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Tall Dark Stranger Placed First

Published: October 25, 2019 11:55 pm ET

Last Comment: October 26, 2019 12:39 am ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

The Breeders Crown Finals are always highly-electric events, and the 2019 $786,000 ($600,000 USD) Breeders Crown Final for two-year-old colt & gelding pacers was no exception in more ways than one.

Cattlewash (Louis-Philippe Roy) was the first away after the wings of the starting gate folded, eventually yielding to second choice Tall Dark Stranger (Yannick Gingras). That colt hit the opening station in a moderate :27.3 with 6/5 choice Papi Rob Hanover (David Miller) third away. Tall Dark Stranger maintained that lead through a :55.1 half before facing a threat to his outside in elim winner Papi Rob Hanover, flushed out from third by Capt Midnight (Andy McCarthy). The colts kept the tempo honest, flashing by three quarters in 1:23.2 before picking up the intensity turning for home.

Down the Mohawk stretch, Papi Rob Hanover and Tall Dark Stranger were noses apart for the majority of the lane with neither colt giving way. In the final strides, Papi Rob Hanover forged to the front and hit the wire a long nose ahead of Tall Dark Stranger with the mile timed in 1:51. Cattlewash was a few lengths back in third.

Gingras filed an objection against Miller claiming interference in the stretch, and a long judges' inquiry followed. The judges ruled that Papi Rob Hanover did in fact impede the forward progress of Tall Dark Stranger, and was placed to second. Fourth-place finisher Mayhem Hanover was also placed for interfering with Capt Midnight in the stretch, going from fourth to fifth.

A disqualification of a Breeders Crown race winner had only happened twice before (That Fabulous Face in 1998 and Corleone Kosmos in 2007), with both being by trotters that made a break.

"First of all I haven't put an objection in since 2002 probably at Yonkers. It's not something I like to do, I think the judges have a job to do but this is a big moment, the Breeders Crown, and that's why I put the objection up," said Gingras after the decision in the winner's circle. "It's clear in my mind I was coming back to beat David. There was a great battle down the stretch but like I said I had the momentum going forward and David's horse kind of darted in on him a little bit and we hooked forks, and it cost me all my momentum.

"They're two great colts, no doubt about it," continued Gingras, "but like I said my horse showed so much grit tonight and he was passed, he was passed by a good head in the stretch but he showed he's truly a great horse."

Trained by Nancy Johansson, Tall Dark Stranger (Bettors Delight - Precocious Beauty) boasts a summary of 8-1-0 from nine seasonal starts with dazzling earnings of $935,131. Bred by Jim Avritt, the $330,000 yearling is owned by Crawford Farms Racing of Syracuse, N.Y., Marvin Katz of Toronto, Ont., Buck & Judy Chaffee's Caviart Farms of Vienna, Va., and Howard Taylor of Philadelphia, Penn.

"He was definitely much better, I still think he's only at about 95 percent so I think there's more improvement," said Johansson in the winner's circle for her third Breeders Crown win. "Obviously he had a tough week, I wasn't able to train him very much this week. And that was the first time he ever went really fast with the aluminum shoes in front so we were worried about that but it looked like it worked out.

"It means a lot to win a Breeders Crown, as I said earlier in the week it's the best horses, the best trainer and the best drivers so it takes a lot to come together in order to win. My dad has the greatest record ever in the Breeders Crown so it's nice to be able to follow up on that after his retirement."

Katz was extremely complimentary of both colts, calling them "the best in the business" after the race but he wouldn't trade his if given the chance.

"I have to be honest, and actually say that I think the best horse became the winner. Mr. McDuffee is a friend of mine and I like him a great deal, and Brett Pelling -- who I have a great deal of respect for -- I'm sure this is hard for them but the truth is Tall Dark Stranger deserved to win."

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October 26, 2019 - 12:39 amThis placement is

Paul Wilkie SAID...

This placement is disappointing. It's too bad it happened in the year end championships.

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