The year's richest harness racing event for Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old trotting colts was contested on Sunday night (October 2) at Balmoral Park as a field of 10 diagonally gaited youngsters battled in the $112,000 Lincoln Land Stake.
Fresh off a big second place finish in his elimination last week, Fox Valley Standardbreds and Harold & Joshua Carter’s Vaporstar picked a nice time to snag his first career win as he cruised to an easy 3 ¼ length victory in 1:57.4 for driver Dave Magee.
Leaving from post position five the gelded son of-Starlicious was able to get away in second after early miscues took out three of the 10 starters in the race.
Sitting right on the back of 72-1 longshot Skyline Pete (Eric Carlson) Magee was able to get his charge to relax through an opening quarter in 29.1.
The battle started to heat up heading to the half-mile mark as Skyline Pete continued to show the way but an alert Magee was getting set to pounce from the pocket as a hard charging Blown Away (Todd Warren) came rolling up on the outside as the field reached the half-mile mark in 58.4.
“I certainly didn’t want to get caught sitting in there behind a longshot like that and Todd’s horse was coming hard so we had to move very quickly,” explained Magee. “He’s never really had to do that before because he’s been babied a bit and raced from behind. He handled it perfectly though and shot right by the leader before we even moved into that final turn.”
In command of the proceedings the Mike Brink trainee led the field by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:28.4. Blown Away was continuing to advance on the outside of horses while Skyline Pete began to back up along the inside.
Through the lane Vaporstar continued to trot up a storm keeping Blown Away at bay while Tuff Guy JJ (Trace Tetrick) tried to rally while following the cover of Blown Away. However, those efforts would prove to be futile on this night as Vaporstar had plenty in reserve while getting only mild urging from Magee as he recorded his first win in seven lifetime starts. Blown Away was second while Tuff Guy JJ was third.
In the winner’s circle Magee was asked to assess the performance his charge had just turned in.
“He’s a big easy going horse who is perfectly gaited,” said the Hall of Famer. “I was a little surprised that he showed that quick burst of speed that he did at the half tonight but once he got to the front he really seemed comfortable. Mike Brink did a wonderful job of bringing this horse along and I really think he’s got a bright future ahead of him.”
Sent off as the third choice in the wagering Vaporstar returned $10.00, $4.40 & $3.00.
Sophomore trotting fillies were also in action on Sunday night as a field of 10 ladies was sent postward in the $12,500 Elk Grove Village OTB Stake.
Overcoming a nasty break while on the move in the final turn Joseph Mullins Maplegrove Shaelyn, this year’s Lady Ann Reed Stake winner, made an amazing recovery as she trotted right by her rivals in the lane to win by a resounding six length margin in 1:57.4.
Patiently handled by Jamaica Patton, the daughter of-Maple Grove Glide was on the move first over around the final turn when it appeared as though disaster had struck for the Mullins trainee as she went off-stride.
Despite dropping all the way from second to seventh at the mid-point of the far turn Patton managed to get his filly back on the trot. Looking like a runaway freight train Maplegrove Shaelyn then proceeded to circle her rivals the rest of the way as she trotted away to her fourth win in 10 starts this season. Sassy Kat (John De Long) shook loose late to finish second while Powerful Connection (Brian Carpenter) was third.
With the win Maplegrove Shaelyn went over the $80,000 mark in seasonal earnings after banking just $2,400 during her two-year-old season.