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Aliyah Maria No Longshot in Violet Final (05/19/13)
Posted Sunday May 19, 2013
By Mike Paradise
A week ago heading into last weekend’s Violet Pace eliminations the Duneside Perch filly Aliyah Maria was a longshot to win this Sunday’s $55,300 Final, the first major championship for 3-year-old ICF pacers.
Tonight she appears to be one of the major threats in the fifth race feature when she makes her second start for Rocky Rufflo of Chicago who bought Aliyah Maria before her before Violet elimination.
Aliyah Maria came within a neck of upsetting the heavy favorite Feel like Dancing in their elimination, scooting home in a quick :26.3 at the end of a 1:551.1 with her new driver Todd Warren.
“The filly was a good purchase,” said Todd. “She was very handy in her elimination.
“They bought the horse after she was entered so now Roger (Welch) will be her trainer. Obviously I’m happy Roger got her because it gives me a good 3-year-old Illinois bred filly to drive in these upcoming stakes.”
I asked Todd how he thought she would be in Sunday’s Championship.
“She should be right there in the final.” He replied. “They won’t be going any slow first halves (:59.2) like they did in those 7-horse eliminations. A fast pace could help this filly because she has shown she can finish big.”
Aliyah Maria came into her Violet elimination with a little over $14,000 on her card, 8th best I Sunday’s 10-hosre final field. Her mark of 1:56.1, taken last summer at Du Quoin, was slower than all but two of the finalists.
However, Warren thinks she could end up as good as any in her division before the year is over.
“The horse had been training on a farm track there hours away from Balmoral,” said Todd. “She’s on the grounds now with Roger so I expect her to get even faster. Right now her division doesn’t have a real stick-out. There are a lot of pretty evenly matched fillies and she’s one of them.”
Aliyah Maria (programmed 6-1) drew the 7-slot in the 10-horse final and could be in line to pick-up some live cover when she takes on (from the rail out) Mystical Danica (6-1, Dave Magee), Thank You Doc (10-1, Dean Magee), Auniqueaquisition (3-1, Mike Oosting), Fell Like Dancing (7-2, Kyle Wilfong), Pirvate Ashley (10-1, Kyle Husted), Dallas Jones (9-2, Casey Leonard) and My Malisa Clair (15-1, Phil Knox).
Here’s what the drivers of the three Violet favorites had to say about their horses:
“Auniqueaquisition raced really well last week and I was able to give her a nice trip,” said Oosting. “She’s a pretty handy filly to drive. Even though she got nosed out the other night she didn’t know it because she’s got blinders on. I just wanted to make sure she didn’t get passed by other horses to keep her confidence level high. I thought she had good mile to go into the final.
“Feel Like Dancing has shown she can race with these fillies and she should be a major contender Sunday,” said Wilfong. “She’s a filly with versatility. She can race up front and come from out of it, depending on how you want to use her in a race. She’s sharp now
“I really like Dallas Jones,” said Leonard. “She’s like a big tough old horse because she’s got a lot of size to her. She’s been raced a lot this year and always out of a hole until last Sunday’s elimination.
“When I first driving her I don’t think anybody knew how good she would be coming down the lane. I started out ducking her and she would come up with those quick 26 last quarters and most of them came in the winter when we had cold weather,
“Right now there isn’t a standout in this division and the top contenders all have different attributes to it should be an interesting and competitive division throughout the summer. My filly has that huge kick and now she’s becoming a little more versatile.”
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Aliyah Maria finished a fast closing seciond debuting for her new connections.
|Notes and Quotes