Right now, Jonas Czernyson is uncertain how Maven will fare competing against older rivals this season. But he will offer some insight soon.
"I'll let you know after Monday night,” the trainer quipped.
That's because Monday night Maven makes her debut as a 4 year old at Woodbine Racetrack in the first of two opening-round divisions of the Miss Versatility Series for older female trotters. Among Maven's six foes is Frenchfrysnvinegar, who last year earned both the Dan Patch Award (U.S.) and O'Brien Award (Canada) as harness racing's best trotting mare.
Maven has won 15 of 26 lifetime races, finished worse than third only four times, and earned $914,749 for owner W.J. Donovan. Last year, Maven won eight of 15 starts and finished the season with victories in the Breeders Crown and American-National Stakes. She also won the Moni Maker Stakes and finished second to Check Me Out in the Elegantimage and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship.
"She had a very good winter and trained down good,” Czernyson said. "We'll just cross our fingers and hope she's as good as last year. Everything looks to be pretty good.”
A daughter of stallion Glidemaster out of the mare M Stewart, Maven is a half-sister to multiple-stakes-winner Lanson and 2003 New Jersey Sires Stakes 3-year-old filly champion Glide About.
In addition to Frenchfrysnvinegar, who is the series' defending champion, the first division of the Miss Versatility includes Daylon Miracle, Smarty Pants, One More Ginny, China Pearls and Personal Style. Smarty Pants was the Ontario Sire Stakes champion last year and Personal Style won the Hambletonian Oaks. China Pearls was the Ontario Sires Stakes champ in 2011.
Maven starts from post four with regular driver Yannick Gingras.
"She's a very honest horse and that's half the battle,” Czernyson said. "She loves to race. We're just hoping for a little bit of luck.”
Czernyson-trained D'Orsay is in the second division, with Cedar Dove, Intense America, Pembroke Heat Wave, Bax Of Life, Real Babe, and Beatgoeson Hanover. Cedar Dove won the 2011 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old fillies and is nearing $1 million in career purses. Pembroke Heat Wave won last year's Armbro Flight Stakes, Beatgoeson Hanover won the Muscle Hill Stakes, and Real Babe won this year's Singer Memorial Series final.
D'Orsay, a 4 year old, won her seasonal debut on May 10 at the Meadowlands, defeating Helios by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:53.1. She has won four of 33 career races and $164,407 for owner Consus Racing Stable.
"She grew up a lot,” Czernyson said. "Before she was always messing around a lot and now she's figured out more what she's supposed to be doing.” (HRC)