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Saturday Feature Not a True Handicap (03/22/13)
Posted Friday March 22, 2013
By Mike Paradise
The circuit’s Invitational makes it back-to-back Saturday headliners tomorrow night at Balmoral Park.
The $17,000 Invite was “Handicapped” and then drawn by groups making the task a more difficult for last week’s upset winner Thunder Steeler and somewhat easier for the beaten favorite St Elmo Hero.
Thunder Steeler (programmed at 3-1, Kyle Wilfong) nailed down a victory in his first Invite start and was saddled with the outside 8-slot while the 5-2 morning in favorite St Elmo Hero (Mike Oosting), winner of 5 of the last 8 Invites he’s been in with 3 seconds, ended up with the 6. Fort Silky (5-1, Casey Leonard) is in between with the 7.
The first five posts are manned by Don’t Worry B Happy (12-1, Todd Warren), Power Of Tara N (10-1, John Roberts), Lennox Blue Chip (6-1, Josh Sutton), Time To Roll (9-2, Dave Magee) and Dontgetmyme (8-1, Ross Leonard).
Saturday’s field would line-up a lot differently—and more competitively—if every horse and post was handicapped individually by the Balmoral Race Office rather than by groups and then drawn.
Nevertheless, despite the outside slot, the 21-year-old Kyle is optimistic on Thunder Steeler chances to repeat off the horse’s game first-up performance against the pacesetting St Elmo Hero.
“Even though we were sitting outside of a top-notch horse like St Elmo Hero when I looked over and saw the first half was only in 57 seconds, I knew both horses would be flying home,” said Wilfong.
“Thunder Steeler is really sharp right now so I thought we had a good shot and as it turned out he won pretty comfortably. Donna Lee (trainer Ozment) really has him at the top of his game. When the weather warms up I think you’ll see some pretty fast miles from this horse.”
Saturday’ secondary feature is the $12,500 top-level conditioned pace for fillies and mares and it will precede the ninth race Invite.
Ed Teefy’s Peace, who rallied to win a blanket finish last week, will open as the 4-1 second choice. Dave Magee will take over her lines for Sam Widger, who won’t be driving on the 13-race card.
The 3-1 first flash favorites are the Steve Bauder trained entry of Sectionline Yankee (p.p. 9, Todd Warren) and Aqua Artist (p.p. 10, Trace Tetrick).
The competitive field of distaffers also lured Tamarac Sassy (8-1, Casey Leonard), Together Again N (5-1, John Roberts), LBC Sandy (10-1, Neil Coleman), Shabalabadingdong (6-1, Mike Oosting), Fox Valley Matinee (8-1, Brian Carpenter), Osage (15-1, Kyle Husted) and MJ’s Last Dance (10-1, Ross Leonard).
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