A pair of rich Empire Breeders Championship finals for three-year-old trotters were contested during this afternoon’s Memorial Day program at Vernon Downs
, with Canadian-owned Russell Hill besting his male rivals and the award-winning Honorable Daughter getting the better of her female foes.
Al Libfeld, Marvin Katz and Sam Goldband’s Russell Hill was in control from start to finish in the $206,275 final for the colts and geldings. Jim Morrill, Jr. mapped out the winning trip for the Jimmy Takter trainee, who sliced out splits of :28.1, :58.2 and 1:28.2 before kicking home in :28.4 en route to the 1:57.1 score. Donttellmywife, who was sent off as the 1/2 favourite, was second best and Calchips Brute finished third.
“Jimmy had him really good today; last week he was a little wound up,” said driver Jim Morrill, Jr. “I didn’t want to get him too stirred up, but Jimmy quieted him right down this week and he was a complete gentleman today. I like them [Conway Halls] a lot; especially this colt here. I’m looking forward hopefully to racing him in the Sires Stakes.”
Russell Hill, a son of Conway Hall – Southwind Maywood, is now 2-for-4 this season after going 1-for-8 in his freshman campaign. The six-figure payday bumped the colt’s lifetime bankroll to $179,237.
Morrill was right back in victory lane one race later thanks to a winning effort with Honorable Daughter in the $212,875 final of the Empire Breeders Classic for the trotting fillies. The daughter of Malabar Man – Honorable Mother stopped the clock in 1:57.
Honorable Daughter, who was sent off as the 1/5 favourite, floated off the gate and tucked into the four hole while Social Butterfly carved out an opening panel in :28.1. The leader was joined at the mid-way point in :59 by Honorable Daughter, who wasted little time in brushing to the top and laying down the rest of the speed. She came under pressure and gave way momentarily to Porque, who pushed the odds-on choice to the three-quarter pole in 1:27.4.
Honorable Daughter regained a better stride once she found the straightaway, and from there she used a :29.1 final frame to deliver the knock out punch to the competition. Porque was a determined runner-up and third prize went to Matchplay Volo.
“I waited for the dust to settle before moving her,” said driver Jim Morrill, Jr. “I figured Ray [Schnittker driving Social Butterfly] would be looking to follow the right horse. I figured Ray was waiting on me to follow me, and when I came he cut me loose and from there it was a pretty easy game. She got going in a little bit around the turn; got a little bit bumpy. I tried to help her through the turn a little bit, but once we straightened up and I called on her she was on her own.”
Larry Remmen trains Honorable Daughter, who is 2-for-2 to start the season after putting together a brilliant 9-1-0 record in 11 starts as a rookie. The lion’s share of Monday’s purse bumped her overall earnings to $948,243. Honorable Daughter is owned by New York partners Paolo Rosanelli and John Siena.