06/13/2017 1:40PM

Mohawk: Hannelore Hanover ready to roll for Armbro Flight final

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Hannelore Hanover is the likely favorite in Saturday's Armbro Flight final.

After watching Hannelore Hanover win her Armbro Flight Stakes elimination last Friday, trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras believe the award-winning female trotter is back to her old self. The 5-year-old mare captured her elim by 2-3/4 lengths in 1:52 2/5 and is ready to defend the crown she won a year ago with a Canadian-record performance.

“It’s the first time I thought that she looked like herself,” Burke said. “I think she’s back to being sharp. She’s ready to go. The other horses look good in there, but they’re going to have to trot in (1):51 to beat her.”

Hannelore Hanover, who received 2016 Dan Patch and O’Brien awards as the best older female trotter in the U.S. and Canada, enters Saturday’s C$253,000 Armbro Flight final at Ontario’s Mohawk Racetrack off back-to-back wins following a half-length loss to Charmed Life in her seasonal opener.

“She’s vicious right now,” Gingras said. “The first start she wasn’t a hundred percent; the second start she was better. Last week she was on cruise control. She couldn’t have done it any easier. She’s sound, she’s happy; all systems are go.”

The Armbro Flight is part of a stakes-filled card Saturday at Mohawk. The lineup also includes the C$1 million Pepsi North America Cup for 3-year-old male pacers, C$440,000 Fan Hanover Stakes for 3-year-old female pacers, C$365,000 Roses Are Red Stakes for older female pacers, and C$251,000 Goodtimes Stakes for 3-year-old male trotters.

Last year Hannelore Hanover won 17 of 20 races and earned $1.11 million in purses, leading all female trotters in earnings. Her victories included the Breeders Crown Mare Trot and the Hambletonian Maturity, where she defeated male rivals. She also beat the boys in the Centaur Trotting Classic in addition to winning the Armbro Flight Stakes, TVG Series championship for female trotters, Fresh Yankee, Muscle Hill, and Miami Valley Distaff.

Her mile time of 1:51 in winning the Armbro Flight equaled the world record for a 4-year-old trotting mare and established the all-age Canadian record for a female trotter.

A daughter of Swan For All out of High Sobriety, Hannelore Hanover has won 28 of 44 career races and earned $1.47 million. She is owned by the Burke Racing Stable, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, Frank Baldachino, and J&T Silva Stables.

“She’s a freak,” Gingras said. “She’s got big-time speed and she can carry it forever. Last year she was a little sore, but she’s sound right now. The sky’s the limit for her.”

Hannelore Hanover is trying to become the first horse to win the Armbro Flight in consecutive years since Peaceful Way in 2005-06. Hannelore Hanover won last year’s race by 6-1/2 lengths over Shake It Cerry.

The connections of the Armbro Flight’s two elimination winners got to pick starting spots for Saturday’s final. Hannelore Hanover and Gingras will leave from post No. 4. Charmed Life, who won the other elim in 1:53 1/5 with Louis-Philippe Roy driving for trainer Rene Allard, will begin from post three.

Among the other horses in the field, two-time Dan Patch Award winner Broadway Donna starts from post seven after finishing second to Charmed Life last week. Two-time O’Brien Award winner Caprice Hill, who was third behind Charmed Life and Broadway Donna, got post nine.

Emoticon Hanover, who finished second to Hannelore Hanover in their elimination, is in post eight. Emoticon Hanover was last season’s 3-year-old Ontario Sire Stakes champion and the Breeders Crown runner-up to Broadway Donna.

“There are good horses in there,” Burke said. “This group is tougher than last year, I think. But (Hannelore Hanover) is ready. If there’s somebody better, then they’re better.”

Following is the field for the Armbro Flight in post order with listed driver and trainers.

PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer

1-Flowers N Songs-Randy Waples-Paul Reid

2-Kestrel-Scott Zeron-Chris Beaver

3-Charmed Life-Louis Philippe Roy-Rene Allard

4-Hannelore Hanover-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke

5-Majestic Presence-Chris Christoforou-Dagfin Henriksen

6-Renegade Magic-Trevor Henry-Jeffrey Thomson

7-Broadway Donna-David Miller-Jim Campbell

8-Emoticon Hanover-Sylvain Filion-Luc Blais

9-Caprice Hill-Doug McNair-Tony Alagna

10-Ready Any Time-Jack Moiseyev-Dagfin Henriksen

-Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, please visit www.ustrotting.com