Day At The Track

Shipley Stable fillies lead Iowa trotters

11:27 AM 11 Jul 2020 NZST
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Harness racing
Kathy and Tom Shipley celebrate the win with She'll Dew
Gretchen Roland photo

What Cheer, IA - As they do most summer weekends, Tom and Kathy Shipley made the trek from Kahoka, MO to a fairground in Iowa. This Friday (July 10) their pair of 2-year-old harness racing trotting fillies were entered in the first and third races of opening day at the Keokuk County Fair in What Cheer, IA.

Operation Shipley and She'll Dew had both started 2020 strong, each winning half of their starts. Both drew into competitive fields in the Rex Wilkening Memorial Trot for Iowa-Registered 2-year-olds. Three fields of competitors, two fields of fillies and one field of colts, vied for the trophy which would go to the fastest heat.

Each filly has a story that began before they entered for Friday's races at What Cheer, and even before they joined the Shipley stable.

Operation Shipley was born in early April 2018 to Chantilly Hall, a Deweycheatumnhowe mare, on the farm of Ura Gingerich in Seymour, IA. Tom and Kathy happened to be at the farm the day.

"We were there the day she was born," said Tom. "She wouldn't eat."

Tom and Kathy helped with the new foal until she was nursing. Unbeknowst to them, Gingerich named the filly Operation Shipley after the time they spent with her that day. The filly was put in a sale late in her weanling year.

"We didn't know until later that they named her after us," said Tom. "When we saw that, we knew we had to buy her if we could."

Tom and Kathy came home from the sale with their namesake Lou's Legacy filly. They've been high on her ever since.

"I've liked Operation Shipley from the time we got her going," said Kathy.

Kathy also liked She'll Dew from the moment she saw her. Shipleys had travelled to Andy and Julie Merritts to look at another horse when they first saw the Canadian-bred Iowa-Registered filly.

"We didn't want any more horses - we had all that we could handle - then Gingerich's told us about this horse Andy Merritt had, so we had to go look at him," said Tom.

While Tom was checking out the colt they had come to see, Kathy noticed She'll Dew.

"I saw the mare standing in the stable and he (Andy) started telling me about her." said Kathy.

She'll Dew is a Royalty for Life filly out of the Plesac mare Frosty Flirt. Kathy had an instant connection.

"When I was still out messing with the gelding, Kathy wrote the check for the mare,"said Tom.

"When Tom got back I handed him the check and said 'Here, give this to Andy'," said Kathy.

Luckily Tom liked her too. "She was a nice looking mare. She just floated over the ground when I was jogging her. "

The Shipleys are known for their trotting fillies.

"Honestly I'd rather have a filly than have a colt. I think they're a little more mature," said Tom.

They have had top trotters including two-time Iowa champion filly Bankn-On-Emily who just won in 1:57.4 at the Meadows on July 8. Shipleys remain modest.

"We've had years where we didn't have anything," said Kathy.

"It's just luck," Tom agrees.

Shipleys luck has continued with a strong start to the 2020 season. With four starts and two wins, Operation Shipley was coming off a winning 2:09.4 mile at Humboldt last weekend. She'll Dew has racked up three wins in six starts, with her last win two weeks ago at this same track at What Cheer in 2:07.1, coming a last quarter in 30.1.

"I was pretty nervous about She'll Dew because she made a break last week," said Tom. He added a headpole for her race today.

The Shipleys have teamed up with driver Royal Roland in most of the fillies' starts, and he's driven in all of their winning miles. Shipleys don't have any special instructions for him.

"Royal gets long with them really well," said Kathy.

Both fillies won their respective heats. She'll Dew won in a gate-to-wire 2:06.1 performance. Operation Shipley, missing part of her front right shoe, clocked in the fastest 2-year-old trot of the day in 2:05.1, winning the Rex Wilkening Memorial Trot blanket.

Since they were foaled in Iowa, Tom and Kathy can race the fillies through the end of September in the state, but they'd like to see She'll Dew make her way up to Canada as she's paid into some bigger races there.

Operation Shipley and She'll Dew will have next weekend off for the Iowa Sires Stakes, with their next opportunity to hold off the competition at the Southern Iowa Fairgrounds in Oskaloosa in two weeks on July 27.

by Gretchen Roland, for the for the Iowa Harness Horse Association

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