The 72-year-old had been very patient with this lass as a 2-year-old and was told prior to the race by conditioner Steve Elliott to expect a top effort in this contest.
“Angelo was a very, very nice man and a great owner,” said Elliott. “Last year she was underdeveloped. She was just a big, growthy filly with colt soreness, so he said to take the time with her, as he always gave all his horses a chance and if they can’t do it, they can’t do it.
|Ms Caila J Fra has hit the board in eight of her 12 lifetime starts, with earnings of $126,225.|
“We were good friends and talked all the time right up until the end. I told him I thought she could go around 1:49 for this start with the right trip as she had been acting really well and in her last race (a victory in a $43,000 New Jersey Sire Stake on May 25) she had a great trip with a last quarter in :26.3. I didn’t expect it to be in (1):49 flat though.”
The daughter of Western Ideal and the Artsplace mare Caila Fra was sixth in one 2-year-old race on June 28, 2012 and fourth in another on July 5 before being put on the shelf to point for this year’s season.
Ms Caila J Fra, the fourth foal out of her dam, is a three-quarter sister to Vincent Fra (Western Hanover, p,1:50.4f, $174,776) and did not even travel with Elliott to his winter base.
“I didn’t even take her down to Florida with me,” he said. “She was left up here (New Jersey) with my assistant trainer Toni Rose to get her ready and now all her parts go together. Last year I thought she was fat and she still has a rear end on her like a gorilla but now at least it fits.”
The filly returned to the races on Dec. 29, 2012, by winning a qualifying race at the Meadowlands. She captured another qualifier at the same venue on Jan. 10, and was second under the same conditions on Feb. 7, before finishing 10th after breaking in the stretch of a $9,500 non-winners race on Feb. 14.
For her next three starts, all in non-winners of $9,500, Ms Caila J Fra was third on Feb. 28, broke her maiden on March 8 and was fifth on March 15. On March 22 she came home fourth in a $9,000 non-winners contest, won a $12,500 non-winners on April 5, was second in the same class on April 12, collected her third triumph in a $13,000 event at Pocono Downs on May 1 and returned to the Meadowlands on May 10 by placing in a $12,500 conditioned race before entering Sire Stakes company.
Her initial foray into this arena resulted with a fourth place finish on May 18 in a $45,500 contest before what could be termed her break-out race on May 25 in 1:50.2 where she nosed out 1-2 favorite Jerseylicious at the wire.
|USTA/Ken Weingartner photos|
|Ms Caila J Fra and her friend, 5-year-old Emily Leamon.|
Her last race was on June 1 in the NJSS final, where she lowered her lifetime mark to 1:49 with another :26.3 last quarter, once again leaving Jerseylicious and last year’s O’Brien award victress I Luv The Nitelife in her wake.
To date, the filly’s record stands at 12-5-2-1 with $126,225 in purse money.
Ms Caila J Fra’s next engagement is a $20,000 James Lynch Memorial elimination at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Saturday (June 22). She will leave from post five in the first race and will once again face Jerseylicious as well as Shebestingin.
“I think we have as good a chance as anybody,” Elliott said. “Any race you go in you are going to have to face some good fillies and with the right trip anyone can win. I think that’s the case with any race, but sometimes the good ones have to make their own while other horses have to have that to win.
“Jerseylicious drew better than us, but we are inside (Joe) Holloway’s filly (Shebestingin, post seven) and she’s a real nice filly, too. Besides our filly is really good off the gate and is very handy for such a big horse. She can go on the front or come from the hole.”
After appearing in the Lynch, Ms Caila J Fra still has a pretty full year ahead of her.
“We didn’t take her up to Canada on purpose,” Elliott said. “We did pull her from some stakes after the way she started out the year, but Angelo said we could always supplement to anything we wanted to. She has the Miss New Jersey, the Shady Daisy, the Bluegrass and International at Lexington and I believe the Breeders Crown.”