Sophomore trotting colts received top billing on Wednesday night at Balmoral Park as a field of 10 state-bred three-year-olds battled in a $47,100 Cardinal Stake. Once again the sidewinders in this division provided another thrilling finish as Mike Brink & Loren Tournear's Tour Hall stuck a nostril in front right at the finish line to edge Fox Valley Veto in 1:56.1.
Sent to the top by driver Dave Magee Tour Hall led the field through an opening quarter in 28.4.
After relinquishing the lead on the backstretch to a hard charging Big Bill Breeze (Dale Hiteman), Tour Hall enjoyed a pocket ride through middle splits of 58.4 & 1:28.3.
The garden spot almost turned out to be the undoing of the 7-5 favorite though as a first over Fox Valley Veto (John De Long) stormed into command as the field turned for home.
After being forced to patiently wait for room in the passing lane as Big Bill Breeze began to fade, Magee finally revved up the Mike Brink trained gelding with a sixteenth of a mile to go.
This year's Betzotic and Speedy Rodney Stake winner then showed the mettle that made him the division favorite coming into the year as he gamely overtook Fox Valley Veto in the final stride to win for the third time in four starts this season. Bobby B Breeze (Todd Warren) rallied late to finish third.
With the win Tour Hall who returned $4.80, $3.20 & $2.60 now boasts a career record of 7-4-1 in 14 starts with earnings of $109,851.
by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park