Milton, ON — The $600,000 Breeders Crown 2-year-old colt pace was expected to be a battle between elimination winner Papi Rob Hanover and Metro winner Tall Dark Stranger. That the two crossed the wire that way was just the beginning of a story that changed radically after the finish.
Driver Yannick Gingras placed an objection on behalf of Tall Dark Stranger against David Miller on Papi Rob Hanover and after a long period the judges agreed, placing Tall Dark Stranger first and race-winner Papi Rob Hanover second in the final of four $600,000 juvenile Breeders Crowns at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Friday night (Oct. 25).
Tall Dark Stranger left alertly going past Cattlewash into the first turn with 6-5 favorite Papi Rob Hanover settling in third for Miller. Tall Dark Stranger cut effective fractions of :27.3 and :55.1 for the opening half as the field was spread out with passing that station.
Miller went on the offensive midway on the final turn with Papi Rob Hanover but by that time it appeared as if Gingras had gotten the fractions he needed, crossing three-quarters in 1:23.2 with Tall Dark Stranger. A bitter battle ensued in the homestretch as the two colts battled head to head right to the wire with Papi Rob Hanover getting his head in front at the wire in the 1:51 mile.
The inquiry sign went up quickly and the judges determined that Papi Rob Hanover had made contact with Tall Dark Stranger, causing that one to lose his momentum.
“My colt was fighting back,” said Gingras after the race. “I haven’t made an objection since Yonkers in 2002.”
Sent off as the second choice in the field, Tall Dark Stranger (Bettor’s Delight-Precocious Beauty) returned $5.80 while notching his eighth win in nine career starts for trainer Nancy Johansson. Marvin Katz, Crawford Farms Racing, Caviart Farms and Howard Taylor share ownership in Tall Dark Stranger, who was bred by James Avritt Sr.
Cattlewash finished third with original fourth place finisher Mayhem Hanover also getting disqualified for getting in the path of Capt Midnight in the late stages and causing that one to break. The judges placed Capt Midnight fourth with Mayhem Hanover revised back to fifth.
A disqualification of a Breeders Crown race winner had only happened twice before (That Fabulous Face in 1998 and Corleone Kosmos in 2007), with both being by trotters that made a break.
Replay available at www.YouTube.com/WoodbineReplays (Race 9)