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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

RED MILE VIA GARDEN STATE

By Ken Weingartner, USTA — Robynlee Reichard grew up in central New Jersey — prime harness racing territory — but until recently never was involved in the sport. Now that she is, she is having a blast.

Reichard owns White Shoe Hanover, who on Thursday will make his Grand Circuit debut in the first of five Bluegrass Stakes divisions for 2-year-old male trotters at Lexington’s Red Mile. White Shoe Hanover is Reichard’s first racehorse and represents her entire stable.

Trained by Nifty Norman, White Shoe Hanover has three wins in five starts and heads to the Red Mile off a two-length 1:56.4 victory over Highly Motivated, who is in Thursday’s fourth Bluegrass group, in a Keystone Classic division Sept. 16 at The Meadows.

White Shoe Hanover will start his Bluegrass test from post six in a field of eight with David Miller in the sulky. The gelding, who will be seeking his third consecutive win, is the co-third choice on the morning line, at 5-1.

“I’ve been around Standardbred racing all my life,” said Reichard, who is a small animal veterinarian. “I grew up in Cream Ridge, N.J., and everybody raced. My family was never into it, but I always had friends whose families were. It always piqued my interest.

“My partner is Dwayne Pash (who works for trainer Ron Burke, primarily shipping), and we’ve been going to the races and going to Kentucky and the yearling sale. I decided I would like to buy a yearling and see how it goes. I’m in the process of getting out of my current business and reinventing my career, and I thought it would be fun.”

Reichard attempted to buy a horse at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale this past October but came away empty-handed. A month later, she purchased White Shoe Hanover, a son of Greenshoe-Wood Blue Chip whose family includes 2011 Yonkers Trot winner Leader Of The Gang, for $40,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale.

“This is the guy I wanted, and I was lucky enough to get him,” Reichard said. “We’re having a blast with him.”

Early on in his development, White Shoe Hanover struggled with going off stride, but he began to turn the corner after being diagnosed with the neurological disease equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM).

“Ever since we treated him, he’s continuously improved,” Reichard said. “He made a couple little breaks in the beginning, but now he seems to have gotten the idea of what racing is all about. He’s stepping up to the plate, and we’re having fun.”

Reichard is looking forward to watching White Shoe Hanover compete at the Red Mile after qualifying and racing on only five-eighths-mile tracks so far.

“It’s his first time on a big track and it’ll be interesting to see what he thinks of it,” Reichard said. “He’s big for a 2-year-old, and he just keeps growing, and he’s got a big, long stride. I really like his gait. And I think he enjoys racing; I’ve had a couple people tell me that. I see it too. He has the will to race. I think that’s going to really help him in the long run.”

For the remainder of this season, White Shoe Hanover is eligible to the International Stallion Stakes, Simpson Memorial, Liberty Bell Series, and Breeders Crown, but Reichard is taking one step at a time. Just to make it to the Red Mile, a trip the horse earned thanks to his Keystone Classic triumph, is special.

“The horse had to lobby hard to get to Kentucky,” Reichard said with a laugh. “But he stepped up. We’ll see what happens.”

As for her future as a horse owner, Reichard has no immediate plans to expand her stable.

“I’m enjoying this one for now,” she said. “For now, that’s where it’s at. We’re having too much fun with this guy.”

Other trotters that will be in action in Thursday’s Bluegrass splits include undefeated (4-for-4) Kentucky Sire Stakes Championship Series winner Karl, who is the 6-5 morning-line favorite in the fifth-and-final division, as well as unbeaten (also 4-for-4) New Jersey Sire Stakes king Sig Sauer, who is 9-5 in the second group.

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