She’s so consistent. She’s so classy. She’s so talented. She’s… So Nice. Six year old pacer So Nice has become a fixture in the Fillies and Mares Open at Saratoga Casino Hotel in the past few seasons. Trained downstate by conditioner Amber Buter, So Nice is an out-of-towner by definition only. In reality, the speedy distaffer has called Saratoga home for much of the past two years, competing pretty consistently in the Friday night Open for the ladies.
Since the beginning of her career in 2012, So Nice has simply been terrific. As a freshman filly, So Nice earned more than $38,000 behind one victory in just three seasonal starts. It was as a sophomore, though, that she really emerged piling up her first $100,000 year (and not her last) behind four wins in just twelve starts at the age of three. So Nice continued to display the consistency that has been ever present throughout her career when at age four, she hit the board in 20 of 36 starts en route to another strong campaign. It was in that season that she debuted at Saratoga and competed a handful of times against the track’s top lady pacers.
It was in 2015 as a five year old when So Nice really made her presence felt in the Fillies and Mares Open at the Spa. Enjoying success at each of the several tracks she visited last year, the nomadic So Nice entered the record books at Saratoga with an historic performance when she has set the track record for aged pacing mares on the final weekend of the meet. The Buter trainee secured her first victory in the local Open in August after a pair of runner up tries in the $18,000 Friday feature but it was on a chilly December evening when the durable made mare history. Mark Beckwith sat behind So Nice for the first time and after coming away fourth in the early going, made a quick and impactful move to the front end. Besting eventual 2015 Filly and Mare Pacer of the Year at the Spa Super Soph, So Nice blasted away from her rivals for a commanding eight length victory. In the romp, So Nice stopped the timer in 1:52, the fastest time in track history for an aged pacing mare. The win was the sixth of the season for her to go with four seconds and seven thirds. As impressive of a resume that So Nice has put together, she wrapped up the 2015 with thirteen career victories but with fifteen seconds and eighteen thirds. As solid and consistent as So Nice had been throughout her first four years of racing, she had a bit of a tendency to come up second or third best. Though she has done quite a bit of winning out of town this year, that trend has continued for much of ’16 in her local starts.
The final race of last year didn’t exactly serve as a precursor for what was to come in 2016 for the-now six year old mare. At least not in the early stages of the campaign anyways. So Nice went one for thirteen to begin this year. Could she be regressing a bit? The answer, we now know, is a resounding no! The mare secured a victory in a conditional race at Saratoga in mid May when she dropped and popped. And from there, she took off. So Nice rattled off back to back jacks at Pocono Downs before returning to the Spa to compete in the Open. She was faced with the task of battling a winning machine distaffer named Velocity Vespa who, to date, has piled up 29 wins in the last two seasons. On August 12th, So Nice paced 1:52 but it was only good enough to be the runner up to Velocity Vespa who broke So Nice’s record for aged pacing mares. In fact, Velocity Vespa became the fastest female pacer in the 75 year history of the track after stopping the timer in an eye-popping 1:51.3. Following a couple of tries coming up shy of Velocity Vespa, So Nice shifted to Tioga Downs for a pair of starts where the rock solid mare went two-for-two in the Open.
Following her brief stint in central NY, So Nice returned to town to compete in the $16,000 Fillies and Mares Open in mid-September and was again faced with the tall order of tackling Velocity Vespa. Starting from post position five and getting a pocket trip in each of her next five starts at the Spa, So Nice piled up second place finishes. She was the runner up in her first four starts after returning to town to bring her total to five consecutive in the local Open. In three of those tries, So Nice was defeated by Velocity Vespa who has dominated and become perhaps the one to beat among local mares in the race to be named Filly and Mare Pacer of the Year. After five straight seconds in the Open, So Nice finished third to Velocity Vespa in a blanket finish in the start leading up to Friday night’s feature.
So Nice was aggressive in the early going on Friday and on this night, driver Mark Beckwith was taking no prisoners with the mare who came into the race with over $400,000 in lifetime earnings. Trying to shake her recent bridesmaid status, So Nice set blistering fractions on the front end on the chilly autumn night and opened up a big lead after pacing three quarters in 1:23.3. Velocity Vespa was faced with the challenge of coming from off the pace, albeit not from far back as she got away third in the five horse field. So Nice built an imposing lead and she wound up all alone at the wire. Her final time of 1:51.4 actually bested the mark she set last December for a track record but was later eclipsed by Velocity Vespa. It was the ninth win of the year for So Nice but just her second in the local Open as she finally flipped the script on Velocity Vespa making that one settle for second best. Before Friday, in twelve starts this year in the Open, So Nice had five seconds and three thirds but just one win. She doubled her win total behind a dominant effort which resulted in her going over the $100,000 mark for the season in what has been a career year for the hard-hitting mare who has been a picture of consistency since coming to the Spa a few years back and after a host of consecutive second place finishes, is a bridesmaid no more.
Live racing takes place every Thursday beginning at 4pm and continues every Friday and Saturday starting at 6:45pm. Sunday matinees are carded each week kicking off at 12:15pm. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!