Balmoral Park (6/4/12)
Contact: Tom Kelley
CRIME OF PASSION RETURNS TO FORM IN CARDINAL FINAL
After a so-so effort to start his sophomore campaign, Leland Mathias, Omer Miller and the Erv Miller Stable's Crime Of Passion flashed the form that made him one of the best in the state as a two-year-old taking Saturday’s (June 2) $50,800 Cardinal Stake by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:52.0.
|Crime Of Passion and driver Casey Leonard teamed up to win Satuday's $50,800 Cardinal Stake in 1:52.0.|
Given a perfect steer by driver Casey Leonard the beautiful roan gelding took advantage of starting from post position two, positioning himself in the garden spot as NJ’s Big Deal stormed through an opening quarter in 27.1.
“I really wasn’t sure if I was going to leave that hard with him,” explained Leonard. “But when I looked over and several of the top horses in this field were lagging the start a little bit so I figured I would hustle him out of there and then let somebody go to get us covered up.”
With the action picking up on the backside, NJ’s Big Deal continued to show the way as a head strong Ice Scraper (Kyle Wilfong) came charging up first over to challenge as the sophomore’s hit the half-mile mark in 55.2.
“I thought we were in the perfect spot so I wasn’t worried about the outer flow that was forming around us,” said Leonard. “I knew the horse on the lead (NJ’s Big Deal) was good enough to carry us to where we had to get.”
Midway around the final bend a rank Ice Scraper made a break, forcing several horses in the outer tier to move three and four wide to get around the trouble. That also gave Leonard a perfect chance to slide out of the pocket, which he did, moving up to engage the pace setter as the field reached the three-quarter-mile pole in 1:23.1.
Quickly swallowing up the leader, the gelded son of Armbro Mackintosh-Broadway Passion looked like the horse that posted six wins and more than $182,000 in earnings during his freshman season as he moved to the front and then held off a cavalry charge of pacers to score by 2 ¾ lengths. NJ’s Big Deal gamely held on for second while Uncle Smoothie (Brian Carpenter) rallied for the show dough.
After the win Leonard was quick to praise the Erv Miller trainee who now boasts almost $210,000 in lifetime earnings.
“He’s a really nice horse to drive and I sure hope I get to stay with him,” said a smiling Leonard. “His first race of the year wasn’t as bad as it looked on paper and it served him well to get him tightened up and ready for this race. I remember some of his races from last year and it looked like he tried to wait on horses once he passed them so I just continued to work on him a little to keep his mind on his business but really he was pretty much in hand out there and it sure felt like there’s a lot more in the tank for this guy.”
Coupled in the wagering with King’s Legend, Crime Of Passion returned $7.40, $3.20 and $2.20 while winning for the seventh time in his career.
The top older male and female pacers on the grounds were also in action on Saturday night.
In the $17,000 Invitational Handicap, Sawgrass Farm's Best Man Hanover turned in an eye-catching effort as he powered up first over after the half-mile park to grab command and then never looked back en route to a resounding four-length victory in 1:50.4 for driver Mike Oosting. Thisbigdogwilfight (Todd Warren) was second while Firstclassallthway (Dave Magee) rallied to be third.
The ladies were also in action as they battled in a $16,000 Open-Handicap with Odds On Moinet (Todd Warren) continuing her impressive 2012 campaign, notching her ninth win in 11 starts with a front stepping one-length victory in 1:51.2. Rev Me Up (John Roberts) chased the winner the entire way but was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while China Gal (Kyle Wilfong) rallied from far back to finish third.
Wagering was strong on both Saturday and Sunday at Balmoral with Saturday’s 13-race card generating a handle of $1,166,177 and Sunday’s 11-race program taking in $1,300,469.
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.