Day At The Track

Stakes action in full swing at Balmoral

04:16 PM 18 May 2015 NZST
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Lex Fox Valley Qatar
Lex, continued her winning ways as she scored for the 7th time in 14 career starts
David Baum Photo
Fox Valley Qatar and driver Todd Warren hooked up for the gelding's 10th win in 11 lifetime starts
David Baum Photo
Illinois conceived and foaled stakes action was in full swing on Sunday, May 17th, at Balmoral Park as a pair of state-bred events for harness racing three-year-old trotters and pacers shared top billing on the 10-race program.
 
Leading the way were ICF pacing fillies as a full field of 10 second season ladies met in the $17,800 Violet Stake. As she did in last week's prep for this tussle, Kay Willis's Lex overpowered her rivals in this event, storming up first over to grab command on the far turn and then drawing clear late to win by 2¾ -lengths in a career best of 1:52.3.
 
Confidently handled by driver Kyle Wilfong, the daughter of Lexington Legend--I Bet U left alertly from post five tucking in third as a hard charging Fox Valley Aubrey (Robert Smolin) sped to the top from post 10, leading the field through splits of 27.2 & 56.4.
 
After cruising along relatively unchallenged through the opening half, things heated up on the last bend as Lex came rolling up first over to challenge while the field charged by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.0.
 
Quickly overtaking the pace-setter, the Nelson Willis trainee zipped away to a two-length length advantage. The issue was still in doubt though through the final sixteenth of a mile before last season's Filly Orange & Blue runner-up imposed her will on her challengers, drawing clear late to win for the third time in five starts this season. Sportsmuffler (John De Long), who was used hard in the early going from post seven turned in a big effort to finish as the bridesmaid while Fox Valley Aubrey held on for third.

A multiple stakes winner during her freshman campaign the homebred bay returned $3.00, $2.20 & $2.10 while upping her record to 7-4-2 in 14 starts with earnings of $83,100.

Sophomore trotting colts were also on the docket Sunday night as a field of nine lined up behind the gate for an $8,000 Betzotic Stake.
 
Once again the Herman Wheeler owned and trained Fox Valley Qatar showed that he's the one to beat among his peers, rolling to a deceptively easy "neck" decision in a career best of 1:56.0 with Todd Warren at the controls.
 
Using the inside starting spot to his advantage the gelded son of Pizzazzed--Armbro Bahrain grabbed control of the proceedings after eyeballing RT Habenero (Kyle Wilfong) and Tricky Nick (Mike Oosting) battle through an opening panel in 28.4.
 
After allowing a hard charging Captain Greedy (J.D Finn) to grab a short lived lead, Warren had Fox Valley Qatar back out and rolling to the top as the field moved through middle splits of 57.0 & 1:26.4.
 
Through the stretch, last year's divisional champion appeared to be well in hand despite a shortening margin, casually shrugging off a late challenge from the pocket sitting Captain Greedy to record his 10th win in 12 career starts. Captain Greedy was forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night while Allpowernoemotion (Ronnie Gillespie) turned in a nice effort to rally for the show dough.
 
With the win Fox Valley Qatar boasts a record of 10-1-0 in 11 lifetime starts with earnings of $92,215. Bet as though defeat was out of the question, the bargain priced $7,000 yearling returned $2.60, $2.10 & $2.10 to his legion of backers.
 

Tom Kelley

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