The connections of Maryland-based Sweet Goodbye have a goal in mind: hitting the $1 million mark in earnings with the 6-year-old mare.
William Harris’ Sweet Goodbye needs $315,928 to get there, a pretty tall order. But she did score her biggest payday to date in the $250,000 TVG Sugar Maple Stakes at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races April 16.
The $145,500 winner’s share of the purse in the seven-furlong stakes for fillies and mares put her career earnings at $684,072. The margin of victory was 6 1/4 lengths on a sloppy track; the win came on the heels of another romp in an open allowance test at Charles Town for Sweet Goodbye, a Maryland homebred by Louis Quatorze out of the Thirty Eight Paces mare Thirty Eight Steps.
“Her last two races were really impressive,” trainer Chris Grove said of Sweet Goodbye. “She drew off like she wanted to go even further. Maybe she has gotten her confidence back.”
Sweet Goodbye, who trains at the Bowie Training Center, finished second in last year’s Sugar Maple. After a fourth-place finish in a stakes at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in late May, she was put on the shelf.
The popular mare returned to the races in January at Laurel Park with a third-place finish in the What A Summer Stakes at six furlongs. A fifth-place finish in the grade II Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel, however, was uncharacteristic.
A second-place finish in the Conniver Stakes at Laurel and the two Charles Town wins, however, seemed to turn things around, said jockey J.D. Acosta, who has ridden Sweet Goodbye in 20 of her 21 starts; he didn’t ride the mare in her career debut in June 2008.
“I was concerned before her last three races,” Acosta said after the Sugar Maple, in which Sweet Goodbye led from start to finish. “She was running the same but I don’t know why she didn’t go on with it in her first two races this year.
“Other horses didn’t show as much speed here, so I just waited for them as long as I could. I didn’t want to push her too much. I hit her left-handed at the eighth-pole and she just took off. Everybody wants to ride a horse like this. Chris (Grove) always gives me a chance.”
“She loves the slop and she loves this track, so it was a no-brainer to come here,” said Grove, who had cross-entered Sweet Goodbye in the $75,000 Primonetta Stakes at Pimlico Race Course the same day. “She’s dangerous on the front-end.”
Grove said the mare would get a “little time off” but could be entered in the $75,000 Skipat Stakes at six furlongs May 21 at Pimlico on Preakness Stakes (gr. I) weekend.
“We’re trying to get her to $1 million (in earnings) like Silmaril,” Grove said.
Grove trained Silmaril, a Maryland-bred by Diamond who won 16 of 36 starts for earnings of $1,032,973 for Stephen Quick and Christopher Feifarek, her owners and breeders. Silmaril won 12 stakes, including the Endine at Delaware Park and Pimlico Breeders’ Cup Distaff (both gr. III), and was retired after winning the What A Summer at Laurel in January 2008.
Sweet Goodbye, now 12-for-21, has won seven stakes, including last year’s Barbara Fritchie at Laurel.