Balmoral Park (5/26/13)
Contact: Tom Kelley
JUST FOR FUN LAUGHING ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK AFTER VIOLET STAKE WIN
Sophomore trotting fillies capped off a busy Memorial Day weekend of stakes action at Balmoral Park as a field of diagonally gaited state-breds squared off in the $50,000 Violet Stake Final.
|Just For Fun and driver Casey Leonard knocked off seven rivals in Sunday's $50,000 Violet Stake at Balmoral Park.|
Fresh off a big win in her last start on the Crete oval, Just For Fun will now be laughing all the way to the bank as she parlayed a perfect steer from driver Casey Leonard into a 1 ¼ length victory in a career best of 1:55.2.
Using an inside post to perfection, Leonard placed the daughter of Armbro Tropicana-Just Having Fun right on the back of last year’s two-year-old Illinois bred champion Trot Fudge Sundae (Dave Magee) as that filly rolled through splits 29.0, 58.0 and 1:26.2.
“It’s not very often that things go exactly as you hope they will but this was one of those rare times,” said the red-hot Leonard. “That was exactly the way the race looked like it was going to shape up and sure enough it did. When we landed in the pocket right behind Trot Fudge Sundae I was pretty happy.”
With her entrymate Little Ms Chrissy (Robert Taylor) leading the outer flow as the field turned for home, Leonard deftly angled Just For Fun to the outside where she quickly engaged the pace setting Trot Fudge Sundae.
“At that point my filly really felt strong because I hadn’t asked her for much and she had been covered up the entire way,” explained Leonard. “I saw that Little Ms Chrissy was starting to gain ground on the outside and I figured that Sara The Spy (Todd Warren) was probably right behind her and I wanted to get the jump on that filly. I wasn’t going to take any chances of getting pinned down on the inside for too long.”
Quickly swallowing up the leader Just For Fun opened up a 1 ½ length lead by the mid-stretch call. The Robert Taylor-trained miss then continued to trot strong all the way to the wire, holding off the late bid of 4-5 favorite Sara The Spy for her biggest payday to date. Sara The Spy was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Little Ms Chrissy was third.
In the winner’s circle Leonard was quick to praise Taylor’s training and management of this rapidly improving filly.
“I’ve only driven her three times but each time she’s been better than she had been in her previous race and she’s just a pleasure to drive,” said Leonard. “Robert told me at the start of the year that she had ability and to not worry about anything and just drive her like she was one of my own. It’s a really nice thing when a trainer shows that kind of confidence in you as a driver. You can tell she’s been managed very well and it’s paying off with some very nice paydays for this group.”
Sent off as the second choice in the wagering Just For Fun returned $8.40, $3.40 and $4.00, while moving her career record to 3-5-1 in 17 starts with earnings of $62,404 for the partnership of Rietveld, Taylor and Dixon.
A pair of $10,000 Cardinal Stake eliminations for three-year-old pacing colts were contested on Saturday, May 25 at Balmoral Park with a 14 starters looking for spots in next week’s $57,300 (est.) final.
|A red-hot Casey Leonard guided Monopoly Man to his first lifetime victory in a Cardinal Stake elimination on Saturday night.|
In the first division Connie Hochstetler and Kristofer Heim’s Monopoly Man used a backside brush to grab command and never looked back en route to a one-length victory in a snappy 1:53.1.
Given another confident steer by Leonard, who also captured the big Violet Stake on Friday night at Maywood Park, the gelded son of Sportsmaster-Romantic Michelle – who was a $28,000 yearling purchase – settled in fourth as Colechester (John DeLong) led the field through an opening quarter in 28.3. With the pace slowing on the backstretch, Leonard then gunned his charge to the front where he proceeded to take command while leading the field through middle splits of 57.2 and 1:25.1.
Straight and strong through the lane the Homer Hochstetler trainee then paced home in in 27.4 to secure his first career victory in start number seven. Fox Valley Action (Todd Warren) stormed home in 26.4 to get the place money while Darth Quaider (Mike Oosting) rallied for third. Tracy’s Hero and JPS Mini Me also gained spots in next week’s final.
The second division marked the sophomore debut of last year’s Orange & Blue winner Fancy Creek Elusiv. The Nick Giberson trainee showed that he is going to be a force to be reckoned with again this year as he disposed of six others with a 1 ½ length victory in a blistering 1:51.4 with Jamaica Patton in tow.
|Fancy Creek Elusiv made his sophomore debut a winning one in another Cardinal Stake elimination on Saturday night at Balmoral Park.|
Saving ground through the opening half-mile as Greg And Flex (Casey Leonard) and Beachside Bungalow (Mike Oosting) took turns leading the field through splits of 28.1 and 56.1, Patton then moved the son of Sportsmaster-Elusive Image to the outside where he began a first over assault on the pace setters.
Moving alongside the pace setting Beachside Bungalow at the top of the stretch Fancy Creek Elusiv effortlessly cruised by the leader, speeding home in 27.1 while keeping a late charging Crankin’ It Up (Kyle Wilfong) at bay. Mystical Walter (Robert Smolin) rallied nicely to finish third. The last two spots in next week’s final went to Sage Ruck and Fox Valley Norman.
The win was the sixth in 12 lifetime starts for Fancy Creek Elusiv who now boasts earnings of $140,281 for the partnership of Walker, Mullink, Henke and Walker.
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.