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Cancellieres Reflect On Record Purchase


Published: November 9, 2011 8:18 pm ET

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John Cancelliere figures when you spend a record $825,000 on a yearling, there is unlikely to be middle ground when pondering the potential outcomes.

“It will either be the greatest thing that ever happened or the biggest calamity,” a laughing Cancelliere said after spending $825,000 on November 7 for trotting colt Detour Hanover, a full brother to 2007 U.S. Horse of the Year Donato Hanover. “They could be laughing at me for the next 20 years.”

Cancelliere and his brother, trainer Tom Cancelliere, purchased two horses for $1.25 million on Monday at the Standardbred Horse Sale in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In addition to Detour Hanover, they paid $430,000 to get pacing colt Some Of The Beach, a full brother to 2008 U.S. and Canadian Horse of the Year Somebeachsomewhere.

Detour Hanover’s sale shattered the record for a standardbred yearling sold at public auction, topping the $650,000 for trotting colt Experience Victory in 1999.

“I’m ecstatic with what we came away with,” said John Cancelliere. “We said we were going to come out and put together a horse farm to be reckoned with. And it will be a horse farm to be reckoned with.”

The Cancellieres have a 55-acre farm in central New Jersey, with a barn for their horses as well as a therapy barn. They train at nearby Magical Acres, which is home to trainer Chuck Sylvester, a four-time winner of trotting’s grand prize, the Hambletonian.

Tom Cancelliere, who began training horses in 2010 and has limited experience with trotters, said he would not be shy in turning to Sylvester – and others – for help.

“Chuckie! Where are you?” a smiling Tom Cancelliere yelled out in the sales arena. “I’m going to have to get one of those ‘Trotters for Idiots’ books.”

John Cancelliere summed up the expectations for Detour Hanover in simple terms.

“Now in order to do anything we’ve got to win the Hambletonian,” he said. “That’s no small order.”

He then turned to his brother and said, “Tommy, get to it tomorrow morning.”

When asked what he anticipated over the next several months as he prepared his horses for their debuts as two-year-olds next spring or summer, Tom Cancelliere replied, “A lot of stomach acid.”

Joking aside, the Cancellieres, who are from New Jersey and run a construction supply business, have serious aspirations to go with their serious spending. At the Lexington Selected Sale they bought six yearlings for a total of $700,000. Just more than a week ago, they won the $500,000 Breeders Crown Open Pace with Bettor Sweet at Woodbine Racetrack.

“Everything is up to the man upstairs,” said John Cancelliere. “I don’t even know how I got here, if you want to know the God’s honest truth. We’ve just been really, really lucky.

“Our mother [Joanne] died when we were little,” he added. “Our father [Frank] took care of us. On her death bed, my mother said you better take care of your brother Tommy. We started this thing with the horses, and [Tom] is going to take care of me now. My brother is going to make these two horses into champions.”

Murray Brown, the vice president and general manager of the Standardbred Horse Sale, as well as the public relations director for Hanover Shoe Farms, which bred Detour Hanover, said the trotting colt has the makeup to be a champion.

“I’ve been at Hanover for 44 years and we’ve sold a lot of trotters in that time and he was without a doubt the finest physical specimen of a trotter that I’ve ever seen,” said Brown. “My all-time most beautiful yearling was The Panderosa. He was called Dead Eye Hanover when he was a yearling. He was about as close to perfection that I’ve ever seen. [Detour Hanover] is his equivalent on the trot.

“The horse had an amazing presence and amazing demeanor, knew how to take care of himself. He knew he was something special. He has a great head, a great eye. He’s just a wonderful horse to be around. In addition to that his video was amazing. He’s just a great gaited horse and looked like he enjoyed his work.”

Tom Cancelliere saw Detour Hanover at Hanover Shoe Farms prior to the sale.

“I just loved him,” he said. “He moved beautifully. We’re happy.”

Related Story
Record Yearling Price Set At Harrisburg

This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit

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