A pair of Illinois conceived and foaled stakes shared top billing during another busy weekend of harness racing action at Balmoral Park. On Saturday, May 5th a field of 10 sophomore pacing colts battled in the $12,000 Betzotic Stake while Sunday, May 6th's program featured a pair of $10,000 divisions for three-year-old trotting fillies in another edition of Betzotic Stake action.
Just as he did during his two-year-old season when he got off to a fast start to open his racing career, Robert Phillip’s Al’s Hammered continued his early season sophomore heroics as he exploded in the stretch to post a one-length victory in a career best of 1:51.3 on Saturday night.
Saddled with post position 10 in a very competitive field the son of Droppin’thehammer-Albert’s Magic sat at the back as Urawomanizer (Mike Oosting) and NJ’s Big Deal (Ronnie Gillespie) battled through opening splits of 27.1, 56.0 & 1:24.1.
Still ninth as the field turned for home, driver Robert Smolin tipped the Phillips trained sophomore three and then four wide as the field moved into the stretch.
Picking off one rival after another Al’s Hammered ripped off a wicked 26.0 final quarter to blow right by his rivals for his third win in eight starts this season. Charted as being nine lengths off at the half-mile mark the long striding colt paced a back half in an eye-opening 53.4.
King’s Legend (Marcus Miller) rallied nicely to finish second while NJ’s Big Deal, who wound up getting shuffled back after relinquishing the early lead, shook loose late to get the show dough.
Dispatched as the 5-2 second choice in the wagering Al’s Hammered returned $7.00, $5.60 & $3.80 while notching his eighth career victory in 21 starts. His career earnings now stand at $78,483.
Diagonally gaited distaffers were on display on Sunday night as a total of 14 state-bred’s battled in a pair of $10,000 Betzotic splits.
In the opener Redbud Stable and James Eaton’s Fox Valley Velvet picked up her first victory as a three-year-old posting a 2 ¾ length wire to wire victory in 1:59.1 for driver Marcus Miller.
Using the inside starting spot to perfection Miller whisked the daughter of-Vic’s Flag right to the front where she proceeded to roll through very easy splits of 30.0, 1:01.0 & 131.0 while uncontested on the lead.
With plenty still left in reserve the Eaton trained miss then trotted home in 28.1 to notch her fifth career win in her 12th lifetime start. Tsunamichick (Brian Carpenter) rallied from far back to be the bridesmaid while Star Of Victory (John Roberts) finished third.
The second choice in the betting Fox Valley Velvet returned $5.20, $3.80 & $2.40 while running her career earnings up to $94,930.
In the nightcap David Herman’s up and coming filly Divas Photo came from “out of the clouds” to post a late rushing 2 ¼ length victory in 1:59.3 with Mike Oosting at the controls.
Patiently allowed to settle in at the back of the pack by Oosting, the daughter of Photo Color-Mystical Cameo, who has been plagued by breaking problems, finally got underway as the field moved around the far turn.
With the leaders starting to tire after putting up splits of 30.1, 1:00.1 & 1:31.0 over a good track, the Randy Tuftie trained miss then showed the big turn of speed she’s capable of displaying as she effortlessly rattled off a 27.4 final quarter while blowing right by her rivals.
B Fly McQueen (Mike Reading) turned a ground saving journey into a second place finish while Wallstreet Darling (Dale Hiteman), who was involved in the early battle for control, held on for third.
After failing to hit the board in three starts as a freshman Divas Photo has now won two of her three starts this season. The late rushing filly returned a nice mutuel of $9.00, $3.60 & $3.40 while upping her bankroll to $10,665.
by Tom KELLEY