Illinois conceived and foaled pacers and trotters took center stage on a wet, windy and very chilly Sunday night (October 23) at Balmoral Park.
An overflow field of 11, which included some of the Prairie State’s top two-year-old pacing colts, stepped into action in the $47,600 Sarah Myers Stake while six sophomore trotting fillies squared off in a $13,800 ISOBA Stake.
The Sarah Myers looked to be another showdown between Orange & Blue winner Fox Valley Tribal and Pujols who finished a hard luck third in the state’s biggest event for freshman pacing colts. When the smoke cleared from a wild and wooly battle it was Pujols avenging his Super Night defeat as he powered home with a 3 ¼ length victory in 1:53.4.
With the inside three horses all making breaks before the start or right after the gate opened the starters in the middle and outside of the field had no trouble finding early spots. Those miscues allowed I Believe Its True (Sam Widger) to grab the early lead but he was under heavy pressure from Instant Classic (Ron Marsh) as the two longshots blazed through an opening quarter in 28.1. Leaving from post position six Fox Valley Tribal (Tim Tetrick) was able to settle in third, some three lengths off of the early speed duel while Dave Magee neatly tucked Pujols into the fourth spot midway around the first turn despite leaving from post position nine.
The duel between the two early leaders continued on the backstretch with Instant Classic finally clearing I Believe Its True just before the two-year-olds reached the half-mile mark in 56.0. Fox Valley Tribal was getting underway from third at this point while Pujols was sitting 6 ½ lengths behind the leaders while saving ground along the pylons in fourth.
It appeared as though Fox Valley Tribal was going to go right on by the pace setting Instant Classic on the far turn but that colt dug in gamely and continued to hold the 3-5 favorite at bay as these two sped by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.2.
In the lane Tetrick appeared to have some steering problems with Fox Valley Tribal as the Orange& Blue winner started to lug in and then out numerous times while trying to get past Instant Classic. While these two were battling tooth and nail I Believe Its True was still looming boldly along the inside and Pujols was finally starting to find his best stride out in the center of the sloppy going.
With the long powerful strides that propelled him to a Woodrow Wilson elimination win the son ofcruised right on by the exhausted leaders to win going away. I Believe Its True was able to save the place check while Fox Valley Cruiser (Mike Oosting) unleashed a big late move to finish third, 4 ½ lengths behind the winner.
Under the tutelage of trainer Tom Harmer Pujols has racked up six wins, two seconds and two thirds in 11 career starts with earnings of $124,650 for owner Michael Polansky. Sent off as the second choice in the field of 11 Pujols returned mutuels of $9.20, $5.60 & $3.60.
The “off” going failed to slow down division leader Victor’s Pursuit as she continued her dominance of the three-year-old filly trotting set with a very impressive 4 ½ length triumph in 1:57.1 in Sunday’s ISOBA Stake.
Handled with supreme confidence by Hall of Famer Dave Magee this daughter ofwas eased away from the gate and throughout the first turn trotting on the outside of horses in fourth as Arcola (Tim Tetrick) led the field through an opening quarter in 30.2.
After settling for their journey up the backstretch Magee then turned his filly loose and she quickly trotted to the front where she took the field through the half-mile mark in 59.4.Arcola was an anxious second at this point while Fall Creek Mist (Steve Searle) continued to save ground at the pylons in third.
With Magee trying to tap the brakes on his filly as the ladies trotted around the far turn, Tetrick decided he’d seen enough and quickly pulled his charge from the pocket. In just a few short strides Arcola proceeded to trot right back to the front and she was almost two-lengths in front of her stablemate as they passed the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:29.1.
Through the stretch a game Arcola tried to pull away from the 3-5 favorite but Victor’s Pursuit would once again prove to be way too much pulling from behind her chief rival at the eighth-pole and charging right on by for the victory. Arcola held on for the place money while Fall Creek Mist turned a ground saving journey into a third place check.
With the win Victor’s Pursuit now sports a record of 11-6-1 in 22 starts this season. The Roger Welch trained miss has earned $171,756 in this her first season of racing for owners Robert Rietveld and Paul Gibson. The overwhelming favorite in the race this filly returned just $3.40, $2.20 & $2.10.
Courtesy Of Tom Kelley, Publicity Director, Balmoral Park