Trainer Mark Steacy has only one starter in the 2017 Breeders Crown, but his history in these championship races makes Obvious Blue Chip an obvious horse to watch Friday night at Hoosier Downs.
The Canadian horseman has had 11 finalists in Breeders Crown history, winning three of them, which isn’t too bad of an average given the caliber of competition in these races. Steacy won the 2006 Breeders Crown Three-Year-Old Male Trot with Majestic Son, the 2007 Two-Year-Old Filly Pace with Stylish Artist and the 2009 Open Mare Pace with Hana Hanover.
“I usually don’t enter in the Breeders Crown unless I think I have a good chance,” Steacy said. “I think that’s why I’ve been lucky – the horses that have raced in the Breeders Crown have all belonged.”
Obvious Blue Chip is entered in the $500,000 3-Year-Old Filly Pace, race 9 on Friday, Oct. 27 at Hoosier Park, one of six championship events for fillies and mares at the Anderson, Indiana track. Even though she will be leaving from the second tier Steacy likes her chances.
“It seems when the big money is on the line she always gets a bad post, although I’d rather have the trailing position in the 10 hole than the eight or nine hole, so it could have been worse,” Steacy said.
Owned by NLG Racing Stable and Stephen Klunowski, the daughter of Roll With Joe won her last start, wiring the field in the $225,000 New York Sire Stakes for her division. Steacy said he had been called before the Breeders Crown eliminations and was given the option of a bye into the final. He figured skipping the elimination just six days after her NY Sires Stake win would give the filly a bit of breather heading in to the Breeders Crown final. It also meant he didn’t have to ship her as much from his stable in Guelph.
Steacy said Obvious Blue Chip, who is driven by Scott Zeron, is better coming from off the pace than racing on the front end.
“Last time out she was the favorite and racing on a half-mile track, so I think Scott thought that was the best way to control the race and as it turned out that was the right way to do it,” Steacy said. “I think she’s better on a bigger track and coming from off the pace.”
Steacy said the filly was a well-conformed, good-sized yearling, but he wasn’t sure about her prospects because she was by a relatively new sire in Roll With Joe and only the second foal of Put On A Clinic. She sold for $35,000 as a yearling at the Harrisburg Sale. As a 2-year-old, she recorded a victory in her first start but did not win again in nine other races, amassing $35,479.
“She was very lazy training down early as a 2-year-old and never showed any above-average ability,” Steacy said. “The one thing I liked about her was she always tried. She always gave you a little bit more when you asked for it. She never showed anything spectacular, but she always tried and seemed to have that little kick coming home.
"Unfortunately, she drew some bad post positions (in big races), but she could go with them. Coming into this year, I never fully expected she was going to be the best in the New York program. But, she’s got a big heart and tries all the time.”
She won the $257,850 Empire Breeders Classic final at Tioga Downs in August, and four races later placed third in the Jugette. There doesn’t appear to be any standout in the Breeders Crown 3-Year-Old Filly Pace, which is why Steacy likes his chances with Obvious Blue Chip.
“When she left the barn (to ship to Indiana) on Wednesday, she was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and I think she’s going into the race in great form,” he said. “I don’t think it’s as strong a field of three-year-old fillies compared to last year. It’s very open. Some horses step up on certain days and hopefully Friday night will be her day.”