Both trotters and pacers shared the spotlight at Balmoral Park on Saturday night as elimination’s for next week’s American National Three-Year-Old Filly Trot and Aged Pace were contested.
Both finals will be part of the big American National Festival of Racing on November 5th and both of the finales for these events will carry jackpots of $250,000.
In the first of two $28,000 elimination’s for the diagonally gaited ladies Robert Rietveld and Paul Gibson’s state-bred sensation, Victor’s Pursuit, made it look easy as she coasted to a front stepping 1 ¾ length score in 1:56.4.
The division leader here in the Prairie State, Victor’s Pursuit swept into command on the backstretch after watching Whotookwhat (Brent Holland) stroll through an easy opening quarter of 30.1.
With Hall of Famer Dave Magee handling the driving chores this daughter ofproceeded to lead the field through middle splits of 58.4 & 1:29.0.
After those pedestrian fractions the Roger Welch trainee still had plenty left as she quickly sprinted away to a 4 ½ length lead at the mid-stretch call. With the rest of her six rivals in futile pursuit, this long striding filly was well in hand as she crossed the finish wire with her 12th win in 23 starts this season. Whotookwhat followed the winner’s every move but was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Reinvent (Tim Tetrick) was third, 5 ¼ lengths behind the winner. Also earning spots in the final were Christina M and Magenta Hall.
nother state-bred trotting filly toted home top honors in the second elimination of the sophomore filly trotting elimination’s as Turndorf Racing’s Arcola showed that she is still a forced to be reckoned with by registering a head decision in 1:56.3 for driver Tim Tetrick.
Just like Victor’s Pursuit, this filly also hails from the barn of conditioner Roger Welch, and while last year’s divisional champion has not quite enjoyed the success she had last season she was as tough as nails in this contest.
Taking advantage of a perfect steer by Tetrick, this daughter ofwas able to save ground throughout the entire mile while racing in third. With the 3-5 favorite Coulantine carving out fractions of 29.1, 58.0 & 1:28.1 Arcola was just three lengths off the pace setter as the ladies turned for home.
With the Kentucky Futurity winner starting to tire after missing nearly a month Tetrick did a magnificent job of securing racing room for his filly in the stretch. Splitting horses with a rush Arcola kicked it into high gear in the final eighth of a mile, flying home in 27.4 to get up for the victory. Ladymatic (Tony Morgan) also managed to save ground the entire mile while just in front of Arcola but she could not match strides with that filly in the late stages and was forced to settle for the runner-up role while Just Like Dream (Joe Anderson) wound up third. Coulantine faded late and wound up fourth while Third Reef secured the final spot in next week’s rich final.
Some of the sports top older pacers invaded Balmoral Park for a pair of Aged Pace elimination’s with each of the two tussles carrying a purse of $27,000. Once again the top five in each division earned the right to come back next Saturday for the $250,000 Final.
In the first elimination James Jesk’sreturned to his home base with a flourish as he rallied late for a half-length triumph in a brisk 1:49.3.
Despite a sick scratch and nearly a month away from the races this son of the Panderosa was at the top of his game on this night as he posted his eighth win in 22 starts this year.
Patiently handled by driver Eric Ledford,was allowed to bide his time near the back of the seven horse field as He Wants It All (Dave Magee) and Color Me Best (Tony Morgan) slugged it out for early command through splits of 27.0 and 53.4.
After relinquishing the lead on the backside He Wants It All charged back into command on the far turn but he was quickly forced to fend off a first over challenge from Timesareachanging (Andy Miller) as they sped by the three-quarter-mile marker in 1:21.3.
Those fast fractions finally began to take a toll on the leaders in the final eighth of a mile and that gavethe break he needed. Gamely grinding his way through the middle of the pack the Seldon Ledford trainee began to find his best stride. With all the speed collapsing in the closing moments seemed to find another gear as he sped past his foes with a 27.1 final quarter to get the victory. Pokagon, (Tim Tetrick) who came into the race with three straight victories here, turned in a solid late rushing effort to finish second while He Wants It All held on for third. Timesareachanging was fourth and Foxy Maneuver earned a spot in the final with his fifth place finish.
The closing elimination for the Aged Pace was reduced to just six starters because of the scratch ofwho came up sick. The race was then basically reduced to a stroll in the park for the other starters when Casimir , the 4-5 favorite in the race, made a nasty break behind the gate and was distanced throughout the rest of the battle.
That miscue allowed Clifford Siegel, Lee Wasserman & John Fodera’s Breeders Crown Champion Boulder Creek to pace home with a deceptively easy 1 ¾ length victory in 1:51.1.
With the heavy favorite taken out of the race before it ever started the lightly regarded(Tim Tetrick) was able to grab command early as he showed the way through an opening quarter in 28.1.
By that point driver Dale Hiteman had seen enough of the tepid pace, moving Boulder Creek out of the three-hole and quickly charging to the front as the field passed the half-mile station in 55.2.
With nobody offering a challenge for most of the final turn the Mark Silva trained five-year-old was able to catch a third quarter breather taking the field to that marker in 1:24.2.
Showing the speed and determination that has made him a two-time Breeders Crown champ Boulder Creek then effortlessly held off his rivals, while under mild urging at best, as he cruised home in 26.4 to notch his sixth win of the season. Longshotturned in a solid effort to finish second while Escape The Wind was third, three lengths behind the victor. Artiology finished fourth while found his way into the final with a fifth place finish.
These two finals will be part of the big American National Festival of Racing next Saturday (Nov.5) at Balmoral Park. There are two other American National’s on tap that night as North America’s best Aged Trotters slug it out as will Three-Year-Old pacing fillies. The top older distaffers in the country, led by Loyal Opposition, will compete in the $100,000 Fairy Godmother Pace and there will also be a $60,000 Hanover for sophomore trotting colts on the card. All the action gets underway at 7:40 p.m. (central).