07/12/2012 12:59PM

Assiniboia Downs: Balooga Bull risks perfect record in Harry Jeffrey


Balooga Bull has been perfect in six starts, with four stakes wins among his conquests. On Saturday, Balooga Bull will be facing what is by far his most important test to date as he stretches out to 1 1/16 miles in the $30,000 Harry Jeffrey for 3-year-olds at Assiniboia Downs.

The Harry Jeffrey is the local stakes prep for the $75,000 Manitoba Derby, which will be run over 1 1/8 miles Aug. 6, and it figures to go a long way in separating the pretenders from the contenders for Assiniboia’s most important race.

Balooga Bull came from well off the pace to prevail in his 4 1/2-furlong debut last July, but has led at every call through his five subsequent starts, all sprints.

Trained by Paul Brandt, Balooga Bull has been seriously tested on just one occasion as he had to fight off Pleasant Closing in his 3-year-old debut, which came at five furlongs.

Regular rider Paul Nolan will face the task of nursing Balooga Bull’s speed as he breaks from the outside in the field of six.

Pleasant Closing, who came back to run second to Balooga Bull for the second straight time in the six-furlong Golden Boy, returned for a confidence-building win under first-level allowance terms at six furlongs.

Pleasant Closing has had plenty of experience at middle distances at Remington Park and Oaklawn Park and could turn the tables on Balooga Bull. He breaks from the inside post under regular rider Tyrone Nelson.

Runaway Lion was claimed for $50,000 from his winning debut at Woodbine last October and went on to finish fourth there in the 1 1/16-mile Display Stakes, but has been a fringe performer at best this season. Owned by Phil Kives, Runaway Lion will be making his first start for trainer Shelley Brown and rider Tim Moccasin.

Jon’s Golden Run, a Manitoba-bred, won the one-mile Buffalo last September and should appreciate this chance to stretch out with two 2012 sprint starts under his belt.

Rounding out the field are So Shiny, third behind Balooga Bull and Pleasant Closing in the Golden Boy, and Lots of Chrome, a maiden.