Five elimination heats were contested for the eighth annual Balanced Image Trot at Hanover Raceway Saturday night (September 1). For the first time in the stakes harness racing history, the event was split by sex with three colt eliminations, and two heats for the fillies.
Trevor Henry stole the show on the colts’ side of things, as he swept all three divisions. Henry’s first trip to the winner’s circle on the night was in race 2 when Eat Pray Trot managed to upset the post-time favourite North York.
Eat Pray Trot is trained by Henry’s wife Shannon and won in wire-to-wire fashion over splits of :28.4, 1:00.1, 1:30.1 and 2:00.1, equaling the Hanover track record for two-year old trotting colts. After the race, the trainer said she knew her colt was capable of big speed.
“He raced pretty good in Woodstock, but the race at Georgian didn’t go his way, but I knew we could trot pretty good.” Henry went on to credit Eat Pray Trot’s connections, saying “These owners have been really good to the Henry family for fourty years and we’ve had a lot of good horses with them.”
The colts were back on track in race eight and Henry managed to capture that division while employing different tactics aboard Ballykeel Pegasus. With a backstretch move before the three-quarter mile station sweeping from sixth to just edge out You Rock My World and Bruce Richardson and win in 2:03.3.
Trevor stuck around in the winner’s circle to comment on the race and gave a critique of his own decisions. “I likely should’ve pulled sooner and come first over but in the end he just got there in time. It’s always nice to win, but it’s good to get these colts into the final.” Henry went on to say his driving assignment in next week’s final was set in stone. “I think I have to drive the other one because my wife trains him,” joked Henry, a seven-time winner of the leading dash title at Hanover Raceway.
Had that decision not been so clear, the tenth race would have only made things trickier as Henry completed the stakes triple with Bambino Babe. Henry stick-handled therookie in the backstretch before emerging as a late stretch winner in 2:02.0 for trainer Norm Dunstan.
Things were a little more hectic in the fillies’ division. In the first elimination, the overwhelming public choice Legzy never got into the race despite leaving from the rail. Random Majority benefitted from that filly’s poor showing by making the front and staying there to win in 2:01.2 with Steve Byron driving for John Bax. After the race, Byron noted “I knew she has pretty good gate speed so I wanted to try to get to the front. I didn’t think I’d get there quite as easy as we did but the race worked out.”
The Byron-Bax duo have already teamed up to win Hanover Raceway’s three-year old trotting stake this year as Summer Indian took lion’s share of the $100,000 Dream of Glory and will now look to get the stakes double in the $36,000final on September 8th. On their chances of achieving that feat, Byron could only muster a modest reply, admitting “it would be nice.”
The other fillies elimination was somewhat controversial as Princess Lilly made a wild break in stride heading into the first turn. The scattered field allowed Bruce Richardson and Pointe De Vue to set the pace over fractions of :30.2, 1:01.3 and 1:31.3 to the three quarter marker.
However, Princess Lilly showed huge ability to recover and took a late stretch lead to win in 2:01.2. Despite two separate driver’s objections, Princess Lilly remained the official winner and heads into next week’s $38,000 final as a wild card of sorts.
Thefinals headline a huge day of racing at Hanover Raceway on September 8th, all part of the tenth annual All Trot Night. The event is North American harness racing’s only full card of trotting races and will also feature divisions of Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots three-year old fillies, and the Walker Memorial Invitation.
The I Love Canadian Horse Racing fan club will be in attendance, along with a host of promotions including Celebrity Horse pictures with former OSS star and Hanover Raceway trotting track record holder Abbey Road C, as well as draws for the Red Carpet Round Trip to either the Grassroots or Gold OSS Superfinals. Post time Saturday night is 7:15pm.
by Gord DOUGAN