Harness racing enthusiasts may be unaccustomed to seeing the sport’s top pacers and trotters compete on Thursday nights, but that was clearly the case tonight when Dover Downs hosted a quartet of lucrative Matron Stakes for three-year-olds of both gaits and genders on a clear, crisp evening in the First State.
In the first of the four Matrons, Gimpanzee (Brian Sears) continued his torrid conclusion to the campaign when he romped home four lengths clear as the 2-5 favorite in the $200,000 Matron for three-year-old colt trotters in 1:51.1 Fresh off his sharp Breeders Crown score over stablemate Greenshoe, Gimpanzee romped home as much the best to perhaps garner some belated support for divisional honors.
Two races later in the $165,000 Matron Stakes for three-year-old filly trotters, When Dovescry (Simon Allard) also made a belated bid for divisional honors when she prevailed as the tepid 5-2 favorite over Only The Cash (Tim Tetrick) by a head in 1:52.2.
Two races later in the $175,000 Matron for three-year-old filly pacers, Tall Drink Hanover (Andrew McCarthy) forged a mild 5-1 upset when she scored by a length in 1:502. while division leader Warrawee Ubeaut (Yannick Gingras) settled for fourth as the 1-9 favorite. Warrawee Ubeaut will undoubtedly claim divisional honors, but her hopes for champion pacer and horse of the year vanished in the cold night air at Dover.
Then two races later in the $250,000 Matron for three-year-old colt pacers, Bettor’s Wish (Dexter Dunn) clinched divisional honors when he rebounded from a setback in the Breeders Crown to score by two lengths as the 3-5 favorite in 1:49.2. The Chris Ryder trainee owns 13 wins and over $1.6 million banked from 18 starts this year and could make a belated bid for champion pacer and horse of the year.
In a trio of competitive overnight races on the card, Rock N Roll Jet (Russell Foster) posted a 22-1 shocker when he captured the $25,000 Open in 1:51, Windsong Leo (Gingras) prevailed in the $30,000 Preferred as the even-money choice in 1:49.3 and Slick Tony (Dunn) rebounded from a sixth-place finish in the $28,500 Blue Hen Open to score in 1:51 for owner-breeder-trainer George “Ronnie” Leager of Sudlersville.