03/21/2017 10:50AM

Harness: Penpal looks to make her mark in 2017

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Mark Hall/USTA
Penpal has earned $288,639 without winning a major stake.

Penpal is yet to come up with a statement win so far in her career, but the now 4-year-old pacing mare has done plenty to enhance her bank statements through two seasons of racing.

A daughter of stallion American Ideal out of the stakes-winning mare Copywriter, Penpal has won four of 28 career races, but earned $288,639 lifetime for owners Patrick Lachance and M&M Harness Racing thanks to picking up checks in 25 of those starts. Penpal, who finished second in two qualifiers this month, is expected to make her seasonal debut later this week at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

“She qualified good,” said Lachance, who also trains and regularly drives Penpal. “We’ll see it how it goes and take it week to week. If she’s real good we’ll try her in a few stakes and see what happens. She was very good last year and came back bigger and stronger. She seems like she matured quite a bit. I hope to see good things from her this year.”

Penpal won two of 17 races last year and earned $204,288. She finished second to two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Pure Country in the Matron Stakes for 3-year-old filly pacers and second to Blue Moon Stride in the Mistletoe Shalee. Penpal, who possesses a strong finishing kick, was in contention in numerous stakes last season, but ran into a deep group of fillies that included multiple-stakes-winners Pure Country, Blue Moon Stride, Darlinonthebeach, Call Me Queen Be, and L A Delight and Newborn Sassy.

“I was happy with her,” Lachance said. “She held her own and made some decent money.

“Speed is her best tool, but she’s tough to manage. She gets really hot and she’s not easy to drive. But she’s very fast.”

Penpal is a full sister to Capital Account, a winner on the New York Sire Stakes circuit and runner-up to Always B Miki in a division of the 2014 Tattersalls Pace. Penpal was purchased for $65,000 at the 2014 Lexington Selected Sale and her family also includes past Lachance star Image Of Dawn.

“I’ve been with that family and had luck with it,” Lachance said. “Her page caught my eye and when I saw her, I liked her. We took a shot at her. She showed ability right off the bat.”

With only four wins to her credit, Penpal still fits in conditioned classes, which will enable Lachance to ease the mare into competition this year. Lachance bypassed the ongoing Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers because Penpal is less handy on a half-mile oval.

“She’s too big and she runs in pretty good,” Lachance said. “Maybe in the future sometime, but I certainly didn’t want to start her (year) on a half-mile track.

“It’s a transition year, and that’s why I got her ready a little bit earlier. I wanted to give her some overnights and see what she’s about. We didn’t want to bring her right into that competition. She’s only got four lifetime wins, so she fits non-winners of five. That leaves her some nice options.”

If all goes well this spring, Lachance will send Penpal to chase her first major stakes victory later in the year. Penpal is staked to events including the Graduate Series, Betsy Ross, Golden Girls, and Lady Liberty.

“It would have been nice to get a big win last year, but it didn’t happen,” Lachance said. “I think that she will (go with the best mares this year). She’s got some options to do some decent stuff.” 

-Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, please visit www.ustrotting.com