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Balmoral Hosts State-Bred Stakes

Published: August 23, 2015 8:09 pm ET

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The top state-bred pacers in the Prairie State had the chance to strut their stuff on Saturday, August 22 at Balmoral Park, as a pair stakes events shared top billing on a very strong Saturday night program.

First on the docket were the state’s top older pacers, as a very evenly matched field of eight squared off in the $29,600 Big Tom Stake.

When the smoke cleared after a heated stretch drive it was Megan Rogers Racing Stable Inc.’s Unlocked who once again returned to the local scene in a big way, as he prevailed by a hard fought half-length in 1:49.4 for driver Lewayne Miller.

Given a perfect steer by Miller, the four-year-old son of Duneside Perch used his inside post to save ground in third while the speedy Ice Scraper (driven by Brian Carpenter) ripped through splits of :26, :54 and 1:21.1.

Engaging the pacesetter with a first-over bid as the field hit the top of the stretch, the two prolific pacers battled tooth and nail through the lane before Unlocked finally forged to the front in the closing strides to notch his fourth win of the season. Ice Scraper was a hard-fought second, while 66-1 outsider Cole Heat (Dale Hiteman) rallied to finish third.

The win was the 16th in 45 career starts for the Erv Miller trainee who returned $4.40, $2.60 and $2.80 while upping his career bankroll to $310,692.

An overflow field of 11 distaffers, three years old and older, closed out the night’s stakes action as they lined up behind the gate for the $30,200 Parklane Powerful Stake.

Using an aggressive steer and a little ‘racing luck’ to their advantage, driver Robert Smolin hustled Jesse Ferge and Ron Phillips Fox Valley Aubry to the front and the speedy three-year-old made every call a winning one and hung on gamely to score by a head in 1:53.2.

Sprinting away from Post 7 in the big field, the daughter of Yankee Skyscaper—Assailed made the top without too much trouble and lead the ladies through opening splits of :27.4 and 57.1. That’s when disaster struck for most of the field. A first-over Joyful Game made a nasty break and took herself out of the race and severely impeded seven of the trailing horses in the battle.

With things all her own way on the front end, Fox Valley Aubry had a two-length lead when she cruised by the three-quarters of a mile marker in 1:24.3.

Through the lane, the Bob Phillips-trained miss continued to show the way while bracing for the challenge of the pocket-sitting Just By Design (Dale Hiteman). The lead starting to evaporate in the final sixteenth of a mile, so Fox Valley Aubry dug in gamely and kept Just By Design at bay just long enough to record her third victory of the year. Just By Design was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role, while Financial Effort (Casey Leonard) turned a ground-saving trip into the show dough.

Fox Valley Aubry was the third choice in the wagering and returned $10.80, $6.20 and $4.20 while running her lifetime record to 14-5-5 in 32 starts with earnings of $67,714.


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