Brianna Joy and Fox Valley Leonna proved to be much the best in their respective Maywood Filly Pace elimination divisions Thursday night and established themselves as the likely co-favorites for next week’s $100,000 (est.) showdown for three-year-old state bred pacing fillies.
Brianna Joy left no doubt she deserved the first elimination division favoritism. Driver Mike Oosting hustled thefilly out of the three-slot and into a quick lead before the first turn and the heavy 3-10 favorite rolled to third second season victory in four starts for Illinois owners James Jesk and Ledford Racing Inc.
Brianna Joy ($2.60) took the field to a :28.3 first quarter and was nicely rated to :28.3 and :28 flat middle quarters by Oosting. The Seldon Ledford trained filly paced :28.2 final panel under a firm hold, beating runner-up Fox Valley Fussy (Tony Morgan) by two and three-quarter lengths. The latter raced first up the entire last half of the mile.
Harmony Oaks Mag (Brent Holland), who enjoyed a pocket trip throughout the quick 1:53.2 mile, took third, three lengths behind, while Pandemonious (Andy Miller), who was locked in seventh throughout the first three-quarters a mile, finished in a hurry once she got loose turning for home to be fourth, earning a start in the Thursday, June 16 Maywood Filly Pace Final.
“Brianna Joy is just a real bully to drive before the race,” said driver Mike Oosting. “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. Tonight 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.”
Thursday’s elimination triumph came in Brianna Joy’s first Maywood Park season outing. She captured the Violet stake on this half-miler as a two-year-old.
Fox Valley Leonna was making only her third start of this season for the Tom Harmer Stable. Dave Magee followed the lead of the first division winner, sending thefilly to the front from the two-post and she responded with a strong wire-to-wire performance as the 8-5 co-favorite, also in 1:53.2.
Fox Valley Leonna ($5.40) outsprinted No. 1 horse Briley Shea, the 8-5 co-favorite (No. 3) Major Shirley and No. 6 Time For A Win for the lead, while Briley Shea dropped into the pocket and driver Tony Morgan found a hole behind her with Time For A Win, driver Ron Marsh and Major Shirley were in a heap of trouble when they couldn’t clear to the front or find a hole.
Fox Valley Leonna kept Major Shirley on the outside through a :27 2 first quarter and a :28.4 second panel. Sensuous Woman (Ryan Anderson) was the first to pull three-wide except Fox Valley Leonna had plenty left in the tank at the 1:24.2 three quarters, pulling away in the last turn enroute to a three and three-quarter length victory.
Madge’s Girl (Mike Oosting) rallied from seventh to finish second and Morgan did a masterful job of getting Time For A Win into the stake showdown with her third place finish. Sensuous Woman held on for the final starting berth, beaten five-plus lengths for fourth.
Time For A Win was stuck inside behind a tiring Briley Shea until the top of the lane, when Morgan saw an opening on the inside, taking the Mark Fransen trained filly through the open stretch where she finished in a hurry, producing a start in the Thursday, June 16 Maywood Filly Pace championship.
“I underestimated this filly in her previous start,” said Fox Valley Leonna’s driver Dave Magee. “The filly has a lot more talent than she previously showed and tonight 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 fourth in the May 29 Violet stake final at Balmoral Park behind the winner Major Shirley. She was third in her Violet elimination when she made her sophomore debut for owners Ciara Stable (Hinsdale, IL), Michael Polansky (Loudonville, NY), and Neil Silverman (Fort Lauderdale, FL).
Mike Paradise, director of publicity