Trotters grabbed the spotlight on Tuesday night (January 31) at Balmoral Park as a full field of 10 diagonally gaited specialists went postward in the $12,000 Champion On Ice Series Final.
Making amends for a tough loss as the 1-5 favorite in last week’s preliminary action Andy Miller Stable’s Van Joe made quick work of his rivals as he sped home with a deceivingly easy two-length victory in 1:59.4.
Confidently handled by his owner-driver this 5-Year-Old gelding sped away from post position three and was trotting comfortably in front as he raced by the quarter in 29.2 seconds. “ Last week we sat in the two-hole and wound up getting beat after a horse set slow fractions,” explained Miller. “This week I was going to make sure the pace was honest.”
Continuing to maintain their position on the front end, Miller had a snug hold of his charge as they rolled by the half-mile mark in 59s.
The first challenge to the 3-5 favourite came on the far turn as Easy Company (Dean Magee) ranged up first over to engage the pace setter. That move was easily rebuffed by the Julie Miller trainee who charged away to lead by 1 ¼ lengths as he trotted by the three-quarter-mile station in 1:29.3.
With plenty left in the tank Van Joe set sail for home. By the mid-stretch call the son of Van Gogh had opened up a three-length advantage and the only suspense that remained was who wound wind up with the minor spoils. On cruise control and “wrapped up” for the final sixteenth of a mile Van Joe reported home with his third win in four starts this season. Four Starz Casino (Tim Tetrick) came on late to wind up in the runner-up role while BC’s Legend (Dirk Simpson) shook loose to get the show money.
A $15,000 buy back in mid-November Van Joe has quickly recouped his purchase price with five wins and two seconds in his seven starts for the Miller barn. “He’s a nice hard trying horse who I think we can do some good with,” said Miller. “There’s a non-winners of four trotting series coming up here at Balmoral so we’ll point him for that and see how we fare.”
Courtesy Of Tom Kelley, Publicity Director, Balmoral Park