Bulldog Hanover looks to consolidate Horse of the Year titles

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The Breeders’ Crown Finals return to Woodbine Mohawk Park this weekend. And while the two-day event is filled with harness racing’s top stars, Canada’s horse takes its place at the top of the marquee.

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Bulldog Hanover, who lives a few blocks from the Campbellville Ring, will try to wrap up North American Horse of the Year honors when he leads the $600,000 Open Rhythm, one of eight finals in championship Saturday night.

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Co-owned by Brad Grant of Milton and trainer Jack Darling of Cambridge, Bulldog Hanover was a local star at two and three. This year he achieved international fame with a string of quick wins over the summer at the Meadowlands that culminated in the fastest mile in harness racing history, a 1:45 4/5 timed the July 16.

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He went on to win the Canadian Pacing Derby in August, but suffered a loss at the Red Mile on October 9 when, attempting to break his record, he ran out of steam late and was passed in the stretch by Allywag Hanover, one of his opponents on Saturday. He enters the race after a 1:51 2/5 qualifying victory last weekend.

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« I’ve had a lot of good horses, » Darling said. « But he’s a special, special horse. »

« I wish everyone could have one like him once in their life. »

Dexter Dunn will again partner Bulldog Hanover who will start from position six in the field of 11 horses stacked.

Darling, who will be inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame next year, knows Bulldog Hanover will have his hands full.

“They are hard horses, fast horses,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough race.

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The Maple Leaf Trot Back of the Neck winner leads a deep pack in the $600,000 open trot. He will be joined by Amigo Volo who won a Breeders’ Crown race the last time the event was held in Mohawk in 2019. Defending champion Ecurie D DK, Jujubee, Its Academic and local stars Forbidden Trade and Fashion Frenzie are also featured.

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The pace of the $600,000 three-year-old colt will pit Pebble Beach, who won the North American Cup in June, against Bythemissal, the Ohio superstar who won the Little Brown Jug last month. Both horses won their heats. I Did It Myway also has a big hit after a strong performance in its races at the Red Mile.

The $600,000 three-year-old colt trot is wide open business after King of the North and Double Deceiver picked up upset victories in the eliminations. Cool Papa Bell, who won the Hambletonian at a huge prize, will challenge but start from post nine. Getting a better draw with a chance is Slay, who won the Canadian Trotting Classic last month.

If Bulldog Hanover can’t do it and Test of Faith does what’s expected of her in the $350,000 Open Mares pace, chances are she’ll defend her Horse of the Year crown. But she will have to improve her elimination as she won with a nose. She will face Grace Hill who won the other elimination.

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For the past five years, Atlanta has been one of the most popular superstars in sports. She will bid farewell to the Mohawks in the $350,000 open mare trot. The 37-race, $3.7 million winner brought back many memories for driver Yannick Gingras.

« She’s a great mare, » he said after his recent Red Mile win. « She is one of the greatest in this industry and it was a pleasure to drive her. »

She’ll face a field stacked with the likes of Bella Bellini, When Dovescry and Refined all having stellar seasons.

Elimination winners Jiggy Jog and Joviality lead a mesmerizing $600,000 three-year-old filly trot renewal. Jiggy Jog may have the current edge after first winning the most recent head-to-head battle at Kentucky Filly Futurity earlier this month and then setting a Canadian record in his elimination with a time of 1:51 2/ 5. Joviality, however, made a stunning deep charge to earn his heat.

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Boudoir Hanover is among the pace favorites for the $600,000 three-year-old fillies and a win could kick off a good two weeks for owner Daniel Plouffe. A long-time driving owner, Plouffe also has a stake in Thoroughbreds, including Queen’s Plate winner Moira, who is set to race the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Keeneland next week. Sea Silk, Treacherous Dragon, Max Contract, and Niki Hill can also face off in an open case.


Friday’s card kicks off the $6.7 million event with four $600,000 finals for two-year-olds. The elimination result rocked the two-year-old colt trot as two of the season’s biggest stars will have to plan a trip from a wide start.

Oh Well, who won the Mohawk Million on Sept. 24, finished second to Celebrity Bambino in his heat and will start from position nine. Next to him, Winners Bet, the winner of the William Welwood Memorial, who was no match for local horse Gaines Hanover, will try to hit the jackpot from the rail.

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Local mare Sylvia Hanover will lead her six-game winning streak through to the two-year-old fillies pace final. She beat Charleston to win the Shes A Great Lady on September 24 and this filly will once again be her main rival.

Another local superstar, Righteous Resolve, will be looking for his eighth win of the year on the two-year-old filly trot. Special Way, who won the knockout round for trainer Ake Svanstedt, will challenge her, as will Instagram Model.

Confederate and Handlelikeaporsche, two elimination winners who rose to prominence in Kentucky last month, will go head-to-head in two-year-old colt rhythm. Local prospect Stockade Seelster is definitely in the mix.

The first post on both nights is at 7 p.m.

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