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Southland Festival Of Racing Fields Set

Published: July 23, 2012 10:49 am ET

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It was a very busy weekend of stakes elimination action on Saturday, July 21 and Sunday, July 22 at Balmoral Park, as some of the state’s top two and three-year-old trotters and pacers met in Southland Festival of Racing stakes eliminations.

One of the biggest nights of racing on the Chicago circuit, the Southland Festival of Racing will take place on Saturday, July 28 and features five stakes championships with more than $250,000 in purse money on the line, a taco eating contest, salsa festival, live music and numerous food & drink specials.

The action kicked off on Saturday, July 21 with 13 two-year-old filly pacers squaring off in a pair of Loyal Opposition Stakes elims. The top five finishers in each split will compete on Saturday, July 28 for a purse of $64,000.

In the first division, Sawgrass Farms Thank You Doc posted her second win in four lifetime starts as she overcame a tough first over trip to win by a half-length in 1:55.3.

The daughter of Lexington Legend-Fox Valley Joyful sat in mid-pack through opening splits of :28.4 and :58.1 before driver Dean Magee had her out and rolling on the outside of horses.

Moving up to third as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.1, the Nelson Willis trainee then uncorked a :28.1 final panel to blow by her rivals for the victory. Special Rose (John Roberts) finished second while Incredible Filly (Dave Magee) was third. Also gaining spots in the final were Fox Valley Ruby and Campus Cutie Pie.

In the second division Michael Einhaus’s Dune In Red continued her impressive first season as she cruised to a three-quarter-length victory in 1:55.4.

Confidently handled by driver Mike Oosting the striking chestnut daughter of Duneside Perch-She Has The Look saved ground early, then moved up outside of horses after splits of :28.3, :57.4 and 1:27.3. The long striding filly then unleashed a :27.4 final quarter to post her fourth win in seven lifetime starts. Debi Dune (Marcus Miller) was a hard fought second while C Roc Party (Dave Magee) finished third. Also moving on to the final were Zumba and Six Easy Hotspur.

Freshmen pacing colts were next on the docket as 19 two-year-olds met in a pair of $10,000 Mini Me Stake eliminations. Once again the top five in each split will be back next week for the $74,500 final.

In the first division, John Carver and Ronald Phillip’s JPS Mini Me parlayed a perfect trip into a half-length victory in a career best of 1:54 for driver-trainer Ronnie Gillespie.

After leading the way through an opening quarter in :28 Gillespie elected to let a hard charging Drunk On You (Dave Magee) grab command of the proceedings as the field paced through middle splits of :55.1 and 1:24.

Moving to the outside of horses at the top of the stretch the son of Life Guard On Duty-Jeffries Peach gradually overtook the pace setter before drawing clear in the final sixteenth of a mile for his third win in four career starts. Sleaze Lightning (Marcus Miller) shook loose late to finish second while Fox Valley Norman (Mike Oosting) was third. Also getting spots in the final were Drunk On You and Sage Ruck.

In the second division William P. De Long and William C. De Long’s Fox Valley Action picked a nice time to post his first career victory as he unleashed a wicked stretch kick to rally in the final strides, winning by a head in 1:54.3.

Moving second over for driver Todd Warren as Singular Sight (Dave Magee) and Greg And Flex (Mike Oosting) took turns leading the field through splits of :29.4, :58.4 and 1:27.2 the son of Sportsmaster-Anything You Ask was perfectly positioned in fourth as the field turned for home.

The Roger Welch trained gelding then flew home in :26.4, getting up in the final strides to post his first win. Darth Quaider (Marcus Miller) came flying late to finish second while Greg And Flex held on for third, just a neck behind. Singular Sight and Colechester also gained spots in the final.

Sophomore pacing colts were also in action on Saturday night as a field of 10 looked for eight starting spots in next week’s $59,000 Incredible Finale Series. They will be joined in the final by NJs Big Deal and Urawomanizer who received byes into the final on a money earned basis.

As has been the norm in this division Saturday’s elimination provided a thrilling finish as Ervin Miller Stables, Omer Miller and Leland Mathias’s Crime Of Passion prevailed by a nose after a thrilling stretch drive. The final time was a career best of 1:51.1.

Outside for most of the mile as Uncle Smoothie (Brian Carpenter) rattled off splits of :27.2, :56.4 and 1:24 driver Marcus Miller then elected to move down to the inside after securing racing room with an eighth of a mile to go. The roan son of Armbro Mackintosh-Broadway Passion then responded beautifully, reeling in the leaders to score for second time this season and eighth time in 23 career starts. Ice Scraper (Kyle Wilfong) rallied for second while Kings Legend (Mike Oosting) benefitted from a disqualification of Uncle Smoothie to finish third. Uncle Smoothie was set back to fourth for interference to Kings Legend while Als Hammered, Fox Valley Mahalo, Tiger Bait and Fox Valley George all gained spots in the final.

Sophomore trotting fillies kicked off the action on Sunday night as a field of 10 diagonally gaited ladies looked for nine starting spots in next week’s $51,000 Fox Valley Evita Stakes. Divas Photo was given a bye into the final on a money earned basis.

Continuing her impressive recent run Obermeier and Quaid Stables' Maevey Gravy posted her third straight victory as she rallied up the passing lane to score by a widening two-length margin in a career best of 1:56.3.

Patiently and perfectly handled by driver Marcus Miller, the daughter of Northern Kid-Grace Elizabeth saved ground the entire way as Ants Iner Pants (Steve Searle) clicked off splits of :29.1, :58 and 1:27.

Fit and fresh after saving ground along the pylons, Miller then maneuvered his filly down into the passing lane where she charged by her rivals while under a hand drive by her red-hot pilot. Powerful Star (Dale Hiteman) rallied on the far outside to finish second while Ants Iner Pants held on for third. Also moving on to the final were B Fly Mcqueen, Rubys And Pearls, Wallstreet Darling, Fox Valley Velvet, Fox Valley Helen and Fox Valley Madi.

The win was the fourth in nine starts for the Erv Miller trained miss who now boasts nearly $110,000 in career earnings.

The final eliminations of the weekend featured Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing fillies as a total of 15 sophomores squared off in a pair of $10,000 Ann Vonian Stakes eliminations. The top five in each division will be back to battle for a purse of $56,500 in the final.

In the first division Horsemans Financial Agency and Premier Racing Stables' Party Hangover exploded in the late going, drawing away from her rivals for a five length victory in a career best of 1:52.1.

Perfectly positioned by driver John De Long, the daughter of Party At Artsplace-Maura Hanover left alertly from post six and settled into the pocket as a headstrong Fox Valley Hermia (Ronnie Gillespie) sped through splits of :27, :56 and 1:24.0.

After securing racing room in the lane the Jesse De Long trained miss then charged home in :28 leaving her tiring rivals in her dust as she scored for the third time this year and the 13th time in 24 career starts. Fox Valley Hermia held on for second while Kendyl (Dave Magee) rallied to be third. Also gaining spots in the final were Moment Of Magic and Hostess Lisa.

The final elimination of the weekend provided another thrilling finish and yet another winner for Marcus Miller as he guided Engel Stables' Sleazy Does It to a nose decision in 1:53.4.

Getting away fifth as Fox Valley Swift (Dale Hiteman) charged away from post position eight to lead the field through an opening quarter in 28.3 Miller then moved the daughter of Sagebrush-Da Sleazy One to the outside.

Grinding it out first over as the field moved by the half-mile mark in :58 the Nelson Willis trainee finally cleared to the front just before the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.2.

Holding on gamely in the stretch the recent Hanover Stake winner managed to fend off several challenges in the late stages as she scored for the third time in 2012 and the eighth time in 23 career starts. MJs Bid (John De Long) unleashed a big rally after being shuffled to last to finish in the bridesmaid role while No Respect (Todd Warren) was a hard fought third. Also moving into the final will be Financial Effort and The Face Of Love.

(Balmoral Park)

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