Not often is a harness racing trainer happy after a horse races poorly, but Bob Stewart -- at least now in retrospect -- is thankful for Lady Andover's lackluster performance in the Delvin Miller Memorial in July at the Meadowlands.
In the Miller, the 3-year-old filly trotter finished 10th in an 11-horse field. She was more than 19 lengths behind the leader after the opening quarter-mile and went off stride in the stretch.
After the race, Lady Andover was given several weeks off, during which time she received treatment on her back and stifle joints. Since returning to action, she has won four consecutive starts, including the $96,800 Buckette at the Delaware County Fair on September 21.
"She just raced terrible in the Miller," Stewart said. "She made a break late, but she wasn't any good before she made the break. She had no trot.
"It was good she raced so bad instead of just sort of bad. Then we gave her the time off. She raced so bad that we had to regroup, which was good, instead of tweaking something and trying again the following week, which wouldn't have worked, I'm sure."
Lady Andover is owned by James and Sandra Kunkel's Winterbeary Farm. The Kunkels bought Lady Andover's dam, 2001 New York Sire Stakes champion Lost Lady One, in December 2007. Two months later, Lady Andover, a daughter of, was born.
In her career, Lady Andover has won seven of 14 races and earned $77,460. All but one of her losses, a second-place finish last season, came in races in which she went off stride.
"She's either done very well or been a disaster, there's not a lot of in between," Stewart said. "But there are more good things lately."
So good that Stewart and the owners considered sending Lady Andover to Sunday's Kentucky Filly Futurity at Lexington's Red Mile. In the end, though, they decided against it in favor of the Bluegrass Stakes on October 9.
by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications