Big Plans For Big Filly

Published: August 9, 2012 08:37 pm EDT

Casie Coleman always knew Sarandon Blue Chip possessed sizable talent. She just had to wait for the pacing filly to grow into it.

With Dave Miller in the sulky, Sarandon Blue Chip reeled off an impressive 1:50.1 victory in the $125,000 Miss New Jersey on Hambletonian Day. The three-year-old daughter of Western Ideal wheels right back in a $15,000 condition event on Saturday night at the Meadowlands Racetrack. She will start from post three in the evening’s tenth race.

Unraced as a two-year-old, Sarandon Blue Chip was a $92,000 Harrisburg Sale yearling. Coleman had her eye on the filly well before the auction ring.

“Blue Chip Farms are very good to the horsemen, and they fly us out to see their horses before the sales every year, which is a big advantage,” said Coleman from her BayCairn Training Centre stable in Campbellville, Ontario. “I spotted Sarandon Blue Chip at the farm and absolutely loved her right away. She’s a sweetheart and couldn’t be bred any better. She was the complete package.”

Due to her size, Sarandon Blue Chip needed time to mature, and Coleman was more than willing to wait.

“She was a big girl, and training down she didn’t have any soreness issues, yet she was just too big,” explained Coleman. “So, I was in 2:20 with her, didn’t want to hurt her, so I stopped and kicked her out into the field. She has high speed and so much talent, but she’s so big I had to order an extra large race bike. She’s a monster and hasn’t shown her full potential yet.”

Sarandon Blue Chip now has three wins and two seconds in eight starts, along with $159,030 in earnings for Coleman and partner Tom Hill of Lancashire, England. She has been a shining star in two major events under the Meadowlands’ spotlight this summer.

“She was obviously very good in the New Jersey Sires Stakes Final and in the Miss New Jersey last week. She was just awesome on Hambletonian Day. She was coming into that race in great shape, and I was hoping she’d avoid any of her antics. When she finished second in the Miss New Jersey elimination the week before I knew she had to be short. We’re stabled at Showplace, but we trained her on the mile track at Gaitway Farm, and I was extremely happy coming into the final. The latest break she made at the start [on July 20] wasn’t really here fault. She’s a bit lazy, Andy Miller tried to chase her off the gate into the first turn, and she got a bit temperamental. ”

Coleman admits Saturday’s assignment is an interesting spot for her filly, who faces the red-hot Mistletoe Shalee winner, Major Look.

“I was going to give her a week off, but her next stake is the Simcoe [September 3] at Mohawk, so I wanted to get her another race and keep her confidence up. She’s paid into the Valley Forge [August 19] at Harrah’s Philadelphia, but simply can’t get around those turns. She’s fine at the Meadowlands, she’ll love the Red Mile, and she’ll be okay at Woodbine, but I don’t know about her getting around Mohawk’s last turn.”

Coleman looks forward to the return of her free for all star Betterthancheddar, who won the $500,000 Ben Franklin at Pocono Downs on June 30 in 1:48, then held off Foiled Again by a nose in the $174,735 Des Smith Classic at Rideau Carleton in 1:49.4.

“I gave Betterthancheddar a scheduled break after winning the Des Smith Classic. I trained him in 1:56 at Mohawk this week and he was very good. He’s racing in the Open at Mohawk on Saturday. He’ll get another week off to prep for the Canadian Pacing Derby [eliminations August 25]. I really want to race him on Jug Day in the Winbak Farm Pace, but it conflicts with the Bobby Quillen Memorial.

On August 3, Coleman became the youngest trainer at age 32 to hit the $40 million mark in career earnings.

“I’ve been extremely fortunate to find a great staff, and most of my guys have been with me since I started, so we’re also friends. They do work long hours, and I do ask a lot of them, yet I do my best to look after them. We spend a lot of time with each horse keeping them healthy and happy.

“We also have a lot of stakes horses and I don’t keep many on the cheaper end anymore. I’m actually trying to scale my numbers back because obviously quality is better than quantity. This time last year I had around 100 horses and right now I’m at about 55. My staff is great in helping me keep on top of it, but it got a little too crazy there for awhile.

“The situation here in Ontario with regards to the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks at the end of next March seems a little bit better from what I read recently. I’m waiting for a release on what’s going to happen with our great sire stakes program. There’s a sale coming up in September, and I probably won’t buy any Ontario-sired horses until I find out what kind of purses are being offered. I love racing in the Ontario Sires Stakes, and I hope something positive happens here because this is my home.

“I’m definitely going to Florida again next winter to train my two and three-year-olds. I’ve already given my staff a heads up that we might go straight from there to our New Jersey operation. We’ve got top horses and owners, and we need to race where it’s feasible.”

(The Meadowlands)