Hightstown, NJ — Venerable, who earlier this fall spent four weeks ranked No. 2 in harness racing’s Top 10 poll, returns to action for the first time since going off stride Oct. 22 in her Breeders Crown elimination when she competes in Thursday’s $130,700 Matron Stakes for 2-year-old female trotters at Dover Downs.
The once-beaten filly will leave from post six in a field of seven with David Miller driving for trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman and is the 2-5 morning-line favorite. Venerable, who has earned $861,945 in nine starts, counts the Mohawk Million, Peaceful Way, Jim Doherty Memorial, and New Jersey Sire Stakes championship among her eight wins.
Her purses are the most for a 2-year-old trotter since the filly Manchego went 12-for-12 and banked $873,948 in 2017. Snow White, also a filly, holds the earnings record for a 2-year-old trotter, with $1.25 million in 2007.
“She trained really good during the week,” Norman said. “We’re still a little mystified about her making that break. It was a bit of a shocker. It just brings you back to reality.
“But I don’t see anything wrong with her. She seems in really good shape, trained great, looks good. Everybody has bad days. I’m not going to hold it against her.”
If all goes well this week, Norman said Venerable would go to the Goldsmith Maid at The Meadowlands on Nov. 20.
“I don’t see why she shouldn’t go good,” said Norman, who trains the daughter of Walner-Jolene Jolene for owners David McDuffee, Mel Hartman, Paul Bordogna, and Steve Arnold. “She’s been acting good all week.”
In addition to Venerable, Norman will send out Joyride Hanover and Shipnstrol Hanover in the $145,100 Matron Stakes for 2-year-old female pacers and Esplosione in the $179,200 Matron for 2-year-old male trotters.
Joyride Hanover, who finished third in the She’s A Great Lady, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite and will have Tim Tetrick in the sulky from post two. She has won two of nine races, hit the board six other times, and earned $108,814 for owner Eric Good.
The daughter of American Ideal-JK Higher Power finished second to Matron contender A Girl That Twirls in a division of the Simpson Memorial at Harrah’s Philadelphia last week. It was her first race since the She’s A Great Lady a month earlier.
“She was a little bit short the other day, but I think she will be a lot better for Dover,” Norman said. “She seems to get around every track good. I think she will be OK. She’s got good speed and she’s very good gaited. She’s pretty nice all around.”
Shipnstrol Hanover, a daughter of Captaintreacherous-Social Scene, is in the Standardbred Horse Sale Mixed Sale next week. She has won three of 11 races and $38,657. She is 12-1 from post one with driver Miller.
She missed by a nose in a division of the Simpson last week, which followed back-to-back victories in conditioned races for owners Pinske Stables, David Hoese, Lawrence Means, and Bridgette Jablonsky.
“We figured we would race her and give her another run before the sale,” Norman said. “It’s a good race for her to get a good line. She won’t disgrace herself either. She always gets home good, and she’s been really good lately.”
Esplosione, who Norman’s Enzed Racing Stable co-owns with Hartman, has won three of 12 races, earned 11 paychecks, and carded $151,015 in purses. He was a two-time winner on the Ontario Sire Stakes circuit and fifth in the final. He also finished fifth in the William Wellwood Memorial.
The son of Kadabra-Dynamite Dame won his most recent outing, a conditioned race at Harrah’s Philadelphia.
“He raced good all year in Canada,” Norman said. “He didn’t knock off any of the big ones, but he’s a good consistent horse. I raced him at (Philly) just to see how he would be on a five-eighths (track), and he buzzed around there really good. This will be his last start and then I’ll turn him out. He’s done a good job.”
Letsdoit S is the 5-2 favorite in the Matron for male trotters, followed by Breeders Crown finalist Double Deceiver at 7-2. Double Deceiver, a Kentucky champion trained by Carter Pinske, was a parked-out first in a :56.1 half before finishing ninth on a stormy night in the Breeders Crown. The time for the opening half was just three ticks off the stakes record.
“He had a real tough trip in the Breeders Crown, but he came through it all right,” said Norman, who has stabled the horse this week for Pinske. “There is nothing wrong with the horse, he just got stuck in a bad spot.”
The remaining Matron Stakes, a $146,700 event for 2-year-old male pacers, attracted four horses. Fourever Boy is the 2-1 favorite.
Racing begins at 4:30 p.m. (EDT) Thursday at Dover Downs. For free TrackMaster program pages courtesy of the Delaware Standardbred Owners Association, click here.