By Ken Weingartner, USTA — Prior to last Saturday, there had been 11 winning miles faster than 1:47 in harness racing history. Only once did two of those miles happen in the same year, when Lather Up and Shartin N both accomplished the feat in 2019.
Then on Saturday at The Meadowlands, it occurred twice in less than an hour. Rockyroad Hanover won the first division of the Roll With Joe Stakes in 1:46.2 and Bulldog Hanover followed two races later by equaling the sport’s fastest-ever mile with a 1:46 score in the second division.
Always B Miki was the first horse to hit 1:46, in 2016 at Lexington’s Red Mile, and Lather Up joined him three years later with a victory at The Meadowlands.
“Obviously, the track was fast, but only two horses had gone that fast before, and when you think of how many great horses have raced in the world, it was pretty cool for sure,” said Dexter Dunn, who drove Bulldog Hanover to victory for owners Jack Darling Stables and Brad Grant.
“He’s a pretty special horse. He just doesn’t seem to get tired. When you sit behind him, you really feel his power. The way he moves, the fractions he’s going, he does it so strongly. He doesn’t feel like he’s flat out, he’s still up on the bit and marching along. He’s certainly a treat to sit behind.”
Todd McCarthy was in the sulky for Rockyroad Hanover’s win, which made him the third driver in history with multiple triumphs in less than 1:47, joining David Miller and Tim Tetrick. Last year, McCarthy won in 1:46.4 with Allywag Hanover. Ironically, Allywag Hanover was second to Bulldog Hanover last week despite being timed in 1:46.2.
“As crazy as it sounds, I always think you can kind of feel it during the mile when you’re going around that (1):46, (1):47 mark,” McCarthy said. “You’re getting along pretty good. I love racing those horses and I love going that fast. Those horses are just on another level when they’re going that fast. It’s such a thrill to sit behind them and be in those races.”
Bulldog Hanover and Rockyroad Hanover return to action Saturday in the $250,000 final of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old pacers at the Meadowlands. It will not be the first time two pacers in the sub-1:47 club meet — Lather Up faced McWicked and Cattlewash battled Allywag Hanover — but it will be the first time two horses in the club get together so soon after their speedy miles.
Is a sub-1:46 mile now inevitable this year? Since the start of 2020, there have been 14 miles of 1:47.1 or faster.
“We’re sort of getting into that (1):47 territory so regularly now; we’re seeing those kinds of miles quite a bit at different places,” McCarthy said. “When the conditions are right and the horses are there, it’s easy to go fast. If we get the right conditions and the right horses and get down to the half a little bit quicker, it’s very likely there could be a (1):45 mile at some stage this year.”
Said Dunn, “It seems to be looking that way, but I’m sure it’s looked that way before and it hasn’t happened. A lot of great horses have raced before and not been able to do it. We’ll wait and see. Hopefully a horse does it. It’s good for the game. Records are made to be broken, it’s always said.”
Bulldog Hanover drew post two for the Graduate final and is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in the field of 10. Rockyroad Hanover got post 10.
A son of Shadow Play-BJ’s Squall, Bulldog Hanover has won five of six races this year and 19 of 27 in his career, earning $918,525. Darling trained Bulldog Hanover in Canada, where he was an Ontario Sire Stakes champion in 2020, with Noel Daley taking over recently for the horse’s races in the U.S.
Bulldog Hanover arrived in the States in late June and won a preliminary leg of the Graduate in 1:47 at The Meadowlands the week before his 1:46 mile in the Roll With Joe. In the Roll With Joe, he got the lead prior to the race’s midpoint, reached in :53.4, and paced his back half in :52.1 with a :25.3 final quarter.
“The last thing you’re doing when you go into a race is thinking about time,” Dunn said, noting winning is foremost. “It was in the last little bit of the mile that it caught my attention. I knew it was going to be (1):46-something, but I didn’t think it was going to be (1):46 flat. I didn’t think I was going to get there off those fractions.
“Coming to the wire, I sort of moved my attention to the timer, and it was sort of in that moment when I thought we might get there. It certainly was cool.”
Racing begins at 6:20 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at the Meadowlands. The card also includes Graduate finals for 4-year-old female pacers as well as 4-year-old male and female trotters. There also will be two eliminations for the Meadowlands Pace, with the top-five finishers from each group advancing to the final on July 16 at the Big M.
For complete entries for the Saturday card, click here.
Sub-1:47 Miles in History by Date
Bold = tied Fastest in History
Holborn Hanover – 1:46.4 – George Brennan – Meadowlands – Aug. 5, 2006
Somebeachsomewhere – 1:46.4 – Paul MacDonell – Red Mile – Sept. 27, 2008
Warrawee Needy – 1:46.4 – Jody Jamieson – Meadowlands – July 6, 2013
He’s Watching – 1:46.4 – Tim Tetrick – Meadowlands – July 12, 2014
Always B Miki – 1:46 – David Miller – Red Mile – Oct. 9, 2016
D Jr Hanover – 1:46.4 – Doug McNair – Mohawk – June 3, 2017
McWicked – 1:46.2 – Brian Sears – Red Mile – Oct. 6, 2018
Lather Up – 1:46 – Montrell Teague – Meadowlands – July 6, 2019
Shartin N – 1:46.4 – Tim Tetrick – Meadowlands – Aug. 3, 2019 *
Cattlewash – 1:46.4 – David Miller – Red Mile – Oct. 4, 2020
Allywag Hanover – 1:46.4 – Todd McCarthy – Red Mile – Oct. 10, 2021
Rockyroad Hanover – 1:46.2 – Todd McCarthy – Meadowlands – July 2, 2022
Bulldog Hanover – 1:46 – Dexter Dunn – Meadowlands – July 2, 2022
* Fillies and Mares record