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'Westwardho' Captures Progress Pace, Crys Dream Rebounds In Matron


Published: November 13, 2011 7:01 pm ET

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Westwardho Hanover earned his biggest stakes win yet in the $330,000 Progress Pace for three-year-old colts and geldings during Dover Downs' Sunday stakes card, which also featured three Matron finals.

Mr Tommy Fra (Yannick Gingras) fired off the gate to take the early lead with Samandar (Tim Tetrick) in the two-hole and the Dave Palone-driven Westwardho Hanover and Fashion Delight (George Brennan) stacked three-deep to his outside into the first turn.

Westwardho Hanover, the second choice in the field, pressed on and cleared to command after a :26.3 opening quarter leaving Fashion Delight in the first over position. As he raced to the half in :54.4 and three-quarters in 1:21.4, favourite Alsace Hanover (Ron Pierce) moved into the outer flow from fifth and then rallied three-wide around Fashion Delight.

Westwardho Hanover turned for home with Alsace Hanover moving up into second in a two-horse breakaway from the rest of the field. Westwardho Hanover kept Alsace Hanover at bay to score by three-quarters of a length in a career-best 1:49.1. Alsace Hanover was second with Rock To Glory (Dave Miller) also rallying three-wide down the backside and coming on for third.

"It was a great scenario because he's not really quick off the wings and I was able to make the front," said Palone after the victory. "I had George parked and I knew Ronnie was going to have to flip and come after me and he wasn't going to get by me. It was just a will of authority at the end and my horse just out-fought him. It was a big effort."

The win was Westwardho Hanover's fourth in 16 seasonal starts and pushed his bankroll for the year to $332,997. The Breeders Crown elimination winner's biggest paycheque prior to tonight's was earned with a close second place finish to Alsace Hanover in the Tattersalls Pace.

Ron Burke trains the winning colt, who was supplemented to the Progress Pace, for the Westward Ho Stable of Pennsylvania.

"We knew the purse was pretty high so we only had to be third to get it back and so we sat down and figured out which horses would go to Balmoral, which horses would go to Yonkers and it made us pretty sure that we could be competitive down here," said Burke of the decision to supplement his colt.

"He gained a lot of respect last week [finishing third by half a length in his elimination behind Alsace Hanover and Rock To Glory] and he's progressively gotten better every week in Ronnie's program now," commented Palone. "What a year they've had, the Burkes. Another one for them. This horse is just the freshest horse coming in late in the season and he fit into [the Burke's] routine great."

Westwardho Hanover joined the Burke barn at the end of September, but the top trainer said he has had his eye on the Dragon Again-Western Duel colt since he was yearling.

"For some reason we do real well with Dragon Agains," said Burke. "We had Foiled Again, Hudadragon, Atochia and this horse. I've wanted this horse since he was a yearling. I cheapened out and didn't buy him as a yearling and we hounded Mr. [Timothy] Pinske everyday to buy him and finally they conceded and we bought the horse. I always felt he was a horse that would fit [the family's operation] and the way we do things. Horses with us, they tend to go either very good or very bad. It looks like he's going very good."

Big Rigs also scored a big win as he closed late to capture the $174,940 Matron Stakes for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings in a new 1:52.4 track record, sending Palone back to the winner's circle two races later.

Broad Bahn (George Brennan) fired off a :26.3 opening quarter before being put to pressure by the popular elimination winner and this year's Breeders Crown champ Chapter Seven (Tim Tetrick).

Chapter Seven advanced first over from third and applied pressure to the leader past the half in :55.3 before pulling ahead down the backstretch. He opened up two lengths on the field by the 1:23.2 three-quarters mark and even more down the stretch.

Meanwhile, Big Rigs kicked into action from third, scooting around Broad Bahn and storming down the stretch. Big Rigs snuck up the rail to collar the leader and push ahead by one and a quarter length for the win. Chapter Seven finished second with Broad Bahn well back in third.

"I liked the way I got spotted up behind George leaving and Timmy's hand was sort of forced first over and he took a run at George up the backside," said Palone. "I didn't want to come too quick because we made a mistake in the Breeders Crown in the last turn so I was chasing this horse and I still felt strong on the turn and when I got out of the turn I asked him and he was just full of trot. It's just a good feeling. [Trainer] Kelly [O'Donnell] and I have been friends a long time and it's nice to win as big race for him again."

The Andover Hall-Filly At Bigs colt is owned by the Millers Stable of Kentucky, along with the DM Stables and C. Ed Mullinax of Ohio. Big Rigs has won four races in 16 starts this year while banking $416,726. He has won divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and the Bluegrass Series this year.

"This was really great," said O'Donnell. "We've had so many unlucky nights with this horse, you know one thing after another. He's always shown he has tons of talent, but he makes mistakes at the wrong time -- last year, this year. He finally got really good in Lexington. He won in 1:52.2 there and went to the Breeders Crown eliminations and had a perfect trip there -- he left out of the eight-hole and got right to the front -- but then sitting in the two-hole coming off the last turn he made a very unfortunate mistake there and made a break so he got eliminated from the final. He came back and redeemed himself here and beat those horses and we're really tickled."

Millionaire Crys Dream found her way back to victory lane in the $151,990 Matron Stakes for three-year-old trotting fillies held earlier on the card.

Crys Dreams and driver Luc Ouellette cleared the lead early on ahead of Firstclassprincess (Trond Smedshammer) while the even-money favourite, Breeders Crown and Kentucky Filly Futurity winner Cedar Dove (Ron Pierce), was left parked out in third.

Crys Dream reached the opening quarter in :27 and then proceeded to the half in :55.2, at which point Cedar Dove was finally able to drop into the pocket.

Jezzy (Tim Tetrick) launched a first over attack from fourth down the backstretch with Beatgoeson Hanover (Dave Miller) following her cover. Crys Dream pressed on reaching three-quarters in 1:24.1 and turned for home with Beatgoeson Hanover rallying three-wide.

Down the stretch, Beatgoeson Hanover began to close in on the leader while Cedar Dove shot up the rail, but Crys Dream managed to hold off those fillies to prevail by half a length in 1:54 flat. Beatgoeson Hanover was second and Cedar Dove finished third.

The win was Crys Dream's first since the end of July, although she has picked up cheques in most of her starts -- most recently with a second place effort in the Breeders Crown. The Elegantimage and Casual Breeze Stakes champion has won six races this season in 13 starts and watched her 2011 bankroll climb to $671,237.

“It came down to the post position and we drew inside [of Cedar Dove],” said Ouellette. “The last few starts we’ve been drawing outside and we’ve sort of been bidding our time. Tonight it was now or never.

“She is going to get a rest now. This is not near the horse that she is, what you saw tonight. She was at her peak when she won the Elegantimage early in June. It’s just unfortunate what happened this year with her.”

The Taurus Dream-Crystas Image filly, part of a three-horse entry in the race, is trained by Frederik Persson for Reve Avec Moi Dreamwithme of Grand Valley, Ont., Deo Volente Farms and the T L P Stable of New Jersey, and New York's Jerry Silva.

The win capped off a big day for Silva, who also shares in the ownership of A Rocknoll Dance, winner of the Governor's Cup at Harrah's Chester earlier this afternoon with Yannick Gingras in the sulky.

"I'm glad that 'Crys' finally went to the front and showed them what she has," said Silva. "She's been coming up from the rear second and third over and never making it and I'm glad Luc decided to go to the front and give Cedar Dove her due."

Overwhelming 1-9 favourite Drop The Ball delivered on her pari-mutuel promise as she kicked off the stakes action with a victory in the $116,000 Matron Stakes for three-year-old pacing fillies.

Elimination winner Drop The Ball and driver Yannick Gingras left from Post 4 and was parked out to the :26.3 opening quarter, but cleared to command in front of inside starter Foxy Lady (George Brennan) as the field moved in front of the grandstand for the first time.

Drop The Ball took the fillies to the half in :55.4 with Myluvmylife (Ron Pierce) advancing first over from fifth and Strike An Attitude (Dave Palone) moving out in behind her after getting away fourth. Myluvmylife made it up to the leader's saddle pad as they raced down the backstretch, but Drop The Ball maintained the lead en route to three-quarters in 1:23.1.

Turning for home, Strike An Attitude rallied three-wide off cover and began to close in on the leader, but Drop The Ball persisted and hit the wire with half a length to spare in 1:51.2. Strike An Attitude edged out Myluvmylife for second.

"She's a filly that likes to sit for a way. Ideally, she likes to sit until the half with decent fractions," said Gingras. "But the way I saw the race tonight, if I let George be on the front he was going to go :26, :56 probably or something like that. If I waited a little bit longer to come it would have been :26, :54. So I thought I was going to take my abuse in the first quarter and maybe get a good middle half from there and she dug in there on the end like the good filly that she is...I was pretty confident with my decision. I was going to take the beating, I guess, if it didn't work out, but thankfully it did."

The Western Terror-Mattcheck Girl filly, trained by Jeff Webster, earned her sixth win of the season in 15 starts while pushing her earnings to $529,047 for Floridas's Let It Ride Stables, Dana Parham, and the Robert Cooper Stables. Among her wins this year include a division of Bluegrass Series, the Shady Daisy and Mistletoe Shalee.

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