Blais says Emoticon Hanover deserved her Crowning moment

The daughter of Kadabra cruised to a 1:53.4 victory over a four-horse field on the sloppy Hoosier Park oval for trainer Luc Blais, driver Daniel Dube and owner Serge Godin.

by Sandra Snyder

Emoticon Hanover set the tone for the 34th Breeders Crown with an effortless gate-to-wire victory in the $250,000 Mare Trot Friday at Hoosier Park, putting the icing on a stellar four-year-old campaign.

“I think she deserved that, she had a good season,” said trainer Luc Blais, a Quebec native now based in Ontario. “She deserves that and Determination, Mr. (Serge) Godin, deserves that, too.

“The way she raced for the last month, that’s the cherry on the cake, you know.”

Emoticon Hanover cruised over the rain-soaked seven-eighths mile oval in 1:53.4, ringing up fractions of :27, :55.3 and 1:25 on her way to the three-quarter length victory. Emoticon Hanover’s long-time Ontario Sires Stakes rival Caprice Hill (Kadabra—Bramasole) finished second, Pink Pistol (Cantab Hall—August Revenue) was third and Flowers N Songs (Deweycheatumnhowe—Pleasures Song) completed the abbreviated field of trotting mares. Swedish mare Pasithea Face S was scratched early in the week due to injury.

“She was grabby to the half but I got her to relax the third quarter,” driver Daniel Dube said of Emoticon Hanover. “She was on idle all the way to the wire and won easy. I never really had to ask her, she did it all on her own, she was just as solid as could be despite the slop.”

The win was the fourth straight for Dube and the daughter of Kadabra and Emmylou Who, a streak that started with a world record 1:50.2 performance at Tioga Downs on Aug. 27 and continued through the Miss Versatility Final at Delaware on Sept. 21 and the Allerage Farms at The Red Mile on Oct. 8. In 12 starts this season, the mare has recorded five wins, three seconds, three thirds and banked $373,166 for Montreal, QC resident Serge Godin’s Determination stable.

A $165,000 purchase by Godin at the 2014 Harrisburg Yearling Sale, Emoticon Hanover was bred by Linda Wellwood of St. George, ON, Tammy Aspden of Caistor Centre, ON, Anne Shunock of Dorchester, ON and Diane Ingham of Mount Pleasant, ON. The trotter has been a star for most of her racing career. She has only missed a check on three occasions through 37 lifetime starts. At two she was a two-time Gold Series winner in the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) program and captured a Champlain Stakes division, banking $219,258 in 10 starts. She finished fifth, behind All The Time, in the 2015 freshman trotting filly Breeders Crown. At three Emoticon Hanover dominated the OSS Gold Series, winning three legs and the year-end Super Final, and also captured her Casual Breeze and Simcoe divisions before finishing her $604,168 season with a second to Broadway Donna in the Breeders Crown final.

“I always liked her,” said Blais of his four-year journey with the mare, whose Breeders Crown victory put her over the $1 million mark in earnings. “She’s a competitive horse, she’s a professional. She never made a bad race, always 200 per cent she gives. It’s a joy to be around a horse like that.”

Provided she remains happy and healthy, Emoticon Hanover will continue to compete through the Nov. 25 TVG Stake at The Meadowlands and Blais says current plans will see her back on the racetrack as a five-year-old.

“You know, we’ll go race by race and see, but right now that’s the plan,” said the trainer.

That will be good news to Hambletonian Society president and CEO John Campbell, who noted that gathering 10 aged trotting mares to battle in the year-end Breeders Crown has always been a challenge.

“Historically the trotting mares have always been light as far as entries. There was a period of time when we didn’t even carry a mare trot for the Breeders Crown. So it’s something that we have to deal with,” said Campbell, in his first Breeders Crown winner’s circle as an administrator rather than a victorious driver. “It’s very difficult with these trotting mares when these foals sell for so much money. Out of a trotting mare with any kind of breeding at all they are bringing upwards of $100,000 regularly.”

In spite of the abbreviated field for the opener, Campbell was pleased with the way Emoticon Hanover kicked off the Breeders Crown’s 34th edition.

“She’s a top, top mare,” said Campbell, adding that the remainder of the program — both Friday and Saturday — would see full fields of 10 battle for the other 11 Breeders Crown trophies. “I look at 10 horses in 11 races and I’m tickled about that.”