By Ken Weingartner, USTA — Having already secured her first million-dollar season, trainer Chantal Mitchell will look to keep the good times going when she sends out Baroness Hill and Sweet Amira in Friday’s Breeders Crown eliminations at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. The two fillies have been healthy contributors to the stable’s purse total, combining for $458,211 in Canadian earnings.
“They’ve never really put in a bad race for me this year,” said the Ontario-based Mitchell, who has sent out two Breeders Crown starters in the past, Alicorn in 2019 and Sweet Amira in 2022. “Maybe had some bad luck, but they’ve been very consistent themselves. I’m very happy with both of them.”
Sweet Amira, a 3-year-old female pacer, was a Breeders Crown finalist last year at Woodbine Mohawk Park, where she finished fourth behind three fillies that she will meet again in Friday’s second of two $25,000 elims: Sylvia Hanover, Charleston, and Strong Poison. Sylvia Hanover, who has 17 wins and two seconds in 20 career races, is the No. 2-ranked horse in the current Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll.
This year, Sweet Amira has hit the board in 10 of 13 races, winning five, including a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. She was third in the James M. Lynch Memorial, second in a division of the Simcoe Stakes, and, most recently, second behind Sylvia Hanover in a division of the Glen Garnsey Memorial on Oct. 8 at Lexington’s Red Mile.
Sweet Amira has made one previous trip to Hoosier Park, finishing fourth in the Nadia Lobell Stakes on June 30. Strong Poison won the race in a track-record 1:48.
Sweet Amira has not missed the board in her last seven races heading into the Breeders Crown eliminations.
“She’s always right there,” Mitchell said about the daughter of Sweet Lou-Bolt Of Thunder. “She’s got the talent; she just needs to have a little racing luck.
“She raced great in Kentucky. She’s traveled for me. We shipped to The Meadows, we shipped to Pocono and Indiana, and the Red Mile. She’s handled it all really well. She’s not a finicky filly in that way. It gives me confidence going back to Hoosier for the second time.”
Louis-Phillippe Roy will drive Sweet Amira, owned by Lindsey & Connie Rankin, from post five in her Breeders Crown elimination. The top-five finishers from each elim advance to the $600,000 final on Oct. 28 at Hoosier. Elimination winners draw for posts one through five for the final.
Baroness Hill will compete in the first of two $25,000 elims for 3-year-old female trotters. The field includes returning Breeders Crown champion Special Way, Hambletonian Oaks winner Heaven Hanover, Kentucky Filly Futurity winner Mommamia Volo, and Kentucky Filly Futurity runner-up Walner Payton.
“You expect to race against those horses in the final, but you hope to avoid some of them in the elim,” Mitchell said with a laugh. “It’s a pretty tough group, but you’ve got to race them sometime.”
Given time to mature physically and mentally, Baroness Hill raced only twice as a 2-year-old but won both of those late-fall starts at Mohawk.
This year, she has one win in a division of the Ontario Sire Stakes, and nine top-three finishes in 14 races. She has missed the board only once, a fourth-place finish in the final of the Elegantimage Stakes, in her past 11 starts. She heads to the Breeders Crown off a second-place finish in the Ontario Sire Stakes championship last weekend.
“Her year has been good,” Mitchell said. “It started out a little rocky, we had some issues making breaks, but they weren’t ever really her fault. It always seemed like she was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Then, her confidence was down. Once we got her back trotting and got her confidence up, she’s been extremely consistent.”
Baroness Hill, a daughter of Kadabra-Secret Passion owned by Tom Hill, will start Friday from post six with driver Doug McNair. The top-five finishers from each elimination will advance to the $600,000 final on Oct. 28.
“She’s had a lot of inside post draws this year, which normally is a good thing, but for her it wasn’t great because at Mohawk it’s tougher to leave off the inside of the gate,” Mitchell said. “But she always gives you a hundred percent. She gives you everything she’s got.”
Mitchell, who in 2021 became one of only four female trainers to crack the WEG Top 10 for wins in 20 years, has won 35 races this season and $1.01 million in Canadian purses. For her career, she has 324 victories and $5.84 million in Canadian earnings.
“I’m very proud of it,” the 36-year-old Mitchell said, referring to hitting the million-dollar mark. “I’m proud of my team, and I’m proud of the horses. For the most part, we bring them to the track and they perform for us. I’m happy with that. They might not always win, but they’re usually right there.”
Racing begins at 6:15 p.m. (EDT) Friday at Hoosier Park. The card also includes eliminations for 2-year-old pacers. For more on the eliminations, click here. For complete entries, click here. For free daily program pages, click here.