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Super Night Lives Up To Its Name

Published: September 19, 2010 12:06 pm ET

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Despite unseasonably cool temperatures and the constant threat of rain fans turned out in droves to watch Illinois’ best trotters and pacers slug it out in Super Night XXII on Saturday at Balmoral Park.

With eight championship tilts and $1.5 million in purse money up for grabs the biggest night in Illinois racing lived up to its name with several memorable performances and some big surprises providing non-stop excitement throughout the 14-race program.

Trotters kicked off the action as a field of nine three-year-old colts and geldings were sent to battle in the $105,000 Su Mac Lad Championship. Starting the night with a bang Jerry and Tom Graham’s Powerful Speed overcame a tough first over trip to post a one-length victory in a career best of 1:55.3 over a track listed as fast despite heavy rain early in the day.

Ranging up first over to engage the heavy favourite Rock Hollywood (Dave Magee) after that colt had led through splits of :28.1 and :57.4 driver Todd Warren had Powerful Speed in a perfect spot as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.4.

“I was actually hoping to get away a little farther back than we did,” said Warren. “But my colt felt good out there and I certainly wanted to give him every chance in the world to get a clear shot at the leader.”

Cruising by a tiring Rock Hollywood in the lane Powerful Speed overtook the chalk and quickly began to draw clear as he rolled to his fifth win in 16 starts this season. Muscatine (Dale Whiteman), who wound up trapped along the inside for most of the mile, finally shook loose in time to finish second while Somore Set (Mike Ousting) overcame a very rough trip from the nine hole to finish third.

After winning his first Super Night Championship an excited Warren was singing the praises of conditioner Thomas Graham, Jr.

“This horse has really been getting home well for the past two months or so,” said Warren. “That’s why I wasn’t afraid to come first up with him. “Buzzy has had him razor sharp and it showed tonight.”

Sent off at odds of 6-1, the son of Another American-Pine Bough returned $14.60.

The trotting action continued in the second event of the night and once again it was another 6-1 shot that toted home top honours as Powers Farms’ Southern Maebelle overcame post position nine to take the $100,000 Lady Ann Reed Championship by a neck in1:57.2.

Whisked away from her outside starting spot by driver Brian Carpenter the daughter of High Falls-Summer in the City led the field through an opening quarter in :29.1. Not wanting to get involved in a speed duel Carpenter allowed a hard-charging KFs Pictureperfect (Leroy Miller) to take command as the field moved through middle splits of :58.2 and 1:28.4.

“I was surprised that nobody else left very hard tonight,” said Carpenter. “Even though the horse that came up to challenge us was 45-1 I was more than happy to let her go and take a pocket sitting trip.”

Continuing to save ground as the field moved through the stretch, Carpenter patiently waited for room as a first over Merry High (Mike Ousting) and KFs Pictureperfect continued to slug it out. Swinging to the outside of the top pair with a sixteenth of a mile to go the Gerald Hansen trainee overtook the top two and then drew clear in the final strides to notch her fourth win in 14 starts this year. Fox Valley Click (Dale Hiteman) unleashed a big late move on the outside to finish second while 45-1 KFs Pictureperfect held on for third.

“It seemed like my horse had a head lead on those top two for about three days,” joked a very happy Carpenter after his first Super Night triumph. “But then at the end she started to kick away from them and she finished up like her old self.”

Last season’s two-year-old champion returned a hefty $15.20 while running her career earnings up to $204,019.

The first pacing event of the night came up in race six as a field of 10 sophomores battled in the $115,000 Lorna Propes Championship.

When the smoke cleared from this battle Kay Willis and Richard Beere’s Native Hotspur emerged victorious as they posted a hard-fought half-length victory in a lifetime best of 1:50.2 for driver Mike Oosting.

Hustled away from post position two, Oosting elected to let a hard-charging pair of outside leavers in My Heart Was True (Brandon Simpson) and Fox Valley Absolut (Robert Smolin) grab control as the ladies whisked by a quick opening quarter in :27 seconds. Quickly moving back to the outside of horses Native Hotspur regained command as the field hit the half-mile mark in :54.2.

“It was a pretty brutal pace that we were traveling at but I knew I needed to be in control of things and not trapped back there in third,” said Oosting. “Once I got her back to the front I decided that it was time to make a run for it so I just let her pace on and tried to put some distance between my horse and the others.”

Opening up a two-length advantage in the lane Oosting was working hard on the daughter of Ft Apache Hanover through the lane and the Nelson Willis-trained four-year-old responded beautifully as she kept her rivals at bay to earn her fifth win in 20 starts this season. Joinusforsomefun (Dave Magee) came on late to finish second while My Heart Was True (Brandon Simpson) used a ground-saving trip to earn the show dough.

In the winner’s circle a relieved Oosting was happy the finish wire came up when it did.

“She really didn’t have too much left at the end of that mile and to be truthful neither did I,” said Balmoral’s leading reinsman. “She’s used to being up near the front though and she wasn’t going to let them get by her tonight.”

The 9-5 favourite in the race returned $5.60 while running her career earnings up to $338,346 for trainer Nelson Willis.

The $218,000 Filly Orange & Blue provided a huge upset as Paula Smith and James Runyan’s Fox Valley Touche came charging through on the inside of horses to collar the previously undefeated Pardon (Dave Magee), winning by three-quarters of a length in a lifetime best of 1:53.

Getting away near the back of the pack from post position eight the Joel Smith trainee was well off some heated early fractions as Pardon and Elisa’s Model (Mike Oosting) battled through splits of :28.2 and :56.2. Mystical MJ (Marcus Miller) also joined the fray as the field moved around the far turn moving first over to challenge the 1-5 favourite as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.4. At that point Hiteman had maneuvered Fox Valley Touche to the outside of horses and was starting to search for a way through the traffic jam that was developing on the outside of horses.

“We were lucky to get out when we did but I knew that if I could find clear sailing we’d have a chance,” said Hiteman. “She was very good in her elimination last week and she seemed just as fresh tonight.”

Quickly chewing up ground in the lane Hiteman was suddenly right behind Pardon when he decided to move the daughter of Sportsmaster to the inside of his main rival. Flying by on the inside, Fox Valley Touche overtook Pardon in the closing yards to pull off the shocker at odds of 23.1. Pardon was a game second while Nina Coleada (Todd Warren) unleashed a big late rally to finish third.

After the upset Hiteman did not seem as surprised as most by his filly’s performance.

“She’s got quite a punch as she showed everyone over the last two weeks,” said the crafty veteran. “I could see that they were running at Dave’s filly pretty good and my horse felt fresh. I moved her to the inside in case Pardon started to get out and it wound up working out perfectly.”

The win was the fourth in 10 starts this season for Fox Valley Touche who returned a whopping $49.40 to those lucky enough to back her.

The $171,100 Grandma Ann Championship for three-year-old pacing fillies provided one of the most thrilling finishes of the night as Mystical Marker Farms and Peggy Hood’s Mystical Victress held on for a head decision in 1:50.4. The win also put trainer Erv Miller into the record books as the leading trainer in Super Night history with 14 training victories.

Confidently handled despite drawing the outside post in the field of ten, driver Marcus Miller came in away in sixth as Rolldownthehiway (Brandon Simpson) stepped through an opening quarter in :27.1. Getting underway as the field moved on to the backstretch Miller had Mystical Victress rushing towards the front, which was now being occupied by another Miller trainee, Cotton Candy (Dave Magee), as the field hit the half-mile mark in :55.4.

Grinding away at the leader as the field moved to the top of the stretch the daughter of Sportsmaster was able to grab a half-length advantage as the field reached the three-quarters in 1:23.4. After taking control in the lane Mystical Victress was all out to hold off the late challenge of last year’s Filly Orange & Blue winner Fox Valley Oracle (Tyler Buter). Reillys Daughter (Dale Hiteman) wound up a close up third.

After the victory trainer Erv Miller was elated to have taken over the top spot among the training colony on Super Night.

“It’s a big honour and a very nice accomplishment to be up at the top of the standings and it’s always great to win back in my home state,” said Miller. “I just hope things get better here and the horsemen get some help so we can continue to have nights like this.”

Notching her ninth win in 14 starts this year Mystical Victress now has 16 career victories in 24 starts with earnings of $288,359. The 6-5 favourite returned $4.40.

The Tony Maurello Championship pitted a classy field of 10 pacers with more than $3.2 million in earnings among them. Once again this race provided a mild upset as Milton Racing Stables, Aaron Waxman and JL Benson’s Doubletrouble prevailed by three-quarters of a length in 1:50.1 to give driver Brian Carpenter his second championship of the night.

Sitting just off fractions of :27.4, :56.1 and 1:23.4 which were being set by Booze Cruzin (Dave Magee), Carpenter moved Doubletrouble into a first-over position as the field headed into the far turn. Taking dead aim on the pacesetter as the field turned for the money, the Donna Lee Ozment-trained four-year-old then unleashed a wicked :26.1 final quarter to post his fifth win in 24 starts this year. Roy Orbisong (Daryl Bier) turned in another solid effort to finish second while Mucho Sleazy (Mike Oosting), the defending champion of this event, was third.

In the winner’s circle an elated Ozment had nothing but superlatives for the new addition to her barn.

“I just got this horse about three weeks ago from my son (Tony Alagna) who was training him out east,” she explained. “He’s gone through two major surgeries and a number of different ailments but he always comes back and he always gives you 100%.”

Sent off at odds of 4-1 Doubletrouble returned $10.60.

The $173,000 Langley Memorial figured to be a rematch of last year’s Orange & Blue Final and it proved to be just that as John Carver, Mystical Marker Farms and Jack and Peggy Hood’s Iam Bonasera turned the tables on his stablemate Power Of A Moment cruising to a 2-3/4 length triumph in 1:49.3 which equaled the stakes record.

Outside every step of the way the son of Cole Muffler was placed in mid-pack by Super Night’s leading reinsman while continuing a steady grind to get into striking position.

“Going into this race about the only thing that I thought could get this horse beat was getting stuck in traffic problems,” said Magee. “So I was bound and determined not to let that happen which I why I kept him outside for the mile.”

Moving right alongside the pace setting Power Of A Moment (Marcus Miller), who had torn through splits of :27.3, :54.2 and 1:22 as the field turned for home, Iam Bonasera then seemed to find another gear in the stretch as he flew right by his stablemate for his fifth win in 13 starts. Voomerang (Mike Oosting) shook loose late to rally for the place money while Power Of A Moment held on for third.

“Once we moved into striking position at the top of the stretch I knew he’d do the rest,” beamed Magee. “He’s one heck of a colt and he certainly proved me right with this performance tonight.”

Now in the money in 17 of his 22 career starts the Erv Miller trainee boasts career earnings of $270,383. Iam Bonasera returned $3.20.

Super Night 2010 ended in the same fashion as it did last year with trainer Ervin Miller’s Dutch Richman rallying in the final strides to take home the victory giving the up and coming Marcus Miller another Super Night championship.

Reserved near the back of the pack as Fox Valley Mercury (Dave Magee) and Mr. Bedrock (Robert Taylor) battled through quick early splits of :27.4 and :56.4 Miller finally moved the son of Richess Hanover-Fox Valley Estella to the outside as the field sped into the final turn. Quickly moving into striking position Marcus had Dutch Richman in fifth, just three lengths off the pace setting Mr Bedrock as the field sped by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.2.

“My horse felt fresh and strong at that point and I know he can really kick home but I have to say I was just a little bit nervous in the lane,” said a relieved Miller in the winner’s circle.

Measuring it like a seasoned pro Dutch Richman and his young pilot started to chew up ground as they began moving like a freight train on the far outside of horses. Closing out the show with another wicked final quarter mile of 26.1 the long striding gelding nailed the victory in the final strides, stopping the clock in 1:52.1. Mr. Bedrock was a game second while Playin For Keeps (Tyler Buter) finished third despite a grueling first over trip. The 3-5 favourite in the wagering returned $3.20.

In the winner’s circle a proud father and an elated son shared another “Kodak” moment.

“This is the second straight year that we’ve combined to win this race,” said Erv Miller who finished up the night with a whopping five victories. “I couldn’t be more proud of the way Marcus handled this horse and how he handled the entire night. There’s a lot of pressure out there with this kind of money on the line but the kid showed he’s more than capable of handling it when the big races roll around.”

With all the longshots getting to the wire first during Saturday’s Pick 4 sequence there will be a carryover of $19,125.40 heading into Sunday’s action. Balmoral Park management estimates that Sunday’s Pick 4 pool will be in excess of $60,000 which should have the Crete plant “buzzing” for a second straight night.

(Balmoral Park)

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