‘Vixen’ set to debut for new connections

Ken Weingartner

Hightstown, NJ – Ester Balenzano enjoyed great success with her homebred male trotter Melady’s Monet, and now hopes to rekindle some of that magic with a recent acquisition, 4-year-old female trotter Perfect Vixen.

Melady’s Monet retired at the age of 13 last August with 86 wins – which tied for the 11th most victories by a trotter in history – and $2.04 million in purses. Ester purchased Perfect Vixen a little more than a month later, following the then 3-year-old’s win in the $50,000 New York Sire Stakes Excelsior Series “A” championship in her final start of the season.

Owner Ester Balenzano will watch her 4-year-old trotter Perfect Vixen make her first start of the year Friday at Freehold Raceway. Hermann Heitmann Photo.

Perfect Vixen hit the board in 16 of 18 races last year, winning 11. Overall, the daughter of Muscles Yankee-Foxy Zette, captured 12 of 26 starts and earned $119,267 for previous owners Edward Reich and Irwin Lampert and trainer Scott Mongeon.

Hermann Heitmann, who trained Melady’s Monet over the course of the gelding’s final four seasons, is training Perfect Vixen. The mare will debut for Ester and Heitmann in Friday’s (Feb. 24) $12,000 Preferred Handicap at Freehold Raceway.

“It was a great opportunity to purchase Perfect Vixen at the end of her 3-year-old season because she is an extremely talented mare,” said Ester, who races as Melady Enterprises LLC. “I’ve discussed her future with Hermann, and she will be brought along slowly with the hope that as she matures this year, we can race her in higher stakes next year.

“Hermann is an excellent conditioner and always puts the horse first, as do I, and that is why I’ve always had a lot of success with him.”

Perfect Vixen has excelled on half-mile tracks during her career, picking up 11 wins and hitting the board a total of 16 times in 20 starts. She will race on the half-mile ovals at Freehold and Yonkers Raceway to begin this season, and her schedule could include the John Brennan Trotting Series, which starts April 5 at Yonkers.

Her new connections are no strangers to success on half-mile tracks. Melady’s Monet won 65 times on half-mile circuits, including 57 at Yonkers, which is the most triumphs for any horse there in at least 30 years.

“(Perfect Vixen) is made for a half-mile track with her size,” Heitmann said. “She’s very good and she’s got a good attitude. She likes to go. I don’t have to do anything. I’ve got no complaints at all.”

Perfect Vixen, who qualified with a win in 1:58.4 at Freehold last week, will start Friday from post eight with Eric Abbatiello in the sulky. She is 8-1 on the morning line in the eight-horse field. Miss McKee, who was second in last week’s Preferred Handicap, is the 7-2 favorite.

“It’s tough to start right away from the eight hole, but what are you going to do,” Heitmann said. “We’ll start her a couple times at Freehold, and then we’ll see at Yonkers.

“She’s only 4, and the 4-year-old year is always a tougher one. We’ll see how she develops. We have to take one step at a time, but she is very nice so far.”

Racing begins at 12:30 p.m. (EST) at Freehold Raceway. For Friday’s complete entries, click here.

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