The richest trotting event of the season for 2-year-old state-bred trotting colts received top billing on Sunday night at Balmoral Park as a field of 10 diagonally gaited youngsters squared off in the $105,000 Lincoln Land Stake.
Despite taking the overland route from post 10, Jerry Graham's Photo Surprise struck a winning pose as he rallied gamely in the final strides to win by a head in 1:59.1 with leading driver Mike Oosting at the controls.
After getting away near the back of the pack as last week's elimination winner Nino Marino (Dean Magee) led the field through opening splits of :29 and :58.3 Oosting maneuvered his charge to the outside where they quickly began to gobble up ground. Tipping three wide as the colts moved around the far turn, the gelded son of Powerful Emotion-Gloria Wyoming was all the way up to fourth as Nino Marino moved past the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:29.1.
Grinding away through the lane as a leg weary Nino Marino began to back up the Nelson Willis trainee eventually reeled in Fox Valley Veto (John Roberts) in the last stride to notch his second career win in seven starts. Fox Valley Veto was forced to settle for the runner-up role while Big Bad Bob (Dale Hiteman) was third, 4 1/4 lengths behind the top pair.
With the win Photo Surprise now sports a record of 2-1-0 with $52,375 in earnings. The beaten favorite from last week's elimination returned $8.80 to those who stayed loyal to the gelding.
Sophomore trotting fillies were also in action on Sunday night as a field of seven battled in a $12,000 Betzotic Stake. Continuing her fine second season on the track, the Todd Warren owned and driven Sara The Spy recorded her seventh win of the year as she cruised to a 2 1/4-length victory in 1:57.
Hustled right to the front from post position three the daughter of Powerful Emotion-Sarabella posted leisurely splits of :29.2, :59.4 and 1:28.2 before sealing the deal with a :28.3 final quarter. Divination (Oosting) followed the winner's every move but was relegated to the bridesmaid role while Just For Fun (Casey Leonard) was third.
A model of consistency from the time she hit the track in 2013 the Mike Croucher-trained miss now boasts a record of 7-4-3 in 15 starts this season with career earnings of $97,017. The odds on choice in the wagering returned $3.60 to her legion of followers. (Balmoral)