After posting four wins on Friday night’s Maywood Park card to draw within one victory of the coveted 3,000 career win plateau, driver Mike Oosting wasted no time reaching that milestone as he led off the Saturday night Balmoral Park program with a dead-heat victory behind Demack’s Quick.
The 45-year-old Oosting was a bit surprised to find himself in the winner’s circle after enduring a traffic-filled trip in the opener.
“At the half-mile mark I wouldn’t have given you much for my chances,” said a happy Oosting. “We were stuck behind poor cover and forced to swing as wide you possibly could all the way around that final turn.”
Thanks to some deft handling, Oosting still managed to get the leg weary 5-year-old to the wire on even terms with a hard charging Escapewitoutatrace (Dean Magee) in 1:55.1.
Currently sitting atop the Balmoral Park driver standings, Oosting is currently enjoying another huge season on the tough Chicago circuit. Since making the move from his former home base in Fremont, Mich., to race on the Chicago ovals full time in 2002, Oosting has averaged almost 400 victories a year.
The countdown to Balmoral Park’s big American National Festival of racing began in earnest on Saturday night with a pair of $19,300 elimination events for 2-year-old pacing colts. The top five finishers in each division will return next Saturday to battle for a $146,000 jackpot as Balmoral Park presents six American National Stake Finals.
In the opener, Bill Sanders’s Sand Shooter made it look easy as he cruised to a wire-to-wire victory in 1:53.
Zipped away from post position four by driver Todd Warren, the son of Western Hanover was uncontested as he rolled through splits of :27.1, :55 and 1:24.1. The Jim Arledge Jr.-trained colt then held off the big late rally of Art Official (Del Chupp) to win by three-quarters of a length. Littlebitoflife (Ryan Anderson) finished 3-3/4 lengths back in third. Brother Ray (Brent Holland) and Life Savior (Mike Oosting) also gained spots in the final with their fourth and fifth place finishes, respectively.
In the nightcap Engel Stable's Mucho Sleazy put Oosting back in the spotlight as he guided the state-bred gelding to an impressive come-from-behind score in a blistering 1:51.2.
Content to spy the action from mid-pack while Lets Getit Started (Jason Dillander) and Corner Blitz (Dave Magee) battled through wicked opening splits of :27.3, :54.2 and 1:22.3, Oosting was able to work out a perfect second-over journey. Tipping off his cover with an eighth of a mile to go the Ken Rucker trainee was in full stride as he blew by Lets Getit Started to win by three-quarters of a length.
Lets Getit Started survived an inquiry to get the runner-up check while the highly regarded Genuwine (Brent Holland) finished third. Little Pedro (Sam Widger) and Vette Man (Brandon Simpson) also earned starting spots in the final with their fourth and fifth place finishes. (Balmoral)