Day At The Track

State bred stakes highlighted Friday card

01:13 PM 06 Jul 2013 NZST
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Fox Valley Yukon Unlocked
Fox Valley Yukon - Under the guidance of conditioner Rob Ritoff
Unlocked - A son of Duneside Perch-Miss Major Power

The USTA's Back To The Track weekend kicked off on Friday night and along with food, fun and some great giveaways, Maywood Park celebrated the harness racing event with a pair of state-bred stakes events featuring both the young and older stars of the Illinois Conceived and Foaled circuit.

In the night’s first event Megan Rogers recent acquisition, Unlocked made it four in a row to open his career taking the $12,000 Fox Valley Barzgar Stake at by 2 ¼ lengths in 1:56.3 for driver Dave Magee.

Just as he did in his victory in the Enzo The Baker Stake last week, driver Magee ducked off the gate with the son of Duneside Perch-Miss Major Power, getting away sixth as 75-1 longshot Marty Rucker (Dale Hiteman) led the field through an opening quarter in 29.0.

Moving first over as the field rolled by the stands for the first time Unlocked continued to draw closer to the pace setter, moving into third on the outside as the two-year-old colts reached the half-mile mark in a leisurely 58.2.

Finding his best stride as the field moved down the backstretch for the final time, the Nick Prather trainee was about to swallow up Marty Rucker as the two moved past the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.3.

Quickly drawing away from that rival on the final turn the undefeated colt was on cruise control the rest of the way, effortlessly keeping his entrymate The Fiscal Cliff (Mike Oosting) at bay through the lane. Fox Valley Nico (Casey Leonard) wound up finishing third, 5 ½ lengths behind the winner.

With that perfect four for four record Unlocked now has career earnings of $22,500. Bet as though defeat was out of the question the bay colt returned just $2.10 & $2.10. There was no show wagering on the race. Some of the state’s top older pacers were in action in the night’s eighth race as an overflow field of 10 gathered for the $30,000 Cook County Stake.

Using the inside post on the half-mile oval to absolute perfection, driver Kyle Wilfong guided Fox Valley Yukon to a three-quarter-length triumph in 1:53.2 for the partnership of Rob Ritoff, Gail Sanders, M. De Vience & The Auglyn Corporation.

Leaving quickly from the inside starting spot Fox Valley Yukon grabbed early command then elected to let second tier starter, and 3-5 favorite Fort Silky (Casey Leonard) grab control of the proceedings as the field stormed by an opening quarter in 27.0.

Positioned perfectly in the pocket as Fort Silky led the field through middle splits of 55.4 & 1:24.1, Wilfong patiently waited for room Fox Valley Yukon while Fort Silky was forced to fend off a first over bid from Gibbs (Robert Smolin).

Swinging to the outside as the field moved through the stretch the five-year-old son of Sportsmaster gradually wore down Fort Silky, eventually getting by the division leader in the final 100 yards with a 28.4 closing panel. Fort Silky was forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night while 35-1 longshot Sports Fanatic (Dean Magee) rallied to finish third.

The win was the third in 17 starts this year for Fox Valley Yukon who now boasts career earnings of $220,842 while under the guidance of conditioner Rob Ritoff. Sent off as the second choice in the field of 10 Fox Valley Yukon returned $13.40, $4.40 & $4.00.

by Tom KELLEY

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