10/04/2012 4:45PM

Balmoral: Semper Fit is the one to beat in Lincoln Land final

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Balmoral Park
Semper Fit won easily in his elimination.

Semper Fit made a powerful first impression on Dave Magee when the 2-year-old trotting colt was introduced to the Hall of Fame driver in the second of the two eliminations for Sunday night’s $119,000 Lincoln Land Championship at Balmoral Park.

Gaining momentum as the race progressed, on the final turn the 7-10 favorite blew by King Mustafa, who’d taken a huge early lead, and went on to score a compelling 7 ¾-length victory in the eight-horse race in a career-best time of 1:56 3/5.

It was the fifth victory in nine starts for the Illinois-bred son of American Native and the Master Willie mare Colors of the Wind. In three of his losses Semper Fit finished second for trainer Homer Hochstettler, who’d hitherto driven the colt owned by his wife, Connie, and Robert Buddig. The most recent second came in the American-National 2-year-old colt and gelding trot, Balmoral’s top open company race for 2013 Hambletonian hopefuls..

“I wasn’t really concerned about the fast fractions (:27 3/5 for the quarter and :56 1/5 for the half),” Magee said. “I’d watched Homer race Semper Fit quite a bit and he seemed to respond really well.

“He’s a very strong nicely-made colt and he’s a good-gaited colt. He feels like a good one.”

In the Lincoln Land, Semper Fit will leave from post position 3 in a field of 10 Illinois-breds.

Starting from the rail will be Powerful Poe, 2 ½-length winner of the first elimination in which he was dispatched at odds of 7-5 and finished in 1:58 4/5.

Although the gelding trained by Dirk Simpson and driven by Todd Warren forced Semper Fit to settle for second in two August races at Balmoral and the DuQuoin State Fair, he is listed as the 7-2 second choice on the morning line, while Semper Fit is projected as the 5-2 favorite.

Powerful Yield, best of the rest in Semper Fit’s elimination, is the third choice at 5-1 followed at 6-1 by Show Stopin Monkey, second place finisher in Powerful Poe’s elimination as the even-money favorite.

Driver-trainer Michael Cox will embark from post-position 7 with Powerful Yield, while driver-trainer Ronnie Gillespie will be on the outside with Show Stopin Monkey.

The workaholic of the field is Accokeek Mercury in the five-hole. He has made 13 starts for trainer Buddy Simpson, recording six wins, three places and two shows.

The Lincoln Land is the sixth race on an 11-race card that will commence at 8:10 p.m. (EDT).