This Week: Bluegrass Stakes and Allerage eliminations, The Red Mile, Lexington, Ky.
Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action kicks off on Thursday (Sept. 26) at The Red Mile with three divisions in the $287,600 Bluegrass for 2-year-old filly trotters. The Friday (Sept. 27) card features three divisions in the $270,300 Bluegrass for 2-year-old colt trotters and three divisions in the $259,700 Bluegrass for 2-year-old filly pacers. On Saturday (Sept. 28), The Red Mile will offer a trio of Bluegrass events in the $400,000 (est.) 2-year-old colt pace, the $200,000 (est.) 3-year-old colt pace and the $200,000 (est.) 3-year-old filly pace. The opening week concludes on Sunday (Sept. 29) with $200,000 (est.) Bluegrass races for 3-year-old colt trotters and 3-year-old filly trotters, as well as $10,000 eliminations in the Allerage for open pacers and open trotters.
Last time: The Grand Circuit spotlight was on the Delaware (Ohio) County Fair this past week, with the $552,551 Little Brown Jug leading two days of exciting stakes races.
Vegas Vacation and trainer Casie Coleman hit the jackpot on Sept. 19, winning the 68th edition of the Little Brown Jug in straight heats. Vegas Vacation, driven by Brian Sears, won his first heat in 1:50 and captured the second heat with the identical time, beating Urbanite Hanover by two lengths. Coleman’s Lucan Hanover finished third. Vegas Vacation’s combined time of 3:40 established the two-heat world record for 3-year-old gelding pacers on a half-mile track.
Coleman won last year’s Jug with Michael’s Power and became the first trainer since Tom Artandi in 1988-89 to win the race in consecutive seasons.
Owned by West Wins Stable, Adriano Sorella, Anthony Beaton and Phyllis Saunders, Vegas Vacation has won nine of 15 races this year. He is a son of Bettor's Delight out of the mare Don’t You Smile.
In other Grand Circuit action over the weekend, the defending champion Rocklamation did it once again as she posted the 12-1 upset in this year’s $275,480 Milton Stakes final for pacing mares on Sept. 21 at Mohawk. The pacing miss equaled her own stakes record of 1:49.4 taken last year at odds of 23-1.
Rocklamation and driver Brett Miller were sitting eighth, 10-3/4 lengths off the tempo setter Androvette turning for home. Down the stretch, Anndrovette was still in command, but the backfield began to fan across the racetrack. Swinging Beauty came from off the pace and was closing hard on the outside, but couldn’t match strides with Rocklamation, who unleashed a punishing late kick in deep stretch to score the one length victory. Swinging Beauty finished second with Anndrovette third.
The sport’s top trotters were showcased in the $230,000 Centaur Trotting Classic at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino during an action-packed 14-race card on Sept. 21. Uncle Peter, with David Miller at the lines, became the sport’s newest millionaire and shattered the track record for older horses on the trot when he powered home a winner in 1:52.3.
Leaders Wishing Stone and Market Share matched strides down the homestretch in that contest, while Uncle Peter loomed large in the background. Using a :26.4 final panel, Uncle Peter saved his best for last and was able to get a nose in front of Market Share at the wire. My MVP held on gamely for the third place finish, while Wishing Stone was fourth.
Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website.
Grand Circuit Standings: In 2013, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Hanover Shoe Farms is the sponsor for the 2013 Grand Circuit awards.
Here are the leaders following the past weekend:
Owners: 1. Burke Racing – 249.75; 2. Weaver Bruscemi – 232.05; 3. Brittany Farms – 178.85; 4. Frank Bellino – 168.5; and 5. WJ Donovan – 148.25.
Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will once again be taking place next week in one location, Lexington’s historic Red Mile. Featured will be the Kentucky Futurity, the third and final leg of Trotting’s Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Also on tap will be the companion Kentucky Filly Futurity for the sophomore fillies, the Tattersalls Pace and the Glen Garnsey Memorial for 3-year-old pacers, four International Stallion Stakes races for 2-year-olds of both sexes and gaits, and four Allerage contests for open pacers and trotters.
by Paul Ramlow for the Grand Circuit