Illinois conceived and foaled pacers and trotters were back in action on Saturday, Sept. 22nd and Sunday, Sept. 23rd as Balmoral Park played host to a trio of stakes events for two and three-year-olds.
The action kicked off on Saturday night with a pair of events for two-year-old pacers as a total of 10 two-year-old pacing fillies battled in the $14,000 Thrifty Way Stake while 16 of their male counterparts slugged it out in two $11,300 divisions of the Yates Eagle.
In the Thrifty Way Sawgrass Farms Our Miss Kathy parlayed a patient steer and a ground saving journey into a thrilling victory as she scored by a head in a career best of 1:55.1 for driver Todd Warren.
Glued to the pylons the entire way after leaving from the inside post the daughter of-Brooklets Brigade found room in the final sixteenth of a mile and then proceeded to mow down Fox Valley Ruby (Casey Leonard) in the closing strides for her third win in 10 starts. Special Rose (Brian Carpenter) was third. Nelson Willis conditioned the winner.
In the first division of the Yates Eagle Curragh Racing Stables Murvey Vinny unleashed a powerful closing burst going from seventh to first in the stretch to win by 1 ¾ lengths in a lifetime best of 1:54.2.
Positioned near the back of the pack by driver Josh Sutton after leaving from post position seven the gelded son of-Millennium Lady was content to watch heavily favored Sage Ruck (Ryan Anderson) stave off challenges from several contenders. After swinging wide for the drive the Lyle Scurlock trainee began picking off one rival after another as he scored for the third time in seven lifetime starts. Fox Valley Norman (Mike Oosting) overcame a tough trip to finish second while Sage Ruck was a bang-up third.
The second division of the Yates Eagle produced another come from behind winner as Richard Beere's Collet Hotspur shook loose late and powered home in a wicked 27.0 to win by a neck in 1:54.0.
After being shuffled to seventh at the top of the stretch driver John Roberts somehow managed to maneuver his way through traffic with the son of-Lookin Her Best and the gelding responded beautifully once he found room to post his maiden victory.
Ready (Casey Leonard), who made a huge sweeping move to the front on the far turn was a game second while Kostas Wine (Dave Magee) held on for third. Once again trainer Nelson Willis sent out the winner.
Trotters were in action on Sunday night as a field of eight three-year-old trotting fillies battled for $22,650 in the Lady Ann Reed Stake consolation.
After a disappointing sixth place finish on Super Night Fox Valley Standardbreds and Jim Edgar's Fox Valley Helen made amends for that showing as she rallied in the final strides to win by a neck in 1:59.0 for driver Todd Warren.
After saving ground throughout the mile while Fox Valley Lexus controlled the pace Warren maneuvered the daughter of-Memory Maker to the outside for the stretch drive.
Gradually wearing down the leaders the Roger Welch trainee forged her way to the front and then gamely held off a late charge up the inside from Powerful Star (Dale Hiteman) to post her second win of the season. Powerful Star, who made a break near the top of the stretch recovered nicely to finish second while Powerful Rosie (Brian Carpenter) finished third.
by Tom KELLEY