Sylvia Hanover A Sensational Sophomore

Sylvia Hanover
Published: January 11, 2024 05:00 pm EST

Sylvia Hanover took her show on the road in 2023, and made more history.

The Canadian-owned pacing filly became only the sixth to win Breeders Crown finals at two and three when she fought off Charleston in the $600,000 final at Hoosier Park.

She racked up eight stakes wins, six of them in the U.S., in a campaign that generated $839,375 for owner Hudson Standardbreds of Quebec and earned her a second consecutive Dan Patch Award as divisional champion in the U.S.

More honours likely await her at the 2023 O'Brien Awards in Charlottetown next month rewarding the best in Canadian harness racing.

She's a finalist for outstanding three-year-old pacing filly (after winning the title at two) along with One Last Wish, and certainly a contender as well for Canadian Horse of the Year (where she was the runner-up to Bulldog Hanover in 2022).

"I would hope she's one of the finalists for that," said owner Tony Infilise. "It was a fabulous year."

Trained by Ontario-based Mark and Shawn Steacy, the Always B Miki filly was a force right out of the gate last year, decisively winning the $420,000 Fan Hanover final at Woodbine Mohawk Park in 1:48.2 in just her third start.

She later improved that mark to 1:48.1 at the Red Mile in Lexington in the Bluegrass Stakes.

She also captured three stakes at the Meadowlands, the Simcoe at Mohawk and the Glen Garnsey in Lexington, occasionally winning in heart-stopping fashion by losing the lead before storming back.

"I have a new appreciation for the difficulty of trucking all over the place. All that road travel takes a toll. It created challenges for her. I'm awfully impressed by how she responded.

"The Breeders Crown probably was her toughest race. She got no breaks but still persevered," said Infilise, who with wife Betty has owned, bred and raced Standardbreds for 40 years. They currently have about 50, including broodmares and babies.

Before Sylvia Hanover, they'd shared one O'Brien Award as co-owners of Percy Bluechip, champion two-year-old pacing filly in 2017.

The plan is to bring Sylvia Hanover back to the races as a four-year-old. A $135,000 yearling purchase at Harrisburg in 2021, she's won 18 of 22 races and more than $1.7 million to date.

"She finished the season in good shape. The Steacy Stable did a good job managing her. She's back jogging, back to work, after a couple of months in pasture. I hope she can be as competitive at four, " said Infilise. "We're just thrilled to own her."

The 35th O’Brien Awards Black Tie Gala is set for Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024 at the Delta by Marriott Prince Edward in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Paul Delean; Photos by New Image Media and Jessica Hallett)

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