by Frank Carulli
May 8, 2018
Lindy's Big Bang was in the right place at the right time in the $133,800 Dexter Cup final at Freehold Raceway last Saturday.
He got pocket position in the one-mile trot and inherited the lead when 3-to-5 favorite On The Ropes broke stride nearing the far turn. Then he repelled challenges by runner-up Don to his outside and Perlucky in the passing lane after elimination victor Vic's Winner broke stride around the bend.
Lindy's Big Bang won by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:56.1 and paid $13 to win.
"We got a bit lucky there," said driver David Miller, who co-owns the 3-year-old with Mel Hartman and David McDuffee. "My horse still felt strong when (On The Ropes broke stride). I think we would have given him a run."
The Dexter Cup is considered the first stakes race on the road to the Hambletonian, but Lindy’s Big Bang is not eligible for the $1.2 million race.
He will settle for being in the right place Saturday.
MILESTONES FOR WIDGER, SMITH
Sam Widger drove five winners at Hoosier Park last Saturday, but one stood out above the rest. He joined harness racing's 6,000-win club when he guided Shady Caroline to victory in the co-featured, $21,000 invitational pace in 1:51.
Widger, 54, shows no signs of slowing down in his 32nd season in the bike. He surpassed $3 million in purse earnings four times in the last eight years and currently is the third-leading driver at Hoosier, where he recorded the biggest win of his career on Bolt The Duer in the 2013 Dan Patch Invitational.
"That is quite the accomplishment. We couldn’t be more proud to have Sam as part of the Hoosier Park driving colony and he is a great ambassador for the sport," said Hoosier Park vice president and GM Rick Moore.
Steve Smith also started his driving career in the mid-1980s and he, too, enjoyed a memorable weekend at Freehold Raceway. Smith piloted 10-year-old pacing mare Nora's Tandt to a wire-to-wire victory and the 4,000th of Smith's career. The following day, Smith guided 21-1 longshot Special Miss to a nose victory in the $66,400 Lady Suffolk Stakes for 3-year-old trotters.
HANNELORE HANOVER 'INCREDIBLE' IN CUTLER
Hannelore Hanover, the 2017 Horse of the Year, added a new chapter to her ever-growing list of accomplishments. She overcame post position 12 in the second tier to win the $182,500 Arthur Cutler Memorial at the Meadowlands last Saturday.
She tipped off cover at the top of the stretch and caught Will Take Charge in the closing yards after the 9-to-1 runner-up slipped through on the inside from the pocket and appeared headed to victory.
Hannelore Hanover won the 1-1/8-mile trot by a neck in 2:06. She eclipsed $2.5 million in earnings with her 37 win in 59 starts. "At the top of the stretch, I thought I was going to be an easy winner," said winning driver Yannick Gingras. "Then I was a little worried, but she kicked in. She’s definitely better now than she was at the start of last year. Hopefully, she has as good a year as she had last year. She’s just an incredible horse."