I Luv The Nitelife, who was named the best 3-year-old female pacer of 2013 in both the U.S. and Canada, is ready to return to action after being sidelined last November because of a fractured knee. She will compete in a qualifier Saturday morning at the Meadowlands, with the hopes of returning to stakes action in September.
"Swim and train, that's been her program," said trainer, adding happily, "Now we get to swim and race. That's better than training."
I Luv The Nitelife won 13 of 15 races last year and $1.25 million for Ryder and owners Richard and Joanne Young. Her triumphs included the Breeders Crown, Fan Hanover, Valley Forge, Lynch Memorial, Jugette and Mistletoe Shalee. Her 1:48.4 time in the Valley Forge is the world record for a 3-year-old filly on a five-eighths-mile track.
For her career, the daughter of-Lisjune has won 17 of 25 races and $1.94 million. No female pacer in history has won more money at ages 2 and 3.
Ryder hopes to have I Luv The Nitelife, who suffered a minor setback because of atrial fibrillation in early June, ready for the Milton Stakes in mid-September.
"She's going to qualify a couple times and then we'll look for an overnight or two," Ryder said. "She's training very well. Everything is good with her.
"It's exciting. It's tough to get a horse like this. It's a little crushing when they go down. You get a little used to winning those big races; you can't take it for granted. When it's gone, you realize there's a hole there. And it's near impossible to fill."
Father Patrick, who is 6-for-6 this year and will bring a 15-race win streak to the $1.2 million Hambletonian Stakes on Aug. 2 at the Meadowlands, also is entered to qualify on Saturday morning at the Big M.
Other Hambletonian eligibles in the qualifier are Billy Ruffian, DD's Hitman, and Uva Hanover.
On the pacing side, North America Cup winner JK Endofanera and Fan Hanover winner Uffizi Hanover are among 3-year-olds entered to qualify.
Sweet Lou, the winner of six consecutive starts including the Ben Franklin Pace and William Haughton Memorial, is the 4-5 morning line favorite in Saturday's $40,000 A-2/A-1/FFA handicap for pacers at the Meadowlands. The seven-horse field also includes Captaintreacherous, Thinking Out Loud, and Golden Receiver.
Maven, the sport's top older female trotter in 2013, is the 2-1 favorite in Friday's $30,000 A-2/A-1/FFA handicap for trotters at the Meadowlands. Coraggioso is the 3-1 second choice in the field of seven, which also includes Maven's stablemate D'Orsay. Maven and D'Orsay are the only females in the race.
Dancin Yankee, who sits just outside the Top 10 in harness racing's weekly poll, goes for his sixth win in a row Saturday night in the preferred handicap at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. He is the 5-2 morning line choice; Bolt The Duer is the 3-1 second pick.
by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications