After watching That Woman Hanover recover from a mid-season slump and finish 2013 with three consecutive wins, trainer Dan Altmeyer is looking forward to the filly's 3-year-old campaign.
That campaign begins Friday when That Woman Hanover faces five foes in the $110,000 Courageous Lady Stakes for 3-year-old filly pacers at Northfield Park in Ohio. That Woman Hanover, driven by Altmeyer's son-in-law, Mike Wilder, drew post No. 6 and is 4-1 on the morning line.
Kayla Grace, a filly from Michigan who has won all 15 of her lifetime starts, supplemented to the Courageous Lady for $10,000 and is the 3-1 favorite from post three.
Last year, That Woman Hanover won her first two races, including a $30,000 division of the Pennsylvania All Stars, before hitting a five-race skid during which she finished no better than fifth. Altmeyer said the slump was the result of equipment issues, not any physical ailments, and That Woman Hanover rebounded to win her final three starts. She capped the season with a victory in a $30,200 division of the Keystone Classic.
"She started out great and then she hit some bumps in the road and it took us a while to get it figured out,” said Altmeyer, who owns That Woman Hanover with Richard Kelson, Jack Piatt II, and Jeffrey Altmeyer. "It was frustrating, but as long as we don't hit those bumps again, we'll be OK.
"I was kind of excited to train her back this year and so far so good. She trained great in Florida (at Reveille Farms) before coming north. Mike thinks she's the real deal. We'll see if she can step up.”
That Woman Hanover prepped for the Courageous Lady with two qualifiers, winning the second in 1:54.2 at The Meadows. Courageous Lady contender Sister Stroll, from the stable of trainer Brian Brown, was second in the qualifier and stakes-winner Allstar Rating finished third.
"It was her second go-round and we wanted to test her a little bit and make sure she was tight for the Courageous Lady,” Altmeyer said. "It would have been nice to draw inside on the half-mile track (at Northfield). This is her first time on a half, but she's handled all the tracks so far and the turns where we train in Florida are a little tight, so I don't think she will have a problem.”
That Woman Hanover, purchased for $40,000 at the 2012 Standardbred Horse Sale, is a daughter of stallion Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Sub Rosa Hanover.
Altmeyer trained Sub Rosa Hanover, who won divisions of the Reynolds Stakes at ages two and three and was a two-time runner-up in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships. The family also includes stakes-winners Historic, Digger Almahurst, Tyler's Mark, and Texas Shootout.
That Woman Hanover's stakes schedule this year includes the James Lynch Memorial, the Adioo Volo, and a number of events for Pennsylvania-bred fillies.
"Her mother was a very good racehorse and I think this one has a little more talent,” Altmeyer said. "She's a great horse to be around. I've had several Somebeachsomewhere (offspring) and they all have had great attitudes. She does also.”
Courageous Lady favorite Kayla Grace was 12-for-12 last season, with wins that included the Michigan Sire Stakes and Great Lakes championships for 2-year-old filly pacers.
A La Notte Hanover, who is 7-2 on the morning line and one of two horses from the stable of trainer Ron Burke, won a division of the New York Sire Stakes last season. Sister Stroll, trained by Brian Brown, was a multiple stakes winner last year and is 9-2 on the Courageous Lady morning line.
The field for the Courageous Lady, with listed drivers, trainers and morning line odds: 1. Shell Bell, Aaron Merriman, Steve Carter, 6-1; 2. Sister Stroll, Ryan Stahl, Brian Brown, 9-2; 3. Kayla Grace, Brad Kramer, Marie St. Charles, 3-1; 4. A La Notte Hanover, Chris Page, Ron Burke, 7-2; 5. Fiyonce, Josh Sutton, Ron Burke, 10-1; 6. That Woman Hanover, Mike Wilder, Dan Altmeyer, 4-1. (HRC)