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‘Ohare’ To Test The Waters At Yonkers

Published: March 3, 2020 10:23 am ET

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Those of a certain demographic might remember the name ‘Whelan’ doing very good things at metropolitan New York-area harness tracks.

The ‘Whelan’ in question is Walter, and back in 1987, Walter Whelan teamed with then four-year-old Armbro Emerson to take down both the Breeders Crown at Roosevelt Raceway and Yonkers Raceway’s William Haughton Memorial. Those and other stakes wins highlighted a $1.4 million racing resume (’87 Pacer of the Year) which, along with a prolific stallion career, earned ‘Emerson’ a 2006 induction into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

All of the above is a roundabout way of saying that Walter Whelan, the father/trainer, and Michael Whelan, the son/driver, are invading Yonkers Tuesday night (March 3), and will be bringing Ohare Hanover with them for the opening round of the M Life Rewards Gents Pacing Series.

The event (nee the Sagamore Hill) is open to three- and four-year-old lads who are/were non-winners of four races and/or $50,000 through this past December 1.

Welcome Ohare Hanover, a four-year-old Russell Hanover gelding who has drawn Position 6 for the first, $20,000 division, which has conveniently been carded as the first of a dozen races (first post 7:05 p.m.).

The $8,000 Goshen (NY) yearling purchase left a good impression up north. He broke his maiden at in 1:55 at Woodbine Mohawk Park late last month. The race, which was his 16th career start, saw him take a whole lot of back-half air.

Ohare Hanover, pictured breaking his maiden at Woodbine Mohawk Park on February 20, 2020.

For the 42-year-old escort, who is set to make his local driving debut, there’s some promise with his charge.

“The last few starts, it’s clicked for [Ohare Hanover],” Mike Whelan said. “I mean, he was never bad, just mentally immature.

“We tried him in the Snowshoe Series (at Mohawk) in January, but he drew badly both times and the races had no pace.”

Undaunted, father, son and the rest of the Whelans (“It’s a family operation, to be sure,” Mike Whelan said) had scoped out a trip stateside.

“[Ohare Hanover] had no problem getting around the half (-mile track) at Flamboro. He’s quick-gaited and we think the small ovals may suit him better, though we weren’t disappointed how he raced [at Mohawk].”

Ohare Hanover, pictured after breaking his maiden.

Unfortunately for ‘Team Whelan,’ their four-legged friend has a big bully right next door.

Semi Tough (Matt Kakaley, Post 7) will be making his 2020 pari-mutuel debut off of a $205,000 season in ’19, which ended with handy overnights wins (at odds of 1-10 and 1-20) at Yonkers. The open stakes-placed four-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding has earned just under a half-million dollars.

“Ideally, I would have preferred to draw better, have the option to sit with him and hopefully make a few dollars, but this is good test for him,” Mike Whelan said.

Tuesday’s other ‘Gent’ divisions have been carded as Race 3,4 and 5. The series offer three preliminary legs leading to a $50,000 (added) finale, which will be contested on Tuesday night, March 24.

(Yonkers Raceway)

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