by Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communications
East Rutherford, NJ — Danae (Tim Tetrick) won the $750,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday afternoon at the Meadowlands by 1-1/2 lengths in a time of 1:54.2. It was the 720th win of the season for Tim Tetrick.
Tetrick and Danae were well off the early pace set by Vulcanize, who was first to the quarter in :27.3, followed by Granny Gui, Possess The Magic and Sing Me To Sleep. Mike Lachance had Possess The Magic off the rail and moving up to challenge the leader just past the half, with Falls For You following along behind her.
Those two were still contending for the lead, with Possess The Magic taking the lead from Vulcanize and now along the rail and Falls For You (Brian Sears) trotting in near unison outside her at the :56.1 half. Those two went into the turn together, with Falls For You starting to tail off just a bit through the 1:25.3 three-quarters.
When the field came to the stretch, Pippiwhitestockngs (Yannick Gingras) was three-wide and moving fast to take the lead away from Possess The Magic. Loose on the lead, Pippiwhitestockngs faltered within about 15 lengths of the finish and made a break. Danae, who was eighth at the half-mile mark, was behind her and trotted to the lead to win in 1:54.2, taking more than three seconds off her lifetime mark.
George Teague and his sister, Brenda, racing as Teague, Inc., co-own Danae with Rodney Mitchell; she’s a daughter of Andover Hall out of the Valley Victory mare Deanella Hanover. Brenda Teague is also the caretaker for Danae.
Resortful (Jeff Gregory) was second, followed by Sing Me To Sleep (Jim Doherty), Vulcanize (Ron Pierce), Possess The Magic (Mike Lachance), Right On Renee (Cat Manzi), Granny Gui (John Campbell), Falls For You (Brian Sears), Pippiwhitestockngs (Yannick Gingras) and Wishful Me (David Miller).
After the race, Teague acknowledged that his filly was not given serious consideration in the race. “And rightly so,” said Teague. “She was sharp last week (finishing second in the eliminations) but she got sick in Canada and wasted a lot of time getting well, so she hasn’t done a lot. I’ll have to look at the stakes schedule, but I think the Hudson is next for her at Yonkers.”
“I knew I had a good trainer. He said she’s ready; George told me she could trot with these,” said Tetrick. “He said you have to give her a trip, drive her like a 2-year-old. You’ve got to protect her a little bit and she did exactly that and she got the money. I was back there about third or fourth-over and I was hoping they’d keep battling and they’d come back to us (after the Possess The Magic-Falls For You duel on the front end) and thank God they did. John’s mare was really quick and I was following, or trying to, but he jumped off three or four (lengths) on me and I just waited and I said at least second is better than third and so I took my shot and waited and then his mare (Pippiwhitestockngs) made a break and mine was there to pick up the pieces.”
Television commentator Donna Barton Brothers interviewed Tetrick just moments after the finish, from a perch on horseback. “She got home real well,” said Tetrick. “I wanted to make sure we stayed trotting and she pulled real well for me. She was really good today.”
Jeff Gregory, driver of second place finisher Resortful, is also her co-owner. “She raced real well. We’re tickled to death with her, we bought her for fun and I guess we’re having some fun.”
“Had started with the rail, but she’s not that handy so she got shuffled,” noted Jim Doherty, who drove Sing Me To Sleep. “I really needed room on the turn, finally got room at the head of the stretch. If she got loose earlier, she might have upset them. The trotting hopples have definitely helped her. She’s always had plenty of speed, now she’s starting to learn and expecting to get better the rest of the year. Today is just a positive effort.”
Ron Gurfein, trainer of the 3-5 favorite Possess The Magic, who finished fifth, surmised that his filly was adversely affected by the heat. “We think she tied up because it’s so hot outside. She’s done this before, she tied up a couple of weeks ago with the heat.”