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Stakes season ready to get underway at Balmoral

April 04, 2008

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With the harsh Chicago winter finally starting to give way to more spring-like temperatures, the action on the one-mile oval at Balmoral Park will definitely be heating up starting Saturday as the 2008 stakes season gets underway with the $15,000 Taurus Bomber Stake for Illinois conceived and foaled 3-year-old pacing colts.


A field of seven has been entered for the Taurus Bomber with Littlbitoflife Stable’s aptly named Littlebitoflife leading the way as the 2-1 morning line favorite. Last season’s Cardinal Stake winner tuned up for his sophomore debut with a sharp second-place finish in his March 26 qualifier at Balmoral, stopping the clock in 1:57.1. The Shawn Nessa trainee hit the board in 10 of 16 starts as a 2 year old while banking over $71,000. Joe Anderson is scheduled to handle the driving duties.


Another to keep an eye on in this event is Gordon and Claudia Wright’s up-and-coming gelding Kinsel who has proven victorious in three of his last four outings. After an uneventful start to his career the Roger Welch trainee has hit the board in his last five starts, taking a career best of 1:54.4 in his latest triumph. Brent Holland will be at the controls behind this son of Park Place.


On Sunday it will be the girls turn to shine as a field of nine state-bred sophomore pacing fillies square off in the $15,000 Direct Balance Stake.


John Carver, John Fodera and Joseph Petrera’s recent acquisition, Westside Gritty, will look be looking to go two-for-two as a sophomore. The current co-holder of the track standard for a 2-year-old pacing filly with a mark of 1:52.2 opened her second season with an impressive come-from-behind win in 1:53.1 on Wednesday night. Now under guidance of conditioner Erv Miller, this daughter of Sportsmaster was a force to be reckoned with in the late stages of 2007, capturing the Sarah Myers Stake at Balmoral en route to a four-win season which saw her earn more than $51,000. Holland will get the call to drive the 8-5 morning line favorite.


The stakes actions continues on Tuesday as we get a look at some of this year’s Illinois conceived and foaled sophomore colt trotting set in the $15,000 Speedy Rodney Stake.


Turndorf Racing LLC’s freshman sensation Maxter will be making his sophomore debut and the Roger Welch trainee has been installed as the 5-2 morning favorite. The seven-time winner in 2007 hit the board in 15 of his 17 trips postward racking up more than $158,000 in earnings in the process. Dave Magee guided this speedy gelding to a pair of third-place finishes in his qualifiers and the Hall of Fame reinsman will get the call again on Tuesday.


J.D. Graham, Pam Coleman and Mystical Marker Farms’ Mystical Zone has caught the eye of many over the past few weeks and this up-and-coming gelding is a close second choice in the early odds at 3-1. The son of Wilson Wyoming debuted on March 12 with a big second-place finish. Since then the Pam Coleman trainee has rattled off a pair of impressive victories with the latest coming by 6 ½ lengths in a snappy 1:58.3.  Regular pilot Mike Oosting will be at the controls behind this youngster.


The week’s worth of state-bred stakes action closes on Wednesday with a field of seven 3-year-old trotting fillies heading to the gate for the $15,000 Trotting Tilly Stake. This figures to be a wide-open event with six of the seven starters making their seasonal debuts. This group also combined to rack up 27 victories during their 2-year-old campaigns.


Tops on that list is Tina and Patrick Graham’s Spread The Chips who won 13 of her 20 starts in 2007. The Thomas Grummel-trained miss racked up more than $107,000 in earnings last season and was second against “open” company in the prestigious American National Stake at Balmoral. Coming off a second-place finish in 1:59.3 in her qualifier, Spread The Chips is the 5-2 morning line favorite as she leaves from the inside post position with driver Brandon Simpson in tow. (Balmoral Park)

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