TORONTO, January 18 – It's anyone’s guess who will take home the O’Brien Award for Canada’s top two-year-old pacing filly. Even the respective connections of I Luv The NiteLife and Somwherovrarainbow aren’t quite sure who will be bringing home the hardware.
Richard Young, owner of I Luv The NiteLife, and George Teague, trainer of Somwherovrarainbow, are hoping it’s their filly’s name that is announced on Saturday, January 26, when Canada’s best in harness racing are honoured.
“I have really good reasons why I think we have got a shot, but on the other hand, maybe I’m gun shy because I’ve already lost it twice with what I considered to be a superior horse,” said Young, referring to when Put On A Show finished runner-up to Teague’s Fancy Filly in 2009 and to Casie Coleman’s Western Silk in 2010.
“Put On A Show was undefeated (in 2009 as a two-year-old) before she lost in the Breeders Crown and ‘Nitelife’ was not undefeated when she lost in the Breeders Crown,” he added. “I’m thinking the Breeders Crown plays such a big role that it didn’t matter what happened the rest of the year, so I am getting the impression that she probably lost. Unfortunate, but that’s what I’m thinking.”
Young, who co-owns the bay with his wife, Joanne, does have some convincing selling points for I Luv The NiteLife, a daughter of Rocknroll Hanover-Lisjune, who crafted a record of 4-4-1 from 10 outings and banked $682,574 in earnings.
“Her shining moment, I think, was winning the elimination of the Shes A Great Lady in world-record time and doing it in such a manner that you thought there was still a couple ticks left,” said Young, of when the Chris Ryder trainee stopped the teletimer in 1:50.1 at Mohawk on August 25. “She started off a little slow. We entered her against the best horses that were racing in her very first start. We knew she was a decent horse, but we didn’t know how good. I think that race we knew this was a really nice filly.”
I Luv The NiteLife went on the win the rich final a week later and picked up victories in a division of the Eternal Camnation at the Campbellville oval and Bluegrass Stakes at Lexington’s The Red Mile.
(Somwherovrarainbow and driver Andy Miller)
Somwherovrarainbow was named the top freshman pacing filly in the U.S. after posting a 7-2-1 record from 11 starts and earning $522,437 in purses. En route to ending her debut season with a six-race win streak, Somwherovrarainbow swept the eliminations and finals of both the Breeders Crown at Woodbine and Matron at Dover Downs.
But Teague has reservations about the homebred daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Rainbow Blue taking divisional honours in Canada.
“I’m like Richard Young,” offered Teague, who shares ownership of the filly with K And R Racing LLC and Theodore Gewertz. “I don’t know which criteria kind of holds. I know she won a Breeders Crown and that kind of holds a lot of weight, but in return, the other filly had an awesome season up (in Canada) and I think she is the favourite going in. I think she has an edge over us, but she (Somwherovrarainbow) was pretty impressive in her Breeders Crown win.”
Could it all come down to the Breeders Crown?
“A lot of time the game is, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ and that was a pretty impressive race,” said Teague, adding that he believes the most compelling race for two-year-old fillies last year was the year-end Breeders Crown Championship. “She shined pretty bright in that race, but not to take anything from the other filly either because in the early part of the year she was pretty awesome. It’s an honour to just be considered, but with a little bit of luck and maybe it’s going to be a little more even than I thought.”
They'll get their answer soon enough.