11/25/2015 12:02PM

Northfield: Burke has the Courageous Lady fave in Sassa Hanover

Derick Giwner
Sassa Hanover won the Jugette in Ohio and will try to pick up the Courageous Lady again in the Buckeye State.

Eight horses were entered in Friday’s $120,000 Courageous Lady sophomore filly stakes at Northfield Park. Only a few weeks ago trainer Ron Burke conditioned half of the field. The sport’s leading trainer will only have two going postward on Friday but the good news is that Sassa Hanover and Southwind Roulette start close to the inside in one of the last significant stakes of the year.

“I thought Sassa raced very well in the Tarport Hap,” said Burke. “If she had gotten one position ahead at the start it would have been a different race but she got caught outside.”

Sassa Hanover finished fourth in the Tarport Hap but likely enters Friday’s contest as the favorite from post three. The gritty New York-bred lass returns to Ohio for the first time since capturing the Jugette on September 23.

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As for her half-mile track ability, Burke believes it’s a strong suit.

“She won the Jugette and she’s been very good on the New York Sire Stakes circuit,” Burke said. That success has seen the filly capture 15 of 33 lifetime starts and with a victory on Friday she’ll become the sport’s newest millionaire.

Post position and the presence of Yannick Gingras make Sassa Hanover the favorite to make it to seven figures in her last start as a 3-year-old. At the same time there are a few others in the field including two recent stable castoffs Bettor N Better and Band Of Angels.

“She’s a very hard trying filly that got into a few tough spots for us,” said Burke in regard to Bettor N Better, the filly that now resides in the Jeff Bamond Jr. stable and landed post five. The Bamonds paid $70,000 for the daughter of Bettors Delight at Harrisburg earlier this month and could have all of their investment back with a victory here.

Band Of Angels was put in the Harrisburg auction by owner W J Donovan and wound up retained by the owner, who put the Rock N Roll Heaven-sired filly under the care of Tony Alagna.

“I thought he sold the filly,” said Burke, who with over 200 horses under his care can be forgiven for not keeping track of an ex-stable member.

In Bettor N Bettor, Bamond will again utilize the services of Tim Tetrick. Those two teamed up for an energetic 1-1/8 mile third-place finish in last Saturday’s Tarport Hap at the Meadowlands. It was the first pari-mutuel start for the new connections. It should be noted that the last time Bettor N Bettor raced in Ohio she captured one of the two first-heats of the Jugette, but got roughed up in the final finishing out of the money.

While not perfect, Purrfect Bags has been brilliant throughout her two-year career under trainer Joann Looney-King. The daughter of Roddy’s Bags Again has captured 17 of 22 lifetime starts racing mostly in Delaware. The filly did capture the Lady Maud over the half-mile track at Yonkers in a 1:53 mile and scored at Northfield prior to that effort in 1:52 3/5. That said, Purrfect Bags will need her A-game to win in Cleveland on Friday having landed post eight in the field for regular pilot Victor Kirby.

Burke has a bit of an outsider on the inside as Southwind Roulette and Matt Kakaley landed post two in the field. Despite going winless in 17 starts this season, the filly has managed to earn more than $200K with 11 on-the-board finishes.

“I’m not sure what happened to her in the American-National,” said Burke. “She may have gotten jammed up giving up the lead or might have choked. I really couldn’t say. We qualified her back and she was fine.”

Ohio-based trainer Brian Brown has a pair of Somebeachsomewhere fillies entered in the Courageous Lady. Triple V Hanover was most recently second in the American-National at Balmoral Park on November 7. Triple V Hanover drew the pole position. Somewhere Sweet has earned above  $200K this year with seven victories and could be a sleeper in this group. Somewhere Sweet finished second and then third, both times behind Sassa Hanover in the Jugette.

First post on Northfield’s Friday 15-race program is slated for 6:00 p.m. with the Courageous Lady finishing off the $10,000 guaranteed pick four as race number 11.