MILTON, September 4, 2021 – Sophomore pacing fillies shone in a pair of Fan Hanover eliminations on Saturday evening’s stakes-filled showcase at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
A group of 13 three-year-old pacing fillies were split into a pair of $35,000 eliminations. The top-five finishers from each advanced to next week’s $425,000 final.
Hot Mess Express lived up to her favoritism in the first elimination, pacing the mile in 1:50.3.
The Tony Alagna trainee and driver Andrew McCarthy had to put in some work to grab the early lead, but struck front just after the first turn and led the field through an opening quarter in :27.2. The pair was still comfortably in control through a half in :56-flat.
The daughter of Panther Hanover held a half-length advantage after three-quarters and widened her lead to 1 ½-lengths at the stretch call. Scarlett Hanover loomed a threat to the outside in the late going, but Hot Mess Express responded and went on to claim a 2 ½-length victory.
Owned by Samuel Bowie, the filly had her seven-race win streak come to an end with a sixth-place finish in the James M. Lynch Memorial on August 21.
On this night, Hot Mess Express was back at the top of her game.
“She was good enough tonight, for sure,” said McCarthy. “I know there’s a little bit more improvement there. She’s a great horse and I’m sure if she had to go :49 tonight, she would have went :49. I feel like there’s got to be a little step up next week too.
“She’s beautiful. She’s really nice to drive. She prefers a bigger track and she got over this Mohawk surface great. She just does what she has to. When ‘Scarlet’ came, she picked the bit up and she got moving. I got the earplugs out and I just wanted to make sure she got enough work into her for next week. She busted home pretty good.”
Hot Mess Express is now eight for nine this season. In all, she’s won 12 of 18 starts.
Sent off at 1-5, she returned $2.40 for the victory.
In the second elimination, Fire Start Hanover, with Dexter Dunn in the sulky, rallied impressively to pick up her third win of 2021.
Sent on her way as the 2-5 choice, Fire Start Hanover got away last in the field of six, with Voelz Delight seizing command, leading the way through an opening quarter in :27.2, before Twin B Sunkissed took over and carved out a half in :56.2. As the field rounded the turn for home, Dunn had the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere ready to pounce, and the pair began to hit their best stride.
Second at the stretch call, Fire Start Hanover, trained by Richard “Nifty” Norman, tracked down leader Notorious Pink and then easily fended off runner-up Voelz Delight, to notch a 1 ½-length victory in a time of 1:51.
Dunn didn’t mind having to wrestle with his charge in the initial stages of the race.
“It was probably a good thing. She’s obviously a classy filly, but when she’s like that, she’s back to feeling really good. Her races lately have been great, but she hasn’t been quite herself. But she was back tonight. There are a good bunch of fillies here and she’s up near the top with them. She was obviously great last year and she put up some good miles this year. Really, tonight, the way she felt, I was really pleased.”
One of racing’s top drivers was also pleased to be back at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
“I love this place. I love coming here to race and I love seeing everybody. Great hosts… you put on a great show. It’s a pleasure to be here. I’m looking forward to coming back the next few Saturdays.”
Owned by Pinske Stables, David Hoese and Lawrence Means, Fire Start Hanover, bred by Hanover Shoe Farms, now has 11 wins from 20 career starts.
She paid $2.80 for the win.
Here is the field for the Fan Hanover final.
1 – Mackie Hanover
2 – Best Head West
3 – Hot Mess Express
4 – Fire Start Hanover
5 – Notorious Pink
6 – Game Of Shadows
7 – Spellcheck Hanover
8 – Scarlett Hanover
9 – Voelz Delight
10 – Off The Record
AE – Pauls Bet Hanover
– Chris Lomon for Woodbine Communications