11/24/2017 5:46PM

Meadowlands: Johansson sends out strong ladies in Three Diamonds, TVG

Lisa Photo
Kissin In The Sand (above) will battle with Youaremycandygirl in the Three Diamonds final on Saturday at The Meadowlands.

Trainer Nancy Johansson has more than made a name for herself in the industry. First as the conditioner of 2014 Horse of the Year JK She’salady, she established her credentials. On Saturday, Johansson will send out a pair of pacing fillies, one with what appears a limitless future and the other at the end of her racing career.

Kissin In The Sand earned an inside draw and starts from post two in the $381,200 Three Diamonds at the Meadowlands by virtue of an overpowering victory in the single elimination last week. The Somebeachsomewhere-sired filly landed post two and that will give her an edge of sorts over early season sensation Rainbow Room (post 9) and Breeders Crown and recent Matron winner Youaremycandygirl (post 10) in the evening’s fifth race.

“I think post position is overrated on a mile track,” Johansson said. “But I would rather have an inside draw.”

Johansson has been more than pleased with Kissin In The Sand from the start of the season. “She was good the first time we turned her,” Johansson said.

A $130,000 yearling purchase at Harrisburg last year, the filly has an imposing bottom line to her pedigree from the gifted family of Camluck that has produced an endless amount of quality pacing fillies over the last 20 years.

“I’d like to be the last to the lead,” said Johansson, hoping that the outside posts take a little of the strength from the talented Three Diamonds rivals. “The drivers took it easy on her in the early races but they’ve gotten more aggressive with her and I think she likes it that way. She’s never been passed once on the front end.”

Driver Yannick Gingras remained loyal to Kissin In The Sand prior to the Shes A Great Lady, but since that race he’s guided Youaremycandygirl to four straight victories. The American Ideal-sired filly has won eight of her 10 starts this year and could conceivably lock up this division with a victory.

Rainbow Room has hit the board in all 11 of her juvenile starts for trainer Joe Holloway. The filly has a royal pedigree, showing Horses of the Year Somebeachsomewhere and Rainbow Blue as her parents. She will be driven by David Miller.

Johansson believes that Kissin In The Sand, who will have Tim Tetrick in the bike, has the size and stamina to return next year as a top sophomore prospect. Stablemate Darlinonthebeach will be making her final career start in the $175,000 TVG Mares final, race seven of the 13 programmed.

“She had a uterine staph infection around the time of the Roses Are Red,” said Johansson, reflecting on the multiple of pitfalls that have derailed the impeccably bred pacing mare. “It was very difficult for us to get her back. First she had to recover from the infection and then we had to find a place to race her back into shape. There were no races for her in New Jersey so we sent her up to Ontario.”

That conditioning has paid off quite nicely and Darlinonthebeach hopes to surpass the $1 million plateau in career earnings with a quality performance on Saturday.

“Brett thought he had gone too fast with her last week,” said Johansson about the quick three quarter clocking. “But she was strong finishing. She’s the type of horse that’s difficult to train in 2:20 because you think you are going at 35 second clips and you look down and realize she’s going much faster.”

Darlinonthebeach drew post five in the TVG Mares final with Brett Miller again in the bike. She’s fresh off a 1:48 3/5 clocking this past Saturday under less than ideal conditions.

With 17 victories in 44 starts heading into the TVG Mares, Darlinonthebeach has had an up and down career with the unfortunate valleys between some epic performances. “Something always seems to happen to her,” said Johansson. “Last year it was A-fib (Atrial Fibrillation) and this year the infection.”

Still, Darlinonthebeach, who will face seven solid rivals on Saturday including Breeders Crown champion Pure Country (post 2), hopes to close out her career with a winning performance and move on to the next portion of her life.

“She’s going to be bred to Always B Miki,” Johansson said. “That foal will be something.”

First post at The Meadowlands for Saturday’s Fall Final Four and four TVG finals is slated for 7:15 p.m.