Day At The Track

Courageous Lady leads Grand Circuit action

01:20 AM 15 Oct 2020 NZDT
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Harness Racing This Week: John Simpson Stakes, Harrah's Philadelphia, Chester, Pa.; W.N. Reynolds Memorial, The Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J.; and Courageous Lady, Northfield Park, Northfield, Ohio.

Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action this week commences on Friday afternoon (Oct. 16) at Harrah's Philadelphia with two divisions in the $112,400 John Simpson Stakes for 2-year-old filly trotters and three divisions in the $93,602 John Simpson Stakes for 2-year-old filly pacers.

The Meadowlands on Friday will host the W.N. Reynolds Memorial for 2-year-old trotters. There will be one $61,500 division for 2-year-old colt trotters and one $55,600 division in the 2-year-old filly trot.

On Saturday (Oct. 17), Northfield Park will feature the $120,000 Courageous Lady for 3-year-old filly pacers.

Complete entries for the races are available at this link.

Last time: Driver Dexter Dunn secured a pocket seat for Amigo Volo and with several horses making breaks over the "good" surface, had open road to pop and power to a 1:51 victory in the $444,000 128th Kentucky Futurity on Sunday (Oct. 11) at The Red Mile.

Amigo Volo posted a 1:51 victory in the $444,000 128th Kentucky Futurity. USTA/Mark Hall photo.

Ready For Moni, the 3-1 second choice, lagged from his second-tier starting spot while Amigo Volo pushed for position to the inside. Beads, launching from post 10, swept to the lead before a :27 opening quarter while Amigo Volo settled into second with EL Ideal third and 4-5 favorite Back Of The Neck fourth.

Back Of The Neck made his move after the leader passing a :54.2 half and drew closer to the pacesetter into the final turn. Moving towards three-quarters in 1:22.3, Back Of The Neck broke stride, giving Amigo Volo room to tip out of the pocket straightening for the finish.

Beads began to gallop while EL Ideal chased Amigo Volo through the stretch, settling for second. Third Shift ripped from the backfield to take third while Chestnut Hill weaved through traffic for fourth.

"He was really good here last week -- he was probably just a little bit short," Dunn said after the race of the Father Patrick-Margarita Momma gelding's second-place finish in the Bluegrass. "Nifty knew he was going to be better today and he was. Last year he used to shake his head bad and it cost him a couple of times. He didn't have as good of form when he came back as a 3-year-old -- he was a bit average. We were probably looking after him a little too much -- he just likes to race. You get off the gate hard, that's when he gets excited and puts in good performances.

"I did attempt to go (for the lead) -- I came out for a little bit when we hit the back straight, but Beads was a little aggressive and took off so I ducked back into the two-hole there. Back Of The Neck came up outside of us around the last turn, and I was sort of 50-50 (on) whether I'd come out or stay in. And he ran, so that was probably a lucky trip in the last turn to get out, but the horse did a great job."

Surpassing $1 million in earnings with the victory, Amigo Volo has won six races from 12 starts this season and 12 from 24 overall, banking $1,206,369 for owners Pinske Stables and David J. Miller. Richard "Nifty" Norman trains the gelding bred by Kentuckiana Farms LLC and Jorgen Jahre Jr. He paid $10.00 to win.

Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website.

Grand Circuit Standings: In 2020, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again 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). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2020 Grand Circuit awards.

Here are the leaders following this past weekend:

Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 915; 2. Dexter Dunn - 648; 3. Tim Tetrick - 526.5; 4. Andrew McCarthy - 484; 5. David Miller - 478.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 833; 2. Nancy Takter - 811.5; 3. Tony Alagna - 622; 4. Ake Svanstedt - 514; 5. Marcus Melander - 383.

Owners: 1. Determination - 200; 2. Caviart Farms - 193.8; 3. Brad Grant - 192.3; 4. Burke Racing Stable - 178.7; 5. Courant Inc. - 154.5.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will take place next week at Harrah's Philadelphia, Harrah's Hoosier Park and The Meadowlands. Harrah's Philadelphia will host the John Simpson Stakes for 3-year-old filly pacers and trotters; Harrah's Hoosier Park will have The Circle City for 3-year-olds of both sexes and gaits; and The Meadowlands will feature the third leg of the Kindergarten Series for 2-year-olds of both sexes and gaits.

by Paul Ramlow, for The Grand Circuit

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