Chuck Sylvester believes he’s got a nice trotter returning from last season in 3-year-old filly Hey Blondie. He’s hoping to discover additional nice ones among the six 2-year-olds joining Hey Blondie in his winter stable at Spring Garden Ranch in Florida. That group includes $240,000 yearling purchase Girl With A Past.
Hey Blondie won five of 13 races and earned $295,595 last year, ranking No. 3 in purses among all 2-year-old female trotters in North America. Her victories included the Kindergarten Series championship and a division of the International Stallion Stakes. Her best win time of 1:53.1, set in her International Stallion triumph at Lexington’s Red Mile, was tied for fourth fastest among 2-year-old female trotters.
"She just came back into training," Sylvester said. "If we handle her like last year I think she should have a real nice year. We let her race from behind and she liked that; she passed horses all the time. When it was right toward the end (of the season) we let her roll and she responded. She’s just not a filly that can go to the front and race every week. But I think in spots she’ll do fine."
Hey Blondie, who flashed final quarter-mile speed as fast as :26.4, led at the halfway point of a race only three times last season, winning twice. Her loss came in the season-ending Goldsmith Maid, where she went off stride and finished 10th. The race was won by Plunge Blue Chip.
"I didn’t have her quite right her last start or she would have had some more money," Sylvester said. "It was my fault. (Plunge Blue Chip) was sharp right then; I don’t know if we would have beaten her, but we should have been an easy second."
Hey Blondie is a daughter of Cantab Hall out of Winbak Blondie -- who is a full sister to 2009 Horse of the Year Muscle Hill -- and sold for $125,000 under the name Whovian Hanover at the 2016 Standardbred Horse Sale. Andy McCarthy drove her throughout last year. The filly is owned by Steve Jones, Mary Kinsey Arnold, Paul Bordogna, and David McDuffee.
Last season’s group of 2-year-old filly trotters was led by undefeated Dan Patch Award winner Manchego, trained by Jimmy Takter. Other fillies at the top of the division in earnings included Ake Svanstedt’s Plunge Blue Chip, Julie Miller’s Seviyorum, and Trond Smedshammer’s Phaetosive.
"If Manchego comes back as good as she was last year, she’s going to be tough," Sylvester said. "Ake, I’m sure he’ll have his filly right when the time comes. It won’t be easy, but we’ll pick up some piece and we’ll be OK."
Sylvester’s group of 2-year-olds is made up of four filly trotters and two colt trotters.
Girl With A Past (Cantab Hall-Shared Past) sold for $240,000 under the name So Diane Hanover at last year’s Standardbred Horse Sale. Her dam was a New Jersey Sire Stakes champion and her family includes millionaires Dejarmbro and Manofmanymissions.
The remaining fillies are Chanel De Vie (Cantab Hall-Lola De Vie), Lollipop Lindy (Cantab Hall-Dana Boko) and Shes A Bronxbomber (Donato Hanover-Housethatruthbuilt). Lola De Vie was an Empire Breeders Classic champion. Housethatruthbuilt was a Dan Patch Award winner and is the dam of three horses to earn six figures, including stakes winners Real Babe and Murderers Row.
The colts are Gardepat (Father Patrick-My Dream Gar It; original name Patrick’s Diamond) and Lucky Weekend (Lucky Chucky-Weekend Vacation). Sylvester trained Lucky Chucky, a two-time Dan Patch Award winner and earner of $2 million lifetime.
"Right now they’re all training and nobody is on the shelf, so that’s good," Sylvester said. "We’ve been in the (2):40s, that’s all, which is OK.
"The weather hasn’t been very favorable. We’ve had a lot of rain and we’ve missed a lot of days. It’s just been nice the last 10 days where we’ve been able to train more consistently. But it seems like no matter what, when it’s time to go the good ones will be ready. I’m not one that’s going to drop one from (2):40 to (2):25, but if we have good weather and nothing happens we’ll be ready whenever the time comes."--By Ken Weingartner/USTA