Sunday, July 10, 2022

Fresh from his world-record equaling mile in the Roll With Joe Stakes, Bulldog Hanover put in another powerhouse performance to post a 1:46.1 mile in taking the $250,000 Graduate Pace Final on Saturday (July 9) at The Meadowlands while the delightful debutante Test Of Faith fired home first in the $125,000 Graduate Final for pacing mares.

Bulldog Hanover again moved to do his work on the lead, this time clearing to the top after a :26.2 first quarter. But up the backside, another Canadian invader – Linedrive Hanover – flushed first over and blitzed the speedy pacesetter into a :54.1 half.

To the far turn, Bulldog Hanover parked Linedrive Hanover and spun for home off three-quarters in 1:20.1 again throttling to another gear. The Shadow Play stallion held his speed to the beam to just miss his record mark by a fifth of a second while besting a fast-closing Rockyroad Hanover by 1-1/2 lengths. Linedrive Hanover held third and Abuckabett Hanover took fourth.

“I knew there would be some leaving, but we just held our position there early,” Dexter Dunn said after the race. “We coasted to the front, the other ones took back, and he did all the rest. I was down in the end of the backstretch after the race trying to pull him up. I talked to Jody Jamieson, who drove him a lot back in Canada in his early career, and he just said he doesn’t get tired. And he’s right.”

The question then was posited to Dunn: can Bulldog Hanover break the 1:46 barrier?

“Your guess is as good as mine. But he’s got the potential to maybe hit it.”

Nonetheless, the victory – the 20th in his career from 28 starts – propelled Bulldog Hanover’s earnings to $1,038,525. He competes for owners Brad Grant and his primary trainer Jack Darling, who has his star housed with conditioner Noel Daley during his New Jersey campaign, through his Jack Darling Stables LTD. He paid $2.40 to win.

Reigning Dan Patch Horse of the Year Test Of Faith exacted revenge off a pair of strong tough-luck performances to dominate her peers in the $125,000 Graduate Series Final for pacing mares.

Fire Start Hanover protected position from the pylons to lead around the first turn as Test Of Faith and Mikala floated towards the front. Test Of Faith edged to sit slightly in the pocket, but risked getting locked at the pegs as Mikala loomed to her flank nearing a :27.4 first quarter. Driver David Miller reacted and squeezed the Brett Pelling pupil outside and attained the lead with Mikala applying pressure and pushing for a narrow lead into a :55.3 half.

Mikala may have bested Test Of Faith in a final-quarter sprint two weeks ago, but around the final turn Test Of Faith wrung her competitor on the rim in a far-turn hustle that clicked three-quarters in 1:22. Off the final turn, Test Of Faith vanquished her challenger and sprung for the finish, stopping the clock in 1:48.1 to win by 3-3/4 lengths. Fire Start Hanover slid through a seam at the pylons for second while Mikala held third and Grace Hill rallied down the center of the track for fourth.

“She had a post edge on the other two mares I thought I had to beat. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t the last one to the front,” David Miller said after the race. “When Fire Start [Hanover] left really hard, I was just kind of waiting for them to make their move, but they were waiting for me. We ended up going :27.4 and :55.3 – at that point, I was like ‘You know what, she can do it from here.’

“I had a ton of confidence in her,” Miller also said. “Even if she had went harder to the half, I probably wouldn’t have let anyone go. She’s just an amazing horse. Brett has done a fantastic job keeping her sharp and I try my best to race her as easy as I can and aim her for the big races.”

Winning her 26th race from 33 starts, Test Of Faith has now amassed $1,829,701 for owners Melvin Segal, Kentuckiana Racing Stable and Eddie Gran. The daughter of Art Major returned $2.40 to win

BETTING TOPS $3 MILLION: With four races seeing well over $300,000 in action, all-source handle on the 13-race card totaled $3,282,634, an average per race of $252,510.

The sixth race saw $355,052 pushed through the windows, $113,497 of that on the Early 50-cent Pick-4. A total of $343,476 was bet on the eighth race, with $53,446 in “new money” put into the 20-cent Pick-6 pool, which, with the Friday night carryover added in, totaled $61,861.

In the 10th race, the Late Pick-4 took in $104,829 as wagering totaled $359,295 before the 11th race (Bulldog Hanover’s 1:46.1 win) saw $374,626 in total play.

There have been 53 race cards contested at The Meadowlands in 2022, and on 15 occasions, betting has busted the $3-million barrier.

A LITTLE MORE: Dexter Dunn and Yannick Gingras were at the top of their respective games, leading the driver colony with three wins apiece while Tim Tetrick had a driving double. … Ake Svanstedt trained a pair to victory lane. … Racing reverts back to the normal Friday-Saturday schedule for the upcoming week (July 15-16). Post time is 6:20 p.m.