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Where Is JK Shesalady?

Published: August 15, 2015 9:21 am ET

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While last Saturday’s Hambletonian Day card featured some of the top horses in North America, one horse -- not just any horse, a North America-wide Horse of the Year -- was conspicuously absent from names competing on the stakes-stacked afternoon.

Trot Insider spoke with trainer Nancy Johansson for an update on pacing sensation JK Shesalady.

Making her last start on June 27 in the James M. Lynch Memorial Pace at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, her performance could be deemed lackluster. The race was captured by The Show Returns, with JK Shesalady filly finishing fifth. Despite not being on the top of her game, the Art Major filly still paced her mile in 1:52.3, but seemed to lack her signature closing kick.

“We sent her to Cornell and she had something in her lungs that was causing her to not get enough oxygen so she was fatiguing at the end of the mile,” said Johansson. “She couldn’t get enough oxygen, which is obviously pretty important in any race, much less at the level she races at.

“She was on a heavy course of antibiotics for three weeks to treat the bacterial infection. Hopefully it’s cleared up now and there’s no lasting damage. We won’t know until we actually go to race her, but she’s back to her old self, you can see the difference.”

JK Shesalady dominated headlines as a two-year-old, going undefeated in twelve starts. Bred and owned by the 3 Brothers Stables of New York, N.Y., she proved to be a devastating competitor at the top tier of racing. The first two-year-old filly pacer to be named Horse of the Year at the Dan Patch Awards in the United States, she also claimed Horse of the Year on Canadian soil, joining the ranks of Somebeachsomewhere, San Pail and Bee A Magician as horses sweeping Horse of the Year accolades.

With two strong qualifiers to start her three-year-old season, JK Shesalady put on a clinic in a New York Sire Stakes event in her first start of 2015 at Tioga Downs in May. Her next start left both her connections and fans in shock.

Returning to Mohawk Racetrack, the post-time favourite finished fourth in her Fan Hanover elimination and fifth the following week in the final.

With a month and a half of recuperation, Johansson is confident the filly is regaining her strength.

“She’s back in training, she trained this [Wednesday] morning really well and last Friday as well super nicely. Hopefully everything is back on schedule; we’re going to take our time getting her back to the races.

“The plan is to bring her down to Lexington before the Grand Circuit meet if everything goes well and qualify her down there and give her an easy race. Everything looks like it’s cleared up in terms of her sickness so hopefully we’re out of the woods. We won’t know until we put a little pressure on her, but she’s back to herself, more alert and ready to go. She was dull and not very ambitious for a while there.”

While her stakes schedule is far from decided, Johansson and her connections are giving the champion filly as much time as needed in the hopes of regaining her winning form.

“Obviously we want to take her up to Canada for the Breeders Crown but we’re going to let her dictate what she’s up to. We can always bring her back as a four-year-old; the owners are very understanding and supportive. All we can hope for is that everything goes as planned.”

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Hannah Beckett)

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