Nifty Fellow and Winslow Gambler led the way into next Saturday’s (July 23) American National 2-Year-Old Colt Final by winning their respective elimination races in comfortable fashion on Saturday night (July 16) at Balmoral Park.
The $90,000 freshmen pacing championship will be without the pre-stake favourite Joe To Go, who failed to be among the first five finishers in the first elimination.
The overwhelming 1-5 favourite battled to a 56.1s first half to get to the top, and then came up empty in the lane, falling back to seventh, five lengths behind Nifty Fellow, a 1.53.3 winner.
Nifty Fellow followed his July 9 Hanover stake triumph with a 1 ¾ length victory in the second race co-feature over 44-1 runner-up Jate Daniels (Mark O’Mara).
It was another quarter of a length to the third place finisher Intendto’s Majesty (Sam Widger). Also gaining the final from the first elimination were the fourth and fifth place finishers Roll Bar Hanover and Winbak Bini.
t the start driver Brent Holland took back Nifty Fellow, who was eighth and some 12 lengths off the pace at the 28.3 opening quarter and 10-plus lengths at the 56.2s half.
However, Holland had Nifty Fellow out, racing third-over through the last turn, and the youngster exploded in the lane, pacing a quick 26.3s last panel.
“I told Brent (driver Holland) just see how it works out. I just didn’t want to get into a speed duel with him,” said winning trainer Ken Rucker. “They went out there good enough that it worked out well for us. The whole trip just worked out great.
“Nifty Fellow is a very aggressive young horse,” continued Rucker, who co-owners the $13,000 yearling buy with Engle Stable (Buffalo Grove, IL).
“He wants to go wide open. We have a lot of rigging to have him stay under control. But he’s smart and he’s willing. Every time we ask him to go he does. We just don’t want him to get carried away.”
The 7-5 second elimination favourite Winslow Gambler (Andy Miller) was fifth at the 57s opening half marker when he was pulled out and then proceeded to sprint past the leader AB’s Beach Boy right before the 1.26.3 three-quarters.
In the stretch the Erv Miller trained youngster pulled away from the field, winning by two-lengths in 1.53.4 for Winslow Hill Stable of Wylie, South Carolina.
AB’s Beach Boy, Keystone Resident, Life Guard On Duty and Jandj Art—the second through fifth place finishers—also earned a starting berth in the July 23 American National freshmen colt championship.
“My horse felt really good. I wanted to race him up close and sit in as long as I could.” explained winning driver Andy Miller.
“I tipped him out on the backside because there were a couple of horses I wanted to get around that I was afraid might falter a bit. So I moved him around them.
“He’s a big, long gaited colt,” added Andy. “He’s starting to figure what it’s about and he does have a lot of go.”
Saturday night’s $21,000 Free-For-All Pace saw Odds On Racing’s Pacific Playboy (Tim Tetrick) equal the track record for an aged pacer with a quick 1.49.1 victory.
The Robin Schadt trained 5-Year-Old gelding shot out from the five post and took a 27.1s opening quarter lead.
Pacific Playboy then relinquished the front to Art Maker (Tony Morgan), who sped to a 53.4s first half. Tetrick came out of the pocket with Pacific Playboy and they had the lead again at the 1.21.4 three quarter pole.
A 27.2s final quarter gained Pacific Playboy a 2 ¼ length victory over Foxy Maneuver, who nosed out the third place finisher Art Maker.
Mandala Quest, driven Andy Miller, and, guided by Tony Morgan, captured of the two $15,000 divisions of the Poplar Byrd Stake for state-bred pacers.
Courtesy Of Balmoral Park Publicity Department