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Caviart Ally To Pelling For 2019

Published: January 18, 2019 11:26 am ET

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With trainer Noel Daley returning home to Australia, 2018 O'Brien Award finalist Caviart Ally will report to a new stable for her five-year-old campaign.

According to the mare's co-owner Judy Chaffee of Caviart Farms, Caviart Ally will be trained in 2019 by Brett Pelling. Caviart Ally is one of the finalists for Older Pacing Mare of the Year at the 2018 O'Brien Awards, along with Exhilarated.

Pelling dominated the sport of harness racing for more than a decade before returning to his native New Zealand in 2006, and then resurfaced as a trainer in North America once again in June 2017. One of Pelling's former assistant trainers was in fact Noel Daley, who started with Team Pelling in 1990 and plied his trade there for the next eight years, working his way up to second trainer before starting his own stable.

"In making the transition, Buck and I felt that what was most important was maintaining consistency – so we do not expect that Ally will have any drastic changes in her training routine," Chaffee told Trot Insider. "We also sought a trainer accustomed to working with top level horses, and, again, Pelling seemed the right fit."

That fit for is important to Chaffee since Daley was a part of the selection process for the yearling sold as Airlie Hanover in 2015.

"Noel was with us when we picked Ally out at the Harrisburg sale, believed in her from the get-go and for all of her career," noted Chaffee. "He carefully watched over her training schedule, including giving her some time swimming; made certain that she was eating properly and even made arrangements that she would have time in the field with a buddy. He made certain that she was both healthy and happy."

Of course, try as one might, sickness can and will happen. And in racehorses, it can come at the most inopportune times. Caviart Ally started her four-year-old season strongly with a pair of wins at Harrah's Philadelphia, prompting an invite to the 2018 Betsy Ross. According to Chaffee, the mare had to be scratched from the race due to sickness.

"Continually improving during the warm weeks of early and mid summer, by later that season Caviart Ally had regained her health sufficiently to set a new track record at Harrah’s Philadelphia," noted Chaffee. "And despite being hampered by a series of bad post draws, she made the best of the more difficult starting positions."

In three of the most lucrative stakes events for older pacing mares, the Artiscape, the Great Northeast Open Series Final and the Breeders Crown, Caviart Ally drew post nine in each one and still managed close second-place finishes in all three.

The post position gods were kinder to Caviart Ally in the 2018 Milton Stakes, drawing post five in the elimination and the final, and she responded with superb back-to-back efforts.

"In the elimination, Ally seemed to almost effortlessly pace to a new lifetime mark of 1:48.3. 'She won with the greatest of ease, barely broke a sweat,' said announcer Ken Middleton. It was amazing to watch her drawing away, stride by stride, to win," gushed Chaffee. "All season Buck and I felt convinced that Ally was definitely one of the best mares in this group regularly competing against each other, but it was never even in our thoughts that she would win with this kind of dominating performance...Then a week later she returned for the Milton final – and once again won easily, this time by three lengths in 1:51.2.

"Not only was it a thrill to watch Ally win the Milton, a stakes race we have always dreamed of winning, but everyone at Mohawk treated us so well that it made the evening all the more special," Chaffee continued. "This was a season highlight, and also among the greatest highlights of Ally’s racing career."

In 19 starts this past season, Caviart Ally (Bettors Delight - Allamerican Cool) amassed a summary of 7-4-2 and only missed a cheque in three of those starts. Chaffee was quick to credit regular driver Andy McCarthy for his professionalism in handling Caviart Ally since the start of her career through her four-year-old season, driving the pacing powerhouse in all but four of her 53 lifetime appearances.

"Once Ally was on the racetrack for the start of her races it was Andy who took over, understanding Ally and how best to drive her, and always taking good care of her."

The O'Brien Award nomination is a first for the Chaffees, with Judy's infectious excitement taking on a near palpable quality in discussing the December phone call.

"My husband Buck actually received the call notifying us that Ally was a finalist for the O’Brien Award, and he immediately came to fill me in on all of the details," said Chaffee We both were excited -- felt super thrilled! This is the first time that we have ever had a horse nominated for this very prestigious award, and frankly, we felt incredibly honoured. And it is very heartwarming to see Ally recognized for what was an incredible racing season."

The Chaffees will head north from Virginia to attend the O'Brien Awards, an event the longtime harness racing participants are absolutely thrilled to be a part of for the first time.

"Buck I are both very eager to attend the O’Brien Awards ceremony. We always love racing in Canada, and the awards ceremony will not only give us the chance to get together with industry friends, but also to join in the celebration of what was a spectacular year of racing.

"We understand the importance of the O’Brien Awards, the talent represented among the finalists, and can hardly wait to learn the names of the winners. In fact, we look forward to being able to congratulate the winners in person!"

Standardbred Canada will present the 30th edition of the O’Brien Awards on Saturday, February 2, 2019 at the Hilton Mississauga/Meadowvale Hotel. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased by contacting the Member & Stakeholder Relations Department at 905-858-3060. Tickets are $200 each (includes HST) and include a cocktail reception, gourmet dinner, wine, and complimentary portrait.

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