Hinsdale, IL --- A pair of state-bred stakes for sophomore trotters will highlight the first day of August racing card at Balmoral Park. A full field of 10 fillies will mix it up in the eighth race $44,000 Fox Valley Evita and three races later another 10 of the top ICF colts and geldings will decide the $46,500 Kadabra champion.
The Fox Valley Evita looks very competitive because every time you look there’s been a different stakes winner in the division. The two Hanover Stakes on July 14 went to Illinois breds Powerful Bella (programmed Sunday at 9-2, Marcus Miller) and Fox Valley Click (8-1, Dale Hiteman) who will start from posts five and nine, respectively, Sunday night.
On July 7 the division leader Southern Maebelle (Brian Carpenter) took the Sorce Ann stake after she breezed 10 nights earlier (1:57.1) in an ISOBA stake. However, she’s dropped two straight since for the Gerald Hansen Stable and is the early 4-1 second choice from post two on Sunday.
The Violet Final back in late May was won by Brett Wilfong’s Kf’spictureperfect (6-1, Leroy Miller) who drew a bye into Sunday’s final only to draw the outside 10 hole.
|Balmoral Park photo|
|Mike Oosting will pilot Merry High in the Fox Valley Evita final.|
Last week's Fox Valley Evita elimination went to Trenton and Brenda Watson’s hard-charging filly Merry High. Her driver Mike Oosting knows he has a quick filly on the lines when they leave from post six as the luke-warm 7-2 morning line favorite with entrymate St Louis Holiday (Art Gregory, Jr.).
“Merry High is the fastest filly with the top-end speed of any of them in her division,” Oosting stated. “I don’t know if I have the best horse in the race Sunday but I do know I’ve got the fastest. Things just have to work out for us to win it.”
Oosting has been driving the High Falls filly from the back-end but that could change at any time.
“She can leave if I ask her,” he continued. “Merry High is a horse that’s very tactical. I’ve chosen so far to race her off the pace. If she gets locked in she really has a wicked kick at the end of the mile. And the filly can rough it. She’s gutted-out some pretty good miles with me. She’s had to race against aged horses after some races at the fairs on tracks where she got sored up some but they’ve got her back in good shape now.
“Merry High is a thin, somewhat of a frail horse, but she still shows up every week when I call on her.”
Besides Southern Maebelle, Kf’s Pictureperfect, Fox Valley Click and Powerful Bella, the Watson owned entry will also meet Fox Valley Sienna (12-1, Dave Avenatti), Claire’s Rose (6-1, Dave Magee), Fox Valley Ripple (12-1, Del Chupp) and Vapor Girl (20-1, Lavern Hostetler).
Coming back to town for Sunday’s Kadabra is last season’s Springfield freshman champion Rock Hollywood. He’s reunited with driver Dave Magee and trainer Mike Brink in Sunday night’s race. Brink sold his homebred to Norwegian interests prior to the colt’s State Fair victory.
Rock Hollywood has started his sophomore campaign in Canada and showed at Mohawk he can trot with the big boys. In his Goodtimes elimination on June 16 he was second, one length behind in a 1:54.1 mile and then a week later in the $375,390 championship he took fifth, but only 1-1/2 lengths back of the winner, and was timed in 1:53.4 after taking that classy field to a :56.4 first half.
A good-looking son of Physic Spirit, Rock Hollywood will be the 8-5 first flash favorite on the Balmoral toteboard. The very formable entry of Showmeyourstuff (Marcus Miller) and Leaveitonthetrack (Bob Smolin) open at 4-1 and both drew nicely with posts two and three, respectively.
Cardinal champion Showmeyourstuff has more than $43,000 on this season’s card while his entrymate, an IOSBA stake winner in June, has earned more than $28,000. Both geldings were bred by Phillips Standardbreds and are jointly owned by Sue Phillips and trainer Jerald Viviani and his wife Donna.
The pair will also take on Kadabra elimination winner Muscatine (6-1, Dale Hiteman), Dutch Commander (12-1, Mike Oosting), Somore Set (15-1, Lance Scurlock), Big Bucks (8-1, Casey Leonard), Super Sonic Flash (25-1, Sam Widger), Powerful Speed (5-1, Todd Warren) and American-National freshman champ Run And Tell Pap (10-1, Mike Cox).
-- Mike Paradise writes a daily column for the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association at www.harnessillinois.com.