STARS SHINE IN AMERICAN NATIONAL

07:31 AM 06 Nov 2005 NZDT
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In the opening stakes tussle of the evening Royal Wire Products Inc.’s Self Professed knocked off a field of 10 three-year-old trotting colts in the $72,500 Hanover Stake.

Given a perfect steer by reinsman Pat Berry, the son of Self Possessed left quickly from post position eight and was able to neatly tuck in fifth at the pylons midway around the opening turn. With Magic Swan (Andy Miller) and Vanished (Ron Marsh) battling for the early lead the field trotted through an opening quarter in 28.2.

Heading down the backstretch Illinois bred champion Sherrie’s Delight (Dave Magee) grabbed command but Berry had Self Professed out and rolling from fifth and she was just a head behind the leader as they rolled through the half in 56.0.

After grabbing command as the field trotted into the far turn Berry knew that things were going to work out pretty well for him and his filly. “From where I landed after the start (fifth) I knew I was going to be first up,” he explained. “But once we got to the top I was strictly a passenger the rest of the way.”

Self Professed opened up a two-length advantage as she cruised by the three-quarter-mile marker in 1:25.4. With only mild urging she increased that margin to three by the mid-stretch call and she was completely under wraps as she reported home with a 2 ¾ length triumph in 1:55.3 over a “good” track.

Magic Swan, who won the Galt Trot at Maywood in his last start, wound up taking home the place honors while 46-1 outsider Fabulous Grin (Ricky Gorrell) rallied to the third.

The win was the fourth of the season for the Don Swick trainee who now boasts seasonal earnings $298,869.

Illinois bred sensation Loyal Opposition continued to amaze everyone as she gamely held on for a neck victory in Saturday’s $70,000 Fairy Godmother Stake for Aged Mare pacers.

With only a compact field of five distaffers going postward driver Andy Miller decided to send his mare to the front. “She’s better in a big field when she can come from out of it but with the field being this small I wanted to get her involved in things right away,” said the winning pilot. With very little pressure Loyal Opposition was comfortably in front as she led the way through an opening quarter in 28.2.

Allowed to catch a second quarter breather as the field stayed in single file order, the daughter of Cole Muffler strolled to the half-mile mark in 57.0.

Heading around the far turn the Ervin Miller trained miss was still in complete command showing the way by 1 ½ lengths as she took the distaffers to the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.0.

With the top four separated by only 2 ¾ lengths as they raced through the stretch Loyal Opposition was forced to dig in as Stonebridge Kisses (Eric Ledford) mounted an assault in the passing lane and Parklane Powerful was finding her best stride on the outside of horses. “Things got a little touchy there in the final sixteenth,” said Miller. “But being the champion that she is she just dug in and found something extra to hold them off.” Finishing up with a 26.4 final split Loyal Opposition kept her rivals at bay as she recorded her 14th win in 20 starts this season. Stonebridge Kisses was second while Parklane Powerful was just a half-length back in third.

With the win the Daniel Waxman trainee becomes the richest Illinois bred in the history of the sport with earnings of $2,522,388. In a joyous winner’s circle trainer Erv Miller said that her connections have every intention of adding to those numbers next season. “It looks like she’s done for this year,” he said. “But we definitely plan on bringing her back next year as long as everything goes well over the winter.”

The $250,000 American National Three-Year-Old Filly Trot provided the biggest surprise of the night as 29-1 shot Just Like Dream came flying through the stretch to win by a head in 1:56.1.

Patiently handled by Joe Anderson who picked up the catch drive behind this filly for last week’s eliminations Just Like Dream was content to trot near the back of the pack in eighth as Whotookwhat (Brent Holland) sailed through an opening quarter in 28.2. “That was the only way I figured we had a chance to win this race,” explained Anderson. “We were going to need some pace up front and if we got it knew that we would definitely be following some good live horses in here.”

A lively outer flow developed on the backstretch as the field raced doubled-decked to the half with Whotookwhat still in command as they sped past the midway point in 56.4.

Heading around the final turn Whotookwhat was clinging tenaciously to a head lead as another longshot 54-1 Magenta Hall came charging up on the outside of horses to challenge the pace setter. At that point only five lengths separated the top eight fillies in the race.

In what looked like cavalry charge down the stretch Whotookwhat continued to hang on to a slight advantage. Horses were spread six and seven wide across the track with Reinvent (Eric Ledford) mounting a big challenge while Ladymatic (Andy Miller) looked for room in the passing lane. At this point Just Like Dream was still seventh but she was starting to find her best stride while widest of all.

With trotters coming from everywhere Just Like Dream closed fastest of all nipping Reinvent in the final strides. Arcola (Tim Tetrick) found room late and closed well to get the show dough.

Unraced as a two-year-old the Cedric Herserant trained daughter of Donerail had just one win coming into this American National but the winner’s share of $115,000 helped catapult her bankroll up to $200,027 for Ecurie Reve Avec Moi.

Peaceful Way, the top rated trotting mare in North America, gave the chalk players some relief as the 2-5 favorite easily disposed of nine rivals in the $250,000 American National Aged Trot.

Facing the boys once again this outstanding four-year-old was sent right to the top by driver Trevor Ritchie where she led the field through a tepid opening opening quarter of 29.1. “She can be a little headstrong at times,” said Ritchie. “This was one of those times as she showed me she wanted no part of going into the two-hole.”

Cruising in her usual effortless style as the field moved down the backstretch Peaceful Way was still in control as they headed by the half in 56.2. Hellava Hush (Dale Hiteman), North America’s fastest trotter in 2005, was beginning a first over bid while Justice Hall (Jason Dillander) continued to benefit from the inside post while sitting in third.

Trotting around the far turn Peaceful Way fended off the challenge of Hellava Hush and she was comfortably in front by two lengths as the field hit the three-quarter-mile station in 1:24.4.

Hand driven throughout the lane by Ritchie Peaceful Way was in complete control as she rolled under the wire with a one-length verdict in 1:53.3 in less than ideal conditions.

Sporting a sparkling record of nine wins in 10 starts this season this four-year-old daughter of Angus Hall now boasts career earnings of $1,999,292. Both trainer David Tingley and driver Trevor Ritchie continue to be amazed by this outstanding trotter. “She’s just been unbelievable for two-years now,” said a beaming Tingley. “We’re going to continue to race her and we may be headed to Europe for some of the big races like the Elitlop and Prix D’Amerique. As for the Canadian based Ritchie who is starting to make a habit out of winning at Balmoral in November he equally impressed. “This mare is just a pleasure to drive,” he said. She can do just about anything and she’s definitely one of the best I’ve ever sat behind.”

After a torrential rainstorm caused a long delay and turned the track into a sea of mud North America’s top older pacers finally squared off in the $250,000 American National Aged Pace. When the race was finally contested it was Venture 2000 Stable & Early Bird Stables Escape The Wind who came sloshing home with an impressive two-length victory in 1:51.1.

Taking advantage of post position two driver-trainer Roger Mayotte was able to position this gelding in a nice ground saving spot as He Wants It All (Dave Magee) and Foxy Maneuver (Sam Widger) dueled through a brisk opening quarter of 27.1.

On the backstretch driver Eric Ledford elected to pull Town Champion from the three-hole and these two quickly charged to the front as the field hit the half in 55.3. At that point Mayotte made what turned out to be a winning decision pulling Escape The Wind first over from fourth as they headed into the final turn.

Picking off horses one by one Escape The Wind had drawn to within three-quarters of a length of Town Champion as the field reached the three-quarter mile station in 1:23.2.

Setting sail for home Escape The Wind continued his outside grind gobbling up the pace setter and drawing away for his seventh win in 26 starts this season. Town Champion turned in a valiant effort to finish second while Boulder Creek (Dale Hiteman), the 3-2 favorite in the race, overcame a troubled trip to rally for third.

In the winner’s circle a relieved but proud Mayotte had this to say; “I almost thought about scratching him tonight. After his warm up he almost seemed to be tying up a little bit but then we had this delay and he seemed to regain his energy level.” The win also helped pushed this five-year-old gelding over the $1 million mark in career earnings. “After all he’s been through he’s due for a little rest,” said Mayotte. “But I’m definitely looking forward to having him back and hopefully he’ll come back just as strong next as he has been for the past few years.”

In American National elimination action a total of 16 three-year-old pacing fillies were dropped into the entry box necessitating a pair of $27,000 preliminaries. The top five in each division will head to next week’s $250,000 finale.

In the opening split Gerrie Tucker, Ed Mullinax and Sampson Street Stables Up Front Dragonfly lived up to her name as she went wire to wire in 1:54.4 on a track that had been downgraded to “sloppy”.

Whisked away from the gate by driver Dave Magee this daughter of Dragon Again tore through fractions of 27.2, 54.4 & 1:23.3. After opening up a five-length advantage at the mid-stretch call the William Elliott trainee was on cruise control as she reported home with a 2 ¾ length decision. Illinois bred Kiss Of Life (Dale Hiteman) was second while Mistletoe Shalee winner Chotat Milk (Brent Holland) rallied for third. Also gaining spots in the final were Maytime Hall and Sleazebiscuit.

In the final elimination Magee also piloted the winner as he guided Edward Engle & Jennifer Engle’s Do Me Good to a three-quarter-length triumph in 1:54.3.

After grabbing command right from the word go the Michigan based daughter of Keystone Raider led the field through an opening quarter in 29.0. Magee then elected to let a hard charging Copywriter take command on the backstretch and that filly stepped up the pace as she led the field through middle splits of 56.2 & 1:25.2.

After taking advantage of the garden trip, Magee maneuvered his filly into the passing lane where she rolled by a tiring Copywriter to win for the 11th time in 19 starts this season. Calling Card (Pat Berry) also closed up the inside to finish second while Bound For Glory toughed out a first over journey to finish third. She Likes It All was fourth and Copywriter held on for the final spot in next week’s finale.

TOM KELLEY

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