It’s a decidedly different spin on the famous song, ‘The Old Gray Mare,’ but indeed a fitting way to describe Frenchfrysnvinegar, the seven-year-old daughter of Angus Hall seeking her second consecutive Breeders Crown Mare Trot title.
She’ll get that chance this Saturday at Woodbine Racetrack.
Frenchfrysnvinegar has travelled plenty of miles, literally, throughout her career, 132 starts that have yielded 30 wins, 70 top-three finishes and just shy of $1-million in lifetime earnings.
A sure sign she isn’t slowing down? Sixteen of those victories have come in the past two campaigns.
For Jody Jamieson, regular driver of Frenchfrysnvinegar, for owner and co-breeder David Smith, the mare still has plenty of tenacity and talent to match.
“Feisty would be an understatement to describe her,” said the driver, who is battling with Scott Zeron and Sylvain Filion for top spot on the Woodbine Entertainment Group's driver standings.
“She’ll bite you and she’ll kick you. She’s tough as nails. But all that said, she is an unbelievable horse.”
There was a time Jamieson never would have believed he’d say those words.
“I thought she was a nice horse, but that maybe her best days were behind her,” he admitted.
“But Jeff (trainer Jeff Gillis) has done a great job. That’s why he’s one of the best in the business.”
Frenchfrysnvinegar continues to deliver top-notch performances (she won at Lexington on October 7, stopping the clock in a lifetime-best 1:52 in the Allerage Trot), but the Ontario-bred’s career didn’t exactly get off to a flying start.
After a modest qualifier in which she finished fourth, nearly 12 lengths back, in a time of 2:01.4 Frenchfrsynvinegar made her first career start, on May 29, 2008 at Mohawk Racetrack. Sent postward at 13-1, she broke stride at the outset and wound up tenth and last, 23 lengths behind the winner, in a time of 2:02.3.
It took seven tries for Frenchfrysnvinegar to break her maiden, four years ago, at Woodbine, returning $26.30 for the milestone win.
Her fortunes have changed dramatically since those up and down times. The statistics say she’s better than ever. She’s 10 seconds faster from her initial start to her most previous race. She’s also won three of her past four starts.
This year, Frenchfrysnvinegar has fashioned 12 top-three finishes from 24 races. Time and again, she’s been able to find winning form after an off-key effort.
Not bad for a horse that was supplemented to last year’s Breeders Crown.
“We supplemented this mare thinking there would only be eight in the race," said Gills, in the aftermath of last year’s hard-fought head victory. "So we took a chance and it worked out. Halfway around the last turn I didn't think we had a chance to win but then part way down the lane I started to think she had a chance."
And as for that old bay mare’s chances on Saturday night, both Jamieson and Gills (last year’s top driver and top trainer O’Brien Award winners), understandably bias, believe she’s certainly suited for another Crown.
“I think she lays over this field,” said Jamieson. “Her form tells me that she’s ready to go. There is plenty of reason to be excited about her. We still have to win it, but she’s a really nice horse.”
“Yes, she can be a handful, but she wants to win,” said Gillis. “Anyone gets up to her bridle – she wants to fight back. She’s a really intense competitor.”
And a horse that has never been better.
The field For The $250,000 (U.S.) Breeders Crown Mare Trot
Post / Horse / Driver / Morning Line
1 / Bax Of Life / Randy Waples / 20-1
2 / Beatgoeson Hanover / Jim Morrill Jr. / 7-2
3 / Pembroke Heat Wave / Doug McNair / 10-1
4 / Cleopatre Duharas / Yannick Gingras /15-1
5 / Pantholops / Corey Callahan / 15-1
6 / Cedar Dove / Ron Pierce / 5-1
7 / Autumn Escapade / David Miller / 6-1
8 / Frenchfrysnvinegar / Jody Jamieson / 2-1
9 / Mystical Starlight / Tim Tetrick / 8-1
10 / Tamla Celeber S / Orjan Kihlstrom / 15-1
First-race post time on Saturday is 6:30 p.m.