By Ken Weingartner, USTA Media
It has been 25 years since Continentalvictory became the last filly to defeat the boys in the Yonkers Trot. Joviality S will try to be the next.
Joviality S will take her first step toward attempting to duplicate Continentalvictory’s accomplishment on Friday (June 24) when she meets six male rivals in the first of two $40,000 eliminations of the MGM Yonkers Trot for 3-year-olds at Yonkers Raceway. The top-four finishers from each elim advance to the Yonkers Trot final on July 1.
The Yonkers Trot is this year’s first jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown, followed by the Hambletonian on Aug. 6 at the Meadowlands and Kentucky Futurity on Oct. 9 at the Red Mile.
Joviality S, undefeated in three races this year, is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in her Yonkers Trot elimination, starting from post five with Brian Sears driving for trainer Marcus Melander and owner Courant Inc.
Joviality S has won her three starts in 2022 — two divisions of the New York Sire Stakes and the Empire Breeders Classic for 3-year-old filly trotters — by a total of more than 20 lengths.
She captured her seasonal debut in 1:53.2 at Yonkers, just one-fifth of a second off the track record established by Plunge Blue Chip in 2018, and won the EBC in 1:51 at Vernon Downs, only two-fifths of a second off the track record set by Atlanta, also in 2018.
Prior to this year, the last time a filly was entered in the Yonkers Trot came in 2009, when Celebrity Athena challenged the boys. She finished fourth in her elimination and eighth in the final.
The decision to enter Joviality S in the race rather than the companion New York New York Mile filly trot was made after seeing how she came out of last Friday’s EBC race.
“Everything felt good on Sunday when we jogged her, so in that case it was an easy decision to put her in there,” Melander said. “Obviously, everyone has seen she’s been very good this year. She’s done everything right so far.
The first race at Yonkers when she just jogged in (1:53.2) after only one qualifier, I wasn’t expecting that. And she’s been getting better and better for every start. I just have a lot of confidence in that horse.”
Joviality S, a homebred daughter of Chapter Seven-Pasithea Face S, is undefeated in three lifetime starts around the half-mile oval at Yonkers, where she won last year’s New York Sire Stakes championship. Other triumphs in 2021 for Joviality S included the Breeders Crown and Goldsmith Maid.
For her career, she has won 12 of 15 races, finished second twice, and earned $1.04 million.
“She grew a little bit (from last year) but she’s a very feminine-looking horse,” Melander said. “What she developed most is probably her speed. Even though she was fast last year, I think she found another gear this winter. It really feels like that. She’s always been good, she’s always been strong and tough, but she’s stepped up her game even more.
“She’s a very laidback horse at home. She does her work but not more than that. But when she comes to the racetrack, she knows what it’s all about. She just gets her game face on. That’s how she works. That’s probably why she’s so good, too, because as soon as she steps off the track, she takes care of herself. That’s important.”
After winning the Yonkers Trot in 1996, Continentalvictory captured the Hambletonian a month later as part of a Horse of the Year campaign and Hall of Fame career. Melander, though, is focused only on Friday.
“We’ll take one race at a time,” Melander said. “I’m excited to race her there and we’ll see how she does.”
Dover In Motion, an Indiana Sire Stakes champion last year and winner of nine of 11 career races, is the 4-1 second choice in the first Yonkers Trot elimination. Jordan Stratton will drive the gelding for trainer Jamie Macomber.
The morning-line choice in the second elimination, at 2-1, is Empire Breeders Classic male champion Justice. The colt has won five of seven lifetime races for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. Double Deceiver, a Kentucky Sire Stakes champ last year, is the 7-2 second choice. David Miller will drive the gelding for trainer Carter Pinske.
Friday’s card at Yonkers, which begins at 6:55 p.m. (EDT), also includes two eliminations of the Messenger Stakes for 3-year-old male pacers. For complete entries, click here.