by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications
Goshen, NY — Harry Landy is no stranger to Historic Track, having started racing there at the age of 12 with trottingbred ponies and continuing onto the amateur ranks several years later. And although he has posted double digits in wins at the upstate New York oval, none were bigger than his victory Friday with Useful Hanover.
Useful Hanover, making his career debut, won the $14,440 Landmark Stakes for 2-year-old male pacers by 1-1/2 lengths over Stevensville in 1:58.2, giving the 21-year-old Landy his first stakes triumph at Historic Track. Useful Hanover trailed by 15 lengths at the top of the stretch, but was able to overtake pacesetting Stevensville, who was coming off a 1:52.2 win June 30 in a division of the Pennsylvania All Stars at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
“I wasn’t thinking about winning that race, but (Useful Hanover) was awesome,” said Landy, who lives in New Jersey and has 224 career victories. “I thought I was second around the last turn, but he kept going pretty good. Halfway down the stretch I saw Ray looking back, like wondering if anyone was going to catch him, and that’s when I knew I probably had a shot at it. It was really impressive.”
Landy owns Useful Hanover with trainer Blake MacIntosh. A $9,000 yearling purchase, Useful Hanover is a son of stallion Western Ideal out of the mare Up Front Fire. His family includes millionaire Noble Ability.
“He doesn’t know what he’s doing yet, but once he gets it, he’ll probably be pretty nice,” Landy said. “I don’t know how fast he is.”
Landy’s father, Sam, and grandfather, Eugene, were among those on hand for the win.
“That’s really cool because my grandpa was here for my first win here and now I have a stakes win,” Landy said. “I’ve done everything possible that you can do at Goshen.”
Stevensville, who lost for the first time in three starts, paced the opening quarter-mile in :26.4 before trainer/driver Ray Schnittker slowed the pace with a :29.1 second quarter.
“I thought he should have jogged,” Schnittker said. “He got too fired up on the front and I probably should have just let him roll a little more. But that’s why you race in these kinds of races, to teach them to race.”
It was an otherwise winning day for the Schnittker Stable, which is based at Historic Track.
Schnittker opened the nine-race card by winning the $7,520 first division of the Landmark Stakes for 2-year-old male trotters with Sheer Action in 2:02.3. The colt, making his career debut, is by stallion Deweycheatumnhowe — Schnittker’s 2008 Trotter of the Year award winner — out of the mare Banza Hanover. He is named in memory of Arnold Sheer, one of Schnittker’s former partners.
“He was a really good guy and his favorite horse was Covert Action, so we named this one Sheer Action,” Schnittker said. “He’s not a bad colt.”
Schnittker also had wins with Caneel Hall in the $13,670 Landmark Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters in 2:01.4 despite going off stride at the start; Caroline Street in the $8,247 Landmark for 2-year-old filly trotters in 2:05.4; Cowboy Terrier in the $18,070 Landmark for 3-year-old male pacers in 1:57.1; and Big Short in the $19,170 Landmark for 3-year-old male trotters in 2:01.
“Cowboy Terrier was a lot better than I thought,” Schnittker said. “I thought (stablemate) Jones Beach should have been a lot better, but (Cowboy Terrier) was a nice colt last year, so that was good. Big Short is in the (July Tattersalls Mixed Sale) and gets around a half well. He should be a nice horse for somebody.”
Other winners were True Reflection in the $10,820 Landmark for 3-year-old filly pacers in 1:58.1 for driver Simon Allard and trainer Joe Caraluzzi; Up Front Holly in the $7,947 Landmark for 2-year-old filly pacers in 2:03.4 for driver Tyler Buter and trainer Mark Ford; and Keystone Wasabi in the $7,820 second division of the Landmark for 2-year-old male trotters in 2:02 for driver Chuck Connor, Jr. and trainer Janice Connor.
The Grand Circuit meet at Historic Track continues Saturday and Sunday, followed by the annual Hall of Fame inductions Sunday evening at the adjacent Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. First race post time is 1 p.m. each day at Historic Track.