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Oosting Wins Four 'Festival' Stakes

Published: July 28, 2013 3:14 pm ET

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State bred pacers and trotters were front and center on Saturday, July 27 as Balmoral Park presented its Southland Festival of Racing. A total of five championship tilts were contested with more than $290,000 in purse money up for grabs as the Prairie States top two and three-year-old pacers slugged it out in one of 2013’s biggest nights.

Trotters kicked off the racing action with a field of seven diagonally gaited three-year-old colts and geldings battling in the $51,000 Kadabra Stake.

Just as he’s done throughout his entire second season, H. Bill Wright and Mystical Marker Farms' King Mufasa proved to be way too much for this group as he trotted to a one and a quarter length triumph in 1:55.2 for driver Mike Oosting.

Unhurried early, the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Foxy N Diamonds settled in sixth as Semper Fit (Dave Magee) led the field through opening splits of :28.1 and :58. Oosting then put the Mike Brink trainee into gear as the field headed down the backstretch and the division leader responded beautifully, charging right by the pacesetter on the final turn while taking the field by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.2.

“We were going into a pretty decent wind there so I just allowed him to trot on as much as he wanted to,” said Oosting. “I didn’t even realize we were going a :28.2 third quarter. That’s how smooth he is.”

Under a hand drive through the lane, King Mufasa turned aside a challenge from entrymate Powerful Poe (Todd Warren) as he reported home with his seventh win in eight starts this year. Powerful Poe was forced to settle for the runner-up role for the sixth time this year while Skyline Road (Casey Leonard) was third.

“I was a little concerned when Powerful Poe came up alongside us, but then he just took off again,” said a happy Oosting. “He knows what he’s got to do and he just keeps going out there and doing it. Not only is that a credit to him but to Mike [Brink] as well. He’s kept him quiet and sound all year long and he’s just as sharp now as he was early in the year.”

With the win, King Mufasa now has earnings of $95,410. With no place or show wagering, King Mufasa returned $2.10.

Next up were two-year-old pacing fillies as a field of 10 youngsters squared off in the $65,000 Loyal Opposition Stake.

After a furious stretch drive Engel Stable of Illinois’ Thesleazyprincess gave Oosting his second stakes triumph of the night as she recorded a three and a quarter length victory in 1:54.3.

After rushing to the front following an opening quarter in :27.3, Oosting allowed a hard-charging Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) to grab command as the field reached the half-mile mark in :56.2. That pocket-sitting journey nearly turned into a nightmare for the Nelson Willis-trained miss as Fox Valley Amanda began to tire after passing the three-quarter mile mark in 1:25.1.

“Those two up front [Fox Valley Amanda and Western Dame] were starting to tire and I wasn’t sure if I was going to get carried to the open stretch,” said a relieved Oosting. “That’s when I decided to back my filly off a little and we were able to get out of that spot.”

Patiently sliding off the pylons with an eighth of a mile to go, Oosting maneuvered the daughter of Sagebrush—Da Sleazy One three-wide around her rivals and the long-striding filly quickly swept past the tiring leaders for her second win in three career starts. My Little Bit (Casey Leonard) shook loose late and rallied to be the bridesmaid while favourite Western Dame (John De Long) finished third.

“That was a giant effort from a two-year-old filly,” Oosting commented in the winner’s circle. “I really wound up starting and stopping her three different times during that race, but she still had an answer for them when she needed it most. That was huge.”

The second choice in the wagering returned $5.00, $3.40, and $2.10 while upping her bankroll to $37,450.

Oosting did not wait long to strike for a third time taking the $63,500 Mini Me Stake for two-year-old pacing colts in the next event of the night guiding Obermeier and Quaid Stables' good-looking youngster PQ Three to a half-length triumph in a career-best of 1:54.2.

Floating away from post position nine, Oosting had the son of Yankee Skyscaper—Sweltering underway as R Duneshine (John Roberts) and Traffic Cop (Todd Warren) battled through opening splits of :27.3 and :56.2.

Picking up cover from Badger Quinn (Kyle Wilfong) as the field moved into the turn, Oosting did not wait long to attack from his second over position, moving three-wide as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.3.

“I knew Todd’s horse [Traffic Cop] was going to be tough to beat so I did not want to let them get away from us,” explained Oosting. “I would have loved to have sat in there longer, but I wanted to be in top gear when we straightened up for home.”

Setting sail for the wire, the Erv Miller trainee paced home in :28.3 to secure his third win in five lifetime starts. Traffic Cop was a hard fought second while Badger Quinn held on for third.

After the win Oosting was quick to praise Miller for the conditioning job on PQ Three.

“Erv has done a nice job with this one,” said Oosting. “He was a nice horse the first time I ever sat behind him, but he’s even better now. They’ve taken pretty much all of the equipment off of him and he’s very simply rigged now. He’s just an absolute pleasure to drive.”

The 2-1 second choice returned $6.00, $2.80 and $2.20 while lifting his earnings to $41,874.

Balmoral’s leading reinsman continued his “one-man-show” in the fourth event of the evening, this time guiding John Carver’s Auniqueaquistion to a one length victory in 1:53.1 to take the $60,000 Ann Vonian Stake for three-year-old filly pacers.

Confidently handled by her red-hot pilot, the daughter of Cole Muffler—Shessoluvabull made a bold move to the front after watching Feel Like Dancing (Kyle Wilfong) lead the field through an opening quarter in :28.

Rolling through middle splits of :56.1 and 1:24, the Donna Lee Ozment-trained miss was forced to brace for a first over challenge from her chief rival, Aliyah Maria (Todd Warren) as the field turned for the money.

After gamely putting away that challenge, Auniqueaquistion held firm the rest of the way for her seventh win in 10 starts this year. Feel Like Dancing came on again to finish a nice second while Dallas Jones (Casey Leonard) was third.

“My horse was starting to get a little complacent on me so I had to get after her a little harder than I usually do,” said Oosting. “She really started to dig in at that point and I felt pretty confident we could hold off whoever was going to take a shot at us. That’s the big difference with her this year. She really gets after it in the last 200 yards or so and Donna’s done a great job with her after she had the heart issue a few weeks ago.”

Now sporting a record of 10-5-0 in 18 career starts, Auniqueaquistion returned $4.00, $2.60 and $2.60 while upping her career bankroll to $240,985.

The final stake of the night provided a bit of an upset as John and Mary Krasnican’s Big Brad, a 5-1 shot came flying through the stretch for driver Robert Smolin to win the $59,000 Incredible Finale Stake for three-year-old colt pacers in 1:51.2.

Reserved through opening splits of :28.0 and :55.3 while Fancy Creek Elusiv (Dave Magee), Sage Ruck (Mike Oosting) and Mystical Walter (Casey Leonard) all took turns on the lead, Smolin finally worked Big Brad into the outer flow as the field reached the halfway point.

“Ever since he tried to pull himself up while on the lead a few starts back I’ve been ducking with him,” Smolin explained. “I was hoping that we were going to catch some decent cover tonight and I was pretty happy with the way he felt on the last turn.”

Storming up three-wide as Mystical Walter led the way past the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:23.2, the son of Henry Clay—One Sure Thing set sail for the wire. Flying home in :27.1, the Bob Phillips trainee picked off one rival after another while bobbing and weaving his way to his sixth win 14 starts this year. Sage Ruck came on again late to finish second while Crankin It Up (Kyle Wilfong) rallied to be third.

After the win Smolin seemed a bit relieved that the journey resulted in a victory.

“At the top of the stretch I was just hoping to be second or third,” he said. “My horse was running out at that point, then he started diving in on me. He didn’t know which line he wanted to be on. Once he finally decided to go straight he was as fast as he’s ever been!”

Big Brad returned $13.80, $6.80 and $5.40 while running his record to 9-4-7 in 23 career starts with earnings of $166,540.

Stakes action continues on Sunday night with the $45,000 Fox Valley Evita Stake for three-year-old trotting fillies headlining the card. Post time on Sunday is 7:10 p.m. (central).

(Balmoral Park)

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