Just as he did a week ago in the Windy City Pace, Booze Cruzin led from start to finish in Friday night's $15,000 first division of the Illinois Owners and Breeders Association Stakes for state-bred 3-year-olds, with Sam Widger at the lines, winning in 1:53.4.
Unlike seven nights ago when he had the rail position, this time Booze Cruzin ($8.80) had to leave from the four slot while the Windy City Pace runner-up, Home Bed Advantage, had the number one post, but has it turned out it wasn't any advantage to the overwhelming 1-5 favorite. Booze Cruzin out-sprinted him for the lead and never looked back. Home Bed Advantage took the pocket trip but once again ended up second-best, this time beaten by three-quarter lengths.
"Of course I was worried about Home Bed Advantage in here -- you always have to worry about him, especially when he's inside of you," Widger noted. "But my horse was extremely game off the gate, and once he made the top and got through those mid-quarter fractions, he really swelled up and I was pretty confident then."
Booze Cruzin had the lead well before the first turn, and after a: 27.2 first quarter Widger was able to get the Joe Seekman trainee to the half in a moderate :57.3 while strolling through the second panel in: 30.1. Brandon Simpson had Fox Valley Gambler out of fifth and after the leader when they headed into the third turn, but nevertheless Booze Cruzin held him out with only a :29.2 quarter.
Home Bed Advantage had dead aim on the pacesetter and came up through the open stretch in a hurry, but Booze Cruzin had something left in the tank and held off his rival to chalk up season win number eight in 20 starts. The son of Art's Conquest now has banked $257,887 on the year, with $110,000 coming in the October 12 Windy City Pace.
In the second Illinois Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association Stakes the 1-2 favorite, Saratoga John, raced first-up through most of the second half-mile, and then worn down the pacesetting One Park Place in the lane for a three-quarter length triumph, in 1:53.3. Brent Holland steered the winning Erv Miller trainee to his seventh win of the season in 27 outings for owners Joseph Costa of Darien, Conn. and Joseph DeSapio of Manalapan, N.J.
One Park Place zipped to an easy lead from the number one post for Sam Widger, and raced through a: 27.2 first quarter and a: 29.1 second panel with Saratoga John ($3.00) in the pocket. Holland had the winner out of the two hole before the third turn, and he battled his way on the outside through the 1:25 third quarter time, coming home in :28.3 and getting past the leader in deep stretch. The 35-1 longshot Papichulo (Brandon Simpson) was third, beaten by two lengths.
It was far from an easy trip, but it didn't matter a bit to Sportsfancy; she continued her dominance in the 3-year-old Illinois-bred pacing division with a very impressive 1:54.4 victory in a $22,120 Illinois Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association Stakes on Friday.
Starting from the number seven slot in a bulky, 11-horse field with three trailers, Ryan Anderson had the 3-10 public choice out in a hurry, however so did a number of her rival drivers. Sportsfancy was three-deep through the first turn before dropping into fifth, but only for about 20 yards, when Anderson saw Kiss Of Heaven (Brent Holland) coming in a hurry.
Sportsfancy was back out and going and raced parked through the second and third turns, with Past The Evidence taking the field to :27.2 ad :57.1 first-half fractions. Sportsfancy cleared to the lead on the backside, opened it up with a 1:25.4 third quarter time, and then pulled away with every stride, winning by five lengths. Kiss Of Heaven took second, and it was almost nine lengths back to the third place finisher, Perdido.
"It's great to have a filly like this in your barn," winning trainer John Butenshoen said. "Sportsfancy is just very professional, and at the farm she jogs like a kitten. You'd never know she was this caliber of horse. But on the track and in a race she just does her job. I really didn't have any doubts about her chances here tonight.
"She'll get a week off and then head to Balmoral for the American-National (on Nov. 3), and then possibly to the Breeders Crown," Butenschoen added. "However, that's an awful big supplement, so we'll see. That's a decision that Larry (owner Larry Baron) will have to make."
Sportsfancy's gaudy second-season record now stands at 13 wins in 19 starts, with $316,220 banked. (Maywood)