Donna Marshall now knows when the phone rings there could be a Hambletonian prospect like Jurgen Hanover at the other end of the line.
The veteran New Jersey trainer, who manages a small stable with her husband Jim Marshall, III at Gaitway Farm in Manalapan Township, is trying to take a realistic, race-by race approach with the suddenly red-hot son of Credit Winner.
Jurgen Hanover has emerged as a serious player on the Hambletonian trail going seven-for-seven in 2013. He is currently rated eighth on the Road to the Hambletonian top ten list.
The colt was a $50,000 Lexington-Selected Sale yearling. His dam Yassi Hanover is a half sister to Yursa Hanover [1:52.3, $910,567] and He’s Spooky [1:52.2, $358,924].
Jurgen Hanover is owned by Norman Smiley of Boca Raton, FL, Gerald Smiley of Montreal, Quebec, and T L P Stable [Tom and Louis Pontone] of Kearny, NJ.
The colt made only two starts in New York Sires Stakes as a freshman for trainer Julie Miller, and Marshall acquired him prior to his three-year-old season.
“He was turned out at Blairwood Farms [in Columbus, NJ], we got a phone call that we could pick up a couple of horses there and he was one of them,” explained Marshall. “I really don’t know what happened to him before, except Chris Oakes and Julie Miller had the horse. I said this colt has been in awful good hands and we’ll do the best we possibly can with him.
“He had no issues whatsoever and definitely showed the most talent of all the horses turned out there,” Marshall continued. “Look, when they’re good horses they just make you look good. I’m sure the people that had him before saw the potential in him, yet sometimes the best thing to happen to a horse is to get turned out.
“He probably needed time to mature,” she noted. “He’s very nice mannered and perfect to be around. When he’s in the paddock he howls and likes to let everybody know he’s out there, but he’s real quiet in the barn. He’s a very easy horse to train, and like a thoroughbred, he doesn’t seem to need a lot of work. He’s almost push button. We were due for some luck.”
After winning his sophomore debut at the Meadowlands by seven lengths in 1:56.3 on March 7, he swept through two legs and the final of the Bobby Weiss Series at Pocono Downs. Then, the colt followed up an easy 1:54 win at Harrah’s Philadelphia by breezing through his elimination and the $259,900 Empire Breeders Classic Final at Vernon Downs in a career best of 1:53.4 on June 9.
“In his last start I would have been happy with second from as far back as he was,” admitted Marshall. “It was an unexpected pleasure for him to get up and win that one. Dave [driver Dave Miller] said he definitely has another gear and likes to dig in. Dave’s been very happy with him, and there were times when he didn’t have to pop the earplugs.
“Everything has gone according to plan and his streak has pretty much been as routine as it looks. We have the Beal eliminations on Saturday and hopefully we have some luck there. He’s in against [undefeated] Smilin Eli and he’s been impressive. This will be a definite test. After the Beal we’re looking at the Yonkers Trot, and we’re just thankful he’s shown enough to justify the owners’ stake payments so far.”
Obviously, with winning comes confidence, yet the experienced Marshall remains careful not to get too excited about where she could be on Saturday, August 3.
“We’re trying to enjoy every moment,” she said. “We’re just taking it one race at a time. It’s so tough with the speed they’re going. You can’t look to the future too much, but this colt makes our job so much easier.
“This colt has the winning habit now, and likes to go after them and get the job done. He just really likes his work, and he’s surprised people because nobody had ever heard of him prior to this year.
“Two years ago, I actually helped out the Hambletonian Society with the trophy presentations and it was so exciting to be there. I don’t think there’s a person in this sport that wouldn’t want to be involved in this race. There’s so much history and it’s a special race.”
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