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Dr J Hanover looks for Levy three-peat

March 30, 2018

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Brad Grant was focused on the future when he and his partners purchased Dr J Hanover for a sales-topping $280,000 at the 2017 Tattersalls January Select Mixed Sale. After two preliminary rounds of this year’s George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series, the now is looking pretty good too.
The Levy is a six-week series for older male pacers at Yonkers Raceway. Five-year-old Dr J Hanover is 2-for-2 in the event, including a 1:52.4 victory last week that was the fastest of four divisions. On Saturday, the Tony Alagna-trained gelding is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the second of four splits, leaving from post four with driver Brett Miller.

"Tony had him pointed to this series and drawing the rail the first two legs is always nice," Grant said, referring to Dr J Hanover starting from post No. 1 in each of the previous rounds. "If you look at his 3-year-old year, he did pretty well at Yonkers. Tony always said he could get around this track pretty good. It seems to fit him, which is great. 

"We’re going to keep our fingers crossed that he can continue, but there are a lot of tough horses in there. There is a group of them that can win on a given night depending on how the race goes and the draw. But it looks like (Dr J Hanover) matured and filled out a little over the winter. He looks great and seems a little stronger."

As a 3-year-old, Dr J Hanover raced at Yonkers eight times, winning six. For his career, he has won 10 of 22 starts at the Hilltop and hit the board a total of 15 times.

Last season -- his first year with Grant and partners Robert Leblanc, Steven Wienick, and Irwin Samelman -- Dr J Hanover won five of 23 races and earned $169,807. His top moment came in a division of the Graduate Series at Mohawk Racetrack, where he won in 1:46.4 to set the record for the fastest pacing mile in Canadian history.

The previous year, at 3, Dr J Hanover was third in the Little Brown Jug and Messenger Stakes as well as a division of the Tattersalls Pace. The son of Somebeachsomewhere-So Perfect has won 15 of 45 career races and $551,580.

"When I bought him, I bought him for the long haul," Grant said. "I think last year was a good year, but I thought he left some money on the table in some of his races. 

"Again, in the long run, I think he’s got longevity and can be a great aged pacer. I think as a 5- and 6-year-old he could really prove his worth. Tony thinks he can go with the big boys. He’s staked up pretty good. I think he can compete with the best of them. But there’s a tough bunch of aged pacers. They’re hard sluggers."

Dr J Hanover is not the only horse with a 2-for-2 record in the Levy. Six-year-old Rockin Ron, who is the 9-5 favorite in Saturday’s third Levy division, also is perfect thus far for trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras.

Other Levy winners last week were Evenin Of Pleasure and Western Fame. Other winners in the first round, which consisted of five divisions, were New Zealand-bred Bit Of A Legend, Mach It So, and Always At My Place.

The Levy and companion Blue Chip Matchmaker Series, which is for older female pacers and continues with its third round Friday night, both feature five preliminary rounds followed by added-money finals April 21. 

A horse receives 25 points each time he or she races in the preliminary rounds. Points are also awarded based on finish, with 50 points for a win, 25 for second, 12 for third, eight for fourth, and five for fifth.

"I don’t think any trainer wants to race five or six weeks in a row because it’s tough," Grant said. "It’s a tough call for a trainer to decide whether to take a week off. The points are valuable this year, and they’re going to be right down to the end, I think." (Ken Weingartner/USTA)

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