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Where Is Woodside Charm?

Published: May 29, 2019 9:09 am ET

Last Comment: June 4, 2019 4:43 pm ET | 3 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

With most of harness racing's award winners from 2018 back on track and in action, one of the most impressive performers -- world record-setting trotting filly Woodside Charm -- has yet to make an appearance this season.

Last year trainer Verlin Yoder had one of the frosh crop’s best kept secrets with his undefeated filly Woodside Charm, who won the Breeders Crown and set a world record over a half-mile track in her freshman season. Since her championship campaign, the star filly has been training and readying for her three-year-old debut.

Yoder did not hurry to race Woodside Charm as a two-year-old, making only seven starts between a maiden race in July and the Breeders Crown in late October. Winning all seven of her starts and amassing $521,658, Yoder remains patient with returning the Chapter Seven filly to the races.

“[The Breeders Crown] was very special,” Yoder said. “To win some of those big races, you can’t do a lot of starts. I mean she did things they’re not supposed to do, but the thing is you hope that they come back as three-year-olds. That’s the rough one because you go through the motions and they do grow a lot from two to three, so sometimes it’s a little bit of a struggle.

“I’m hoping once we put her behind the gate -- around some horses -- that the fight will come back out,” Yoder also said. “That’s something you don’t know until you get [them] with a group of horses. As far as everything else, she grew like we hoped and the rest of it is lining up behind the gate and seeing what we have.”

Woodside Charm had trained through the winter alongside one of Verlin’s top older trotting mares, Compelling, who has earned almost $200,000 from 48 starts and holds a mark of 1:52.4 at Hoosier Park.

“We did a lot of miles and [Woodside Charm] did everything she’s supposed to up to now,” Yoder said. “So now it’s just the next step: is it going to work or not. You won’t know until you go.

“We’re hoping to qualify her Saturday [June 1] if everything goes good. I’ve worked her pretty good a couple of times, but when you step in behind the gate with those fillies you have to be ready to go in [1]:52 and if you’re not you’re going to get hurt. So it’s all about being fit and ready.”

Check out this exclusive training footage of Woodside Charm from May 18.

So long as Yoder deems Woodside Charm ready to race, he has her poised to debut on June 26 at Hoosier Park for the $50,000 Star Destroyer. However her major stakes engagements of the year are not until September with the Elegantimage and a possible start against the boys in the Canadian Trotting Classic.

“Mohawk and Hoosier Park doesn’t start until Sept. 14, so I’ll find some races here and there. But that’s when I want to be at my best, from the first of September on in...that’s my goal. I think Tioga or Vernon has a [NYSS] leg and I might run up there with the babies and her; to give her a start or something like that.”

Despite Yoder’s careful handling of Woodside Charm’s two-year-old year, he does not feel any pressure when it comes to managing a potentially star-studded three-year-old season.

“Like I tell people, pressure is only pressure when you let it be pressure,” Yoder said. “First you have to be willing to accept that as a human being you will screw up when you go behind the gate sometime if you go behind the gate enough times. If you accept that, then it is what it is. The best thing a guy can do is not forget to enjoy the ride because these types of horses don’t come along too many times.”

Yoder has had a couple of stakes-type horses cross into his barn over the years. He rose onto the Grand Circuit spotlight in 2014 with his now-millionaire trotter Natural Herbie, who won the International Trot preview before representing America in the 2015 renewal among other aged-stakes events.

“She’s very special. She was an unbelievable two-year-old; she was right up there with the best two-year-olds I’ve ever seen. Now the key is going to be can she do it week in and week out, that’s the different thing. Is she going to be like a Compelling (my open mare that trots in [1]:52 at Hoosier) when she gets old? I don’t know. That’s way too far away. I never want to take anything away from Natural Herbie because he taught me a lot, but [he] was not that. He was one of those guys that wanted to grind into the races and sprint. Last year [Woodside Charm] could give me a :13 eighth anytime I needed. You don’t find that caliber of a trotter anywhere.

“I know there were a couple of times last year that I got goosebumps from driving her and one of them was at Saratoga and the other was the Breeders Crown elims; those were the two races that I was just in awe. In the Breeders Crown elims I could’ve gone in [1]:51. She jiggy-jogged that back half like it was nothing. It was scary; I couldn’t believe it. I gave her head a little bit at the half and she was on was crazy. She [shows that promise] at times and it’s one of those things you don’t really know until you get in with a group of horses. Some of those fillies -- like her -- you line her up behind a horse, behind a gate, the whites of her eyes come out and she wants to fight. That’s the key, then they do unbelievable stuff.”

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Ray Cotolo)

June 4, 2019 - 4:43 pmDoesn't look that way

June 4, 2019 - 2:43 pmIs this horse eligible for

Is this horse eligible for the Hambo? Does anyone know?

May 29, 2019 - 1:52 pmAwesome video. Thanks for

Norm Brunet SAID...

Awesome video. Thanks for sharing.

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