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Invite Returns (03/16/13)
Posted Saturday March 16, 2013
By Mike Paradise
After a two-week absence the circuit’s $17,000 Invite returns to Saturday’s Balmoral program.
All the familiar faces return to the ninth race feature headed up by the 2-1 morning line favorite St Elmo Hero (Mike Oosting) and the very sharp Fort Silky (programmed 8-1, Casey Leonard).
Fort Silky carries a two-race winning streak that includes a stunning upset over St Elmo the last time they met on Feb. 23 when the Terry Leonard trainee posted a quick winter time mile of 1:49.2.
The Invitational was handicapped by groups with Fort Silky landing the 8-post and St Elmo hero the nine.
The Mike Brown trained entry of Lennox Blue Chip (9-2, Josh Sutton) and Ice Scraper (9-2, Ross Leonard) looks formidable. The former drew the pole position after being locked-in last start while Ice Scraper could be pushing the early fractions again like he did in his previous two outinfs.
“Ice Scraper can get pretty fired up and be a handful at times,” explained driver Josh Sutton who chose to drive Lennox Blue Chip Saturday over his entry-mate..
I asked driver Josh Sutton about Lennox Blue Chip’s last race.
“I didn’t want to be first over on Casey (Leonard),” explained Josh. “Fort Silky is a pretty nice horse. I opted to settle-in and was hoping I could shake loose somewhere near the top of the lane.
“It turned out we got out a little late but once Lennox Blue Chip got loose he was flying. I think he came home in something like :26.1.”
Twenty-one-year-old Kyle Wilfong is back at the lines of Thunder Steeler (6-1) who steps up to the invite ranks for the first time after winning 4 of his first 5 starts since joining the stable of Donna Lee Ozment
“Thunder Steeler has done everything I’ve asked from him,” said Kyle. “The horse can get it done either way and Donna has him in tip-top shape.”
The other Invite hopefuls are Park Lane Deputy (5-1, Sam Widger), Power Of Tara (8-1, John Roberts), Lockloadnexplode (12-1, Jamaica Patton) and Time To Roll (8-1, Dave Magee)
Making her first start in Illinois is the 7-year-old mare Didrickson in the $12,500 eighth race secondary feature for distaffers. Dave Magee gets the catch drive behind the classy Michigan bred pacer.
Didrickson arrives from Canada where she made almost $40,000 in seven starts. She’s won eight Preferred events at Hazel Park over the past two years and in 2011 captured Woodbine’s $60,600 Horseplayer Final and was second in their $103,000 Damsel Championship for trainer and owner Kelly Goodwin.
Didrickson (p.p. 9) is the 7-2 luke-warn early favorite with Steve Bauder’s Aqua Artist (p.p. 10, Mike Oosting) at 4-1 after two straight easy front-end victories.
One Away: Joss Sutton comes into Saturday’s Balmoral program just one win away from 2,000 in his career. The Kentucky native picked up No. 1,999 Friday night at Maywood when Wilson Track’s drew off by 10 lengths in race seven.
Trainer Dave Mc Caffrey posted three victories on last night’s same card. Chewy Bocca (Same Widger, 11th), Cheese Plumper (Ryan Anderson, 12th) and Wand Dang Doodle (Casey Leonard 14th) all were stable winners.
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