Miss You Kelly is ‘just a real sweet horse’

by Ken Weingartner and Keith Gisser, for the Breeders Crown

Cranbury, NJ — Michael Barnard liked Sapphire Deo from the time he saw her as a yearling at Deo Volente Farms. After purchasing the filly trotter for $62,000 at the 2017 Lexington Selected Sale and changing her name to Miss You Kelly, he discovered even more reasons to like her.

“Taylor Gower broke her and I was jogging her, not too long after he broke her, and she got startled by something in the grass and she took off on the trot,” said Barnard, who owns Miss You Kelly as part of his Stormi And Bruiser Stable. “She did it so easy and then just came right back to me.

“I knew she was special there, just to be able to do that. She did everything perfect from day one, just a great attitude. She’s a beautiful horse to be around. Deo Volente turns out beautiful yearlings and Fidencio (operations manager Fidencio Cervantez) does a great job over there. She’s just a real sweet horse.”

USTA/Ken Weingartner photo

Miss You Kelly races Friday in the second of three Breeders Crown eliminations for 2-year-old trotting fillies at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

Miss You Kelly races Friday in the second of three Breeders Crown eliminations for 2-year-old trotting fillies at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Miss You Kelly has the rail in that race, the fourth on the card, which is scheduled for 7:54 p.m. (EDT). Racing begins at 7 p.m. and features a total of 10 Breeders Crown eliminations for 2-year-olds.

Barnard is making his second trip to the Breeders Crown as an owner. His first was with Fresh Winner Pearl, who finished eighth in the 2002 event for 3-year-old male trotters at Woodbine. He also bred Creamy Mimi, who won the 2008 Hambletonian Oaks and finished fifth in the Breeders Crown for 3-year-old filly trotters.

Among Barnard’s other breeding credits is stakes-winner Brooklyn, who is the dam of another of this season’s 2-year-old Breeders Crown hopefuls, trotting colt Kings County, who is owned by Lindy Farms.

Miss You Kelly, by Trixton out of Blue Yonder, was renamed in honor of Barnard’s rescue dog, who was a fixture around the horses and passed away last year.

“She was my best friend,” Barnard said. “She was just the sweetest, kindest thing I ever had in my life.”

Miss You Kelly has won two of six races this year. She is trained by Bruce Lauer.

“Bruce has done a great job with her,” Barnard said. “She’s about as good as she could be right now. He’s done a great job getting her ready for this race. We just have to hope she gets a good trip and it works out for her.”

Lauer is a veteran of the racing wars, but is making his Breeders Crown debut with Miss You Kelly.

USTA/Ken Weingartner photo

Miss You Kelly has won two of six races this year. She is trained by Bruce Lauer.

“I’ve worked for, and with, some really good people over the years,” Lauer said. “Blair Burgess, Mark and Frank O’Mara, Ron Waples — just to name a few — so I have been here, but never on my own. I just never had the deep-pockets owners.

“The first horses I trained on my own were a $4,000 claimer and a green 3-year-old filly. I started when I was at the University of Toledo. A bunch of us went over to Raceway Park and before I knew it, I was on the backside.”

Lauer said Miss You Kelly had a minor setback in June before beginning her career in an elimination of the Jim Doherty Memorial, where she finished eighth. After winning a maiden race at Harrah’s Philadelphia, the filly went to Canada and finished fourth in a division of the Champlain Stakes and sixth in her elimination of the Peaceful Way.

She rebounded with a 1:57.1 victory at Pocono and heads to the Breeders Crown off a sixth-place finish against older horses at Pocono.

“We’ve always liked her,” Lauer said. “She had a minor setback in June and we had to back off with her and with her first start being in the Doherty she might have been over her head that early in her career. But she won a maiden with (Tim) Tetrick driving and he said he really liked her, so that was encouraging.

“She raced OK in Canada. I probably should have shipped her up there sooner. She didn’t really have her legs under her. That’s on me.”

Lauer pointed the filly to the Breeders Crown by giving her the two races at the host track.

“We wanted to get her a couple starts at Pocono to see if she could go enough,” he said. “Matt Kakaley drove her and she won pretty handily. Matt eased her up and said she left a couple of seconds on the track. The next week, the only race we could get her in was against the boys and 3- and 4-year-olds, but she still trotted in (1):54 and a piece, which is as much as a lot of these others have gone.

“We figured it was time to give her a chance.”

The top-three finishers from each elimination for the 2-year-old filly trotters return Saturday (Oct. 27) for the $600,000 final. The draw is scheduled to take place live after the 10th race on Friday. Elimination winners, in an order determined by lot, draw for post one through five.

For the night’s complete entries, click here.

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