Of all the Ohio-sired stars competing in Super Night at Scioto Downs on Saturday night, only two of them bring perfect records in Ohio Sires Stakes competition this year with them. They are the trotting filly Contessa Leigh and the trotting gelding Rompaaway Galaxy.
It's fair to say that Contessa Leigh hasn't even bee tested this year, much less defeated. The 3-year-old lass has sailed through her Ohio Sires Stakes season with four wins in four starts and her victory margins total 36-3/4 lengths. She has seven wins in eight tries this season and her bankroll stands at $105,970.
The team behind her consists of trainer and co-owner Marty Wollam and driver Chip Noble. Both are highly-respected horsemen who have participated in countless Ohio Sires Stakes championships.
"She's coming into the race in good shape,” says Wollam. "She raced good a couple weeks ago at Northfield and she seems to do well racing about every two weeks.”
Contessa Leigh can be a headstrong filly in a race and yet Wollam wears a blind bridle on her, which normally is not used on fired-up fillies.
"I tried her in an open bridle and a Kant-See-Bak, but she got to looking around a bit too much and got a little crooked,” he says. "We'll keep her in a blind bridle. It's hard to change something that's working. Maybe we'll experiment with her bridle this winter.”
Wollam relies on Chip Noble to drive many of his horses and there is no finer or more relaxed driver than the Ohio Hall of Famer.
"I get a little nervous driving this filly and I think she would sense it,” Wollam says. "Besides, you can't do any better than Chip. He doesn't make many mistakes driving, but when he does, he comes back and admits he made a mistake. Not many drivers do that.”
Contessa Leigh has post four in race eight and is listed at 3-5 in the morning line.
Contessa Leigh is purely a Marty Wollam product as he trained her sire Full Count and paternal grandsire Striking Sahbra. He also trained Contessa Leigh's dam Howl.
Last year Contessa Leigh won the Ohio Sires Stakes final so she will be looking for a repeat victory. This season she has won two OSS events at Scioto and one each over the half-mile tracks at Lebanon and Scioto. Her only loss this year came in late May when she tackled older horses at The Meadows and got a little tired in the stretch. She finished fourth.
Typically, she goes to the front at the start of her races or soon thereafter.
Rompway Galaxy comes into the final for 2-year-old trotting colts with seven wins in eight starts. His only loss was when he got trapped on the inside in the $24,000 Ohio Breeders Stakes at Scioto in early August and was beaten a head after coming up the passing lane.
Otherwise he has been perfect, a dramatic turnaround from his early days in training.
Trainer Krista Williams says that Rompaway Galaxy was a handful early in training and thus was gelded early.
"That was for his own benefit as well as for ours,” she points out. "He just couldn't get his mind on his business. Now that he's a gelding, he has really come around. He likes his job and enjoys doing what he does. [Driver] Mike [Micallef] says that he's a pleasure to drive. We haven't had to leave real hard with him yet. Mike can do whatever he wants with him on the track.”
Rompaway Galaxy comes into the final with a mark of 1:58 and earnings of $86,550.
He's been efficient and businesslike in his victories and driver Micallef has never had to ask him for extra effort except in his one loss.
"He's pretty quiet now,” Williams continues. "Before he would see things on the track, but his manners have really improved.”
She says that Rompaway Galaxy reminds her of his sire Rompaway Wally 6, 1:53.3f ($291,351). Rompaway Galaxy is one of only two foals of 2011 sired by the son of Conway Hall.
Rompaway Galaxy has post five in race six and is listed as the 8-5 favorite.(By Dean Hoffman for the Ohio State Racing Commission)