Balmoral Park (9/15/11)
Contact: Tom Kelley
Orange & Blue Should be a Shoot-Out!
By Tom Krish
Trainer Erv Miller is double-handed in the $241,000 Orange & Blue for two year-old colts and geldings. Fans will have a hard time separating Crime Of Passion and Zall Good. In 2009, Erv and his son, Marcus Miller combined to win the Orange & Blue with Power Of A Moment. It was an encore in 2010 when Dutch Richman emerged victorious. As we near the 23rd edition of Super Night, a hat trick for the Miller team is very much in the cards.
|Crime Of Passion|
Crime Of Passion, winner of five races from eight starts, comes into the big race on the wings of a three-race win steak. Held up in the elimination, the roan Armbro Mackintosh gelding charged to the front at the eighth pole and then went clear. It was a 1:53 mile and was a confidence-booster for Saturday’s rich final. Two races later, Zall Good, another Erv Miller trainee, made it all in the other Orange & Blue elimination. The winning driver was Brandon Simpson. Will Marcus Miller face a dilemma? How many times have we seen harness drivers and Thoroughbred jockeys compelled to choose between equally strong contenders in a high profile contest? After all, Marcus will be seeking his third consecutive win in the Orange & Blue and one would expect that he will ponder long and hard. No such thing happened.
The 22-year-old Marcus Miller gave a philosophical answer. “Yes, they are hard to set apart. It was in Du Quoin that I had to make a choice. I leaned toward Crime Of Passion. I do not know how to explain the decision. It was visceral. I have been right so far.”
I spoke to Erv Miller. “Marcus will drive Crime Of Passion. There’s little to choose between them. They should both race well. Crime Of Passion is a more experienced horse than Dutch Richman who had only three races when going into the Orange & Blue last year.”
“I could not get Brandon Simpson for Zall Good. He will be behind Peachy’s Pistol. I am asking Eric Carlson to drive Zall Good,” Erv Miller explained.
Leland Mathias, part owner of Crime Of Passion, had a share in the 2009 and 2010 Orange & Blue winners. “It will be a special thing if Crime Of Passion can come through. Mr. Mathias has been a longtime owner in my barn. He never puts any pressure on me. It is indeed a pleasure to train for an owner like him. Making it three in a row with Mr. Mathias in the winning team will be the icing on the cake,” trainer Miller stated.
Crime Of Passion won the Governor’s Cup in Du Quoin and made such an impression in the elimination that there is every reason to believe that he will be the favorite. Marcus Miller’s presence in the sulky is another factor that will weigh heavily in the minds of the fans.
Zall Good, a Yankee Skyscraper colt out of Fox Valley Estella, a Sportsmaster mare, has made four visits to the winner’s circle in five trips postward. The sole blemish came in Du Quoin’s Governor’s Cup. Eric Carlson, the short time he has been plying his trade in Chicago, has distinguished himself.
Peachy’s Pistol, a serious contender, has won seven times in nine starts. The Incredible Finale freshman gelding holds the distinction of finishing twice ahead of Crime Of Passion, once in July and the other time in August. Brushing off a two-race losing streak, Peachy’s Pistol, trained by Nick Giberson and driven by Brandon Simpson, won his elimination in great style. He may get overlooked in all the excitement generated by the Erv Miller duo but he is a player whose chances deserve careful examination.
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.