Trainer shines on Monday card

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Ted Black

February 23rd, 2016

On a day when harness racing lost one of its best trotters, one local trainer enjoyed a banner evening at Dover Downs on Monday.

Trainer Eric Ell has been among the leading conditioners in Maryland and Delaware for two decades and last year he garnered his share of the national spotlight thanks to the efforts of JL Cruze, the champion older trotter.

On Monday evening at Dover, Ell recorded a training hat trick thanks to a trio of pacers who prevailed in three of the tracks toughest events.

One-third of the way through the card, Giant Sculpture (Allan Davis) saved ground down the backside, slipped through the far turn and overhauled 1-9 favorite Rocknroll Jewell (Yannick Gingras) in 1:51.3.

An eight-year-old Village Jolt gelding trained by Ell for owner William Emmons, Giant Sculpture notched his third win in six starts this year while handing Rocknroll Jewell his first setback in six starts this year. Both pacers were entered for the $25,000 claiming tag, but neither changed barns.

Then several races later on the card, Jeremes General (Davis) brushed to command before the half in 56.2 and held safe Whittaker (George Dennis) and Rock On Precious (Russell Foster) for a length victory in 1:62.3  in a $20,000 claiming race.

A six-year-old Jereme's Jet gelding trained by Ell for owners Kenny Wood, Bill Dittmar and Steve Iaquinta - the same connections of JL Cruze - Jeremes General posted the modest 3-1 upset.

Then one race later on the card, Ell and the JL Cruze boys were in the winner's circle again after Soto (Victor Kirby) avoided a breaker and rallied from far back to forge a 9-1 upset in 1:52.1 in the winners over class. A four-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven stallion,  Soto likely earned a berth in the Open with his victory.

Speaking of the Open, one race later it was Lucan Hanover (Gingras) who benefited from a pocket trip behind Mustang Art, angled to the passing lane and just outlasted the late kick of Dapper Dude (Kirby) to prevail in 1:51.2 in his seasonal debut. A six-year-old Western Ideal gelding trained by Casie Coleman, Lucan Hanover has been among the top Open horses at Yonkers the last two years and will likely be headed to the New York half-miler soon for the upcoming George Morton Levy Series.

While marked a banner day for Ell and the solid return of Lucan Hanover, it also sadly witnessed the passing of legendary trotter Mack Lobell. A winner of virtually every major race on several continents and a two-time horse of the year, Mack Lobell passed away at the ripe age of 32 on Monday.