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Cardinal Field Includes Cup Eligible

Published: May 27, 2012 1:50 am ET

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A busy Memorial Day weekend of fun and excitement kicked off on Saturday night at Balmoral Park with a pair of $10,000 Cardinal Stake elimination’s for Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing colts

. The top five in each elimination will return next Saturday to slug it out for an estimated purse of $50,800.

In the opening battle, James Behrendt’s Ice Scraper skated by seven rivals as he scored by a half-length in a career-best of 1:51.2 for driver Kyle Wilfong.

Whisked away from post position three by Wilfong, the gelded son of Yankee Skyscaper-Chilli Breeze grabbed the early lead through a contested opening quarter in :27.1.

After relinquishing control of the proceedings, Wilfong was content to ride along in the pocket as heavily favoured Zall Good (Marcus Miller) led the field through middle splits of :55.3 and 1:23.3.

With the favourite growing leg weary, the Mike Brown-trained Ice Scraper slid to the outside where he regained control of the proceedings. The outcome was still in doubt though as a fast-closing Urawomanizer (Mike Oosting) was storming up on the outside of horses while North America Cup eligible Zall Good continued to battle on along the inside. But at the wire it was Ice Scraper who managed to hold them off posting his first win of the year and his sixth in 18 lifetime starts. Urawomanizer finished second while Zall Good was third. Also gaining spots in the final were Western Cole (fourth) and Crime Of Passion (fifth).

In the second elimination, Stevanna Turner and John Fletcher’s NJs Big Deal rolled right to the front for driver Ronnie Gillespie and proceeded to make every call a winning one as he cruised to a three-quarter-length victory in a lifetime best of 1:51.1.

The John Fletcher-trained son of Sagebrush-A Passing Breeze, who was fresh off a victory in the Gosox Stake at Maywood Park, proved he’s just as dangerous on the big track as he zipped to the top from post position six.

In complete control of the proceedings, Gillespie was able to carve out splits of :27.2, :55.4 and 1:24.

Fit and fresh as the field turned for home, the big brown colt then sprinted home in L27.1 to post his third win in nine starts this year and his 11th victory in 30 lifetime starts. Uncle Smoothie (Brian Carpenter) turned a ground saving trip into a second place check while MT Nester (Mike Oosting) rallied to finish third. Kings Legend (fourth) and Fox Valley George (fifth) also gained spots in next week’s final.

Saturday’s 50 cent Pick 5 wager was not hit meaning there will be a carryover of $6,013 added to Sunday’s Pick 5 wager. The USTA and Balmoral Park are now placing a $30,000 guaranteed pool on Sunday’s 50 Cent Pick 5 wager meaning that fans will have a chance to create plenty of fireworks with a pair of $30,000 guaranteed pools (Pick 5—Races 2 thru 6 & Pick 4—Races 7-10 with a 15 per cent take-out) before the scheduled fireworks extravaganza that will take place at the Crete plant after the 11th race.

(With files from Balmoral Park)

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