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Fox Valley Topaz take center stage in Violet eliminations
Monday, May 18, 2009 - by Tom Kelley, publicity director, Balmoral Park

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Crete, IL --- A total of 21 Illinois conceived and foaled sophomore pacing fillies were sent to battle on Sunday night (May 17) at Balmoral Park as they vied for spots in next week’s $50,000 Violet Stake Final.

With the overflow at the entry box for the first “major” stake of the season the ladies were split into three $7,500 eliminations with a field of seven going postward in each division. The top three finishers in each division move on as will one fourth place finisher who will be drawn by lot.

In the first division Kay Willis and Richard Beere’s early season sensation Native Hotspur kept her perfect sophomore record intact as she cruised to a three-quarter length victory in 1:53.

Confidently handled by driver Sam Widger the daughter of Ft Apache Hanover-Broadway Charisma was sent right to the front from post position four. Rattling off splits of :28, :57.1 and 1:25.2 the Nelson Willis trainee still had plenty left as she paced home in :27.3 to go four for four in 2009. Smashy Cerise (Brandon Simpson) rallied late to finish second while Fox Valley Tyra (Tyler Buter) was third. Kate’s Rocket (Josh Sutton) was fourth.

The second division provided an upset as Shirley LeVin’s Park Lane Rhythm uncorked a big closing burst to win by a half-length in a career best of 1:54 at odds of 12-1.

After sitting in mid-pack throughout much of the race driver Dale Hiteman moved the daughter of Cole Muffler-Ju Ju Petals into a second over position as the field neared the top of the stretch. The Homer Hochstetler trained miss then proceeded to wear down the early leaders as she flew home in :27.1 to notch her first victory in seven starts this year. She’s A Pegase (Tyler Buter) managed to shake loose late after getting shuffled back in the lane to finish second while Kiss My Josie (Sam Widger) wound up third. Honey’s Luck was fourth.

The best was saved for last as the 2008 2-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year and Breeders Crown winner Fox Valley Topaz made her sophomore debut a winning for the Rucker and Engel Stables in 1:52.3.

Despite being away since her Breeders Crown triumph in November the daughter of Sportsmaster-Theladyappealstome showed no signs of rust as she rallied from next to last at the half-mile mark to win by a widening 1-1/2 lengths for driver Mike Oosting. Honey B Skipalong (Tyler Buter) finished second while Aristocracy (Marcus Miller) came on late to get the show dough. Kennans Ellery (Brandon Simpson) was fourth.

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