An inside look at Illinois Super Night
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$250,000 Orange & Blue Stake presented by Bet Zotic.Com & Sportech
Carded as the final race of the night and featuring a $25,000 guaranteed Hi-Five pool, this event for 2-year-old pacing colts figures to be a toss-up between elimination winners Fox Valley Action (3-1) and Mystical Walter (4-1).
Fox Valley Action will bring a three-race winning streak into Saturday's action and the Roger Welch trainee has never missed the board in his first eight career starts. The son of Sportsmaster-Anything You Ask had no trouble overcoming post position eight in his elimination as he swept into command after the quarter and was never seriously threatened while stopping the clock in 1:52.3. The good looking gelding also boasts victories in the $40,000 Governor's Cup at Du Quoin and the $40,000 State Fair Stake Final at Springfield. Todd Warren will be in the bike as Fox Valley Action leaves from post position two.
Mystical Walter hails from the barn of Super Night's leading conditioner Erv Miller who has sent out the last three Orange & Blue winners and he is another who had no problem scoring from post position eight in his elimination win. The lightly raced son of Yankee Skyscaper-Yankee Blue has won three of his first four career starts and was only a half-length behind Fox Valley Action in his lone loss in the Governor's Cup. Marcus Miller gets the call to drive Mystical Walter who has drawn post position seven.
$189,000 Filly Orange & Blue Stake
Programmed as race eight on the card this figures to be a very interesting test for 2-year-old pacing fillies as elimination winners Incredible Filly and Auniqueaquisition have drawn post positions eight and nine, respectively.
Incredible Filly (4-1) has been a model of consistency in a very busy freshman campaign, putting together a record of 5-5-4 in 17 trips postward for trainer John Fletcher. The daughter of Sagebrush-Incredible Angel comes into the Filly O&B riding a three-race winning streak which includes her front stepping score in 1:56.1 last week for Hall of Famer Dave Magee who will at the controls once again.
Auniqueaquistion (7-2) is a full sister to Iam Bonasera, who is heavily favored in tonight's Maurello Stake for older pacers, and this good looking filly looks like she has the talent to follow in her big brother's footsteps. The high priced daughter of Cole Muffler-Shesoluvabull debuted with a win at Balmoral on Sept. 1 and then followed that up with her impressive elimination score in 1:54.3 for trainer Donna Lee Ozment. Mike Oosting will handle the driving duties as the filly tries to remain undefeated.
$178,000 Pete Langley Memorial
Owner-trainer Robert Phillips has been high on his good looking 3-year-old pacing colt Al's Hammered (5-2) from Day 1 and the late rushing son of Droppin'thehammer has certainly been living up to the praise in his recent starts as heads into this battle,which is race 11 on the program.
In last week's eliminations the powerful sophomore was reserved throughout much of the mile before exploding with :25.3 final quarter to sweep right by his competition. A seven-time winner in 2012, Al's Hammered shows nothing slower than a :26.3 final panel in his last five outings and he should be rolling late once again for driver Robert Smolin as they leave from post position five.
NJ's Big Deal (5-1) has been the leader of this division for most of the season and the speedy son of Sagebrush-A Passing Breeze will give the team of owner-trainer John Fletcher and partner Stevanna Turner another big shot at taking home a Super Night title. The brown colt scored in wire-to-wire fashion in his elimination, stopping the clock in 1:51.2 with driver Dave Magee in tow. This seven time winner boasts more than $133,000 in earnings this year but he'll have to overcome post position eight on Super Night.
$159,000 Grandma Ann Stake
Division leader Party Hangover (3-1) leads a solid group of 10 sophomore pacing fillies postward in this contest which has been carded as race six. After a bit of a lull in her mid-season form the Jesse De Long trained miss has won four of her last six starts, including her elimination last week, the Time Dancer Stake at Du Quoin and the State Fair Stake final at Springfield. Driver John De Long gave the filly a perfect steer in her 1:52.3 score last week, saving ground at the pylons and then slipping through the passing lane to record her 16th career victory in just 29 starts. Party Hangover will start from post position four on Saturday night.
A trio of fillies which includes last week's elimination winner The Face Of Love (8-1), Hanover Stakes winner Sleazy Does It (4-1) and multiple stakes winner No Respect (5-1) all appear to have a legitimate shot in what figures to be a hotly contested affair from start to finish.
$127,000 Tony Maurello Stake
Iam Bonasera (2-1) figures to be the overwhelming choice in race 12 for older pacers as he guns for a second Super Night title (Langley Memorial-2010). The 5-year-old son of Cole Muffler-Shesoluvabull has kept a light schedule the past few seasons, making only 22 starts in 2011-12, but he's made the most of his chances, notching 10 wins and almost $150,000 in earnings during that time frame. The Roger Welch trainee has posted a sub-1:50 mark in each of the past two seasons as well and his career bankroll now sits at $516,097. An easy three-length elimination winner in 1:50.2 last week, Iam Bonasera will haveTodd Warren in the bike as he leaves from post position five.
Last week's other elimination winner Well To Do Guru (7-2) can never be overlooked in these big money state-bred events and he rates a big shot despite drawing post position eight on Super Night. The 8-year-old Terry Leonard trainee had no trouble handling a sloppy track in his elimination and the lifetime winner of $678,663 now boasts 39 career victories. Casey Leonard, who notched his first Super Night title last year, will handle the driving duties.
$123,000 Lorna Propes Stake
Mystical Victress (2-1) will not only be looking to defend her title in this event for older pacing mares, which goes as race four, but she'll also be trying to become only the second horse in history (King Johnny) to win three straight Super Night titles as she also owns a win in the Grandma Ann during her 3-year-old season. Now a 5-year-old, the Ervin Miller trainee toyed with her rivals in last week's eliminations, winning under a snug hold by two lengths in 1:52.1 for Marcus Miller who will be back in the bike on Super Night. This incredible mare boasts career numbers of 36-5-10 in 64 starts with earnings of $596,818 for the partnership of Mystical Marker Farms and Peggy Hood and it certainly appears as though she'll be adding another big chunk of change to that total after drawing post position three for this test. Last year's victory in 1:50 also established atrack record for a 4-year-old pacing mare here at Balmoral Park.
$116,000 Lady Ann Reed Stake
Sophomore trotting fillies will square off in the first race of the night with the Ervin Miller trained Maevey Gravy (3-1) looking to make amends for a poor showing in last week's prep for this race. Prior to that the daughter of Northern Kid-Grace Elizabeth had won three straight, including scores in the $40,000 State Fair Stake and the $20,000 Windy Skeeter Stake in Du Quoin. After winning just once during her 2-year-old season this filly has turned things around in a big way this year with seven wins, one second and five third place finishes in 15 starts. Maevey Gravy will start from post position five.
Others who must be considered in this event include Powerful Star (7-2), who took a lifetime best of 1:56.4 in last week's prep, Rubys And Pearls (9-2), who has hit the board in 16 of 22 career starts and Fox Valley Velvet (6-1), who boasts career earnings of more than $116,000.
$110,000 Su Mac Lad Stake
Race two marks the return of Riccolo (2-1), who rattled off nine straight wins on the local scene before moving to the barn of conditioner Trond Smedshammer after being acquired for a six-figure sum by owner Randi Alendal of Norway. After a disappointing sixth place finish in a Hambletonian elimination this son of Northern Kid-Touch Of Victory was given some time off but he returns to his home state where he'll be reunited with former trainer Nelson Willis and driver Marcus Miller. The bay gelding tuned up for this battle with a very sharp qualifying win in 1:56.2 at Pocono before heading back to the Windy City and he figures to be tough to beat from post position three.
If anybody can knock off the favorite it could be the red-hot Vaporstar (3-1). A winner in four of his last five starts for trainer Mike Brink, this son of Vaporize-Starlicious has been a model of consistency throughout his career, posting a record of 7-4-4 in 19 starts while banking more than $161,000. The winner of the State Fair Stake in Springfield and the Pronto Don in Du Quoin will have the services of Dave Magee as he starts from post position seven.
Once again don't forget the special first post for Super Night of 6:30 p.m. (CDT). (Balmoral Park)