Day At The Track

"Hurricane Hannah" strikes early in the year

01:48 PM 29 Jan 2016 NZDT
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Hannah Miller Hannah Miller Wygant Prince
Hannah Miller is back in the winner's circle
Geri Schwarz Photo
Hannah Miller scores a front- end triumph with Jacks To Open
Geri Schwarz Photo
Paul Minore behind his own trotter, Wygant Prince
Geri Schwarz Photo

Fresh off a season where her driving talents earned her 2015 National Amateur Driver of the Year honors Hannah Miller is back in the winner's circle after she copped a division of the North American Amateur Drivers Association trots at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon, January 28. She shared the limelight that afternoon with harness racing driver Paul Minore who reined the winner in the other split.

But it seems that "Hurricane Hannah" has picked up where she left off last year when she scored a front- end triumph with Jacks To Open in a time of 2:01.2. And for Minore, his 2:03 victory came behind his own trotter, Wygant Prince.

In her division Miller sent the veteran trotter to the lead and was pressured by AJ Destiny and driver Bob Hechkoff. With the two leaders racing side by side toward the quarter pole Miller refused to grab into Jacks To Open so Hechkoff backed off and fell into the two-hole behind her.

"He (Hechkoff) kept yelling to me to take a hold and let him go but I refused to grab into my horse because the last time I did that it cost me the race," she said referring to the $25,000 Billings Series Final when she got jammed and Jacks To Open jumped it off." And besides," she added, "he was real 'steppy' today anyway.

After AJ Destiny settled in behind Jacks To Open Miller led the field by the halfway point and she was able to give her trotter a breather up the backside.

As the field raced by the third stanza Woody and Joe Lee charged from behind to get along side Jacks To Open and the two races nearly side by side around the final turn. Although Woody was a threatening presence in the lane Jacks to Open had enough in the tank to rebuff the challenge and go on to a one length triumph. AJ Destiny held on for third money.

Owned by Nick Surick and Hannah Miller Jacks To Open paid $4.00 for win.

Paul Minore, a former high school coach who's most famous pupil was the great Olympic gold medalist, Carl Lewis, had no trouble in his contest with Wygant Prince.

After starting from the four-hole Minore was content to be on the outside until everyone settled in along the pylons, and when they did he hustled Wygant Prince to the lead and they cruised on to an easy 2-1/2 length triumph.

"I was waiting to get everyone settled before I sent my horse to the lead because he's especially good on the front-end," Minore said after the race. "He has been resting and out for a while and he came back real strong."

Finishing second, some 2-1/2 lengths behind the winner, was Nautilus De Vie driven by Dave Yarock. Cassa's Image took home the show dough for owner -driver Bobby Krivelin.

Sent off as the odds-on favorite Wygant Prince paid $3.80 for win.

The next leg will be contested at Yonkers Raceway on Thursday, Feb. 24.

With the event scheduled last Saturday at Freehold Raceway snowed-out today's race became the second event in the 12-leg series which is slated to culminate in a $15,000 Final on April 7 at Yonkers Raceway.

John Manzi

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