06/11/2013 9:19PM

Mohawk: Love Canal is primed for a Fan Hanover Final upset

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Love Canal sprinted her final quarter in 25 4/5 seconds last week.

Winning major stakes races often comes down to peaking at the right moment. In the $391,882 Fan Hanover Final for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack, Love Canal may be on track for such an effort.

Love Canal spent her entire 2-year-old campaign in Ontario while completing a modestly successful eight-start rookie year. The Tony O’Sullivan trainee competed exclusively in stakes races and displayed the ability to dominate Ontario-bred foes while playing more of a fringe role versus Open company.

“Last year she had the raw speed, but she wasn’t the easiest to drive,” said O’Sullivan. “She was aggressive and Jody (driver Jamieson) had to be careful with her.”

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In addition to the usual growth spurt over the winter that many 2-year-olds will undergo, O’Sullivan cited a maturity in Love Canal that may be the difference in taking her to the next level. While she only has one win in four starts this year- a victory against her fellow Ontario-bred fillies- the Badlands Hanover miss accomplished the feat from post 10 despite still exhibiting some attitude issues.

“Whenever she gets in front of horses she weaves in and out,” said O’Sullivan. “When she cleared (the lead) in the SBOA (May 24 at Mohawk), she ducked in through the stretch.”

In a continuing effort to make Love Canal the best filly she can be, O’Sullivan added a Swedish pull-down bridle prior to her start in last Saturday in her Fan Hanover elimination.

“It won’t make her faster, but it should help her with concentration,” said O’Sullivan on the bridle change.

The jury is still out on whether the change will work when Love Canal passes horses, but once driver Doug McNair kicked down the blinds in her elimination, she found another gear and sprinted home in 25 4/5 to close from ninth to fourth. The final quarter was a full second faster than any of her rivals in the race.

Although Love Canal has never paced faster than the 1:51 3/5 mile she clocked in her elimination, trainer O’Sullivan is sure she has a 1:50 mile in her and driver McNair feels confident that we haven’t seen her best effort.

“She’s a big, strong filly who looks choppy-gaited going slow but she is much better moving fast. I don’t think she’ll get tired,” said McNair, who was really happy with the way she finished her last mile. “She only got to pace for an eighth (of a mile). I really wasn’t sure about her until the other night (in her elimination). Now I think she has a big shot (in the final).”

In order for Love Canal (post 1) to succeed on Saturday, she will have to catch the likely heavy favorite I Luv The Nitelife. The Chris Ryder-trained filly was an easy two-length elimination winner in 1:50 4/5 last week and has paced her previous three miles in times that eclipse any clocking most of her competitors have accomplished. Tim Tetrick will drive I Luv The Nitelife from post 4.

The only newcomer to the field of 10 is Jerseylicious, who took a bye into the final. The speedy daughter of Western Ideal posted a 1:49 mile while losing by just a neck in the New Jersey Sire Stakes final at the Meadowlands in her most recent start. She will begin from post 8 with Corey Callahan at the controls.

One slot to the right of Jerseylicious is Belle Boyd, runner-up to I Luv The Nitelife in their elimination. The defeat was her first in eight starts this year.  Regular driver Jody Jamieson gets the return assignment.

Rounding out the field are Parlee Beach (post 2), Pretty Music (post 3), Wherethegirlsare (post 5), Beach Of A Time (post 6), Jettin Jamie (post 7) and Nikki Beach (post 10).

The Fan Hanover Final is slated as race 5 on the 13-race Mohawk Program. First race post time is 7:05 pm.