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Rivalry Produces Thrilling Stretch Duel

Published: June 28, 2015 11:41 pm ET

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The state-bred stakes action continued in high gear on Sunday, June 28 at Balmoral Park as a pair of Illinois conceived and foaled events for trotters and pacers shared top billing on the 10-race program.

Trotters kicked off the night’s action with a field of seven diagonally-gaited colts lining up for the $8,000 Xpressbet Stake. This figured to be another showdown in the budding rivalry between Captain Greedy and last year’s divisional champ Fox Valley Qatar. The race lived up to its billing as the fans were treated to a “doozy” of a stretch drive with the top two colts in the division slugging it out to the wire, with Captain Greedy prevailing by a nose over “Qatar” in a snappy 1:56.4 over a track listed as fast despite some late afternoon rain showers. (Imagine that!)

Hustled away from post three by his co-owner, trainer and driver J. D. Finn, Captain Greedy was able to get away with some relatively pedestrian splits of :29.3, :58.3 and 1:29.1 while Fox Valley Qatar (Todd Warren) was content to ride along in the pocket.

With the top two set for a sprint to the wire, Fox Valley Qatar appeared to put a head in front with a sixteenth of a mile to go but a game Captain Greedy determinedly fought back, inching a nose in front as the two evenly matched trotters hit the wire in a thrilling finish. When the official numbers were posted it was Captain Greedy who came out on top with Fox Valley Qatar forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night. Tricky Nick (Mike Oosting) finished third, four lengths behind the top pair.

With the win, Captain Greedy now sports a career record of 12-5-3 in 23 career starts with earnings of $80,496. The second choice in the wagering returned a healthy $6.00, $2.20 and $2.10.

Sophomore pacing fillies closed out the weekend’s stakes action as a field of 10 three-year-old state-breds met in the $8,000 Mystical Victress Stake. After a heated battle, it was the Peter Karras-owned longshot Fox Valley Charm who emerged with the surprise victory as she came charging through the passing lane to record a half-length victory in a career-best of 1:53 for driver Dale Hiteman.

Using an inside draw to perfection, Hiteman placed the Dirk Simpson-trained miss in the pocket spot as Sportsmuffler (John De Long) and a parked out Angel Demon (Todd Warren) slugged it out through opening splits of :27.4 and :56.4.

After putting away the challenge of Angel Demon, Sportsmuffler faced immediate pressure from a three-wide Fox Valley Aubrey (Robert Smolin), who came powering up to challenge as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.

Through the stretch, the tough trip wound up getting the best of Sportsmuffler, who began to tire. Meanwhile, a fit and fresh Fox Valley Charm began looking for racing room along the inside of horses while heavily favoured Lex (Kyle Wilfong), began to find her best stride out in the center of the track. Southern Girl (Travis Seekman) was also starting to unwind on the far outside gobbling up ground in huge strides.

Unfortunately for the two late-rushing fillies, Fox Valley Charm managed to get the jump on her rivals holding on gamely to post her first win in start number three this season. Southern Girl uncorked a :27 final quarter to finish as the bridesmaid while Lex was forced to settle for the show dough.

After opening her second season with a pair of Hoosier Park efforts, Fox Valley Charm returned to local scene and rewarded her backers with mutuels of $41.40, $14.00 and $5.00 while improving her career record to 5-3-1 in 13 starts with earnings of $29,457.

There were no winners in the 50-cent Pick 5 wager on Sunday night so there will be a healthy carryover of $9,913 added to the Saturday, July 4 card. Therefore, Balmoral Park will have a guaranteed Pick 5 pool of $30,000 on July 4, which should provide plenty of fireworks over the Independence Day weekend.

(Balmoral Park)


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