Imagine Hanover completed his sweep of the Ken Weaver Memorial Trot at The Meadows by romping away with Friday's $27,750 championship and rolling up a combined, four-leg victory margin of 36 3/4 lengths.
Also taking series championships were Partyatbartsplace — who also swept his four legs — Hierarchy and Stirling Bella. Brett Miller (Imagine Hanover, Hierarchy) and Aaron Merriman (Partyatbartsplace, Stirling Bella) logged a sweep of sorts by winning all four finals between them.
Imagine Hanover hadn't been performing terribly well in overnights prior to the series for 3- and 4-year-old colts, horses and geldings. But the 4-year-old Broadway Hall-Imposing Hanover gelding put it all together for the Weaver. Del S. Miller, who trains Imagine Hanover for James Beluscak and Robert Carson, can't put his finger on any specific reason for the improvement.
"I really think we might have started him before he was ready,” Miller said. "He qualified super, then threw in two or three clunkers. He just came around and put four races together really well. I just hope it continues. They make you pull your hair out, these horses. You think you have them figured out, then they prove you wrong.”
In Friday's final, Imagine Hanover moved easily first over and triumphed in 1:54, 11 1/4 lengths better than 80-1 Gotta Luv Cash, with Spicey Victor third. Miller said he likely will give Imagine Hanover some time off before resuming his campaign at The Meadows.
In the other championships:
$28,500 Walter Russell Memorial Pace, 3- and 4-year-old colts, horses and geldings
Partyatbartsplace rushed to the lead for trainer Chas Norris and owner Thumbs Up Stable and held off the Lightning Lane charge of Mattamerican to down him by three-quarters of a length in 1:54.1. Hickory Icon earned show.
Much like Imagine Hanover, Partyatbartsplace entered his series off several poor outings, but Merriman said he remained confident in the abilities of the 4-year-old Party At Artsplace-Miss Major Power gelding.
"I watched him race at Northfield a lot,” Merriman said, "and truthfully, he really isn't as alert on the front; he kind of waits on them. But he's turning into a nice little racehorse. Chas has done a great job with him.”
$30,750 Mary Wohlmuth Memorial Trot, 3- and 4-year-old fillies and mares
Shuffled to seventh and with no apparent racing room, Hierarchy found a seam late and won in a wild photo finish involving seven horses in 1:59. The rallying Mina was a hard-luck second, a head back, with Mystical Melody third. The win was especially gratifying for trainer Tim Twaddle, who purchased a piece of the 3-year-old Glidemaster-Mi Amiga filly after owner Karin Olsson Burgess bought her back at the Meadowlands sale.
"She certainly had trot,” Twaddle said. "Boy, the seas parted and we got through, thank goodness. She's in the next series here for 3-year-olds. From there on, we'll see how she develops.”
$28,500 Donna Dunn Memorial Pace, 3- and 4-year-old fillies and mares
Stirling Bella rushed to the pocket from post 8 and blew by the 1-2 favorite, Small Town Charmer, in the stretch to defeat her by three-quarters of a length in 1:54.3 and capture her third series leg. Fashion Katie completed the ticket.
"I bought her to race, maybe put her in conditioned-claimers if she wasn't good enough,” said Dave Zito, who trains the 4-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight-Fast Princess for Mervin Wengerd. "I didn't even think about the series — she just made it under the earnings limit by about $300. I thought, let's give her a shot. She's not a real big filly, so you can't beat her up real hard leaving, but she has some speed, and she's nice to drive.
"We'll give her a couple weeks off and just keep racing her.” (The Meadows)