Chiodo is dreaming big with Breeders Crown duo

Ken Weingartner

Hightstown, NJ — As trainer Stacy Chiodo prepares for her Breeders Crown debut with Shezafreaklikeme and Beach Crazy in Saturday afternoon’s single elimination for 3-year-old female pacers at The Meadowlands, the 20-year harness racing veteran can hear her grandmother’s voice.

“She always used to say to me, you can’t just do something a little bit, can you?” Chiodo said with a laugh. “We never did this before, but let’s drop two in (to the Breeders Crown).

“I always say dream big, and you can’t get much bigger than the Breeders Crown.”

The New Jersey-based Chiodo, who has 124 lifetime driving wins, is enjoying a career year as a trainer, with $425,210 in purses, thanks in part to the success of Beach Crazy and Shezafreaklikeme.

Beach Crazy, a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Crosswinds Cupcake, has won four of 18 races and earned $91,538. She won the consolation division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship and finished second to Blue Diamond Eyes in the Adioo Volo Stakes.

Shezafreaklikeme, a daughter of Sweet Lou-Nf One Rose, has won two of 21 races and $54,632. Stacy Chiodo Facebook photo.

Shezafreaklikeme, a daughter of Sweet Lou-Nf One Rose, has won two of 21 races and $54,632. She won a division of the Liberty Bell on Sept. 30 at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

The top-eight finishers from Saturday’s 10-horse elimination will join bye recipients Test Of Faith and Scarlett Hanover in the $600,000 Breeders Crown final on Oct. 30 at the Big M.

“I know they’re not the best horses going in there by far, but it is a horse race, and anything is possible,” Chiodo said. “I’ve always dreamed of doing it and I just felt like this is the year because these are probably the two nicest fillies I’ve had. They’re going in very sharp and it’s at The Meadowlands, so maybe there is a home-track advantage.

“They earned enough money that I figured I could cover the starting fee and still sleep at night,” she added with a laugh. “I’ve gambled on worse things in my life.”

Shezafreaklikeme is owned by Chiodo Racing, which also bred the filly. The filly’s mother is a full sister to past Chiodo star Mighty Young Joe, who Chiodo trained and drove throughout his 11-year career. The gelding earned $537,279 lifetime and posted a best win time of 1:49.3 at age 11 in 2014. The triumph made Chiodo the first female driver in history with a sub-1:50 mile.

Unraced at age 2 because of growing pains, Shezafreaklikeme won her second lifetime start at The Meadowlands, even though she drifted to the outer rail in the stretch. Over the course of the season, Chiodo has tinkered with the filly’s equipment to help her improve. In her three most recent races, she had gone with an open bridle.

“Everybody that’s driven her has said she has so much ability, and I’m like this close to getting it,” Chiodo said. “That’s why we’ve been tinkering with some different things. For the most part, she’s really come around. The fact she won the Liberty Bell was very special and it was pretty impressive the way she came first-over. She’s not the same horse when she’s in front. She loves having a target, to run a horse down.”

As for the filly’s name, it comes from the world of music.

“I love hard rock/heavy metal music,” Chiodo said. “There is a song by a band I like called Halestorm. The song name is Freak Like Me. There was already a horse named that, so I just added the Sheza in front of it. The song has a bit of meaning for me and the horse has turned around to have a little bit of meaning for the song.”

Shezafreaklikeme will start from post one and have Andy Miller in the sulky. She is 8-1 on the morning line.

Beach Crazy, who leaves from post eight with driver James MacDonald and is 15-1, is owned by Chiodo Racing, Jeffrey Shore, and Robert Barr. Shore and Barr bought their first horses last year and now have several with Chiodo.

“The ride they’ve had with Beach Crazy is just awesome for them,” Chiodo said. “I let them make the decision whether to go to the Breeders Crown. They decided they wanted to give the Crown a shot. They’re very excited about it and I couldn’t be more thrilled for them.

“I love her attitude,” Chiodo added about the filly. “She’s just an absolute sweetheart to be around. She doesn’t do anything wrong. She tries hard. She’s got some early speed, so if one of mine had to draw the outside, it was probably better it was her.”

Fire Start Hanover, the returning Breeders Crown champion, is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in Saturday’s elimination. Multiple Grand Circuit stakes winner Grace Hill is the 7-2 second choice followed by Kentucky Championship Series final winner Blue Diamond Eyes at 4-1.

“I get some butterflies throughout the day just kind of thinking about it,” Chiodo said. “But I did not change any of their routines, I didn’t say I have to train them faster this week, I just left everything the same. I’m very happy with the way they’re going at the moment.

“If they’re capable of beating two horses and getting in the final, then that’s an accomplishment in itself. I can’t do much more at this point. It’s just up to them to show up and beat two on Saturday and I’ll be a thrilled owner, trainer, you name it. It’s exciting.”

Racing begins at noon Saturday. The card also features Breeders Crown eliminations for 3-year-old male pacers, 3-year-old male and female trotters, older male and female pacers, and older female trotters. For complete entries, click here.

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