“We are trying to segue way into pacing horses and Aunt Caroline was one of the first batches of fillies we bought,” said Antonacci. “She fit into our program perfectly, but actually we bought Best Laid Plans, her granddam and she was great to us. We raced her as a 4-year-old, then bred her. We sold some beautiful foals from her and when we had an opportunity to get a filly from that family we certainly took it.”
Sold for $82,000 in 2011, Aunt Caroline went through the ring as Speedy Caroline. In her three seasons of competition, the 4-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Loving Caroline has earned $219,617 from a record of 18-4-4-4 and established a lifetime mark of 1:51.3 in her first start of this season at the Meadowlands on July 4.
Because of some health issues as a 2-year-old, Aunt Caroline only paced three race miles and last year was a schooling session on how to be a racehorse as she chased I Luv The Nitelife and Shebestingin on multiple occasions. The lass certainly did not embarrass herself, with a second in the Simcoe Stakes, a third in the Breeders Crown and another third in the American-National.
This season it just might be Aunt Caroline’s time to shine. She leaves from post three on Saturday (July 12) in the $178,450 Golden Girls at the Meadowlands. Ron Pierce will be holding the lines in what is carded as race seven. Even without I Luv The Nitelife in the field, Aunt Caroline will be entering some deep waters with multiple Dan Patch Award winner Anndrovette, the red hot former champion Somwherovrarainbow, world champion Shebestingin, and the always dangerous mares Drop The Ball, Rocklamation, Jerseylicious and Shelliscape.
This is anyone’s race and Antonacci is looking forward to seeing how his mare will perform.
|USTA/Ken Weingartner photo|
|Trainer Frank Antonacci will be sending Aunt Caroline into Saturday's Golden Girls at Meadowlands Racetrack.|
“We know this is not an easy group,” he said. “But I think there might be a changing of the guard in this division. She has only had one start this year and it wasn’t against these quality mares, but she left from the 10 hole, never saw the rail and showed a lot of guts in winning while coming home in a strong headwind.
“It was not exactly what we had charted out for her first start, but she gave a great account of herself. Since she has the three hole Ron has a lot of options with her, so we can’t wait to see how she races.”
In fact, Aunt Caroline appears ready to take her place as another top class mare from her family tree. She is the first foal from Loving Caroline, a daughter of Art Major who earned just shy of $200,000 during her racing career and was bred by the Antonaccis in conjunction with Joie De Vie Farm as well as the rest of the Moni Market Breeders syndicate.
Aunt Caroline’s dam was the second foal from Best Laid Plans. The Cambest mare collected just over $400,000 from her time on the track and produced three $100,000 horses including Loving Caroline, That’s The Plan (Western Ideal, m, p,3,1:54.1f, $161,740) and South Pacific (Somebeachsomewhere, m, p,4,1:51.1f, $138,086). From the eight foals Best Laid Plans has dropped, seven of them have taken records and her most recent progeny, Game Theory, by Rock N Roll Heaven, is a 2-year-old that raced for the first time in a qualifier on July 5.
“When we took her down to Florida as 2-year-old she got really sick on us with a lung abscess,” Antonacci said. “It took a long time for her to get over that and she raced well towards the end of the year at Lexington, but then tied up so I just stopped on her.
“We thought we would bring her back the next year, so as a 3-year-old it was a learning and racing experience all rolled up into one. By the end of the year she was really coming around and always gave a great account of herself. That’s why we are looking forward to this year, as we think she is still improving and she has already been a very productive race mare.”
After her engagement this weekend, Aunt Caroline will be pointed to all the major races in her division including the Lady Liberty and a possible appearance in that final on Hambletonian Day.
“She is terrific to drive and an absolute sweetheart,” Antonacci said. “She is my 2-1/2 year old son’s favorite horse in the barn. He calls her Aunt Carolion because he can’t say her name, but he rides her bareback and goes all around the barn with her. We are very excited to see what she can accomplish this season.”
Following is the field for Saturday's Golden Girls, with drivers, trainers, and morning line: 1. Somwherovrarainbow, Brian Sears, Joe Holloway, 5-2; 2. Charisma Hanover, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 10-1; 3. Aunt Caroline, Ron Pierce, Frank Antonacci, 20-1; 4. Shebestingin, David Miller, Joe Holloway, 4-1; 5. Drop The Ball, Corey Callahan, Ross Croghan, 10-1; 6. Jerseylicious, Brett Miller, Wayne Givens, 15-1; 7, Anndrovette, Tim Tetrick, PJ Fraley, 2-1; 8, Mattie Terror Girl, Scott Zeron, Tony Alagna, 12-1; 9. Rocklamation, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 8-1; 10, Shelliscape, John Campbell, PJ Fraley, 15-1.
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After shutting down Classic Martine last October off a fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Filly Futurity, co-owner Tim Hauser was uncertain what to expect this year. It’s safe to say that whatever those expectations, Classic Martine certainly has exceeded them thus far.
|New Image Media photo|
|Classic Martine has won five times in six starts this year, with earnings of $182,532.|
Classic Martine, who last year finished no worse than third in any of her 16 races prior to the Kentucky Filly Futurity final, has started 2014 with five wins in six starts and trotted the fastest mile ever by a female on a five-eighths-mile track (1:51.2 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs).
She is among eight horses entered in Saturday’s $40,000 third round of the Miss Versatility Series for older female trotters at the Meadowlands, along with 2013 Horse of the Year Bee A Magician, once-beaten Perfect Alliance, and defending divisional champion Maven.
Classic Martine already has won twice in the series as well as capturing the Armbro Flight Stakes. She will start from post seven with Tim Tetrick driving for trainer Chris Oakes. She is the 3-1 third choice on the morning line, behind 2-1 Bee A Magician and 5-2 Perfect Alliance. Maven is 4-1.
“She came back a lot better than I expected,” said Hauser, who owns Classic Martine with his brother Jim, Susan Oakes, Conrad Zurich, and Ed Gold. “She kind of fell apart on us in Kentucky and we shut her down. We didn’t want to risk anything happening to her. Maybe that was the best thing we did. Chris has managed her real well.”
Classic Martine is a daughter of Classic Photo out of the mare Drinking Days. Her family includes two-time Horse of the Year Mack Lobell.
Last year, Classic Martine finished in a dead-head for win with stablemate Frau Blucher in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship and finished second to Bee A Magician in the Hambletonian Oaks. For her career, she has won 17 of 33 races and earned $725,006.
“She’s a strong horse,” Hauser said. “A lot of horses are one dimensional, but she can do it from the front or from behind. I always thought Frau Blucher was better, but maybe not. There’s a reason she’s a world champion.”
Saturday’s race will provide another tough test for Classic Martine, who handed Perfect Alliance her only loss in 12 races this year when she won the Armbro Flight by a length on June 14.
“That field is loaded,” Hauser said. “They’re all there.”
Following is the Miss Versatility field in post order with drivers, trainers, and morning line: 1. Charmed Life, Brett Miller, David Menary, 20-1; 2. D’Orsay, Corey Callahan, Jonas Czernyson, 15-1; 3. Bouncing Bax, Ake Svanstedt, Jim Raymer, 20-1; 4. Bee A Magician, Brian Sears, R. Nifty Norman, 2-1; 5. Perfect Alliance, David Miller, Julie Miller, 5-2; 6. Handover Belle, Scott Zeron, Tony Alagna, 10-1; 7. Classic Martine, Tim Tetrick, Chris Oakes, 3-1; 8. Maven, Yannick Gingras, Jonas Czernyson, 4-1.
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Saturday’s card also includes the $212,150 Mistletoe Shalee Stakes for 3-year-old female pacers. Sandbetweenurtoes, who is 5-for-5 this year, is the 5-2 morning line choice, followed by Uffizi Hanover at 3-1 and Precocious Beauty and Table Talk at 9-2.
Precocious Beauty was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female pacer. Uffizi Hanover won the 2013 Breeders Crown and 2014 Fan Hanover Stakes.
Here is the field in post order with drivers, trainers, and morning line: 1. Table Talk, Tim Tetrick, W. Bart Dalious, 9-2; 2. Allstar Rating, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 20-1; 3. Sandbetweenurtoes, Brett Miller, Larry Remmen, 5-2; 4. Act Now, Brian Sears, Nikolas Drennan, 12-1; 5. Gallie Bythe Beach, John Campbell, Jim Campbell, 8-1; 6. Rock N Roll Xample, Ron Pierce, Rene Allard, 10-1; 7. Weeper, Corey Callahan, Kelly O’Donnell, 10-1; 8. Precocious Beauty, Doug McNair, Gregg McNair, 9-2; 9. Uffizi Hanover, David Miller, Jimmy Takter, 3-1; 10. My Lady Day, Matt Kakaley, Joe Holloway, 30-1.
-- Ken Weingartner contributed to this report