07/22/2015 9:49PM

Meadowlands: Johansson sends out talented filly in Miss New Jersey

Lisa Photo
Wicked Little Minx has never finished worse than third since moving into the Nancy Johansson barn.

Going into 2015 trainer Nancy Johansson undoubtedly expected Horse of the Year JK She’salady to carry the mantle for her in the 3-year-old filly pacing division. With that star on the shelf until perhaps late September, Wicked Little Minx has grabbed the baton and looks to run with it in the $100,000 Miss New Jersey on Saturday night at the Meadowlands.

Wicked Little Minx was last seen in pari-mutuel action in the $300,000 James Lynch final on July 4 at Pocono Downs where she finished fourth despite starting from post eight and racing uncovered for much of the mile. After an unscheduled two week break she qualified sharply at the Meadowlands in 1:51 4/5.

“She wasn’t eligible to the Mistletoe Shalee and the Non-winners of 4 (races) didn’t fill, so I had no choice but to give her time off,” said Johansson about Wicked Little Minx’s schedule.

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Despite a 2 for 18 lifetime record, Johansson remains high on the daughter of Rocknroll Hanover-Beachy Lady, who she began training in mid-May after an unsuccessful stay in the Ake Svanstedt barn.

“She hasn’t missed a check since I got her,” said Johansson, who changed the filly’s training methods. “She is still a little green and probably needs about another month, but we trained her on the straight track this morning and she was really strong.

“She’s a big filly; like a diesel Mack truck. I definitely think the big track could help her,” said Johansson.

Wicked Little Minx faces a difficult task on Saturday tackling some of the better foes in her division while stuck in post 10. Regular driver Brett Miller is once again listed to drive.

Mistletoe Shalee favorite Stacia Hanover could take on that same role once again despite finishing a disappointing ninth that night. She starts from post three with Scott Zeron expected to drive. Another likely contender is Fan Hanover runner-up The Show Returns, who leaves from post seven with John Campbell.

For Johansson, regardless of the outcome on Saturday, she is dreaming big with the young lady she has only trained for six starts. “I would not be surprised if at the end of the year she is the best of all of them (in her division).”

For that to happen, Wicked Little Minx will have to deal with stablemate JK She’salady at some point. Johansson said her stable star is “nice and sound” and was back jogging Tuesday despite remaining on antibiotics for a few more days.

“We are going to take our time brining her back,” admitted Johansson, adding that a return around Lexington’s Grand Circuit meet at The Red Mile seemed realistic.

Johansson will also send out a pair of 2-year-olds on the 13-race card at the Meadowlands. She reported that JK Heaven Sent (race four) was hitting his knees at Tioga and was hoping that the bigger track would help straighten him out.

JK Fannie, who starts from post 10 in the opener, made a break in the New Jersey Sire Stakes final last Friday. “Yannick (Gingras) tapped her with the whip and startled her,” said Johansson, who spoke highly of the 3 Brothers Stable-owned filly.

Post time for the Saturday card is 7:15 p.m.

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