MILTON, October 29, 2022 – Bulldog Hanover, the horse who “put the sport on his shoulders this year” with an absolutely incredible 2022 campaign, concluded his Canadian career with a resounding victory in the last of eight Breeders Crown finals tonight at Woodbine Mohawk Park. His time of 1:46.4 represented a Breeders Crown record and tied the track and Canadian record.
In addition to becoming the most talked about harness horse of the season thanks to his on track exploits, Bulldog Hanover spent the first few months of 2022 doing double duty as a stallion standing at Seelster Farms. The Ontario-sired son of Shadow Play was notching his 13th win in 15 starts this year for $1.6 million in earnings.
Jack Darling trains and co-owns the very popular pacer with Brad Grant. Elected to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame this year, Darling has trained and owned many top horses over the years but this was his first Breeders Crown champion.
Bred by Hanover Shoe Farms, Bulldog became the fastest harness horse of all time with a 1:45.4 mile at the Meadowlands in the Haughton Final. That came in the middle of an 11 race winning streak.
Dexter Dunn was up behind Bulldog as usual, concluding an incredible evening for him as he won four of the eight Crown finals starting with the $472,500 Open Mare Trot which saw Bella Bellini score her second straight Breeders Crown title with an impressive 1:51.1 effort. The David McDuffee homebred trained by Nifty Norman became the sport’s newest $2 million winner with the effort.
That contest was also notable as it marked the final Canadian start for the great Atlanta, who came into the race with $3.6 million earned. The seven-year-old Chapter Seven mare won many of the top races during her illustrious career, but the Breeders Crown title eluded her. She finished a brave second in tonight’s race after cutting a lot of the mile.
Dunn’s next trip to the Breeders Crown winner’s circle came courtesy of Jiggy Jog in the three-year-old trotting filly final. That Ake Svanstedt-trained daughter of Walner established a stake, track and Canadian record with her 1:51.1 mile.
Svanstedt, who won a Crown final Friday night with his two-year-old trotting filly Special Way, grabbed one more trophy in the $810,000 final for open trotters as his Ecurie D DK gave Dunn a 1:51 ride to tie the stakes record. The six-year-old horse became the first back to back winner in this division in 19 years.
The fourth final for the open performers was the pacing mares and it went to Grace Hill and local star Doug McNair who tripped the teletimer in 1:48.4, matching the stakes record established by Hana Hanover more than a decade ago. It was the second Crown win for McNair to date in his career.
Pebble Beach demonstrated once again his affinity for Canada with a going away win in the $911,250 glamour boy division. Todd McCarthy guided the Noel Daley trainee who is undefeated in five starts in Canada this year including the coveted North America Cup.
After being injured in a spill in July, Scott Zeron didn’t think he’d be driving in the Breeders Crown this year but he was persuaded by a few folks, including trainer Nancy Takter whose filly Treacherous Dragon gave him his sixth Crown victory of his career. She hauled down favourite Niki Hill in the final feet to win in 1:49.1.
Like Zeron, Mark MacDonald started his career in Ontario before shifting state side. He returned tonight to score a Breeders Crown victory with three-year-old trotting colt King Of The North. Their time of 1:50.3 erased the stake and Canadian record he set just last weekend.
“It all comes down to the Breeders Crown” was the signature line when the series was introduced in 1984 and continues to resonate 39 years later. Many of the year end award winners were likely determined by the incredible performances in the finals over the past two nights at Mohawk.
The total handle for Friday and Saturday’s card combined was $8.9 million which obliterated the previous record handle for a two night event at Mohawk which was $6.6 million set in 2019.
Heather MacKay, for Woodbine Communications
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