Crete, IL --- State-bred pacers were in the spotlight on a busy Saturday night of action at Balmoral Park as the Crete plant played host to a pair of ICF Stake eliminations in preparation for next weekend’s big Southland Festival of Racing.
Freshman pacing fillies kicked off the elimination action as a field of 10 were sent to battle in a $10,000 Loyal Opposition Stake elimination. The top nine finishers will join Lyrics Fall in next week’s $43,500 final.
Balmoral Park photo Lex cruised to an easy win for Kyle Wilfong in the Loyal Opposition Stake elimination
Despite having to make three big moves throughout this tussle the bay daughter of Lexington Legend—I Bet U still managed to pace a back-half in a brisk 56.0 to secure her third win in four lifetime starts for veteran conditioner Nelson Willis. Duneside Pertie (John De Long) shook loose to rally for the place money while 80-1 longshot Fox Valley Kit (Pat Curtin) took home the show dough. Also gaining spots in the final were Girls Hunt Too, Angel Demon, Mr Leland’s Filly, Duneside Splash, Forsaken Glory and BS Tyrichess.
A total of 13 2-year-old pacing colts were dropped into the box for the Mini Me Stake necessitating a pair of $10,000 elimination tussles. The top five in each division will return next Saturday night to battle for a $48,000 jackpot.
In the first elimination Rocco Ruffolo’s Lucpark showed a great deal of grit and determination as he overcame a tough trip in route to a 1-3/4 length victory in a lifetime best of 1:54.4 with Dave Magee at the controls.
Grinding it out on for the final five-eighths of a mile while trying to reel in the pace setting Earndawg (Todd Warren) as he put up splits of 29.2, 57.1 & 1:26.4 the gelded son of Sportsmaster-Treasure The Best found his best stride in the late going, sealing the deal with a 27.4 final quarter to notch his second win in three career starts for trainer Erv Miller. Casey At Bat (John De Long) finished second while Earndawg held on for third. Also moving on to the final will be Get Your Camo On and Fox Valley Elijah.
In the second elimination William C & William P. De Long’s King Of The Swamp made every call a winning one as he held on to record a three-quarter-length verdict in a lifetime best of 1:55.0.
After cruising through splits of 28.4, 58.3 & 1:27.2 the gelded son of Sportsmaster—She’s Redhot, who was an $85,000 yearling purchase dug in gamely keeping Thisishowweoll (John De Long--2nd) and Dakota Roadster (Robert Smolin—3rd) at bay for his second win in four career starts. Also gaining spots in next week’s final were Fox Valley Cadet and Gett’er Done Dune.
Sophomore pacing fillies were also in action on Saturday night as a field of 10 state-bred 3-year-olds battled in a $7,000 “prep” for next week’s Ann Vonian Stake.
This hotly contested division provided another thrilling finish as Quaid Racing LLC’s My Little Bit and driver Casey Leonard wound up prevailing by a hard fought head in a career best of 1:52.3. Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) was second while Molly Go Lightly (Matt Krueger) was third in the tight three-horse photo. The top three finishers were all sent off as odds of 2-1.
The Ervin Miller trained daughter of Sportsmaster-Parade Of Love now boasts nine wins, three seconds and two thirds in 20 lifetime starts with earnings of nearly $160,000.