by James Witherite, Meadowlands Media Relations
East Rutherford, N.J. -- Following nearly nine months on the sidelines, Martin Scharf's Dovuto Hanover prepared to commence his 6-year-old season with a pair of qualifiers earlier in the month. In Saturday (February 27) evening's featured $20,000 ninth race at The Meadowlands, he will tackle nine others on debut for trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman.
"He had some issues last year, only having six starts, but he's been so far, so good," said Norman of his new acquisition. "I'm pretty happy with him so far."
While installed the 3-1 morning line favorite, a tall task awaits the gelded son of Dragon Again. Among those facing Dovuto Hanover are Erv Miller trainee Jet Airway (Marcus Miller, post 7), who rises off a decisive 1:50 win, the stout closer Ashley's Husband (post 4) who reunites with Tim Tetrick after a ferocious :25.4 closing quarter propelled him to victory two starts back, and Aslan (Andy McCarthy, post 9), who charged off cover on local debut last week after solid bids in top-level fields at Yonkers.
Scott Zeron will handle the driving duties aboard Dovuto Hanover, who took his mark of 1:48.4 at The Meadowlands as a 3-year-old. His greatest accomplishments came in 2014 where, as a 4-year-old, he won nine of 31 races--including top-level events at The Meadowlands, Pocono Downs, and on the Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit--and banked over $200,000.
"In this position we'll probably race him off the pace--he's raced well that way in the past," continued Norman. "A third-over trip would be great. If he can finish up well and with some pace, I'll be happy with him. The thing against him is probably tactical speed, but I think the run will do him some good."
The featured event kicks off the late 50¢ Pick 4, which carries a guaranteed pool of $50,000. As is customary, the earlier Pick 4 (beginning in race 5) and Pick 5 (in race 3) offer a combined $55,000 in guaranteed pools. Two 20¢ Jackpot High 5 wagers await punters in search of a large score, occurring in races 7 and 14. While the early High 5 was hit last Saturday, the late High 5 will boast a jackpot in excess of $106,000 should it not be captured by a lone ticket on Friday.
Saturday evening's card also features a World Harness Handicapping Championship qualifier, with the top four finishers guaranteed spots in the April 30 final. The entry fee is $400, split evenly between the prize pool and a live-money contest bankroll. For further details, visit http://thebigm.com/event_detail.aspx?id=1676.
Post time for Saturday's 14-race card is 6:35 p.m. Eastern.