Pierce Hoping Girl Powder is Another Girl Powder

By Bill Finley

   Joe Pierce Jr. admits he doesn’t like to think too hard when it comes to naming his horses, which is why he often recycles through names. He’s had more than one Gadget Man, more than one Gourmet Delight. Now, he’s got his second Girl Powder, who has the same name as one of the best horses the veteran has ever trained. The first Girl Powder won 18 races, 10 stakes and earned $449,447 as she was among the best Jersey breds of her era during the mid-eighties. Pierce can only hope Girl Powder II, a 2-year-old, is half as good as the original.

“I am 89 years old and I’ve had a lot of horses and I’ve run out of names,” said Pierce, who is, along with Anthony Bardaro, also the breeder of the second Girl Powder. “I’ve been using a lot of names of my old horses over again. Girl Powder was just a lucky filly for us, so we took a shot and hoped the same thing could happen.”

Pierce said he didn’t necessarily chose the name Girl Powder for this horse because of her ability, but more because she reminded him of the original horse in her looks and mannerisms. “She’s the spitting image of the first Girl Powder,” Pierce said. “She’s a big, strong, dark mare. You look at her and you can imagine you’re looking at the original Girl Powder. She’s also very similar to her personality-wise.”

The original Girl Powder was by Talc, was owned by R.D. Irwin and was bred by T. Eileen Kates. She broke her maiden in her third lifetime start, winning at the 1985 Monmouth meet, and just kept getting better. She won stakes at three, four and five, including two listed races, the Miss Prosperity at the Meadowlands and the Bold Princess at Aqueduct.


“She was a top, top filly,” Pierce said. “She showed a tremendous amount of speed. That was her forte–speed.”

   Thirty-one years after the first Girl Powder broke her maiden, the second one, who is also a Jersey-bred, appeared in an Oct. 14 $40,000 maiden claimer run at five furlongs over the Meadowlands turf course. Sent off at 11-1, she won by 2 1/4 lengths. Her next start was a different story. She shipped to Parx where she was beaten 28 lengths in an allowance race. Does that mean she’ll never come close to emulating the feats of her namesake?

 “Wait a minute now, we’ve got to give her another chance on the grass,” Pierce said. “She came back on the dirt because there weren’t any more grass races in the East. She’s at Tampa Bay now. We’ll see her again on grass and we’ll she if she can repeat her first race.”

 This Girl Powder is by Rimrod out of the Notebook mare Mutual Fund. Pierce believes the best thing she has going for her is her dam. Girl Powder is the third foal from the mare to race and all three have won. The best is the current Gadget Man, the 2014 and 2015 winner of the Charles Hesse III Handicap.

 “I don’t think this one is going to be a star mare, but her dam has produced nothing but winners,” Pierce said. “The mare was a good hard-knocking mare, so that’s what I expect from this one, too.”

 Pierce takes the winter off, so Girl Powder will be trained by Derek Ryan before returning to Pierce’s barn next spring at Monmouth.

  With a modest-sized stable, Pierce enjoyed a good year in 2016. He won eight races from just 29 starters for a win rate of 28 percent.  It was the most winners he’s had since 2011 and evidence that he still has it at age 89.

  “I’ve just been lucky, that’s all,” he said when asked how he is still going strong at his age. “There’s no other explanation. The man upstairs is still smiling on me. I can’t retire. I wouldn’t know what else to do. This is what keeps me alive. I get up in the morning and have something to do. What the hell would I do if I did quit?”

  As has been the case throughout his career, Pierce always finds room for Jersey-breds in his barn. He’s one of the biggest advocates of the program.

  “I’ve won a zillion races over the years with Jersey-breds,” he said. “Believe me, there’s nothing wrong with a Jersey-bred. You just have to find the right pedigree and take your time with them and have some patience. They do a helluva job dispersing the money. I just got two big checks the other day, an owner award and a breeder award. The competition isn’t as tough as it used to be, but for an owner and breeder that’s not a bad thing. You can have a modestly bred horse and make a lot of money with them.”

 That would pretty much describe the new Girl Powder, as she’s not a Tapit or an Uncle Mo. Pierce just wants a good race horse, one that will be sound and consistent and pick up checks and maybe, just maybe do some of the special things on the racetrack the old Girl Powder did.