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'Al' Scores 1:48.4 Super Night Win

Published: September 15, 2012 8:50 pm ET

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Super Night 2012 got off to a rousing start on a beautiful Saturday night at Balmoral Park as John Barnard’s B Fly Mcqueen posted a 29-1 shocker scoring by two lengths in 1:57.1 to take the $116,000 Lady Ann Reed Stake.

Placed in mid-pack through the early going by driver Robert Smolin, the daughter of American Native-Blank Check was the first to pull after the opening quarter.

“We had some luck with those early breakers and that allowed me to get away in a good spot,” said Smolin. “I wasn’t thrilled with having to go first over, but it was starting to get jammed up a bit so I figured I’d better get out of there.”

After watching the pocket-sitting Fox Valley Lexus go off stride while he continued to move first over on the turn, Smolin wound up with another turn of good luck as he wiggled his way right onto the back of pacesetting Maevey Gravy.

“Being able to get over to the pylons gave us time to get a little breather and it also left Rubys And Pearls out there with no cover, which helped us a lot,” said a beaming Smolin. “She pretty much told me when it was time to go again in the stretch and then she just proceeded to trot right by Maevey Gravy.

Proud owner John Barnard explained why B Fly Mcqueen had been struggling before turning it around on Saturday night.

“She’s been sick for quite awhile, but I know with her effort last week she was starting to come around,” said Barnard. “She trained well this week and we knew she had this kind of talent so we were just hoping she’d get it turned around tonight.

Maevey Gravy (Marcus Miller) held on gamely to finish second while Rubys And Pearls (Rick Schrock) was third.

Stamping herself as one of the best ever in the Prairie State, Mystical Marker Farms and Peggy Hood’s Mystical Victress became only the third horse in history to win three straight Super Night titles as she completely overwhelmed nine other distaffers winning the $123,000 Lorna Propes Stake by seven and three-quarter lengths in 1:50 flat, which equalled the stakes record she set in her victory last year.

Bet down to 1-5 after a convincing win in last week’s elimination, the five-year-old daughter of Sportsmaster-Sneakheravalentine came roaring up first over as the field reached the half-mile mark.

“That was my plan going into this race,” said winning driver Marcus Miller. “I just wanted to make sure there was nobody in her way at any time because once you get her wound up she’s like a big freight train out there.”

Powering into command as the field moved around the turn, the Ervin Miller-trained miss seemed to find another gear as she turned for the cash uncorking a :26.2 final quarter to post her 10th win in 16 starts this season. LR Dancing Dream (Todd Warren) was second while Dee Dee Sage (Mike Oosting) turned in a nice effort to finish third.

After the victory a very happy Miller was quick to praise the entire “team” associated with the champion mare.

“This is what everybody that is connected with her works so hard for all year long,” said Miller. “These are a great bunch of owners and she was razor sharp out there tonight. Stuff like this never gets old!”

Continuing a late summer run that has vaulted her to the top of the three-year-old filly pacing division in Illinois, Horsemans Financial Agency and Premier Racing’s Party Hangover gutted out a hard fought one and a quarter length victory in 1:52.1 to take the $159,000 Grandma Ann Stake.

Sent to the front just after the quarter, driver John De Long found himself in a tough battle with the pacesetting Fox Valley Hermia as those two fillies rolled through splits of :27.3 and :54.4.

“I was a little worried at that point because we were working awfully hard to try and get to the front,” said a relieved De Long in the winner’s circle. “At that point I wasn’t sure how she was going to hold up when push came to shove later in the race.”

After opening up a one and three-quarter length advantage as the field turned for home, Party Hangover was all out to keep her rivals at bay. Showing dogged determination, the daughter of Party At Artsplace-Maura Hanover was able to keep those foes at bay though, scoring for the seventh time in 18 starts this year and giving the father-son team of John and Jesse De Long their first Super Night driving and training victories. No Respect (Todd Warren) was a game second while Sleazy Does It (Marcus Miller) was third.

In an emotional winner’s circle ceremony, both De Long’s had nothing but praise for their hard knocking filly.

“She was just awesome tonight,” said John De Long. “After that opening half she had every right to fold up but she didn’t tonight. There were a few times in the lane I started to worry, but she just kept digging and digging and wasn’t going to let them get by her tonight.”

The $189,000 Filly Orange & Blue provided one of the night’s most exciting finishes as Sawgrass Farms' Thank You Doc rallied in the final strides to nip Auniqueaquistion by a head in 1:54.1, giving driver Dean Magee and owner Jim Jesk their first Super Night victories.

Allowed to save ground in fourth through pedestrian splits that were being put up by Incredible Filly, Thank You Doc sat fourth through most of the mile. With the fillies fanning out for the stretch drive Magee managed to slip to the outside of horses, eventually collaring a game Auniqueacuistion (Mike Oosting) with a :27.2 final quarter to score for the fourth time in nine tries. Incredible Filly (Dave Magee) held on for third.

“I thought she had a big shot when she drew the inside post, but my first two plans of attack kind of went awry and we wound up getting stuck inside throughout the mile,” said Magee. “She felt fresh and I knew she had plenty of pace though. As long as they didn’t go in 1:53 or something like that I thought I had enough time to get to them once we shook loose. This filly is very gritty and she doesn’t leave anything out there.”

Trainer Nelson Willis was also quite pleased that Jesk’s Sawgrass Farms finally notched a Super Night tally.

“Mr. Jesk has put a ton of money into the ICF program and it’s great to see him finally get rewarded,” said Willis. “He’s gone through a lot over the years and he’s had plenty of trainers so I feel pretty lucky that it was a horse I trained that got him his first win. This is a pretty special night for everyone in the winner’s circle.”

In what could only be described as one of the most powerful performances in recent Chicagoland racing history, Bob Phillips' Als Hammered completely devastated nine other three-year-old pacing colts to win the $178,000 Pete Langley Memorial by nine and a half lengths in a stakes record 1:48.4.

The win was not without its anxious moments though as Als Hammered was forced to survive a steward’s inquiry regarding an incident at the top of the stretch as he was powering past horses.

Getting away seventh as NJs Big Deal and Ice Scraper battled through brisk opening splits of :26.2 and :54, driver Robert Smolin maneuvered his charge to the outside as the field headed to the half.

“After the draw last Wednesday that’s exactly how I envisioned things working out,” said a relieved Smolin. “Once I was out there with cover and saw that half in :54 I felt pretty confident.”

Picking up cover around the far turn, Smolin decided it was time to go as the field hit the top of the stretch and the long-striding son of Droppinthehammer-Alberts Magic exploded four and five-wide around horses.

“He was really relaxed out there tonight and I could have moved him at any time the way he felt,” explained Smolin. “I saw that the lead horse was coming back to everybody though and thought if I could get the jump on the field that would be the time.”

In the blink of an eye, the Phillips trainee has put five lengths between himself and the rest of the field and was long gone as he cruised under the wire with his eighth win. Crime Of Passion (Marcus Miller) was second while Fox Valley Mahalo (Todd Warren) finished third.

After the race Smolin finally had a chance to take a deep breath and think about what he’d just accomplished.

“I’ve never been in a mile that went that fast in my life yet seemed to take so long.”

In yet another dominating performance on Super Night, John Carver and Bert Hochsprung’s Iam Bonasera overpowered nine rivals, scoring by four and a half lengths in 1:50 while taking the $127,000 Tony Maurello Stake. The win made the son of Cole Muffler-Shessluvabull a two-time Super Night winner (2010 Langley Memorial).

Reserved early by driver Todd Warren, the Roger Welch-trained five-year-old sat near the back of the pack as Well To Do Guru, Intheblinkofaneye and Boi waged a fierce battle up front.

“I figured there would be plenty of speed when I looked over behind the gate and 'Boi' and 'Guru' were just raging to get out there,” said Warren. “At that point I just wanted to stay about two-wide and make sure we stayed out of any kind of trouble.”

Continuing to draw closer to the leaders on the far turn, Iam Bonasera began to swing to the far outside as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:22.1.

“I actually kept him a little farther out in the track than I needed to, but I didn’t want to take any chances,” Warren said. “I knew that once you get him lined out he’s got a gear and half in him to get home and if he’s within five or six lengths he’s going to get there.”

Zipping right by the leaders, Iam Bonasera was on cruise control for the final 16th of a mile as he reported home with his seventh win in 13 starts this season. Inthblinkofaneye (Simon Allard) was a game second while longshot Sporty Gypsy (Dale Hiteman) finished third.

The final race of the evening turned out to be one of the most thrilling affairs of a very successful Super Night as the Nick Giberson-trained Fancy Creek Elusiv wore down the heavily favoured Fox Valley Action in the closing yards to win the $250,000 Orange & Blue by a half-length in 1:52.1.

Kept just off an early duel between last week’s elimination winners Fox Valley Action and Mystical Walter, driver Dave Magee was sitting in the catbird's seat while the two favourites waged a battle up front.

“There was a pretty wicked duel going on up front so I really liked where I was sitting as we moved down the backstretch,” said the 28-time Super Night winner. “Then when Mystical Walter made the break and we got around them I really liked the spot we were in.”

With Fox Valley Action continuing to lead the way through the lane, Magee moved his charge to the far outside where he began to slice into the pacesetter's lead. With the crowd roaring its approval on the apron, the youngsters battled tooth and nail through the final 16th of a mile with Fancy Creek Elusiv getting up the final strides to notch his fifth win in nine career starts. Fox Valley Action held on gamely to be second while Big Brad (Robert Smolin) was third, five and a half lengths behind the top pair.

With a huge crowd celebrating in the winner’s circle, Hart Walker, who owns the son of Sportsmaster-Elusive Image in partnership with Robyn Mullink, Homer Henke and Robert Walker, summed up the group's feelings very eloquently.

“This win shows what total teamwork is all about,” said the beaming Walker. “It was teamwork by the entire staff from the owners, trainers, grooms and entire staff associated with this horse. We couldn’t be any happier and I just want everyone to know that this is a win for everbody!”

Handle for the 14-race card was $1,777,268, which was up nearly $150,000 over 2011 figures.

(Balmoral Park)

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