It was a perfect weather night for the 11th annual Balanced Image eliminations on Saturday at Hanover Raceway, resulting in a new track record for two-year-old trotters.
Four divisions of two-year-olds competed for $7,500 with the top two in each race advancing to the $77,800 final on August 29.
In the first elimination, trainer/driver Michiel Vanderkemp eased Georgies Pockets off the early speed and sat third behind Ginger Road and PC Foreign Affair. The top two battled past the quarter in :29.4, the half in 1:02, and the three-quarters in 1:32.2, however, when they turned for home, Vanderkemp turned on the speed and beat Ginger Road in 2:02.1. Georgies Pockets is owned by M T Pockets Stables of Pompano, Florida.
In the second elimination, it was Smoke Money that jumped quickly off the gate for driver Bruce Richardson, who admitted he thought his two-year-old was going too fast into the first turn, but added, he handled it like a pro. Smoke Monkey led past a quarter in :28.2, the half in :59.4 and the three-quarters in 1:29 when announcer Rick Rier told the fans to watch the tele-timer because he knew something special was going to happen. It did. When Smoke Monkey crossed the finish line without urging in 1:59.2, he beat the divisional track record by almost a full second. Windsongmusclelady finished 10-1/2 lengths behind in second. Smoke Monkey is owned by Synerco Ventures of Toronto.
In elimination three, Vanderkemp said GL Racing’s filly Magical Steph was hot after a recall when two horses locked wheels, and he took advantage of that as the daughter of Kadabra jumped out to a quick lead in :29 flat. Vanderkemp was able to settle Magical Steph down past the half in 1:01.2 and the three-quarters in 1:32.3, and cruised home to victory in 2:02 flat. Mass Balance finished second. Afterwards, Vanderkemp said its always nice to race for big money in front of a big crowd.
Once again, it was a quick start off the gate in the fourth elimination and filly Major Muscle went wire-to-wire. Mark Etsell, formerly of Walkerton, Ont., trains, drives and also shares ownership of the Muscle Mass miss with Bob Newton of Walkerton and Chuan Tan of Cambridge, Ont. Major Muscle led past the quarter in :28.2, the half in :59, the three-quarters in 1:29, and finished the mile with a two-length lead over Money Mission in 2:00.2.
The post positions were drawn after the last elimination and the final will go as follows:
$77,800 Balanced Image Trot
1. Ginger Road
2. Georgies Pocket
3. Magical Steph
5. Smoke Money
6. Money Mission
7. Mass Balance
8. Major Muscle
Saturday, August 29 is also 92.3 The Dock Day with a special prize draw from the radio station and a live band playing on the flat rooftop from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Post time for the Balanced Image final card is 7:15 p.m.
(Standardbred Canada with files from Hanover Raceway)