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Love At First Sight

HOF - Chancey Lady

Casie Coleman can clearly remember October 4, 2006. That was the day that hip #410, Chancey Lady, walked into the sales ring in Lexington, Kentucky.

Twelve years later, as the champion mare is about to be inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, Coleman looks back on that day, and tells the story of love at first sight. By Chris Lomon

October 4, 2006. Lexington, Kentucky. Casie Coleman remembers it as though it were yesterday. When Hip #410 walked into the sales ring, she was certain the diminutive filly that would become known as Chancey Lady was destined for big things.

Was it love at first sight at the Lexington Selected Sale almost 12 years ago?

Coleman, who launched her standardbred training career in 1997, paused ever so briefly after the question was posed.

“It definitely was,” she recalled of the horse bred by Brittany Farms and Daisy Acres. “When she came out, she was just beautiful. Her body – it’s perfect. She’s built like a tank. The one thing you noticed is that she was small. But she’s long and she has a long gait on her. She has a real smart head. Her right hind ankle was white with spots on the coronet, which I liked. I just liked everything about her. Once I saw her, I really wanted to buy her. There was just so much to like. I liked the pedigree, the video of her and the when I saw her in person, I was really impressed.”

Coleman had certainly done her homework – and lots of it – on the horse before heading to Kentucky for the sale.

“I had her page completely marked because she was Ontario Sired and she was a Camluck,” she said. “I had a lot of Camluck horses, some claimers, and I really liked them a lot. When I went to the sale, I did want a Camluck and I did want an OSS horse.

“I had American Ideal (Confederation Cup, Bluegrass and Tattersalls winner, with $855,928 in career earnings) who was a great horse, bred by Brittany Farms. So I was really interested in what they had to sell at the 2006 sale. That’s why I stuck with that farm.”

And that’s why she stuck to her plan when Hip #410 was announced.

The moment Coleman saw the filly, she picked up the phone and called the prospective owner, Niele Jiwan of Surrey, B.C., whom she was trying to purchase the horse on behalf of.

“I can’t even remember how much we were supposed to bid, but I know we got her for $60,000,” she noted. “I don’t even recall if that was over the price that we had talked about. I just remember standing there and thinking, ‘I like everything about this horse.’ Camluck is a great sire and I had so much good luck with him, so I was excited to get her to work with. She taught me a lot about breaking babies. I was still learning with her. And with her being the filly she turned out to be, she really did put me on the map.”

So, too, did Lucky Man, a son of Camluck, whom Coleman purchased for owner Tom Hill for $90,000 at the same sale. Also bred by Brittany Farms and Daisy Acres, the pacer went on to be a 55-time winner (in 274 starts), earning nearly $1.3 million.

The two Camluck yearlings, purchased just hours apart, were only the second and third yearlings that the now, five-time O’Brien Award winning trainer had ever purchased. Not a bad start to a career training yearlings, as their stat lines would go on to read:

Chancey Lady p,1:48.4f ($2,083,514)

Lucky Man p,1:49.1s ($1,293,191)

As for Coleman and Chancey Lady’s two years together – from 2007 until just after her Fan Hanover triumph in 2008, the pair proved to be a formidable duo.

In her first year at the races, Chancey Lady earned $350,340, and took a mark of 1:52s, taking seven of 10 starts, including two Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Gold eliminations, one Gold Final, the OSS Super Final and a Breeders Crown elimination. Her OSS success delivered Brittany Farms and Daisy Acres the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association honour in the two-year-old pacing filly division.

Under Coleman’s watch, the bay paced to multiple victories, including a $366,515 payday after taking the aforementioned Fan Hanover Stakes on June 14, 2008.

“She was really nice to work around, a sweetheart,” she said. “The only issue with her was that she would tie up so easily. She usually double jogged. If I would take her for five miles all at once, she would tie up. If she went out in the rain, she’d tie up. There were days we’d have to wait forever so that the rain would finally die off enough to get her out and move her. If you went out with her in the pouring rain, it was a guarantee she’d tie up. You’d have to be really careful with that.”

While Coleman recalls the gentle side of Chancey Lady off the racetrack, she also remembers a decidedly different side once she hit the racetrack.

“She was all business,” she noted. “She was small, but she could certainly grab a hold of you. Mark MacDonald drove her every time for me. She could be quite aggressive, but he got along with her really well. He suited her perfectly. We just all adored her.”

That fact made it especially tough for Coleman to have to see Chancey Lady move into the John Pentland Stable shortly after the Fan Hanover victory.

“When she was leaving my barn, when the owner was moving her, it hurt a lot because you can’t replace one like her,” she said. “Every time she stepped on that racetrack, that horse would give 110 percent of herself, no matter if she had little aches and pains. It isn’t every day you get a horse that gives everything they have every single time.”

At four, Chancey Lady won a pair of divisions of the Blue Chip Stake at Yonkers and a division and final of the Cape & Cutter at the Meadowlands. In 2011, she notched six triumphs in divisions of the Blue Chip and a Milton Stakes elimination. She also set the track record for fillies and mares at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs with a 1:49.2 victory in the Open Pace. In 2012, she won four divisions of the Blue Chip. Trainers during the later stages of her career included Mark Kesmodel, P.J. Fraley, and Josh Green.

Coleman considers herself fortunate to have been associated with the horse she was bound and determined to buy nearly a dozen years ago.

“I’m just glad she fell in a price range my owner was willing to go to,” she offered. “I just always remember the moment I saw her. It was hard not to like her. There was nothing I could find fault with. I’m not one who really cares if they are bit small. Her pedigree is phenomenal and it was a very good farm that she came from. With her pedigree, she should have been a $100,000 filly or more. But because of her size, she may have been overlooked.”

Chancey Lady raced from 2007 through 2013. She recorded 43 wins, finished second 22 times and notched 15 thirds, banking $2,083,514, before she was retired to the breeding shed. Her career mark, 1:48.4f, came at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

She is currently part of the Winbak Farms broodmare band.

On April 10, Chancey Lady was named as one of the inductees into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame as part of its 2018 class.

“I’ve never had a horse in the Hall of Fame, so to say that you were part of one that is – that’s something to be extremely proud of,” said Coleman. “It’s very special, especially being one [of the first ones] that I picked as a baby and trained down. The fact that we started her out – I’m pretty proud of that.”

It was something Coleman was recently reminded of when she was momentarily reunited with Chancey Lady. When she saw the now 13-year-old mare, Coleman immediately recalled that October day at the Lexington Selected Sale.

“I actually saw her - she was in the broodmare sale at Harrisburg,” she started. “It was last year, there, that Winbak Farm bought her. I remember seeing her. There’s still not much to her, she’s just little. But saying that, she has a lot of muscle to her. She looks great, just like the moment I first saw her.”

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