Dover Downs kicks off 2018 harness racing season

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Ted Black

January 2nd, 2018

On a cold winter day that hardly seemed favorably for man or beast, Dover Downs kicked off the New Year by hosting the first harness racing card of 2018 and the dozen overnight events had some noteworthy highlights for pacers and trotters alike.

In the opening race on the card, Eyore Hanover (Eddie Dennis) benefited from a pocket trip behind LGs Hotshoeboy (Frank Milby) through the first three calls then overhauled that one in the lane for a modest 9-2 upset in 1:58.1. A five-year-old Donato Hanover gelding trained and driven by Dennis, who stood alone as the nation's leading trainer and driver for nearly 20 minutes, Eyore Hanover kicked off the New Year in sharp fashion by taking the conditioned event for trotters.

Then one race later on the card, My Big Kadillac (Vince Copeland) overcame post seven to gain command before a 28.2 opener, carved out the fractions on the chilly afternoon and held sway through the lane to score in 1:59.1. A four-year-old Kadabra gelding owned, bred and trained by Copeland, My Big Kadillac held safe the late bid of 39-1 outsider Groffe to kick off his 2018 campaign in fashion. Notably, the sport's first two races of 2018 were won by trotters which typically account for roughly 20 percent of the races annually.

Two races later on the card, Red Art Alert (Foster) kicked off her 2018 campaign by benefiting from a pocket trip behind Rainbow Zen (Corey Callahan) through the first three calls, found ample room in the lane and got up to win as the 8-5 choice in a non-winners of one event for pacing fillies and mares. A four-year-old daughter of Artizina trained by Eli Scott, Jr. for owner-breeder Winbak Farm, Red Art Alert garnered her diploma after getting the mile in a modest 1:59 as the tepid choice.

Two races later in a non-winners of one race event for younger pacers, Rollinlikethunder (Eddie Davis, Jr.) lived up to his role as the 4-5 favorite when he gained command soon after the start, set the tempo through honest fractions and shook off the first over challenge from Mr Bill G and held safe the late bid of Bt's Breeze for a neck score in 1:55.2. A sophomore son of Roll With Joe trained by Danny Warrington and co-owned by Warrington and Donald Hawk, Rollingwiththunder recorded his first of potentially numerous victories in 2018.

One race later in a non-winners of $4501 last five stats class for older pacers, Varsity Hanover (Kim Vincent) gained command soon after the start and carved out the fractions on the evening en route to a neck score in 1:56. A nine-year-old Modern Art gelding owned and trained by James Whalen, Jr. Varsity Hanover kicked off his campaign with a signature determined score. During the fall of 2011 at Rosecroft at age two, Varisty Hanover earned the nickname "the Crumpton Crusher" when he repeatedly defeated older rivals en route to being named horse of the meet by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association.

One race later in a non-winners of two event for pacing fillies and mares, Pass Line Bluechip (Allan Davis) lived up to her billing as the even-money choice when she gained command soon after the start and led throughout and drew off to a five-length score in 1:55.4. A three-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight trained by Wayne Givens, Pass Line Bluechip kicked off her sophomore season with a sharp score that likely indicates there are numerous more trips to the winner's circle in her future.

Then two races later in a conditioned event for trotters, Splashed (Victor Kirby) and Great Kate (Jonathan Roberts) battled to the wire inseparably and finished in a dead-heat in 1:55.1. Splashed, a five-year-old Crazed gelding trained by Robert Clark, was the solid even-money choice, while Great Kate, a four-year-old daughter of Muscle Massive, earned the tie as an overlooked 22-1 shot in the contentious field of eight.

Then one race later in another non-winners of $4501 last five starts class for aged pacers, Coach Cal (Ross Wolfenden) overcame an extended first over bid and just outlasted the late surge of 27-1 outsider Rather Swell (Kirby) to prevail by a nose in 1:54.2. A nine-year-old Camluck gelding trained by Joe Hundertpfund, Jr., Coach Cal kicked off his 2018 campaign with a determined victory in a salty low-level group that included former multiple Rosecroft horse of the meet Hi Sir (Foster) and Katies Rocker.