Day At The Track

Top state-bred pacers strut their stuff

06:29 AM 24 Aug 2015 NZST
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Unlocked Fox Valley Aubry
Unlocked once again returned to the local scene in a big way
David Baum Photo
Fox Valley Aubry made every call a winning one
David Baum Photo
The top state-bred pacers in the Prairie State had the chance to strut their stuff on Saturday, August 22nd at Balmoral Park as a pair stake events shared top billing on a very strong Saturday night harness racing program
 
First on the docket were the state's top older pacers as a very evenly matched field of eight squared off in the $29,600 Big Tom Stake.
 
When the smoke cleared after a heated stretch drive it was Megan Rogers Racing Stable Inc.'s Unlocked who once again returned to the local scene in a big way, as he prevailed by a hard fought half-length in 1:49.4 for driver Lewayne Miller.
 
Given a perfect steer by Miller the four-year-old son of Duneside Perch used his inside post to save ground in third while the speedy Ice Scraper (Brian Carpenter) ripped through splits of 26.0, 54.0 & 1:21.1.
 
Engaging the pace setter with a first over bid as the field hit the top of the stretch these two prolific pacers battled tooth and nail through the lane before Unlocked finally forged to the front in the closing strides to notch his fourth win of the season. Ice Scraper was hard fought second while 66-1 outsider Cole Heat (Dale Hiteman) rallied to be third.
 
The win was the 16th in 45 career starts for the Erv Miller trainee who returned $4.40, $2.60 & $2.80 while upping his career bankroll to $310,692.
 
An overflow field of 11 distaffers, 3yo old and up, closed out the night's stake action as they lined up behind the gate for the $30,200 Parklane Powerful Stake.
 
Using an aggressive steer and a little "racing luck" to their advantage driver Robert Smolin hustled Jesse Ferge and Ron Phillips Fox Valley Aubry to the front and the speedy three-year-old made every call a winning one, hanging on gamely to score by a head in 1:53.2.
 
Sprinting away from post seven in the big field the daughter of Yankee Skyscaper--Assailed made the top without too much trouble leading the ladies through opening splits of 27.4 & 57.1.
 
That's when disaster struck for most of the field as a first over Joyful Game made a nasty break, taking herself out of the race and severely impeding seven of the trailing horses in this battle.
 
With things all her own way on the front end Fox Valley Aubry cruised by the three-quarter-mile mark with a two-length lead in 1:24.3.
 
Through the lane the Bob Phillips trained miss continued to show the way while bracing for the challenge of the pocket sitting Just By Design (Dale Hiteman). With the lead starting to evaporate in the final sixteenth of a mile, Fox Valley Aubry dug in gamely keeping Just By Design at bay just long enough to record her third victory of the year. Just By Design was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role on this night while Financial Effort (Casey Leonard) turned a ground saving trip into the show dough.
 
The third choice in the wagering Fox Valley Aubry returned $10.80, $6.20 & $4.20 while running her lifetime record to 14-5-5 in 32 starts with earnings of $67,714.
 
Live racing continues on Sunday, August 23rd at Balmoral Park. Once again all the action gets underway at 7:10pm on Sunday night and as always the $1 Pick 4 (races 7-10) features a $25,000 guaranteed pool. The 10-cent Hi Five (race 10) also features a guaranteed pool of $15,000 while the highly successful trifecta guarantee on race nine will give fans the chance to play into a $25,000 guaranteed pool.

Tom Kelley

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