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Illinois conceived and foaled trotters and pacers were back in the spotlight on Saturday night at Balmoral Park as the Crete plant played host to four stakes or consolations for Super Night participants as part of the big 13-race harness racing program.   Freshmen pacing fillies kicked off the action with a field of nine going postward in the $13,900 Thrifty Way Stake.   Avenging a pair of recent tough trips that led to sub-par efforts Quaid Racing's Angel Demon came steamrolling down the center of the track to record a 3 ½ length victory in a career best of 1:54.2 for driver John De Long.   Saving ground the entire way, the daughter of Sportsmaster--Miss Swift appeared to be hopelessly shuffled out of contention before De Long managed to shake loose from the pylons.   Storming down the center of the track Angel Demon blew right by a leg weary Girls Hunt Too to pick up her first career victory. Longshot Desi Dune (Todd Warren) turned in a nice effort to finish second while Girls Hunt Too was third.   Now in the barn of conditioner Erin Elliott, Angel Demon returned $5.00, $3.60 & $3.40 while pushing her bankroll to $48,113.   Trotters were next to hit the track as a field of seven diagonally gaited three-year-old fillies battled in the $20,000 Lady Ann Reed Consolation.   Making amends for her costly break in the rich Super Night final of this event, Donald Huddleston's Macie Rae was on her best behavior as she made every call a winning one, reporting home by 4 ¾ lengths in 1:57.1.   With trainer Mike Rogers climbing into the bike for this battle the daughter of Powerful Emotion--Fox Valley Poetry stormed right to the front, putting up splits of 29.1, 58.1 & 1:27.0.   After opening up a big lead at the top of the stretch, Rogers let his filly drift a bit through the stretch and she responded beautifully to that careful handling as she widened her margin while notching her 11th victory in 15 starts this season. Bands Alexis (Todd Warren) tried to follow the winner's every move but was forced to settle for a runner-up role while Fox Valley Skylar (Dale Hiteman) finished third.   Heavily backed off her sparkling record Macie Rae returned just $2.80, $2.80 & $2.20 while upping her career earnings to $89,520 with career win number 19.   Freshmen pacing colts jumped into the fray with a field of nine youngsters battling in the $13,900 Yates Eagle Stake.   Taking advantage of a perfect two-hole trip, Fox Valley Elijah came rolling through the passing lane to win by 1 ½ lengths in a career best of 1:54.2.   Perfectly positioned by driver Todd Warren, the gelded son of Sportsmaster--Eternal Gift had all the best of it while C Note (Travis Seekman) carved out splits of 29.0, 58.3 & 1:27.0.   Fit and fresh off that journey the Nelson Willis trainee gradually wore down the pace setter, drawing clear in the shadow of the wire for his second lifetime win for the partnership of Kay Willis, Engel Stable Of Illinois and Haugen Stables. C Note held on gamely to finish second while Casey At Bat (Dean Magee) found room late to rally for the show dough.   Part of a Willis owned entry Fox Valley Elijah returned $9.60, $4.20 & $4.00 while moving his bankroll to $15,890.   Last but not least were sophomore pacing colts as a field of nine three-year-olds squared off in the $22,400 Pete Langley Memorial Consolation. This race provided the biggest shocker of the night as 19-1 longshot Fox Valley Cupid parlayed a perfect trip into a thrilling nose decision in a career best of 1:52.3.   Hustled off the wings of the gate by Robert Smolin the gelded son of Yankee Skyscaper--Fox Valley Cherub landed in the garden spot right on the back of favored Uncle Ugly as that one put up hot splits of 26.3, 55.1 & 1:23.2.   Moving into the passing lane the Mike Schulfer trainee gradually wore down the favorite and then held on for dear life as Overloaded (Kyle Wilfong) came flying late to just miss. The other half of that Tom Simmons trained entry; Fox Valley Van (Dale Hiteman) was a fast closing third.   The win was just the second in a 34-race career for Fox Valley Cupid who has still managed to earn a "cool" $115,830 for owner James Strazlka, Mike Schulfer, James Skvarla and Nancy Magnus. Those lucky enough to back the bay sophomore were rewarded with mutuels of $40.80, $12.80 & $5.80.   Saturday's 50 cent Pick 5 wager was not hit so there will be a carryover of $6,168 added to Sunday's pool. Thus, there will now be a GUARANTEED POOL OF $50,000 for Sunday's Pick 5 wager. The Pick 5 is contested on races 2-6 on Sunday's.   Past performances courtesy of Trackmaster for the 50 Cent Pick 5 and the $1 Pick with its $25,000 guaranteed pool can be found at ustrotting.com   Tom Kelley  

Throughout a racing campaign you will have trainers, or their owners, pointing their horse for a particular stake race. You can be sure than no horseman or proprietor aimed for the Balmoral Park stake races held the weekend after Super Night. The half-dozen ICF stakes on this weekend are for pacers or trotters that, for one reason or another, fared poorly on Super Night. While these horses are racing for some decent purses ($13,900 to $21,900), in most cases its only 10 to 15 per cent of what the pots of those finals offered a week ago. Saturday’s $13,900 Thrifty Way and Yates Eagles are for 2-year-olds that didn’t finish in the top five in their respective O&B Final or 1-2 in their Consolation. Both of this summer’s downstate champions, Lucpark in Du Quoin’s Governor’s Cup and Thisishowweroll at Springfield, came up with disappointing races on Super Night and finished eighth and ninth, respectively. Tonight they’ll open as the 2-1 and 4-1 program favorites in the fourth race Yates Eagle stake. Lucpark had to battle hard (27.1, 55.2) to get to the front and keep the lead to the three-quarter pole in the final and was on empty in mid-stretch. The second race Thrift Way filly stake 3-1 favorite is Angel Demon, the second place finisher in both State Fair championships and Balmoral’s Loyal Opposition earlier in the summer. Angel Demon was hung out to a bruising 27.1 first quarter and went to a :55.1 first half before she folded and ended up a far-back ninth. The Quaid Racing filly debuts for the Erin Elliott Stable tonight and John De Long takes over the lines. The Lady Ann Reed heavy favorite Macie Rae looked like she was going to reward her many backers on Super Night but went into a gallop on the lead in the lane ended up the track. Trainer Mike Rogers will be in the bike on the Powerful Emotion 3-year-old when she opens up as the 8-5 favorite in the $20,000 second race Lady Ann Reed Consolation. “I thought she was a winner coming down the lane but that’s horse racing,” said Rogers. “I’m not going to tell you her breaking on Super Night was easy to swallow because it wasn’t. But these things happen. “I think the bike we used was a little too much for the filly and gave her too much lift, so I’ll try a different one Saturday and see how she reacts with it for me.” Last year’s Illinois 2-Year-Old Colt Pacer of the Year PQ Three and  Maywood Pace champion Uncle Ugly will open as the 5-2 and 7-2 favorites in tonight’s $22,400 Langley Consolation after being non-factors a week ago in the championship. Uncle Ugly, catch driven tonight by Travis Seekman, was about 15 lengths off Unlock a week ago, while PQ Three obviously had some physical problems and was pulled up and didn’t finish the race. The Quaid Racing Stable of vgreen Park, IL has moved its horses to the barn of trainer Eric Elliott. Dean Magee will drive the 3-year-old PQ Three tonight. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

The elimination action for Super Night 2014 came to a close on Sunday, September 07 at Balmoral Park as a field of 10 sophomore trotting colts looked for nine starting spots in next Saturday's (Sept. 13) $98,000 (est) Su Mac Lad Stake final which will be part of the big Super Night Card at Balmoral Park. Despite the fact that he was coming off an impressive win in a "conditioned" event against older company here at Balmoral Park last week, Bo & Pat De Long, Gordon Wright and Roger Welch's Bobby B Breeze slipped by the betting public once again as he trotted to a 1 ¼ length victory in 1:57.0 for driver Todd Warren. Sent forward from post position four as the wings of the gate folded by Warren, the gelded son of Southwind Breeze--Lindy's Fireball settled into a perfect spot as stablemates Nino Marino (Dean Magee) and Fox Valley Cicero (Brian Carpenter) battled through an opening quarter in 29.2. Content to sit inside and save ground through middle splits of 58.2 & 127.1 the Roger Welch trainee was just waiting for his chance to pounce on the embattled leaders as the field straightened for the money. Setting sail for the wire the Bobby B Breeze zipped right by the top pair, drawing clear in the shadow of the wire for his second win in 14 starts this season. Fox Valley Cicero held on for second while 30-1 longshot Cardinal Wind (Dale Hiteman) staged a nice late rally to finish third. Also gaining spots in the final were Photo Surprise, Nino Marino, Tour Hall, Gray N Cloudy, Swiss Mocha and Big Bill Breeze. They will be joined by Fox Valley Veto, who elected to take a "bye" into the final but was victorious in a snappy 1:55.4 while facing "older" company earlier in the night. For more information regarding the big Super Night card on Saturday, September 13th, please visit www.balmoralpark.com by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

The countdown to the biggest night of the year for Illinois conceived and foaled pacers and trotters began in earnest on Saturday night at Balmoral Park as a bevy of elimination action brought out some of the Prairie State's best. Freshmen pacing fillies started the Saturday night action with a total of 15 youngsters entered in a pair of $15,000 Filly Orange & Blue elim's. The top five will be back on Super Night to battle for a $163,000 (est) jackpot. In the opening split Jesse De Long & Hamm Family Trust's Sportsmuffler made her local debut a winning one as she rolled to an easy 4 ½ length victory in a career best of 1:54.3. Perfectly placed In The Pocket by driver John De Long, the daughter of Sportsmaster--Whatifthere'smore exploded past the pace setting Cowgirl Chic in the lane as she rolled to her sixth win in nine lifetime starts. Cowgirl Chic held on well to finish second while Girls Hunt Too (Dale Hiteman) was third and Star Gram (Brian Carpenter) was fourth. Angel Demon (Ryan Anderson), the 1-2 favorite in the field of eight, stopped badly after a first over bid on the far turn but still managed to gain a spot in the final with her fifth place finish. In the second division Leland Mathias and Paymaq Racing's Mr Leland's Filly continued her dominance of this division as she cruised to a 2 ¼ length victory in 1:56.1 for driver Casey Leonard. Sent from third to first after a tepid opening quarter the Erv Miller trained daughter of Sportsmaster--Incredible Katie appeared to have plenty in reserve through the lane as she toyed with her rivals while posting her fifth win in seven lifetime starts. BS Tyrichess (Brian Carpenter) turned a pocket sitting trip into a second place check while Lex (Kyle Wilfong) was forced to settle for the show dough after a bold first over bid at the top of the stretch. Luvniecestopieces (Ryan Anderson) was fourth while Fox Valley Redhead (Dale Hiteman) finished fifth. A field of 10 was sent postward in the $15,000 Pete Langley Memorial for three-year-old pacing colts with the top nine finishers joining Fox Valley Cupid, who opted for a bye, in next week's $147,000 (est) final. Living up to his overwhelming 1-9 favoritism Megan Rogers Racing Stables Unlocked completely dismantled this field as he reported home with an effortless 6 ¼ length victory in 1:50.3 for driver Dave Magee and trainer Erv Miller. The issue was never in doubt in this one as the good looking son of Duneside Perch--Miss Major Power worked his way to the front after the opening quarter and proceeded to widen his margin at each call while posting his fourth straight victory over these rivals. Fox Valley Deuce (Casey Leonard) followed the winners every move after relinquishing the lead on the backstretch but was no match for the heavy favorite while garnering the second place check. Svaya Knows (Travis Seekman) rallied late to finish third. Also gaining spots in the final were Fox Valley Van, Uncle Ugly, Overloaded, Cotton Eyed Joe, BlueRiver and Sleazeburgernfries. The older pacers renewed acquaintances as a total of 16 veterans were dropped into the box for a pair of $15,000 Tony Maurello Stake elimination's. Once again the top five finishers will be back for what should be a very entertaining $112,000 (est) final next week. In the first division the Bob Phillips owned and trained Al's Hammered came flying down the lane to win by 1 ¼ lengths in a seasons best of 1:49.1 with Bobby Smolin at the controls. Content to bide their time near the back of the pack through some quick early splits, Smolin put the five-year-old son of Droppin'thehammer--Alberts Magic into contention at the top of the lane. Uncorking the big late kick he's come to be known for Al's Hammered proceeded to wear down FortSilky (Casey Leonard) in the final sixteenth of a mile for his 13th win in 19 starts this season. FortSilky was forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night while Big Daddy Woo Woo (Ridge Warren) was third. Ice Scraper (Todd Warren), who carved out the fast fractions held on for fourth while Ricky Bobbie (Pat Curtin) was fifth. In the nightcap Bert Hochsprung and the Erv Miller Stables classy veteran Iam Bonasera picked a nice time to grab his first win of the season as he rolled to an easy 1 ½ length victory in 1:51.3 with Travis Seekman at the controls. Perfectly positioned In The Pocket while Big Brad (Robert Smolin) carved out pedestrian splits of 27.4, 57.0 & 1:25.1, Seekman maneuvered the seven-year-old Cole Muffler--Shesoluvabull gelding to the outside with an eighth of a mile to go and the lifetime winner of more than $670,000 did the rest, storming home in 26.1 to get the win. Big Brad settled for second while another Miller trainee, A Cool Card (Dave Magee) was third. Crankin' It Up (Kyle Wilfong) was fourth while Doubletrouble (Todd Warren) was fifth. Next up were the two-year-old pacing colts as a total of 19 hopeful's met in a pair of $15,000 battles. The top five in each race will return for what is expected to be next week's biggest purse of the night at $187,000 (est). The first split provided a thrilling finish as the Roger Welch trained entry of Earndawg and Rockin Cassinova finished one-two with Earndawg getting the 1 ½ length score in a career best of 1:54.0 for the partnership of Bo & Pat De Long and E.J. Miller Jr. Sitting near the back of the back of the pack after starting from post position eight, driver Todd Warren did a magnificent job of guiding the altered son of Sportsmaster--Pacific Sister K through the lane charging from eighth to first in the final quarter-mile for his third win in nine lifetime starts. Rockin Cassinova (Dale Hiteman) parlayed a nice ground saving journey into the place check while Dakota Roadster (Robert Smolin) rallied for third. Also gaining spots in the final was the pace setting Dupage's Z Tam (Casey Leonard) and Thisishowweroll (John De Long). The second elimination was also a barnburner and when the smoke cleared it was Rocco Ruffolo's Lucpark who prevailed by the slimmest of noses in 1:55.1 for driver Dave Magee. Given a Hall of Fame steer by Super Night's leading driver, Lucpark left quickly from post nine and settled in nicely at the pylons until the top of the stretch. That's when Magee went to work with the Erv Miller trained son of Sportsmaster--Treasure The Best, deftly maneuvering off the cones then squeezing through a tight hole with an eighth of a mile to go before wearing down the pace setting King Of The Swamp (Todd Warren) in the last stride for his fourth win in eight lifetime starts. C Note (John De Long) shook loose late to finish third. The last two spots in the final went to Mighty Hot Shot (Brian Carpenter) and Fox Valley Elijah (Dale Hiteman). A total of 23 distaffers were dropped into the box for a trio of $15,000 Lorna Propes Stake elimination's with the top three and one fourth place finisher (drawn by lot) advancing to next week's $120,000 (est) championship. In the first division Jesse De Long's Let's Go Higher, the defending champion in this event, returned to town for trainer Heidi Rohr and promptly served notice that she's going to be tough to dethrone as she posted a 4 ¼ length wire to wire victory in 1:52.1. Confidently handled by driver John De Long, the six-year-old daughter of Cole Muffler--Ten Speed shot right to the top and promptly rattled off splits of 28.3, 57.1, & 124.4 before sealing the deal with a brisk 27.2 final panel for her 22nd win in the past two seasons. No Respect (Kyle Wilfong) followed the winner every step of the way but was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Tamarac Sassy (Casey Leonard) was third. Fox Valley Touche finished fourth. In the middle split Wilson Racing Stable, Norm Neff and Mark Eichberger's Dune In Red parlayed a perfect trip into a 2 ½ length victory in a snappy 1:51.2 for driver Dave Magee. Sent hard from post five, the chestnut daughter of Duneside Perch--She Has The Look elected to let a hard charging Party Hangover (Todd Warren) go just after the quarter. That put the Tim Wilson Jr trained miss in a perfect spot the rest of the way. Magee then maneuvered the four-year-old out of the pocket and she responded beautifully as she zipped right by the odds on favorite for her fourth win of the season. Party Hangover held on for second while State Street Liz (Robert Smolin) was third. Zumba finished fourth. In the final elimination of the night fittingly went to another Dave Magee driven mare as he guided Joshua Carter's Just By Design to a one-length victory in 1:52.3. As was the case for nearly all of the night Magee had the roan six-year-old perfectly positioned In The Pocket while Fox Valley Absolut carved out splits of 28.2, 57.2 & 1:25.0. Fit and fresh as she waited for the passing lane, the Mike Brink trained miss cruised right by the pace setter for her third win of the season. Fox Valley Absolut held on for second while Toshie Special (Dean Magee) finished third. Auniqueaquistion finished fourth. The elimination action continues on Sunday, Sept. 7th with a $15,000 Su Mac Lad elimination. That tussle will go as race six on the 10-race card which begins at 7:10 p.m. (central). No eliminations were needed for the Lady Ann Reed for three-year-old trotting fillies or the Grandma Ann for three-year-old pacing fillies. The latter did have a "prep" on Saturday night which was taken by Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly and driver Matt Krueger in 1:55. By Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park    

A trio of trotting events, headlined by a pair of Hanover Stakes for two-year-old trotters, shared top billing on the Sunday, August 3rd card at Balmoral Park as the Crete plant headed towards a two-week break in the live action for the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. The ladies kicked off the Sunday night stake action with a compact field of six diagonally gaited youngsters battling for a $29,500 jackpot to start the Hanover action. A familiar face to the Chicago racing scene took home top honors in this event as Walter and Paige Paisley's Sloane Elise picked up her first lifetime victory with a very impressive 1 ¼ length victory in 1:56.4. Dave Magee handled the driving duties for trainer Nelson Willis. Kept well off hot early splits of 28.4, 57.0 & 1:27.1 that were being set by a headstrong PT Kaye (Marshall Makin), Magee finally started to zero in on the pace setter as the field reached the top of the stretch. With the leader coming to a halt, heavily favored Fox Valley Yoko (John De Long) quickly grabbed command in the lane but the lead was short lived as Sloane Elise found her best stride. Taking dead aim on the 1-5 favorite, this daughter of ABC Garland--Touch Of Victory scooted right by the "chalk", sealing the deal with a 29.1 final quarter to post her maiden breaking victory. Fox Valley Yoko was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Lima Pizzas (Travis Seekman) was third. With the win the Indiana bred Sloane Elise now sports a record of 1-1-0 in 4 career starts with earnings of $26,486. The second choice in the wagering returned $9.20, $2.60 & $2.10. Another field of six was sent postward in the $28,900 two-year-old colt trot and once again it was the second choice in the wagering who wound up toting home the top prize as Lilly Racing Stables & Shelley Steele's Cruisin Valor rolled to an easy five-length victory in 2:00.1 for driver Brian Carpenter. Sent right to the front from post position five the gelded son of Yankee Valor--Heather Nan led the field through an opening quarter in 30.2. With Carpenter hitting the breaks on the backstretch heavily favored Southrncomfortzone (John De Long) grabbed the lead before going off stride as the field reached the half-mile mark in 1:01.3. That miscue left Cruisin Valor all alone on the front end as he rolled by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:31.1. Leaving the rest of the field in his wake, the Gerald Hansen trainee left no doubt as to who was best on this night as he reported home with his second win in three career starts. Powerful Above All (Casey Leonard) turned a ground saving trip into a second place check while Air Force Blue (Mike Cox) was third. With the win Cruisin Valor now boasts $17,919 for his connections. The bay gelding returned $6.60, $3.60 & $3.20 to his backers. State-bred trotters were also in action on Sunday night as a field of eight, three-year-olds and up, squared off in the $25,000 Mikes A Mystery Stake. Fresh off his big win in the Kadabra Stake last week, Curt and Craig Grummel's Fox Valley Veto had no trouble handling older rivals as he posted a 4 ½ length victory in a career best of 1:55.1 for driver John De Long. Saving ground in mid-pack as Powerful Poe (Dave Magee) and Ants Iner Pants (Dean Magee) traded blows on the front end through opening splits of 29.1 & 58.1 De Long moved the Curt Grummel trained sophomore to the outside as the field raced around the final bend. Taking dead aim on Ants Iner Pants as that mare rolled by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.1 Fox Valley Veto began to unleash what has become a very potent closing burst. Sailing home in a brisk 27.2 the altered son of Pizzazzed--Yankee Victory zipped right by his rivals to notch his fourth win of the season. Ants Iner Pants held on for second while Powerful Poe held on for third. With Sunday's victory Fox Valley Veto now sports a career record of 5-6-0 in 18 starts with earnings of $127,194. Heavily backed at the betting windows after his Southland Festival of Racing victory Fox Veto returned $3.40, $2.40 & $2.10. Both Balmoral & Maywood will be dark for live racing until Friday, August 15th (Maywood) and Saturday, August 16th(Balmoral) as the action heads to Springfield for the State Fair Stakes. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

It was only fitting that a stake named for a rugged Erv Miller trained filly was taken by another Miller trainee on Sunday night at Balmoral Park as Quaid Racing's My Little Bit hung on gamely to record a head decision in the $10,000 Mystical Victress Stake for ICF three-year-old pacing fillies. The final time was 1:53.2. Confidently handled by driver Casey Leonard, the daughter of Sportsmaster--Parade Of Love was sent to the front but quickly relinquished the top spot to a hard leaving Cuzimalegend (Dean Magee) as the field moved by the opening split in 26.4. Showing the confidence he had in his filly, Leonard quickly moved the Miller trained miss back to the top where she put up middle splits of 56.0 & 1:24.1. After repelling the challenge of a first over Molly Go Lightly (Brian Carpenter) as the field turned for home, My Little Bit drew off to a 2-length advantage in the lane. All out as the distaffers made their way to the wire My Little Bit dug in gamely to fight off the bid of M A Duty (Kyle Wilfong) who had been saving ground throughout the mile to post her second win of the season. M A Duty was a hard fought second while Party Hangover Two (John De Long) rallied from far back after being shuffled out of contention early to finish third. With the victory My Little Bit now boasts a record of 7-3-2 in 17 career starts with earnings of $149,260 for her proud connections. Coming off her second place finish in the Filly Maywood Pace, My Little Bit was heavily backed at the betting windows returning just $3.80, $2.80 & $2.80. Live racing continues at Balmoral Park on Wednesday, July 2nd, win a nine-card card getting underway at 7:10 pm (central). The Wednesday Pick 4 will have a $10,000 guaranteed pool and will entail races six through nine. Past performances for the Pick 4 races, courtesy of Trackmaster and the U.S.T.A. can be found at www.ustrotting.com. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

Illinois conceived and foaled freshmen shared top billing on Wednesday, June 18th at Balmoral Park as a pair of events once again showcased both pacers and trotters from the state-bred ranks. A full field of 10 two-year-old pacing fillies were dropped into the box for the $10,000 Incredible Tillie Stake. With a wicked lighting storm approaching the Crete oval, which eventually wound up delaying the races right after the finish of this event, Peter Dora's Lyrics Fall turned in an electrifying effort scoring by a neck in wire to wire fashion while stopping the clock in 1:56.2 over a "good" racetrack. Speeding away from post position six for driver Ronnie Gillespie, the bay daughter of Yankee Skyscaper--Fox Valley Evelyn put up splits of 29.2, 59.0 & 1:28.3 while rolling along unchallenged on the front end. After opening up a four-length advantage by the mid-stretch call the $1,800 yearling purchase was all out to hold off the late charge of Gracie On My Mind (Dave Magee) who came flying home in 27.1 to finish second. Fox Valley Redhead (Dean Magee) also uncorked a big late move to wind up third. A field of six trotting fillies went postward in the $5,000 Star Slinger Stake and when the smoke cleared it was Cynthia Demarlie & Jason Ward's Bi Polar Rose who emerged victorious, scoring by 1 ½ lengths in 2:02.0 over a track listed as "good". Sent right to the top by Travis Seekman the daughter of Polar Winner--I Still Owe rattled off splits of 31.2, 1:03.3 & 1:33.1. After repelling a first over bid from Fox Valley Macy (Ronnie Gillespie) at the top of the lane, the Rod Allums Jr. trained miss trotted home in a sharp 28.4 to make her debut a winning one. Persuasive Look (Dave Magee) overcame a miscue behind the gate to rally for the bridesmaid spot while Patient I D (Dale Hiteman) followed the winner's every move while garnering the show dough.   Bi Polar Rose made her debut a winning one as she scored in wire to wire fashion for Travis Seekman in Wednesday's Star Slinger Stake.   Lyrics Fall (inside) held off a late bid from Gracie On My Mind (outside) to take the $10,000 Incredible Tillie Stake for 2yo pacing fillies in her career debut.   by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

Racing fans received their first look at some of this seasons Illinois conceived and foaled freshmen trotting and pacing sets as a pair of non-wagering events on Sunday, June 15th capped off a busy weekend of state-bred stakes action.   Pacers kicked off the early action on Sunday night with a field of four youngsters battling in the $10,000 Wicked Brew Stake. After biding his time at the back of the pack as Really Dave (Dean Magee) strolled through splits of 31.1, 1:00.3 & 1:30.2, the Dennis Brightwell owned Casey At Bat uncorked an eye catching 28.0 final quarter to roll right by his rivals for a neck decision in 1:59.2 with Casey Leonard at the controls. Gett'er Done Dune (Dave Magee) was second while Just Do It Jesse (Robert Smolin) was third.   The homebred son of Sportsmaster--Odds On Casey is conditioned is conditioned by Curtis Rice.   A field of five diagonally gaited freshmen went postward in the $5,000 Million Dollar Bye Stake a few minutes later. After a perfect pocket sitting journey while Captain Greedy (JD Finn) put up splits of 30.2, 1:00.3 & 1:32.1, driver Todd Warren popped out of the two-hole at the head of the stretch with the Herman Wheeler owned and trained Fox Valley Qatar and the youngster trotted home powerfully to post a three-length victory in 2:01.2. Captain Greedy held on for second while Arcs Conquest (Dave Magee) was third.   The winner who is a gelded son of Pizzazzed--Armbro Bahrain was a $7,000 Land Of Lincoln Sale purchase by Wheeler.   Pacers and trotters also shared the spotlight on Saturday, June 14th as a field of eight older state-breds met in the $20,000 Broadway Preview Stake while seven sophomore trotting colts squared off in the $10,000 Southern Rocketop Stake.   A pair of frequent visitors to the Balmoral Park winner's circle toted home top honors in these events as the Robert Phillips owned and trainer Al's Hammered zoomed right by the field with his potent closing burst to win by 2 ½ lengths in 1:49.4 while Tour Hall continued his dominance of the sophomore trotting set with a deceptively easy half-length victory in 1:55.2.   Reserved in the early going by driver Robert Smolin Al's Hammered circled around rivals on the final turn before unleashing a wicked 26.1 final quarter to win for the seventh time in 11 starts this season. Silver Devil (John De Long) shook loose late to rally for second while pace setter Ice Scraper (Todd Warren) held on for third.   Mike Brink and Loren Tournear's Tour Hall came into Saturday's stake riding a four-race winning streak and the overwhelming 2-5 favorite lived up to his hype as he shook loose in the lane after a perfect steer from Dave Magee, charging home in 28.2 to stop the clock in a career best. Fox Valley Veto (John De Long) battled hard but was relegated to the runner-up role for the Third Straight week while Bobby B Breeze (Todd Warren) was third. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

Hall of Famer Dave Magee, the 60-year-old reinsman joined some very elite company on Saturday night, eclipsing the $100,000,000 million mark in career earnings. The Big Rock, Illinois native who has more than 11,700 victories, achieved the milestone with a third place finish behind Real Or Magic in Saturday's $15,000 Invitational-Handicap, making him only the 17th driver in the history of the sport to reach the $100,000,000 mark. The 2014 Hanover Stakes season kicked off on Saturday, June 7th at BalmoralPark as a pair of events for diagonally gaited sophomores shared top billing on the 13-race program.   A full field of 10 three-year-old trotting colts started the action in race four as they battled for a purse of $25,900. Fresh off back to back stakes scores over state-bred competition here at Balmoral, Mike Brink and Loren Tournear's Tour Hall made it three in a row as he powered to a four-length victory in a career best of 1:56.0 for driver Dave Magee.   Pointed right for the front from post position four, the altered son of American Native--Broadway And Fifth grabbed command of the proceedings midway around the first turn leading the field through an opening quarter in 29.4.   Pressure came on the backside as Mac Kemp (Dean Magee) rolled up first over battling the pace-setter through middle splits of 59.3 & 1:28.2.   After putting away that bid the Mike Brink trainee kept the remainder of the field at bay with a sharp 27.3 final panel to notch his eighth lifetime victory. Another Illinois bred, Fox Valley Veto (John De Long) rallied from far back to get the runner-up check while Red Solo Cup (Robert Smolin) finished third.   With the win, Tour Hall who returned $8.40, $4.00 & $2.80, now boasts a record of eight wins, four seconds and one third in 18 career starts with earnings of $122,801.   Another full field was sent postward in race six as 10 fillies slugged it out for a purse of $24,400. This time it was an Indiana invader who toted home top honors as Dan & Jo Anne Shetler's homebred DiamondPeak posted a 2 ¾ length victory in wire to wire fashion for her co-owner, trainer and driver Dan Shetler.   Working hard to get to the front in 28.3 from post position five, the daughter of Yankee Glide--Minibar was then able to catch a breather as Shetler guided her through leisurely middle splits of 58.2 & 1:27.3.   The lightly raced bay was never seriously threatened the rest of the way as she trotted home in 28.1 to secure her second win in just five lifetime starts. Pray With Me (Dale Hiteman) overcame a tough first over journey from post 10 to be the bridesmaid while Bailey's Wish (Dave Magee) wound up third after a pocket sitting journey.   Despite the lack of experience DiamondPeak drew plenty of attention for the betting public returning just $4.00, $2.80 & $3.00 while upping her bankroll to $15,559.   by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park        

State-bred trotting fillies were the focus of attention on Sunday, May 25th, as a field of 10 three-year-olds went toe to toe in the $47,600 Violet Stake as part of a big Memorial Day weekend of festivities at the Crete oval.   Proving that she will once again be a force to be reckoned with in this division James Bafia and Eugene White's Bailey's Wish reported home with a hard fought neck decision in a career best of 1:57.3 for driver Dave Magee.   After leaving quickly from post five Magee elected to let the hard charging Macie Rae (Ryan Anderson) and Say No Mo (John De Long) battle it out through splits of 29.0, 57.2 & 1:27.1.   After carving out a perfect pocket sitting journey while those two fillies battled tooth and nail Magee showed his Hall of Fame skills as he slipped to the outside of Macie Rae as the field straightened for the money. Gradually wearing down the pace setter, the Dirk Simpson trained miss gamely moved to the front with a sixteenth of a mile to go and then held off a late charge from longshot Rollette (Dean Magee) for her sixth lifetimevictory. Macie Rae held on for third.   After starting this season with uncharacteristic breaks in two of her first three starts the daughter of Southwind Breeze--Jen was as smooth as could be on Sunday night as she pushed her lifetime numbers to 6-4-2 in 18 starts with earnings of just over $129,000. Sent off as the 5-2 second choice in the wagering Bailey's Wish returned $7.40, $3.60 & $2.80. Bailey's Wish (inside) held off the late charge of longshot Rollette (outside) to win Sunday's $47,600 Violet Stake for three-year-old trotting fillies. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

State-bred pacers took center stage on Saturday night at Balmoral Park as trainer Robert Phillips and driver Robert Smolin teamed up for a pair of impressive victories with two of the stables stars as Al's Hammered romped to a 5¾ length victory in the $15,000 Rambling Willie Stake while Cotton Eyed Joe rolled to a 2¾ length win in the $10,000 Betzotic Stake.   With a compact field of five of the state's top older pacers facing the gate for the Rambling Willie Stake, Al's Hammered found himself much closer than usual to the early action as Ice Scraper (Todd Warren) rattled off splits of 27.0, 56.0 & 1:23.4.   Smolin then maneuvered the son of Droppin'thehammer off the pylons as the field turned for the money. As he's done so often, the bay five-year-old absolutely exploded through the stretch, charging home in a wicked 25.4 to secure the victory in 1:50.1 for his owner-trainer Phillips. Fort Silky (Casey Leonard) parlayed a perfect pocket sitting journey into a second place check while Fancy Creek Elusiv (Dave Magee) finished third.   With the win Al's Hammered who has overcome serious injury to return to stardom now boasts a career record of 25-8-11 in 64 starts with earnings of more than $340,000   Sophomore pacing colts were also in action on the chilly Saturday night card and when the smoke cleared from the $10,000 Betzotic Stake the Phillips-Smolin pairing were back in victory lane as Cotton Eyed Joe turned a two-hole trip into an easy win over seven other state-breds, stopping the clock in 1:54.1.   Perfectly positioned on the back of odds-on favorite Fox Valley Deuce (Casey Leonard) as he clicked off splits of 27.3, 57.1 & 1:26.4, Smolin patiently waited for the passing lane as the field headed for the wire. After securing room with a sixteenth of a mile to go, the gelded son of Big Green Machine--Secret Dial flew home in 27.0 to nab his second win in four starts this season. Fox Valley Deuce held for second while Dune Dude (Dean Magee) turned in a late rally to finish third, four lengths behind the winner.   A four-time career winner, last season's Orange & Blue champion now boasts career earnings of more than $121,000 for owner-trainer Bob Phillips.   by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park     COTTON EYED JOE AND DRIVER Robert Smolin CHARGED THROUGH THE PASSING LANE TO SECURE VICTORY IN SATURDAY'S $10,000 BETZOTIC STAKE.     AL'S HAMMERED UNCORKED A WICKED 25.4 TO BLOW BY HIS RIVALS IN SATURDAY'S $15,000 RAMBLING WILLIE STAKE.       -----Original Message----- From: David Baum <baum.photography@gmail.com> To: Tom Kelley <tkelleyatbal@aol.com>; Mike Paradise <michaelfparadise@hotmail.com> Sent: Sat, Apr 26, 2014 9:31 pm        

After opening his second season with two very impressive scores over "older open" company, Paula Smith and James Runyan's Fox Valley Deuce took his first crack at state-bred stakes company on Saturday night at Balmoral Park in the $10,000 Taurus Bomber Stake. The gelded son of Sportsmaster--Dodger Girl had no problem keeping his perfect slate intact as he cruised to an easy 4 ½ length score over five rivals in 1:56.1 for driver Casey Leonard. Hustled away from the outside post in the field of six, the Joel Smith trainee was parked through an opening quarter of 29.4. After grabbing command as the field straightened up onto the backstretch for Leonard, the issue was never really in doubt again as the good looking sophomore put up leisurely middle splits of 1:00.2 & 1:29.4.   Fit and fresh as he headed for the money Fox Valley Deuce finished off the mile in grand fashion, rattling off an eye opening 26.2 final split to make it three in a row in 2014. Orange & Blue winner Cotton Eyed Joe (Robert Smolin), who was making his sophomore debut, finished a fast closing second while Dune Dude (Dean Magee) turned in a solid try to rally for third.   With the win Fox Valley Deuce now boasts fives wins and a third in 18 lifetime starts with earnings of $28,147.   A trio of Newcomer Series finals were contested on Saturday night as well. The $7,800 Filly & Mare final was taken by Brett Wilfong's Chariots Afire (Jimmy Daniel) as she cruised to her second win in three starts this year. The home-bred daughter of Skydancer Hanover stopped the clock in 1:55.0. The $8,000 colt & gelding final was captured Nelson & Kay Willis's Shark Vision (Kyle Wilfong) as the royally-bred son of Cam's Cam Shark made it three in a row in 2014 while tripping the timer in 1:55.1.   On the trotting side of the docket, the Lester Banks owned, Steve Bauder trained Mary Queen (Dale Hiteman) was able to mind her manners again as she uncorked a big closing burst to knock off eight other diagonally gaited specialists in the $7,750 final of that series.The final time was a career best of 1:59.2.   There will be no live racing this Wednesday April 2, 2014 due to lack of entries.    By Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

After getting off to a fast start in his first season on the track Mike Brink and Loren Tournear’s Tour Hall looked like he was going to be the one to beat in the Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old colt trotting ranks. Unfortunately breaking problems plagued the gelding through late August and September. Now trainer Mike Brink appears to have the son of American Native—Broadway And Fifth back on course as the long striding youngster trotted to a 2 ¼ length victory in 1:59.2 while capturing Wednesday’s $10,000 Betzotic Stake at Balmoral Park. Taking advantage of a perfect two-hole trip that was worked out by Hall of Famer Dave Magee, Tour Hall saved ground throughout as Nino Marino (Dean Magee) put up splits of 29.0, 59.1 & 1:29.4.   After securing racing room in the lane Tour Hall reeled in longshot Gottaluvaredhead (Casey Leonard) who had had overtaken a tiring Nino Marino at the top of the stretch. Drawing clear in the shadow of the wire for Magee, Tour Hall was on cruise control as he scored for the fourth time in 13 lifetime starts. Big Bad Bob (Dale Hiteman) rallied to be second while Gottaluvaredhead held on for third in the field of six. Morning line favorite Photo Surprise was scratched sick prior to the start of this event.     Wednesday’s $1 Pick 4 wager was not hit so there will be a carryover of $19,006 for Saturday’s big American National card. Balmoral Park has announced there will now be a $100,000 guaranteed pool for Saturday’s Pick 4 which entails races 10-13, adding even more excitement to what will be one of this season’s biggest nights of racing anywhere in the country! by Tom Kelley for Balmoral Park

Thursday’s $12,000 Life’s A Holiday Stake at Maywood Stake turned into quite a nail biter for chalk players as the heavily favored entry of Skyline Road and King Mufasa both made breaks during the mile. The 1-9 favorites still made good on their favored status though with Skyline Road prevailing by 3 ¼ lengths in 2:00.4 over a sloppy track. After speeding to the top from post position eight King Mufasa (Mike Oosting) appeared to take a bad step just after leading the field through an opening quarter in 28.0. After making a nasty break, Oosting did a magnificent job of gathering up the division leader on the turn but not before they had dropped all the way back to seventh as Riet’s Kid (Dean Magee) led the field through a half in 59.2. Circling around rivals as the field moved onto the backstretch the Mike Brink trainee, who had won 14 of 15 starts this season, was back in front as the field hit the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:30.2. Meanwhile, entry mate Skyline Road and driver Casey Leonard, who made a break early in the race and was last at the opening call, was circling up from th eback of the pack picking off one rival after another as he moved up to challenge as the field moved into the final turn. In full flight as the diagonally gaited sophomores moved around the final turn Skyline Road trotted right by his entrymate as the field straightened for the money, eventually drawing away for his fourth win of the season. King Mufasa turned in an unbelievable effort to finish in the runner-up role while Mack’s Gold Band (John De Long) was third. Sent off at odds of 1-9 the overwhelming favorites returned $2.20 & $2.10. There was no show wagering on the race. With the win Skyline Road now sports a record of 4-3-2 in 17 starts this season with earnings of $54,775 for “Bill” Wright, Geis Enterprise and the Ervin Miller Stable. by Tom Kelley for Maywood Park  

Fresh off the two biggest wins in his career, Jerry Graham’s Photo Surprise continued his late season surge towards divisional honors among the Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old colt trotting set as he cruised to an easy 3 ¾ length victory in Wednesday’s $42,200 Cardinal Stake at Balmoral Park. Confidently handled by driver Mike Oosting the gelded son of Powerful Emotion—Gloria Wyoming was unhurried early from his inside post content to trot along in third as Nino Marino (Dean Magee) and Tour Hall (Dirk Simpson) battled through an opening quarter in 30.0. Heading up the backstretch Oosting moved the Nelson Willis trainee to the outside where hemade a steady advance to the front finally taking command just as the field moved by the half-mile in 59.0. Heading around the far turn Photo Surprise continued to show the way past the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:28.4. Leaving the field in his wake as he splashed through the lane, this year’s Lincoln Land & Hanover Stake winner was on cruise control the rest of the way widening his margin all the way through the wire while posting his fourth win in nine starts. Fox Valley Veto (John Roberts) rallied from far back to be a sharp second while Nino Marino held onfor third. The even-money favorite returned $4.00, $3.00 & $2.60 while upping his career bankroll to $96,825. by Tom Kelley for Balmoral Park  

A busy stakes-filled night of action was contested on Sunday, October 13th as the Crete plant welcomed Grand Circuit action back to town. On tap was a pair of $27,950 splits for two-year-old filly trotters while their male counterparts slugged it out later in the night for a $46,700 jackpot. In the first Hanover split for the freshman trotting fillies Bobby Brower and Mystical Marker Farms Petticoat Affair had no trouble living up to her favored status as she cruised to a 4 ¾ -length triumph in 1:57.1 with Brad Hanners at the controls. Sweeping from fifth to first on the backside after watching Dancing Dynamite (Dean Magee) cruise through an opening quarter in 28.2, the daughter of Valley Victor—Katie Hall was in complete control of the proceedings as she rolled through middle splits of 58.0 & 1:27.3. With plenty still in reserve the Bobby Brower trained miss trotted home in 29.3 while continuing to put daylight between herself and her five rivals to notch her fifth win in eight starts this year. Dancing Dynamite held on for second while Fox Valley Lotus (John Roberts), who made a break leaving the gate, rallied to finish third. Sent off as the 4-5 favorite Petticoat Affair returned $3.60, $2.40 & $2.40 while upping her career bankroll to $185,124. In the second division the Brower-trained, Hanners-driven connection clicked again as Victory Hill Farms and Bobby Brower’s Pray With Me demolished six rivals by seven-lengths in 1:58.4. After saving ground in third while Dress For Success (Dale Hiteman) carved out leisurely splits of 30.0 & 1:00.1, Hanners set the daughter of Broadway Hall—Hail Mary Hanover on a mission for the lead heading into the final bend.  Effortlessly sweeping past her foes on the turn, the Brower trained miss was in front by a length and starting to leave her rivals in her wake as she stepped by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:29.4.  Leaving no doubt as to who was the best in this group Pray With Me trotted home in 29.0 to post her third win in eight lifetime starts. Simply Class (Joe Putnam) finished second while Pinking Of You (Casey Leonard) was third. Bet as though defeat was out of the question Pray With Me returned $2.40, $2.20 & $2.10 while upping her bankroll to $64,026. A field of nine two-year-old trotting colts was sent postward for the $46,700 Hanover and when all was said and done it was last week’s Lincoln Land Stake winner Photo Surprised who emerged victorious as he trotted to a one- length victory in a career best of 1:57.4 for driver Mike Oosting. Gamely “toughing it out” first over as Nino Marino (Dean Magee) put up splits of 28.2 & 58.1 the Nelson Willis trainee swept past his rivals on the far turn and began to draw away from the field as he rolled by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:28.1. Continuing in full stride as he headed for the wire the state-bred son of Powerful Emotion—Gloria Wyoming was straight and strong as he continued his late season surge with his third win in eight career starts. Big Bad Bob (Dale Hiteman) rallied late to finish second while Explosive Cash (Casey Leonard) was third. Fresh off that win in the biggest event of the year for diagonally gaited Prairie State freshmen the Jerry Graham owned gelding returned just $3.80, $2.40 & $2.10 while running his career bankroll up to $76,725. State-bred pacing fillies were also in action on the busy Sunday night card as a field of eight youngsters squared off in a $12,000 Betzotic Stake. In a re-match of the Violet Stake at Maywood Park last week, Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly once again proved best as she reported home with a three-quarter-length triumph in 1:54.1 with Mike Oosting at the controls. Content to bide her time in the middle of the pack as Mae Flynn (Ryan Anderson) put up splits of 28.3, 57.2 & 1:26.1 Oosting maneuvered his charge into a live outer flow as the field moved around the final turn. Tipping three and then four wide from her third over position, the Nelson Willis trained miss then uncorked a blistering 27.0 final quarter to blow right by her rivals for her fifth win in 12 lifetime starts. Fox Valley Amanda (Dale Hiteman) came up with a solid effort to finish second while Fox Valley Shiver (Todd Warren) was third. With the win the daughter of Lexington Legend—Waggle sports a record of 5-1-3 in 12 career starts with earnings of $50,895.  David Baum

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