Empire Stallions is pleased to announce the addition of the phenomenal pacing sensation Bulldog Hanover p,2,1:50.2; 3,1:48; 4,1:45.4-’22 ($2,419,000) to its world class stallion roster this coming season. A magnificent dark bay individual standing 16 hands, Bulldog Hanover is one of the most exciting and best-performed stallions ever to be available to Southern Hemisphere Breeders.
Bulldog Hanover began his race career at age two winning four stake races from six starts, including two $80,000 OSS divisions as well as the $190,000 Ontario Sire Stakes Super Final at Woodbine Mohawk Park in 1:50.2 by nine lengths in dominant fashion. Bulldog opened his three-year-old campaign with impressive wins in three $120,000 Gold legs of the Ontario Sires Stakes and the $68,000 Somebeachsomewhere Stakes at Woodbine Mohawk Park in 1:48.2. His next victory was in a North America Cup elimination where he raced two and three-wide to the head of the stretch crossing the line first in 1:49. He rounded off his sophomore season with four straight wins at Hoosier park in the Monument Circle, the Star Destroyer Pace, the Circle City Pace and the Thanksgiving Classic. Eight of Bulldog’s ten wins as a three-year-old were under 1:50 for earning of $580,852.
When he returned to racing at four, Bulldog Hanover electrified the entire harness racing world. He kicked off the season with a win in the Juravinski Memorial over Flamboro Downs’ four-furlong track in 1:49 followed by two FFA Events at Woodbine in 1:49.2 and 1:48.2. He then crossed the Canadian Border to head to the U.S. to compete on the Grand Circuit. What happens in the next 21 days at The Meadowlands in New Jersey is the stuff legends are made of. It all started in a $50,000 leg of the Graduate Series with Kiwi Hall of Famer Dexter Dunn now in the sulky. Bulldog took command at the half and never looked back coming his last quarter in an explosive :24.4 to win in a new lifetime mark of 1:47. Next was the $100,000 Roll With Joe where he once against faced the top pacers in North America. Dexter Dunn was second at the quarter pole then asked the Bulldog for more. Bulldog burst to the front and rolled to the wire in a dramatic 1:46 – tying the all-time World Record with a :25.3 final quarter. The following week, Bulldog raced brilliantly when he captured the $250,000 Graduate Final in 1:46.1 with a memorable gate-to-wire performance.
But it was one week later in the $500,000 WR Haughton Memorial at The Meadowlands where Bulldog Hanover forever etched his name in the history books. Leaving from post eight, Bulldog paced his opening quarter in :26 flat racing fourth on the outside. By the half in :53.1, Dexter Dunn and Bulldog Hanover were on top and at the three-quarter mile marker in 1:20.3, they bolted home stopping the clock in an astonishing 1:45.4 with a last 400 in :25.1! The sport had a new superstar and that superstar had just broken the 1:46 barrier to become the fastest standardbred of all-time!
“He’s got unbelievable stamina – there is just no end to him” said driver Dunn. “I had no idea he was going to be able to win four starts in a row and put up the times he did but when you sat behind him, he gave you every confidence that he could do it. With the fast times he was posting, usually after a mile it would be pretty easy to pull a horse up because they’re pretty tired, but not him. He wanted to go around again. It’s amazing how good the horse was and how big a set of lungs he obviously has.”
Bulldog dazzled the world with his speed, power, and record shattering performances. His 2022 racing year was like one lightning strike after the other. He paced four of the nine fastest race miles in history including six victories in 1:45.4 – 1:46.4. Completing his six sub-1:47 miles were two Canadian-record-equalling wins at Woodbine Mohawk Park in the $650,000 Canadian Pacing Derby and the $810,000 Breeders Crown, both in 1:46.4 and the $200,000 Hoosier Park Pacing Derby in 1:46.3 Other triumphs for Bulldog Hanover at four included the $250,000 Dayton Pacing Derby and a stakes-record 1:47.3 performance in the $345,000 TVG Series Final to cap off his fairytale season. Bulldog won $1,858,210 that year to lead all Standardbreds in earnings in 2022.
With all of his record-shattering success, it’s no wonder Bulldog Hanover became a household name. He is considered a super-hero in a time the sport is desperate for heroes – and there was no horse better suited for the job. With his charming personality and kind nature, Bulldog immediately stole everyone’s hearts. Jack Darling and Bulldog’s caretaker, Johnny Mallia, went above and beyond to make the horse available to anyone who wished to see him. Many days they would stay for hours doing meet and greets and photo shoots with fans and media alike. Bulldog devoured the attention like a rockstar. He posed for cameras, rolled in shavings and ate bananas and watermelon on cue – it was like he inherently knew all the fuss was for him.
Bulldog Hanover retired at the end of his four-year-old campaign with 28 victories from 37 lifetime starts and career earnings of $2,419,000. Special retirement ceremonies honouring him were held at both The Meadowlands in New Jersey and Mohawk Woodbine Park in Ontario attracting harness racing fans from near and far. He was syndicated for stallion duties and stands for a $15,000 U.S. service fee at Seelster Farms in Ontario where he served a full book of over 175 mares this past season.
Bulldog Hanover was the unanimous choice for the 2022 U.S. Horse of the Year Honours – the first horse ever to receive ALL 136 ballots. He was also voted the U.S. Pacer of the Year as well as the 4YO & Older Pacing Male of the Year. But the pinnacle of his awards will be in August of this year when he is inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, following in the footsteps of his sire Shadow Play who was also elected to the Canadian Hall of Fame in the Class of ’22.
And talk about a winning team!
Bulldog Hanover’s conditioner and part-owner Jack Darling was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2022 and was also voted the 2022 U.S. Trainer of the Year. Brad Grant, a co-owner of Bulldog, was the 2022 U.S. Owner of the Year. Dexter Dunn was the 2022 U.S. Driver of the Year while Hanover Shoe Farms, Bulldog’s breeder, was the 2022 Breeder of the Year.
Adding to his impressive list of accomplishments, Bulldog was named the Bergstein Proximity Award Winner, the highest honour given by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, for his contributions to the industry and is only the third equine to win this award in USHWA’s 75-year history. Bulldog Hanover was also awarded the prestigious Cam Fella award in 2022 for his role as an ambassador of harness racing, generating an incredible amount of media attention, publicity and fan following for the sport – only the fourth equine to receive this honour since its inception in 1997.
“A horse like Bulldog is just the horse of a lifetime. We have enjoyed every minute of it!” said his trainer Jack Darling. “And the effect he had on people was incredible – everyone wanted to see Bulldog. We would stop at service stations on our way back from the races and people would see the float and come out and cheer for him. Their admiration for this horse is so sincere and the look on their faces and in their eyes, it’s so genuine and it’s really touching. It’s pretty special.”
Bulldog Hanover is a stallion bred in the purple and will be a perfect outcross for most Australasian mares. His sire, Shadow Play, was a World Champion racehorse earning $1.5 Million while taking a record of 1:47.4 and capturing many of the sport’s classic events. To date, Shadow Play has sired 929 North American foals for 723 starters, 565 winners, 501 in 2:00, 290 in 1:55 or faster, 144 $100,000+ winners and progeny earnings of $53 million with average earnings per starter of $73,305. Just a few of his top performers in addition to Bulldog are the 3YO Pacing Filly of the Year and 2-Time Older Pacing Mare of the Year Lady Shadow p,1:48.1 ($2,029,469), Backstreet Shadow p,1:47.2 ($1,362,042) and the 2021 $1 Million North America Cup Champion and O’Brien Horse of the Year & 3YO Pacing Colt of the Year Desperate Man p,1:49.3 ($904,029).
In Australia, Shadow Play has sired an impressive 411 starters for 294 winners of over $15 Million in stakes including the 2022 Inter Dominion Champion I Cast No Shadow p,1:48.8 ($694,403), two-time GR1 Winner Shadow Sax p,1:52.5 ($558,833), NSW Breeders Challenge 4YO Mare Champion Black Silhouette p,1:50.5 ($179,775), Callmequeenbee p,1:51 ($376,515), etc.
Bulldog Hanover’s dam is the multiple stakes winning mare BJ’s Squall p,3,1:53.1 ($261,750) by Artsplace. She has 10 winners from 13 foals with 1 in 1:50, 7 in 1:55 and 10 in 2:00 to her credit. His second dam is the U.S. Hall of Fame mare Lady Ashlee Ann, the dam of 14 winners from 15 foals including World Champion Betterthancheddar p,1:48 ($1,634,314), Meadowlands Pace & Little Brown Jug Winner Courtly Choice p,1:47.1 ($1,345,754), Ashlee’s Big Guy p,1:50.4 ($978,168) and Artists View p,1:49.4 ($795,750), etc.
“We are absolutely thrilled to include Bulldog Hanover in our line-up this coming season” said David James, principal of Empire Stallions. “It is pretty special to stand a 1:45.4 World Champion, but to have a horse with six winning miles in under 1:47 is absolutely unprecedented. We are happy to continue our tradition of making the very best horses in the world available to Australasian breeders. Bulldog Hanover is a one-of-a-kind stallion and we believe that he will have a very big impact on the future racing scene in both hemispheres.”
Bulldog Hanover is available to Australia and New Zealand via frozen semen. Please call Donna Egan or David James on 03 5796 2122 or 0417 110 401 for booking applications, pedigree matches or for any additional details. Be sure to check out his sensational race videos HERE.