Day At The Track

Aqua Artist returns to winning form

09:52 AM 02 Mar 2016 NZDT
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Aqua Artist is a daughter of Artsplace, from the great sire's final crop
Aqua Artist is a daughter of Artsplace, from the great sire's final crop
Conrad Photo

Motherhood might not be in Aqua Artist's immediate future, but winning races is again part of her present. A 9-year-old female pacer, Aqua Artist was away from the races for 19 months as her owners tried to get her in foal. The attempts were unsuccessful, so Aqua Artist returned to the track in October. And last Friday, she won the Fillies & Mares Open at Miami Valley Raceway --- nearly two years to the day from the date of her most recent triumph at that level of harness racing competition.

Aqua Artist, bred and owned by Harold Lee Bauder, his father Harold L. Bauder, and friend Michael Dixon, has won 29 of 106 career races and earned $336,346. She won a Standardbred Stakes at age 2, but made only three starts as a 3-year-old because of an ankle injury. She bounced back to capture 19 of 76 starts over the next three years, with seven of the wins coming at the Invitational or Open levels.

This year, Aqua Artist has won three of five races, with her first two victories of the season coming in conditioned races, and earned $22,500. She is racing again in the Fillies & Mares Open on Friday at Miami Valley. Trace Tetrick will drive for trainer Steve Bauder.

"I think it took her some starts to get back tight and to her old form," said Harold Lee Bauder, who is Steve Bauder's cousin. "She sure has improved as the new year rolled around, that's for sure. We thought she would come back pretty good, but we didn't know how she would do competing against the open mares. The last race at Miami Valley, it was a really good group of mares that was in there. We were thinking maybe she would get a fourth or fifth, so it was a little bit of a surprise for us.

"It looks like she's back to her old self. Maybe the two years off have helped her; she's a young 9. We're going to think about breeding her again, but she's racing pretty competitive so we're probably going to keep her on the track for now."

The Bauders and Dixon raced Aqua Artist's mom, Aquatic Yankee. They purchased her for $3,000 at the Kentucky Standardbred Sale in 1997 and she went on to earn $751,230 as a stakes-winner and top-level Open competitor.

Aquatic Yankee, a daughter of Cambest-Yankee Attraction, won Kentucky Sire Stakes races at ages 2 and 3 and finished second to Eternal Camnation in the 2001 Breeders Crown Mare Pace and second to French Panicure in the 2000 Lady Liberty.

"I watched Cambest-(bred) fillies race in Lexington and I thought they were really good," Bauder said. "This was his second crop and (Aquatic Yankee) was the horse we picked out. I remember after we bought her, we went back to see her and the groom that took care of her at Yankeeland Farms said we got the steal of the sale; that this filly was really, really good. We won the sire stakes as a 2-year-old and the rest is history."

The 57-year-old Bauder is from Delaware, Ohio, and got hooked on harness racing while showing livestock at the Delaware County Fair, which is home to pacing's prestigious Little Brown Jug. Bauder previously owned several Great Clips hair salons with friends and now is on the staff of the Delaware Area Career Center.

Aquatic Yankee proved to be valuable beyond the racetrack for the Bauders and Dixon. In addition to Aqua Artist, her offspring include multiple-stakes winner Sectionline Yankee, who finished second in an elimination of the 2012 Jugette at the Delaware County Fair and was fifth in the final, Sectionline Aqua ($217,648 earned), Sectionlinefriskie ($144,818), and Fire On The Water (who the group sold as a yearling for $65,000 and has earned $410,982).

Aqua Artist is a daughter of Artsplace, from the great sire's final crop.

"I always wanted an Artsplace," Bauder said. "Fortunately, I got it just in time.

"It's been a really good ride with (Aquatic Yankee) and a lot of fun with some of her horses that we kept," Bauder added. "It's just been a great family. I bought a farm here in Delaware and that family really helped pay for it. My dad is in his 80s now and they just enjoy watching them, and they enjoy this horse, Aqua Artist. It's just been great."

Ken Weingartner

A division of the U.S. Trotting Association

 

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