Richard Young came into this year hoping I Luv The Nitelife would be a top 3-year-old filly pacer, but he was not expecting her to be the best.
So far, she has been the best.
But her test Wednesday in the $257,750 Jugette will be a whole new experience.
I Luv The Nitelife, owned by Young and his wife Joanne, has won 10 of 11 races this year and brings a nine-race win streak to the Delaware County Fairgrounds. Her victories include the Fan Hanover, Valley Forge, Lynch Memorial, Mistletoe Shalee and Simcoe stakes. Her earnings of $852,350 this season are the best among all female pacers and are fourth best among all harness horses in North America.
“Going into most races, I’ve had a quiet confidence; the last three or four starts especially,” Young said. “But the Jugette is a different ballgame. We’ve never been on a half-mile track and horses that get the right position at the right time become very good horses for this particular race. So I’m apprehensive. We’ll see.”
This year’s Jugette will be raced in two heats, with the first race determining post positions for the final. A horse must only win the final to be named the champion.
I Luv The Nitelife is the 4-5 morning line favorite in the first heat. She will start from post three with regular driver Tim Tetrick at the lines for trainer Chris Ryder.
Novascotia Hanover is the 7-2 second choice, out of the stable of Virgil Morgan Jr., followed by Casie Coleman’s Social Scene at 5-1 and Ron Burke’s Carols Desire at 6-1.
Last season, I Luv The Nitelife won four of 10 races, including the She’s A Great Lady Stakes, and was second in the Breeders Crown and Champlain stakes. She has lifetime purses of $1.54 million, which put her on pace to challenge Put On A Show’s record of $1.89 million for total earnings by a filly pacer at ages 2 and 3.
Young also owned Put On A Show, who skipped the Jugette in 2010 because the Breeders Crown eliminations were 10 days later. Put On A Show won both her elimination and the Breeders Crown final.
“There was no way I was going to go race in the Jugette and then the Breeders Crown the following week,” Young said. “It didn’t make sense to me.”
Put On A Show retired after her 5-year-old season with $2.40 million and the world record for fastest female pacer in history (1:47.3).
“Show and Nitelife are different in their attitudes and how they train, but their results are similar,” Young said. “But when Show finished as a 2-year-old, our thought going into the 3-year-old year was that we had the best horse. We thought we were going to have a great year.
“Nitelife was a different story. She didn’t dominate the way Show did; she toughed it out. Going in this year, I thought I had a top-five filly and was hoping she would come back good enough to get a little better. It wasn’t the same attitude as with Show. It’s more or less a surprise to be that good.”
COLEMAN HOPES TO STEAL THE ‘SCENE’:
Social Scene drew post No. 1 for the first heat of the Jugette and trainer Casie Coleman’s speedster could be poised to use it to her advantage.
The filly is coming off a track-record 1:52.2 win in New York Sire Stakes action on Sept. 11 at Monticello Raceway and also set track records this season at Yonkers (1:52) and Batavia (1:53.1). All three of those tracks are half-mile ovals, just like Delaware.
“She’s a very fast filly, but she’s not the easiest filly to handle,” Coleman said. “Everywhere she goes she seems to either set a track record or she chokes and finishes last. We’re hoping she does the win part.”
Social Scene, a daughter of American Ideal-On The Catwalk, has won six of 11 races this year and earned $166,378.
“The rail is awesome at Delaware; as everyone knows, it’s the best spot to be,” Coleman said. “With her, she can leave a ton if you want, but she’s best if you just let her settle and try to move at the three-quarter pole. If you fire her off the gate she usually gets too revved up and she might choke.
“She’s never raced against a horse like I Luv The Nitelife yet. But she went (1):52 over tracks like Batavia and Monticello and Yonkers; those are some pretty serious miles over those tracks.”
Harness Racing Communications