Balmoral Park (9/15/11)
Contact: Tom Kelley
Fit and Fresh, Fox Valley Praline Dangerous in Grandma Ann
By Tom Krish
Trainer Kristopher Reynolds may have been thrust into the limelight as his Fox Valley Praline goes postward in the $159,000 Grandma Ann Pace, a stakes event for sophomore fillies. It may appear that Reynolds lacks the experience to compete with more seasoned conditioners. The fact that Kris is the son of James Reynolds, a name Chicago fans ought to be familiar with, is a stature-enhancing consideration. In a conversation with me, Kris exuded confidence and spoke with precision and clarity.
|Fox Valley Praline|
Fox Valley Praline raced only two times in her freshman year. She made a winning debut. In her next start, she suffered what looked like a career-ending injury. Nursed back to good health for her three year-old campaign, Fox Valley Praline made an auspicious start with a victory in nw1/2 competition on July 20. Returning a week later, the Sportsmaster filly got an encore as the even money favorite.
Having more on her plate in her next venture, the Kris Reynolds trainee paced into insurmountable trouble and finished fourth. Then came a hat trick that culminated in a going-away score in a division of the Grandma Ann elimination. Away alertly but parked to the first quarter, Fox Valley Praline took the two hole. Driver John Roberts, fully aware that he had the best filly in the race, was out and rolling coming into the lane. With a furlong to go, Fox Valley Praline led by two lengths and all Roberts had to do was keep her focused. It was a 1:52 mile and a splendid time.
A win in two starts as a two year-old raises the unavoidable question-did something go wrong with the filly and if so, what?
“We got her at the Walker sale. She was plagued by injury last year. A scar in her right front leg bothered her a great deal. She was sore and endured a lot of pain. She won in her debut off an encouraging qualifier. Disaster struck in the next start. She broke her right hind pastern. Screws were inserted. Her freshman campaign came to a screeching halt,” trainer Reynolds explained.
Reluctant to state how fast the winner needs to go to win the Grandma Ann, Kris Reynolds, however, had this to say. “My filly has a lot more to offer. I will be tickled pink if we can go 1:51 and change and win the big race. She has been doing it all easily.”
John Roberts has formed a formidable partnership with Fox Valley Praline. “I have been driving for 12 years. I have driven around 500 winners. This year has been very productive. I have won free for all races but yet to win a stakes. Super Night gives me a great chance to win one,” Roberts began.
“I have driven Fox Valley Praline as hard as I have driven any other horse and she gives me more every time. She is very good now and all the credit goes to Kris Reynolds. I have been leaving with her and she has been doing what I want her to and more. The one loss this year was a case of poor racing luck. I don’t think she needs to be on or near the lead. She can be equally effective racing off the pace. The one point in my favor is that Fox Valley Praline has not been travelling and figures to be fighting fit.”
I asked Roberts how confident he is. “My confidence level is high, very high indeed. I have no question that my filly will be equal to the task. All she needs is a clean trip. I am the one who’ll be under pressure. I have to deliver and I have a willing partner.”
Mystical MJ, from the Erv Miller yard, has won five races in a row. She did just enough to justify favoritism in her elimination. She is likely to be entrusted with the public purse. Maybe, Dominic Polito will say, “we’ll leave it to the judge,” as the horses flash past the wire in the Grandma Ann.
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.