Matinee harness racing action returned to Balmoral Park for the first time in 11-years as Balmoral kicked off the 2006 racing season with the first of seven doubleheader Saturday’s (January 7) at the Crete plant.
After a six-day work stoppage delayed the start of the 2006 opener Balmoral welcomed fans with a beautiful luncheon buffet and the first of six qualifying rounds for their $20,000 Saturday afternoon handicapping contest. The top 10 finishers in each of the six qualifying rounds will move on to the $20k final which will be held on February 18. The top two finishers in that finale will also win a trip to the Meadowlands to compete in the National Harness Handicapping Championship.
Under sunny skies and mild temperatures the afternoon program featured opening round action inSeries for pacing colts. With a total of 18 entries dropped into the box the action was split into a pair of $5,500 divisions.
In the opener Sandbur Farms & Valarie Sutton’s Fox Valley Bigshot continued his winning ways as he posted a 1 ¾ length triumph in a career best of 1:56.4.
After closing out his freshman season with a big front stepping score here at Balmoral Park, the Doug Hamilton trainee picked up right where he left off as driver Dale Hiteman did a masterful job of finding racing room after getting shuffled to fourth at the top of the stretch.
Splitting horses with a rush at the eighth-pole, the son ofroared home in 28.1 to post his second win in eight career starts. Audience Of One (Tom Insko), a 22-1 outsider in the field of nine, rallied from seventh to get the place money while Average Joe (Dave Magee) held on for third after a very tough trip.
In the second division John Krasnican’s Luckability picked up his first career victory as he prevailed by a hard fought head in 1:57.1, giving driver Dale Hiteman a sweep of the Big Dog divisions.
Overcoming post position eight this lightly raced son ofwas content to bide his time at the back of the pack as Grouchy Old Man (Darcy Pletcher) led the field through splits of 28.1 seconds, 58s and 1:28.1.
After moving into a live outer flow on the far turn Hiteman tipped his charge four-wide at the top of the stretch and the Nelson Willis trainee responded beautifully as he rallied from eighth to first with a 28 closing split. Cam’s Future (Dave Magee) turned in a game first over effort to finish a sharp second while Kevin T Busch (Randy Jacobs) was third.
Courtesy Of Tom Kelley, Publicity Director, Balmoral Park