Sassa Hanover Captures Jugette

Published: September 23, 2015 11:43 am EDT

Sassa Hanover of the powerful Ron Burke stable was a convincing wire-to-wire winner of the 2015 Jugette for three-year-old pacing fillies on Wednesday, September 23 at Ohio’s Delaware County Fair.

Driver Matt Kakaley orchestrated the winning trip, and in doing so notched his first-ever Jugette win, which was the biggest victory of his career thus far at the Delaware fair. Sassa Hanover’s win time in the $151,350 Jugette final (also referred to as the second heat) was 1:51.

Sassa Hanover’s win in the Jugette final capped a 2015 sweep of the stakes event for Burke’s stable. The Rock N Roll Heaven filly had won her opening-heat elimination in 1:50.4 and her stablemate, Bettor N Better, snared her opening-heat elimination in 1:51.1. In fact, Burke starters occupied the first three post positions in the final, as Sassa Hanover started from Post 1, Bettor N Better from Post 2 and Southwind Roulette from Post 3.

Kakaley had ‘Sassa’ ready to go when the wings of the starting gate folded. The pair fired out right off the bat and led the field into the first turn and to the :26.4 quarter pole down the backstretch.

The Hanover Shoe Farms-bred Sassa Hanover was plugging away on the engine as the field swung back into the lane and cruised by the half-mile marker in 56 seconds. Bettor N Better (driven by Yannick Gingras) was positioned first-over at that point and remained there throughout the rest of the panel.

Gingras and Bettor N Better were still first-over in second as Sassa Hanover clicked off three quarters in 1:23.3, but at that point Somewhere Sweet, driven by Jim Morrill Jr., was racing three-high from the backfield in an effort to topple the leaders. Somewhere Sweet’s effort was valiant, but it was all Burke in the Jugette final, as Sassa Hanover came home through the lane for the score.

Sassa Hanover ($4.40, $3.40, $2.80) was followed across the wire by stablemate Southwind Roulette ($4.20, $3.60), who was steered by Corey Callahan. Somewhere Sweet ($4.00) was able to get up for third.

"She (Sassa Hanover) was very, very good and this feels good,” said Kakaley, referring to Sassa Hanover and his first Jugette win. “(It’s my) first one (Jugette win), I was second the last two years, so this feels very good."

Sassa Hanover is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC of Fredericktown, PA, The Panhellenic Stb Corp. of Oyster Bay, NY, Weaver Bruscemi LLC of Canonsburg, PA and Lawrence R. Karr of Randolph, NJ.

Sassa Hanover’s Jugette performances lowered the two-heat world record. The former record of 3:42.2 was held by I Luv The Nitelife and was recorded in the 2013 Jugette. Sassa Hanover’s two heats were clocked in a combined 3:42, which shaved two-fifths of a second off the world record.

"Obviously we love to win,” Burke said from the winner’s circle. “She's a great filly. It's not been the year we had hoped for her, and hopefully this gets her started, turned around and getting the year going the right way."

Sassa’s Hanover’s Jugette performances sent her career bankroll over $813,000.

Trot Insider recapped all of the Jugette Day action as it unfolded, and that comprehensive wrap-up of the day’s action appears below.

$50,450 Jugette (Heat 1 – Elimination 2) (Three-Year-Old Filly Pace) (Race 13)

Sassa Hanover provided trainer Ron Burke with a sweep of the Jugette elims, coming from last at the half to nearly equal the Delaware County Fairgrounds track record.

Momas Got A Gun left like a bullet for driver David Miller, making the front and carving out early fractions of :26.3 and :55.1. At the half, Momas Got A Gun got external pressure from Bedroomconfessions (Tim Tetrick) and those two were stride for stride heading into the backstretch with Band Of Angels (Yannick Gingras) in the pocket, Somewhere Sweet (Jim Morrill, Jr.) second over and Sassa Hanover (Matt Kakaley) third over.

As the field hit the third station, Momas Got A Gun had enough and gave up the lead to Bedroomconfessions in a 1:22.4 three quarter time. Somewhere Sweet was outside and challenging and Sassa Hanover was angled three wide around the final turn. In the stretch, Sassa Hanover showed that world record setting form with a brisk brush to hit the wire first in 1:50.4, just one-fifth of a second off Shelliscape's 1:50.3 track and world record. Somewhere Sweet and Bedroomconfessions completed the triactor with Serious Filly (Scott Zeron) also qualifying for the final.

"Obviously she was very good. Third over isn't where I wanted to be but off those fractions it was alright," said trainer Ron Burke. "At the top of the lane I said 'Sassa' is a winner."

Burke noted that Sassa Hanover had issues being too hot, but coming into the Jugette he wasn't about to let that be an issue.

"This week, I didn't care if she got hot; it was time to start racing her hard. We've got to get her to race better, she's a better mare than she's shown and today warming up she seemed more alert than she's been so I was happy."

The win was the fifth in 14 starts this year for Sassa Hanover (Rock N Roll Heaven - Sayo Hanover), co-owned by Burke along with The Panhellenic Stb Corp. of Oyster Bay, N.Y., Weaver Bruscemi LLC of Canonsburg, Pen.. and Larry Karr of Randolph, N.J.

After the 13th race, the field for the $151,350 Jugette Final was drawn.

1 – Sassa Hanover – Matt Kakaley
2 – Bettor N Better – Yannick Gingras
3 – Southwind Roulette – Corey Callahan
4 – Somewhere Sweet – Jim Morrill Jr.
5 – Bedroomconfessions – Tim Tetrick
6 – Moremercy Bluechip – Andy Miller
7 – Serious Filly – Scott Zeron
8 – Wicked Little Minx – Brett Miller

$50,450 Jugette (Heat 1 – Elimination 1) (Three-Year-Old Filly Pace) (Race 12)

The Ron Burke-trained and Yannick Gingras-driven Bettor N Better was electric in the first opening-heat elimination of the Jugette for three-year-old pacing fillies (Race 12), as the daughter of Bettor Delight fired home off a first-over trip and stopped the clock in 1:51.1.

Gingras and Bettor N Better started from Post 3 in the six-horse tilt and got away third. They sat back and watched as Triple V Hanover (David Miller) cut the opening quarter in :26.4 and led the field down to the half-mile pole in :55.

Gingras tipped Bettor N Better out for a first-over attack in the third quarter, and the duo was almost head to head with Triple V Hanover as the latter tripped the three-quarters of a mile timer in 1:22.4.

Bettor N Better ($17.00, $6.60, $4.20) was sharp and on her game through the lane. She fired home and was first to the wire in 1:51.1.

"She had a good shot," assistant trainer Mickey Burke Jr. said of Bettor N Better, one of four entries in the eliminations from the Burke stable. "They trained excellent on Sunday. We had them all out here and everybody trained really well. We thought she had a good possibility. With Yannick on her, and her time on the halves up in New York, we figured she would be really competitive.

"This is the best half (half-mile track) anywhere. She's already shown that she could do it on other halves, so it was just a matter of seeing how the race set up and it fit for her."

The Matt Kakaley-driven Southwind Roulette ($4.20, $3.40) finished second, while Moremercy Bluechip ($7.00) finished third. Wicked Little Mix, driven by Brett Miller, finished fourth.

Bettor N Better, Southwind Roulette, Moremercy Bluechip and Wicked Little Minx all advanced to the second heat of the Jugette.

Bettor N Better was bred by 4 Rose Stable of West Milford, NJ and is owned by Our Horse Cents Stables of Melville and Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. of Wallkill, NY.

Bettor N Better has now won three of her 12 starts this season and eight of her 25 career starts.

$49,000 Ohio Breeders Championships (Two-Year-Old Filly Trot) (Race 16)

Evanora showed once again how the front end speed was not holding up on Wednesday at the Delaware County Fairgrounds with a come-from-behind score in her $49,000 Ohio Breeders Championship division (Race 16).

Winn Dixie Dunn (Yannick Gingras) was fastest off the gate from Post 5 and made the front heading into the backstretch for the first time. That lead was short-lived, however, as favoured Count On Kami (Kurt Sugg) came to call and cleared before the :29.2 first quarter. Kerfuffle Cookie (Aaron Merriman) was the first to pressure that leader, pulling from fourth to grind out the overland trip heading into the 1:00 half.

Ryan Stahl had Evanora positioned second over as the front pair traded blows into a 1:29 third station. Stahl made his move, tipping three wide around that final turn and eventually clearing to the lead midway through the stretch for the 1:58.4 lifetime best score. Count On Kami stayed for second with Winn Dixie Dunn the bottom of the triactor ticket.

Trained by Chris Beaver, Evanora is a homebred owned by Sandra Burnett of Wilmington, Ohio. The chestnut filly has now won half of her eight freshman starts.

$75,000 Ohio Breeders Championships (Three-Year-Old Colt Trot) (Race 14)

A little bit of luck has never hurt in a horse race. The Marty Wollam-trained and David Miller-driven Neelys Messenger was handed a dose of good luck in his $75,000 division of the Ohio Breeders Championships (Race 14).

Miller and the three-year-old Neely Dunn gelding were locked and blocked in the two-hole as the field straightened for home, but it was a break in stride by a competitor that allowed them to find racing room and fire home to a 1:57 victory.

Miller nestled Neelys Messenger into the pocket right off the gate and watched I Know My Chip (Chris Page) cut the opening fractions in :28.3 and :59. Kick A Lot (Kurt Sugg) applied quite a bit of pressure first-over, and then Chips Starr (Hugh ‘Sandy’ Beatty) came three-high at the leader as the field passed the three quarters marker in 1:28.1.

Chips Starr had Neelys Messenger locked in second behind the leader, but when Chips Starr broke stride it was Neelys Messenger’s time to shine. Miller angled his mount out and fired him home.

Neelys Messenger ($6.00) has now won five of 10 races this year and 12 of 18 lifetime.

$54,600 Buckette (Three-Year-Old Filly Trot) (Race 10)

Speak To Me gave the longshot players something to talk about after an upset win in the second $54,600 Buckette division (Race 10).

Lilu Hanover (Yannick Gingras) controlled the tempo after making the front from Post 2 and marched out a :28 opening panel with Lady Winona (Andy Miller) on that helmet. Smokoinmambo (Aaron Merriman) made the first-over plunge to pressure the pacesetter and trotted in tandem with Lilu Hanover through the :57 half.

Gatka Hanover (Tim Tetrick) was second over behind Smokinmambo through the half and the 1:25.2 third station and tipped off that cover to create a three-deep calvacade into the stretch. On Gatka Hanover's back was Speak To Me (Brett Miller), and that one angled out in the stretch to trip the timer first in a time of 1:55.1. Gatka Hanover was a half-length back in second with Lady Winona completing the triactor after closing well along the pylons.

"Coming around the last turn I was having to kind of baby her; she was putting in a few steps," stated Miller in the winner's circle. "At the top of the stretch, I knew she had a lot of was just a matter of if I had enough stretch."

Miller commented on the poor effort her last start out, noting there was a probable reason for sixth place finish.

"Two starts ago I was second with her; she raced tremendous. Her last start, as you can see on the program, the track was three seconds off and she goes without shoes. Jimmy felt with the no shoes and the bad track is why she didn't fire last start."

Over Delaware, Speak To Me was barefoot up front but wearing shoes in the back for trainer Jimmy Takter and owner Brittany Farms of Versailles, Ky. She's now two for 11 in 2015.

$44,200 Standardbred (Two-Year-Old Filly Pace) (Race 9)

The Brian Brown-trained and Yannick Gingras-driven Tipton Teeez impressed everyone that saw the $44,200 division of the Standardbred (Race 9) for two-year-old pacing fillies live, as the Western Terror lass was parked out the entire mile yet persevered for a gutsy win in 1:55.3.

Gingras sent his charge from Post 4 and engaged the pacesetter (Miss Me Yet, driven by Montrell Teague) along the first turn. The two fillies battled the rest of the way, and neither of them was willing to gear down. Miss Me Yet sliced the fractions (:26.3, :54.3 and 1:24.3), but Tipton Teeez pushed her every step of the way.

The speed slowed down a tad in the third quarter, which allowed challengers to step up and put forth their best bid. Multiple horses had realistic shots at the wire in the lane, but when everything was said and done, it was Tipton Teeez who refused to succumb to her trip. The bay lass fought everyone off and produced the first truly thrilling stretch finish of the day.

Tipton Teeez ($6.00, $4.40, $3.20) recorded her fourth win in what was her eighth career race. Rockin Rum Springa ($24.80, $9.00) returned a nice place price and it was Hug A Dragoness ($4.00) who finished third.

$54,600 Buckette (Three-Year-Old Filly Trot) (Race 8)

Classical Annie went the mile of her life in the first $54,600 division of the Buckette (Race 8).

In a compact field of six, Katniss (Yannick Gingras) used inside position to shoot like a bow from an arrow to get the lead and gain control over Classical Annie (Aaron Merriman) while E L Love (Tim Tetrick) made a break in vying for the front.

Katniss trotted through splits of :27.3, :56 and 1:24 before feeling pressure, and that pressure came from pocket-sitting Classic Annie. In the blink of an eye, Merriman and 'Annie' were on top around the final turn as Katniss slowed to a crawl. Corey Callahan had Smexi out and driving to make the finish close but Classical Annie held on for a head victory in a lifetime best 1:54.1. Josies Joy (Chris Page) was a non-threatening third.

"She's big and she's talented and to be honest I think she can get around any size track, she wasn't mature mentally [earlier in the year] but she's getting there," Merriman said post-race. "She's got to race against a couple of easier fields there and I think she's got some confidence. She beat some really nice horses today."

Trained by Jim Arledge, Jr., Classical Annie (Andover Hall - Clasicaly Designed) is owned by Laura Baker of Galloway, Oh., John Schmucker of Grabill, Ind., and Thomas York Jr of Newark, Oh. She's won four of 14 starts this year and three of her last four outings.

$49,000 Ohio Breeders Championships (Two-Year-Old Filly Trot) (Race 7)

Kestrel put her best hoof forward in her division of the Ohio Breeders Championships (Race 7), as the juvenile daughter of Triumphant Caviar stepped to an impressive, open-length win in a stakes record 1:58.

Aaron Merriman was in the race bike for trainer Chris Beaver. Kestrel was sent off as the odds-on choice from Post 4 and she toyed with the field early. She allowed them to follow her through splits of :29.2, 1:00.2 and 1:29.2 before pulling away in the final quarter.

Kestrel opened up quite a bit of daylight between herself and the rest of the field in the final quarter. She went on to record a wire-to-wire win by multiple lengths.

The victory was Kestrel’s sixth win from what was her seventh start. She has never finished worse than second. Kestrel ($2.10, $2.10, $2.10) was much the best, and soundly defeated Bellesvictoryring ($5.00, $3.20) and Leavinonajettrain ($6.80).

Race 15 saw the Tye Loy-trained and Ryan Stahl-driven Haydenssmoothmove record a new lifetime mark of 1:57 in a $3,500 division of the Ohio Fair Racing Conference Stakes for two-year-old trotting colts. Haydenssmoothmove, who is a gelded son of Woodstock, lurked in the backfield through the opening fractions (:28.1, :57.1, 1:27), but he closed with a flurry. The brown freshman passed horses with relative ease when asked. Stahl had his charge angle three-high as the field turned for home and the pair chugged home clear winners at long odds. Haydenssmoothmove ($40.20) has now won seven of his 11 career starts.

Race 11 saw driver Dan Noble steer two-year-old Big Bad John gelding Cade Ricky to a mark-lowering 1:57.1 win for trainer Mark Winters Sr. in the second division of the Ohio Fair Racing Conference Stakes. The bay acquired the lead after the :56.2 half. Noble had launched a first-over attack, and he and his charge took over early in the third quarter. Forever Worth It made a first-over bid for the lead on the final turn, but the son of Stand Forever broke stride and put himself out of contention. Cade Ricky recorded his fourth career win in the $3,500 event and returned a $5.20 win mutuel to his backers.

Up Front Kellie Jo inched closer to millionaire status in Race 6, a $2,500 event for conditioned pacers. The nine-year-old Bettors Delight mare was sent off as the heavy 1-9 post time choice from Post 4 and she pleased her backers. The bay paced a to gate-to-wire win in 1:55 and was not seriously challenged in the dash. Up Front Kellie Jo paid $2.10 to win for trainer Ron Steck and driver Yannick Gingras. The bay now needs less than $10,000 in purse earnings to hit the million-dollar plateau.

Winwood Mac put a charge into Race 5 early on after having started from Post 8. Driver Chris Page had to check up the Dan O’Mara trainee somewhat in the first turn, but the gelded son of Canyon Wind went on to blow by all his foes three-wide before he landed on the lead. The bay went on to cut all the fractions and hit the wire in 1:57.3. Winwood Mac paid $3.60 for the win, which was his fifth victory and his tenth lifetime start. The dash was a $3,500 division of the Ohio Fair Racing Conference Stakes for two-year-old pacing colts.

A bit of a stretch battle took place in Race 4, a $2,500 trotting event, as the Dennis Putman-trained and Brett Miller-driven Rose Run Oscar ground down Summit City Nate in the lane for a mark-lowering 1:55 win. The five-year-old Trainforthefuture gelding paid $5.40 to win. The victory was the bay’s 12th career victory.

Not paying any attention to her two-month layoff, Full Count mare Facial Expressions trotted first-over in the back half of Race 3 and recorded a 1:58.4 victory for her trainer/driver Hugh ‘Sandy’ Beatty. The dash, a $2,500 event, saw the bay Facial Expressions notch her 18 career victory and push her overall earnings past $65,000.

The Brett Miller-driven and Marlin Smith-trained Y F Crasher posted a gate-to-wire win in Race 2, a $25,000 conditioned trot. The eight-year-old Shilling mare fired from Post 5, cut all the fractions and nailed the wire in 1:57.1. She held off a grinding Action Broadway at the wire at returned $16.40 to her backers.

The card kicked off in Race 1 with a 1:53.3, off-the-pace win by I Dreamed A Dream. The conditioned pace featured a $2,500 purse and saw driver Kayne Kauffman turn a second-over trip into a three-wide victory for trainer Brian Brown. I Dreamed A Dream, a five-year-old gelded son of Western Ideal, had left early, and found room to tuck in before working his way to the wire first. The victory was I Dreamed A Dream’s 12 career win. He paid $10.20 to win.