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Papi Rob Hanover Defeats Tall Dark Stranger

Published: October 18, 2019 11:44 pm ET

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Papi Rob Hanover emerged from the shadow of Tall Dark Stranger to close out the Breeders Crown elimination round for two-year-olds on Friday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Trained by Brett Pelling for owner David McDuffee, Papi Rob Hanover matched his lifetime mark of 1:50.2 in the lone elimination for two-year-old pacing colts with David Miller working out the winning trip.

Undefeated in seven prior starts, 3-5 favourite Tall Dark Stranger (Yannick Gingras) took control from early leaver Cattlewash (Louis Philippe Roy) at the :27.4 first quarter mark before Miller made his move with Papi Rob Hanover. He swept up from fourth and was stretched out by his rival past the half in :55.1 before clearing.

Papi Rob Hanover then raced past three-quarters in 1:22.2 and kept Tall Dark Stranger at bay down the stretch with Cattlewash threatening to steal the runner-up role along the pylons before settling for third. Ontario Grassroots champion Mayem Hanover (Doug McNair) finished fourth.

Freedom Warrior (Brian Sears), Allywag Hanover (Jonathan Drury) Major Betts (Dexter Dunn) and Put To Right (Andrew McCarthy) rounded out the top eight that will advance to next week's final along with Capt Midnight and Catch The Fire, whose connections accepted byes.

"I talked to [Brett] before the race and I was like, 'What's our main objective? You have to be eighth to make the final,' and he said, 'I came here to win.' So [after the race] I said, 'We got the job done,'" said Miller with a smile. "I tried to get away close and my plan was just to race him on the end of it but when they went :27.4, I had to do something. It would be a half in :56 and I'd be first-over on that horse so I decided to take a shot and Yannick stretched me a bit but I grabbed my horse up and he felt strong through the stretch."

Papi Rob Hanover paid $5 to win as the 3-2 second choice. The Pennsylvania Sires Stakes champion had finished second to Tall Dark Stranger in the Metro Pace and entered the Breeders Crown elimination off a Kindergarten Classic victory at The Meadowlands one week ago.

"I've got a huge amount of belief in this horse," said Pelling. "He does everything absolutely perfect, he's a dream to be around and I really believe he is the real deal. He's just never done anything wrong, even in the races where he's lost, he's been phenomenal. It's just a matter of getting him into condition. He's a big colt, carries a lot of weight, and it's taken really until now to pare him down but he's pared down the right way.

"With the Metro, we had the nine [hole] and I thought he was the best that night. I just decided to opt out of the bye and I wanted to earn my post. So now that's one step done and no more nine and 10 holes next week so we'll be OK."

Post positions for the two-year-old pacing colt division will be drawn at the Breeders Crown press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 22. The elimination winners will draw from posts one through five.

The 2019 Breeders Crown, presented by Libfeld-Katz Breeding Partnership, will be contested next weekend at Woodbine Mohawk Park with the two-year-old championships set for Friday, Oct. 25.

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