With just a week before the eliminations for the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, Broadway Donna and All The Time have emerged as the top contenders to capture one of the most treasured prizes in harness racing for three-year-old fillies, but there is a lass in the Empire State that might very well travel to New Jersey to stake her claim to divisional honours.
She is Fad Finance.
“She is eligible to the Hambletonian Oaks,” said Trond Smedshammer, her conditioner. “But she would have to win the Zweig (this Sunday) impressively for me to think about entering her. Vernon Downs is a nice track and it looks like we will have nice weather for the race this weekend, so they should be able to go in 1:54 to win. She would need to trot in the area of 1:53 for me to send her there so it is up to her.”
A daughter of Credit Winner and the Sierra Kosmos mare Armbro Vanity, Fad Finance was purchased for $60,000 at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale in Harrisburg by Purple Haze Stables, Marc Goldberg and Rojan Stables. The filly, who sports a career record of 14-7-3-1 and has quietly amassed $129,988 in purse money, will face eight rivals in the $140,000 Zweig Memorial Filly Trot at Vernon Downs on Sunday (July 24).
Fad Finance will leave from post position two with Jim Morrill Jr. holding the lines. She is the 7-2 second selection on the morning line behind Julie Miller’s charge Womans Will (5-2) and will face stiff opposition from Paul Kelley’s Straight A Student (8-1), as well as Paul Reid’s Flowers N Songs (9-2), and George Ducharme’s Swinging Royalty (5-1).
Fad Finance has won three of her six starts this year, with earnings of $83,038. She defeated 2015 New York Sire Stakes champion Non Stick in their $12,500 Empire Breeders Classic elimination on June 10 at Vernon Downs. Non Stick returned to dominate the $225.000 final the following week, but Fad Finance got the measure of her again on July 10 at Tioga Downs in a $40,600 New York Sire Stakes contest.
Fad Finance followed that performance with a track-record-equaling 1:58.2 spin around Buffalo Raceway’s oval on July 17 in a $60,200 sire stakes split. It was a gritty effort, as the filly was locked in for most of the stretch and was able to put her nose down on the wire for her third win of the season.
“I raced her in the Excelsior Series last year so she would learn some manners,” Smedshammer said. “She was on the line of being hot and I would try to keep her in the pocket to teach her some lessons. If you look at her lines you can see where she was on the front because she was aggressive and then would tire in the last quarter coming home. I think she is a better horse off the helmet and this year she is minding her manners. The only race we were not pleased with was the Empire Breeders Classic final (fifth). She was on the lead and went some fairly fast fractions before getting tired late. That’s when the other fillies passed her.”
Despite Smedshammer’s admission that Fad Finance could be a bit headstrong, as many fillies can be, he was drawn to her because of his affiliation with her pedigree, which is excellent. This filly is a half-sister to Vanity Plates (Conway Hall, $164,878), who competed in the 2007 Matron final (sixth) and was eighth in that year’s eliminations for the Breeders Crown. Another half-sibling, Monkey Man (Glidemaster, $92,220) was talented enough to finish second to world champion Muscle Network in an $86,500 division of the International Stallion Stakes at The Red Mile in 2013 and was the runner-up to the very talented Rose Run Parker in a $45,250 division of the Madison County Stake at Hoosier Park 22 days later.
“I trained her mother,” Smedshammer said. “I actually picked her out as a yearling and bought her, then sold her to her current owners. She had ability and was very well-mannered, unlike many Sierra Kosmos horses. Unfortunately she had some soundness issues, but I knew she had some foals that had done well. I think Chris Ryder did well with one of her first fillies (Vanity Plates) so when this one was available (Fad Finance) I was looking forward to the opportunity to train one of her foals. The pedigree on her female side is very good.”
Although Armbro Vanity only earned $63,365 on the racetrack and her dam, Armbro Haughty, collected $375 in her racing career, these mares hail from the tremendous Armbro Flight. In fact, Armbro Haughty was that Canadian superstar’s final foal. That blood courses through Fad Finance’s veins and demonstrates she may just very well belong with the elite in her division as 2016 draws to a close.
“We will see what happens with her,” Smedshammer said. “She is eligible to things outside of New York, such as the Breeders Crown, and if she shows us she can mind her manners, we will allow her the opportunity to take on those kinds of fillies. She has improved this year and we hope she will continue to improve.”
Below is the field for the $140,000 Zweig Memorial Filly Trot, in post position order, with listed drivers and trainers.
1. Earn Your Wings - Jason Bartlett - Anette Lorentzon - 8/1
2. Fad Finance - Jim Morrill Jr. - Trond Smedshammer - 7/2
3. Lindylicious - Chris Lems - Gilbert Garcia-Herrera - 8/1
4. Straight A Student - Mark MacDonald - Paul Kelley - 8/1
5. Open Access - Matt Kakaley - Robert Baggitt Jr. - 6/1
6. Womans Will - Andy Miller - Julie Miller - 5/2
7. Spicedbourbongirl - Jeff Gregory - Jeff Gregory - 10/1
8. Flowers N Songs - Yannick Gingras - Paul Reid - 9-2
9. Swinging Royalty - Tim Tetrick - George Ducharme - 5/1
Earn Your Wings and Straight A Student will race as an ownership entry.
This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.