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Ostro Hanover Streaks Into Preferred

Published: January 18, 2020 10:55 am ET

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Trainer Rene Allard is off to a fast start in the 2020 season at Yonkers Raceway. Allard has topped the track’s trainer standings in three of the last five years and was the runner up in the other two. Just nine programs into the new season, Allard’s tally is 13-for-42 with another 15 seconds and thirds.

“We’re only racing about half the barn right now and the ones that we’re racing are in good spots, so it helps. When you’re only racing half the barn, it’s easier to keep a higher average,” Allard said. “I have approximately 30 horses who are going to qualify between now and the middle of February. I’m very happy with the start of the year so far. During the Yonkers break, we kept them fit and trained and as soon as they opened, we were ready to go.”

The trainer recently completed an addition to his Middletown, N.Y. barn that added another 12 stalls, bringing his total to 84. Only seven remain unoccupied, and that number could shrink to zero after Sunday’s Mixed Sale at the Meadowlands.

“I try to keep the barn full and there’s the young horses that are training down in Florida right now. I have nine yearlings that are down in Florida training down. In the spring they’re going to come here. We always make it work,” Allard said. “The winter, we back down to usually 60. In the summer, we go up to 120. Right now, I probably have a little bit more horses than I usually do this time of the year, so I have a feeling we’ll be pretty busy.”

Allard has four entrants on the Saturday night (Jan. 18) program at the Hilltop. Among them is Ostro Hanover, who seeks his fourth straight victory in the $35,000 Preferred Handicap Pace. The five-year-old gelding, owned in partnership by Go Fast Stable, B And I Stable, VIP Internet Stable, and Kapildeo Singh is 15-for-46 in his career with $256,466 earned.

“He finished his year very strong, I was very happy with him. He’s been sharp and we’re taking a shot in the Preferred,” Allard said.

Ostro Hanover won seven of his first 16 races for Frank Yanoti before joining Allard’s ranks as a companion to his standout three-year-old pacer Springsteen in July 2018. However, Ostro Hanover went 0-for-6 to close his sophomore season, finishing third in the New York Sire Stakes Final beaten 11-1/4 lengths.

“We really liked what we saw. I saw him win a couple times. We contacted the owner and we bought him and we thought he could be a great three-year-old for the New York Sire Stakes,” Allard said. “Since we were going with Springsteen and they have multiple divisions, we thought, why not have two? We bought him and he was OK. I think we just did OK with him. We expected him to maybe be a little better the first year.”

Allard stopped with Ostro Hanover after the NYSS Final on Sept. 22, 2018 and he reemerged as a gelding a qualifier March 27, 2019. Ostro Hanover rattled off two straight wins in the conditions at Saratoga to begin his four-year-old campaign.

“He got a little bit sore at the end there. He was always a little bit weird behind, we couldn’t figure it out,” Allard said. “We castrated him, turned him out, and gave him time, and he came back really good. He was always pacing a little funny behind before, but once we did that, he came back good.”

Although Ostro Hanover earned a check in nine straight starts, he continued to find the winner’s circle elusive. His next victory came on July 6 in a $17,500 overnight at Pocono Downs.

“The four-year-old year is the toughest year for any horse. You go from racing only three-year-olds and then you have to race against the world,” Allard said. “I don’t race my four-year-olds as heavily. Last year, I had Springsteen, Simple Kinda Man, and Ostro Hanover, we didn’t race them as hard as some of the five-, six-, seven-, eight-year-olds. As the year goes on, it seems like they catch up to the rest.”

As the year progressed, Allard saw Ostro Hanover continue to develop physically and mentally.

“The one thing I’ve noticed is he used to gallop a lot when he jogged and now he paces almost all the time. He’s gotten stronger, he’s built a little more muscle,” Allard said. “His attitude has been great since he’s a gelding. When he was a colt, he was a little bit inconsistent. He had better days, bad days. Now, he never has a bad day. As they year went on, he got better and better, so we were happy with that.”

By the end of the season, Ostro Hanover was firing on all cylinders. He won a $20,000 overnight at Yonkers on Nov. 9 and after a third-place finish on Nov. 21, earned a win in a $30,000 overnight on Nov. 30. The next logical move was the Open Handicap Pace. However, Allard had another plan.

He put Ostro Hanover in a $75,000 claimer for a $30,000 purse on Dec. 7, taking advantage of the 25 percent allowance in the final month of Ostro Hanover’s four-year-old season. The move paid off as Ostro Hanover doubled up. He won in the same class on the final Saturday of the season, scoring his third straight victory.

“We figured he was a four-year-old, so if anybody claimed him, they had to pay $100,000 for the horse,” Allard said. “We didn’t think anybody was going to claim him and we thought it was a good spot for him, so we took advantage of his four-year-old allowance to get a couple wins out of it. But the plan was, after January to put him back in the conditioned races.”

Ostro Hanover qualified Jan. 10, finishing second by a neck to Preferred rival Jacks Legend. Allard thinks the gelding is ready to go in his first pari-mutuel start of the year.

“We’ll see what happens. He’s been training good, he’s trained every three days for the last three weeks in the Yonkers break and then last week, they didn’t use the Open or the Preferred, so we qualified him and he qualified well; we were happy with him.

“I think the horse is feeling good, he’s fresh, and I think he belongs in there. It’s a bit of a step up, but when the horse’s feelings are not hurt and the confidence is there, usually they show up. They’re kind of like humans with their feelings. Right now, he thinks he’s one of the best because he’s won his last three. I think that reflects in their performance when they’re feeling brave.”

Ostro Hanover will start from post six with regular driver Dan Dube in the sulky. Jacks Legend, who won two Open Handicaps and finished second in another last fall for Rich Banca, will start from post seven with Jason Bartlett in the bike.

Reagans Avenger and Tookadiveoffdipper each won their last start in the Yonkers overnight ranks and step up into the Preferred. Benson Boys, Twin B Tuffenuff, and Benhope Rulz complete the lineup.

“I think it’s not too bad of a spot,” Allard said. “There’s a couple nice horses in there. Banca’s horse is probably the best horse, but he drew outside. There’s a couple nice horses, but I think if he gets in the hunt with the right trip, he’ll definitely be right with them.”

Saturday night’s card also features the $40,000 Open Handicap Trot.

(SOA of NY)


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