“I had to check with the United States Trotting Association and their records only went back about 30 years or so,” explained Jim Bafia, the filly’s co-owner. “But I checked with Doc Langley too and as far as the record books show, she is the only Illinois-bred 2-year-old trotting filly to win the American-National. As an Illinois owner that’s something to hang your hat on and I’m also glad she got it for her breeder (Anna Ruman), as her father used to take her to the American-National. It meant a lot to her.”
The daughter of American Native and What A Joy was purchased privately by Bafia and fellow owner Eugene White from Mike Brink after her triumph in a $10,000 Fox Valley Flan elimination on July 25 at Balmoral Park in what was her third start and second victory. 2012 Illinois Harness Racing Hall of Fame inductee Dirk Simpson had watched the filly train down at Springfield all winter and after she finished second in her debut on June 20 in the $6,000 Star Slinger Stakes at Balmoral Park, Trot Fudge Sundae won her second pari-mutuel engagement, a $5,000 Vaporize Stake contest, on July 8 over the same track.
“Mike talked about how he liked her,” Simpson said. “Then I watched her first start and after that Mike said he would like to sell her, so when Jim approached me about training some babies, I told him she was for sale and how much Mike liked this filly.”
|Balmoral Park photo|
|Trot Fudge Sundae and Dave Magee made every call a winning one in the $70,000 American-National for 2-year-old trotting fillies.|
Bafia and White were actually interested in bringing home another horse, but bought Trot Fudge Sundae based on Simpson’s advice, some investigation and disillusionment with how the other animal performed.
“The horse won, but we were turned off about how the race went,” Bafia remembered. “I went through the calendar to see what she (Trot Fudge Sundae) was staked to and I knew what her competition was. It was pretty much a two-horse race between her and Little Ms Chrissy. Everyone else thought the other filly was going to be the best trotting filly in the state and I knew even if I finished second to her every time I could recoup most of Trot Fudge Sundae’s purchase price. Also, I have a firm that does pedigree research and I had the information on her family. It turned out she was the best trotting filly in Illinois, which worked out great for us.
“We bought Sam (Daddono), who hadn’t really owned horses before, after her first couple races,” he continued. “We are all commodities traders and both my partners told me if I thought it was a good deal they would take it.”
Her first start for her new connections was a win in the $54,000 Fox Valley Flan final on August 1, bringing her record to 4-3-1-0. The filly captured her next five starts, which included the $8,000 State Fair elimination at Springfield and $40,000 final at Balmoral Park, the $30,000 Shawnee at Du Quoin, the aforementioned American-National and the $15,000 Lady Lincoln Land elimination on Sept. 26 at Balmoral Park.
Trot Fudge Sundae’s eight race winning streak concluded on Oct. 3 in the $118,000 Lady Lincoln Land final when she could not withstand the late charge of Little Ms Chrissy after cutting the mile and came home second.
She returned to the winner’s circle, however, on Oct. 14 in a $33,000 Hanover Stake division, then stopped Little Ms Chrissy by two lengths on Oct. 28 in the $46,500 Violet Stake.
“I was a little bit surprised how dominant she ended up being week after week after week,” Simpson said. “It’s hard for a trotting filly to race on the front end all the time, but she kept herself pretty fresh and she didn’t really require a lot of training once we got into a routine. That helped her stay strong for so long.
“She was always plenty aggressive,” he continued. “When she came off the track, she was still fired up and would always lead you back to the spitbox herself but coming off the track from training she always walked back to the barn. She is really smart and really took care of herself.”
The filly, who was named the Illinois 2-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year, concluded her first year of competition with a sixth and last place finish on Nov. 4 at Balmoral Park in the $12,600 Monee Stake. Trot Fudge Sundae uncharacteristically broke behind the gate and then again later in the mile once she got back on stride.
She faced the starter on 13 occasions, with 10 wins, two seconds, $183,210 in the bank and a mark of 1.57.1 established at Du Quoin on August 25.
“I still am looking for an explanation for that night (her last race),” Simpson said. “She warmed up pretty much the same that night, but wasn’t herself in the post parade. She was all fired up and Dave (Magee, her driver) said he was waiting to go to the gate with her, but that you could only wait for so long because everyone else is waiting on you to get there.
“I jogged her the next day and had the vet watching her to see if something was wrong,” he continued. “We didn’t see anything and then we turned her out for a couple weeks before jogging her for another several weeks. Every day since then for her has been a good day, so I still don’t know what it was. I guess it just wasn’t her night.”
While her connections anxiously await the voters’ decision on whether she will be the Illinois Horse of the Year, Trot Fudge Sundae will enjoy a bit more of her vacation before it’s time to return to work in the coming months.
“She’ll be staked to everything in Illinois,” Bafia said. “And she will only race against 3-year-olds and not in any Invitationals. I think racing a young horse like that against older horses will burn them out.
“My family, my wife Becky, 9-year-old daughter Melanie and 7-year-old son Adam, enjoy watching her race,” he continued. “I’ve always liked horses and owning them was one of my goals. It gets expensive, but I do it also because of my family. I also think we should give back to the sport, so my wife and I are sponsoring three high school graduate scholarships next year, two of them will be in Sundae’s name and the other will be in Nina Coleada’s name. She was the first horse I bought and has also done pretty well (p,3,1:50.3, $136,228). Even if I lose money from racing this year, we will still provide scholarships for the next two years. It’s important to generate positive press for our sport so people will know about how it really is, instead of seeing all the negative stuff.”