Hightstown, NJ — One night a couple years ago while enjoying dinner with a friend, horse owner Elmer Fannin had a thought. If the yet-to-be-raced homebred filly trotter he had in his stable was as good as the wine they were enjoying, she would be something special.
“So, I decided I was going to name her Sorella for the bottle of wine,” Fannin said. “That’s how it happened. It was just an enjoyable dinner, enjoying some good wine, and now I’ve got a good horse.”
Sorella is showing signs of maturing like a fine wine. Last season at age 2, she went off stride in three of her nine starts. Her remaining six races, though, included two wins and two seconds. She won divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Arden Downs and both runner-up efforts came to Sister Sledge, including in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship.
This year, she is 3-for-3. She won the lone division of the W.N. Reynolds Memorial for 3-year-old female trotters last week, when she scored in 1:50.2, the fastest mile of the season by any 3-year-old trotter. One start earlier, she beat a group of Hambletonian-eligible boys in 1:51.2.
“She was good last year but she was shying away from stuff,” Fannin said about Sorella, who in 2019 was trained by Staffan Lind and this year is in the stable of Nancy Takter. “She just wasn’t settled down and was making some breaks. But when she didn’t make a break, she was really good.
“Nancy has done a tremendous job with her. You never know how far up the ladder they’ll go before they stop. But she’s certainly been an amazing filly. She didn’t look like she was all out in her last race. It wasn’t like she was waiting for the finish line to come to her, she was OK going to the finish line. That was great.”
Sorella makes her next start Saturday in the $253,500 Del Miller Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters at The Meadowlands. Sorella will leave from post one with driver Yannick Gingras and is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line. Empire Breeders Classic winner Hypnotic AM is the 3-1 favorite.
All but one of the 11 fillies in the Miller Memorial are eligible to August’s Hambletonian Oaks, but could be entered against the boys in the Hambletonian. Has Fannin given that scenario any thought?
“Yeah, probably all of my life,” he said with a laugh. “To have a filly and beat the boys, who wouldn’t be thinking about it. A lot of people, like Nancy and Yannick, would have a say in that, but we’ll see. She’s got a race this week and we’ll see how she does. You don’t want to get overanxious and get in over your head and not do yourself or the industry, or the filly, any favors.”
Sorella is a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Kadealia. Fannin raced Kadealia, best remembered for a 75-1 upset in the 2008 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old fillies, and retained her as a broodmare following her career on the track. Sadly, the mare died earlier this year while in foal to Father Patrick.
“All of her foals made it to the races, and I thought at some point she was destined to have a good one,” Fannin said. “I’m certainly happy to honor Kadealia with Sorella doing so well. Hopefully Sorella continues on and does well and the Father Patrick (yearling) colt I have will do well next year.”
Fannin, a Delaware resident who with his wife Mary Ann founded custom home builder Country Life Homes a little more than 25 years ago, owns Sorella with Crawford Farms Racing and Brent Fannin.
“We’re just happy to have her,” Fannin said. “We’re just all enjoying it and I’ve got nothing but praise for the trainers, drivers, partners, and, of course, the filly. With her out of the equation, there ain’t any fun for anybody.”
The Miller is part of a big night of racing at The Big M, headlined by the $636,650 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-old male pacers.
In addition, Saturday’s racing includes two $142,250 divisions of the Stanley Dancer Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters, the 13-horse $464,900 Hambletonian Maturity at 1-1/8 miles for 4-year-old trotters, the 11-horse $391,300 William R. Haughton Memorial for older male pacers (as well as a $123,100 consolation), $172,850 Dorothy Haughton Memorial for older female pacers, the 11-horse $194,400 Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old female pacers, and the third leg of the Miss Versatility Series for older female trotters.
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