MILTON, January 19, 2023– The 2022 season was as good as gold for Silver Label.
It’s a case of O’Brien Award déjà vu for trainer Nick Gallucci’s proficient pacer, who will look to net the trophy for her connections in the three-year-old pacing filly division.
A finalist at two for rookie pacing filly honours, Silver Label, a daughter of Bettors Delight-Silver Gem, followed it up with an impressive sophomore season, winning six races, along with a pair of seconds, from 14 starts, to go along with $498,138 in purse earnings.
“It was a pretty amazing year she had overall,” said Gallucci. “We were really pleased with what she was able to do. She’s just a special filly.”
Highlights included triumphs in the final of the SBOA and the OSS Super Final, the latter score in a career-best 1:50.2.
“I’ve actually watched that Super Final replay a little bit more, recently,” started Gallucci. “I didn’t realize how fast she was pacing. I thought [stablemate] Prohibition Legal was getting tired, but it just looked like this one hit a different gear that I hadn’t seen from her up until that point. As soon as the rail opened up, she was just gone.”
A change made ahead of the Super Final, one that Gallucci had initially resisted, turned out to be a perfect fit.
“We decided to go with different shoes, which I think helped her. My blacksmith, Peter Hilliard, had been giving me a hard time about putting aluminums on her, but she had been racing so well up until then, that I was pretty hesitant to make any changes. After she finished second to Prohibition Legal in an OSS Gold Leg [on September 26 at Woodbine Mohawk Park], I thought that if we were ever going to take a chance, we should do it now. And it seemed like it really stepped up her game going into the final.”
In her first year, Silver Label, bred and owned by Millar Farms, won six consecutive races to start her career, and finished second twice in eight engagements, and was runner-up to Prohibition Legal in O’Brien voting.
Gallucci, who reached the $1 million plateau in earnings for the third straight year, knew he had a strong prospect in his barn early on.
“You don’t really know until you qualify them, but I had a pretty good idea when she was training around 2:15. She was doing everything so easily, just a really nice filly to have and to be around. She does all the training for me. I didn’t have to teach her anything, she knew what she was doing.”
Silver Label can be, at times, somewhat spirited before she steps onto the racetrack.
Perhaps, noted Gallucci, it’s the bay’s way of wanting to get the show on the road, so to speak.
“She can be a little tricky to deal with in the barns, but she’s completely professional on the track and doesn’t miss a beat. She’s a little feisty and gives her groom a bid of a hard time in the barn and before the race. She’s not mean, but if she doesn’t like what you’re doing, you’re going to know. Maybe that’s why she’s feisty in the barn because she wants to get out there and get to work. On the track, you can see that she wants to compete.”
Come post parade, Silver Label is dialed-in and ready to deliver.
The now four-year-old mare continues to make life easy for whoever happens to be in the race bike.
“On the track – I’ve said this before in an interview – the drivers can do whatever they want with her, and I can do whatever I want with her when it comes to training. She’s a complete professional.”
One that Gallucci is grateful to have in his barn.
It’s a luxury he doesn’t take for granted, something he’s reminded of whenever he watches highlights of his prized pacer.
“Just how natural she is, her gait. She does everything so flawlessly. It’s nice to watch her out there. Her at high speed… there aren’t too many horses you can say put every foot in the race. She doesn’t miss a beat.”
On February 4, Gallucci and Silver Label’s connections will hope to hear her name called at the annual O’Brien Award festivities.
Her competition comes in the form of Divine Art, a daughter of Outrageous Art, who has competed exclusively in Alberta over her career. In 2022, the Nathan Sobey trainee won 13 out of 16 races, including the Alberta Super Final and the Century Casinos Filly Pace, and recorded $251,562 in purses.
Whether Silver Label is feted as Canada’s top sophomore pacer of 2022 or not, Gallucci will continue to hold the multiple stakes winner in the highest regard.
“She’s definitely gold to us.”
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms