After a nasty thunderstorm caused a 35-minute delay to start the Sunday card at Balmoral Park, the action was hot and heavy the rest of the evening as a pair of state-bred events shared top billing on the program.
The stakes action kicked off with trotters as a field seven 3-year-old fillies met in a $10,000 Betzotic Stake. Despite being away since last October, Donald Huddleston's Macie Rae looked fit and fresh as she came splashing through the passing lane to post a 1 1/4-length victory in a career best of 1:59.1 for driver Ryan Anderson.
Hustled away from the outside starting spot by Anderson, the daughter of Powerful Emotion-Fox Valley Poetry settled perfectly into third through the early going as High Balance (Casey Leonard) led the field through splits of :31.1, 1:01.2 and 1:30.
With High Balance and last year's division Bailey's Wish (Lewayne Miller) battling tooth and nail through the lane, Anderson patiently maneuvered the Mike Rogers trained miss into the passing lane where she quickly gobbled up the embattled leaders to post her ninth win in 20 lifetime starts. Bailey's Wish was forced to settle for the runner-up role while High Balance hung on for third.
With the win Macie Rae, who returned $8.40, boasts career numbers of 9-3-3 in 20 trips postward with earnings of $27,867.
A $10,000 elimination for the first "major” stake of the 2014 season was contested on Sunday as well but with the field of 10 Illinois conceived and foaled 3-year-old pacing fillies knocked down to seven because of scratches this wound up being a "prep” for next week's $44,700 Violet Stake.
Nonetheless trainer Nelson Willis had to be happy as a pair of fillies trained by the veteran conditioner wound up in the top two spots with the Sawgrass Farms and Kay Willis-owned Cuzimalegend overtaking last season's division leader Thesleazyprincess to score by a half-length in 1:57.2 for driver Dale Hiteman.
Using the inside starting spots to perfection driver Todd Warren put Thesleazyprincess right on the lead from the word go. With Hiteman and Cuzimalegend sitting in the garden spot, Thesleazyprincess paced through splits of :30.3, 1:00.3 and 1:29.2. Fit and fresh after the two-hole journey a determined Cuzimalegend gradually wore down her stablemate with a sharp :27.3 to post her first lifetime victory. Thesleazyprincess was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while favored My Little Bit (Casey Leonard) finished third.
The homebred daughter of Lexington Legend-Cuzurinittowinit, who was scheduled to be coupled in the wagering with the scratched Molly Go Lightly (sick) returned $7.80, while pushing her bankroll up to $10,093. (Balmoral Park)