A field of nine Illinois conceived and foaled trotters grabbed center stage on Tuesday night (January 24th) at Balmoral Park as Round 3 action in the Champion On Ice Series received top billing on a very windy and chilly evening.
When the smoke cleared from this battle it was the longshot players who were standing tall as 27-1 shot Miss Gator knocked off 1-5 favorite Van Joe in a shocking upset.
Overlooked in the wagering in large part because of post position nine and the fact that she had missed nearly a month of action, the daughter of Smokey Legend looked as fresh as a daisy as she cruised home with a 1 ¼ length verdict in 2:01.1.
After getting away seventh in the field of nine driver Mike Oosting had this four-year-old trotting along the pylons some 10 ¼ lengths off the early pace which was being set by Round 2 winner Primmarose Hotspur (Jason Dillander).
A live outer flow developed as the field raced to the half-mile mark and Oosting quickly maneuvered his charge into the parade. With a full head of steam and live cover leading her up Miss Gator had advanced to fourth just 4 ¾ lengths back as Primmarose Hotspur continued to show the way past the halfway station in 1:01.4.
On the far turn Miss Gator continued what would turn into a victory march taking dead aim on the leader as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:33.0.
Briskly engaging the pace setter as the field reached the eighth pole Miss Gator quickly overtook that rival. Now bracing for the challenge of the heavy favorite, who had enjoyed a perfect pocket trip throughout the mile, Oosting went to work on his filly.
With long powerful strides the Matt Cox trainee drew clear of her rivals as she scored for just the second time in her last 33 starts. Van Joe (Andy Miller) saw his four race winning streak come to an end with his second place finish while Primmarose Hotspur held on for the show dough.
Lighting up the board with mutuels of $56.80, $10.00 & $5.00 Miss Gator also helped key a $2 Superfecta payout of $4,194.60 with the two favorites behind her.