"He’s our family horse. He’s kind of special. We didn’t really expect what he’s been doing the last few starts."
The family horse keeps making the family proud.
Dog Gone Lucky will try to finish his season with a fifth consecutive win when he faces nine rivals in Saturday’s $489,400 Valley Victory Stakes for two-year-old male trotters at the Meadowlands Racetrack. The colt, who last week won his Valley Victory elimination by one length over Make Or Miss, will start the final from post five with Corey Callahan driving for trainer Chuck Sylvester.
For the year, Dog Gone Lucky has won six of 13 races and earned $331,493 while finishing off the board only twice. His victories include the Matron Stakes and Kindergarten Classic championship, plus two preliminary divisions of the New York Sire Stakes series.
Dog Gone Lucky is owned by Sylvester’s daughter Amy Lynn Stoltzfus and her cousin Charles Stansley. The colt was bred by Mike Stoltzfus, who is Amy’s husband, and Sam Stoltzfus Jr.
Amy named the horse, a son of former Sylvester star Lucky Chucky out of the Stoltzfus’ broodmare Ebbtide Hall, in honour of her late brother Troy Sylvester. Troy, who passed away in 2009, was known by the nickname “Dog.”
“We thought we had a nice sire stakes horse, but he seems to have jumped up to the next level,” Mike Stoltzfus said. “He’s been pretty impressive. He’s beaten some pretty nice horses.”
The Stoltzfus family bought Ebbtide Hall, a daughter of Cash Hall, for $8,000 at the 2011 Standardbred Horse Sale’s Mixed Sale. Dog Gone Lucky was Ebbtide Hall’s first foal.
“We bought her to breed to Lucky Chucky because we thought it might be a good cross for Lucky Chucky,” Stoltzfus said. “It’s worked out all right for us. He’s been a pretty good horse all along. He’s got good manners, and that means a lot. We’ve just been enjoying the ride with him.”
Dog Gone Lucky is not the only Valley Victory contender from Sylvester’s stable. Waitlifter K also won his Valley Victory elimination, beating Milligans School by a neck at odds of 24-1, and will start the final from post three with driver Tim Tetrick.
Waitlifter K, bred and owned by Bob Key, has won three of 13 races and earned $105,379. He has gone off stride three times behind the starting gate, but been competitive in his remaining races, hitting the board seven times.
“I wasn’t really surprised by his win,” Sylvester said. “He’s had trouble going to the gate. If he gets off on the wrong foot, he gets pacing. He won’t make the gate if he’s on the pace. It’s either over before you start, or he’s going to be competitive.
“When I saw him come to the gate on the trot (in the elimination) I knew he was leaving. And once he gets to the front he’s a good horse. Tim, once he got him out of there, he let him roll, which is OK. He needed that. He was very good last week. I was happy with him.”
The Valley Victory is part of a busy weekend at the Meadowlands. Other top races Saturday include the $413,000 Governor’s Cup for two-year-old male pacers, $173,500 Tarport Hap for three-year-old female pacers, $144,000 Continentalvictory for three-year-old female trotters, plus $400,000 TVG Free For All Series championships for male pacers and trotters.
Elimination winners Big Top Hanover and Katies Rocker lead a field of 10 in the Governor’s Cup, which also includes Breeders Crown champion Boston Red Rocks.
In the TVG championship for male trotters, three-year-old The Bank will face seven older foes for the title. The Bank, trained by Jimmy Takter, accepted an invitation to the event as a Breeders Crown winner. On the pacing side, series points leader JK Endofanera, also trained by Takter, leads a group of six finalists.
The Continentalvictory attracted only four starters, but features harness racing’s top money-earning three-year-old female trotters: Wild Honey, with $1.11 million, and Mission Brief, with $929,317. Mission Brief defeated Wild Honey in last week’s Matron Stakes with a world-record 1:50.2 performance at Dover Downs. Wild Honey had won her two most recent previous encounters with Mission Brief, in the Breeders Crown and Kentucky Filly Futurity.
Post time is 7:00 p.m. for the night’s first race. To view the entries for this weekend's cards, click one of the following links:
This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.