We are talking today with Joe Holloway. Joe is one harness racing's top trainers. He has trained many of harness racing's best pacers, including Jennas Beach Boy who's 1:47.3 race record stood for nearly 20 years. He has also trained two champion fillies, She's A Great Lady in 1995 and Lady Macbeach in 2000, They both went onto win divisional honors for pacing fillies.
He recently astonished the harness industry when Shebestingin paced a mile in a world record time of 147, shattering the record for her division by more than one full second. The mile put the three-year-old filly in historic company as not only the fastest filly, but also within one-fifth of a second of joining Somebeachsomewhere, Holborn Hanover, and Warawee Needy as the fastest Standardbred ever in a race. This has set up one of the great match-ups in harness racing with Shebestingin and I Luv The Nitelife going head and head in the Breeders Crown final this Saturday. The harness world is anxiously awaiting this showdown between two of the biggest stars in our sport. This one-on-one interview was done by Harnesslink's Brian McEvoy.
HLINK: Congratulations on your world record performance by Shebestingin in 1:47 at the Red Mile. How did she come out of the race, and what have you done to prepare her for the showdown with I Luv The Nitelife in the Breeders Crown final?
JH: She came out of the race just fine. We just got to see how things pan out on Saturday.
HLINK: Let's go back to last year. Shebestingin raced only 3 times last year. She was shutdown after scratching in the Sweethear Pacet. She came down with a stress fracture. Tell us about the injury and her 2-year-old campaign. Did you know you had something special?
JH: David Miller drove her in her first few starts and thought very highly of her. She did really good at Tioga. We traveled with her to the Sweetheart and we scratched her. It was the first time I had that injury. She just needed stall rest to heal the injury.
HLINK: You brought Shebestingin out early as a 3-year-old. Was that because she was so inexperienced?
JH: Yes I raced her in the Weiss Series at Pocono, and that is why. It's tough to bring them out later when other horses have more seasoning and horses go so fast now. That was my intension.
HLINK: Tell us about her 3-year-old campaign, the ups and downs?
JH: Well she does have that problem with the gate, which caused her to break in the Valley Forge. I thought she was ready to race super that night, but she didn't go. In the Empire Breeders she races very well, pacing in 1:49 at Tioga. She raced really well in Lexington. It's like any thing else. When they race great all things are very good and when they don't thinks are not so good.
HLINK: You have lost three times to I Luv The Nitelife this year, the Lynch, Valley Forge, and Mistletoe Shalee. You had a classic stretch battle in the Lynch and she broke at the Valley Forge. Give us some insights into those races.
JH: In the Lynch, as it turned out, I Luv The Litelife had a bad post. On the first turn Ms Cailia J Fra made a break. We ended up getting away decently and had to race first over. We got beat. We raced well, but she did beat us their. In the Mistletoe Shalee she raced a little flat that day. You can't have any excuses. The races are what they are. She's beaten us two times and hopefully we can turn the tables this week-end.
HLINK: She scratched of of the Jugette. What happened and were you disappointed?
JH: I wasn't disappointed. They had 10 horses in one race and i had the seven hole with two trailers. It was a riduculous race to put her into, so I just didn't go.
HLINK: Shebestingin has never been sharper in her last two races. This has been capped off by the amazing world record performance at the Red Mile. Did you ever think she could pace in 1:47, and when you looked up at the time were you amazed?
JH: Surprised, yes because of the 1:47. I expected her to pace in 1:48. I really thought she had a shot to pace in 1:48. I was surprised she went in 1:47. I know she is very high speed horse. That she was able to get a world record was not a surprise to me. The 1:47 was a surprise to me.
HLINK: What happened when she broke at the start and they had a recall?
JH: She does have that bad habit. When she paces fast she is very good gaited. When she going slow she prefers to canter. She was just coming or she shied away from something. They were just turned around and they started again.
HLINK: This has happened now two times. Is this a problem with the starting gate or what is the problem?
JH: It just when they are going slow. She would prefer to take off. When they are pacing she is just fine. She does not run when she's going.
HLINK: You have trained some amazing horses. You have had two divisional filly champions in She's A Great Lady and Lady Macbeach. Is Shebestingin your best filly ever?
JH: It's like picking among your kids. They are all special for different reasons. She is a great filly. It is so tough to compare her to She's A Great Lady because she was so dominate. We haven't been dominate. We haven't beat Nitelife. We have had a great year, but she has beaten us those times. Tough to say if she is the best horse. She is a very fast filly and maybe she develops even more next year. I may change my mind next year.
HLINK: You have the inside post with Shebestingin drawing the 5 post and I Luv The Nitelife drawing the 7 post. Pocono Downs is a speed favoring track. Will you look to be on or near the front? What is going to be your strategy?
JH: That is David Miller's job!! I don't have to figure that out for him. He has to do something to earn his money. He will figure that out.
HLINK: You have had both Brian Sears and David Miller drive Shebestingin. What are your thoughts about having David drive in the Breeders Crown?
JH: David drove her in the baby races. He has always liked and believed in the filly. I was just a little angry after the Valley Forge race. That was my fault. Brian did a good job driving the horse. He has always been a friend of mine. I know David believes in the filly, and that goes a long way.
HLINK: What are your plans for Shebestingin for the rest of the year, next year, and in the future?
JH: Hopefully we will go in the Matron and the Nadia Lobell. We will shut her down and bring her back next year
by Brian McEvoy for Harnesslink.com