This Week: Canadian Pacing Derby final, Metro final, She's A Great Lady final, Champlain Stakes and Simcoe Stakes, Mohawk Racetrack, Campbellville, Ontario; Zweig Memorial, Zweig Memorial Filly and Crawford Farms Trot, Vernon Downs, Vernon, N.Y.; and Cane Pace, Shady Daisy and Miss Versatility, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y.
Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action kicks off on Thursday (Aug. 28) at Mohawk Racetrack with three divisions in the C$253,114 Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old filly trotters. The Friday (Aug. 29) card at Mohawk features two divisions in the C$249,242 Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old colt trotters and two divisions in the C$209,189 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters. The big Saturday (Aug. 30) program is highlighted by the C$667,000 Metro final for 2-year-old colt pacers, the C$634,000 Canadian Pacing Derby final for open pacers, the C$480,000 She's A Great Lady final for 2-year-old filly pacers, the C$218,076 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old colt trotters and the C$207,689 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old filly pacers.
Grand Circuit action will take place at Vernon Downs on Friday night (Aug. 29) with the $340,000 Zweig Memorial main event and $60,000 consolation for 3-year-old male trotters, the $150,000 Zweig Memorial Filly for 3-year-old filly trotters and the $236,000 Crawford Farms Trot for older open trotters.
On Monday (Sept. 1), Tioga Downs will host a trio of Grand Circuit events, led by the $437,325 Cane Pace, the first leg of the Pacing Triple Crown. Tioga will also feature the $125,000 (est.) Shady Daisy for 3-year-old filly pacers and the $40,000 (est.) fourth leg of the Miss Versatility for older trotting mares.
Last time: The Grand Circuit spotlight was on Mohawk Racetrack this past Saturday night with eliminations for the Canadian Pacing Derby, the Metro Pace and the She's A Great Lady.
Sweet Lou was a 1:48.1 winner in his Canadian Pacing Derby elimination.
Leaving no doubt as to his current superiority, Sweet Lou powered his way to victory in the first Canadian Pacing Derby elimination in preparation for this week's Canadian Pacing Derby final.
With simply a passenger, Sweet Lou, the prohibitive 1-9 choice, was initially tucked in third as Thinking Out Loud clocked the first quarter in a blistering :25, before blowing by the leader and taking the field to the half in :53.3.
After opening a couple of lengths on his pursuers while reaching three-quarters in 1:22, Sweet Lou easily prevailed by one length in a stretch drive over the determined veteran Foiled Again, the world's richest pacer, and Domethatagain in 1:48.1.
It was Sweet Lou's 10th consecutive win of the year on a 2014 resume which includes victories in the Dan Patch at Hoosier Park, U.S. Pacing Championship and William Haughton Memorial at the Meadowlands and the Ben Franklin at Pocono Downs. Trained by , Sweet Lou, a 5-year-old son of -Sweet Future, has banked more than $3 million, but has enjoyed more success this year than in past seasons, including his 2-year-old campaign in 2011 when he won 10 of 12 starts, capped by the Breeders Crown, and was named divisional champion.
Clear Vision, with , nailed stablemate Bettor's Edge at the wire to take the second elimination. The top two finishers are both trained by .
Bettor's Edge, the even money choice, had things all his own way for all but the final strides, cutting out leisurely fractions of :26.3, :56.2 and 1:24.3. But somehow Clear Vision, who finished second by a nose to in last year's Canadian Pacing Derby, came flying late from last for the nose win in a three-horse photo in 1:50.3. State Treasurer finished a neck behind the winner in third.
It was only the fourth win in 19 starts this year for the 8-year-old gelded son of , but by doing so, he went over the $2 million mark in career earnings with his 27th lifetime victory.
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. - 826; 2. - 514; 3. - 396.5; 4. - 369.5; 5. - 245.
Trainers: 1. - 1,171.5; 2. - 569; 3. PJ Fraley - 204; 4. - 199; 5. - 180.
Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 258.6; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 231.1; 3. 3 Brothers Stable - 162; 4. Bamond Racing - 156.5; 5. Robert Key - 125.
Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Tioga Downs and Mohawk Racetrack. Tioga will host the Reynolds Memorial events for 2-year-old trotters. Mohawk will offer the Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old colt pacers, Champlain Stakes races for 2-year-old colt and filly pacers and eliminations for the Canadian Trotting Classic and Elegantimage for 3-year-olds and William Wellwood and Peaceful Way for 2-year-olds.
by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit