11/25/2012 8:49PM

Dover Downs: Hillbilly Hanover scores upset in Matron eliminations

Yannick Gingras made the winning move with 14-1 outsider Hillbilly Hanover.

The team of driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Ron Burke pulled off a shocker on Sunday night when Hillbilly Hanover, a 14-1 outsider in the $29,444 Matron Stakes elimination for three-year-old colt and gelding pacers, scored over 2-5 favorite Heston Blue Chip.

Gingras left the gate smartly but elected to take a seat when Easy Again with Montrell Teague and Bolt The Duer and Mark MacDonald got involved in an early speed duel. Easy Again had the front in :25 3/5 and didn’t allow the Messenger winning Bolt The Duer to clear the front until three-eighths of a mile were complete.

Sensing a softening pace, Gingras edged Hillbilly Hanover out before the second turn and made a determined march towards the front. Gingras’ move came at the expense of Heston Blue Chip. The Progress winner had gotten underway early but was pushed three wide when Hillbilly Hanover moved and Mel Mara got behind him. Tim Tetrick, behind the 2-5 choice, elected to take back to follow cover shortly after the :54 1/5 opening half clocking.

Down the backstretch, Bolt The Duer was a tired horse and surrendered to Hillbilly Hanover before the final turn. Mel Mara couldn’t keep pace with his cover and settled back to the rail with Heston Blue Chip attempting to rally. Hillbilly Hanover, previously a winner in just one start in 21 trips to post this year, sprinted off easily for the fastest win of his career, a 1:50 3/5 clocking.

Heston Blue Chip was easily second with Escape The News rallying late for the third spot. Mel Mara held on to fourth, with both Bolt The Duer and a sluggish Pet Rock failing to qualify for next Sunday’s (December 2) Matron final.

In the first $29,444 division, Thinking Out Loud and Bettors Edge, the two heavy favorites, duked it out head-to-head the final half with Thinking Out Loud gamely wearing down his rival by a long nose in 1:50 flat.

Sent off as the 3-5 favorite, Thinking Out Loud got away fourth in the field of six from his rail position. Shady Breeze and Major Bombay exchanged the lead through a hard-fought opening quarter of :26 flat. Bettors Edge, the 7-5 second choice in the field, made a bold move past the quarter to claim the front three-eighths into the mile. Driver David Miller rated the second quarter nicely behind Bettors Edge, getting to the half in :54 2/5 with Thinking Out Loud pulling off the rail at that point.

Heading down the backstretch it was suddenly a two-horse race as the outclassed other four began to lose ground with Thinking Out Loud and Bettors Edge racing as a team through three-quarters in 1:21 4/5.

The two were hardly separated from there as driver John Campbell urged Thinking Out Loud on the outside the entire stretch and maintained his short advantage over the determined Bettors Edge. Im The Pied Piper tried to keep with the winner’s cover down the backstretch and eventually landed a spot inside. He finished third, with McErlean also joining the qualifiers for the final.

The victory was the seventh of the season in 22 starts for the son of Ponder trained by Bob McIntosh.