MILTON, October 21, 2022 - Gaines Hanover and driver Louis Philippe Roy took control of the pace at the quarter pole and then went on to a powerful track record setting (2-Year-Gelded Trotter) performance in capturing the first of two $33,750 eliminations for the Breeders Crown 2-year-old colt and gelding division at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Friday night.
The altered son of Cantab Hall scored in a personal best 1:53 clocking.
Sent off as the 5-2 second choice Gaines Hanover and Roy left between horses in the early stages as Gates Hanover left hard inside of him for Ake Svanstedt and The Gruffalo and Winners Bet, the race favorite left outside.
Gates Hanover cleared to the front first followed by The Gruffalo with Todd McCarthy in the bike. With Winners Bet leaving outside of him Roy elected to drive on with Gaines Hanover keeping Winners Bet three deep into the turn and forcing driver Dexter Dunn to settle in fourth before the quarter. Roy and Gaines Hanover drove to the front clocking the opening fraction in :27 4/5.
With much of the field settled in behind him Gaines Hanover and Roy hit the half in :56 2/5 and kept a lively clip going through the third quarter in 1:24 3/5. When rival Gates Hanover pulled on the turn and miscued Gaines Hanover sprinted clear away from his rivals leaving the battle for minor honors and a position in next week’s rich final.
The Gruffalo won the battle for the place spot late as Osceola and driver Doug McNair rallied impressively along the pylons to secure the third spot.
Winners Bet finished fourth guaranteeing a spot in the lucrative final with Spitfire Oversees finishing fifth and reaching the final with the higher earnings of the two fifth-place elimination finishers.
Gaines Hanover is trained by Richard Moreau for owner Gestion J Y Blais Inc of Montreal.
A winner of the Champlain Stakes earlier this year over the Woodbine Mohawk surface, Gaines Hanover won for the third time in six career starts and returned $7.50 as a win mutuel.
“That wasn’t really the plan,” said Roy of a decision to drive on heading into the first turn. “My horse is pretty green it was tough to evaluate him.”
Roy was most impressive by the gelding. “I didn’t know he was going that fast to the half, he trots so efficiently,” Roy said.
Celebrity Bambino and driver Yannick Gingras overcame post nine and posted a minor upset defeating 2-5 favorite and Mohawk Million winner Oh Well in the second $33,750 Crown elimination winning in 1:53 2/5.
The complexion of the race changed early when Crantini broke behind the gate, but Kierkegaard K and Ake Svanstedt left with purpose to take control into the opening bend. Celebrity Bambino and Gingras marched forward to get control at the quarter in :28 1/5.
International Man and driver Dexter Dunn were parked from the outset and needed three-eighths of the mile to clear the front. International Man hit the half in :57 and continued uncontested until Gingras pulled the pocket before the field hit three quarters in 1:25. Celebrity Bambino had favored Oh Well and driver Tim Tetrick breathing down his back into the stretch but the Muscle Hill-sired colt would not be denied on this night trotting powerfully with a :28 2/5 final quarter to win comfortable at odds of 7-1. Oh Well saved ground most of the way but had no answer for the winner in the stretch but did secure the place with early leader Kierkegaard K third over the wire. Dire Straits finished fourth for driver David Miller with fifth place finisher Buckhead Ridge failing to reach the final with limited earnings.
Celebrity Bambino was a winner for the third time this year in just eight starts for trainer Ron Burke. The Muscle Hill-sired colt is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, J & T Silva Stable, Knox Services Inc., and Phillip Collura.
Celebrity Bambino returned $17.40 to win.
“He was my favorite colt training down,” said Gingras of Celebrity Bambino in the winner’s circle. “All credit to Ronnie (Burke). The colt got sick, and Ronnie gave him time to recover.”
Kilmister, the winner of this year’s Peter Haughton Memorial joins the nine qualifiers in the $600,000 final on Friday October 28.
The post positions for next Friday’s final will be drawn later tonight.
Jay Bergman for Hambletonian Society/Woodbine