As the yearling portion of the 2018 Standardbred Horse Sale neared completion, Joseph Lyons Mound looked to buy one more horse for his family’s racing stable. He had his eye on two fillies but was unsuccessful in placing the winning bid on either. Not a big deal, Lyons Mound told himself, because he already had purchased a good number of horses.
Prior to leaving, Lyons Mound stopped to chat with a friend. As they were talking, Lyons Mound heard that one of the fillies, Take Over Hanover, was returning to the ring to be resold. This time, Lyons Mound placed the top bid of $55,000 and came away with the filly.
She was renamed Lyons Sentinel. On February 20, she will be honoured at the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s annual banquet with the second Dan Patch Award of her career. She is also a divisional finalist in Canada for an O'Brien Award, with the winners to be named this Sunday, Feb. 6 on standardbredcanada.ca.
“It was so lucky to buy her the way I did,” Lyons Mound said. “Even when it happened, I thought that’s going to be a good story one day. Somebody is going to be kicking themselves for not signing for that baby. I had a feeling that I’d always have that story to tell, and in quite a positive way. It was quite remarkable, really.”
Remarkable, too, could be the way to describe Lyons Sentinel’s career. A daughter of Captaintreacherous-Tutu Hanover, she has won 22 of 47 lifetime starts and earned $2 million. She has 14 second-place finishes in her career and has missed the board only six times for Threelyonsracing, trainer Jim King Jr., and driver Tim Tetrick.
Lyons Sentinel captured her first Dan Patch Award at age two, when her triumphs included the Shes A Great Lady Stakes, Matron Stakes and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship. Her second Dan Patch Award comes on the heels of last season’s four-year-old campaign when she won the Roses Are Red, Lady Liberty, Milton, TVG Series Mare Pace, Dayton Distaff Derby, Artiscape and Clara Barton.
She is the third female pacer to receive Dan Patch honours as both a filly and mare in the past 12 years, joining Kissin In The Sand and Pure Country.
“We’ve been in the industry for a long time and it’s just great when you get a horse like her,” Lyons Mound said. “We’ve had some nice horses, we’ve had some very average horses, but she is probably the best one that we’ve had. She’s been amazing for us.”
Lyons Mound is one of the three Lyons in Threelyonsracing, with his father and brother, both named Geoffrey. The family operates an award-winning holiday parks company based in Wales in the United Kingdom. The business, now with 14 holiday park locations, has been in existence since 1925.
“We do our best to do our best, if that makes sense,” Lyons Mound said. “Long days, long hours; but work hard, play hard. We work hard here and then hope to play hard with the horses. That’s the plan.”
He added, with a laugh, about the racing stable’s name, “There are more than three of us because now my boys are involved and my nephews, so eventually I’m going to have to change that. But at the moment, it seems to be quite a lucky name.”
The family has been involved in harness racing since the mid-1990s.
“Back in the day, we used to buy horses at Harrisburg and bring them home to the U.K. and race them here,” Lyons Mound said. “We were successful in the U.K. and if we thought we had a good one, we would bring them back to Canada. Eventually, we stopped bringing them home and kept them out there.”
The family’s previous successes included 2014 Cane Pace winner Lyonssomewhere, but none reached the level of Lyons Sentinel. Lyons Mound’s favourite memory is her victory in the 2019 Shes A Great Lady at Ontario’s Woodbine Mohawk Park.
“I was very fortunate, most of my family was there,” Lyons Mound said. “My wife and my kids were there and my father and mother. We have relatives that live in Canada, and they were there also. It was great.
“We came out in September last year when she won the Milton and the Roses Are Red (also at Mohawk). That was a good moment.
“Every moment is special in different ways.”
There could be more special moments ahead as Lyons Sentinel is beginning to prepare for her five-year-old campaign. She closed last year with a 1:49.1 triumph from post nine in the TVG Series championship for female pacers at The Meadowlands, getting to the wire in front by three-quarters of a length after a lengthy first-over march.
“She was coming home in :53, :53.1, and coming first up or three-wide on so many occasions and getting the job done as well,” Lyons Mound said. “The trip she went to win the TVG, to me it was incredible. I don’t know if the top colts and geldings could do it the way she was doing it.
“She had a great four-year-old campaign for us and finished on a high. I couldn’t ask for anything more from her, really. We’re not going to rush her back. I know she’s getting fed lots of carrots at the moment.”
(With files from USTA)