Hill Top Mares

Stacy Charette-Hill will saddle two mares in Distaff Challenge.

Stacy Charette-Hill and Jess Paint Your Lips. PHOTO: Richard Chamberlain

Remember the old saying about parting being such sweet sorrow? Saturday night will be sweet sorrow for Stacy Charette-Hill.

The trainer from Lexington, Oklahoma, will send out Jess Paint Your Lips and Honeymoon Candy in the$105,000 Boehringer Ingelheim Distaff Challenge Championship (G1) at Prairie Meadows. She’s had both of them since they were weanlings, but when she loads them into the trailer after the Challenge Championships at the track in Altoona, Iowa, she will say goodbye as they continue stepping up in their racing journeys.

“I hate to see them go,” Stacy says. “They’re both part of the family because my husband, Randy, and I’ve had them ever since they were babies. Both of them were raised on our place, we’ve done everything with them, the whole works.”

Both mares are homebreds racing for Michael Pohl of Colorado Springs, who since 1983 has bred 28 stakes winners and the earners of more than $8.2 million. Jess Paint Your Lips and Honeymoon Candy will go to California, where Juan Aleman will point them to Grade 1 races such as the Charger Bar and Millie Vessels handicaps.

“We feel like we owe it to them to go out there to California,” Stacy says. “We think they deserve the chance to see if they can compete in the big filly and mare stakes out there, the Charger Bar and Millie Vessels and Distaff Challenge, those kind of races.”

Jess Paint Your Lips is a 4-year-old sorrel by champion Jess Louisiana Blue ($170,682), who has sired 41 stakes winners and the earners of more than $15.1 million. The mare is one of four winners and the earners of more than $176,000 out of the Corona Cartel mare Paint Your Lips, a full sister to leading sires PYC Paint Your Wagon and Ivory James, whose dam is the Strawfly Special mare Dashin Follies and whose second dam is world champion Dashing Folly.

Jess Paint Your Lips has won two stakes and five other races in seven career outs for earnings of $71,950. She won the 2016 Prairie Meadows Derby Challenge and comes into the Distaff Challenge Championship off a half-length score in the September 29 Lone Star Distaff Challenge in Texas.

“Jess Paint Your Lips has had seven outs, won six and was third once,” Stacy says. “She is a pretty nice filly, but has had some pretty hard luck and some health issues. She is wonderful to handle, just as laidback as she could be. She’s a big mare. You’d never really know she’s a racehorse – doesn’t have a care in the world, nothing bothers her. She goes to the track and does her business. Then we bring her back to the barn and she relaxes and takes it easy. She’s been a blessing, a big blessing.”

One of 93 stakes winners and the earners of more than $28.1 million by PYC Paint Your Wagon, the 5-year-old Honeymoon Candy is one of four stakes winners out of the winning Mr Jess Perry mare Jess Send Candy, who has produced the earners of more than $2.8 million. Honeymoon Candy is a half-sister to the Carl Pevehouse-bred champion and All American Futurity (G1) winner Jess Good Candy ($2,014,703).

With earnings of $96,362, Honeymoon Candy has a career record of 21-5 (1)-4-8 (3). The mare won last year’s Prairie Meadows Distaff Challenge the same day that Jess Paint Your Lips came home in the Derby Challenge. Winless this season, Honeymoon Candy ran third in the May 14 Remington Distaff Challenge (G3) but gained her berth at Prairie Meadows when the first two finishers declined theirs. She comes into Distaff Championship off consecutive second-place runs in allowance company on September 1 and September 16 at Prairie Meadows.

“Honeymoon Candy’s been a blessing as well,” Stacy says. “She’s had some health issues, also, but she’s got a wonderful disposition. You’d never know she’s in the barn. She wants her cookies every day – she’s a Cookie Monster. She loves Mrs. Pastures Cookies – and only Mrs. Pastures. She won’t eat Calf Manna treats or anything else. She loves Mrs. Pastures. I told my husband she’s a $20 a week horse. She is wonderful to work with, good to do anything you want. She’s very cooperative – you can put her in the ice tub and walk away and she’ll never get out of it. She’s a fast learner and does everything she’s supposed to do. She’s been that way from the day we started her. I’ve had her ever since she was a little weanling, so I’m going to miss her greatly.”

So, another couple of horses graduating, another few lessons learned. A Grade 1-winning trainer who has conditioned the earners of more than $8.6 million, Stacy ran horses at the first Challenge Championships in 1993 at Sunland Park, at Los Alamitos last year and pretty much every season in between.

“Many years ago, when they first had the Challenge Championships at Los Alamitos (in 1994), I had my horses in Blane Schvaneveldt’s barn,” she says. “Blane came to me one morning, said, young lady, when you think you know everything in this business, you’d better quit, because you never quit learning or you’re fixin’ to fold. I’ve never forgotten that.”

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