Lexington, KY — Elver Hanover stayed unbeaten when he popped the pocket to win the $80,950 first division of the $324,800 Stay Hungry Bluegrass 2-year-old male pace — sponsored by the Stay Hungry Syndicate and Hanover Shoe Farms — with a world-record 1:48.3 effort on Saturday (Sept. 28) at The Red Mile.
Odds-on favorite Catch The Fire led through a quarter in :27, half in :54 and three-quarters in 1:21.3 before Elver Hanover popped the pocket on the final turn and swept by to win by 2-3/4 lengths. Put To Right tipped three wide off of the winner’s cover as the field entered the stretch and passed Catch The Fire for second.
“(Elver Hanover) felt really, really good in the hole,” winning driver Yannick Gingras said after the race, “and (Catch The Fire) put up some hot fractions so I was content to sit there. When I called on him up the stretch, he was still full of pace.”
The son of Yankee Cruiser-Edra Hanover, bred by Hanover Shoe Farms, is now eight-for-eight for trainer Ron Burke and his racing stable, as well as the partnership group of Bridgette Jablonsky, Jason Melillo, and J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby. The victory today brings the gelding’s earnings to $329,075. He equaled the world record for a pacing 2-year-old, set by stablemate Warrawee Ubeaut last year, and set a new mark for a 2-year-old male. A win ticket returned $6.20.
Captain Barbossa took the $80,950 second division by a 1-1/4 length margin.
A Positive Hanover went forward early and grabbed the lead as they hit the quarter in :28.1. Captain Barbossa then brushed past on the backside and led every remaining step, hitting the half in :56.3, three-quarters in 1:24.4 and crossing the line in 1:51.2 with driver Andrew McCarthy. Opportune Hanover slid up the pylons from the backfield and snatched second from A Positive Hanover. Seeyou At Thebeach, sent off the 1-5 favorite, broke stride while moving into the outer flow at the five-eighths and finished last.
“Early in the (year) he was balking at the gate a little bit, and he was out of position, and I had the same trouble with him,” McCarthy said after the race. “But he’s getting smarter about that and I can get him a little more forwardly-placed now. He definitely wants to go to work and do his job; I think it’s more the fact that he’s getting into the race a little bit now that he’s getting off the gate better.”
The Tony Alagna trainee, a son of Captaintreacherous-Swinging Beauty, added a second win from 10 starts to his tally, and has now earned $90,892 for owners Alagnafrankinthegym Stable, Robert Leblanc and David Anderson. The Steiner Stock Farm-bred colt paid $15.20 to win.
Alagna confirmed that the Breeders Crown is a possibility for the colt.
“We’ll race him back next week in the Grand Circuit and see how he is,” Alagna said after the race. “If he seems okay, and we’re still going forward based on what else we’re going to take to Canada, we’ll take (him into) consideration for the Breeders Crown.”
Cattlewash won the $80,950 third division after taking command in the second quarter and gliding home.
Esai Hanover floated off the gate and hit the top through the first fraction in :27.1, but soon yielded command to Cattlewash. Driver Yannick Gingras managed the tempo from there, bringing the group of seven to the half in :55.1, three-quarters in 1:23.1 and finished the job in 1:50.3. Manticore came second over as the backfield got moving in the third split and rallied for second, two lengths adrift of the victor. Fortify also came past tired foes, finishing third. Father Nuno challenged first-over into the final turn but did not bother the eventual winner.
Cattlewash’s earnings now total $141,502 with his fourth win from eight outings for owner-breeder William Donovan and gave the Burke-Gingras team two wins on the day. The son of Somebeachsomewhere-Road Bet paid $7.40 to win.
In the $81,950 fourth division, Roll With Jr fended off late challenger Team Best in a wire-to-wire win.
Driver Doug McNair sent the colt to the front in a :27 opening clip and was unhurried to a :55.3 half. He then repelled a first-up bid from favorite Chief Mate through three-quarters in 1:23.2 and battled to the wire for a 1:50.4 lifetime-best victory. Team Best sat in the pocket for most of the mile and had his go in the lane, finishing second, behind a half-length. Tell Them Lou charged from the backfield late and finished third.
“(The horses) relax, and the track is second-to-none,” winning trainer Jeff Cullipher said of the track after the race. “This is a really big colt, and he was able to stretch out a little bit here.”
Cullipher co-owns the $15,000 Lexington Selected Sale yearling purchase with Tom Pollack. The son of Roll With Joe-No One Is Alone has now amassed $141,502 in earnings and has won four of his eight races. The colt bred by Robert Brady, Rebecca Brady, Kenneth Jackson and Lisa Jackson paid $10.00 to win.
Cullipher recalled giving Pollack free reign on making the purchase.
“I was eating a sandwich and I looked up and he was buying the horse,” he said.
Grand Circuit action resumes at The Red Mile on Sunday (Sept. 28) with seven total Bluegrass dashes. The sophomore pacing colts compete in three divisions of the $267,400 Captaintreacherous Bluegrass Stakes while the 3-year-old trotting colts race in two divisions of the $192,200 International Moni Bluegrass Stakes and the 3-year-old trotting fillies race in two divisions of the $218,000 Bar Hopping Bluegrass Stakes. Racing gets underway with first-race post at 1 p.m. (EDT).