MILTON, June 8, 2018 – The return of the reigning Canadian and American Horse of the Year highlighted stakes elimination action Friday at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
The Armbro Flight for trotting mares and Goodtimes for three-year-old trotting fillies both required two eliminations Friday to kick off a busy stakes weekend.
Hannelore Hanover, last year’s O’Brien and Dan Patch Award champion, returned to Woodbine Mohawk Park looking to give herself a chance at her third consecutive Armbro Flight title.
The six-year-old superstar and driver Yannick Gingras were successful in the opening $35,000 elimination, defeating six rivals in an easy 1:52.
‘Hannelore’ left from post-six and was parked by the opening-quarter in :27 before clearing to command. The Ron Burke trainee proceeded to reach the half in :56.1 and three-quarters in 1:24.2 before making her :27.3 final-quarter look effortless to win by five and a half lengths.
Southwind Tesla finished second, while Caprice Hill and Dream Together rounded out the Superfecta. Checkmate Time was fifth to grab the final spot in next week’s final.
Hannelore Hanover was two for two on the season going into Friday’s elimination.
“That’s probably the easiest race I’ll win all year,” said Gingras following the race. “She was wrapped up and did it very easy. She’s so solid right now there is no worries, knock on wood, but she’s something else.”
Now a 39-time winner with over $2.7 million earned, Hannelore Hanover is owned by Burke Racing LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Frank Baldachino and J And T Silva Stables LLC.
The daughter of Swan For All will be looking for the Armbro Flight three-peat in next Saturday’s (June 16) $250,000 final. ‘Hannelore’ won the 2016 edition in an Canadian Record 1:51 and last year’s edition in 1:51.4.
As expected, Hannelore Hanover paid $2.10 to win.
The second elimination saw another superstar trotting mare find the winner’s circle.
Emoticon Hanover and Bob McClure was a coast-to-coast front-end winner in 1:52.4. The Luc Blais trainee posted fractions of :27.1, :55.4 and 1:24.1 before trotting home in :28.3 to win by three and a half lengths.
Friday’s start was the first-time McClure sat behind ‘Emoticon’ in a race. The young reinsman has been driving this season for Blais and did have his choice of stablemates Emoticon Hanover and Dream Together in the May 21 Miss Versatility Stakes.
“I had the option last week and I took (Dream Together), but I knew (Emoticon Hanover) was probably the better of the two,” said McClure. “The other mare was race-tight, but this mare is all-class,” said
McClure is confident in his mare heading into next week’s final.
“Hannelore is going to be tons the best in there, but my mare did beat her last year, so it is a horse race.”
Celebrity Ruth, who was the 1/2 favourite, finished second, while Ice Attraction came up the rail to finish third. The final two spots in the Armbro Flight final were secured by Majestic Presence and Barn Bella.
A five-year-old daughter of Kadabra, Emoticon Hanover hasn’t impressed many during her four qualifiers this season, but she’s turned it on when it counts with now two wins in two starts.
Owned by Determination, Emoticon Hanover now has 18 career wins and earnings of over $1.3 million.
Emoticon Hanover paid $7.70 to win.
The Goodtimes for three-year-old trotters featured two $30,000 eliminations and just like the Armbro Flight, driver Gingras was back in the winner’s circle following the first elimination.
Jimmy Takter trainee Wolfgang was ready to go in his first start of the season, front-stepping to a career-best 1:52.2 victory.
Wolfgang and Gingras left hard to claim the lead, posting a :27.2 opener. The son of My Mvp hung up fractions of :56.1 and 1:2 to lead into the lane. Hat Trick Habit, the _ favourite, came first-up from third on the far turn, while Lawmaker tracked in the two-hole.
Wolfgang did not give his rivals any chance in the lane and trotted off in _ to win by _ lengths.
Lawmaker finished second at 40-1, while Run Director was third. Hat Trick Habit and Stormont Ventnor rounded out the top-five to advance to the June 16 final.
“Jimmy told me he trained really good at the farm and I know he didn’t show a (1):52 mile, but the day he qualified at The Meadowlands it was a real good mile,” said Gingras post-race.
“I liked the colt. I raced him a few times last fall and I thought he was a top horse and he showed it tonight.”
Wolfgang won three of 10 starts last season, banking $316,275 for owners Brixton Medical Inc, Goran Falk, Hatfield Stables and Fair Island Farm Inc.
A $2 win ticket on Wolfgang returned $6.20.
The second elimination featured a showdown between O’Brien Award winner Alarm Detector and Breeders Crown champion Fiftydallarbill.
The two stars finished one-two with Alarm Detector taking the victory in his three-year-old debut.
Driven by Trevor Henry, Alarm Detector left strong to grab the lead and that was the winning move. Henry got a soft :29.1 second-quarter to lead by the half in :57.1, while Fiftydallarbill had to angle out first-up from fourth.
Alarm Detector trotted a solid :28 third-quarter before finishing up strong in :27.4 to claim the victory. Fiftydallarbill turned in a game effort, closing in on the wrapped up leader at the wire to finish second by three-quarters of a length.
Cruising In Style finished third, while Hill Street was fourth. The final qualifier for next week’s final was Missle Hill.
Trainer Ben Baillargeon has mapped out a plan for Alarm Detector this season and was very pleased with the Chapter Seven colt’s season debut.
“I was okay with it, mile in (1):53, it’s getting a little cooler right now at this time and you can train them as much as you want, but it’s not like racing,” said Baillargeon. “He was ready and up to the task.”
Owned by Tom & Elizabeth Rankin, Claude Hamel and Santo Vena, Alarm Detector went six for seven during his rookie season and banked $276,870.
Baillargeon hasn’t been shy in pointing out what his main focus is for the season.
“The game plan is the Hambletonian and hopefully we will get there, but the Hambletonian will be his number six race, so four more starts after (the Goodtimes).”
Alarm Detector paid $3.30 to win.
Friday’s elimination winners earned the right to select their post for their respective finals. Here are the post positions for next Saturday’s $250,000 Armbro Flight and $266,000 Goodtimes finals.
$250,000 Armbro Flight
1. Caprice Hill
2. Celebrity Ruth
3. Dream Together
4. Emoticon Hanover
5. Hannelore Hanover
6. Checkmate Time
7. Southwind Tesla
8. Majestic Presence
9. Ice Attraction
10. Barn Bella
AE: P L Jill
1. Stormont Ventnor
2. Hill Street
3. Alarm Detector
6. Hat Trick Habit
8. Run Director
9. Missle Hill
10. Cruising In Style
AE: Jula Downton