Easy Lover Hanover Retired

Published: August 11, 2021 11:15 pm EDT

Trot Insider has learned that millionaire pacer Easy Lover Hanover has been retired at the age of eight.

Owner Brad Grant made the call to the retire the hard-knocking son of Somebeachsomewhere - Easy Go Go, who has raced 144 times in six seasons of racing for Grant and trainer Ben Wallace.

Purchased by Grant before his three-year-old season, Easy Lover Hanover will always hold a very special place in the heart of his owner and his trainer. Conditioned by Tony Alagna at two, Easy Lover Hanover was entered in the 2016 Tattersalls January Mixed Sale — a sale that took place some two weeks after the devastating barn fire that claimed the lives of 43 horses at Classy Lane Training Centre. Wallace was among the trainers affected by the tragedy, and his stable star at the time was Grant's stakes-winning millionaire Apprentice Hanover.

Grant noted that Easy Lover Hanover was a horse that was hoped to fill the void and the stall of Apprentice Hanover, but he couldn't have imagined that the maiden sophomore he paid $70,000 to obtain would go on to bank more than seven figures and, in his words, help rebuild the career of the Hall of Fame trainer.

"I wouldn't want to hazard a guess as to how many times he raced in the Preferred," said Grant. That number by our count is 68, 74 if the Preferred classes at Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs and Grand River Raceway are included. The career summary for Easy Lover Hanover will stand at 51-22-14 — meaning he finished in the top three in 60 percent of his starts — with $1,162,473 in career earnings. He took his mark of 1:48.1 at Mohawk as a five-year-old, capping a stretch of nine straight Preferred Pace wins over Woodbine Racetrack and Woodbine Mohawk Park.

When Easy Lover Hanover was hot, he was hot. Grant was quick to point out that the nine-race win streak that spanned 2017 and 2018 wasn't the only string of impressive performances the pacer assembled. He started his career for Grant with a six-race win streak in 2016, followed later that year with another five-race streak that prompted a supplement to the 2016 Hap Hansen Progress Pace at Dover Downs. He finished second in the elim, but won the $314,600 Final for his largest stakes win.

And while Easy Lover Hanover did compete a handful of stakes races, the majority of his races and earnings came in the upper levels on the WEG circuit. Grant couldn't say enough about the team behind the horse that ensured he was able to race so successfully for that stretch, namely trainer Ben Wallace, caretaker Diana Woods and primary drivers Doug McNair and Jody Jamieson.

"Ben's had the horse all the way along, and it's Ben that made the horse what he is. And I can't say enough about what Ben has done for this horse. There's a reason a guy like him is a Hall of Famer because he took a non-achieving horse and he achieved, and over achieved.

Easy Lover Hanover flanked by trainer Ben Wallace and caretaker Diana Woods

"It's been a great, great, great ride. Diana has looked after him since the day he walked in the barn. I can't say enough about the job she had done on him, so lots of thanks to her and to Ben.

Wallace called Woods "instrumental" in the story of Easy Lover Hanover, noting that "she kept that horse sound and happy for five seasons of racing."

"That horse brought me out of the fire," added Wallace. "After the losses that we all incurred, we were very fortunate to pick up the pieces and go forward a little bit. And he was a pivotal part for all of that. He's been near and dear to me for the five years that we've had him."

To his credit, Easy Lover Hanover is still easy on the eyes. Wallace waxed poetic over his horse's ability to take care of himself and still look the part of a star athlete who could still compete but not at the level he once did. And that's not just his opinion, but one shared voluntarily by one of his owners.

"Daniel Plouffe was in town, he went up to Woodbine to look at some horses he owns, then he came to Classy Lane to look at the horses we have, and then went over to a thoroughbred farm to look at a couple of the turnouts we have, and in the interim I had shown him Easy Lover Hanover," noted Wallace, "and he said out of all the horses he looked at today Easy's the best horse in the best shape that he's seen."

While he still looks like a million bucks along with the million that he banked along the way, Wallace and Grant agreed that the time has come to retire Easy Lover Hanover.

"He's just a horse that raced against every top horse in the division, year after year and I don't think COVID helped him," Grant stated. "Ben had him ready, then had to shut him down, then he had him ready and had to shut him down...and he just hasn't come back. And after his last race Ben and I talked and I just looked at him and he said to me, 'Brad, you can send him someplace else but I just can't get him back to Mohawk' and I said, 'well, Ben, we're not sending him anywhere else. It's time to retire him and let him enjoy the good life.'

"I just want him to go out in the right frame. I love the old bugger and you know he came along at the right time. And, actually, he came along at the right time, I believe, in Ben's life and mine."

It seems only fitting that a horse selected to help rebuild a decimated stable demonstrated the heart of a warrior and tenacity of a fighter to those connections that invested the care, time and effort into helping him realize his true potential.

"Every night he came to race," noted Grant. "His best strength was coming off the pace. He didn't want to lose. He liked to chase horses down and win, and you never saw him winning by five or 10 lengths."

Driver Doug McNair engineered many of those victories, saying that Easy Lover Hanover was "all class" and a professional horse that made his job easy.

"He was fun to drive. I think the first time I drove him I had the 10 hole and I won with him that start, and he went on to win a bunch in a row and then went on to win the Progress and beat the best three-year-olds in the country.

"At the end of his three-year-old year he was as good as any three-year-old and he was, hands down, the best horse in Canada the next two or three years as an aged horse. He's definitely one of the fastest horses I've sat behind for a piece, and it wasn't the start of the mile it was the last quarter. He could pace the last eighth as fast as any horse I ever drove."

Easy Lover Hanover will join new connections and possibly take on new disciplines in retirement thanks to the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society.

"You know he's retiring in great shape, he looks as good as he did when I bought him. Good, sound horse and thanks to Joanne Colville and the group at OSAS they have a couple of people lined up and he'll be in the right spot being the classy old horse that he is. It's an end of a good story."

The end to this story is bittersweet for Grant and his wife Bonnie with two of the family's favourites — pacing mare Sandbetweenurtoes and now Easy Lover Hanover — having their horseshoes pulled off for the final time. Grant will look forward to the next chapter with Sandbetweenurtoes as a broodmare currently in foal to Tall Dark Stranger.

"They've kind of been our two favourite pets and two horses that have done really, really well on the racetrack," said Grant. "But Easy Lover, he was just special. He filled a big void when we needed something to fill it. And I really think, that horse was probably the best thing that could happen for Ben, as far as just a good horse and and Ben made him a great horse."