06/13/2015 10:25PM

Mohawk: Sassa Hanover, Moonlit Dance win Fan Hanover elims

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Sassa Hanover handed JK She'salady her first career loss.

Sassa Hanover and Moonlit Dance were upset minded 3-year-old pacing fillies who beat their favored rivals in their respective $35,000 Fan Hanover eliminations on Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack.

JK She'salday, reigning Horse of the Year on both sides of the border, had a perfect 13-for-13 record going into the race, but Sassa Hanover played giant-killer and snapped her streak.

Sassa Hanover and driver Yannick Gingras got away sixth as The Show Returns, who was followed by Wrangler Magic and Bettor Be Steppin, led the fillies into the first turn. After a 26 1/5 opening panel, Bettor Be Steppin launch a second quarter attack from third to take command, but her lead was short lived as Single Me was on the move.

Sassa Hanover was third-over behind JK She'salady, who caught the cover of the leading Single Me. The 94-1 longshot posted the half in 55 3/5 and three-quarters in 1:22 1/5.

When they entered the stretch, Sassa Hanover was fed open racetrack and she surged past the fillies in deep stretch to score in a new lifetime mark of 1:49 4/5 by half a length. Wrangler Magic rallied for second while Single Me faded to third. The 1/9 favorite, JK She'salady, finished fourth and Bettor Be Steppin was fifth.

“That's the trip I was looking for," said Gingras from the winner’s circle. "You know JK She'salady, she will take you where you need to go. I figured if she gets roughed up a little bit I had a good chance and that's what happened.

"It took her a little bit of time to come back," explained the reinsman. "I trained her a week before she qualified and she was just okay and the first qualifier she was okay, but then she really woke up after that. The second qualifier she was much better and at Vernon, [driver] Andrew McCarthey told me she was very good there. And at Yonkers, it was a tough track and tough trip as well, but tonight she was perfect."

The daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven-Sayo Hanover notched her second win of the season and 11th lifetime. With the win, she pushed her career earnings to $547,747 for trainer Ron Burke, who shares ownership with The Panhellenic Stb Corp, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Lawrence Karr. Sassa Hanover paid $15.70 to win.

According to a tweet from trainer Nancy Johansson, Jk She'salady scoped sick after the race.

In the second elimination, Moonlit Dance defeated Solar Sister, who was the 3/2 bettor's choice, to score her fourth victory this year for trainer Tony O'Sullivan.

Driver James MacDonald and Moonlit Dance was eighth as Solar Sister posted a 26 2/5 first quarter. A parked-out Momas Got A Gun took to the front into the backstretch, but as soon as she cleared, Happiness was making a bid for the lead. The pair battled, but Happiness was the one to take command, posting the half in 54 seconds just before clearing to front.  Happiness then clocked the three-quarters in 1:22 1/5 after Deli Beach put pressure on the front-stepping pacer.

Into the stretch, Moonlit Dance was back in seventh, but found a seam in-between horses to capture the lion’s share of the purse by a neck and stop the teletimer in a career-best clocking of 1:50 4/5. Doctor Terror got up for second and Better Said stayed for third. Solar Sister and Storm Point finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

“The speed has never been a problem with her,” said O’Sullivan. “She is tough on herself and training; there is no bottom to her. I was never worried about the speed. And racing against better horses, she is her own worst enemy. She’s got her own mind sometimes and if we can coddle that a little bit then she is a very good filly.”

The homebred daughter of Art Major-Gone Dancing picked up her fifth lifetime victory in 15 outings, which increases her bankroll to $103,379 for the David Goodrow Stable. Moonlit Dance paid $17.10 to win.

The top five finishers advance to the $479,000 Fan Hanover Final, which is set for Saturday, June 20 as part of the $1-million Pepsi North America Cup undercard. Being elimination winners, Sassa Hanover and Moonlit Dance have selected their post positions for the final.

Here is how the sophomore fillies will line up behind the gate:
1. Better Said
2. Moonlit Hanover
3. Sassa Hanover
4. Doctor Terror
5. JK Shesalady
6. Solar Sister
7. Wrangler Magic
8. Storm Point
9. Single Me
10. Bettor Be Steppin
AE: The Show Returns

-edited release (WEG)