Party Girl Hill sets 1:49.3 world record, wins Jugette
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Minutes after watching Party Girl Hill win Wednesday’s Jugette for 3-year-old female pacers at the Delaware County Fairgrounds with a performance that included a world record in her elimination and an open-length score in the final, breeder/owner Tom Hill summed up his thoughts about the filly in simple terms.
“She just proved what I’ve been telling everybody, that she’s the best horse I’ve ever owned,” Hill said from his home in Lancashire in the United Kingdom. “As we would say in England, she’s a Rolls Royce with hair.”
Party Girl Hill, driven by Dexter Dunn and trained by Chris Ryder, won the $142,635 Jugette final in 1:50.3, with stablemate New Year finishing second and Peaky Sneaky third. Earlier in the day, she won her elimination in 1:49.3, the first sub-1:50 mile by a female pacer on a half-mile track in harness racing history.
Unraced at age 2, Party Girl Hill improved to 11-for-11 in her career with her two victories in the Jugette and pushed her lifetime bankroll to $577,270.
“I don’t know how good she is,” Hill said. “I don’t know where the bottom is, I really don’t.
“She can leave, she can come from behind, she can sit parked; it doesn’t make any difference. That’s when you’ve got a great one, when they can win from anywhere. She’s just a very special filly. She’s a gift from God, that’s what she is. I’ve had a lot of good horses, but I’ve had nothing like her. I’ve been blessed.”
Party Girl Hill’s win gave owner Hill his second Jugette trophy. He won his first in 2010 with Western Silk. It also came four days after Hill celebrated his 70th birthday.
“It’s near enough for a birthday present,” Hill said with a laugh.
“She’s just an amazing animal,” Dunn said. “There seems to be no bottom to her, she does her work so easily. It’s truly a real pleasure to be lucky enough to sit behind her. I have to thank Tom Hill for that, for trusting me with the drive.
“She’s exciting. She’s gone both heats today without the plugs being pulled or really being asked. She just does an amazing job.”
The 31-year-old Dunn, who arrived in the U.S. in the summer of 2018 at the behest of fellow New Zealand native Ryder after a standout career Down Under, added the Jugette to his growing list of Grand Circuit victories. He won a total of six races Wednesday at Delaware.
“I had a lucky day,” said Dunn, who was the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s 2019 Driver of the Year. “I got to drive really nice horses and they were all on top of their game today. This girl really topped the day off well.
“This is a special moment for my lifetime because the Ryders have been family friends with the Dunns for 50-odd years. Chris and (his wife) Nicola have done so much to get me over here and support me. It’s a day I’ll never forget.”
Dunn’s only concern following the eliminations was Party Girl Hill racing in the final off a world-record performance.
“As soon as we stepped on the track, those worries went away because she had her ears pricked and she was happy as anything being out there,” Dunn said.
In the final, Dunn let New Year (who won the first of the event’s two eliminations, also with Dunn in the sulky) and Lyons Sentinel battle in the first turn before launching Party Girl Hill to the lead. Party Girl Hill, the 1-9 favorite, was on top at the quarter and never looked back.
“Many thanks to Tom Hill for giving me such an amazing horse,” Ryder said. “Many thanks to Dexter, he’s done a tremendous job driving her.”
When reminded in the winner’s circle by track announcer Roger Huston about Hill’s birthday, Ryder quipped, “That’s great. Happy birthday. Anything else I can do for you Tom?”
Back in Lancashire, Hill said winning was enough. While some speculated about how Party Girl Hill might have fared if she took on the boys in Thursday’s Little Brown Jug, both Ryder and Hill downplayed the idea.
“I don’t want to hurt the filly,” Hill said. “I don’t want to do something and regret it. If she raced the colts and got beat, I know it’s no disgrace, but I don’t want to do that. She’s only had 11 races. She’s only a novice.”
A novice assembling one heck of a resume. One that Hill thinks should get noticed at the end of the season if her current form holds.
“She should have a shot at being Horse of the Year,” Hill said about the daughter of Captaintreacherous-Look Cheap. “She’s never been beat and she’s raced on every size track. She’s never been beat and never looked like getting beat. What more could she do? She is the only one out there that’s undefeated. I think she should have a good push to be Horse of the Year. Not for me, but for her. She deserves it.”
Party Girl Hill opened her march to the Jugette crown by beating Lyons Sentinel, last year’s Dan Patch Award divisional champ, by three-quarters of a length in 1:49.3 in the second of the event’s two eliminations.
The time eclipsed the previous world record for a 3-year-old pacing filly on a half-mile track, 1:50.1, shared by Warrawee Ubeaut and Call Me Queen Be. It also lowered the all-time mark for any female pacer, 1:50, shared by Godiva Seelster and Tequila Monday.
Ryder and Dunn swept the two $47,545 Jugette eliminations with 1-9 favorite Party Girl Hill winning the second in a world-record 1:49.3 after stablemate New Year won the first in 1:52.
Joining those two horses in the $142,635 Jugette final were Peaky Sneaky, Blazin Grace, and Keystone Eureka from the first elimination and Lyons Sentinel, Perfect Storm, and Lady Lou from the second.
Party Girl Hill was third through the first half of her elimination before launching a methodical attack on leader Lyons Sentinel. The two battled around the last turn and Party Girl Hill drew clear by three-quarters of a length as they neared the wire. The time of 1:49.3 eclipsed the previous world record for a 3-year-old pacing filly on a half-mile track, 1:50.1, shared by Warrawee Ubeaut and Call Me Queen Be.--By Ken Weingartner/USTA