Here’s Hannah: a winner worthy of the name
Monashee, by all accounts, was quite some racemare and so it’s fitting that the latest winner of the race run in her remembrance should be a name worthy of joining the roster of previous winners.
It seems fairly short odds that Here’s Hannah might eventually have a race run in her honour, but her name already fits well in the mouth when spoken of as one of the most talented fillies ever to ply her trade in East Van.
She certainly looked “all that” again on Saturday under the guidance of Richard Hamel. If anything, the all-business chestnut won the $50,000 Monashee Stakes with even more authority than in her previous run in the Strawberry Morn.
The Phil Hall-trained Good Luck To You attempted valiantly to make a race of it under Enrique Gonzalez. The pair sat behind the eventual winner as long as they dared, and then harried away at Hannah along the backstretch.
But the Strawberry Morn win had clearly added some battle hardness to Here’s Hannah, and she seemed even stronger here, quickening away from the challenge before powering down the lane to win by a convincing four lengths.
Hannah’s trainer John Morrison admitted as much in the winner’s circle: “She seems to be getting stronger,” he agreed. “She eats real good and always trains so strongly.”
Hamel’s smiling face, meanwhile, betrayed his love for Here’s Hannah after she had delivered him to a tenth victory. “We’re ten-for-ten now,” Hamel reminded the crowd afterwards, before explaining the plan was to get out in front and stay there. “I tried to make it as simple as possible,” he said.
Caps must also be doffed in the direction of the connections who took on Here’s Hannah in the Monashee Stakes. There would be no race without the participation of the other high-class runners, but it’s not easy to commit time and resources to targeting a contest you know from the outset is also likely to include such a standout filly. For the record, Good luck To You, who has now had a not-so-close-up view of Hannah’s hindquarters on her last three runs, finished second. The talented Yukon Belle was third.
Hamel enjoyed a double on the day, after another trademark display of front running aboard Hilariouslynaughty for trainer Brian O’Connell and owners Pietragall Stables and Nite and Day Stable. Hamel made almost all the running, before stealing a march into the home turn and holding off all-comers by a length.
Runners from the in-form Pat Jarvis barn are seldom without a winning chance at the moment and her afternoon began in close to the best style possible – with two wins and a second from the first three races.
Honk has been enigmatic to say the least since Elphinstone Racing Stables claimed the son of Lucky Pulpit in California last year. However, Jarvis and her team have learned as much from the defeats as from the four-year-old’s victories, of which Saturday was the second in three appearances.
Honk’s gate-to-wire, five-length win under regular work rider Romario Saunders was verging on uneventful. The pair controlled the race from the front of the field before rider asked horse to put daylight between themselves and those in hot pursuit. Honk did as requested, quickening clear on the home turn for an easy win in the six-and-a-half furlong $4,000 claimer.
Genoa Bay was also winning for the second time in three starts when landing the second race, another $4,000 claiming contest – this time over eight-and-a-half furlongs. The son of Cause To Believe was stepping up in distance for the first time and appeared to relish the more relaxed way of doing things, cantering past the stands at the head of affairs under Alex Marti on the first circuit with his ears pricked. Clearly enjoying himself, Genoa Bay looked more comfortable the further the field travelled and the length advantage at the wire seemed a shade deceptive.
In an alarming reversal of form, the Jarvis barn had to settle for second place in the next race when He’s Got Ego, who never begins his challenge from the rear of the field until he is good and ready, fell foul to a combination of average fractions and the talent of the Deirdre Bell-trained Transplant.
Yet another four-year-old who was winning for the second time in three starts (and his fourth win this season), Transplant enjoys a level of consistency that is both remarkable and a great testament to his handler.
Ridden here by Jeffery Burningham, that’s now three wins, four seconds and two third-place finishes from just 12 career starts for Transplant, and he must be providing quite a thrill for owners Gift Horse Stables.
Consistency can be as annoyingly elusive to trainers as horses, although that is not something that would appear to be an issue for Anita Bolton. Eight of the 12 runners Bolton has saddled this season have either won or been placed, and she was back in the winner’s enclosure on Saturday to greet Wahoo Bill and rider Enrique Gonzalez after their length win in a six-and-a-half furlong, $8,000 claiming contest.
A three-year-old son of the successful BC-based sire, Finality, Wahoo Bill made his seasonal debut on Saturday and was having just the second run of his life after a promising Maiden Special Weight introduction to racing last September.
Owned by Nick and Pauline Felicella, Wahoo Bill and Gonzalez won despite having to scoot over to the lead from the seven gate and then win the speed duel with Brandon’s Legacy. The winner tired noticeably in the stretch, but had enough class to see off the rapidly closing pack by two-and-a-half lengths.
Trainer Rob Maybin’s obvious belief in Doobiedoobiedoobie was rewarded in style when the Florida-bred three-year-old son of Adios Charlie, who he owns in partnership with his wife Sheena, broke his maiden at the fifth time of asking in a valuable $25,000 claiming contest.
Ridden by Denny Velazquez, Doobiedoobiedoobie was sent on from his stalking position going into the far turn and the pair never looked back, winning by a comfortable two-and-a-half lengths.
The most thrilling finish of the afternoon came in the seventh race, a $4,000 claimer for fillies who had never previously won two races. Hard Rain saw off the early dueling challenge of Backseat Rider, before gamely holding on to a rapidly diminishing lead over the fast-finishing Raine Or Shine. It was a head-bobber at the wire, with Hard Rain holding on by a nose for rider Antonio Reyes, trainer Dave Forster and owners Dr Karl Chan, Forster Stables and Cameron Hill Mortgages.
The wiener dogs, warm weather and some competitive fields helped produce a healthy on-course handle of more than $109,000, while the gross handle, at an impressive $560,570, was again ahead of last year’s comparative figure.