09/11/2014 4:53PM

Balmoral: Erv Miller is the king of Super Night

Balmoral Park
Unlocked is the horse to beat in the $145,000 Pete Langley Memorial at Balmoral on Saturday night.

As the leading conditioner of Super Night Champions, trainer Erv Miller’s résumé includes some of the finest Illinois-breds to have donned a bridle.  The Illinois native, now based in Pennsylvania, is poised to up his count of 22 crowns on Saturday’s Super Night card at Balmoral Park.

Miller, 47, has conditioned 4,532 winners to $66,489,042 in career earnings since he began training in 1991. That year he earned $23,696 from seven winners.  Two years later he posted his first $100,000+ season, and seven years later, his first $1 million season.  A combative force on the North American harness scene ever since, he sports an impressive UTRS of .325 or higher each year. Yet, despite his national accolades, he continues investing in the Illinois program.

“Super Night is a great night to win races, and itshowcases how talented Illinois-breds are,” Miller stressed.

Miller should know, as he has eight contenders in five championships Saturday, all with solid chances.

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The phenomenal Unlocked appears unbeatable in the $147,000 Langley Memorial for sophomore pacing colts. A 1:50 3/5 winner for Dave Magee in his elim, the son of Duneside Perch is owned by Megan Rogers of Chicago, IL, amassing $187,182.

“This colt is capable of going really big miles,” Magee said.  “Earlier this year he was high strung, but the last few starts he’s been super.  He’s so dominate as of late that I expect to be up close. He never seems to tail off at the end of a mile so post isn’t an issue.”

Magee has steered the powerful colt in his last four starts, obliterating his competition, beginning with his 1:50 2/5 victory in the $48,000 Incredible Finale Stake at Balmoral on July 26. He then roasted eight rivals on Aug. 14 at Springfield in a lifetime best 1:49 1/5 in a $52,000 State Fair Championship, his nearest competitor 9 1/4 lengths back. He followed that up by sweeping to a 1:51 3/5 clocking in the $22,000 Dudley Hanover Stake at DuQuoin on Aug.24, before winning his Langley elim casually by 6 1/4 lengths.

“Unlocked is a horse that’s easy to manage,” Miller offered. “He’s got so much speed that he’s easy to keep sharp, because he’s so naturally talented.”

Miller sends out Uncle Ugly in the same race.  Unraced at 2, the son of Yankee Skyscraper finished fifth in his elim in 1:52 4/5 for driver John Delong, and has earned $94,851 from five wins in 16 starts.

“He got roughed up in his elim, but if he draws inside, he can get a big piece of it,” Miller stated.  “I can’t imagine him beating Unlocked, but I think he can be second if things fall his way.”

The 7-year-old gelding Iam Bonasera is another Miller trainee with a solid shot in the $112,000 Maurello.  A 1:51 3/5 victor in his elim for Travis Seekman, the son of Cole Muffler has earned $676,089 and is a Super Night veteran.  He won the 2010 Langley in 1:49 3/5 and the 2012 Maurello in 1:50 for Miller and co-owner Bert Hochsprung of Elburn, IL.

“He put up a really nice mile the other night,” Miller stated.  “He likes Balmoral and has had issues but always works through them—he’s a solid racehorse.”

“He’s an ideal horse to drive,” Seekman confirmed. “I never pulled the ear plugs last week, so he did that all on his own.  He’s a huge, massive horse.  I had to adjust my race bike because he’s so big; to look around him, not over him.”

Stablemate A Cool Card was third to Iam Bonasera in their elimination for Dave Magee. This 6-year-old Cole Muffler gelding has earned $233,995 in his career, overcoming multiple knee injuries, with a mark of 1:49.

“He came first up at the three-eighths and still paced a last quarter in :26 2/5,” Magee acknowledged. “With the right trip, he’ll be very competitive in that crowd.”

“I was pleased,” Erv said about A Cool Card. “He’s had knee surgery at two and three, and has good and bad days. He always tries hard.”

In the $163,000 Orange & Blue Filly for freshman pacing fillies, Miller sends out Mr Leland’s Filly, who won her elim in 1:56 for Casey Leonard.

“She was aggressive when she first started, and we had to work to get her to be quiet off the gate,” Miller explained. “When she was a yearling I saw her in the field with a group of fillies and she ran them all over the place.  I liked her attitude then and she had that same attitude from the word go.”

The daughter of Sportsmaster has earned $86,270 from five wins in seven tries for Paymaq Racing of Long Grove, IL and Leland Mathias of Bethany, IL.

“She’s come along well,” Leonard noted.  “Erv took his time with her and it’s paid off.  She’s a great built filly and really matured the last four starts.”

Miller also sends out Angel Demon in this event.  This daughter of Sportsmaster was fifth in her elim, timed in 1:57 1/5 after a first-over journey.

“That was a tough trip,” Miller admitted. “She had been good up to then, has a good attitude, and has just kept improving.”

Quad Racing LLC owns Angel Demon, who has three seconds and a third in seven starts, with $37,113 in her bankroll.

Miller harnesses My Little Bit in the $142,000 Grandma Ann for 3-year-old pacing fillies. This Sportsmaster lass was third in 1:55 1/5 for Casey Leonard in her elim.

“There was confusion at the start and shemade a break but recovered well,” Miller said. “She was so far out but closed super.  She’ll be solid in the final as long as she doesn’t get into any road trouble.”

“She overcame a lot,” Leonard confirmed. “That track wasn’t a closers track that night and she spotted them ten lengths, so I expect a super effort from her in the final.”

A winner of $212,987 lifetime, My Little Bit has 11 wins in 24 career starts, with a 3-year-old mark of 1:52 2/5 at Balmoral.

In the $187,000 Orange & Blue Championship, Lucpark, who won his elim in 1:55 1/5, will carry Miller’s hopes postward.

“He’s a nice colt, but a little immature,” Miller said about the 2-year-old. “He’s the kind of horse that if you put him on the front end and he doesn’t get beat, he’ll be okay.”

This Sportsmaster colt has four wins in eight tries this year, earning $47,980.  He scored a winning 1:54 3/5 mile at DuQuoin for Magee.

“He’s getting better at the right time,” Magee added. “He went a super mile at DuQuoin. He’s compact and covers the ground fairly easily.”

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