first_imgTop two finishers in Ellis Park 2-year-old filly racecarry emotional ties in Bivian B, Nana’s Girl FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailShare Sunday’s promotion is the Furniture Day, one of Ellis Park’s most popular giveaways. Best Home Furnishings will give away an amazing furniture item after every race starting with the second race via drawing.HENDERSON, Ky. (Saturday, July 28, 2018) — Bivian B was the favorite in Friday’s sixth race at Ellis Park, while Nana’s Girl was the longest shot on the board in the field of ten 2-year-old fillies. Bivian B was ridden by meet-leader Edgar Morales, while Nana’s Girl was ridden by Carlos Esquilin, who has one win but several seconds at huge odds as he seeks to gain traction on the Kentucky circuit after leaving Puerto Rico in the wake of the devastating hurricane.But at the end of five-eighths of a mile and a superb stretch duel, all that separated Bivian B and Nana’s Girl was a neck, with the 6-5 favorite edging by in the final strides over the 53-1 shot in the first start for both horses. The fillies have another close tie: Both were named for special people who died last year.Bivian B was named for trainer John Hancock’s mother, Bivian B. Hancock, the matriarch of the prominent Henderson, Ky., horse family and who was revered in the community as as caring bus driver in the school system for a half-century. Bivian B is co-owned by Hancock’s wife, Donna, and Gatewood Bell, who bought the daughter of Algorithms for $10,000.Nana’s Girl was named by trainer Don Campbell and his daughter Blair Knight for Campbell’s two granddaughters, in honor of what they called his wife, Kim, who passed away last year from cancer. Campbell and Knight own Nana’s Girl, who, in another twist of fate, the trainer bought off Hancock last September.“Isn’t that something?” Campbell, who lives in Princeton, Ky., said Saturday morning. “… I congratulated John twice. I did it once and went back again. I know it was emotional for him, too.”Indeed, Hancock virtually never is at a loss for words, but he could barely speak after the race.“I’ve been in this winner’s circle a long time,” he said, his voice catching. “This one means a lot. After we realized what she was, Gatewood called me and asked if we wanted to partner up. You can’t get a better owner than Gatewood Bell.”“It’s unbelievable,” said Donna Hancock. “We’ve been waiting nine months for this, and we knew she was a runner when we got her. Now she showed us she is.”Getting Bivian B to the races has been a rollercoaster. First the Riverside Downs training center flooded last winter, putting Hancock’s horses behind as they could only jog on the track’s sweeping turns because the straightaways were under water. A brief illness at Keeneland further delayed Bivian B’s debut.“He’s always thought really highly of her,” Bell said. “Then when he named her after his mom, we thought she was all right. It’s good because he was really hopeful for her. He thought she was going to run at Keeneland, and then we had to take a step back.”Bivian B now will be pointed for the $75,000 Ellis Park Debutante on Aug. 19.Campbell said he could hardly sleep Friday night.“She’s just got special spot in my heart,” he said. “That’s the reason for us running in the pink (bandages and bridle); my wife passed away of cancer last year. She turned out to be a nice filly, and it’s super exciting. If I ever get a stud colt I really like, I’m going to name him Nana’s Boy.“I know she’s a whale of a nice filly, and I knew John’s filly was really good. I was super pleased. Everybody would have been tickled to death had she won, but it was so close, it was great.”Hancock said he bought Nana’s Girl from his Lexington veterinarian last fall and talked Campbell into buying the filly.“I won and he ran second,” he said. “He was quick to come over and congratulate me. He said this year in September to call him again, that he wanted to buy some more.”“He said, ‘She’s probably too small for me, but she seems really nice and OK,’” Campbell said. “I went down there and looked at her. She suited me. I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll take her.’ Then I called my daughter, because I’d told her, ‘We need to buy a nice filly and name her after mom.’”It was a big race overall for the locals, with Jason Barclay finishing another two lengths back in fourth with first-time starter Arch Avenue, an Ellis Park-based trifecta only busted up by an Ian Wilkes shipper, 4-1 second choice Champagne Anyone.Bivian B’s triumph was Hancock’s sixth win out of 20 starts this meet, trailing only 2015 titlist Brad Cox’s nine victories heading into Saturday’s card.“He brings them in by van loads,” Hancock said of trying to catch Cox for the title. “I’ll chase him… But no, we can’t beat him. He just keeps coming with rockets — and he’s winning the big races.”More important to Hancock is honoring his mother.“I set out for four things to do for my mom this summer, and so far as I’ve got three of them done,” he said, including two wins by American Alphabet, who on July 4 won the memorial race named for Bivian. “The 2-year-old filly I have in (Sunday) also is named for my mom. Her name was Bivian B, but everybody knew her as Punkin. So Dixieland Punkin is in, picked to win.”On July 4, American Alphabet won the race that Hancock sponsored and named for his mom in what he says will be an annual memorial race, keeping the blanket in the stable’s blue and white colors and embroidered with “In memory of Bivian B. Hancock.” That was goal No. 1.Goal 2 was what in racetrack parlance would be called an “added starter,” when WEHT-TV morning news anchor Jake Boswell wanted to do a piece on what is involved with getting a horse ready to and then running in a race. Hooked up with Hancock, the race happened to be American Alphabet running back July 20.With the WEHT camera documenting the afternoon, Boswell helped lead over the filly, joining the stable’s raucous cheering and then leading American Alphabet into the winner’s circle. Video: Behind the Scenes at Ellis Park: John Hancock Racing StablesHancock’s six wins have come in the 24 starts since American Alphabet’s July 4 appearance. Each winner has been ridden by Morales.Turf Titan takes turf allowance featureCalumet Farm’s Turf Titan, ridden by turf-titan Joe Rocco Jr., swept up the rail from last of six to edge front-running even-money favorite Chocolate Ride by a half-length in Saturday’s $44,000 second-level turf allowance feature with an optional claiming price of $40,000. Time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:41.39, with Turf Titan paying $11.40 to win.The 5-year-old son of turf champion Kitten’s Joy finished fourth, beaten a total of a length, in a similar race at Churchill Downs in his last start – but he had a big excuse, Rocco said.“It was really hot at Churchill,” said Rocco, who has earned a reputation with handicappers as an exceptional turf rider. “He finished the race, but when we pulled up after the race, he was acting really funny, really weird. He had heat stroke. So I jumped off on the backside after the race, and he still ran a huge race. I figured today, with it being cooler, that he’d run well because he ran so well last time when the heat was getting to him.“I got lucky to get through on the fence. If I’d gone around, I might not have won. In my head on the turn, I said, ‘I’m not going to beat him (Chocolate Ride) if I go around them. I’m going to have to just wait and hope to get lucky.’ And it worked out, thank goodness.”Chocolate Ride, an 8-year-old gelding, was in for the $40,000 claiming option. That’s the same price for which he was claimed four years ago. In between he won four graded stakes and seven races for trainer Brad Cox, Ellis’ winningest trainer this meet.Turf Titan, trained by Jose Fernandez, now is 3-0-2 in nine starts.Aug. 3 ESPN V Day to raise money for cancer researchEllis Park will raise money for cancer research and celebrate area sports with ESPN V Day at the track on Friday. Aug. 3.ESPN basketball analyst Bob Valvano and Mike Pratt, the former University of Kentucky great who is the Wildcats’ radio analyst, will broadcast their popular Fast Break Friday radio show on-site from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Central. The popular sports-talk show airs on Louisville’s ESPN 680 AM/105.7 FM and ESPN Lexington’s 1300 AM/92.5 FM, is streamed live on and available on the iTunes and iHeartRadio apps.Valvano and Pratt will mingle with fans and sign autographs after their show concludes. The Evansville Otters, University of Evansville and Kentucky Wesleyan College also are participating in the day.ESPN V Day features two silent auctions — one with on-line bidding and one held only at Ellis Park — and a raffle of sports memorabilia and unique experiences. Proceeds will go to cancer research channeled through Valvano’s Kentuckiana Friends of V foundation, including funds for breast-cancer research in memory of jockey Corey Lanerie’s wife, Shantel, who died June 22 at age 42 while undergoing treatment for the disease.Kentuckiana Friends of V is aligned with the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research, named for Bob Valvano’s late brother whose poignant battle with cancer led to the V Foundation’s formation in 1993 in conjunction with ESPN.Among the auction items: basketballs signed by UK coach John Calipari, Indiana University coach Archie Miller and University of Louisville’s new coach Chris Mack, who played two seasons at the University of Evansville; a golf foursome at Victoria National that includes jockeys Corey Lanerie and Robby Albarado; an Anthony Davis’ New Orleans Pelicans jerseys; NFL Ravens football signed by Louisville’s 2016 Heisman winner Lamar Jackson; baseball signed by Yankees great and Evansville product Don Mattingly; programs and photos from Justify’s Triple Crown signed by jockey Mike Smith, and much more.last_img