Balmoral Park (9/15/11)
Contact: Tom Kelley
Wilfong Eyes First Super Night Title With Kendyl
By Tom Krish
She may have limited exposure to top level competition, but Kendyl, a precocious freshman filly, may have the driving services of the 20-year-old Kyle Wilfong who is looking for his first Super Night win. It is a daunting task that she faces in the $184,000 Orange & Blue Filly pace but Kendyl, a Homer Hochstetler pupil, comes into the race off a sparkling victory in the elimination. A Sportsmaster filly, Kendyl has a 5-2-2-0 record and will bring fresh legs into the richly endowed final. If you find Homer Hochstetler’s name in the trainer’s column, there is every reason to entertain a high optimism level.
Homer Hochstetler trains Kendyl for his wife, Connie, a member of the illustrious Ackerman clan. The Hochstetlers have a tremendous record with trotters but are equally proficient with the pacing class. The laconic Homer sounded hopeful but tempered it with respect for the opposition. “I have been in this business long enough. Every filly in the Orange & Blue field is my danger. There is a girl named Kendyl and she is in the school my son goes to. Kendyl has a sister called Chandler. So, there is a Chandler and there’s a Kendyl and the latter is now a contender in a Super Night Stakes event,” Homer said.
Kendyl tracked Sleazy Does It, the odds-on favorite in last week’s elimination, and edged ahead in the final strides to win in 1:55. The winning margin was a length and a quarter. “I believe my filly has to go 1:53.4 to 1:54.1 to win the big race. She can find that extra and is peaking right now,” trainer Hochstetler went on.
“The Orange & Blue has been the target and I am thrilled we are there. My son, Matthew Douglas, qualified Kendyl. Kyle Wilfong liked her the first time he drove her and gets along with her fabulously well. I cannot be happier. I skipped the downstate races to keep her fresh. Kendyl reminds me of Sportsfancy, a filly that I trained,” Homer concluded.
The only dull race Kendyl has had in her five-outing career came on September 4. Forced to go first up, she weakened to be fourth and was 11 lengths behind the winner. Overlooked at 10 to 1 last Saturday, Kendyl made the most of a stalking trip and in the process, advertised her claims to ‘leading contender’ status in the prestigious Orange & Blue.
I caught up with Kyle Wilfong. “I am 20 years old. This is my first regular year as a professional driver. I have about 100 winners and am happy in terms of where I am. I had a Super Night drive last year in one of the smaller races. Kendyl gives me the opportunity to be part of a major event,” Kyle commented.
“Kendyl is a ‘feel good’ filly. She felt great in the elimination. Yes, we got a good trip but she took off when asked. There is more to come. She has to go faster to win but I have no doubt in my mind she can,” Wilfong continued.
Will driver Wilfong be nervous on the big stage? “It is another race and that is how I want to look at it. From the first time I drove her, I have had a special feeling about her. She has come through for me.”
Kendyl was a promising second in her debut in early August. She fulfilled that debut promise when breaking the duck in impressive fashion in mid-August. In her third start, Kendyl had the lead before the halfway point, looked like a winner mid-stretch and knuckled under.
Can Kendyl deliver and give Kyle Wilfong a winning debut in his Super Night debut?
Balmoral Park, Chicagoland’s premier harness horse racing facility will host its biggest night of the year this Saturday, September 17. Aptly titled “Illinois’ Richest Night in Harness Racing,” Illinois bred horses run for over $1.3 million in purse money. Doors will open at 5:30 pm, but Super Night comes with a special post time with the first race going off at 6:30 pm.
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.