Trotters and pacers were both in action on Sunday night at Balmoral Park as a pair of state- bred events highlighted the 11-race harness racing program.
A total of 15 three-year-old trotting fillies met in a pair of $9,000 Fox Valley Diva Stake splits while six Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old pacing colts squared off in the Bingo Johnnie Stake which was contested as a non-wagering event.
In the first division of the “Diva” Obermeier & Quaid Stables Maevey Gravy managed to rally in the final strides, finally overtaking the pace setting Ants Iner Pant (Steve Searle) in the shadow of the wire to win by a nose in a career best of 1:58.1. Powerful Star (Dale Hiteman), finished third just 1 ¼ lengths behind.
Patiently handled by driver Marcus Miller the daughter of-Grace Elizabeth was reserved in mid-pack while Ants Iner Pants opened up a five-length lead at the top of the lane while ripping through splits of 28.1, 56.1 & 1:25.4.
With the leader finally starting to get leg weary after the fast fractions Miller maneuvered Maevey Gravy to the outside where she steadily cut into big lead, getting up in the final strides for her first win of the year and the second of her 12 race career. The Erv Miller trained miss also boasts career earnings of more than $78,000.
In the second division the Arthur Reynolds & Jodi Peacock owned Rubys And Pearls grabbed command right from the start and made every call a winning one as she reported home with a 1 ¼ length victory in a lifetime best of 1:57.2 for driver-trainer Rick Schrock. B Fly McQueen (Robert Smolin) was second while Fox Valley Helen (Todd Warren) shook loose late to finish third.
Taking full advantage of an inside draw Schrock sent the daughter of-Reggae Ruby to the front where she strolled through leisurely splits of 29.2, 59.0 & 1:28.0.
Under minimal pressure throughout the mile Rubys And Pearls still had plenty in reserve for the stretch drive, cruising home in 29.2 to pick up her third win in four starts this year and her seventh win in 14 career starts. The victory also helped push the filly’s career bankroll over the $87,000 mark.
A field of six colts and geldings made their pari-mutuel debuts in the Bingo Johnnie which was contested as a non-wagering event before the start of the regular 11-race program.
When the smoke cleared from this battle it was John Carver and Ronald Phillips JPS Mini Me who emerged on top as he parlayed a perfect two-hole trip into a three-quarter-length victory in a snappy 1:56.2 for driver Ronnie Gillespie.
Perfectly positioned right on the back of the pace setting Kittitas (Freddie Patton Jr) as that gelding put up splits of 29.3, 59.0 & 1:27.0, JPS Mini Me quickly swallowed up the leader in the stretch sealing the deal with a 28.4 final quarter to pick up his first win.
BS Jeffs Lilcorona (Marcus Miller) rallied to finish second while Singular Sight (Dave Magee) was a distant third, five lengths behind the winner who is a home-bred son of Lifeguard On Duty-Jeffries Peach.
by Tom KELLEY