The owners going into Saturday’s (Sept. 17) two $35,000 eliminations of the Shes A Great Lady for rookie pacing fillies at Woodbine Mohawk Park were hoping to earn a spot into next week’s rich final, but one maybe a bit more than the others.
Diamond Creek Stud has been home to the race’s namesake for close to two decades and it would mean the world to them to win the race while the now 30-year-old mare is still alive. That dream grew closer to reality when their homebred, Charleston, was an impressive winner in the first division (defeating another filly bred by the Pennsylvania nursery, Horizontal).
With Dexter Dunn at the controls, Charleston settled into fifth early in the field reduced to six with the scratch of Savethelastdance. Horizontal and Sylvain Filion set the tempo of :27.3 and :56.2. Dunn pulled the right line just past that marker and grabbed cover from Treacherous Penny as they passed the three-quarters in 1:24.3.
Down the stretch, Charleston sailed on by to hit the wire in 1:51.3, followed by Horizontal, who held off Treacherous Penny for place. The top five from each division earn a spot into the final so Front Page Story and Reggae Hanover will also compete.
It was the fifth win in six starts (the other was a second) and a lifetime mark for Charleston, a daughter of Downbytheseaside bred and owned by Diamond Creek and trained by Brett Pelling. Charleston is a half-sister to Pure Country, a winner of more than $2.6 million in her career.
“She’s obviously a really nice filly, really fast, she rallied good,” Dunn reported.
As for the tepid fractions up front he smiled and said, “I was quite happy with them, we weren’t too far off the speed. As Brett said she’s getting better every week.”
In the second division, Sylvia Hanover extended her streak as she notched her fourth straight for Bob McClure, who sent her to the top early and never looked back. The fractions were :27.2, :57.3, 1:26 and she reached the finish in 1:52.1
Pocket-sitter Bellisima Hanover finished second with Proud Mary, who tried to launch a challenge first up, third. Cheesy Smile and Windsun Tiara also qualified for the final.
Sylvia Hanover, by Always B Miki, has five wins and a second in six starts to date. She’s earned over $218,000 so far for owner Hudson Standardbred of Quebec. Shawn Steacy handles the training for the $135,000 yearling purchase whose dam, Shyaway competed in the 2010 Shes A Great Lady finishing second in her elimination and seventh in the final. Her first foal was $2 million winner Western Fame.
McClure was effusive in his praise for the young filly.
“She’s a little green up front still, she’s a big kid having fun but for the racing part she dials right in. She kicked home in :26.1 on her own. She knows it’s business from the half on, there’s no end to her.
“There doesn’t seem to be a way to get her tired. She’s great gaited, has a great attitude, just a lot of fun to sit behind. If you don’t get excited about a horse like that you’re in the wrong game.”
The draw for the final was made following the second division and the fillies will line up as follows next Saturday night:
1 – Windsun Tiara
2 – Front Page Story
3 – Bellisima Hanover
4 – Charleston
5 – Sylvia Hanover
6 – Proud Mary
7 – Reggae Hanover
8 – Treacherous Penny
9 – Horizontal
10 – Cheesy Smile
AE – Caviart Davia
A top pacing mare during the mid 1990s, Shes A Great Lady earned just under a million dollars during her three year career, which saw her win 26 of 52 life starts. She’s been retired from breeding since her last foal in 2012 and is part of Diamond Creek’s Golden Girls retirement group.
To view Saturday's harness racing results, click the following link: Saturday Results - Woodbine Mohawk Park.