The 2008 edition of the Hanover Stakes kicked off in a big way on Saturday night at Balmoral Park as five separate events shared the spotlight, and one of the most impressive winners was the Sportsmaster-sired filly Honey\'s Luck, who completely demolished her field in 1:56.1.
Brent Holland drove Honey\'s Luck for owners Jack and Peggy Hood, Michael Anderson and Mystical Marker Farms.
Holland maneuvered Honey’s Luck off the pylons midway around the final turn. The daughter of Sportsmaster then exploded to the top, quickly opening up a 1-1/2 length lead, as she led the field by the three-quarter station in 1:30.
“I didn’t want to move her too early tonight but the fractions were soft so I went with her,” explained Holland. “She has a very quick burst of speed and tonight she impressed me with how long she carried that burst.”
The Erv Miller trained miss then proceeded to put the rest of the field in her rearview mirror as she flew home in :26.1 to win for the second time in as many starts. Notjustaprettyface (Todd Warren) turned a ground saving trip into a second place finish while another Miller trainee Right Right (Marcus Miller) rallied late to finish third.
In the second division of the 2-year-old filly pacing action, another Erv Miller trainee, Thou Shall Not (Brent Holland), toted home top honors but was disqualified for causing interference to several horses on the final turn and placed sixth. Not to fret for the Miller barn though as Wild Hog, who he co-owns with Bert Hochsprung, was moved up from second to first.
The judge’s determined that Holland had come out late while moving around the far turn, thus interfering with China Girl (Ryan Anderson), who was moved from third to second. It was also determined that Thou Shall Not also impeded the progress of sixth place finisher Major’s Sweetheart as she tried to get back down to the pylons. That resulted in fourth-place finisher Blueridge Betty being moved from fourth to third.
A total of 19 2-year-old pacing colts were dropped into the entry box, necessitating a split into two $27,600 divisions.
In the opening split, Angie Nessa, Bart Seales and PVB Me ASAP Horse Stable’s Suprizemeagain grabbed command on the backstretch and then held sway to the wire, winning by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:54.2.
Getting away in the pocket as Ronnie Gillespie sent Fox Valley Lector to the top, Anderson moved his charge to the outside as the field moved by the opening quarter in :29.4. Getting a decent challenge from the early leader, Suprizemeagain finally made it to the front as the field reached the halfway station in :58.3. The issue was never really in doubt from that point on as the son of Western Hero-Incredible Suprize opened up a 1-3/4 length advantage as he rolled by the three-quarters in 1:27.1. Extending his lead to three by the mid-stretch call, the Shawn Nessa trainee was on cruise control the rest of the way as he made his debut a winning one. Longshot Star City Hero (Brandon Simpson) came on late to finish second while another outsider, Annieswesterncard (Travis Seekman), nabbed the show dough.
Redneck Riviera cruised to an easy 7-3/4 length triumph. Trainer Erv Miller struck again in the second division as his $37,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase Redneck Riviera posted a decisive 7-3/4 length romp in a blistering 1:54.
Basically cutting his own mile, driver Brent Holland had Redneck Riviera sitting in second as He’s All Art (Dale Hiteman) rolled out to a big early lead while carving out splits of :29, :55 and 1:26. Holland began to reel in the tiring leader at the top of the stretch. Moving swiftly on the outside of the pacesetter, this son of Red River Hanover-Cape Matteras flew right on by and continued to widen his winning margin with each and every stride.
Fox Valley Saphron (Mike Oosting), who came into the race undefeated and the national season’s leader for a 2-year-old gelding pacer with a mark of 1:54.2, had some traffic problems and was forced to settle for a second place finish. Who’s The Boss (Tyler Buter) was a distant third.
After the race Holland was quite impressed with his colt.
“We really didn’t use him much in his qualifiers but I had worked him faster than he qualified just last week,” said the winning pilot. “I knew he was a very handy colt but you never know how far they can carry their speed at this point in their career. I think he showed tonight he’s got the chance to be a pretty nice horse.”
Owned by the partnership of Carol Reynolds, Benita Simmons and Heidi Miller, Redneck Riviera was dispatched as the second choice in the betting, returning $10.40, $3.60 and $3.40. (Balmoral Park)