While no eliminations were needed for Balmoral Park’s $1 million, six-race American National night set for Nov. 14, a handful of contenders vied in preps on Nov. 7 and 8 at the Crete, Ill., oval.
Trainer Joe Seekman harnessed Annieswesterncard to a resounding 1:52.1 victory, giving the gelding his final tightener for the $300,000 American National for 3-year-old male pacers. The sophomore son of Western Hanover was driven by Seekman’s son Travis as he notched his sixth win of the year with a 4 1/4-length score in a $14,000 Free For All.
Owned by Sawgrass Farms, Annieswesterncard pushed his seasonal earnings to $358,546 and his career earnings to $575,806 as he recorded career victory number 12.
“He’s really sharp right now,” Joe Seekman noted. “He was coming off a nice win in the $34,300 Circle City at Indiana Downs, and he will go in the Windy City after the American National.”
Fox Valley Topaz, who is slated to start in the $180,000 American National for sophomore filly pacers, finished fourth in the $11,000 Filly and Mare Open on Nov. 7. Trainer Paul Stafford said the 2008 Illinois Horse of the Year had been pointed for this start after a pair of encouraging qualifiers.
“She paced in 1:56.2 and 1:57 in those two qualifiers and this mile (1:53.3) was a good tightener for the American National,” Stafford offered. “It’s good when she can chase horses like that. She enjoys having horses in front of her, otherwise, she tends to get a little lost out there. That’s how she races best.”
Fox Valley Topaz has earned $745,368 from 29 career starts, with a 12-3-6 record for owner Marty Engel, including the 2008 Breeders Crown freshman filly pace.
With Travis Seekman driving, Makes You Wonder captured a $4,700 prep race in a career-best clocking of 1:55.4 on Nov. 8 at Balmoral, besting Leanmean Normajean by one-half length. Owned by the Sawgrass Farms and trained by Joe Seekman, Makes You Wonder looks to be the likely favorite in the $154,000 American National for 2-year-old filly pacers.
“This filly is really starting to come around,” Seekman noted. “She just got nipped in 1:52.4 at The Red Mile a few weeks ago.”
Makes You Wonder has only missed one check in nine tries, with her only other victory coming at Balmoral on Oct. 18, when she demolished her rivals in 1:57, drawing off by 5 ½ lengths.
A $50,000 yearling purchase at the 2008 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, Makes You Wonder is a full sister to the standout 3-year-old filly Shanghai Lil p, 2, 1:51.2 ($724,778)—who won the Lady Maud final at Yonkers that same night—and the tough gelding Blue Claw p, 4, 1:49.4 ($348,882). By Jenna’s Beach Boy, Makes You Wonder is the fourth foal out of the Artsplace mare Wonderbolt, and is a half sister to Devilfish p,4, 1:48.3 ($141,240)