Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Meadowlands Racetrack begins this week on Friday (May 9) with the $51,543 John Simpson Memorial for 3-year-old colt trotters, the $48,415 W.N. Reynolds Memorial for 3-year-old filly pacers and the $33,516 John Simpson Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters. The Saturday (May 10) card at The Big M features a single $50,000 division of the TVG Free For All Series for open pacers and two $40,000 eliminations for the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for older trotters.
Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link.
Last time: Sophomore trotters and older mares of both sexes were in the spotlight last weekend with Grand Circuit action at Freehold Raceway and Miami Valley Raceway.
Leaving from post No. 1, Sumatra and never trailed as they won the $115,370 Dexter Cup for 3-year-old trotters by 2-1/4 lengths over Derby in 1:57.4 on May 3 at Freehold Raceway. Sumatra, owned by Joe Smith and trained by , is eligible to the Hambletonian.
Sumatra was a 1:57.4 winner in the Dexter Cup final.
Sumatra finished third in the Dexter Cup elimination on April 26 in his seasonal debut. It was Sears' first time behind the horse, which raced out of the stable of trainer in 2013. Smith bought Sumatra for $100,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale's mixed sale in November.
"I didn't know the horse last week and he got a little wound up on me," said Sears, who stepped in as the driver of Sumatra after was injured in an accident in April. "This week, we tried our best to keep him calm through the post parade and scoring down and it definitely helped. He was a lot better this week."
Sumatra, sent off at odds of 1-5, led throughout the race around Freehold's half-mile oval. Sears was able to keep King City and Dexter elim winner Sarcastic Man stuck on the outside for the entire race. Sarcastic Man and driver , who started from post eight, tried to make a three-wide move around the final turn, but finished fifth. Second-place finisher Derby, third-place Donato's Wish, and fourth-place Sheer Action all were from the stable of trainer .
In her first start of the year, Maven, the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best older female trotter, set a track record 1:53.3 in the $60,000 Miami Valley Distaff on May 4 at Miami Valley Raceway. A race earlier, after causing a recall, Shebestingin set her own track record of 1:50.4 in winning the $50,300 Sam "Chip" Noble III Memorial.
Both new records were set in the first two Grand Circuit races ever contested at Miami Valley Raceway on the final night of the track's inaugural season.
Maven posted a track record 1:53.3 clocking in her seasonal debut.
"I was a little afraid when we were hung on the outside around the first turn," said trainer. "But she handled it pretty good and was really strong. Yannick never even pulled the plugs."
In the Sam "Chip" Noble III Memorial for pacing mares, She's Shocking was first off the gate and set the pace through an opening quarter of :27 before yielding the lead to eventual runner-up Yagonnakissmeornot, who led the field through splits of :55.3 and 1:23.2.
Shebestingin stalked the leader first-over and gained steadily on the backstretch and through the final turn before taking the lead at the top of the stretch and drawing away for a 1-1/2 length victory. The winner paid $5.00. Val D'Or Farms, Ted Gewertz and L&L Devisser LLC own the daughter of -Armbro Tussle.
Complete recaps of the weekend 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.
Owners: 1. Bamond Racing - 118.5; 2t. Burke Racing - 77.2; 2t. Weaver Bruscemi - 77.2; 4. Brad Grant - 34.5; 5. Ted Gewertz - 28.05.
Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will again take place next weekend at Meadowlands Racetrack, with the final for the Arthur Cutler Memorial for older trotters, while Scioto Downs returns to the Grand Circuit with the LaVerne Hill Memorial for older pacing mares.
by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit