The Lady Baltimore stakes at Freestate Raceway Saturday night proved nothing in determining who is the best 2-year-old pacing filly in the country.
What the stakes event did show is that the owners who spend the most money buying up dozens of yearlings each year are the ones most likely to be in the winner's circle.
Coming into the Lady Baltimore, Caressable, Valentina and Follow My Star already were among harness racing's best freshman fillies. But, because of the luck of the draw, each filly raced in a separate division, negating a confrontation that might have determined who was the best of the best.
Instead, each heavily bet filly won its respective division. The first -- and most competitive -- division was won by Joy Hanover. Caressable and Valentina, both driven by Billy Haughton, took the second and third divisions, respectively. And Follow My Star won the fourth division.
Follow My Star and Joy Hanover are owned by Ridgedale Farms of Beverly Hills, Calif. Caressable is owned by Wall Street Stable II, which is run by the flamboyant Lou Guida. Valentina is owned by highly successful Robert Key.
It is big-money owners such as these who are dominating harness racing's major stake events.
Ridgedale Farms' principal owner is businessman Allan Wilk, who last year spent $3 million purchasing 75 fillies -- including $30,000 yearling Follow My Star, who is trained by Bruce Nickells, and Joy Hanover, who is trained by Jeff Mallet.
Saturday night, Follow My Star overcame a three-week layoff caused by a virus to win the fourth division by a head over Cher A Like in 1:59 1/5. It was Follow My Star's 10th win in 11 starts and increased her earnings to $715,786, a record for her age group.
Caressable was one of 20 yearlings purchased by Wall Street Stable II, a syndicate of harness racing investors. She brought $137,000 as a yearling. Her victory Saturday pushed her career earnings to $423,364.
In the third division, Key's filly, Valentina, toyed with the field before winning in 1:59 2/5. Valentina, a $38,000 yearling purchase, has earned $522,396 for Key.