Hannelore Hanover aims for fourth Armbro Flight
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Hannelore Hanover has already made history in the Armbro Flight Stakes, in multiple ways, and will try to add to her accomplishments Saturday when she goes for her fourth consecutive trophy in the $256,000(C) event for older female trotters at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
A 7-year-old mare, Hannelore Hanover already owns the record for Armbro Flight titles. In fact, she has never been beaten in the event, a perfect seven-for-seven counting her four triumphs in eliminations, including last week’s 1:50.3 score that was the fastest trotting mile in Canadian history. The previous record of 1:50.4 was set in 2012 by 4-year-old gelding Mister Herbie.
Three years ago, when Hannelore Hanover won her first Armbro Flight crown, she did it with a 1:51 mile that established the Canadian record for a trotting mare.
Her win in her elimination last weekend was her first since July 14, 2018, and snapped an eight-race skid. She had won her first six starts of 2018 but slumped as the result of inflammatory airway disease. Following her diagnosis and treatment, she rebounded and ended the season with a second-place finish by a neck to Emoticon Hanover in the TVG Series final for trotting mares in late November.
“We spent two months and couldn’t figure out what it was,” trainer Ron Burke said about Hannelore Hanover’s ailment. “We knew it was something small, but that’s what she basically had. Once we treated her for that, by the TVG she was good.”
For her career, Hannelore Hanover has won 43 of 73 races and earned $2.84 million. She has won multiple Dan Patch and O’Brien awards, including Horse of the Year in 2017 in both the U.S. and Canada.
She won her Armbro Flight elimination by 4 1/4 lengths over Top Expectations.
“We’re thrilled with her,” Burke said. “When she’s on her game she’s as good as any trotting mare.”
Hannelore Hanover’s competition in Saturday’s Armbro Flight final includes her stablemate Atlanta, who won the first of last week’s two eliminations. Atlanta cruised to a 7 1/4-length victory over Plunge Blue Chip in 1:51, which, at least temporarily, equaled the Canadian record for a trotting mare.
Atlanta, who won the 2018 Hambletonian over the boys and was Trotter of the Year in the U.S., is three-for-three this season. The 4-year-old mare has won 15 of 27 lifetime starts and $1.24 million.
“She’s just a push-button horse, really,” Burke said. “There’s nothing to her. You just put her behind the gate and let her do her thing. She seems like a special horse.”
Yannick Gingras drove both Atlanta and Hannelore Hanover in their eliminations. Following the races Saturday he said he would talk with Burke and it would be “a team decision” which horse he would drive in the final. Gingras will drive Atlanta, with Matt Kakaley tapped to drive Hannelore Hanover.
“I was happy with (Atlanta and Hannelore Hanover); they were super sharp, and I think they both should be better this week,” Burke said. “They’re just getting tight, both of them. It will be the first time they’ve both raced back, for Atlanta three weeks (in a row) and Hannelore two weeks, so I’m happy that way.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how it works out.”
The Armbro Flight is part of a stakes card at Mohawk that includes the $1 million North America Cup for 3-year-old pacers, $454,000 Fan Hanover for 3-year-old filly pacers, $247,000 Goodtimes for 3-year-old trotters, and $330,000 Roses Are Red for older mare pacers. In addition, the 2018 Horse of the Year, McWicked, headlines the $100,000 Gold Cup Invitational.
Following is the field for the Armbro Flight Stakes.
1-Royal Witch-Trevor Henry-Ben Baillargeon
2-Weslynn Dancer-David Miller-Richard Banca
3-Hannelore Hanover-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke
4-Atlanta-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke
5-The Erm-Tim Tetrick-Clark Beelby
6-Top Expectations-Dan Dube-Ben Baillargeon
7-Highland Top Hill-Scott Zeron-Amanda Fine
8-P L Jill-Sylvain Filion-Ben Baillargeon
9-Plunge Blue Chip-Andy McCarthy-Ake Svanstedt
10-Emoticon Hanover-Bob McClure-Luc Blais