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'Queen’s Success A True Team Effort

Published: January 22, 2018 12:46 pm ET

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A keen eye, a strong team, and a tight game plan has resulted in a trip to the O’Brien Awards for the connections of the fleet-footed Kadabra Queen, who is hoping to haul down Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year honours at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale Hotel on Saturday, February 3.

Trainer Chad Milner has told Trot Insider that he knew the bay had something special while watching her early on at the farm in Campbellville, Ont. Milner’s wife, Kajsa, looked after many of Harness Horsepower Inc.’s babies when they were weanlings. “I always got to see them,” said Milner, “and this thing could just fly. She was small, but she could just fly. I said, ‘Just don’t sell that one.’”

Milner’s advice was sage, and now – 10 starts, five wins, and $328,380 in purses later – Kadabra Queen is being recognized for her solid 2017 campaign, which included an impressive closing score in the $225,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final at Mohawk Racetrack this past fall.

Being named Canada’s 2017 Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year would be icing on the cake for the Harness Horsepower Inc. homebred lass. Kadabra Queen is up against Smoke And Mirrors in the category.

Although he knew Kadabra Queen had talent, Milner said that, in retrospect, the multiple OSS winner kind of surprised him.

“It was kind of a surprising year,” Milner explained. “I always knew she had some trot, but you always think someone else is going to have a better trotter than you training down, but she did it right and kept getting better every start.”

After having knocked down every target the connections had set up for her, the filly’s most notable achievement came on October 14 in her Super Final, where she let everyone know that she is never quite out of it.

After being asked what moment or highlight stood out from Kadabra Queen’s juvenile campaign, Milner had to point to the big dance (the OSS Super Final). And, yes, it’s okay to sweat a bit during the big dances.

“I guess you would have to say the Super Final because it was the biggest race, but the whole year was pretty good from start to finish,” Milner said. “I’ve got to admit, I was sweating a bit (in the Super Final). Given how far back she was, I didn’t think she was going to get there, but she mowed ‘em down, so we got lucky. Luckily they went fast enough on the front end. If they got a half in :59 I don’t think she would’ve done it (gotten up for the win), so everything had to work out.”

When asked what the key to Kadabra Queen’s success was in 2017, Milner pointed both to the game plan and the filly’s pilot, Scott Coulter, who parlayed a catch drive in the filly’s maiden voyage (June 27 at Georgian Downs) to an O’Brien Award-calibre campaign.

“Scott deserves a lot of credit,” said Milner, who later added that Coulter did everything right with her all year. “Scott’s really good with young horses. I have a small stable and I can’t secure any one (driver) I want, so he was the perfect fit from the get-go.”

Coulter’s expertise in the bike, coupled with a sound game plan for a juvenile season, allowed Kadabra Queen to realize her potential on the track.

“The owners and I had a plan with her – OSS only (and some conditioned races in between),” said Milner, who went on to say, “those were our major stakes for the year.

“Some people look at those races as ‘just being OSS,’ but she made three hundred and twenty-odd thousand (dollars) and never left the country. The owners were just really good about managing her and just letting it go the way it went.”

Milner told Trot Insider that he has been to the O’Brien Awards in the past, but not with a horse that he was directly connected to. Although he wasn’t overly surprised that Kadabra Queen had been nominated for an O’Brien, he admitted that he got goose bumps when he learned the news. “My owner told me. I was excited beyond belief,” he said

Milner said that he will be attending the O’Brien Awards with the filly’s owners – Mileo Monte and Jean Monte (who bred the filly) and Frank Monte – his family and the entire barn. “It’ll be good to have the whole barn there,” he said.

Kadabra Queen and Scott Coulter, pictured winning a $97,200 OSS Gold leg at Mohawk Racetrack (on July 6, 2017) in just her second career start (New Image Media)

Milner also divulged a bit of little-known information about Kadabra Queen. He said that the filly suffered from chips in her ankles during her campaign and was never 100 per cent right. Milner said that the issue manifested itself in the form of a break on a turn during her OSS Gold at Flamboro, which was her only pari-mutuel start over a half-mile track. He said that she underwent surgery to remove the chips a few weeks after her Super Final win.

The winner of the two-year-old trotting filly category will be announced at the O’Brien Awards Gala on Saturday, February 3, 2018 at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale Hotel in Mississauga, Ontario.

Tickets for the 2017 O'Brien Awards are now on sale and can be purchased by contacting the Industry Marketing Department at 905-858-3060.

Follow the latest updates on the O’Brien Awards on Standardbred Canada’s Facebook Event page and on the SC website.

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