Trainer Chuck Sylvester thinks Josie's Joy has the potential to be a top filly trotter. The next several weeks might reveal whether he is correct.
Josie's Joy is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the first of three W.N. Reynolds Memorial Stakes for 2-year-old female trotters Thursday at Tioga Downs. She will start from post four with driver John Campbell.
So far this year, Josie's Joy has won two of five races and earned $17,245. A three-quarter sister to stakes-winner Smilin Eli, she was bred and owned by Nick Cimino, who passed away recently. Josie's Joy is a daughter of stallion Muscle Hill, the 2009 Horse of the Year, and Gerri's Joy, a Cimino-bred mare who won the 2006 Merrie Annabelle Stakes and finished second in the Goldsmith Maid.
"I think she's a quality filly,” Sylvester said. "If she's not, it'll surprise me. She feels like she's a pretty darn good filly. She's got a lot of speed. She's out of a great mare. She's got a good gait. She's tough around the barn, a lot of good fillies are that way, but she's got go to her. That's important.”
Josie's Joy went off stride in her first race, but rebounded with back-to-back wins, the second coming in a division of the Kindergarten Classic Series. She was hampered by illness in her next two starts, finishing fourth in a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes and second in another round of the Kindergarten Series.
Her mark of 1:55.3 is tied for 10th fastest among all 2-year-old filly trotters.
"She was sick and didn't race very good her last two times, but I think she'll be fine (Thursday),” Sylvester said. "We plan on taking her to Lexington and if everything goes right she should be in the big races.”
Josie's Joy is eligible to the Bluegrass Stakes on Sept. 25 and International Stallion Stakes on Oct. 2 at Lexington's Red Mile. Her stakes schedule also includes the Matron and Breeders Crown.
"She's got enough,” Sylvester said about the filly's potential slate. "She'll have about nine starts or so, and that's enough for a 2 year old.
"(Mission Brief) is really a great filly, but besides that, I think we can be competitive. The next three weeks will tell us. We'll know more then.”
In the second Reynolds division for the filly trotters, Jessica Okusko's Allerage Star is the 7-5 morning line favorite. In the third division, Jonas Czernyson's Catherine's Melody is the 2-1 choice.
There also will be two Reynolds divisions for the 2-year-old male trotters. In the first, the Erv Miller-trained entry of SS Poseidon and Flying Muscles is the 8-5 favorite. John Butenschoen's Suit And Tie gets the 5-2 nod in the second. (HRC)