.2, Miller kept the Nelson Willis trainee fit and fresh throughout the mile.
“This horse has really had some bad luck trying to chase down Anthonyskywalker from behind this year so I figured since I was starting right next to him in this race I was going to follow him right out of there,” said Miller when asked about his strategy. “I knew the two horses inside of us didn’t have a whole lot of early speed as well and my gelding is always pretty solid so I didn’t want to let the favorite get away from me tonight.”
Patiently awaiting the passing lane Miller and GJ Photo Victory started to unleash their assault on the leader with an eighth of a mile to go. Despite having their momentum stopped on several occasions as Anthonyskywalker drifted into their path, Miller still managed to get GJ Photo Victory to put a nose in front in the final strides thanks in part to a sharp 28.1 final quarter. Fox Valley Iliad (Dale Hiteman) finished third, two lengths behind the top pair.
“Things worked out exactly how I hoped they would going into the race,” said Miller in the winners circle. “We landed in the perfect spot and once that happened I was pretty confident. With the way my horse felt through the entire mile I knew that once we hit the top of the stretch I was going to have a chance to get to Anthonyskywalker tonight. Even though we got shut off a few times this horse showed his grit and determination by coming right back and finally nailing him on the wire.”
The win was the seventh in 19 career starts for GJ Photo Victory who went over the $100,000 mark in career earnings for owners Kay Willis, John Esposito and the Brandy Pinske Stable. Sent off as a clear second choice in the wagering, GJ Photo Victory returned $6.20, $2.60 and $2.10.
After a two day hiatus live racing returns to the Crete plant on Wednesday, August 3 with trotters once again sharing the spotlight in the $54,500 Fox Valley Flan Stake and the $53,500 Plesac Stake for two-year-olds. Post time for the Wednesday night opener is 7:10 pm (central).
For more information visit www.balmoralpark.com or call (708) 672-1414.
About Balmoral Park: Located in Crete, IL just 12 miles south of 80/94; Balmoral Park has been one of the nation's premier horse racing facilities since 1926. Balmoral Park features live racing every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Admission and parking is always free.