Aunt Mel, who carries a three-race winning streak, is the 3-1 morning line favorite in the $50,000 Helen Smith for three-year-old New Jersey-sired trotting fillies on Friday, Sept. 7, at Freehold Raceway. The Yankee Glide filly will leave from the rail with Brent Holland driving in the seventh race feature.
The Erv Miller trainee won last week's $10,000 Helen Smith elimination race, following victories in the Zweig at Vernon Downs and the Review at Springfield.
Mary Jane Anderson of Long Grove, IL owns Aunt Mel, who was bred by Hanover Shoe Farms and was a $95,000 yearling purchase. The filly was named for Mike Anderson's sister, Melanie. Mike is Mary Jane Anderson's husband.
The Andersons, who acquired their first horse in 2007 with trainer Erv Miller, treat racing as a family event. Mary Jane [aka MJ], a retired teacher, handles the bookkeeping and naming of horses. Mike is president of a labeling company. They have two sons, Payton and Mac, who enjoying jogging horses.
Aunt Mel has now finished in-the-money in 16 of 27 career starts for a bankroll of $225,845. This year she has five wins, two seconds and two thirds for earnings of $84,920.
"Erv liked her from the very beginning,” Mike Anderson told USTA Senior Correspondent Rich Fisher last September. "I wish I could take credit [for selecting her], but I can't. We ended up bidding [at the Harrisburg Sale] and went higher than we discussed. That may be why we ended up with all of her.”
Mike Anderson's interest in horse racing began with going to the Springfield State Fair to watch the races with his late father, Don. Mike became an owner to keep his father's spirit alive.
"My only regret is I didn't get involved sooner,” he told Fisher. "I just think the world of it, and I think the world of every one we have worked with. It's exceeded my expectations with how much fun we've had and the relationships we've made.”
The Helen Smith stakes record of 1:56.3 was established in 2008 by Muscle Shirt, a daughter of Muscles Yankee, driven by Cat Manzi and trained by Chuck Sylvester.
The stakes for three-year-old New Jersey-sired trotting fillies is sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey.
The field for the $50,000 Helen Smith Filly Trot [with sire, driver, trainer and morning line odds]:
1-Aunt Mel-Yankee Glide-Brent Holland-Erv Miller-3-1
2-Loose Deuce-Muscles Yankee-Pat Berry-Judith Welty-8-1
3-Riverfest-Windsong's Legacy-David Miller-Joseph King-9-2
4-Shanty Irish-Muscles Yankee-Jim Pantaleano-Ron Burke-10-1
5-Chilitodayhotomale-Muscles Yankee-George Brennan-Trond Smedshammer-7-2
6-Champagne Magic-Yankee Glide-Steve Smith-John Butenschoen-12-1
7-Hope And Love-Muscles Yankee-Marcus Johansson-Randy Beeckman-6-1
8-Chocolatta Die Vie-Chocolatier-Cat Manzi-Brian Roland-5-1