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Freshmen Battle In Balmoral Stakes

Published: September 25, 2011 12:47 am ET

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A pair of state-bred stakes events shared top billing on Saturday night as two-year-old colts met in two $11,300 divisions of the Yates Eagle Stake while their female counterparts battled in the $14,500 Thrifty Way Stake.

In the first division of the Yates Eagle, Larry Breed’s M T Nester rallied in the final strides to win by a head for driver Mike Oosting in a career best of 1:53.1, shaving more than 16 seconds off his previous mark.

After getting away fifth in the field of eight, Oosting confidently pulled the Tom Simmons trainee first over as the field raced towards the half-mile mark.

Moving up to second as the field straightened for home, the gelded son of Sportsmaster-U Olive then proceeded to finish up with an impressive :27.3 final quarter to just nip a game Get A Job (Casey Leonard) at the wire. Acrophobia (Robert Smolin) rallied nicely to finish third in just her second lifetime start.

Sent off as the third choice in the wagering M T Nester returned $8.40, $3.40 and $2.10 while winning for the second time in his career.

The second division provided a shocking upset as Stevanna Turner & John Fletcher’s NJs Big Deal, a 20-1 outsider in the field of eight, made every call a winning one in a lifetime best of 1:52.2.

Zipping right to the front from post position seven for driver Kyle Wilfong, the son of Sagebrush-A Passing Breeze posted splits of :27.1, :55 and 1:24.1 while rolling along on the front end.

Despite facing challenges from numerous rivals from the three-quarter-pole on, the John Fletcher trainee dug in gamely, managing to fend off his rivals as he reported home with a three-quarter-length verdict. Uncle Smoothie (Brian Carpenter) rallied on the far outside to finish second while Western Cole (Todd Warren) was a hard fought third. Crime Of Passion, the 1-9 favourite in the race, wound up a troubled fifth before eventually being placed eighth after being disqualified for interference on the far turn.

Lighting up the tote board, NJs Big Deal returned $42.40, $20.40 and $13.20 while posting his eighth win in 17 career starts.

In the Thrifty Way Stake Paula Smith and James Runyan’s Fox Valley Vista and driver Dale Hiteman used the passing lane to perfection as they rallied up the inside to score by one and a half lengths in a career best of 1:55.2.

Leaving alertly from post position eight, Hiteman was able to find a perfect pocket spot after allowing Moment Of Magic (Casey Leonard), who also left hard from the outside, to grab command going to the quarter.

Sitting in the garden spot as Moment Of Magic carved out splits of :28.4, :58.1 and 1:27, Hiteman patiently waited for room in the passing lane as the fillies moved through the stretch. Ducking inside with a sixteenth of a mile to go, the daughter of Yankee Skyscaper-Veda Hanover rolled by the pacesetter for her second win in 11 lifetime starts. Fox Valley Matinee (Mike Oosting) rallied to finish second but drew the wrath of the judges and was moved back to fifth for interfering with Pancake Turner in the stretch. That moved up Moment Of Magic from third to second and Financial Effort from fourth to third.

A co-second choice in the wagering, the Joel Smith trained miss returned $8.60, $3.60 and $3.00.

Free For All pacers were also in action on Saturday night as the ultra consistent Well To Guru prevailed by three-quarters of a length in a blazing 1:49.3, equalling his career best.

Sent right to the top by driver Casey Leonard, the seven-year-old gelding ripped off splits off :26.1, :54.4 and 1:23.1 before sealing the deal with a wicked :26.2 final frame en route to his ninth win in 19 starts this year. Fort Silky (Marcus Miller) finished second while Big Daddy Woo Woo (Ridge Warren) was third.

The stakes action continues on Sunday night with three-year-old trotting fillies battling in the $25,500 Lady Ann Reed Consolation, which goes as the second race on the 10-race card. Post time for Sunday’s opener is 7:10 p.m. (central).

(Balmoral Park)

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