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The Skinny On Sportsfancy

Published: February 19, 2009 10:21 am ET

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With her hoof problems behind her, Sportsfancy looks to get off on the right foot in 2009 in the $87,500 final of the Cape & Cutter for open pacing mares Friday night at the Meadowlands.

The Cape & Cutter, which shares the spotlight with the $76,000 Tender Loving Care for sophomore fillies, is one of five stakes finals to be contested this weekend at the Meadowlands. The $84,000 Aquarius, $82,500 Junior Trendsetter and $73,800 Exit 16W finals headline the Saturday card.

Sportsfancy was Illinois’ top three-year-old pacing filly in 2007. Developed by Homer Hochstetler, she captured nearly every stakes race in her division in the Midwest, including the Maywood Pace and Grandma Ann at Balmoral. Her current owner, Larry Baron, purchased the filly from HBH Standardbreds on October 8, 2007, a week before her 1:52.3 stakes record in the Cinderella Stakes at Balmoral. Sportsfancy finished her sophomore campaign in John Butenschoen’s barn and capped the season with 15 wins, four seconds and three thirds in 23 starts and earnings of $359,280.

Sportsfancy embarked on her four-year-old season at the Meadowlands last winter, and was non-competitive in her first few starts against older mares in the Cape & Cutter and Overbid Series. Baron sent her to trainer Josh Green’s barn in Delaware last March and Green quickly decided to turn her out in the paddock.

“Last year was a transitional year,” Green said. “I think the four-year-old season is the toughest. She had problems hitting her knees. I raced her a few times before [turning her out] and she actually broke one [knee] open and we had to sow it up. We gave her some time to heal up.

“It was a shoeing issue,” he continued. “Actually, we took off all of the hoof wall on her and let it grow out naturally. I’ve still got felt knee boots on her, but I really don’t think she needs them. She’s come back really nice, and now she’s super clean going up front.”

After a five-month layoff, Sportsfancy returned to the racetrack in September and fired off seven wins in her final 10 starts of 2008. The five-year-old mare enters the Cape & Cutter final with two wins in four starts this season. She finished sixth after dueling with Chancey Lady in the first leg of the series, but rebounded to win round two in 1:52 last week. She is rated as the 3-1 second choice on the morning line from Post 9 in the final. Brian Sears has the driving assignment.

“When she got parked in the first leg of this series I think that was the best she’s raced for me,” Green said. “I couldn’t believe she hung in there uncovered in a :54.4 back half on a 20-degree night. That was a tough trip.

“I was pleased with her win last week, and the fact she was able to reach from where she was at [sixth] in a :54.2 back half,” he said. “Brian Sears drove her to braven her up for the final and beyond. She’s the best mare I’ve ever had. She’s versatile; she can leave and come off the pace. Larry Baron is great about letting you do what you need to do, and she definitely needed to be rested last year. We’ve definitely done right by her.”

Josh Green, a leading trainer in Delaware, aims to become more of a presence this year at the Meadowlands. A 35-year-old native of Dayton, Ohio, Green posted career numbers with 287 wins and $4.6 million in purses in 2008. He has also won four of the last five training titles at Dover Downs and 11 of the last 10 at Harrington Raceway. Not bad for a guy who arrived in the First State in 2000 with seven horses and "so broke."

“We currently have 44 stabled here at Dovington Training Center and 13 at Winners International in Columbus, New Jersey,” he said. “We continue to expand and we’re trying to get more established at Yonkers and the Meadowlands. We race mainly at Dover Downs and Harrington. We had a equine Herpes virus at our farm and got nipped on the last day for the training title at Chester.”

$87,500 Cape & Cutter
(Race 5, Friday, February 20)
H, PP, Horse, Driver, Trainer, Odds
1, 1, Martha Maxine, Andy Miller, Erv Miller, 2-1
1A, 2, Glory Bee, David Miller, Erv Miller, 2-1
2, 3, Cuz She Can, George Brennan, Mark Harder, 9-2
2A, 8, Enhance The Night, Tim Tetrick, Mark Harder, 9-2
3, 5, Go On BB, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 5-1
3A, 7, Ideal Weather, Ron Pierce, Ron Burke, 5-1
4, 4, Guestimate, John Campbell, Mark Ford, 12-1
5, 6, Chancey Lady, Daniel Dube, Mark Kesmodel, 4-1
6, 9, Sportsfancy, Brian Sears, Josh Green, 3-1
7, 10, Away We Go, Eric Goodell, Dan Altman, 15-1

(Meadowlands)


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