By Ken Weingartner, US Trotting Media — Bulldogs are known for being purposeful and determined, so it seems the horse Bulldog Hanover was named perfectly.
A 3-year-old male pacer, Bulldog Hanover has won nine of 14 races this year and earned $553,352. He brings a three-race wins streak to Thursday’s $55,000 Thanksgiving Classic for sophomore male pacers at Harrah’s Hoosier Park, where he is the 4-5 morning-line favorite with John DeLong driving for co-owner/trainer Jack Darling.
All three of Bulldog Hanover’s recent victories have come at Hoosier Park. Since arriving from Canada, the colt has won a division of the Circle City Stakes before capturing the Monument Circle and Star Destroyer.
The Thanksgiving Classic will be his final start of the season. He will get a two-month layoff and then begin preparing for his 4-year-old campaign.
“He’s just a special type of horse, really,” Darling said. “He’s run into some tough trips, and he just keeps coming through. It’s kind of rare to see a horse that can do that week after week. He’s just got the heart of a champion.”
After starting his season with a fourth-place finish, Bulldog Hanover hit the board in seven consecutive starts, winning six. On Sept. 4, he captured his elimination for the North America Cup, but a week later finished fourth in the final. He has finished no worse than second in his five races since then.
“He came up empty in the final of the North America Cup, and that’s the only race that was a little disappointing,” said Darling, who owns the son of Shadow Play-BJ’s Squall with Brad Grant. “I still can’t figure out what happened. Other than that, he’s been tremendous.
“We had high hopes for him (this year). He wasn’t staked as good as he should have been because of the pandemic, so he just didn’t really get a chance to race in the States. He didn’t really get to race in a lot of the races that I think he would have been a really big factor in. But it all worked out pretty well.”
For his career, Bulldog Hanover has won 13 of 20 races and $741,594. He was an Ontario Sire Stakes champion at age 2 and the runner-up this season. The colt was purchased for $28,000 at the 2019 Standardbred Horse Sale. His family includes millionaires Betterthancheddar, an O’Brien Award winner, and Courtly Choice.
“Every year we go looking at yearlings just hoping to get a horse like him,” Darling said. “He loves racing. He’s easy on himself. He’s a really smart, relaxed horse. He just does everything right. I can’t say anything negative about him. To me, he’s a horse that has everything you’re looking for in a racehorse.”
Hoosier Park will host a 14-race card Thursday beginning at 6:30 p.m. (EST).
Swingforthefences, a multiple winner on the Grand Circuit, is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in the $50,000 Thanksgiving Classic for 3-year-old male trotters while Pub Crawl, the winner of three of her past four starts, is the 4-5 choice in the $45,000 Thanksgiving Classic for 3-year-old female trotters.
High Minded is the 9-5 favorite in the $40,000 Thanksgiving Classic for 3-year-old female pacers.