Relative newcomer Eli Schwartz relishing the success of his trainee Somebodyslilly

The homebred sophomore pacing filly is perfect in her last four starts at Harrah’s Hoosier Park, including a 1:50 lifetime best score.

by James Platz

Eli Schwartz is known for his work with many equine breeds, but lately his racehorse, Somebodyslilly, has generated plenty of attention in the Hoosier State. The 45-year-old is breeder, owner and trainer of the 3-year-old pacing filly, a recent Indiana Sires Stakes winner at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. Schwartz is relatively new to harness racing, a sideline that he is enjoying tremendously with his streaking sophomore.

“I started training horses and I got an outlaw about five years ago. Her name was Baby Jo-Jo. Nobody could train her,” said the conditioner. “I got hooked; I really enjoyed it.”

Baby Jo-Jo did not accumulate hefty earnings or rack up multiple wins for her owner, but that did not matter. Schwartz, a northern Indiana native that has spent time around horses since the age of five, liked the experience training and racing the Palone Ranger filly, twice a runner-up in 13 starts. Now living just across the state line in White Pigeon, MI, he purchased the Artiscape mare Somebody’s Artist and bred her to Indiana stallion Time To Roll. Prior to Somebodyslilly’s arrival in 2017, the mare had produced three previous foals, all starters. So Shanelle, a Panspacificflight filly, took a sophomore mark of 1:52.4 while earning $30,230 during her career.

Somebody’s Artist never produced another foal; however, Somebodyslilly has become the late mare’s greatest success. Early in her development, Schwartz could have been discouraged in the progress of his pupil, but she provided glimpses of what would come.

“If you would have watched her jog coming as a 2-year-old she looked at the ground and jogged like 12 miles an hour and that’s as fast as we could go,” he said, laughing. “So, it didn’t look very promising at the start. But as other people tried to go around her jogging, she never let anybody around her. Even at home, she won’t let them. She really does have a lot of heart. I saw that as a two year old. She started coming along real good. She digs in and hates to lose. She’s very competitive.”

In his day job, Schwartz is a body worker, spending his time performing massage therapy and equine dentistry on horses of all varieties. His focus is on balancing out a horse using a holistic approach. While his experience spans a many breeds, he considers standardbreds his specialty.

“It’s always something that calms my soul,” he said of the work, which has taken him across the United States.

In her limited racing experiences, Somebodyslilly has blossomed into a top-caliber sophomore in short order. At two, she made 10 starts with two trips to the winner’s circle in overnight events and a pair of runner-up performances in Indiana Sires Stakes action. The filly missed a check twice with Aaron Stutzman listed as trainer, and her consistency nearly earned a spot in last fall’s Super Final. Her 1:52.1 2-year-old mark was taken in mid-October.

“I don’t really believe in racing 2 year olds hard. I like good 3 year olds, and I like them to mature,” Schwartz said. “We just about made it to the finals last year, which was a big surprise for me. That was amazing to me, just to watch where she was and how she started developing. It’s been a lot of fun.”

The 2020 campaign began with a seventh-place finish in her debut before pacing third in the second leg of Indiana Sires Stakes action, held July 17. In that event, Somebodyslilly kicked home in :25.3 to close from seventh to hit the board. Mike Oosting was in the bike that night, and has steered her in each start since.

“Earlier this season, we ran into some kinks with her. When she went around a turn, she made this really weird step,” said the breeder. “It turned out she had thyroid issues and it affected her ovaries. When we figured out what was going on and fixed it, she could handle the turns better. I knew we were going to be in for a good season.”

Somebodyslilly is perfect in her last four starts. Following the third-place effort, the 3-year-old stormed to a six and one-half length triumph July 25, stopping the clock in a lifetime best 1:50. She backed that up with a 1:51 score in the third leg of ISS action, crossing the wire five lengths in front of the nearest competition. On Dan Patch night, Somebodyslilly turned in a solid 1:50.1 performance leading into her latest test, a 1:50.2 victory over favored Mystical Carrie in the fourth round of sires stakes held Saturday, Aug. 22. The latest score pushed her career earnings into six figures.

“We just started with her. I feel like there is a whole board to be played. I’m just going off of her and what I’m seeing,” Schwartz said. “I still feel like we haven’t touched bottom yet. There’s still plenty of horse left, and she recovers pretty quickly.”

Now a six-time winner in 16 career starts, Somebodyslilly is the fastest and richest starter from Time To Roll’s first crop. She has raked in $114,100 and placed herself among the top fillies in the division. Outside of Indiana Sires Stakes, the sophomore is eligible to the USS Indianapolis, Pegasus Series and Circle City Series at Hoosier Park. Some horsemen wait decades for a pacer with this level of talent. Admitting he has come to the game late, Schwartz is enjoying the experience.

“This is a sideline, but I’m really passionate about it,” he said. “I love the business. I love the people. I really enjoy it. I feel like I’m home.”