When trainer Mitch York bought Annapolis Hanover as a yearling at the 2021 Standardbred Horse Sale, he hoped the pacer would develop into a top horse on the Pennsylvania fair circuit. It didn’t work out that way, but York isn’t about to complain.
Annapolis Hanover, purchased for $15,000 and owned by York, has hit the board in all 14 of his lifetime starts, winning nine, and earned $260,183. Most of his races have been in state-bred stakes, including a second-place finish in last season’s Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship for two-year-old male pacers.
If all goes well in the coming weeks, Annapolis Hanover will head to the Grand Circuit, with the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup on June 17 at Woodbine Mohawk Park on the radar. Annapolis Hanover was ranked No. 9 on TROT Magazine’s list of top NA Cup contenders, with Spring Book odds of 19-1.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” said York, who began training horses in 2019 after a 25-year career as a Pennsylvania State Trooper. “He definitely has done well; I’ve been happy with him every week. We’ll see how competitive he is in the next couple weeks and go from there.”
Annapolis Hanover’s next race is Sunday in a $38,687 division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at Pocono Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania. He is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line, leaving from post one with driver Hunter Myers. The gelding goes into the event, the second of four PASS splits for three-year-old male pacers, off a 1:50.3 victory in an opening-round PASS division May 6 at The Meadows.
For the season, Annapolis Hanover has two wins and a second in three races, with the setback coming in his seasonal debut by a head to four-year-old Rule Of Law from post nine at The Meadows. Following Sunday’s race at Pocono, his next start is scheduled to be in the third leg of the PASS at Harrah’s Philadelphia on May 28.
York, who was introduced to harness racing by his father-in-law, Dave Brickell, has developed several Pennsylvania fair champions but Annapolis Hanover would be his first Grand Circuit horse. Annapolis Hanover is eligible to the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes at Mohawk the week prior to the North America Cup eliminations. His stakes calendar also includes the Messenger, Max C. Hempt Memorial and Matron.
“It’s been fantastic,” said York. “My wife [Erin] and I had a really good time last summer taking him racing. Hopefully, everything stays the way it is and he continues to race well. I’ve been impressed with just how low-key he is. He’s the easiest keeper, I think, that I’ve ever had. And the way he finishes races has always impressed me.”
Annapolis Hanover began his career by winning two of three conditioned races at The Meadows before entering the stakes fray with a third-place finish in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. A victory in a division of the PA All-Stars then launched a five-race win streak that came to an end with his runner-up finish to Fulton in the sire stakes championship.
“He was on the smaller side, so I figured he would be in my price range,” York said about purchasing the son of Stay Hungry-All Night Long, adding with a laugh, “I hoped he would be a great fair horse. He never got to see too many fairs.
“We knew he was a pretty decent horse and it was probably the second leg of the sire stakes last year [a 1:52.3 win at Harrah’s Philadelphia] that it became apparent we had a pretty good horse.”
Fulton, who was ranked No. 5 among North America Cup contenders in the Spring Book, is the 2-1 morning-line favourite in Sunday’s PASS division that includes Annapolis Hanover. Trained by Linda Toscano, Fulton captured his 2023 debut in a sire stakes division at The Meadows in 1:49.2.
“Just to be racing against horses like that is pretty cool,” said York, who has an 11-horse stable. “The fact we own [Annapolis Hanover] absolutely makes it more special.”
The 5-2 favourite in the first division is last season’s Breeders Crown champion, Ammo. The Joe Holloway trainee, who was sixth on the NA Cup contender list, made his seasonal bow on May 11 in a conditioned race at Philly and won by 6-1/4 lengths in 1:51.2. Just Bet It All, also NA Cup eligible, is the 3-1 second choice.
Bamboozler, trained by Virgil Morgan Jr. and No. 11 among NA Cup eligibles, is the 5-2 favourite in the third division off a 1:50.1 win in the sire stakes at The Meadows. Ken Hanover, trained by Roland Mallar, is the 5-2 choice in the fourth division. He has won all three of his starts this season.
Racing begins at 6 p.m. (EDT) at Pocono Downs. For free past performances, visit the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association website. Click here for Sunday's program.