CAMPBELLVILLE, Ont. — Dexter Dunn and world-champion Bulldog Hanover earned a measure of redemption Saturday night at the US$6.7-million ($9.06 million Canadian) Breeders Crown.
Dunn, a New Zealand native, drove Bulldog Hanover to a dominant victory in the $810,000 Open Pace at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Bulldog Hanover registered roughly a five-length win in a stakes record time of 1:46.4 that also tied the Canadian and track marks.
Bulldog Hanover came into the final off a rare defeat. He was upset by Allywag Hanover in the $153,000 Allerage Farms Open Pace at The Red Mile on Oct. 29, snapping an 11-race win streak.
Saturday's final quickly became a two-horse affair. Bulldog Hanover, the 1/5 favourite, surged ahead at the halfway point with Allywag Hanover, driven by Australian Todd McCarthy, in second.
But there'd be no epic duel down the stretch. After coming off the final turn, the Ontario-bred Bulldog Hanover pulled away from the field for a 13th win in 15 starts this year and 27th overall.
"When he marched on there and got to the front, he grabbed hold of me like he has most of the year," Dunn said. "He gave me a lot of confidence coming off the last turn.
"I could feel him (Allywag Hanover) on my helmet but my guy felt like he was full of (energy) tonight … he's just an amazing horse."
Tattoo Artist, driven James Macdonald of Guelph, Ont., was second ahead of Allywag Hanover.
The victory was Dunn's fourth on the night but he secured trainer/co-owner Jack Darling his first-ever Breeders Crown win. Darling, of Cambridge, Ont., will be inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame next summer.
"The pressure going into this race for me was excruciating," Darling said. "I just wanted him to win so badly for the fans.
"When we started to (pull away from Allywag Hanover) I felt really good about it. I knew he was right back to himself."
On July 16, Bulldog Hanover won the $500,000 William R. Haughton Memorial in a world-record time of 1:45.4 at the Meadowlands. The four-year-old also captured the $650,000 Canadian Pacing Derby on Sept. 3 at Mohawk Park.
Dunn was also victorious in the Three-Year-Old Filly Trot, Open Mare Trot and Open Trot on Saturday.
Dunn drove Jiggy Jog to an emphatic win in the $911,250 Three-Year-Old Filly Trot, finishing in a stakes, track and Canadian record of 1:51. Jiggy Jog earned a fourth straight victory, eighth in 13 starts this year and 10th overall.
Dunn had Jiggy Jog sitting third at the halfway mark and took his horse to the front with a quarter of a mile to go. Raised By Lindy, a 53/1 long-shot driven by Yannick Gingras of Sorel, Que., finished second while Joviality, the 4/5 favourite driven by American Brian Sears, took third.
Mark MacDonald of Cambridge, Ont., and 5/1 pick King Of The North were just as impressive in the $810,000 Three-Year-Old Colt Trot. King Of The North, starting on the rail, finished in a stakes, track and Canadian record time of 1:50.3.
And after 11 straight losses, the victory was King Of The North's second consecutive.
"That's some kind of mile he did," MacDonald said. "Everyone knows the rail is not an advantage, it's actually a disadvantage, a handicap.
"It was a tremendous effort to get him out of there on his tippy toes … I'm just so proud of the horse."
Double Receiver, with American Dave Miller driving, was second while Slay and Joseph Bongiorno finished third.
Scott Zeron, of Oakville, Ont., guided Treacherous Dragon, a 7/2 pick, to a stirring win in the $810,000 Three-Year-Old Filly Pace. Zeron rallied Treacherous Dragon from the inside between 3/5 favourite Niki Hall and Boudoir Hanover to take the victory in 1:49.1
The win was Treacherous Dragon's ninth this season and 13th overall.
"I didn't have a whole lot of room until Chris Page (driving Sea Silk) kind of died off," Zeron said. "When I did (Treacherous Dragon was) an exceptional filly to just really sprint up into gear with about 100 feet left."
Niki Hall, driven by Dunn, was second while Boudoir Hanover and McCarthy finished third.
Other race results included:
* Dunn and 4/5 favourite Bella Bellini overtook Atlanta and Gingras down the stretch to take the $472,500 Open Mare Trot in 1:51.1. The four-year-old earned her eighth win in 17 starts this year as well as a second straight Crown victory. Atlanta was second while Refined, driven by Doug McNair of Guelph, Ont., took third.
* Defending champion Ecurie D, also driven by Dunn, went wire to wire to claim the $810,000 Open Trot in a stakes-tying 1:51.0. The win was just Ecurie D's second from six starts. Amico Volo, a 99/1 long-shot driven by McCarthy, was second while Its Academic, driven by Miller, took third.
* McNair and Grace Hill, a 5/1 pick, held off a stiff challenge from 2/5 favourite Test Of Faith and Miller to win the $540,000 Open Mare Pace in a stakes record-tying 1:48.4. It was the seventh victory in 20 starts this year for the four-year-old. Test Of Faith was second ahead of So Much More and Macdonald. Amazing Dream, a 64/1 long-shot driven by Gingras, finished fourth.
* Pebble Beach, the 7/5 pick driven by McCarthy, won the $911,250 Three-Year-Old Colt Pace. The Pepsi North America Cup champion finished in 1:48.1 for his eight victory in 15 starts this season. McCarthy's brother, Andy, was second with I Did It My Way with even-money favourite Bythemissal taking third with Page driving.
The Breeders Crown is harness racing’s richest and most prestigious year-end divisional championship series. The four two-year-old events were held Friday.
This marks the first time Woodbine has hosted all 12 Crown events since 2019.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2022.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press