Super Night 2014 at Balmoral Park kicked off with a pair of trotting events for three-year-olds as the $100,000 Lady Ann Reed Stake and the $100,000 Su Mac Lad started the biggest night of racing for the state-bred set. It was only fitting that Super Night's leading reinsman, Hall of Famer Dave Magee, piloted the winner of the opener as he guided James Bafia and Eugene White's Bailey's Wish to a neck victory in the Lady Ann Reed. The final time was 1:58.1.
Turning in one of the most memorable Super Night performances of all time Megan Rogers Racing Stable's Unlocked completely destroyed nine rivals as he cruised to a resounding 11 ½ length victory in the $145,000 Pete Langley Memorial for 3yo pacing colts. The final time was 1:50.2.
After floating away from post six with the son of Duneside Perch—Miss Major Power while the opening quarter went up in :27 driver Dave Magee sent the speedy colt on his way from fifth. Charging to the top as the field reached the half-mile mark in :54, the Erv Miller trainee was in full flight as he began to open up lengths on the field while reaching the three-quarter-mile mark in a brisk 1:21.4.
"He's just a monster right now,” remarked Magee. "He's unbelievably fast and once you get him in gear he just keeps going and going.”
Through the lane, Unlocked continued to increase his lead while getting only mild urging from Super Night's leading driver. Shut down in the shadow of the wire Unlocked made it look effortless as he scored for the sixth time in 14 starts this season. Last year's Orange & Blue champion, Cotton Eyed Joe rallied late to get the place check while Fox Valley Deuce (Casey Leonard) was a distant third.
After the laugher, Magee was quick to credit Miller for ironing out some of the problems Unlocked has battled throughout his career.
"Erv has really got this colt at the top of his game right now,” said Magee. "He's got him where you can drive him any way you want and he's just as comfortable sitting in a hole as he is out and rolling. He's really something.”
Bet as though defeat was out of the question, Unlocked paid just $2.10, $2.10 & $2.10 while increasing his bankroll to $251,697.
Getting back to Magee's win with Bailey's Wish, he gave the daughter of Southwind Breeze a perfect steer from post 9. They were able to work their way to the front after being parked through opening splits of :29.1 and 57.2.
"I was a little concerned and a little surprised we had to work that hard to make the front,” said a relieved Magee. "Like most any horse she's best off a trip but that wasn't going to happen from the 9-hole tonight.”
Continuing to roll along on the front end as the ladies passed the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.3 Bailey's Wish began to brace for the challenge of heavily favored Macie Rae (Ryan Anderson) who was out and rolling from third. As the two hooked up with just over an eighth of a mile to go disaster struck for the favorite as she made a nasty break leaving Bailey's Wish alone on the front.
The Dirk Simpson miss then dug in gamely as she neared the wire, holding off a late bid in the passing lane from longshot Lora Lee Breeze for her fourth win of the season. Lora Lee Breeze was a hard charging second while Say No Mo (John De Long) was third.
"I knew my horse was going to try all the way down the lane but I really wasn't sure how much she had left when that horse came at her,” said Magee. But the other filly made the break and my horse seemed to get more confidence at that point and she just kept going long enough to get there.”
The second choice in the wagering, Bailey's Wish returned $8.00, $4.00 & $3.20 while running her career numbers to 9-8-3 in 26 starts with earnings of $238,438.
Magee was right back in the winner's circle in the Su Mac Lad, picking up a late drive as Marcus Miller was delayed getting to Balmoral and making the most of it, notching his 31st career Super Night win by steering Donald Emond's Big Bill Breeze to a 2 ¾ length victory in 1:56.1.
Sent right to the front from post position six the gelded son of Southwind Breeze—Big Z Cornsilk proceeded to stroll through splits of :29, :58.4 and 1:27 while under very little pressure from the rest of the field.
"I was very pleased by the way the opening splits went out there,” explained Magee. Once I got control of things I knew I could always let somebody and go and still get the good trip but we never had to.”
Easily fending off a first over bid from heavy favorite Fox Valley Veto (John De Long), the Monte Gelrod trainee was pretty much under wraps as he pulled away from his nine rivals for his 12th win in 16 starts this year. Bobby B Breeze (Todd Warren) parlayed a perfect pocket sitting trip into a second place check while Tour Hall (Mike Brink) rallied to finish third.
After the win Magee was quick to sing the praises of Nick Prather, who conditioned Big Bill Breeze up until his recent sale.
"Nick really did a great job with this horse, developing him, teaching him and getting him to race up to his abilities,” said Magee. "Now Monte has continued with him and he's really a very nice and solid trotter.”
Now sporting an impressive slate of 19-2-5 in 28 career trips postward with earnings of $102,616 Big Bill Breeze returned $8.80, $6.00 & $5.00.
Fresh off five straight victories over her divisional foes, Paymaq Racing and Leland Mathias's Mr Leland's Filly made it six in a row as she came charging down the lane to win the $162,000 Filly Orange & Blue in 1:53.2 for driver Casey Leonard.
Content to sit in the middle of the pack as several fillies battled through quick splits of 27.1, 55.2 & 1:24.0 Leonard had his filly out and rolling in the middle of the final bend.
"When the draw came out I tried to picture every scenario that might shake out and this one was definitely the best,” said a very happy Leonard. "I was ecstatic that they were going as fast as they were and I was getting to follow the horse I thought we had to beat.”
Confidently starting to reel in the other elimination winner from last week, Sportsmuffler (John De Long), who had powered into the lead with a big first over move at the top of the lane Mr Leland's Filly quickly found her best stride.
Powering home in :28.3, the Ervin Miller trained miss zipped right by the leg weary leader giving Miller his Super Night leading 23rd championship. Lex (Kyle Wilfong) came on late to edge Sportsmuffler for the place honors in a tight photo.
With the win, Mr Leland's Filly appears to have a lock on divisional honors with her record of 6-0-0 in eight starts. The daughter of Sportsmaster—Incredible Katie returned $2.60, $2.40 & $2.10 while upping her bankroll to $158,360.
In what turned into a replay of last year's Filly Orange & Blue on Super Night, Engel Stable of Illinois' Thesleazyprincess became a two-time Super Night victress, this time capturing the $142,000 Grandma Ann for three-year-old pacing fillies by a nose over My Little Bit in 1:53.1.
Hustled off the wings of the gate by Marcus Miller, the homebred daughter of Sagebrush—Da Sleazy One landed in the pocket spot right behind My Little Bit as she led the field through splits of 27.3, 56.1 and 1:24.2.
"I wanted to get out of there quickly and get around the two fillies inside of me,” explained Miller. "When we wound up right on the back of my dad's (Erv Miller) other horse (My Little Bit) I knew we were going to be in pretty good shape.”
Continuing to sit right on the leaders helmet until the passing lane, Miller ducked the bay filly inside where she gradually wore down the pace setter, finally getting up in the last stride after a thrilling duel. As was the case last year, My Little Bit (Casey Leonard) was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Party Hangover Two (John De Long) rallied late to get the show dough.
After the race, Marcus seemed a bit stunned by it all.
"It's always great to come home and always great to be a part of Super Night,” he exclaimed. "At the top of the lane I thought my filly was going to be an easy winner but My Little Bit showed how tough she is tonight as well. I didn't know if I got there or not until the numbers came up. Last year "Sleazy beat me when I was driving My Little Bit so I guess I got a little revenge tonight.”
A recent addition to the barn of Erv Miller, Thesleazyprincess who returned $8.60, $4.00 & $4.00 now boasts $243,831 in earnings on the strength of a 4-4-7 record in 30 career starts.
Continuing his "dream season” while overcoming what could have been a career ending injury the Robert Phillips owned and trainer Al's Hammered posted his second career Super Night title taking the $112,000 Tony Maurello Championship by two-lengths in 1:49.2. That time equaled the stakes record for this 3yo & up event.
With his owner-trainer choosing post position five for this event the trip worked out perfectly for the big late rusher as he sat mid-pack while Fort Silky (Casey Leonard) and Iam Bonasera (Marcus Miller) battled through blistering fractions of 26.3, 54.4 & 1:21.4. Moving first over on the final turn driver Robert Smolin put Al's Hammered into contention alongside the pace setting Iam Bonasera as the field turned for the money.
"When I saw those fractions up front I really thought I was going to be home free,” said Smolin. "He's got no problem going first over so I really was where I wanted to be.”
As he's done so often this season, the five-year-old son of Droppin'thehammer seemed to find another gear as he eyed the finish line, putting away the leader and then drawing clear in the final 100 yards for his 14th win of the year. Iam Bonasera held on gamely to finish second while Fort Silky was third.
The 2012 Langley Memorial champion boosted his career bankroll to $476,497 with his second Super Night championship while returning $3.40, $2.40 & $2.10 to his legion of backers.
Completing the "favorite train” that rolled through Balmoral Park on Super Night Bo & Pat De Long’s Earndawg sent the chalk players home with a smile as he rolled to a 3 ½ length victory in a career best of 1:52.4 for Todd Warren.
Working out a perfect trip after getting away fifth as King Of The Swamp (Pat Curtin) and Lucpark (Dave Magee) traded blows through opening splits of 27.1 & 55.2 Warren managed to pick up live cover from a second over position as the field moved towards the three-quarter-mile mark.
"It wasn’t exactly the trip I thought I was going to get with him or the trip Roger (Welch) planned so I called an audible and it worked out pretty well,” joked Warren. "He always seems to have a big plan going into a race but things never seem to work out that way.”
Passing the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.3 the gelded son of Sportsmaster—Pacific Sister K tipped three deep and quickly found his best stride, sailing right by his rivals in route to his fourth win in 10 lifetime starts. Longshot Dupage’s Z Tam (Casey Leonard) shook loose late to rally for the place money while another Welch trainee Rockin Cassinova (Dale Hiteman) finished third.
With the win Earndawg, who returned $3.60, $3.00 & $2.60 now boasts a record of 4-2-2 in 10 starts with earnings of $115,478.