Everyone wants to know her secret. Given her current streak—10 victories in 13 races, with three second-place finishes—Stacy Charette-Hill has been fielding lots of questions about how she has come to dominate the quarter horse standings in her first season at Canterbury Park.
The explanation for her extraordinary success, she said, is quite ordinary. Charette-Hill brought a stable of swift young horses to Shakopee, accompanied by a staff dedicated to preparing them for peak performances. The trainer also is quick to admit she’s had a healthy dose of good fortune, a trend she hopes will extend to Friday’s Mystic Lake Northlands Futurity.
Charette-Hill ran six horses in the trials for the richest quarter horse race in the track’s 27-season history. Five advanced to Friday’s finals—claiming half of the available spots — and four of them will run for a purse of $133,525. Her barn produced the three fastest qualifiers, including High Ace and Mighty Coronas First, the top two morning-line choices in the field of nine.
In her 24 years as a quarter horse trainer, Charette-Hill said she never has experienced a streak like this, nor did she expect one. She is enjoying it, knowing how rare it is—and how hard she and her crew have worked for it.
“I’m absolutely tickled to death,’’ said Charette-Hill, who brought 15 horses to Canterbury from Oklahoma. “Honestly, I came up here with some pretty nice horses. Everybody is saying, ‘What are you doing, Stacy?’ I’m not doing anything different than I’ve ever done. I just needed some luck to go along with it.’’
Through the first 25 days of the 69-day racing season, her 10 victories put Charette-Hill atop the quarter horse trainer’s standings, four ahead of Brent Clay and Vic Hanson. Her horses have won $53,075, trailing Clay and Amber Blair, but winning 77 percent of her races puts her far beyond her competition in that metric.
The fat purse of the Northlands Futurity — pumped up this year by $27,500 in purse-enhancement money from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community — drew her to Canterbury. Charette-Hill’s team includes her husband, Randy Hill; Shawna Webster, 20, whom she considers a daughter; Russell Newman, who has worked with her for 28 years; and jockey Jorge Torres, who leads the quarter horse riding ranks with 12 victories in 20 starts.
Before she struck out on her own in a profession dominated by men, Charette-Hill briefly considered a career change — “a real job in an office,’’ she said, “with dresses and heels.’’ She stayed in the equine world, where she has become an exacting businesswoman. Raised on a North Carolina dairy farm, Charette-Hill learned the value of sweat equity early in life, and she made it the cornerstone of her racing operation.
A lifelong love of horses led her to a successful career in barrel racing. A former husband led her to Oklahoma and to racing, and she has run her own stable since 1989. Charette-Hill finished sixth in the trainer’s standings during the spring season at Oklahoma’s Remington Park with 17 victories in 121 starts and $323,117 in earnings.
She thought three of her horses had a good shot to advance to the Northlands Futurity finals. High Ace led the 55 trials contestants with a time of 17.692 seconds — faster than the finals record of 17.74. One of her qualifiers, Little Miss Party Doll, will not race because of a minor injury; Charette-Hill’s other four will line up next to each other in post positions four through seven.
Her only complaints about Minnesota are the mosquitoes and the paucity of quarter horse races. Canterbury typically runs two per day, and Charette-Hill is urging track officials to run more. She even has offered to bring more horses from her Oklahoma farm — a daunting proposal to those chasing her in the standings.
“Racing has the highest highs and the lowest lows,’’ she said. “When you’re on top of the world, it’s wonderful.’’