Day At The Track

Goodtogo Hanover; right place at the right time

06:20 AM 20 Apr 2016 NZST
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Goodtogo Hanover, harness racing
Goodtogo Hanover and trainer/driver Brian Zendt
Chris Gooden photo

For Bill Zendt and Gary Saul, Goodtogo Hanover was in the right place at the right time.

Zendt and Saul weren't planning on looking at the then-yearling trotter at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale, but she happened to be in a stall adjacent to a horse they were considering buying. After ruling out their initial horse of interest, Zendt happened to turn and see Goodtogo Hanover.

"I said to Gary, how about this one?" recalled Zendt, who trains the now 3-year-old filly. "And that's the one we bought. We didn't buy the one we were after. Isn't that something how that happens sometimes? I guess we got lucky. It's better to be lucky than good."

Zendt and Saul purchased Goodtogo Hanover for $18,000. She has won seven of 10 career races --- including all four starts this year --- and earned $58,750. She was named the 2015 2-year-old trotting filly of the year by the members of the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association.

On Wednesday, Goodtogo Hanover is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the $31,300 Whata Donato Trot Series final at The Meadows. She won her two preliminary legs of the series by a total of 7-1/2 lengths.

A week prior to the start of the series, Goodtogo Hanover defeated older horses in a conditioned race in a career-best 1:55.4.

"I try not to get too high on horses early like this," Saul said. "She certainly has a very nice gait. She's gone some big miles. Probably her most impressive race was the non-winners of five; she was the only 3-year-old in there. If you have a 3-year-old beating older horses, it's pretty good.

"She's won easily enough. If someone gets back up on her toward the end of a mile, we'll see what she does."

Goodtogo Hanover is a daughter of stallion Explosive Matter out of the mare Grammy Hall. Her dam is a half-sister to Juanitas Fury, who finished second in the 2014 Peaceful Way Stakes and a division of the Champlain. Third dam Gramola was a multiple stakes-winner.

Last year, Goodtogo Hanover --- driven regularly by Zendt's son Brian --- had two wins and a second-place finish in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Stallion Series, but bypassed the final. Her 2015 earnings of $29,100 were just below the threshold of $30,000 to be eligible to the Whata Donato Trot Series.

"I had to make the decision, and I decided it was enough and called it a year," Zendt said. "We had a little trouble with her. She wasn't all the way developed and we had a little trouble with the turns. She had a little soreness trouble, nothing major, so we decided not to go to the final.

"This (Whata Donato Trot Series) is a great place to start in the spring before the sire stakes. That was the main thing we were going for; getting some nice races before the sire stakes and seeing what we have."

Zendt, who has won 3,047 races as a driver and 1,311 races as a trainer, liked Goodtogo Hanover's ability from the word go.

"She was pretty much a natural right away," Zendt said. "I liked her right away. She can be a little feisty, but trotting fillies have to have that in them sometimes. I liked her from the word go. She's been real good for us.

"I think she's filled out and gotten bigger and stronger and is able to carry her speed. She's always had her speed, but she's just really developed and she's still got some to go yet. I think that's one of the main reasons she's better."

Zendt and Saul have owned horses together for a number of years. Saul, who lives in Pittsburgh and is retired from the banking industry, also races a small stable of homebred horses. Among his recent stars was former Meadows track-record-holder Big And Little. Saul spends a good amount of time with the horses, as well as hunting and fishing.

"He just loves the business," Zendt said. "He's a great owner to have."

Goodtogo Hanover is eligible this year to the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes as well as the Currier & Ives, Arden Downs, Buckette, and Keystone Classic.

"I think Pennsylvania might be the toughest state to race in," Zendt said. "It won't be any picnic. She's been winning pretty handy so far, but she hasn't been in real tough yet. How do you know until you get into the sire stakes or something like that and they really stretch her out? I'm sure we'll find out soon enough, maybe too soon.

"But we're just glad to have her."

No matter how they found her.

by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA

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