Saturday, July 15, 2023

Sylvia Hanover crossed the final frontier – the Canadian-U.S. border. And in her first Stateside race, she survived a difficult journey on the rim to defeat Twin B Joe Fresh by a half length in the $169,000 Mistletoe Shalee, for 3-year-old pacing fillies, on Saturday evening (July 15) at The Meadowlands.


The race conformed to no known pattern of moves and countermoves, making it a spectacle from start to finish. Zanatta, a 99-1 shot, crossed right over from post 9 in the 10-horse field with a trailer (Beach Cowgirl was a sick scratch) while Twin B Joe Fresh and Dexter Dunn stayed outside with Sylvia Hanover and Bob McClure on her back to a :27.1 quarter. Twin B Joe Fresh got to the top, and Sylvia Hanover went up to challenge, but McClure couldn’t get the division’s defending champion to clear despite a half of only :55.4.


My Little Captain whipped three wide around that embattled twosome to get the lead into the far turn, with Strong Poison following that wide move and getting stuck first over before the 1:22 three-quarters – at which point Sylvia Hanover was second-over and going on gamely, with Twin B Joe Fresh in the pocket and starting to look for room to angle wide.


Sylvia Hanover, despite covering the extra real estate, had plenty in the tank and paced to the lead midstretch over String Poison, with Twin B Joe Fresh gradually getting room to angle wide and launch a late bid. But Sylvia Hanover had too much of a jump on Twin B Joe Fresh and paced to a 1:48.4 victory, a fifth off the stakes record. Strong Poison fought on for third.


Bob McClure, a top pilot who usually has a reserved manner about him, said that at the quarter, “I was terrified. I thought I’d just follow Dexter after he made the lead and go right by, but that didn’t happen. And then two horses looping past the half … Actually, I felt a lot better at the five-eighths because I had live cover, and my filly still had pace – she has great endurance. I wasn’t surprised that it was Dexter’s [Twin B Joe Fresh] coming at me at the end – they’re great fillies.”


A daughter of Always B Miki, Sylvia Hanover is now unbeaten in four 2023 starts after her award-winning 9-8-1-0 campaign last year. Her career earnings are $936,595 for trainer Mark Steacy and owner Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. She paid $3 to win.