Lexington, KY — Three of the four 2-year-olds who captured Ohio Sires Stakes finals last year at Eldorado Scioto Downs will have a chance to defend their titles on Sunday (Sept. 5) when MGM Northfield Park plays host to the 2021 Ohio Super Night. Eight $300,000 championships for 2- and 3-year-olds will be contested on the 16-race card that gets underway at 6 p.m. (EDT).
The trio of returning champions include the 3-year-old gelding trotter Perron, the 3-year-old filly pacer Summer Touch, and arguably the biggest star on the star-studded program, the 3-year-old gelding pacer Charlie May, who is currently ranked fourth on the weekly Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll.
A son of McArdle, Charlie May has been on a tear since his disqualification from winning the Meadowlands Pace on July 17 — a track judges decision that has since been appealed — as he’s won four straight, including a world-record 1:48.4 effort in the $300,000 Carl Milstein Memorial on Aug. 14 at MGM Northfield Park.
In the $300,000 championship for sophomore filly pacers (race six), Summer Touch is listed as the 5-2 second choice on the morning line, starting from post two with driver Chris Page. Installed the 8-5 favorite from post three with driver Brett Miller is Smothastenesewisky, who has won half of her 12 starts this year, including a 1:48.4 score in an Open Pace on July 25 at The Red Mile. That is the second fastest mile in the division in North America this year, behind only Hot Mess Express (1:48.3 in the Mistletoe Shalee on July 17 at The Meadowlands).
Purchased as a yearling from breeders Robert Mondillo and Don Robinson for just $3,000 from the Blooded Horse Sale as Tendernob, Smothastenesewisky (pronounced smooth-as-Tennessee-whiskey) comes into Sunday’s OSS championship with career earnings of $190,731 for trainer-owner Brian Haynes.
“I hope so, a win would be nice,” said Haynes, who started training horses in 2004 and is starting his first OSS finalist as a trainer or owner (he helped his father, Keith Haynes, with a couple prior OSS finalists). “My wife (MacKenzie) and I talked about it after the last leg, that there are only eight fillies that get to go to this. It’s just outstanding that we can be one of those eight fillies that go. Not everybody gets to do this, and not everybody gets to race in the final. Some people may not think it’s real big, but it’s a big deal to us.
“And I think Brett can put her in the right place to get her to the winner’s circle.”
The 34-year-old Haynes is currently juggling two jobs as he works from 6 a.m-2:30 p.m. at the Red Collar Pet Foods factory in Washington Court House that produces dog food, before heading to his barn at the nearby fairgrounds. He and his wife are also parents to three boys, all under the age of three.
“I train in the afternoons,” said Haynes, who is currently training just two horses, with another pair turned out. “I work 6 to 2:30 and then my wife meets me at the barn at 2:45 and we start in then.”
A shift in strategy led to Haynes purchasing Smothastenesewisky as a yearling at the 2019 Blooded Horse Sale. A daughter of Nob Hill High, the pacer is out of the unraced Western Ideal mare Tender Spirit. Smothastenesewisky’s second dam, Expressive, is a half-sister to the $1.2 million winner Image Of Dawn and a full sister to the $339,560 winner Copywriter.
“I’ve had babies with my dad before and my wife never had too many babies, so we stuck to claimers,” said Haynes, whose resume includes, in addition to his father, also working for trainers Kayne Kauffman, Jim Arledge Jr. and Jeff Smith. “But she said she wanted to try the babies. We wanted a trotting colt but it went too high, and (this filly) was between a couple of pacing colts we liked. I said she was a little small but she stood good. She didn’t have a lot of pedigree, but my wife said she looks all right. We were just looking for a fair horse. I said, ‘Ok, let’s see what happens.’ I bid one time at $3,000 and signed the ticket. That was my only bid; I was one and done.”
Not fond of the original name, MacKenzie was tasked with finding a new moniker. A fan of country music, she used lyrics from the song Tennessee Whiskey, which had been covered a few times over the years by various artists but became a breakout hit for Chris Stapleton after he performed a duet with Justin Timberlake on the Academy of Country Music Awards show in 2017.
“My wife wanted to rename her so I told her to come up with a name,” remembered Haynes. “I told her to make it fit (with 18 characters or less) and she got it done. That was the year the song came out and my oldest son took a liking to it. He always wants to play it; when he heard it he wanted to dance.”
Smothastenesewisky won eight of nine starts last year at two, including the $60,000 Buckeye Stallion Series final at Hollywood Dayton, and $77,981. Her lone off-the-board finish came when she led into the stretch in a Ohio State Fair race in mid-September at Hollywood Dayton but tired to eighth, an effort that left Haynes bewildered.
“She was very good at two but she had that one bad day at Dayton and you’re allowed to have those,” he said. “We don’t know to this day what happened, so we just chalked it up to a bad day.”
This year Smothastenesewisky’s six wins include a pair of OSS preliminaries that helped place her third on the divisional standings behind Summer Touch and Dragons Lucky Lady (post six, Tyler Smith). However, her season got off to a rocky start before she turned it around when the calendar turned to June.
“The month of May was a little rough,” noted Haynes. “She had some tie-up issues and we found she wasn’t retaining water. She had a quarter crack the night (May 14) she got scratched at Scioto.”
Smothastenesewisky went two-for-two in June and then two-for-three in July, including her 1:48.4 score at The Red Mile.
“I never, never dreamed she would pace that much,” admitted Haynes. “I thought she could pace a very good mile in (1):50 or (1):51, but I never, never dreamed she could pace in (1):48 like that.”
Haynes said Smothastenesewisky has been life-changing for him and his family.
“This has changed our lives quite a bit,” he said. “We’ve paid off some bills and I’m trying to set our boys up.”
Haynes said after paying the supplemental fee, Smothastenesewisky will race in the Ohio Breeders Championship on Little Brown Jug Day at Delaware, Ohio. He also hopes to race her in the Courageous Lady at Northfield Park and the Matron at Dover Downs.
“She wasn’t nominated to anything as a weanling/yearling, and I had to supplement her to the Breeders Championship,” said Haynes. “I staked her to the Matron, that’s the big one we shot for.”