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Homicide Hunter Continues Perfect Year

Published: September 20, 2015 1:19 am ET

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On a chilly night in Indiana, the stakes action heated up at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday, September 19 as the track played host to Hoosier Champions Night, the fifth and final round of the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes finals.

Homicide Hunter and Hannelore Hanover shared the spotlight as they both overcame tough trips to score in their respective finals for the three-year-old trotting divisions.

Homicide Hunter, with John DeLong in the bike, kept his perfect sophomore record in tact as he earned his 13th straight victory in the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes Final for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings in 1:55. For the second consecutive week, Homicide Hunter was handed post position nine along with an imperfect trip, but was able to overcome it all to find the winner’s circle and remain undefeated.

DeLong sent Homicide Hunter away from the gate, but a host of others also left aggressively. Bluebird Reverend and Rick Farrington were the first to get a call through the opening panel in :27.1, but their lead was short-lived as Trace Tetrick had Hominy Hill pointed to the front.

Hominy Hill continued to call the shots through middle fractions of :56.4 and 1:27 while Homicide Hunter was unable to find a spot along the rail and pressed on to the front. Homicide Hunter reached the leader’s wheel as the field turned for home and the stage was set for a battle to the wire.

Just as soon as it looked like the taxing mile was beginning to take its toll, Homicide Hunter found another gear to put away Hominy Hill and hold off a late charge from Bluebird Reverend, who finished second. Using a :27.4 final quarter, Homicide Hunter dug in gamely to get the win by three parts of a length. As the heavy favourite, Homicide Hunter returned $3.20 at the betting windows.

“That’s two weeks in a row this horse has overcome a bad trip,” DeLong noted in the winner’s circle. “He’s just unbelievable. There’s no way he should have won that race tonight off that trip, but he did because he’s an amazing animal.

“They’ve all done such a great job with him the entire season,” DeLong continued. “Everyone, they’ve done a perfect job managing him, taking care of him, everything. He’s a professional and an absolute pleasure to drive; I can’t say enough good things about him.”

Homicide Hunter remains undefeated in 13 starts this season and has earnings totalling $257,050. Owned by Dr. Patrick Graham and trained by Curt Grummel, the homebred son of Mr Cantab-Evening Prayer has now won 16 of 23 lifetime starts.

Hannelore Hanover staged her own gutsy performance to score her fifth consecutive victory, tonight in 1:54.2, in the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes Final for three-year-old trotting fillies. Driven by Ricky Macomber Jr., Hannelore Hanover was able to overcome a tough, first-over trip to score her sixth win of the season and put an end to Indiana Sires Stakes champion Churita’s undefeated sophomore season.

Hannelore Hanover was unhurried from the gate to settle along the rail in sixth while Sloane Elise and Peter Wrenn carved out the first quarter in a snappy :26.4. Trace Tetrick didn’t wait long as he sent the overwhelmingly favourite Churita to the front and she grabbed the lead just past the half in :57.2.

Hannelore Hanover began her long, first-over journey to the front just past the half and she was able to reach the leader’s wheel at the three-quarter clocking in 1:26.1. Churita appeared strong on the front, but Hannelore Hanover wasn’t through. Macomber asked his mount for more and she responded to kick home and get the win by three lengths over Churita. As the 6-5 second choice, Hannelore Hanover returned $4.40 at the betting windows.

“We expected a good race tonight,” assistant trainer Jamie Macomber noted after the victory. “It actually was a great drive by Ricky, he deserves all the credit. She can’t be rushed off the gate and he did the right thing by letting her get settled in and then moving her when he did.”

“She’s just been really green all season,” she continued. “We’ve spent all summer teaching her how to race and figuring her out, but she loves what she does and she’s pure class. She’s finally starting to put it all together and figure this racing thing out.”

Trained by Hoosier Park’s leading conditioner, Ron Burke, the daughter of Swan For All-High Sobriety notched her sixth win from 17 seasonal outings. Owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, W. W. Haas Jr., and Frank Baldachino, Hannelore Hanover has now amassed $198,387 lifetime.

In a turn of events that left those in the winner's circle as well as the stands simply staring at the toteboard and wondering what just transpired in the evening’s eighth race, Fawn De Savage hit the wire at 65-1 without feeling even a whisper from the whip to triumph in the $75,000 Indiana Sire Stakes Two-Year-Old Filly Trot. Fired out from post nine by her pilot Dan Shetler, the daughter of Keystone Savage and the Master Lavec mare Ms Mastercraft went straight to the lead and never looked back.

As she cruised around the Anderson oval, the Kristin Shetler trainee established splits of :29, 59.1, 1:29.3 and stopped the clock in 1:57.3, a new lifetime mark. In what was the second victory of career, Fawn De Savage, who is owned by Jacob Hartline, now sports a resume of 10-2-0-1 and has a bankroll of $56,100.

Despite trotting a :26.1 last panel, post time favourite Miss Tootsie Hall had to settle for second, with the public’s third choice, Nothing But Nice, rounding out the trifecta.

Fawn De Savage rewarded her backers with a $132.80 payoff, with the exacta paying $862 and the trifecta $2,401.40.

“She has always had good manners,” Shetler said. “But she has been very immature. She needed to grow into herself and we knew she had the ability. It was just always tough to keep her straight, but that certainly was not a problem tonight.”

Just when the Hoosier betters were ready to reject the chalk, Bridge To Jesses illustrated why he is a force to be reckoned with anytime his nose is on the gate.

Sent to the front in the $75,000 Two-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trot by reinsman John De Long just before the half-mile marker, the 1-2 favourite took over the lead from Jinah Bluegrass to set fractions of :58.2 and 1:28.3 and ended the mile in 1:56.2.

Owned by William De Long, William Patrick De Long, Roger Welch and Ray De Long, the son of Jailhouse Jesse and the Angus Hall mare Bridge To Nowhere, Bridge To Jesses was never asked for his best and was just off his lifetime speed badge of 1:56.

Conditioned by Roger Welch, the gelding has now captured nine straight races, has a record of 10-9-0-0 and has amassed $205,500 in his young career. The only time he has not had his picture taken was his first start. Although he is accustomed to the winner's circle, Bridge To Jesses, doesn’t seem to enjoy his time there, as he has developed a habit of bucking while his blanket is being put on.

He paid $3.00 to win with Late Bid Tom and Milfords Z Tam chasing him to the finish line. The exacta paid $13.40 and the trifecta $60.80.

“He is a push button horse and never does anything wrong,” Welch said. “The only time he does is in the winner's circle and it seems like every time he comes back to it he just gets worse. We have not staked him to anything else and will continue to race here in Indiana.”

Welch collected his second $75,000 Indiana Sire Stakes Final right after he brought Bridge To Jesses back to the barn with the two-year-old pacing lass Cant Touch This.

With Dan Shetler holding the lines, the daughter of Rockin Image and the Incredible Finale mare Fox Valley Monica, who is owned by William De Long, William Patrick De Long and Douglas Riccolo, wrested the lead from Diamondtequilashot after a first quarter in :27.1, then fended off a first over bid from post time favourite Seventimesavirgin before repelling that rival heading to the top of the stretch with a half-mile of :55.4 and a three-quarter time of 1:24.2.

As Cant Touch This continued to the wire, Diamondtequilashot took another shot at her, but again the 2-1 second choice put her away and hit the wire in 1:53.2, which was just shy of her career-best.

Her record now stands at 12-5-1-1 with three of her last four races resulting in her posing for pictures. Her bankroll now stands at $86,760.

Cant Touch This paid $6.40 to win with Diamondtequilashot nailing down the show spot and Shady Stella closing late to finish third. The exacta was $164.40 and the trifecta $1,859.40.

“She is coming into herself right now and exhibited her mental toughness tonight by not allowing those other fillies to go by,” Welch said.

In the 14th final race on the Hoosier Park card, Downthehighwy outlasted Tough Mudder by a neck and Legere by a head to capture the $75,000 Indiana Sire Stakes final for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings. The son of Dontgetinmyway and the Dr Drew mare Happy Tears is trained by Robert Taylor and was steered by Jason Dillander.

Racing as a homebred for Mack Racing Stables, the colt led the field through a first quarter in :27 before 3-5 favourite Matrix Of Luck took control to set fractions of :55.2, 1:25.2. Downthehighway bided his time in third position before he, Tough Mudder and Legere, inhaled Matrix Of Luck in deep stretch with all three horses right together on the wire.

With the triumph, Downthehighway upped the purse money he has earned to $132,225 and his record to 11-3-4-2. His time of 1:53 is the swiftest of his young career and he paid a respectable $7.80 to win off his 5-2 odds.

Tough Mudder and Legere were second and third, with the exacta paying $82.20 and the trifecta paying $236.

“He’s a nice horse that has been right there and has been competitive for all of his races,” Dillander said. “He raced as well as I thought he would tonight and we are very happy with him.”

(With files from Hoosier Park)

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