Sylvia Hanover fights back to gut out extraordinary victory in sophomore pacing filly Breeders Crown

quotes by James Platz / race details by Ray Cotolo for the Breeders Crown

When Sylvia Hanover fought back in deep stretch, after a tough trip, and gutted out a victory in Saturday’s (Oct. 28) $600,000 Breeders Crown final for 3-year-old pacing fillies, her trainer, Mark Steacy was standing beside trainer Ron Burke at Harrah’s Hoosier Park.

“Burke said, ‘Horses aren’t supposed to do that.’ I agree, that’s just special.”

Steacy, said he had hoped Sylvia Hanover had gotten off the gate a little better, but he still expected there to be enough flow in the race that the daughter of Always B Miki—Shyaway might catch a trip.

“She didn’t, she came first up hard and then she slowed in the last turn and I said, ‘I don’t know if she’s going to do it,’” said Steacy, who shares training duties on Sylvia Hanover with his son, Shawn. “Then, when the horse came up the inside, I thought second was going to be it, but the champion she is then she fought back and did it again.”

The Steacy Stable has now won five Breeders Crown trophies.

Sylvia Hanover, the odds-on favorite, persisted through a first-over siege to grab, lose, and retake the lead to the finish of a 1:49.2 mile.

Driver Bob McClure landed in sixth while Twin B Joe Fresh forged forward through a shuffle on the lead to a :26.2 first quarter. Settling on the point, Twin B Joe Fresh soon faced a blitz from Sylvia Hanover as she rushed along the rim to match strides with the pacesetter up to a :54.4 half but stalled to the far turn.

Twin B Joe Fresh accelerated through the final turn to clock three-quarters in 1:21.2 as Sylvia Hanover began rallying again on the outside. Sylvia Hanover powered to the lead in the straightaway and held firm as Charleston kicked off her cover to dive through the inside and take a slight lead in the final yards. Sylvia Hanover reengaged to the outside and repelled Charleston’s charge by a neck. Always B Naughty, a 69-1 shot, finished third and Beach Cowgirl at 41-1 took fourth.

“That’s one of the most impressive performances I’ve ever seen,” McClure said. “That was a really, really tough trip and some great fillies, and I’m just really glad she’s as tough as she is. She’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse. I think I speak for myself, the trainer, and the owners that we’re never going to see another Sylvia Hanover, so we’ll just really enjoy her while she’s here.”

“Calm is from the furthest thing from what I’m feeling,” co-owner Tony Infilise said. “I did not lose faith in her at all when she was on the outside. As we’ve seen before, she can gut it out. She’s very gutsy [with] lots of heart and lots of talent. I think Charleston surprised her up the rail and got her head in front and as soon as she saw her, she popped her head back up and showed her class. And that field… there is not a weak filly in that field. It was a very competitive field.”

Sylvia Hanover has now won 18 times from 22 starts and banked $1.44 million for owner Hudson Standrdbrd Stb Inc. The victory gives Sylvia Hanover back-to-back Breeders Crown trophies, having won the 2022 Breeders Crown 2-Year-Old Filly Pace. She became just the sixth pacing filly to win a Breeders Crown at 2 and 3, a feat last achieved in 2018 by Warrawee Ubeaut.

Sylvia Hanover was bred by Hanover Shoe Farms and sold for $135,000 at the 2021 Standardbred Horse Sales Company auction.

Sylvia Hanover paid $3.80 to win.