After a big Saturday night of stakes action it was time for freshman trotters to bring the Southland Festival of Racing to a close with a pair of big money events for Illinois conceived and foaled youngsters sharing top billing on the Sunday night card at Balmora Park.
The ladies kicked off the Sunday night stake action as a field of eight were sent postward in the $44,000 Fox Valley Flan Stake.
After coming close in each of her first three career starts Homer Hochstetler and Robert Buddig's Persuasive Look picked the right night to break into the win column as she shook loose late and then proceeded to overpower her foes in the lane in route to a one-length victory in 1:58.2 for driver Casey Leonard.
Patiently handled by Balmoral's leading reinsman, the home-bred daughter of Powerful Emotion-Black N Bluegenes left alertly, then settled into a pocket spot as Jazzie Mermaid (Nick Prather) led the field through an opening quarter in :29.1. Electing to sit inside as Bi Polar Rose (Travis Seekman) stormed to the front to lead the field through middle splits of :59.4 and 1:29.3 Persuasive Look wound up getting shuffled all the way back to fifth as the field turned for home.
That's when Leonard began to work his magic with the Hochstetler-trained miss. After angling his filly to the outside, Leonard then knifed through a small seam between horses and a fit and fresh Persuasive Look rewarded her pilot as she charged home in :28.1 to secure her maiden-breaking victory. Fox Valley Yoko (John De Long), the 6-5 favorite in the wagering despite drawing the outside post turned in a big effort to finish second while 32-1 outsider Fox Valley Harrah (Matt Krueger) rallied to be third.
Sent off as the third choice in the wagering Persuasive Look returned $7 while moving her record to 1-1-2 in four starts with earnings of $25,050.
The final stake race of the weekend was the $48,000 Plesac Stake for 2-year-old trotting colts and this race wound up being another showcase for owner-trainer Herman Wheeler's division leader Fox Valley Qatar as the good looking gelding kept his perfect record intact with an effortless four-length victory in 1:59.1 with Todd Warren in the bike.
After getting away an unhurried fifth as RT Habanero (Robert Taylor) led the field through an opening quarter in :30, Warren moved to the outside with the altered son of Pizzazzed-Armbro Bahrain and quickly rolled to the top, leading the field through splits of :59.4 and 1:30. Leaving nine rivals in his wake, Fox Valley Qatar set sail for home leaving no doubt as to who was the best in this event as he sealed the deal with a :29.1 final quarter to notch his fourth straight victory. Southrncomfortzone (John De Long) uncorked a belated rally to finish in the runner-up role while his entrymate Fox Valley Theboss (Dave Magee) was a distant third, 10 ¾ lengths behind the winner.