Illinois conceived and foaled trotters grabbed the spotlight on Tuesday night (April 27) as a field of seven state-bred sophomores locked horns in the $10,000 Iggy Magoo Stake.
With six of the seven starters in the field making either their first or second start of the season it figured to be a wide-open event.
Victor's Pursuit was the lone trotter in the group with multiple starts as she came into this test sporting a perfect four for four record in this her first season of racing.
With that record staring them in the face, the betting public hammered Victor's Pursuit down to 3-5.
Unfortunately for the "chalk" players the daughter ofmade an uncharacteristic break in the first turn and was never a threat, eventually finishing fifth, some 19 lengths behind the winner.
The miscue by the heavy favourite left the door wide-open for the rest of the field and it was Julio, owned by Tom Graham & Tom Graham Junior, who pounced on the opportunity as he rallied in the passing lane to win by a neck in an exciting three-horse photo finish.
Well handled by driver Anthony Morgan this son of Giant Triumph trotted right to the top and he was comfortably in command as he rolled through an opening quarter in 30 seconds.
Moving down the backside Morgan elected to let his entrymate Victrola (Andy Miller) go and last season's 2-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year in Illinois quickly trotted into a 1 ¼ length lead as the field moved past the half in a leisurely 1.00.3.
Trotting around the far turn Victrola continued to show the way but last season's 2-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year, Arcola (Tim Tetrick), had drawn right alongside of him while Julio enjoyed a pocket journey in third.
These three had drawn away from the rest of the field by three lengths as they raced by the three-quarter-mile station in 1:31.4.
With the two freshmen champions battling tooth and nail through the stretch, Morgan and Julio were sitting comfortably in third and just waiting for their turn in the passing lane.
With a sixteenth of a mile to go these three were spread across the track and it was still anybody's race.
Arcola managed to stick a head in front of Victrola in the final yards but a fresh Julio was in high gear and this bay gelding responded bravely to the urging of his pilot getting a neck in front as he tripped the timer in a career best of 2:001. Arcola was a hard fought second while Victrola toted home the show dough.
Posting his fourth career victory in 12 starts.
Courtesy Of Tom Kelley, Publicity Director, Balmoral Park