By Mike Paradise
The Joel Smith Stable’s LK’s Nancy Lee will go into Saturday’s Night of Champions ICT stake bonanza in her customary role as an underdog in the $100,000 Plum Peachy Final.
It’s an all-too-familiar position, and a not-so-surprising one at that for the daughter of Yankee Skyscraper bred by her owner Larry Karp Jr. of Hobart, Indiana. As a 2-year-old the chestnut filly went winless in 16 starts and most of those races came in her division.
Her winless freshman campaign did make her eligible for a non-winner of two Late Closer Series during Hawthorne’s winter meet where she did win one $7,000 legs. After a couple of months off she tried her luck in a non-winners of four Late Closer Summer Series at Hawthorne where she did pick-up a second and a third-place check in three series outings.
Then it was time to take on her frequent freshmen foes with the start of the Plum Peachy stake series that would be followed by the Violet, Springfield and then Du Quoin. With the likes of Char N Marg, Bucklegirl Bobette and Whiskerosonkittens in her division the bettors rarely gave LK’s Nancy Lee much thought in any of these events.
LK’s Nancy Lee has never gone off at lower than 5-1 odds in any of her division trips postward this summer and was 16-1 and 21-1 in her Violet starts, 11-1 in the Springfield State Fair showdown and again 11-1 in the Time Dancer at Du Quoin.
To the surprise of many, including me, LK’s Nancy overcame her dreadful draw and popped to the tune of a $61.00 winning mutuel for driver Pat Curtin, subbing for Hiteman who was competing in Indiana. The filly did it with a wicked 26.3 last quarter. Only two older mares on the Friday stakes filled card had a faster last panel.
“Things couldn’t have worked out any better from here from that post,” said her trainer Joel Smith. “Pat floated out of there, picked-up some live cover and filly was really rolling in the stretch.”
It’s definitely time to show LK’s Nancy Lee more respect because she’s earned it. The filly has made almost $50,000 in her sophomore campaign and can add to that total in Saturday’s ICF 3-year-old pacing filly showdown.
The draw did go LK’s Nancy Lee’s way for the $100,000 championship. She landed the pole position and Curtain will be back at her lines. The two through 10-slots will be manned by Whiskeronkittens, Likeafireballshot, Exclusive Design, Bucklegirl Bobette, True to My Heart, Char N Marg, Dandy’s Diva, Ashlee’s Fine Lady and Lexington Lady.
Another major threat on Night of Champions for the Joel Smith Stable is the freshman Fox Valley Nemitz owned by his breeder Fox Valley Standardbreds of Sherman, Illinois.
A five-time winner in starts to go along with one second place finish Nemitz has had only bad performance in his first season and it came at Springfield when he was a non-threatening fifth and the youngster had an excuse for that performance.
“He got real nervous at Springfield and just washed himself out before the race ever started down there. All the excitement and stuff going on at the fair grounds at the State Fair made him a nervous wreck. That’s why we didn’t take him along to Du Quoin.”
Fox Valley Nemitz will leave from post five with Pat Curtin in Saturday’s $100,000 Incredible Finale Championship for state-bred two-year-old pacing colts and geldings. It’ll go as race eight on the 12 event card.