As his name suggests, the harness racing competition is having trouble catching Tagyoureit Hanover. The 6-year-old son of Andover Hall-Tags Sweetie has been beaten just once from three starts in 2012. Eric Ell trains the trotter for owners Stewart Goldberg, Toby Rekoon, Kenny Wood and Brian Gordon.
"He's turned out terrific," Goldberg said of the group's 2009 purchase.
Tagyoureit Hanover brought his earnings for the year up to $26,300 Wednesday with a third place finish in the Open Trot at Dover Downs. Last week he bested similar competition, leading the field through fractions of :27.3, :57.1 and 1:25.3 before stopping the timer in 1:54.4 on a rainy night. That came after Tagyoureit Hanover kicked off this year's campaign with a 1:55 win on Feb. 22.
Goldberg said a few months ago he and his partners were just hoping the horse would make it back to the races.
Tagyoureit Hanover, he explained, broke a splint bone in November after a successful season at Harrah's Chester. Although he'd begun his 5-year-old season inauspiciously at Yonkers Raceway, a mid-year move to Ell's barn in Maryland proved to get the trotter back on track. He won his first four starts for Ell as he moved up the ranks from non-winners of $6,500 last five to non-winners of $25,000 last five.
"Before that, he was a disappointment, frankly," Goldberg said.
What had turned into a successful season was quickly brought to a close with the trotter's injury. Ell said he broke a hind splint bone and was sent to Brenford Animal Hospital for surgery.
"He broke the bone on the outside," Ell said, "it actually popped out pretty easy."
The horse's suspensory on the same leg, however, was also a cause for concern so Ell gave him plenty of time off and brought him back easy and with as few training miles as possible.
"Knock on wood he's been good so far," he said.
Tagyoureit Hanover's connections were pleasantly surprised in February when the trotter proved victorious his very first start back after the surgery. He came from behind to beat the First State's top trotters in 1:55.
"You're just hoping he has a solid race and comes out of it good," Goldberg said. "We never expected him to win like he did."
He says the owners have Ell to thank for the horse's recent accomplishments.
"He's gotten him healthy and he's done a phenomenal job with him," Goldberg said.
Ell says Tagyoureit Hanover requires no special care or training aside from daily turnout.
"He's the type you need to keep happy," he said, "so we turn him out every day. If he sits in the stall for too many days in a row you can see his attitude change."
Goldberg credits groom Bill Still with keeping the trotter content.
"He's got a terrific rapport with the horse," Goldberg said, recalling how in-tune the pair appeared each time he saw them leaving the winner's circle.
Goldberg said Tagyoureit Hanover's connections plan to continue racing him at Dover before returning to Chester, where they're hoping he will pick up where he left off last fall.
The trotter's lifetime earnings have now reached $263,339, with more than $100,000 of that being made in the past nine months. He boasts 17 wins, seven seconds and 12 thirds from 71 total starts.
"He's accomplished more than we ever thought he would," Goldberg said, "but we're hoping he gets even better."
by Charlene Sharpe, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent