owgirl Hall will start from post ten in the $500,000 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old trotting fillies on Saturday (Oct. 27) at Woodbine Racetrack. The 2012 New York Sire Stakes champion has a mark of Q1:54.4s and $386,152 in earnings -- 100 percent of them in the state of New York.
The daughter of-Centerfold Hall has been ultra-consistent throughout her career, winning or hitting the board in eight of nine races last year and 13 of 15 starts this year. She races at morning line odds of 20-1 for owners Ted Gewertz, Michael Rosenthal, Jean Brunet and Deborah Burnet, but she's already overcome much higher odds just to stay on this side of the planet.
"She keeps her condition very well," said trainer Gates Brunet (brother of Jean and husband of Deborah Brunet). "I realized that last year when she got injured as a 2-year-old. She punctured her shoulder joint. It was right after she raced against Check Me Out (on July 14, 2011, in the Tompkins-Geers stake at Tioga Downs). She was about ten lengths back at the half; the track record was 1:57.4 and Check Me Out went in 1:56 and beat us by 2-3/4 lengths.
"Two days later, she punctured her shoulder on a nail, apparently, in the stall and ended up with a shoulder infection," said Brunet. "It wasn't a laceration, you could hardly see a trace of blood; it obviously went right to the joint. We didn't think she was going to make it. They were lobbying for me to put her down because 90 percent of horses with a shoulder joint infection don't make it.
"It wasn't a good prognosis when I first brought her in (to Cornell University Veterinary Hospital). Then the next day they (surgeon Dr. Lisa Fortier) did arthroscopic surgery on her and the news was good. The synovial fluid didn't look that bad. The white count was only about 28,000 and it can be in the hundreds of thousands when it's really bad.
"Bottom line, she made it. She stood ten days in the stall (at Cornell) and two or three days before that, we tried to treat her at the track. (After leaving Cornell) we brought her back for a week slow jogging and in spite of that, about three weeks from the day she left Cornell, she won Historic Stake at Vernon (on Sept. 2, 2011).
"She qualified (prior to that start) in 2:00.3 under severe restraint. All I needed was a little qualifier. She went the last quarter in :28.4 and I was strangling her. In that race (Historic Stake), I drove her myself and she won handy, in 1:57, last quarter in :28. She's a smallish filly and very athletic and holds her condition.
"I can't remember one or two times I was more devastated than that day when I took her to Cornell. The owners were all high. I'd had pneumonia and I couldn't drive her (in the Tompkins-Geers), so Fern Paquet drove her and he told the owners he could have beat Check Me Out that day. He looked at the chart and saw he made up eight lengths, but if he'd left with her, maybe he could have won. Everyone laughed, but he wasn't laughing.
"Then two days later I had to call them up and say she's on death watch and I don't think she's going to make it. We had to wait until the next day for the surgery; it was really crushing."
Brunet says Cowgirl Hall enjoys a commuter lifestyle at his home base at Vernon Downs.
"We've had problems with her tying up, but she's overcome that with a routine. As a matter of fact, I'm sitting in my La Z Boy at home, looking out the window and she's out there bucking right now. We keep her at home all the time, she comes home every day in the truck and trailer. She jogs or trains and then she‘s standing at the gate waiting to come home. When the weather's nice in the summer she's out all night. This time of year, she's out in the afternoon and she's been solid that way, and never had any problems. It's a 20 minute ride each way. She knows the trailer really well, she ships really well."
Despite riding to work with the "boss" Cowgirl Hall is not exactly best buddies with Brunet Stable staff.
"She's got attitude, like most fillies do," said Brunet, whose wife Debbie works with him caring for the stable horses. "Last year, the first of May I realized this was my best one, she really separated from the rest. I told Debbie, ‘You've got to take care of this one, she's the best.' Debbie said, ‘No. No way.'"
Gates Brunet is having a career training year in 2012. Horses from his stable, who race heavily on the New York-bred circuit, have made $703,461 to date. His previous best year was 2005, when the stable brought in $524,846. His training "batting average" is .336, again a career best for years in which he had more than 10 starters.
$500,000 Breeders Crown Final-3-Year-Old Filly TrotPost-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Line1-Check Me Out-Tim Tetrick-Ray Schnittker-4-5 2-Win Missy B-Ron Pierce-Charlie Norris-6-1 3-Miss Paris-Rick Zeron-Nifty Norman-25-1 4-Bluff-TBA-Ron Burke-20-1 5-Personal Style-David Miller-Nifty Norman-8-1 6-Maven-Yannick Gingras-Jonas Czernyson-6-1 7-Dream On Hanover-Randy Waples-Staffan Lind-25-1 8-Sassy Syrinx-John Campbell-Paul Reid-20-1 9-D'Orsay-Corey Callahan-Jonas Czernyson-25-1 10-Cowgirl Hall-Jim Morrill, Jr.-Gates Brunet-20-1 11-Chilitodayhotamale-TBA-Trond Smedshammer-15-1
by Ellen HARVEY, Harness Racing Communications