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McMurray Hanover Shrugging Off Bias

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Published: December 3, 2009 9:43 am ET

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Some people tend to steer clear of chestnut yearlings that parade through sales rings. Ottawa, Ont. resident Brian Cassell has shown that bucking that trend is not a bad thing, as McMurray Hanover may just be proving him right.

When scanning his slate, McMurray Hanover's $8,000 sale price at the 2008 New Jersey Classic Yearling Sale stands out, as did the colour of his coat when Cassell acquired the now-two-year-old son of Badlands Hanover.

"It was all because of colour," Cassell told Trot Insider about one of his reasons for purchasing the young pacer. "He also had a good conformation and a decent pedigree, but the chestnuts don't scare us, we have a bunch, actually."

Brian, who owns McMurray Hanover along with Stephanie Cassell, gave the gelding to trainer Robby Robinson who got the chestnut to learn about what it takes to succeed out on the racetrack. Robinson set McMurray Hanover's sights to summer action at Rideau Carleton Raceway.

"Robby educated him and got him ready," Brian said. "We took a shot at the Boys of Summer (Pacing) Series at Rideau, but things just didn't pan out, a lot of which had to do with racing luck."

After his summer stints at Rideau, Cassell sent the youngster to Delaware into the care of trainer Eddie Dennis, who has since experienced quite a bit of success with the gelding.

"Eddie thought he was a gorgeous individual when he first got him, but he has really taken a shining to him since he has been racing him," Brian explained.

In what was his United States debut, McMurray Hanover went out and earned his second career win October 1 over Harrington Raceway's half-mile track.

"We were a little concerned about putting him on a half," Brian explained. "He was trained down on a half, but we were still somewhat weary about putting him on one. We're proud of the way he responded, though."

And McMurray Hanover has given his connections much reason to be proud. After a pair of solid efforts in Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund eliminations over Harrington, the chestnut kicked off what has come to be three-race win streak in the DSBF consolation, as he tripped the timer in 1:57.3. "He was competitive in the eliminations and won the consolation, so it's hard to ask for much more than that," said Brian.

As the gelding followed the DSBF circuit to the five-eighths mile Dover Downs racetrack, the wins followed suit.

After getting acclimatized to the Dover course with a victorious qualifying effort, McMurray Hanover went out and lowered his lifetime mark via a 1:54.3 win in a DSBF event November 22. The gelding was at it again one week later, as he reigned supreme in another $20,000 DSBF race.

McMurray Hanover has drawn Post 3 in the $100,000 DSBF final which is scheduled for Sunday at Dover. David Miller will be in the race bike and the duo has been gauged as the 8-1 fourth choice in the early odds. "Delmarvalous (PP8, C. Callahan, 4-5) is looming large in there right now, but we've got a shot in there with the inside post and all," Brian explained.

Brian also told Trot Insider that since McMurray Hanover has found so much success in Delaware as of late, he may be staying a little longer than originally expected.

"I was planning on bringing him back up here after he races on Sunday, but I've been speaking with Eddie about it and I may change my mind," he said. "Eddie told me that stakes will be starting back up in Delaware in March, so I may just leave him down there."


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