The countdown to Illinois biggest night of harness racing racing, Super Night 2012 began in earnest on Saturday (September 8) as 12 eliminations for five of the eight championship tilts were contested. A total of 15 two-year-old pacing fillies were sent postward in a pair of $15,000 eliminations for next week's $188,000 (est.) Filly Orange & Blue to get the night started.
In the first division John Carver’s Auniqueaquistion continued an impressive start to her racing career with a one-length victory in 1:54.3 for driver Mike Oosting.
Coming off a win in her career debut last week the full-sister to Iam Bonasera (-Shessoluvabull) swept to the front after the quarter and then rebuffed a first over bid from Special Rose (Ryan Anderson) on the far turn before cruising home to her second straight score.
“I didn’t necessarily go into the race feeling like we needed to be on the front end,” explained Oosting. “Tony (Alagna) and Donna (Lee Ozment) have done such a great job with her though you would think you were driving an aged mare out there. Once that horse came to her on the far turn I just wanted to make sure she kept her head in front of her so I gave her a little urging but she was pretty much all on her own out there tonight.”
Thank You Doc (Dean Magee) shook loose late to finish second while Special Rose was third. Lizzabelle and MJ’s Sista finished fourth and fifth respectively earning spots in the final.
In the second division Stevanna Turner and John Fletcher’s Incredible Filly continued to be a model of consistency in her first season of action as Hall of Famer Dave Magee guided her to a 2 ½ length victory in 1:56.1.
Getting away in second from the inside starting spot the Fletcher trained daughter of-Incredible Angel quickly took control of the proceedings after Fox Valley Ruby (Casey Leonard) led the field through the opening marker.
“We weren’t going much in the way of fractions and she’s very comfortable when she’s on the lead,” said Magee. “I didn’t want to take any chances of getting jammed up so I just sent her on her way. She’s got a big heart and has been good from the time she’s hit the track this season. If the draw goes well I expect her to be very competitive in next week’s final.”
Fox Valley Ruby held on for second while Our Miss Kathy (Todd Warren) finished third. Also getting into the final were Mystical Danica and Dallas Jones.
The win was the fifth in 17 starts this season for Incredible Filly who also boasts five second place finishes and four third place checks and will go into next week’s final as the leading money earner in the field with a bankroll of more than $52,000.
With a total of 15 three-year-old pacing fillies dropped into the box for the Grandma Ann Stake a pair of $15,000 elimination’s were carded. Once again the top five finishers will be back to battle on Super Night for an estimated purse of $159,000.
In the first division Horseman’s Financial Agency & Premier Racing Stables Party Hanover continued her red-hot summer notching her third straight victory as she rumbled up the passing lane to win by a head in 1:52.3 for driver John De Long.
Content to sit in the pocket while Fox Valley Hermia carved out the splits De Long was confident that the pace setter would carry him far enough to get where they needed to go.
“My horse really got away from the gate well tonight,” said De Long. “I was just planning to kind of feel it out but she got away so well and Ronnie’s horse (Fox Valley Hermia) was the only one leaving hard so I figured I’d put her right on his helmet and see where it led us. I only had to tap her a few times down in the passing lane and she got right down to business. I’m really glad she’s having her hot streak right now when all the big stakes are taking place.”
Fox Valley Hermia held on gamely to finish second while No Respect (Todd Warren) was third. Sleazy Does It was fourth while MJ’s Bid was fifth.
The win was the 16th in 29 lifetime starts for the Jesse De Long trained daughter of Party At-Maura Hanover.
In the second division Redbud Stable & John Johnston’s The Face Of Love rallied from far back to post a thrilling neck decision in 1:54.0 for driver Mike Oosting.
Placed at the back of the pack as Hostess Lisa (Dale Hiteman) battled several fillies Oosting figured he was just going to be looking for a spot in the final with the Perry Smith trained daughter of Art’s Conquest-Shessoluvabull after drawing the outside post.
“She’s been having some issues but it looks like Perry’s done a nice job of getting on top of those problems,” said Oosting. “This filly has got a pretty good motor on her when she’s right though and I never really had to ask her for much tonight. I just wanted to make sure she had those horses in her sights and she did the rest. If she gets a couple of things to go her way she can definitely be a threat in the final.”
Financial Effort (Robert Smolin) turned in a big effort to finish second while Hostess Lisa was third. Onlytheyankeeknows finished fourth while Melodie Hotspur was fifth.
The Face Of Love was unraced at two but she has been a busy filly in 2012 putting together a record of 5-3-4 in 27 starts.
Next on tap were two-year-old pacing colts as total of 32 youngsters were split into four $15,000 elimination’s for the Orange & Blue Stake. The first two finishers in each division along with two third place finishers (drawn by lot) will advance to the $250,000 (est.) final next week.
The first division produced another thrilling come from behind victory as the Nick Giberson trained Fancy Creek Elusiv came flying down the center of the track to scored by 1 ½ lengths in a career best of 1:53.2 giving Dave Magee his second win of the night.
Placed near the back of the pack Magee finally picked up the outer flow mid-way around the final bend and was third over in fifth as the field turned for home. With nothing but clear sailing ahead the gelded son of-Elusive Image quickly kicked it into high gear rattling off a wicked 27.3 final quarter to score for the fourth time in eight career starts for the partnership of Walker, Mullink, Henke & Walker.
After the win Magee seemed quite impressed by the effort this youngster had turned in.
“We got away a little slow but the key is just getting him to relax and he did that tonight,” said Magee. “He had plenty of pace when we got to the top of the lane but I didn’t want him to go by those other horses to quickly because he can get lazy when he doesn’t have other horses around him. When he stays out of trouble he can go with any of them in this division.”
Longshot Colechester (John De Long) parlayed a perfect ground saving trip into a second place finish while pace setter Collet Hotspur (John Roberts) held on for third.
In the second split driver Mike Oosting scored for the third time on the night, this time guiding Sawgrass Farms & Perry Smith’s Greg And Flex to a three-length victory in 1:54.2.
Confidently handled by the newest inductee to the 5,000 win club the gelded son of-Smashing Alberta moved first over on the far turn. Swallowing up the pace setting Bazooka (Ryan Anderson) at the top of the stretch, the Smith trained youngster then turned on the jets as he cruised to his first lifetime score.
“He’s a nice gutsy horse who has just had some soundness issues and some bad luck,” said Oosting. “I didn’t want to be first over with him again tonight but that’s the way it worked it out. Once I realized that’s the way we were going to have to do it I just let him float up to the leader and then he just took off when we hit the top of the stretch.”
Entrymate Shotgun Shack (Kyle Wilfong) turned in a solid effort to finish second while Ready (Josh Sutton) was third.
In the third division William P & William C De Long’s Fox Valley Action lived up to his even-money favoritism easily overcoming the outside post to score by 3 1/4 lengths in a snappy 1:52.3 for driver Todd Warren.
Making a power surge from fifth to first on the backstretch the Roger Welch trained son of-Anything You Ask grabbed command going to the half-mile mark. The issue was never in doubt from that point on as the good looking youngster simply paced away from his rivals in the lane to win for the fourth time in eight lifetime starts.
“With only two automatic spots in the final I knew we’d have to be a little aggressive leaving out of there but by the same token I didn’t want to do anything stupid with him,” said Warren. “This horse has one heck of a burst and he’s one of the smartest two-year-olds I’ve ever sat behind. We got a little breather in the third quarter and when I popped the plugs he just zipped away from the rest of the field. I’m really looking forward to next week’s final!”
Drunk On You (Ryan Anderson) rallied nicely to finish second while Big Brad (Robert Smolin) finished third.
In the final division of Orange & Blue elimination action Mark Anderson, D&M Trading and Mystical Marker Farms Mystical Walter shot right to the top from post position eight and never looked back in route to a deceptively easy two-length victory in a “wrapped-up” 1:55.1 for Marcus Miller.
Hustled away from the outside post the $37,000 yearling who is a son of-Yankee Blue was well within himself as he strolled through splits of 29.0, 58.3 & 1:27.4 before unleashing a 27.2 final quarter in route to his third win in four starts for trainer Ervin Miller.
“I didn’t plan on leaving out of there with him but nobody else was so I figured I’d better take advantage of that and get him into position right away,” explained Miller. “It was one of the softer division and he looked much the best so I didn’t want to use him up to hard and I think we accomplished that tonight. He came home pretty handily on his own and since he got off to a little later start than a lot of them in here he really seems to be coming around at the right time. We’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope for a good trip next week.”
BS Jeffs Lil Corona (John Roberts) followed the winner’s every move while taking home the place money while Sage Ruck (Dale Hiteman) was third.
Next on the docket were three-year-old colt pacers as a total of 16 sophomores were sent to battle in a pair of Pete Langley Memorial Stake elimination’s. Once again the top five in each division will return to battle for an estimated purse of $177,000.
In the first division the combination of owners Stevanna Turner & John Fletcher and driver Dave Magee clicked again this time with Magee steering the Fletcher trained NJ’s Big Deal to a wire to wire victory in a brisk 1:51.2.
Hustled right to the front by Magee the speedy son of-A Passing Breeze zipped through splits of 27.1, 54.4 & 1:23.1 while under a firm hold. The long striding bay then finished things off with a 28.1 final quarter to score for the seventh time in 20 starts this season.
“He’s just a good tough horse and while he doesn’t have to be on the engine he sure seems to enjoys being up there on the front end,” said Magee. “We were pressured pretty hard through that first quarter but then things sorted themselves out and he just continued to roll on. He responded beautifully when I asked him for a little more at the head of the stretch and then pretty much just coasted home without any problems tonight. I thought it was a pretty impressive race from him.”
Urawomanizer (John Roberts) sat in the pocket the entire way but was forced to settle for the runner-up role while Fox Valley Mahalo (Todd Warren) was third. Crime Of Passion was fourth while Tiger Bait finished fifth.
In the second division Al’s Hammered used his potent closing kick to wear down the pace setting Ice Scraper (Kyle Wilfong) in the final strides, winning his seventh race of the season by a ½ length in 1:51.0 while in hand to Robert Smolin.
After getting away in mid-pack Smolin appeared to be locked on the pylons as the field headed around the final turn. After being shuffled all the way back to seventh Smolin somehow managed to find an opening and he quickly maneuvered Al’s Hammered to the far outside. Swinging four wide as the field turned for home and gaining ground with each stride Al’s Hammered powered right by the pace setter in the final strides to post yet another heart stopping victory while going over the $150,000 mark in career earnings.
“Things got a little hairy there around the half-mile mark,” said a relieved Smolin. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to find a way out of there but then a horse on the outside got a little rough and that gave me just enough room to squeeze out. Once we got straightened out he really felt good tonight and pretty much just powered by on his own. I didn’t ask him for much in this race and I would expect him to be even sharper next week.”
Ice Scraper (Kyle Wilfong) carved out all the splits and held on well to finish second while King’s Legend (Mike Oosting) was third. Uncle Smoothie (Brian Carpenter) was fourth while Zall Good (Todd Warren) was fifth.
Capping off the action on Saturday were the top older pacers in the state as a total of 18 high class veterans squared off in a pair of $15,000 Tony Maurello Stake eliminations. The top five get the chance to knock heads on Super Night in the $127,000 (est.) final.
In the first division John Carver and Bert Hochsprung’s Iam Bonasera continued his recent roll as he won for the fifth time in his last seven starts, this time cruising to a four-length triumph in 1:50.2 to give Todd Warren his second elimination win of the night. It was also the third win of the night for broodmare Shessoluvabull.
The five-year-old Roger Welch trained gelding swept from fifth to first on the backside and the issue was never in doubt from that point on as he kept his rivals at a safe distance the rest of the way while pushing his career bankroll over the $515,000 plateau.
“We had a little change of tactics tonight and he loved it,” said winner driver Todd Warren. “Any time you get a chance to get him on the pylons for the last turn just makes him that much harder to beat because he can run out in that final turn at times. Tonight he was perfect. I pulled the plugs around the bend there, popped a wheel disk and off he went. He was on idle tonight and I really think he could have gone in 49 and change if I needed him to. I’m hoping with all the speed these old horses have things are going to set up perfectly for him next week.”
Boi (Dave Magee) who went flying away from the gate held on nicely to finish second while Dutch Richman (Marcus Miller) parlayed a ground saving trip into the show dough. Thisbigdogwilfight finished fourth while Smiling Bob was fifth.
In the final elimination on Saturday night James Gorman’s Well To Do Guru looked sharp as he gamely wore down the pace setting Intheblinkofaneye (Marcus Miller) in the final strides to score by a half-length in 1:53.2 on a track that had been downgraded to sloppy after a heavy rain hit the area just before the post parade for race 12.
Using the inside post to perfection driver Casey Leonard led the way through the opening quarter before yielding to a hard charging Intheblinkofaneye as the field moved to the half-mile mark. Content to ride along in the pocket the Terry Leonard trainee then moved to the outside of the leader with an eighth of a mile to go and doggedly wore down the leader to post his seventh victory of the year.
Intheblinkofaneye was a hard fought second while Sporty Gypsy (Dave Magee) was third. Fort Silky was fourth while Rucker Place finished fifth.
The elimination action continues on Sunday with a pair of Lorna Propes Stake elimination’s and preps for the Su Mac Lad and Lady Ann Reed Stakes.
by Tom KELLEY