09/22/2017 10:32AM

Hoosier: Lack of opportunity finds Cufflink Hanover in the Centaur Trot

Lisa Photo
Cufflink Hanover is given an 8/1 chance on the morning line.

The $240,000 Centaur Trotting Classic at Hoosier Park on Friday took on a new shape as two horses were supplemented for $20,000 apiece. Trainer John Butenschoen, who entered Cufflink Hanover, found himself in the race for perhaps different reasons than I Know My Chip, the other supplement.

“I just could not find a race for him,” said Butenschoen on Tuesday afternoon. “We tried to enter him twice at The Meadowlands and it didn’t fill either time. I also tried to race him at Vernon but that race didn’t go. I even thought about putting him in Thursday at Harrah’s Philadelphia, but with Corey (Callahan) driving in the Jug that would have meant a different driver and I didn’t want to do that.”

So what Butenschoen did was consult with owners Crawford Racing and elected to pay into the Centaur and give the 4-year-old a chance to shine against mostly older foes.

“We had planned to race him about 12 times this year and in addition to being eligible to the race at Dayton (Dayton Trotting Derby Sept. 29), he was also invited to the $250,000 Invitational at Yonkers on International Day (October 14). He’s a racehorse and we needed to get him raced,” Butenschoen said.

The good news for Cufflink Hanover’s connections is that he landed the rail in the 10-horse field with Callahan in the bike. The bad news perhaps could be the presence of Maple Leaf Trot winner Hannelore Hanover (post 6) among the rivals.

Butenschoen was more concerned with his horse and he defended the decision to supplement further. “You saw the race he went at Tioga. He was parked every step of the way and was still trotting strongly late in a 1:51 4/5 mile,” Butenschoen said in regard to the August 27 Crawford Farms stake won by Resolve.

Cufflink Hanover, a 4-year-old gelded son of Andover Hall, has only one victory this year but Butenschoen and his connections feel quite strongly that he belongs with these.

Joining the Centaur field is recent Maple Leaf Trot runner-up JL Cruze. The 6-year-old career earner of over $1.2 million has had a relatively quiet year while at the same time making the most of his opportunities. A victory in the Spirit of Massachusetts at Plainridge in 1:51 2/5 was the high point. David Miller is listed to drive JL Cruze from post two.

The veteran millionaire Natural Herbie appears to be coming back to peak form for trainer-driver Verlin Yoder. The 7-year-old has won three of his last four races all at Hoosier and all coming from well back to score over the long straightaway. Natural Herbie may be moving from far back again having drawn post eight.

On paper it will be Hannelore Hanover’s race to win given how effortless her 1:51 1/5 victory in the Maple Leaf was last Saturday at Mohawk. For a while the Indiana-bred mare didn’t seem to have the same fire she displayed as a sophomore this year, but that has all changed with imposing miles on two consecutive weeks in Ontario. Yannick Gingras once again will sit behind Hannelore Hanover for trainer Ron Burke.

There will be plenty of stakes action at Hoosier on Friday and trainer Butenschoen is hoping that he’s picked the right spot for Bill’s Lady in the $240,000 Kentuckiana Stallion Management event for juvenile trotting fillies. Bill’s Lady landed post seven in the evening’s seventh race and Tim Tetrick is listed to drive. “She set a track record at Tioga (Reynolds Stake),” said Butenschoen. “Timmy likes the way she goes.”

Thus far during her first year of racing Bill’s Lady, a daughter of Donato Hanover, has finished on the board in six of eight starts worth $77,302.

Butenschoen was happy to avoid the fillies that raced on Monday in the Peaceful Way final but trainer Jimmy Takter still had enough left in his stable to put three into the field. Dab Hanover (post 2), Swing It Cathy (post 6) and Basquiat (post 9) have all shown some promise for Takter this year.

Hoosier Park’s 14-race Friday program has a first post of 6:30 p.m.

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