China Pearls Back On Track

Published: April 13, 2012 12:32 pm EDT

Thinking about Canada’s top three-year-old filly trotter brings a smile to 67-year-old trainer Carman Hie’s face


“This winter has been kind of downer,” said Hie. “I know I’ll be glad when she’s back racing.”

With the stakes season just around the corner, Hie and long-time partners Stewart Cockshutt, Blake Anthony, Peter Kloepfer, and Ted Murrell won’t have to wait long now to see their decorated trotting princess China Pearls back in action and looking to improve upon an already impressive resume.

During her debut award-winning season, China Pearls hit the board 15 out of 19 times with eight of those efforts winning ones. She swept the eliminations and finals of the Canadian Breeders Championship and S.B.O.A. Stakes and followed up with an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold triumph. China Pearls concluded her season with a victory in the Super Final and turned in one more winning effort against older competition to take a mark of 1:54.1 and surpass the half-million dollar earnings mark.

With a feisty filly on his hands, Hie elected to start training China Pearls back for her four-year-old season sooner than expected.

“I started back the middle of December,” said the Beamsville, Ont. conditioner. “I was going to give her more time off, but she was too active so I had to get doing a little work with her.”

Hie says everything is going well with the O’Brien Award winner, who made her four-year-old qualifying debut this morning at Flamboro Downs. She was a comfortable winner in 2:00.3 with a closer quarter in a peppy :28.1.

“Her first stake is at Mohawk, which is the Miss Versatility and that’s May 20th. That’s the one we’re aiming for," said Hie, indicating that China Pearls is expected to qualify two more times at Mohawk. "I don’t want to race her with San Pail, that’s for sure."

China Pearls will travel to the U.S. this year for a handful of stakes events including the other preliminary legs of the Miss Versatility at Meadowlands Racetrack, Tioga Downs, and the final at Delaware County Fair. She is also expected to race state-side in the Ima Lulu Series at the Meadowlands and Muscle Hill Trot at Vernon Downs. Her Canadian stakes starts will include the Armbro Flight at Mohawk, Masters Series at Georgian Downs, and Breeders Crown at Woodbine.
“Hopefully by then we have half a million dollars made,” laughed Hie. “That’s my plan; I don’t know what her plan is though.”

Hie does know the daughter of Kadabra out of Pure Sable will eventually face her toughest competition yet in “monster” mare Frenchfrysnvinegar, the reigning Older Trotting Mare of the Year in Canada, but is hopeful she can handle the class rise with poise.

“I’ve only staked her to mare races so I think she’ll be competitive," said Hie. "You never know, but I think she’ll step up and go with the Open mares and be fine.”

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