Four female trotters with earnings of $1 million, Peaceful Way, Passionate Glide, Mystical Sunshine and Pure Ivory prepare to battle, possibly in the upcoming Classic Oaks series that begins April 9, 2007 at Dover Downs and ends June 16, 2007 at Mohawk Racetrack – a contest that would make harness racing history. The closest the sport has come to seeing such a rich group was June 9, 2001 at Woodbine Racetrack when Casual Breeze defeated a Classic Oaks Final field that included Lookout Victory and Fern. With the triumph, Casual Breeze became a millionaire, joining Lookout Victory and Fern. Another millionaire, Louise Laukko, was scratched sick from that race. Earlier that year, Fern won a race that included Lookout Victory and Louise Laukko in the Classic Series.
Entering this season, Peaceful Way has earned $2.7 million while Passionate Glide has $1.7 million, Mystical Sunshine has $1.4 million and Pure Ivory has $1.2 million. Peaceful Way won the Dan Patch Award as the top trotting mare in 2005 and 2006 while Passionate Glide was voted the sport’s top trotting filly those same seasons. In addition to those four mares eligible for the Classic Series include Solveig, who was the top two-year-old in 2004, Breeders Crown champion Susie’s Magic and world-record-holders Hidden Viggorish and Queen Serene.
"This has got to be the best group of trotting mares," said Bill Zendt, who trains Hidden Viggorish. "We’re going into a bee’s nest. It will be interesting. She showed enough to us last year that we’ve got to try her against these mares." Hidden Viggorish, a four-year-old who was unraced at two, won 12 of 15 races in 2006, including a world-record 1:53.1 victory in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship at the five-eighths oval Meadows. She also won the American-National on her way to $246,403. She could return to action in the second leg of the Classic Oaks, which is slated for May 5 at the Meadowlands. "We wanted to give her enough of a break," Zendt said. "She’s filled out and is a lot stronger. I hope she’s fast."
Mystical Sunshine, who won the Classic Oaks Final last season, qualified on March 22, 2007 at the Meadowlands in 1:56.4 with trainer Chris Ryder at the lines. In addition to winning the Oaks, she beat Peaceful Way in the Breeders Crown. She finished second to Peaceful Way in the voting for the Dan Patch Award. She has won 19 of 69 career races.
"She’s her huge, big, healthy self," Ryder said. "Here she comes. I think we’ll get a couple qualifiers and then race. I wouldn’t mind another week (before the Classic Series) but we’ll see how it goes. I think she was totally overlooked last year. Do I have my nose out of joint? No. But I don’t think it was right." Peaceful Way is being pointed to a May return by trainer Dave Tingley. The mare didn’t start training until February, getting extra time off the track after suffering from splints late in 2006. She won five of 11 races last season, including the Maple Leaf Trot over the boys and the Armbro Flight, and earned $709,763. She has won 33 of 46 lifetime starts. "She seems fit," Tingley said. "We should be ready for the Classic Series leg at the Meadowlands. She had some issues last year; killer splints. Then she started compensating and got sore other places. She’s a horse, not a car, like some people think. It was bad luck. She was turned out for three months and she seems fine."
Tingley has his eye on a number of mares in this deep and talented group, but is particularly concerned about Queen Serene. "She’s such a front-end horse and can change the outlook of the races," Tingley said. "She’s exceptionally fast to three-quarters; they’re all fast, but not as fast as her to the quarter. It’s a hell of a group this year. It will be interesting, a very interesting year. If we can keep the little issues from driving [Peaceful Way] crazy, I don’t think any of them have that brush that she has."
Passionate Glide, who has won 18 of 26 races and finished second on six occasions, is expected to qualify in about a month for trainer Jimmy Takter. Last year, Passionate Glide won the Hambletonian Oaks, the Delvin Miller Memorial, the Moni Maker, and the Kentucky Filly Futurity. Only Continentalvictory, the 1996 Horse of the Year, won more money as a filly trotter than Passionate Glide’s nearly $1.1 million in 2006. "She’s coming back tremendous; I’m extremely happy with the way she feels," Takter said. "She’s doing everything according to plan. She’s been in 2:10 and I figure we’ll qualify her in about four weeks. We might go for the second leg of the Classic Series, it depends. She’s such a big filly, she usually needs a couple blowouts at the Meadowlands before she’s ready."
Pure Ivory, a four-year-old who has raced entirely in Canada, is training in Hawkinsville, GA, with Ryan Maxwell, the son of trainer Brad Maxwell. Last year, Pure Ivory won 12 of 19 races including the Simcoe and the Ontario Sire Stakes Super Final. She was second by a head to Susie’s Magic in the Breeders Crown. She has won 22 of 33 career starts. "She should be ready sometime in June," Brad Maxwell said. "I always say later rather than earlier. She finished the year great; she’s fast, she’s durable and she’s good on all size tracks. You never know what is going to happen. "Peaceful Way is a freak; probably the greatest mare I’ve ever seen. How we fit, I don’t know. She went two races in (1):53 and we thought that was enough to come back at four. You don’t know until you race against them. But she’s a very consistent mare and she’s done a good job for us. She’s a pet around the barn and she likes to race. She doesn’t do anything wrong."
Courtesy: The HorseTV Channel News, http://www.horsetv.com
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