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Niki Hill Stays Perfect In Six

Published: October 8, 2021 6:01 pm ET

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Despite staying parked when pressing for the lead around the final turn, Chris Ryder trainee Niki Hill powered to the lead and strode to a 1:51.2 win in the first of two divisions for the $254,000 International Stallion Stakes Two-Year-Old Filly Pace at The Red Mile on Friday (Oct. 8) to remain unbeaten from six starts.

The Always B Miki filly landed in fourth while Sloopy set the pace to a :28.2 first quarter and soon yielded control up the backside to Cape Cod Hanover, who anxiously vacated the cones and swept to the top before a :56.4 half. Driver Dexter Dunn floated Niki Hill first over moving to the final turn with Lyons Serenity in tow and rolled to nearly clear the lead. Cape Cod Hanover accelerated to the inside and kept her wide to three-quarters in 1:25.1, but Niki Hill surged back to the lead off the turn with a wall of horses charging from behind. Queen Of Success stormed from third over to snag second, beaten two lengths, with A Girl That Twirls closing for third and Lyons Serenity finishing fourth.

“We had a minor hiccup before we qualified her – she got a stone bruise in her foot,” trainer Chris Ryder said after the race. “We weren’t really concerned about it because a stone got literally caught in her foot and bruised her up. I’m a lot happier to have six starts instead of nine or 10 by now because we have a couple races at the end of the year we want to concentrate on.”

Niki Hill paid $2.10 to win. She extended her unbeaten record while upping her bankroll to $322,064 for owner Tom Hill.

A heated tempo poised 43-1 shot Frantasy Hanover to fire down the center of the course and nail her stablemate at the beam in the other division of the International Stallion, stopping the clock in 1:51.2.

Southwind Java sped off the wings for the front with Galleria Hanover settling into second to a :27 first quarter. Galleria Hanover soon vacated the pocket to the backside and circled to the top as Dont Fence Me In got underway out of fourth and marched to clear the lead past a :54.4 half. Yes And Yes, the 4-5 favourite, followed her move and raced uncovered into the final turn, pressing pacesetter Dont Fence Me In to three-quarters in 1:22.1.

Off the turn, Dont Fence Me In started to tire as Yes And Yes forged to the lead. But Frantasy Hanover, racing last through the mile, came widest of all and charged with open racetrack ahead for the lead to get a nose up just in time over Yes And Yes. Dont Fence Me In held third and Galleria Hanover took fourth.

“This filly here, obviously we really didn’t know [what she had],” winning driver Joe Bongiorno said after the race of the filly debuting for trainer Ron Burke. “She was a longshot in this race. [Ronnie] did say she would be good, but she’s got to step up to go with these horses today and that’s just what she did.”

Frantasy Hanover, a filly by Always B Miki, scored her second victory from six starts, paying $89.60 to win. She has earned $74,218 to date for owner Christopher Nicol.

Each division of the International Stallion Stakes for two-year-old pacing fillies was sponsored by the American Ideal Syndicate and Brittany Farms.

Branded By Lindy on Top in International Stallion Stakes

Sent the odds-on choice, Branded By Lindy lunged by his competition, including Peter Haughton champ King Of The North, to post a 1:53.2 victory in taking the first of four divisions for the $302,000 International Stallion Stake Two-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trot on Friday (Oct. 8) at The Red Mile.

Letsdoit S shot for the lead to a :28.4 first quarter while the two favourites lagged behind the leaders in a positional stalemate that eventually settled with King Of The North fronting Branded By Lindy towards the back. The pair recouped lost ground to a :56.3 half, where driver Yannick Gingras flushed cover for Branded By Lindy from King Of The North and rode a steady tow towards the front around the final turn.

Gigondas circled to lead the field into the final turn and maintained control to three-quarters in 1:26.1 with King Of The North gradually gaining on the outside. Gingras angled Branded By Lindy to the centre of the course off the turn and promptly surged by his competition to win by a length past the beam. Letsdoit S shot through an opening at the pylons for second while King Of The North settled for third and Gigondas faded to fourth.

“He’s like racing a four-year-old really,” Gingras said after the race. “He’s really mature and you can do whatever you want with him. He’s obviously got the ability, the speed, but just being able to race him any which way you want, that’s what makes him so strong. He had more too left.

“Mark [MacDonald and King Of The North] was backing up to try to get me in front of him, but that wasn’t going to happen,” Gingras also said. “I wanted to follow him. He’s a great horse, King Of The North, and I figured he’d get me where I need to go. I was just hoping to be a couple lengths off at the top of the stretch and I thought he could get the job done from there. Like I said, I’m really impressed by him, I trusted him and he got the job done easily.”

A winner of seven races from nine starts, Branded By Lindy has banked $143,350 for owner/breeder Lindy Farms of Connecticut. Domenico Cecere trains the son of Chapter Seven, who paid $3.80 to win.

Several of the top betting interests in the second split of the International Stallion went on gallops, but World At War Deo stayed flat and in a striking spot to pounce and score in a 1:54.1 mile.

Keg Stand kicked off the car and quickly jumped off stride to the first turn while Rose Run Xtra slotted in behind early leader World At War Deo. Rose Run Xtra then moved for the lead through a :28 first quarter as Stride The Hill broke stride from fourth. Rose Run Xtra led unchallenged through a :56.4 half while Tachyon tipped first over and carried Classic Hill second over to the final turn.

Rose Run Xtra’s advantage narrowed to three-quarters in 1:26.2 as Tachyon upped the pressure and Classic Hill fanned off cover before he then broke stride through the stretch. Tachyon took over a short lead as Rose Run Xtra drifted and faded between horses, but World At War Deo shot through the developed gap to the inside and coasted to a length victory over closing Majestic J to the finish. Tachyon took third and Rose Run Xtra settled for fourth.

Owned by Steve Heimbecker, Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., Michael Guerriero and Menary Racing Inc., World At War Deo collected his fourth win from 10 starts, pushing his earnings to $97,697. Dave Menary trains the son of Chapter Seven, who returned $10 to win.

Of note, the win with World At War Deo vaulted driver Yannick Gingras over the US$200 million mark in career earnings, making him just the sixth driver in North American harness racing history to achieve that accomplishment. Gingras joins John Campbell, David Miller, Tim Tetrick, Ron Pierce, and Brian Sears as the only drivers to surpass that plateau.

Rebuff rolled off a helmet to a comfortable 1-1/2-length victory in the third split of the International Stallion as the odds-on choice in a 1:52.2 effort.

Periculum pushed for the front to a :28.3 first quarter with Villain sitting the pocket and Fast As The Wind in third. Rebuff raced fifth to the backside and managed to grab cover from Pretender to a :56.1 half, ranging to within two lengths of the lead to three-quarters in 1:24.2. Driver Tim Tetrick launched Rebuff off cover at the bottom of the turn and darted to the lead as Periculum scooted up the pylons to give pursuit through the final eighth, though settling for second to the finish. Global Pandemic rallied for third and Pretender held fourth.

Co-owned by trainer Lucas Wallin with Kjell Andersen and Pieter Delis, Rebuff won his second race from nine starts, pushing his earnings to $131,595. The Muscle Hill colt paid $3.60 to win.

The final split of the International Stallion went to Temporal Hanover, who tipped out of the pocket and cruised home a 1:53.2 winner.

Grabbing command to a :29 first quarter, Temporal Hanover yielded control up the backside to 1-5 favourite Slay, who then took the field to the half in :56.4. Temporal Hanover stayed put until the bottom of the final bend when driver Brian Sears inched the Walner colt out of second by three-quarters in 1:25.3 and swiftly put away Slay through the straightaway. B A Superhero took second in a photo with Slay, beaten 4-1/4 lengths, with Golden Wall As finishing third.

“He’s been racing well all year,” trainer Marcus Melander said after the race. “He was a little bit sick in the final of the William Wellwood, but he’s always showed up.”

Owned by AMG Stable Inc., Kenneth Kjellgren, Rick Wahlstedt and Heights Stable, Temporal Hanover won his fifth race from 10 starts, pushing his earnings to $198,666. He paid $8.80 to win.

Each division of the International Stallion Stakes for freshman trotting colts was sponsored by the Six Pack Syndicate and Deo Volente Farms.

Live harness racing resumes at The Red Mile on Saturday (Oct. 9) with stakes action including the $314,000 International Stallion Stakes for two-year-old trotting fillies and the $289,900 International Stallion Stakes for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings.

Sunday’s card will feature a tribute to the late champion trainer Ron Gurfein, who passed away in May of this year. The memorial for Gurfein will be held after the second race, with horsemen leaving the paddock to come to the front stretch for a moment of silence and a memorial video.

First-race post time at The Red Mile is 1:00 p.m. (EDT).

(With files from The Red Mile)

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