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Manners To Be Put To The Test

Published: June 5, 2018 10:47 am ET

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Last season as a two-year-old, Donatover was so fractious that he managed only three starts and a modest $2,400 bankroll. This year, the young trotter has hit the board in all five starts with a pair of victories, including a convincing win in his Pennsylvania Sire Stakes opener.

Donatover’s newfound manners will be tested in Wednesday’s $110,260 Currier & Ives open division at the Meadows, where he’s been installed as the 7-2 second pick on the morning line. The Currier & Ives dashes have been carded as Races 1 and 3, and Donatover is set to start from the rail with Dave Palone in Race 1. First post will be at 1:05 p.m.

Trainer Trond Smedshammer purchased the son of Donato Hanover-Anonyme Hanover as a yearling for $30,000 for Purple Haze Stables. A student of pedigree, Smedshammer liked what he saw in the youngster’s lineage.

“He wasn’t an exceptionally good-looking horse, but there was something about his breeding that I liked,” Smedshammer says. “If you look carefully at it, you’ll see his pedigree doubles up on Amour Angus (dam of the ultra-successful Garland Hall full brothers Andover Hall, Angus Hall and Conway Hall). Sometimes if you do that, you can get something special.”

Donatover pictured victorious in his May 19, 2018 PASS division at the Meadows (Chris Gooden Photo)

Donatover looked anything but special as a freshman, as he broke stride in two of his three outings and exhibited a headstrong approach to his schooling.

“He showed some speed, but he was erratic and hot at times,” Smedshammer says. “He’s definitely stating to mature a little bit mentally, but even this year, he was good one race, and I couldn’t hold him back the next. I’ve had to change bits on him. Right now, it seems we have him halfway figured out. We’ll see how long it lasts before he outsmarts us again.”

Smedshammer knows that the rail can be a tricky starting spot for a green, willful trotter.

“I’m hoping that Dave can come first over with him rather than move to the front early,” he says. “With aggressive horses, it’s better to keep them in a hole as long as you can and make one big, long move with them.”

Even if his antics are behind him, Donatover has cost himself a shot at most of the richest events for three-year-olds.

“He’ll race in Pennsylvania,” Smedshammer indicates. “He didn’t show me enough last year or this winter to stake him to Grand Circuit races. The way I look at it, I’d rather have a good horse that’s under-staked than a bad horse that’s over-staked. I can’t stand wasting money on stake payments — even if it’s not my money.

“A good horse will always make money, even if it’s as an aged horse. I’m a realist, not an optimist.”


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