Brianna Joy and Fox Valley Leonna, each convincing front-end winners in their respective Maywood Filly Pace elimination divisions a week ago, are the co-favourites in Thursday night’s (June 16) $100,000 championship for state-bred pacing sophomore fillies.
Brianna Joy will open at 2-1 odds with driver Mike Oosting; while Fox Valley Leonna is the 5-2 first flash second choice in the seventh race feature.
Both youngsters share some similarities besides winning their respective elimination in the identical 1.53.2 miles. Both fillies missed an opportunity to compete in last year’s Orange & Blue Super Night championship due to sickness and they each showed in their first season they could get the job done on any size oval.
Brianna Joy captured our Violet Final on October 17 in a sparkling 1.54.2 for the Seldon Ledford Stable, just a tick off Aries Conquest’s half-mile 2-Year-Old filly world record set in 2002 at Maywood Park, and Brianna Joy left the outside eight-slot in that $60,000 Championship.
She ended her first season by winning the $48,700 Sarah Myers stake at Balmoral Park a week later in 1.54.3
Fox Valley Leonna rattled off four consecutive wins late in the year, including a pair at Maywood Park. She was much the best in the Incredible Series Final at Balmoral (1.55.4) before making a break leaving in her last season start here on December 22.
“She won big early on at Hawthorne (1.56.1) and then got a little sick on us, so we quit with her. We also wanted her to mature a little bit more since she’s just a big filly,” said trainer Tom Harmer after Fox Valley Leonna’s December series victory.
Last week driver Dave Magee urged Fox Valley Leonna out from the two-slot and she outsprinted two foes for the lead and never looked back.
“I underestimated this filly in her previous start,” said Magee after the victory.
“Fox Valley Leonna has a lot more talent than she previously showed and I wanted to make sure that I gave her a good shot to get a decent check. I thought that I could win, but I wanted to make sure I put her in a position to do just that. I really believe she could have won the Violet Final (her last start) with a better trip.”
Fox Valley Leonna finished a close-up fourth in the May 29 Violet stake final at Balmoral Park for owners Ciara Stable (Hinsdale, IL), Michael Polansky (Loudonville, NY), and Neil Silverman (Fort Lauderdale, FL).
“No matter where my filly draws in the final she’s capable,” added Magee. “I think Brianna Joy is the filly that I’ll have to worry about because he’s awfully quick off the gate.”
Fox Valley Leonna will leave from the three-slot in the seventh race feature, while Brianna Joy will start on her right with post four.
The favourable one-slot was drawn by Time For A Win (7-2, Tim Tetrick). Brianna’s Joy’s entrymate Madge’s Girl (Dale Hiteman) has the two post.
From the five-slot you’ll find Harmony Oaks Mag (12-1, Brent Holland), Pandemonious (8-1, Jason Dillander), Sensuous Woman (15-1, Ryam Anderson) and Fox Valley Fussy (9-2, Tony Morgan).
Brianna Joy was hammered down to 3 to 10 odds and proved her supporters were backing the right filly when she rolled to a convincing 2 ¾ length victory in her elimination and still had plenty still left in her tank.
“I never pulled the plugs and she was strong all the way to the wire. I just tapped her a few times down the lane to keep her attention,” said winning driver Mike Oosting.
“Brianna Joy is just a real bully to drive before the race. She wants to run off and can get quite aggressive behind the starting gate. Once she gets things her way, and the race kind of settles into its pace, then she settles and is pretty manageable to drive.”
Owned by James Jesk (Lemont, IL) and Ledford Racing Inc. (Crete, IL), Brianna Joy will go over the $100,000 mark in career earnings with a fifth place or better finish in Thursday night’s Filly Championship.
Courtesy Of Mike Paradise, Publicity Director, Maywood Park