Melrose Park, IL --- Trainer Erv Miller will harness six Illinois-bred sophomores on Friday night (June 13) at Maywood Park. The calm and cool conditioner sends out a quartet of geldings in the $10,000 Maywood Pace elimination, and a pair of distaffs in the $89,000 Filly Maywood Pace.
Miller’s charges, My Little Bit and M A Refling are pitted against five rivals in the Filly Maywood Pace, with the former starting from the rail, while the latter starts from post five.
|David Baum photo|
|My Little Bit and Casey Leonard posted a very impressive victory in the $48,100 Violet Stake final.|
My Little Bit captured the $48,100 Violet Stake at Balmoral on May 18 in a career best 1:52.4 with Casey Leonard in the sulky. The 3-year-old daughter of Sportsmaster did not fare as well at Maywood one week ago when she started from post seven in an overnight test, and finished sixth.
“My Little Bit raced really well in the Violet, and we wanted to give her a start on the half here last week,” Miller said. “But she had that outside post and we really didn’t want to punish her. She ended up being five-wide in the lane and that was a tough spot to overcome and do well.”
Owned by Quaid Racing LLC of Evergreen Park, Ill., My Little Bit earned $96,760 as a freshman, with a 5-2-1 record from 12 starts. She recorded a 2-year-old mark of 1:53.4 en route to winning the Illinois State Fair Championship at Springfield with Erv’s son Marcus at the lines. She also won the $33,000 Director’s Award Stake at Du Quoin in 1:54.4 and finished a solid third in the $200,000 Orange & Blue Filly Championship at Bamoral on Super Night last season.
My Little Bit was an $11,000 yearling purchase at the 2012 Walker Standardbred Sale and is the fifth and most prolific foal out of the No Nukes mare Parade Of Love.
Miller’s other Filly Maywood Pace contender is the Life Guard On Duty lass, M A Refling. Bred by Miller’s father, Marvin Miller, this brown distaff is co-owned by Erv and his younger brother OJ.
“She was really immature as a 2-year-old, and had some curb issues, so we raced her lightly last year and then gave her a lot of time off over the winter to mature,” Erv offered.
Going postward just four times as a freshman, M A Refling earned $9,575 for her connections, and did finish a respectable fifth in the $200,000 Orange & Blue Filly Pace final, timed in 1:55.3 with LeWayne Miller driving.
“She really grew up a lot during the down time,” Erv acknowledged. “She raced very well in the Violet (finishing second to her aforementioned stablemate in 1:53.3 at Balmoral on May 18) and last week won handily on the Maywood oval (in 1:56.4). Dave (Magee) will be driving her for the first time this week on the half, and I think she’ll be fine. She showed last week that she can really handle those turns. It would be nice to do well with her, since she’s a family horse.”
M A Refling is the fourth foal out of the Abercrombie mare Reflecting Pool. This season she’s earned $15,075 in just four starts.
The field for the $89,000 Filly Maywood Pace (race nine), in post position order, is: 1-My Little Bit (Casey Leonard), 2-Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman), 3-Molly Go Lightly (Ryan Anderson), 4-Fox Valley Roxanne (TBA), 5-M A Refling (Dave Magee), 6-Thesleazyprincess (Todd Warren), 7-Party Hangover Two (John Delong).
In the $10,000 Maywood Pace elimination, four of the eight contestants hail from Erv’s stable, with the top seven finishers advancing to the $100,000 final on June 20.
“We train each of them as individuals,” Erv stressed. “Some of those horses train very firmly and some don’t train much at all. All of them are different. For the elimination, the main thing I tell each driver is that our goal is to make the final, and we don’t want to abuse them too bad. That way, if one of them comes up with an issue -- say, a respiratory thing -- we’ll be able to fix it. Our horses in that race are quite a mixture of individuals.”
Traffic Cop and driver Todd Warren will start from post two for owners Mystical Marker Farm of Dyer, Ind. and Jack and Peggy Hood of Valparaiso, Ind. This Sportsmaster gelding earned $77,635 as a freshman but has yet to earn a check in two starts this year.
“Traffic Cop is fresh off a qualifier at Hoosier Park (third in 1:56.3),” Erv said. “He was definitely pouting in those last few starts, and I think he’s ready to step up and compete this week.”
An $18,000 yearling purchase at the 2012 Illini Classic Sale, Traffic Cop is the fourth foal out of the Western Hanover mare Dixiegirl, and is a full brother to the 23-race winning gelding Southern Sport p,4,1:50.3 ($346,589). His career mark of 1:52.1 came in a Balmoral freshman stake on Oct. 12, 2013.
Starting from post three with Ryan Anderson is PQ Three, a winner of $115,747 to date. This son of Yankee Skyscaper earned $111,899 at 2, posting a 1:50 clocking when he captured the Illinois State Fair Championship at Springfield. He also won the $43,000 Governor’s Cup at Du Quoin and the $63,500 Mini Me Stake at Balmoral, and finished up his freshman campaign with six wins and four seconds in 11 starts.
“PQ Three is not quite where we expected him to be this season,” Erv said. “He’s been a little slower to come back than what I thought.”
With only two starts under his belt thus far in 2014, PQ Three has one fourth place finish to his credit, in the $48,100 Cardinal Stake at Balmoral on May 31. Also owned by Quad Racing LLC, he is the eighth foal out of the Cam Fella mare Sweltering, and was an $11,000 yearling purchase at the 2012 Walker Standardbred Sale.
Leaving from post five is Beach Boy Brody, with Dave Magee. Owned by Megan Rogers Racing Stables Inc. of Chicago, this bay son of Duneside Perch raced only five times as a freshman, winning a county fair event and taking a qualifying mark of 1:56 in a Springfield qualifier. He began his 3-year-old campaign by winning a maiden test at The Meadows in 1:53 for driver Tony Hall. He picked up another victory in a Balmoral overnight on May 24, stopping the timer in 1:55.2 for Dave Magee.
“Beach Boy Brody was a pretty immature horse when we got him,” Erv said. “Norm Parker got him ready for us this spring at The Meadows, but he’s still a pretty green horse.”
Beach Boy Brody is the fourth foal out of the Falcons Future mare Pleasure Beach, and was a $7,000 yearling purchase at the 2012 Walker Standardbred Sale. To date he has $10,354 in career earnings.
Last, but definitely not least, is Uncle Ugly from post eight. A $19,000 yearling purchase at the 2012 Walker Standardbred Sale, this bay son of Yankee Skyscaper was unraced at 2, but has already earned $35,512 this season in just eight starts.
The seventh foal out of the Incredible Finale mare Yankee Blue, Uncle Ugly hails from a terrific family that includes siblings Fox Valley Tribal p,3,1:49 ($1,237,824); Fox Valley Yukon p,3,1:50.2 ($245,491); Mystical Walter p,3,1:50 ($241,149) and Fox Valley Sosa p,4,1:54.1f ($131,218).
“Uncle Ugly has exceeded all expectations we had for him,” Erv noted. “He’s just gone all over the place and we’re really pleased with him.”
With four wins, a second and two thirds thus far in 2014, Uncle Ugly comes into this race with three straight triumphs under his belt. After winning a pair of Balmoral overnights, he captured the $48,100 Cardinal Stake at the Crete one-miler in a career best 1:51.2 on May 31 with John DeLong at the lines in front-stepping fashion.
Miller said that when campaigning multiple horses racing in single events, preparation is key.
“We set up everything prior to the race, and make sure that each horse is ready to race on the half,” Erv stressed. “For some of these, it’s their first start on a half this year, and we train them to be prepared for this start.”