Saturday night Hanover Raceway played host to their signature harness racing event, the Dream of Glory Trot and trainer John Bax basked in the glory after winning the half-mile oval's biggest prize for the second time in his career.
The story of the 11th edition of the Dream of Glory for three-year old Ontario-sired trotters was marked with intrigue well before post-time, as the 9-5 morning line second choice was scratched out of the final, leaving Mark Etsell to wait at least another year for his first Dream of Glory title at the track he called home for a large part of his career.
Once the gate swung into the stretch for the tenth race, eight Dream of Glory hopefuls set out for an absolute thriller. Hanover Raceway leading dash-winning driver Bruce Richardson shot out from post four to lead in the early going with Majic Trend while Steve Byron and the other Bax trainee Summer Indian settled into the pocket position.
Byron wasted no time making his move in the backstretch at the quarter and cleared the lead easily, never looking back.
The Bax charges battled out the first quarter in :28.3, before Summer Indian set fractions of :59.0 and 1:27.4 en route to the 1:57.4 victory, capturing winner’s share of the $100,000 purse. After the race, Bax tipped his hat to Etsell and his star colt The Golden Child.
“With Mark’s horse out, that changed things a little bit,” explained Bax. “I think Mark would have pushed the issue early.”
However, the race unfolded perfectly for Summer Indian as he has looked absolutely dominant in his two starts at the Hanover oval. Bax credits the success to the Hanover track surface.
“He has some foot issues, but the surface here is great and he seems to like it.”
It was the second win for Bax in Hanover Raceway’s marquee event, as he adds the 2012 title to Agusto’s trophy in the 2009 running of the event. Byron has been in the bike for both of Bax’s win and now has three Dream of Glory driving wins, tying Ross Battin for the most among reinsmen. Byron’s other win came aboard The Mad Duke in 2007.
Well over 3,000 race fans filed into the grandstand at Hanover Raceway for the night’s festivities that included Tara Oaks carriage rides, a rooftop barbecue, live music from The Crippled Ducks, lots of special prize draws and a massive fireworks display following the races.
Racing continues Thursday and Saturday at 7:15pm, and the 148th Hanover Fair will take over the raceway starting August 17th with a concert featuring Peter Irwin, a former Collingwood Elvis impersonator champion and the Jailhouse Rock band, followed by activities all weekend long including Live racing on Saturday August 18th.
by Gord DOUGAN