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Connections are enjoying the ride with Unix Hanover
Friday, January 15, 2016 - by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

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Ken Weingartner
Freehold, NJ --- Scott Blackler had a pretty good day on the golf course one recent fall afternoon and it had nothing to do with the way he played. Blackler, a trainer based in Middletown, N.Y., went out to shoot a round with a friend and ended up with a horse. That horse --- the now 4-year-old pacer Unix Hanover --- has won five of eight races since joining Blackler’s stable and is being pointed toward March’s Sagamore Hill Series at Yonkers Raceway.

It all started with a phone call from Blackler’s friend Marc Reynolds, a horse agent from Maine, as Blackler was getting ready to tee off. Reynolds told Blackler, a Maine native, that a horse in Ontario named Unix Hanover was available, but Reynolds needed to know whether Blackler wanted the horse within an hour.

Blackler quickly contacted owner Bill Ethier and told him about the opportunity. Ethier watched a replay of one of the horse’s races and liked the breeding and gave the go ahead for the purchase.

“I’ve always liked horses that can work their way up the (conditions) ladder at Yonkers,” Blackler said, referring to Unix Hanover having only two wins and $10,572 on his card at the time of the Oct. 9 sale. “It’s hard to find those horses. I trust (Reynolds) quite a bit. He told me he was a clean-legged horse; there was nothing wrong with him. Murray Brethour had the horse in Canada and he likes to turn over anything turning (age) 4. It worked out for us.”

Sean Hamrock photo
Unix Hanover has won five of eight races since moving into Scott Blackler's stable.

Unix Hanover is a son of stallion Yankee Cruiser out of the Western Hanover mare Up Front Rose. Unix Hanover sold for $40,000 as a yearling and is a half-brother to Union Man Hanover, who won the 2011 New York Sire Stakes Fall Harvest championship at Yonkers.

“(Ethier) always wanted a Yankee Cruiser (offspring) and he loves Western Hanover,” Blackler said. “He decided to jump right in on it.

“The first time I jogged the horse I couldn’t believe it. He’s a good-looking horse and he’s a pleasure on the track. He always feels good, in fact he acts like a colt still. He’s not that difficult to take care of, really. He jogs, he trains, and we go to the races.”

Unix Hanover has made all eight of his starts for his new connections at Yonkers’ half-mile oval. He finished seventh from post eight in his debut for his new barn, but has finished worse than second only once since then.

“We didn’t really change much on him,” Blackler said. “He’s drawn good and everything has just worked out. He gets around a half so well, which is why we haven’t taken him to the Meadowlands. We have him lined up for the Sagamore. We’ll see what happens.”

Blackler, who has 12 horses at Mark Ford’s training center in upstate New York, hopes to also send Secret Delight and another recent acquisition, Santanna Star, to the Sagamore Hill Series. Of that group, Unix Hanover is the only one to have raced so far this season --- winning in 1:57 on Jan. 12.

“He’s talented,” Blackler said. “Wherever it takes him, it takes him. I don’t know what he could be. Could he be a 4-year-old open horse, could he be the Sagamore champion, I don’t know. But he’s tough when he gets to the front. He doesn’t let horses go by him when he gets to the front.”

The 77-year-old Ethier, who lives in Delaware and owns Unix Hanover with his wife Barbara, has turned down several offers for the pacer.

“He says he’s never had a horse like him, so he’s not for sale,” Blackler said. “They enjoy it. They travel to the races. They drove five hours to Yonkers to watch him race. They love to watch their horses.”

And so far Unix Hanover has made those trips --- not to mention taking phone calls on the golf course --- more than worthwhile.

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