Sassa Hanover held off Bettor N Better in a 1:52.1 stakes and track record performance over a 'sloppy' track at Northfield Park to win the $120,000 Courageous Lady for three-year-old pacing fillies on Friday, Nov. 27.
Sassa Hanover lowered the divisional track record, previously held by Pan And Teller (July 2, 2004) and Purrfect Bags (Aug. 14, 2015), by two-fifths of a second and sent her career earnings over the million-dollar mark.
"It's definitely impressive; it's a big mile," said winning driver Yannick Gingras after the record mile recorded in late-November over the off track. "The conditions are not ideal, but they've done a great job with the track. It's not that muddy for as much rain as they got today. The track crew did a great job."
Gingras drove the Rock N Roll Heaven filly for trainer Ron Burke and noted with "a quarter in :26 flat on this track tonight, it was [a matter of] getting to the front at all costs."
Triple V Hanover (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) left from the inside post with Sassa Hanover to her outside and pressing through the quick opening quarter to take over the lead. Sassa Hanover hit quarter-pole in :26 and proceeded to lead the way through middle splits of :55 and 1:23.2. Meanwhile, Sassa Hanover's stablemate, Southwind Roulette (Matt Kakaley), tipped first over from third with Somewhere Sweet (Aaron Merriman) following her cover and then Bettor N Better (Tim Tetrick) fanned wide down the backside. Sassa Hanover entered the stretch with a two-length lead, but Bettor N Better reeled her in to make it a photo finish. Sassa Hanover ultimately held on by a head for the 1:52.1 record-setting victory. Southwind Roulette finished third.
Gingras said that after making the lead "it went pretty good until halfway down the stretch and then I got really worried. I know Bettor N Better is a nice filly as well. I actually thought he got me the last step, but luckily we held on."
This year's Jugette winner, Sassa Hanover, was the 4-5 favourite and paid $3.60 to win.
"I wanted to control the race. I thought I had, by far, the best horse in the race and she proved it," said Gingras.
Sassa Hanover is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, The Panhellenic Stable Corp., Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Lawrence Karr. She now boasts seven wins in 21 starts this year and a seasonal bankroll of $567,109.
Northfield Park has announced the addition of a $40,000 Pick 5 total pool guarantee to Sunday’s (Nov. 29) program. Beginning in Race 3, the $40,000 Pick 5 guaranteed total pool includes a carryover of $10,651.90. Northfield’s Pick 5, Pick 4 and the Pick 3’s offer a reduced takeout rate of 14 percent. Sunday’s post time is 6 p.m.