With Mario Baillargeon at the lines of the Ben Baillargeon trainee, Ziegler Hanover vaulted off cover in the late stages of the $161,750 tilt en route to taking home half the prize money thanks to his 1:54 score.
The four-year-old son of Andover Hall-Xqsmwa nestled into the four-hole in the opening turn while Armbro Chronicle and Rose Run Hooligan battled to the quarter pole in a :27-second clip before the former cleared to the top. He then took the field through middle splits of :56.1 and 1:24.3 while feeling pressure from Gusty Volo. Ziegler Hanover, in the meantime, was sitting on a perfect trip from second over.
Baillargeon pulled the trigger three-wide when the field entered the lane, and Ziegler Hanover’s 29-second final quarter speed was more than enough to pull off the 11-1 upset by a little more than a length over even-money favourite Slave Dream. Armbro Chronicle held on bravely to finish third in the eight-horse affair.
“He raced real good last Monday in Mohawk, and we just got a perfect trip tonight,” said driver Mario Baillargeon. “Behind the gate I wasn’t going to leave, but I saw the one, the two and the nine weren’t going to get out of there to good so we got away and fourth and worked out a second over trip. That was a perfect trip following the best horse in the race in Gutsy Volo. My horse won pretty easy, I think he could have roughed it up but that second over trip helped him a lot. I knew at the five-eighths pole he was a winner.
“I won the Frank Ryan before with Paul Walker’s horse, Oaklea Julian, but this is extra special because my brother trains him and a friend of ours owns him – Daniel Plouffe,” he added. “It makes it all worthwhile.”
Daniel Plouffe of Bedford and Jean Dessureault of Candiac, QC share ownership on the trotter, who posted his ninth victory of the season and the 11th of his career. His 2009 bankroll of $191,785 has helped boost his lifetime total to $213,487.