Laurel Park Next Stop for Well-Traveled Sweet Willemina

Laurel Park Next Stop for Well-Traveled Sweet Willemina

6YO Mare Among Field of 10 for Saturday’s Thirty Eight Go Go
Jackpot Super High Five, Rainbow 6 Carryovers for Friday

LAUREL, MD – When asked to expound on his indefatigable mare, Sweet Willemina, trainer Scott Lake doesn’t have to think long.

“She’s a beast. There’s no other word to describe her,” Lake said. “She’s a beast. She loves getting on the van. She’s shipped all over the country since I’ve had her. She’s been everywhere. She just does her job, and she loves her job.”

The latest stop for Richard Clavardone’s Sweet Willemina comes Saturday in the $100,000 Thirty Eight Go Go at Laurel Park, her 49th career start and 34th for Lake, a winner of more than 6,300 races over 3 ½ decades that has seldom seen a mare maintain her form into her 6-year-old season.

“Not like that, especially shipping everywhere and doing it,” he said. “They’re very rare.”

Sweet Willemina fetched just $1,100 as a yearling in the fall of 2018 but has gone on to earn $605,020 in purses with a record of 17 wins, two seconds and 16 thirds. Sixteen of those wins – including stakes victories in the 2021 PTHA President’s Cup and Claiming Crown Glass Slipper – have come since being claimed for $32,000 in the summer of 2021 after winning just one of 15 starts.

“I had someone tell me that it was the worst claim in America when I took her,” Lake said. “I remind him about it all the time.”

The short-term plan Lake had when he claimed Sweet Willemina has turned into a long-term love affair for a horse that has become a barn favorite.

“I took her with an idea. Parx wrote those [$16,000] starter races, never won two lifetime and never won three lifetime, so you knew if she could go through those two conditions then she’s paid for. And then if she could win the never won four starter and the a-other-than, you’re ahead on her and you can run her for anything you want,” Lake said. “She just kept getting better. She’s won at nine different distances if you count the one-turn mile, the two-turn mile and a three-turn mile. She’s been unbelievable.”

Sweet Willemina debuted in May 2019 at Churchill Downs and has raced at 15 tracks in 10 states in the East and Midwest, registering wins at Churchill, Parx, Delaware Park, Gulfstream Park, Aqueduct, Mahoning Valley, Mountaineer Park and the Maryland State Fair Meet in Timonium. She has raced once previously at Laurel, finishing 10th in the one-mile Heavenly Cause last April.

“I ran her the one time there and she really wasn’t at her peak. She was kind of in a little bit of a lull which, for her, has never really lasted long,” Lake said. “She runs one or two mediocre races and then she jumps back up again. That really was kind of in her lull period. She didn’t run her best race that day, for sure.”

Sweet Willemina takes a three-race win streak into the 1 1/16-mile Thirty Eight Go Go, where she drew Post 8 under jockey Angel Cruz in a field of 10 that includes multiple stakes winners Hybrid Eclipse, Malibu Beauty and Intrepid Daydream, Argentinian group-stakes winner Milagrosa Surena, Grade 3-placed Opus Forty Two and two-time Maryland-bred champion filly Luna Belle.

“She’s kind of risen to the occasion for what she runs against,” Lake said. “She shows up. We looked at like she’s earned a shot at something like this, so let’s go do it.”

Notes: Pinochle Partners’ 5-year-old gelding Fole’s Nation ($84.40) ran down 3-2 favorite Disputed Claim to snap a 16-race losing streak with a 40-1 upset of Race 6 Thursday, a seven-furlong allowance for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-olds and up. The winning time was 1:25.22 over a fast main track … Richard Hoffberger and trainer Alexandra White’s 3-year-old Fun Notion ($4.20), beaten a neck or less in his three prior starts, broke through with his second career win in Race 7, an entry-level allowance for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-olds and up, covering 5 ½ furlongs in 1:02.11 on a firm Dahlia turf course … There will be carryovers of $2,761.09 in the $1 Jackpot Super High Five (Race 6) and $1,698.66 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 4-9) for Friday’s nine-race program that begins at 12:25 p.m.