Hall of Fame-bound Siegel eyes success with 2CTs
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Jules Siegel's successes as an owner and breeder led to his recent selection for enshrinement in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame, but the 89-year-old proprietor of Pennsylvania's Fashion Farms hopes to continue adding to his list of accomplishments.
On Thursday, Siegel will watch three of his stakes-winning 2-year-old male trotters--Crystal Fashion, Fashionwoodchopper and Patent Leather--compete in International Stallion divisions at Lexington's Red Mile.
Crystal Fashion is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the second of five International Stallion splits while Patent Leather is the 5-2 second choice in the first division and Fashionwoodchopper is the 3-1 second choice in the final division. All three horses are owned by Siegel's Fashion Farms and trained by Jim Campbell.
"I love them," Siegel said of the three trotters. "They're all in the same category. After having a couple years with (two-time Dan Patch Award winner) Broadway Donna, to come up with something like that, it's a pleasure.
"That's Jimmy. He was training them (Tuesday) morning and he said they're such a pleasure to sit behind. And he deserves it. He's put in so much work and so much effort to come up with three good colts."
Siegel, who will be 90 on Nov. 5, knows about good horses. He received the Owner of the Year Award from the U.S. Harness Writers Association in 2002 and 2009, an honor he shared with his wife Arlene, who passed away in 2010.
In addition, Siegel was Standardbred Canada's Owner of the Decade for the 2000s and the Pennsylvania chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association's Breeder of the Year in 2008 and 2009. He was named to the Little Brown Jug Wall of Fame in 2007.
The Siegels and Campbell won the 1995 Hambletonian with Tagliabue. He was the first of the Siegels' Dan Patch Award-winning horses, followed by two-time recipient Galleria, Broadway Hall, Broadway Schooner, Possess The Will, and two-time honoree Broadway Donna.
Broadway Schooner, a daughter of stallion Broadway Hall bred by the Siegels, won the 2009 Hambletonian Oaks and is the dam of Broadway Donna.
Siegel's induction into the Hall of Fame will take place July 1 at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y.
"I'm ecstatic," Siegel said. "I never imagined anything like that would happen. I thought it was reserved for people who really accomplished something. But I'm very happy it all came about this way."
Arlene, a retired nurse, and Jules, a retired pharmacist who had founded and sold a chain of drugstores, worked together at Fashion Farms. Arlene was among the people who guided Jules through the early years of the farm's operation, even getting him to assist with the mares when their foals were born.
"She was the real inspiration," Siegel said of Arlene, his wife of 55 years. "She bought the farm. She was great. When I was a pharmacist, I didn't even know what a horse looked like. I became familiar by being with people who taught me everything. It's a wonderful thing, to really be associated with so many people that I look forward to, that were my inspiration.
"It's not so much me, it's the people in the industry. There are so many good people who have helped me and given me direction. Not only is it them, it's the people who work on the farm back home. I'm just a cog. There are a lot of people on the farm who have been with me for over 20 years. I've got an extended family. It's a great feeling. I just hope it continues for a while."
The trio of trotters racing Thursday could help it continue for a while. All three were involved in photo finishes in last week's Bluegrass Stakes divisions, with Crystal Fashion winning by a nose, Fashionwoodchopper prevailing by a head, and Patent Leather finishing second by a nose.
"Two out of three ain't bad," trainer Campbell said. "There are a lot of good trotters out there. Those three races, they were noses apart, and it could have gone either way. There is a lot of tough competition out there, that's for sure."
Fashionwoodchopper (by Donato Hanover out of Woodshopper) has a four-race win streak that includes the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. He was purchased as a yearling under the name Big Wood for $100,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale. He has earned $204,618 in seven starts.
"He's a colt we liked all winter training down," Campbell said. "He just needed a little extra time to find his way at higher speed. I still think he's going to be a better 3-year-old; he's grown a lot since he started racing. But he's the type of horse that knows how to win, and I'll take that type of horse any day."
Crystal Fashion (Cantab Hall-Window Willow) is from the same family as millionaire Lolique and world-record-holder Farmer Jones. He was purchased for $100,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale, under the name Watteau Hanover. A gelding, Crystal Fashion has won three of nine races, hit the board a total of eight times, and earned $130,442.
"He's been coming along really nicely," Campbell said. "He's gone some really good races. Even when he hasn't won he's been coming the right way at the wire. He's gotten better with more racing. He's kind of a big colt and he's starting to put everything together."
Patent Leather (Broadway Hall-Designable) has two wins and has finished worse than second only once in six races. The colt has earned $63,142.
"He's been an overachiever," Campbell said. "He's a colt that's got a lot of great determination. He's not the prettiest looking when he goes slow, but when he goes behind the gate, he throws everything away. He reminds me a lot of Broadway Hall. He looks a little bit like him and he's got the same attitude. He just loves to race. I have to give Jules all the credit; Jules bought him privately all on his own."
All three horses are eligible to the Breeders Crown later this month at Hoosier Park. (HRC)