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Balmoral Park Hosts Illinois Super Night

Published: September 13, 2015 1:59 am ET

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Super Night XXVII at Balmoral Park is in the books as Saturday’s eight championship events showcased the Prairie State's top pacers and trotters.

Despite heavy rains early in the day and fall temperatures in the air, the track was lightning fast as the fans enjoyed the fast-paced action on and off the track with a variety bands and party packages keeping the festivities flowing.

The championship action kicked off in race three with a full field of 10 sophomore trotting fillies squaring off in the $79,000 Lady Ann Reed Stake.

Despite the fact that four of the starters wound up making early breaks, the race still produced a thrilling finish as Bi Polar Rose held off the late bid of Fox Valley Yoko to prevail by a head in 1:57.1, giving Matt Krueger his first Super Night championship. Patient ID (Robert Smolin) was third.

“When I saw all those horses inside of me making breaks, I really had no choice but to leave out of there and try to get to the front,” said a very happy Krueger. “I was able to settle in for a quick bit early, but she felt really good, so I let her go on. She did her own thing on the front end.”

After opening up a two-length lead at the top of the stretch, the daughter of Polar Winner—I Still Owe appeared to be tiring in the late stages as Fox Valley Yoko (Kyle Wilfong) was suddenly finding her best stride after a second over journey.

“I stepped on the gas with her coming out of the turn because I wanted to put some distance between my filly and Kyle’s filly,” explained Kreuger. “I heard her coming strong as we got down by the wire, but my horse just dug in and came up huge to hold her off.”

The winner is trained by Ronnie Roberts, who also picked up his first Super Night championship. Overlooked a bit in the wagering, Bi Polar Rose returned $13.80, $5.20 and $4.20 while pushing her record to 4-3-0 in 14 starts this year with career earnings of $132,282.

Sophomore trotting colts were next on the docket as a field of eight diagonally-gaited three-year-olds battled in the $74,000 Su Mac Lad Stake.

This one took a while to decide, but after a long look at the photo, it was Charles Doehring and John D Finn’s Captain Greedy who prevailed by the slimmest of margins, edging out 40-1 longshot Vick Valor in 1:57.3 for J D Finn.

Sent to the front from post six by his driver/trainer, Captain Greedy carved out splits of :29, :58.3 and 1:27.3.

“He was a little bit sick last week, so I kind of took it easy on him in that prep,” said Finn. “Tonight, I had every intention of getting him to the top and going as far as we could go.”

Battling his chief rival Fox Valley Qatar (Pat Curtin), who pulled from the pocket as the field neared the top of the stretch, the gelded son of Yankee Valor—Tropical Trixie appeared to be beaten several times. Showing the grit and determination that had netted him 15 career victories coming into this race, Captain Greedy continued to battle back, putting away that rival with 50 yards to go and then doggedly keeping a nostril in front of a hard-charging Vick Valor (Jeffrey Kirk), who was closing in the center of the track. Fox Valley Qatar was forced to settle for the show dough.

The never die say die attitude that Captain Greedy exhibited did not surprise Finn, who recently notched his 1,000th career victory.

“He will never stop trying for you,” said his proud pilot. “If you keep driving on him, he will give you everything he’s got. He’s overcome a lot of things already and he just keeps getting better and better.”

The 3-2 favourite returned $5.00, $3.40 and $2.80 while running his career slate to a very impressive 15-5-4 in 31 starts with earnings of $151,806.

The first pacing championship of the night was next as a field of nine two-year-old fillies lined up behind the gate for the $155,000 Filly Orange & Blue Stake.

After some early excitement which saw the fillies battling three-across the track through the entire first turn, Quaid Racing LLC’s Char N Marg wound up parlaying a pocket-sitting trip into a four-length victory in 1:52.4 with Casey Leonard at the controls.

After all the early action, Lexington Lady (Brian Carpenter) finally grabbed control of things on the backstretch, leading the field through splits of :28, :55.2 and 1:24.

With the leader starting to drift out while getting a leg weary in the lane, Leonard guided the Nelson Willis-trained daughter of Sportsmaster—Zip Up You Pans up the inside where she exploded past the pacesetter to notch her fifth win in 10 lifetime starts. Lexington Lady held on for second while Dandys Diva (Mike Oosting) rallied to be third.

The bay filly, who was a close second choice in the wagering, returned $5.00, $2.40 and $2.20 while upping her career earnings to $96,211, which did not surprise Willis, who now boasts nine Super Night titles.

“I told the owners when this horse was training down over the winter that she was going to be a nice filly,” said Willis. “Of course it’s always great when you turn out to be right about one, but she’s always been ahead of the grade so to speak and she definitely shows up every week for you.”

Older mare pacers were next on the program as a field of 10 stepped on to the track for the $95,000 Lorna Propes Championship.

As she’s done so often this season, John Barnard’s Ryleighs Lilly overpowered her rivals in the late going as she went sailing past her rivals in the stretch to win by two lengths in 1:52.4 for driver Casey Leonard.

Confidently handled by her red-hot pilot, the five-year-old daughter of Western Hero was positioned in mid-pack while the lead changed hands several times through opening splits of :28, :55.4 and 1:24.2.

“It looked like there was going to plenty of speed to keep things honest up front and it certainly worked out that way tonight,” Leonard explained. “I didn’t want to go three-wide quite as early as I did, but I wasn’t about to let those front horses get away from us.”

Zooming by her rivals in the lane, Ryleighs Lilly was on cruise control through the final sixteenth of a mile as she reported home with her 19th career victory. Just By Design (Dale Hiteman) shook loose late to rally for the place money while Rev Me Up (Brian Carpenter) was third.

The overwhelming 2-5 favourite returned $2.80, $2.40 and $2.10 while hiking her career bankroll up to $173,968.

A stretch of four straight championship tilts to close out the night kicked off with a field of 10 older pacers slugging it out in the $92,000 Tony Maurello Stake.

This race produced the fastest mile of the night as the rock-solid speedball Ice Scraper made every call a winning one en route to one and a half length decision in a stakes record time of 1:49.1.

Driven like he was the best by Brian Carpenter, the six-year-old son of Yankee Skyscaper ripped through splits of :26.3, :53.2 and 1:20.4 while going along unchallenged on the front end.

“He loves the front and that was the plan going into this,” said Carpenter. “Mike [Brown] said that if Unlocked came at us hard to go ahead and cut him loose, but my horse felt so good there was no way I wanted to do that tonight.”

Sprinting away from his rivals in the lane, the Mike Brown trainee was never seriously threatened the rest of the way as he strolled under the wire with his 30th lifetime victory. Cole Heat (Dale Hiteman) shook loose late to rally for second while Fiveknuckleshuffle (Robert Smolin) was third.

The third choice in the wagering despite a pair of sub-1:50 wins over his last three starts, Ice Scraper returned $9.60, $5.20 and $4.60 while upping his career bankroll to $380,854 for owner James Behrendt.

Sophomore pacing fillies followed as a field of nine ladies met in in the $116,000 Grandma Ann Stake.

Parlaying a superb steer and a perfect trip into the biggest win of her career, D Kay Bartlow’s Fox Valley Brooke came charging through the passing lane for a two-length victory in a career-best of 1:52.3 for driver Ridge Warren.

Perfectly positioned along the pylons as Lex (Kyle Wilfong) and Fox Valley Aubrey battled for control of the proceedings, Warren had the daughter of Yankee Skyscaper—B R Golden Girl fit and fresh as the field turned for the money.

“She showed me last week that she was a really nice filly,” said Warren. “I kind of got her boxed in and bottled up last week, but she paced good and strong all the way to the wire. I knew if I could find some room for her tonight she was going to be a big threat.”

Unleashing a wicked closing burst after moving into the passing lane, the Nick Prather-trained miss easily reeled in the pacesetters and then drew clear for her eighth win in 14 career starts. Lex was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role on this night while Fox Valley Aubrey was a hard-fought third. Heavy favourite Fox Valley Charm made an early break and wound up finishing last.

Fox Valley Brooke obviously caught the eye of the astute handicappers with her effort last week as she returned $11.20, $4.40 and $3.40 off an 8-1 morning line. With the win, the filly now has earnings of $56,684.

Up next was the $112,000 Pete Langley Memorial, which attracted a field of 10 sophomore pacing colts.

Fresh off a win in the Dudley Hanover Stake down in DuQuoin, Dinky Dune continued his “dream season” as he rolled to a one-length victory in a career-best of 1:51.4, giving driver Pat Curtin and trainer Dane May their first Super Night championships.

Working out a second over trip while Earndawg (Todd Warren) carved out splits of :28, :56.1 and 1:24, Curtin had the son of Duneside Perch—Dream Hand in perfect striking position as the field turned for home.

“All night I had my mind set on wanting to get into the two-hole with this horse,” said a very excited Curtin. “Then, right before we went out there, Dane said to me, 'Pat, please just give him a trip and try to be second over with him,' and that’s what happened. Dane was definitely right on with that one!”

Gradually reeling in a tiring Earndawg, Dinky Dune was well in hand to Curtin as he charged home in :27.2 to record his sixth win 14 starts this season. Earndawg turned in a game effort from the 10-hole to finish second while longshot Mighty Hot Shot (Ridge Warren) was third.

The winner returned $7.80, $4.40 and $3.20 while upping his career earnings to $84,852.

The richest event of the night was saved for last as a field of nine closed out the night in the $187,000 Orange & Blue Stake.

Taking advantage of some brisk early fractions, Kay Willis’s Dan D Dune came flying through the stretch to win by a half-length in a career-best of 1:53.3 for driver Mike Oosting.

Racing along third over while Royale Rose (Matt Krueger) faced constant pressure through splits of :26.4, :56.2 and 1:25.1, Oosting moved the Nelson Willis-trained son of Duneside Perch—Witch Hanover three-deep as the field hit the head of the stretch.

“I was a little concerned with how far back we were, but I knew those horses up front were getting roughed up pretty good,” said Oosting. “This horse has always finished up a mile well though and I knew if they faltered at all up there we were going to get there in time.”

Picking off one rival after another, the Governor’s Cup winner zoomed right on a by with a well measured move from Oosting for his fifth win of his career. Wondrous Sport (Casey Leonard) was a tough luck second while BS Tyrrific (Kyle Wilfong) was third.

The ultra-consistent gelding returned $17.20, $6.80 and $3.80 while running his record to 5-5-1 in 12 starts with earnings of $119,431.

A crowd of just over 6,000 turned out and wagered more than $1.4 million on the 13-race card.

(With files from Balmoral Park)

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