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Elegantimage Passes

Published: May 14, 2021 5:24 pm ET

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Trot Insider has learned that Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee Elegantimage has passed away at the age of 27.

The daughter of Balanced Image - Eclair Hanover was retired from broodmare duties for owner Doug Millard, residing at Spring Haven Farm in Utica, Ohio at the time of her passing on Friday, May 14.

"I really enjoyed the mare, there's great history there with the partnerships that began with that horse and I ended up owning her," Millard told Trot Insider on Friday. "I've had a great relationship and success with the family and I was very fortunate to have had her at Spring Haven.

"For the last two or three years she's had her own pasture, her own paddock, her own barn. Senena and Jeff [Esty] have done a great job of looking after her for the last few years of her life. They babied her and looked after her and made sure she was comfortable; I was very lucky there. They certainly understand the business; both Body Balance and Elegant Serenity were born down there. I was very happy they looked after them for me."

A winner in 20 of her 41 career starts, Elegantimage added another first to her impressive resume by becoming the first horse inducted to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame for Millard and co-breeder Harry Rutherford.

“She wasn’t a bossy filly in the paddock, but she didn’t take any crap off the other ones,” said the late Harry Rutherford. ”She had that same attitude on the track, she hated to have a horse go by her.”

She posted a race record of 20-7-3 and lifetime earnings of $955,368 in 41 races for trainer Brad Maxwell and owners Millard, Hyatt Holdings, Jerry Van Boekel and Hall of Famer Steve Condren, who doubled as her driver.

“She was a true Balanced Image,” recalled Maxwell in a 2017 interview for TROT Magazine. “She had a bit of a temper; she was quite nice, actually, on the racetrack.”

A $53,000 yearling purchase at the Canadian Classic Sale in 1995, Elegantimage was an overnight success winning three Ontario Sires Stakes events in five starts along with the Oakville Trot, Robert Stewart Memorial Final, two Trillium Series events and the Canadian Breeders Championship Final. She was named Canada’s Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year for her efforts.

“She was a class filly right from the word go,” said Millard. “By the spring of her two-year-old year you could tell she was going to be a nice racehorse. Brad told me right up front that she was going to be a good mare and he doesn’t say much.”

She went to post as the prohibitive favourite in 20 starts and rarely let her backers down.

“This horse wanted to win and had a chance to win every time she raced. She was a top filly for sure but you weren’t going to make a lot of money betting her,” said Millard with a chuckle.

One of Millard’s favourite moments of that initial campaign came from a call courtesy of the dulcet tones of former Woodbine and Mohawk track announcer Frank Salive.

“She must have been 10 lengths ahead and Frank said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, you’re looking at the making of a world champion trotting filly!’ That was a quite a call,” Millard said.

Elegantimage continued to dominate as a sophomore, winning eight of 10 OSS starts - taking a lifetime mark of 1:55.4 at Woodbine - and the 1997 Canadian Breeders Championship final en route to receiving the O’Brien Award in the three-year-old trotting filly division.

She was retired following a brief four-year-old campaign and quickly became a successful broodmare with progeny earnings of $986,223 and an average earnings per starter of $140,889 at the time of her Hall of Fame induction. Millard eventually bought out his co-owners and enjoyed continued success with Elegantimage as a broodmare.

“She produced a pair of pretty good racehorses in Body Balance, who we lost in the fire, and Elegant Serenity who we just retired,” said Millard.

Elegant Serenity, a winner of over $500,000 with a mark of 1:53.2, is the top earner of her offspring while Body Balance, who perished tragically in the 2016 barn fire at Classy Lane, banked just shy of $200,000 in a hard-knocking career.

Elegantimage was 23 at the time of her Hall of Fame induction in 2017.

“The last couple yearlings out of her were the best she had,” said Millard who will enjoy seeing the family line continue.

For co-breeder Harry Rutherford, he looked back fondly to Elegantimage as the start of a production line for their small breeding outfit that would go on to make such stars as Pure Ivory ($1,442,888) and Casual Breeze ($1,347,330).

“We were small breeders at the time and to come out with a winner like her it was a great thing. Elegantimage made just under a million, but it was a different era. She was the best horse we had bred at that time, that’s for sure,” said Rutherford.

The proud breeder found a poignant way to convey just how dominant a racehorse Elegantimage was in her sophomore season.

“I remember her winning the Simcoe in a field of six,” said Rutherford. “There were two Grand Circuit races at the time about a week apart and the good horses came up from the States but they didn’t stick around for the Simcoe because they knew they couldn’t beat her.”

Please join Standardbred Canada in offering condolences to the connections of Elegantimage.

(with files from the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame)

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