by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager
Hightstown, NJ — Verlin Yoder has sat behind his share of good trotters, such as millionaire Natural Herbie and a number of Indiana state-bred champions, but none impressed him as quickly as undefeated world-record-setting filly Woodside Charm.
“It was the middle of March,” Yoder said. “I have a filly called O So Easy and last year she was a very nice (1):55-(1):54 horse as a 2-year-old, which is very good for Indiana. I came back in the barn from training (Woodside Charm) in March and I said to my wife, ‘O So Easy who?’
“Just the way (Woodside Charm) was doing things in March versus what anyone else ever has done for me was incredible. I knew she had high-end speed, I just didn’t know how far she would go.”
On Friday, Woodside Charm will go to the Breeders Crown eliminations for 2-year-old filly trotters at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. She is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the second of three eliminations. The top-three finishers from each elimination return Saturday (Oct. 27) for the $600,000 final.
She is Yoder’s first Breeders Crown starter. Yoder, who trains and owns the filly, will be in the sulky.
“I’ve never had anything to go with before,” Yoder said. “All I had before was BB guns. When you’re going to go in a big fight you’ve got to have a big gun. It’ll be exciting.”
Woodside Charm is a daughter of Chapter Seven out of Fireworks Hanover. She is a half-sister to millionaire Explosive Matter, himself a world-record-setter. As a 2-year-old, Explosive Matter won his Breeders Crown elimination before finishing second to Muscle Hill in the final.
As a young horse, Woodside Charm suffered a leg injury that cast doubt on her racing future. Since getting on the track, she has left no doubt about her ability.
In her second start, she trotted 1:55.2 in a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Tioga Downs, finishing just one-fifth of a second off a track record.
But that was nothing compared to what she did two starts later, on Sept. 13, when she won a NYSS division at Saratoga in 1:53.4 to become history’s fastest 2-year-old trotter on a half-mile track. The previous record for a 2-year-old filly, 1:55.2, was set by Wild Honey in 2014. Don Dream holds the mark for the boys, at 1:55.
She heads to the Breeders Crown off a win in the Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes for 2-year-old filly trotters, which was her fifth win in five starts and pushed her earnings to $209,158. There has yet to be a horse within 2-1/4 lengths of her at the finish line. Her total margin of victory in her five races is 23-1/2 lengths.
“She’s a very smart horse, very easy to work on,” said Yoder, who is in the midst of his first million-dollar season as a trainer. “I like her speed and smartness. She’s teachable. There are a lot of trotting fillies that are fast, but if you find one that’s teachable and you can use when you want to use, then it’s a different game. That’s what separates the good ones from the bad ones.”
Woodside Charm starts her Breeders Crown elimination from post five in a field of seven. The field also includes Grand Circuit winners Asiago (3-1 on the morning line), Sonnet Grace (7-2), Princess Deo (9-2) and Stella Jane (8-1).
“I think post five is going to be fine,” Yoder said. “With 2-year-old trotting fillies you never know until it’s done. I always say that if you go behind the gate enough you’ll screw up somewhere along the line. But she seems healthy coming in. That’s all we can ask for.”
Whispering Oaks, whose wins include a division of the International Stallion Stakes and the finals of both the New Jersey and Kentucky sire stakes, is the 2-1 favorite in the first elimination for 2-year-old filly trotters. The Ice Dutchess, whose wins include the Jim Doherty Memorial and Peaceful Way Stakes, is the 5-2 pick in the third. Both are trained by Jimmy Takter.
Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT) Friday at Pocono. For the night’s complete entries, click here.
- Breeders Crown 2-year-old eliminations drawn (Monday, October 15, 2018)
Warrawee Ubeaut, a filly who earlier this month became the fastest 2-year-old pacer in harness racing history, and divisional money-leaders Stag Party, The Ice Dutchess, Green Manalishi S, and Tall Drink Hanover were among the 71 freshmen entered Monday for the Breeders Crown at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
- Eleven former Breeders Crown champions in Saturday eliminations (Tuesday, October 16, 2018)
Been there, done that. It could be the slogan for Saturday’s (Oct. 20) Breeders Crown eliminations for 3-year-olds and older horses at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Eleven former Breeders Crown champions will be in action Saturday, led by two-time winners Hannelore Hanover, Ariana G, and Pure Country.
- Breeders Crown eliminations lead busy Grand Circuit schedule (Wednesday, October 17, 2018)
The Grand Circuit heads to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this Friday (Oct. 19) and Saturday (Oct. 20) for Breeders Crown eliminations in 11 divisions. Eliminations will not be required for the open pace.
- Deters’ first Crown trip is ‘Ideal’ (Wednesday, October 17, 2018)
As trainer Mike Deters prepares for his first start in the Breeders Crown, he’s got a good feeling about Ideal Feeling. Deters sends out Ideal Feeling in Saturday’s first of three $25,000 eliminations for 3-year-old male pacers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The colt is out of the family of Hall of Famer Rainbow Blue and a three-quarter brother to stakes-winner Zero Tolerance, who races Friday in an elimination of the Breeders Crown 2-year-old filly pace.
- Saunders returns to Breeders Crown at Pocono with Mangogh (Thursday, October 18, 2018)
When trainer Bruce Saunders last sent a horse postward in the Breeders Crown, he took home a crystal trophy with 3-year-old pacing colt Rock N Roll Heaven. That was back in 2010 when the Crown races were first held at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. This year he returns to Pocono and the Breeders Crown with 2-year-old pacing colt Mangogh, a $63,000 yearling purchase (under the name Critical Artist) for M And L of Delaware and New York City-based M & M Harness Racing.
- Trainers hope for Crown success for owner Key (Thursday, October 18, 2018)
Not surprisingly, Bob Key is once again a presence at this year’s Breeders Crown, and his trainers want to win for the 85-year-old owner/breeder as much as they would like to win for themselves. Norm Parker conditions Renaissance Lady K (above), a 2-year-old filly pacer who enters her Breeders Crown elimination Friday with three wins and two seconds in eight races to earn $53,929. Charlie Norris trains Mass Fortune K, a 2-year-old male trotter who has earned $108,001 as he enters his Crown elim, also Friday.
- Miss You Kelly is ‘just a real sweet horse’ (Thursday, October 18, 2018)
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. 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 won two of six races this year. She is trained by Bruce Lauer.
- Macomber hopes Carol’s Z Tam makes big show (Friday, October 19, 2018)
If Carol’s Z Tam’s performance at Dayton three weeks ago was something of an audition, her appearance in Saturday’s (Oct. 20) Breeders Crown eliminations for older female pacers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono could be considered her callback. Now she will look to land a spot in the big show. Carol’s Z Tam, trained by Jamie Macomber for owner Bill Matz’s Z Tam Stables, competes in the first of two $25,000 Breeders Crown eliminations for the pacing mares at Pocono.