This Week: Reynolds Memorial, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y.; Simcoe Stakes, Champlain Stakes, William Wellwood Memorial eliminations and Peaceful Way eliminations, Mohawk Racetrack, Campbellville, Ontario; and Bobby Quillen Memorial eliminations, Harrington Raceway, Harrington, Del.
Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action kicks off on Thursday (Sept. 4) at Tioga Downs with three divisions in the $86,006 W.N. Reynolds Memorial for 2-year-old filly trotters and two divisions in the $82,008 W.N. Reynolds Memorial for 2-year-old colt trotters.
Grand Circuit action at Mohawk commences on Thursday (Sept.4) with two C$30,000 eliminations in the Peaceful Way for 2-year-old filly trotters. The Friday (Sept. 5) Mohawk card features two C$30,000 eliminations in the William Wellwood Memorial for 2-year-old open trotters. The Saturday (Sept. 6) program is highlighted by two divisions in the C$246,240 Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old colt pacers, two divisions in the C$235,114 Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old filly pacers and two divisions in the C$213,576 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old colt pacers.
Grand Circuit action heads to Delaware on Monday (Sept. 8) at Harrington Raceway with two $20,000 eliminations in the Bobby Quillen Memorial for open pacers.
Last time: The Grand Circuit spotlight was on Vernon Downs this past Friday (Aug. 29) with a trio of lucrative events, led by the $340,000 Zweig Memorial for 3-year-old open trotters, which featured the return of Father Patrick (-Gala Dream) to his winning ways.
Father Patrick was a 1:52.2 winner in the Zweig Memorial.
Father Patrick () assumed the lead almost immediately and led all the way home to win in an impressive time of 1:52.2. His entry-mate, Hambletonian runner-up Nuncio (), tracked Father Patrick all the way but could never get the upper hand on him and had to settle for second. Flyhawk El Durado (), who had scored wins in four consecutive New York Sire Stakes races entering the Zweig, finished third after tracking the entry pretty much throughout the event.
Superstar trotter Sebastian K also came to Vernon Downs on Friday night to score in the $236,000 Crawford Farms Open Trot. While it was anticipated that Sebastian K (-Gabriella K) might just blaze to the front and set a new track record time, it was a far more tactical performance from the trainee.
He did seize the lead immediately after the start, but then driver Svanstedt settled the horse in nicely to go through a quarter in :28.1, the half in :57.3, and three-quarters in 1:26.3. This relatively unhurried pace allowed () and Market Share () to make challenges to the leader, but Sebastian K had plenty left in the tank to win in a final time of 1:53, which did equal the older horse track record time set by For You Almostfree in 2013. settled for second and Market Share was third.
The $150,000 filly division of the Zweig was also held on Friday night and was won by Shake It Cerry (-Solveig), who rallied up the inside in the stretch to pass rivals Heaven's Door and Bikini So Teeny. Her victory came in a time of 1:53.4. Shake It Cerry was driven to victory by for trainer .
Artspeak won the Metro Pace for driver.
Mohawk Racetrack's Saturday (Aug. 30) program featured a trio of major stakes. Proving that he is indeed the continent's best 2-year-old colt pacer, prohibitive favorite Artspeak demolished his opponents in the $613,640 Metro Pace, the richest race in North America for juvenile pacers. Driven by and trained by , Artspeak had entered the Metro final off a similarly easy win in his elimination. In fact, his smallest margin of victory has been 1-3/4 lengths.
Longshot Lone Survivor took the field through an opening quarter in :26.3 and the half in :55.3. However, Hall of Famer had Go Daddy Do, the other elim winner, on the march from fourth, while Zeron followed him. Go Daddy Go took over at the three-quarters in 1:23.3, but was no match for the winner down the stretch, eventually fading to fifth. Lyons Levi Lewis came on for second, with Lyons Again third.
Modern Legend, a 66-1 shot with in the sulky for trainer , mowed down a field of the finest older pacers in North America to win the $583,280 Canadian Pacing Derby. His final time of 1:47.2 equaled the stakes, track and Canadian record.
Modern Legend, second-over turning for home, blew by the leaders and pulled away to score by three lengths over Foiled Again, with Clear Vision third and Captive Audience fourth. Favored Sweet Lou, who had taken over before a half in :53, got to the three-quarters in a sizzling 1:20.1, but could not sustain the pace, eventually fading to sixth.
Heavy favorite JK She'salady tied the track, Canadian and world record of 1:50.1 when she coasted to a four length win in the $441,600 She's A Great Lady Stakes. Driven by for trainer Nancy Johansson, the daughter of -Presidential Lady thus kept her record unblemished, now a perfect six-for-six after her dazzling display in this year's renewal of the rich stake for 2-year-old filly pacers.
JK She'salady, coming first over from fourth, blasted by another unbeaten filly, Band Of Angels, after the half in :55, got to the three-quarters in 1:22.1 and kept cruising through the lane to win in dominant fashion.
Lyonssomewhere held off the late charging He's Watching to take the 60th Cane Pace.
Tioga Downs held one of its banner days of the 2014 racing season on Monday (Sept. 2) with the $437,325 Cane Pace, the first leg of the Pacing Triple Crown, in the spotlight. Geoffrey Lyons Mound's Lyonssomewhere led from start to finish and posted an upset at odds of 19-1 with a 1:49.4 score. was in the bike for trainer as the son of -Miss Kitty Hanover posted his fifth win in nine season's starts, lifting his 2014 earnings to $370,892.
Turning for home, Lyonssomewhere was never seriously challenged until the very end of the mile, when prohibitive favorite He's Watching finally made a valiant charge, only to fall short at the wire by a half-length in the 1:49.4 clocking. Doo Wop Hanover rallied to finish third.
Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website.
Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, 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 2014 Grand Circuit awards.
Here are the leaders following the past weekend.
Drivers: 1. - 931; 2. - 536; 3. - 441.5; 4. - 421.5; 5. - 266.
Trainers: 1. - 1,231.5; 2. - 729; 3. - 205; 4. PJ Fraley - 204; 5. - 202.
Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 269.85; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 242.35; 3. 3 Brothers Stable - 182; 4. Bamond Racing - 156.5; 5. Robert Key - 135.
Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Balmoral Park, The Red Mile, Tioga Downs, Mohawk Racetrack and Harrington Raceway. Balmoral will host American-National eliminations for 2-year-old colt and filly trotters; The Red Mile will feature a leg of the Kindergarten Series for 2-year-old colt and filly trotters; Tioga will host W.N. Reynolds Memorial races for 2-year-old colt and filly pacers; Mohawk will feature the Canadian Trotting Classic, Elegantimage, William Wellwood Memorial and Peaceful Way, as well as the Milton Stake eliminations for pacing mares; and Harrington will host the final of the Bobby Quillen Memorial.
by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit