04/30/2016 3:14PM

Freehold: Field set for $140,800 Dexter Cup after three eliminations

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Eighteen 3-year-old trotters were divided up into a trio of $16,000 Dexter Cup eliminations Saturday afternoon at Freehold Raceway, and Cufflink Hanover, Dominion Beach, and Dante emerged with the victories.

Cufflink Hanover, driven by co-owner Dave Miller, tracked odds-on favorite Steed (Matt Kakaley) from the pocket through panels of 29 2/5, 59 2/5, and 1:28 3/5 in the first elimination.  Miller brought his charge to the outside on the final turn, and he got around Steed in the stretch on his way to a 1 1/4 length victory in 1:57 4/5.  Steed had to settle for second, and he was followed by Credevie (Trond Smedshammer).

Miller shares ownership of the victorious Andover Hall gelding with Enzed Racing Stable.  Trained by Richard "Nifty" Norman, it was Cufflink Hanover's fourth win from ten starts, and he has now earned $69,314.  He paid $9.60.

49-1 outside Centurion Hanover (Ray Schnittker) was intent on leading in the second elimination from the rail.  Schnittker gave the cold shoulder to Granite State (Tim Tetrick) on the way to the 29 1/5 opening quarter, and then Granite State broke stride off the second turn, leaving Centurion Hanover in front by over four lengths at the 59 2/5 half.

Race favorite Dominion Beach (Marcus Johansson) improved from third to second when Granite State broke, and he would gain steady ground on the tempo-setter in the third quarter.  Once he had tightened in off the turn, Johansson brought Dominion Beach to the outside, and he had cleared before the 1:29 2/5 three-quarters.  Sir Royson (Jim Marohn Jr.) tracked Dominion Beach's move around Centurion Hanover, dropped into the pocket briefly, and then came back to the outside on the final corner.

Dominion Beach and Sir Royson had a good battle through the lane, but Dominion Beach remained clear, prevailing by half a length in 1:58.  Cloud Nine Hanover (Charlie Norris) grabbed third.

Trained by Nancy Johansson, Dominion Beach is a colt by Hambletonian winner Muscle Hill and out of Hambletonian Oaks winner Windylane Hanover.  Dominion Beach, owned by Sweden's Courant A B, now has three career wins, and he has banked $106,267.  Dominion Beach returned $2.40 to win.

In the final elimination Dante (Ake Svanstedt) made it to the lead from post two, and he would chop out fractions of 29 4/5, 59 4/5, and 1:28 4/5.  He faced first-over pressure from Labatt Hanover (George Brennan) from before the half, but remained the leader off the final bend.

Dante kicked away from both Labatt Hanover and pocket-sitter and favorite Inukchuk Chuck (Jim Marshall III.) through the stretch drive, and he would go on to win by nearly four lengths in 1:58 3/5.  Inukchuk Chuck held second ahead of Hillman (Marcus Melander).

The winner is also trained by Svanstedt and is again owned by Courant A B.  A Credit Winner colt, Dante broke his maiden in his third start, and he has now earned $15,281.  Dante sold for $355,000 as a yearling in Lexington, which was the third-highest price of the sale.  He paid $8.00.