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Balmoral Stakes Season Kicks Off

Published: April 7, 2013 7:18 pm ET

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The 2013 stakes season kicked off in a big way on Saturday night at Balmoral Park as a trio of state-bred stakes shared the headlines on the 13-race program.

The featured stakes included the $17,000 Song Cycle Stake for pacers three years old and up, the $12,000 Direct Balance Stake for sophomore pacing fillies and the $12,000 Taurus Bomber Stake for sophomore pacing colts.

In the Song Cycle Stake, John Prentice and Neva Jane Ikeler’s Fort Silky continued his strong start to the 2013 season as he rolled to a three and a quarter length victory in 1:52 for driver Casey Leonard.

Sent right to the front by his pilot, the gelded seven-year-old son of Ft Apache Hanover cruised through splits of :26.3, :55 and 1:23.3 before sealing the deal with a :28.2 final quarter while pacing into the teeth of a 25 mph wind. Uncle Smoothie (Brian Carpenter) rallied to be second while Ice Scraper (Josh Sutton) finished third.

The win was the fourth in 11 starts this season for the Terry Leonard trainee, who now boasts 30 career victories and earnings of nearly $350,000.

The Direct Balance Stake provided one of the most thrilling finishes of the night as the Bob Phillips-owned and trained Big Zipper held on gamely to prevail by a head in 1:55.1 for driver Robert Smolin, who opened the card with three straight victories.

Hustled away from the outside post in the field of eight, Big Zipper strolled through splits of :29.1, :58 and 1:26 and appeared to be home free after opening up a three and a half length lead at the mid-stretch call. That advantage quickly started to dwindle though as the quick third panel and a 25 mph headwind started to take their toll on the daughter of Big Green Machine-Secret Dial. With a fast-closing Dallas Jones (Casey Leonard) zeroing in on her, Big Zipper found just enough to hang on for her fifth win in nine starts this year. Dallas Jones was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Thank You Doc (Dean Magee) was third.

Big Zipper now boasts seven wins, two seconds and two thirds in 13 lifetime starts with earnings of almost $30,000.

Smolin and Phillips teamed up again in the Taurus Bomber Stake as John and Mary Krasnican’s Big Brad made his sophomore debut a winning one, posting a one and three-quarter length victory in 1:54.3.

Using the same M.O., Smolin sent the son of Henry Clay-One Sure Thing to the front from his inside starting spot. Stepping through splits of :29.4, :57.4 and 1:25.3, the good-looking colt was never seriously threatened in the lane as he cruised to his fourth win in 10 career starts. Alequash Hotspurs (Tim Curtin) finished second while Crankin It Up (Kyle Wilfong) was third.

On the board in all 10 lifetime starts, Big Brad now sports career earnings of $89,000 with his win on Saturday night.

(Balmoral Park)

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