By Ken Weingartner, Media Relations — Carroll Hays’ trotting mare Reign And Shine is a product of Faith And Trust. Yes, that is the name of Reign And Shine’s mom, but it also is a bit of what Hays possessed when he decided to breed Faith And Trust, a pacer, to trotting stallion Cassis six years ago.
Hays raced Faith And Trust and knew she did not care much for pacing. And upon review, her sire, Ft Apache Hanover, had trotting blood in his maternal line going back to the 1970s and earlier. As it also turned out, Faith And Trust’s own maternal family included 1930 Hambletonian winner Hanover’s Bertha.
“I wanted a trotter, so we decided to breed one,” said Hays, a retired coal miner from Illinois who shares the breeding credit with his wife, Diane. “I had a lot of trouble getting Faith And Trust to pace. I was researching the pedigrees and Ft Apache had a mare on his maternal side by Nevele Pride. She went to pacing, so they bred her that way. But it’s in (Faith And Trust’s) blood back there. I thought why not take a chance and it worked out.”
Reign And Shine has won nine of 54 races, hit the board an additional 21 times, and earned $92,458. On Saturday, the 5-year-old competes in the $13,700 Open Trot at Hawthorne Race Course. She will start from post two with driver Brandon Bates and is 6-1 on the morning line.
Last month, Reign And Shine won the $24,000 Winter Wonderland Series final at Hawthorne. She had a streak of six consecutive top-three finishes snapped with a seventh in the Open on Jan. 30.
“I can’t tell you how much fun we are having with her,” Hays said. “We had a little trouble with her as a 2-year-old, but she showed a little bit more as a 3-year-old, and toward the end of last year she just really came on. She’s just amazing to me.
“Her best quality is her finishing drive down the stretch. She can come home with the best of them usually. Now, she’s in the open class and they all come home good, which is the problem. We’re just learning. Last week she was first over, it was just kind of a rough trip for her. We’ll see what happens this week.”
One of Hays’ favorite memories with Reign And Shine came when she was 3. She was racing in an ICF event at Hawthorne and was last in a seven-horse field, nearly 10 lengths from the front, at three-quarters. From there, she fired home to win by 1-1/2 lengths.
“She just kept coming,” Hays said. “It was unbelievable for us.”
Hays got started in harness racing in the mid-1990s when he was asked by a friend who owned a local tavern to join nine others in partnering on a horse. He was hooked immediately. By 1999, he was juggling his work in the coal mine with training a small stable and driving occasionally. In 2007, he finished second in the Tim Fouts Memorial Amateur Driving Championship at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in central Ohio.
Since retiring in 2020, Hays has focused on the horses. In the past 25 months he has seen his training stable earn $125,033 in purses. Lifetime, he has won 28 races and $240,612.
Hays is currently training five horses. Diane, a retired teacher who is still working as a substitute several days a week, and son Henry assist with the duties at the barn.
“This is much better than working in a coal mine,” Hays said. “If you do what you love, you don’t call it work. I’m just having fun. I’m getting too many horses; I’ve got to be careful. But I love to do it.”
Reign And Shine has a full sister, Grace Under Lights, who is preparing for her 2-year-old campaign. Faith And Trust was bred to Dejarmbro last year.
“Her sister looks just as good as (Reign And Shine) does, if not even better,” Hays said. “Things are looking good. Serendipity. Things just keep working out. You don’t even realize it’s working out for you, but it does. It’s just turned out wonderful so far.