Day At The Track

Dover Downs 48th season finest in history

08:59 PM 21 Apr 2017 NZST
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Enhance Your Mind was voted Horse of the Meet
Enhance Your Mind was voted Horse of the Meet
Foto Won Photo

Dover Downs 48th season was arguably the finest in track history with top harness racing, top horses and drivers all season from Oct. 28, 2016 through April 13, 2017. Enhance Your Mind was voted Horse of the Meet by members of the Delaware Valley Chapter U.S. Harness Writers Association.

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Easy Lover Hanover, driven by Doug McNair, completed a modern day harness racing 'Cinderella story' by winning the $314,600 Hap Hansen Progress Pace in 1:49, Nov. 28. Purchased a year ago after a monumental fire whipped-out owner Brad Grant and trainer Ben Wallace's stable in Ontario, Easy Lover Hanover was purchased at the Meadowlands Sale in January 2016 for $70,000 turned into a 15-race winner of more than $300,000 with a record 1:49, a season's fastest clocking for a sophomore gelding pacer, in the final major stake of 2016.

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Matron Stakes and Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund event for two-year-old of both sexes and gaits highlighted a big Nov. 3, 2016 card. A 32-1 longshot What's Goin On driven by Hall of Famer David Miller won the $171,300 colt pace while Ain't Three OK (Brian Sears) took the $170,000 filly pace in 1:52.4. Delaware-owned and Corey Callahan-driven Fine Tuned Lady and Snowstorm Hanover (Matt Kakaley) won the Matron trots.

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During the 2017 portion of Dover Downs racing, daily programs displayed several new wagers. The Pick 4 became a $.50 (50 cents) wager and an additional 50-cent Pick 4 was added for Races 12,13,14 and15. Two Pick 3's were also added - the first, in Race 2 and later in Race 13. And a Superfecta was added to Race 14, and the 12th and 14th race had 9-horse fields.

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The leading trainer title came down to the last day of the meet. Defending champion Dylan Davis broke a 71-all tie for first place, the previous day, then added two wins on the final day to best Jim King, who led for most of the season while having his finest campaign. Davis finished with 74 wins, King had 72. Leigh Raymer was in third place, with 43 wins, the most ever for a female trainer at the track. Josh Green, fourth, at 37, with Joe Hundertpfund, fifth with 37 winners.

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Dylan Davis had the leading UTRS stats (batting average) at .426, with Leigh Raymer second with a .422. Jim King, third, .413. Clyde Francis, was fourth, .399, Don Brittingham completed the top five with a .395.

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In the Leading Driver derby, defending champion Corey Callahan, after a slow start, came n strongly and finished with a comfortable 26-win advantage, 169-143 over runner-up, early season leader, Vic Kirby. In statistics, Tony Morgan moved into third place with 136 winners, Yannick Gingras was fourth with 114 wins. Tim Tetrick, 103, fifth.

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The leading percentage driver with more than 100 starts was Tim Tetrick with a UTRS (batting average) of .373, one point higher than Yannick Gingras, second, at .372. Tony Morgan, having his finest season in recent years, was third, .317. Vic Kirby was in third place with .303 and Corey Callahan had a .293 UTRS.

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The number 5 post position accounted for the most wins with 248 of1,314 starts. Post 1 had 198 winners, post 4-195 wins, post 3-193 victories, and post 2-176. Post 6 was next with 125 wins, post 7-88 and post 8-59 and with far fewer starts post 9-36,in 461 starts..

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In late November 2016, winning the $100,000 Colt and Gelding Pace Final put Bags To Riches into the DSBF record book. His winning time in the $100,000 DSBF Colt Final of 1:51.1 is the fastest clocking for a freshman pacer in the programs history. Other $100,000-winning champions were; Logan's Girl, who took the Filly Pace title. Crosby, a 17-1 shot, won the Colt Trot Final and Spoonful was winner of the DSBF Filly Trot Final..

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The last week of the 2016-2017 season featured four $100,000 Three-Year-Old Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) Stakes finals. Master Clave (Ross Wolfenden) won the Male Trot Final in 1:59; on Tuesday 40-1 shot Lunar Phase (Art Stafford Jr.) won the Filly pace; Wednesday, Spoonful (Jim Morand), the Two-Year-Old Dover champion took the soph Male trot title; and another double champ Bags For Riches (Tim Tetrick) won the Male pace in 1:51.4.

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Teague started seven Delaware-breds in $20,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) Three-Year-Old Male pace preliminary divisions. Two came away with the fastest prelim winners, Henry The Drago (1:52) and Daiymir (1:52.4).

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The penultimate day of the meet saw the only track record broken. Celebrity Pegasus, who worked his way through the ranks, won a feature trot in 1:50 replacing Hes Spooky, who set his mark of 1:52.3 in 2013, as the fastest older trotter at the track.

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Delaware horsemen came up big at various post 2016 awards banquets. At the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA) Night of Champions honoring the 2016 Dan Patch Awards winners on Sunday, Feb. 26, at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas, Nevada. Always B Miki, bred and co-owned by Wilmington, Del. attorney Joe Hurley's Roll The Dice Stable won 2016 Horse of the Year honors. Fred Hertrich, who owns Allamerican Harnessbreds, purchased an interest in world champion pacer Always B Miki. Hertrich becomes the second Delawarean, along with Hurley, in ownership of the fastest harness horse in history owner of a 1:46 clocking. Wilmington attorney Joe Hurley, bred Always B Mike from his stallion Always A Virgin and his mare.

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George Teague was a two-time 2016 USHWA award winner. Team Teague won the coveted Stan Bergstein Proximity Award, the second highest honor presented by USHWA, and for the second time Teague was named USHWA's Good Guy Award winner. Teague also received the Harness Horsemen International (HHI) top award, "The Dominic Frinzi Person of the Year." for his support of the sport by graciously allowing the public to meet and greet his great pacer, 2015 Horse of the Year, Wiggle It Jiggleit. On many occasions during 2016, Teague went all out to help promote harness racing at many events.

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Earlier, in Canada, on January 29, George Teague accepted the Older Pacer of the Year Award presented to Wiggle It Jiggleit who won the major honor at Canada's 28th Black Tie event, its' 2016 O'Brien Awards-Dinner in Mississauga, Ont., whose theme was the 250th Anniversary of Horse Racing in Canada."

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Throughout the year, Teague continued as unofficial ambassador of harness racing. Teague, who was bestowed the sport's second highest honor recently, 'The Proximity Award,' on March 25, helped honor last year's stars from the Nova Scotia racing industry. The sport's distinguished horseman served as the special guest speaker for the Truro Harness Horse Owners Association's annual banquet and awards gala honoring some of the best from the province's 2016 racing season.

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March 1, the 2012 Hambletonian winner Market Share raced at the track. The trotter made the winner's circle for the first time in 2017 as regular driver Tim Tetrick piloted a 1:54.1 victory in the sub-feature trot. The victory was the 29th in his career lifting his bankroll to $3,756,576 at that time.

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On unusually mild Spring-like late February 23, Yannick Gingras rang up five winners on a card boasting a 1:49, 1:49.1, 1:50, 150.2 and two150.4 miles. .Gingras won the $30,000 Preferred, with Take It Back Terry in 1:50.4 after Gingras' 1:50 performance winning the $27,500 Delaware Special with the resurgent Emeritus Maximus.

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Feb. 22 was another five-win card for Corey Callahan topped by a 1:52.2 victory by Tough Mac equaling his lifetime record in the $20,000 Mares Open Handicap.. Trainer Dylan Davis also had four wins while owner Mike Casalino tripled.

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The longshot on Feb. 20 was by 50-1 Ascaryone Hanover owned in part by trainer-driver Eddie Dennis, won in 1:54.2, his first in his initial start of the year.

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Two giant payoffs came during the same week. On Jan.30, John MacKinnon stormed from last to first at 98-1 odds. Then four days later (2/2/17), a $98.80 payoff when 48-1 shot Rock Me Henry, driven by Russell Foster, winner of the DSOA Horizon Award in January, closed along the passing lane to end Officer Blue Chip's five-race win streak.

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Team Teague had a big night on Feb.13 card. Montrell Teague led all drivers with four wins. Trainer Clyde Francis haltered three wins while owner George Teague had a double plus Brenda Teague owned and trained another of her nephew's winners. Montrell came right back the following night for a double.

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Feb.16 was a "King's ransom" at Dover Downs. Jim King dominated the morning qualifiers winning five of the non-betting races including Wakizashi Hanover in 1:52. On the official race program, King haltered another three winners including the $20,000 Open Trot Handicap feature when Frost Free Hanover notched his third win of the year. Tetrick had a driving triple

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Robert Sampson, 74, was the oldest driver to win a race this season at the track when he drove Abogada to a wire-to-wire victory (3/15). Sampson has a win, a second and a third in his first 20 starts this season. It was the maiden victory for the four-year-old trotting mare, Abogada, who paid $61.60 for a $2 win ticket.

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There were at least three great returns on claiming horses during the meet. Emeritus Maximus was a $15,000 claim that became a multiple Preferred and Delaware Special winner while Gary Ewing claimed Star Messenger for $20,000 and Rangers Sureshot for $30,000. Both pacers moved up to top class events.

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When Star Messenger was claimed it broke up a longtime relationship in the Jim King Stable with another fast pacer Little Ben. Both were bred by former Dover Downs driver champion Luc Ouellette and acquired when two-year-olds by King and were productive in his stable. The relationship ended when Star Messenger was claimed. Little Ben is still in the King Stable.

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On consecutive days, both Corey Callahan and Vince Copeland reached important milestones, notching their 5,000th wins respectively. Callahan's win came driving Mel Mara in 1:49.1 to win the $30,000 Preferred pace on Nov.14. Copeland guided Spirit Light in 1:55.2 to win a four-horse photo the next day.

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Two significant longtime Delaware horsemen passed away in late January. Dover Downs founder David Buckson, 96, an owner, trainer, driver in his distinguished career which included serving as Delaware Governor, Lieutenant. Governor, State Attorney General and Family Judge among his many credits. Family and friends of the late Delaware 'giant' David Buckson turned out (2/5) during the races to "Celebrate the Life" of Buckson, who was a founder of Dover Downs. Buckson, a consummate political force who also was a harness horseman, had his ashes spread over the harness course by his son in a special ceremony during the racing program.

Also, Ty Case III, who fought a courageous lifelong battle to live. Case was also a trainer and driver, who due to diabetes lost his vision and required dialysis. After a transplant his sight returned only to lost vision again. He suffered a quadruple heart bypass, and later six strokes plus a brain operation. After blindness, he became a switchboard operator at Dover Air Base. He, his wife Holly and companion dog were seen often at Dover Downs and Harrington enjoying races

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Dover Downs' horseman Ken Wood, who journeys across the globe four time a year in his on-going personal crusade commuting to West Africa to provide water to the natives of the nations of Ghana and Tanzania. Wood's acclaimed humanitarian effort, 'Lifetime Wells For Ghana' drills to provides water to needy inhabitants who previously had to walk five miles to find water that was deemed unsafe. Wood usually makes a three-week round trip. Wood reports his on-going effort has totaled around 2,000 wells drilled, with more than 1,500 wells in Ghana and another 500 in Tanzania. The wells serve more than 2-million native West Africans who until now never had fresh water.

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Two Dover Downs regulars who raced at Rosecroft Raceway during the Fall season tied for the 2016 Leading Driver title, Roger Plante Jr. and Russell Foster had 52 wins each.

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Trainer Joe Hundertpfund reports good news about his five-year-old granddaughter, Layla Mosley. After spend time in several hospital, the youngster is making positive strides in her battle against cancer. The youngster, who has been generously supported by horsemen contributions, has been courageously battling stage-four Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.

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DOVER DOWNS 2016-2017 STAKES WINNERS

2016 Hap Hansen Progress Pace

3YO Open $314,600 Easy Lover Hanover (Doug McNair) 1:49

2016 Matron Stakes

2YO Colt Pace $171,300 What's Goin On (David Miller) 1:53

2YO Filly Pace $170,000 Ain't Three OK (Brian Sears) 1:52.4

2YO Colt Trot $170,000 Snowstorm Hanover (Matt Kakaley) 1:53.2

2YO Filly Trot $148,700 Fine Tuned Lady (Corey Callahan) 1:56.3

2016 Matron Stakes

3YO Colt Pace $160,200 Boston Red Rocks (Tim Tetrick) 1:49.3

3YO Filly Pace $148,400 Pure Country (Bret Miller) 1:50.2

3YO Colt Trot $178,650 Dayson (Yannick Gingras) 1:53

3YO Filly Trot $149,000 Caprice Hill (Brian Sears) 1:52.3

Marv Bachrad

 

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