Hanover Stakes action continued on Wednesday night at Balmoral Park as a compact field of five 3-year-old filly trotters squared off in a $24,500 event. Splitting horses in the final sixteenth of a mile, Ron Marino and David Hermann’s Fox Valley Ruffian came flying through the lane to win by a half-length in a career best of 1:58.1.
Saving ground throughout the mile as Always Yours (Dan Shetler) strolled through splits of :29.3, 1:00.1 and 1:29.4 while unchallenged on the front end. Fox Valley Ruffian wound up shuffled to last at the top of the stretch. Desperately searching for room along the inside as Always Yours opened up a four-length lead at the mid-stretch call, Always Yours appeared home free until a fit and fresh Fox Valley Ruffian came bursting through between horses.
Unleashing a wicked :27.3 final quarter, the Randy Tuftie-trained Fox Valley Ruffian, a daughter of Vaporize-Reina Bella, finally secured racing room with less than a sixteenth of a mile to go. Gobbling up a tiring leader, Fox Valley Ruffian charged right on by to notch her second win in nine starts this season. Always Yours held on for second while Caviar’s Delight (Robert Taylor) finished third.
Despite having only two wins in 20 career starts, this state-bred filly who returned $8.60, $3.60 & $2.20 now boasts a career bankroll of $76,423.
State-bred trotting colts were also on display on Wednesday night as an overflow field of 12 diagonally gaited youngsters met in the $7,000 Psychic Spirit Stakes. Coming off a win in the Million Dollar Bye Stake in his career debut, Douglas Ricoolo’s Monticello Lane remained unbeaten as he romped to a seven-length victory in a career best of 1:59.2 for driver Brian Carpenter.
Managing to steer clear of the many breakers and the horses in the second tier, Carpenter did a nice job of getting the gelded son of Northern Kid-Blizzard Lane to the front from post position eight. Electing to give his charge a breather after trotting an opening quarter in :30.3, Carpenter allowed a hard charging Tuff Guy JJ (Mike Brink) to grab command as the field raced to the half-mile station in 1:00.
Quickly popping out of the pocket as the field trotted around the bend, Monticello Lane quickly swept back into command, opening up a two-length lead as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:30.3. In command of the proceedings from that point on, the Robert Taylor trainee proceeded to widen his lead the rest of the way home while under no urging whatsoever from his pilot.
Riccolo, who had the great Walter Paisley in the bike, overcame traffic problems in the first turn thanks in part to his starting spot in the second tier and several breaking horses to rally for the place check while Fox Valley Steffen (Kyle Wilfong) was a distant third.
Despite a win in his only appearance, Monticello Lane returned a healthy $8.80, $4.40 & $4.20 to his backers. (Balmoral Park)