The current Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Horse of the Year, Dancinwiththestarz recently retired after a tendon injury in the Jugette last year ended her racing career.
Her connections were and still remain jubilant Dancinwiththestarz collected the trophy as Pennsylvania’s Sire Stakes Horse of the Year, but the fancy hardware will assuage the bitter disappointment of their world champion not ever returning to the track.
“She was in training up until Sunday, April 10,” explained Wendy Springs, who co-owns the 4-year-old mare with her husband Skip and Shannon Brott. “She sustained a tendon injury last fall during the Jugette and we were bringing her back slowly, but the leg was not able to hold up, so consequently our hopes and dreams of returning her to the races have been totally abolished.
“I’m accepting it now, but you didn’t want to be around us on Sunday or Monday,” she continued. “Today we are rationalizing it and in fact, on Monday we put her on a trailer headed to Blue Chip Farms and she was covered by Rock N Roll Heaven (2010 Horse of the Year).”
The NJ-bred daughter of Four Starzzz Shark and So Western was purchased by her connections for $39,000 at the 2008 Standardbred Horse Sale in Harrisburg, Pa. The filly, who was conditioned by Mark Harder for the last nine starts of her career and was previously trained by John Stark, Jr., is a half sister to the 2003 Sweetheart victress So Artsi and enters her second career with a lifetime record of 26-16-6-2 and a bank account of $918,615.
PA Sire Stake Victor
At two, Dancinwiththestarz triumphed in the $200,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Final at The Meadows and the $105,250 Kindergarten Classic Final at Vernon Downs. Last year, the filly won several Pennsylvania Sire Stakes events, the $30,000 John Simpson Memorial Final at Tioga Downs, a division of the $88,000 Tarport Hap and finished second to this year’s Dan Patch award winner Put On A Show in her Mistletoe Shalee elimination before establishing a new world standard of 1:48.4 on August 7 in the $275,000 final, which she accomplished from the nine hole.
‘Dancin’ as she is known around the barn, headed to Chester Downs to take on Put On A Show once again in the $335,000 Valley Forge on August 22 and once again drew an outside post position (7). After a rough trip she finished second to her rival.
Her next start on September 4 was a hard fought victory in the $200,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Final and she proceeded to finish to Put On A Show once again in the $171,000 Nadia Lobell at The Red Mile after drawing yet another outside post position (7) while the other filly left from the rail.
In what would be her last appearance on the racetrack, Dancin finished third in her first Jugette heat after being hampered by post position nine and slightly interfered with after A and G’s Princess broke stride in the first turn. After she was checked, the filly went off stride and although she spotted the field many lengths strode with purpose on the outside to get herself in the final.
“She got pushed out into the center of the track on the first turn,” remembered Spring. “In order to avoid a collision, Brian (Sears, her driver) see-sawed her and she went off gait for about two strides. When he got her back on gait, but I’m not sure how many lengths the field was ahead of her by, but it was many.
“We know she was a 100 percent sound coming into the race and we know she was sound during the hour they give you between heats, so we went ahead and put her in the final,” she continued. “She was almost there and the one that won it (Western Silk) naturally had the advantage of an inside post position (1), but we were beaten by a good horse. I want that to be clear, but the outside post position (5) was difficult for her to overcome in the first place and then when she was put out of the race by the horse on the first turn we were fortunate to just do what we did. She braved right up and went for it and that was the kind of horse that she is. She just missed.”
In an interview with the United States Trotting Association shortly after the first heat had concluded, Brian Sears was obviously disappointed Dancin had not hit the wire first and would not leave from an inside post position for the final.
“She had to check, but she didn’t have to break,” he said. “Even with all that, she still raced better than anything else in that race.”
About a week later, the filly began to exhibit signs something was amiss.
“It was about eight days later when the tendon trouble surfaced, so we are almost 100 percent positive it happened on that first turn in the Jugette,” Spring said. “It definitely was an injury. It wasn’t caused by fatigue or other ongoing processes because she had been 100 percent sound going into the Jugette, but it’s the gamble of racing.”
The Springs were very optimistic Dancin would return to the racetrack this year and to her prior form. They had even looked into embryo transfer so their star mare could continue to race and produce a foal.
“We instigated the embryo transfer process about a month ago and right now it’s unclear to use whether or not we will continue in the ET direction being that she is now through with her training,” Spring explained. “We may prefer to let her carry her own embryo and raise her own baby, which is what obviously a mare of her caliber, we would like to her to do. As soon as she is declared in foal, I guess we will abandon the ET idea and go on with her, but it is getting kind of late in the season right now to be doing too much overthinking.”
Regardless of what the future holds for Dancin as a broodmare, she will be returning home by June 1.
“She’s at Walnridge in New Jersey right now but she will be coming home to our farm in upstate New York,” Spring said. “My husband had a talk with her after her world championship mile and told her she would never have to find a new home: she will always be ours.
“We were really very happy she was chosen for the award,” she continued. “Any mare that has done what she has done under the circumstances she’s faced is pretty incredible and we are blessed to have her; she earned it. She is a special mare for us and we are looking forward to her having a baby right here at our farm. The only reason we started out with the ET program were for reasons that were obvious. We were starting her back, but if she didn’t follow through on her racing career, we certainly didn’t want to miss the opportunity of getting a foal from her this year and it looks like we are definitely going to have that.”