05/20/2013 9:53AM

Balmoral: Aliyah Maria scores in Violet Stakes

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Balmoral Park
Aliyah Maria won the first major Illinois-bred stake of 2013.

Aliyah Maria, a recent acquisition for long-time owner Rocco Ruffolo, looked like a wise investment on Sunday night. The daughter of Duneside Perch-Maria Maria handily knocked off nine other Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing fillies in the first “major” stake of the season, winning the $55,300 Violet Stake Final by a widening length in a career best of 1:52 4/5 for driver Todd Warren.  

Handled perfectly by Warren, who was sitting behind the filly for the first time in last week’s elimination win, the long-striding black filly was content to sit near the back of the pack as several horses battled for early control of the race. With Auniqueaquisition (Mike Oosting), Private Ashley (Kyle Wilfong) and Dallas Jones (Casey Leonard) all slugging it out through splits of 28 3/5 & 56, Warren finally moved the Roger Welch-trained miss to the outside as the field neared the half-mile mark.

“Going into the race I kind of figured there was going to be plenty of action of up front and things worked out perfectly in that respect tonight,” said Warren. “I thought I would be able to duck her early on and find live cover to bring us into contention. Even though they weren’t going quite as fast as I thought they would, things were setting up perfectly for this filly’s big closing kick.”

With the other elimination winner from last week, Dallas Jones showing the way by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24 1/5, Warren had Aliyah Maria in seventh, but just 5 ½ lengths off the pacesetter as the field turned for the money.

“I knew from her race last week that if I was anywhere within five or six lengths of the leader turning for home we would have a pretty big shot,” Warren explained. “My filly was absolutely loaded at that point and I knew if I could just find a clear path to the wire I was going to have a big shot to reel in the leaders.”

With her long flowing strides, Aliyah Maria began picking off one rival after another as she flew home in 27 3/5 while going from seventh to first for her biggest payday to date. Auniqueaquistiton, who wound up locked in and shuffled back through the middle part of the mile, finally shook loose in the final sixteenth of a mile to finish a tough luck second, while Dallas Jones, who had opened up a three-length lead at the mid-stretch, held on for third.

With the win, Aliyah Maria sports a career record of 4-5-2 in 16 career starts with earnings of just over $44,000. Dispatched as the third choice by the wagering public, the filly returned $8.20, $3.80 & $3.00 to her backers. 

-edited release (Balmoral)