Day At The Track

Grand Circuit week opens Wed at Indiana Fair

12:10 AM 08 Aug 2019 NZST
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This Week: Dan Patch Invitational, Hoosier Park, Anderson, Ind.; Carl Milstein Memorial, Northfield Park, Northfield, Ohio; Fox Stake, the Ralph Wilfong, the Horseman Stakes and the Hoosier Stakes, Indiana State Fair, Indianapolis, Ind.; Crawford Farm Trot, Joie De Vie and Tompkins-Geers Stakes, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y.; and Gold Cup and Saucer trials, Red Shores Racetrack & Casino, Charlottetown, PEI.

Schedule of events: An extremely busy week of Grand Circuit action kicks off this Wednesday (Aug. 7) as The Indiana State Fair will host one day of Grand Circuit racing with the feature being the $55,150 Fox Stake for 2-year-old colt pacers. The co-featured event is the $33,383 Ralph Wilfong for 2-year-old colt trotters. The Hoosier Stakes for 2-year-olds will see two divisions each in the $24,646 2-year-old filly trot and the $24,150 2-year-old filly pace. Single divisions will be contested in the $21,742 2-year-old colt trot and the $20,862 2-year-old colt pace. The Horseman Stakes for 3-year-olds features single divisions in the $36,345 3-year-old colt trot, the $32,550 3-year-old colt pace, the $29,343 3-year-old filly trot, and the $29,068 3-year-old filly pace.

Friday night (Aug. 9) at Hoosier Park will feature the $330,000 Dan Patch Invitational for older pacing horses. Also on Friday, Tioga Downs will host four sets of Tompkins-Geers stakes for 2-year-old pacers and trotters. There will be two divisions each in the $83,100 2-year-old filly trot and the $58,700 2-year-old colt pace, with single divisions in the $64,900 2-year-old filly pace and the $54,000 2-year-old colt trot.

On Saturday (Aug. 10), Northfield Park will host the $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial for 3-year-old pacers. Also on Saturday, Red Shores Racetrack & Casino will host one of two trials for the Gold Cup and Saucer for older pacers. The second trial will be held on Monday (Aug. 12).

The week's action will continue on Sunday (Aug. 11) at Tioga Downs with the $175,000 (est.) Crawford Farms Trot for older open trotters and the $175,000 (est.) Joie De Vie for older trotting mares.

Complete entries for the U.S. races are available at this link. Entries for the Red Shores Racetrack & Casino races are available at this link.

Last time: Hambletonian Day was to be a day to unfurl Swedish flags at The Meadowlands.

Why not? Rising star Marcus Melander started the day with a powerhouse four-horse contingent locked and loaded, taking dead aim at the 3-year-old trotting classic.

Forbidden Trade rendered a 15-1 upset in the 94th Hambletonian. USTA/Mark Hall photo.

But when the dust settled, it was our friendly neighbors to the north celebrating, as Forbidden Trade pulled a 15-1 upset.

Canada's champion 2-year-old showed the heart of a warrior to hold off 3-10 favorite Greenshoe by neck in a dramatic fight to the finish in the $1 million final on Saturday (Aug. 3).

And it was the first Hambletonian victory for the Canadian trio of owner Serge Godin's Determination Stable, trainer Luc Blais and driver Bob McClure.

Coming in, McClure said "the sky was the limit" for his colt. Forbidden Trade backed up that confidence with the race of his life.

Forbidden Trade, third in his Hambletonian elimination, was always in contention throughout the mile. McClure and his colt tracked Green Manalishi S, an elimination winner and a member of the Melander brigade, into the stretch. Forbidden Trade took charge, but danger was looming with Greenshoe uncorking a menacing rally.

For an instant, it appeared Greenshoe would blow on by. McClure admitted he was headed, but Forbidden Trade was not done. After all, this was the day of the Maple Leaf.

"It was two incredible colts fighting it out," McClure said. "I don't think there was a loser in that, but we're really happy to get out on top."

It's also been a remarkable comeback for McClure, 28, who suffered a broken pelvis in a qualifier accident in April. He was back in action by May 23, using a hyperbaric chamber to hasten the recovery.

"I was really lucky to have a good physical trainer," McClure said. "I probably rushed it back a little faster than I should have. I'm sure most drivers in this business have done this a time or two."

Melander didn't get the victory, but his trio of qualifiers for the final raced well. Gimpanzee rallied from far back to get third and Green Manalishi S held on for the fifth and final purse check.

Greenshoe never looked comfortable behind the starting gate for the final as driver Brian Sears held him together to prevent a break. That put him further back than expected, a loss of ground that proved costly.

The time was 1:51 on a warm sunny afternoon as the threatened showers never materialized to spoil the day. Forbidden Trade paid $33.80 to win.

It was the 12th win in 19 career starts for the son of Kadabra-Pure Ivory. He was a $110,000 purchase at the Standardbred Horse Sale in Harrisburg.

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

Grand Circuit Standings: In 2019, 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 2019 Grand Circuit awards.

Here are the leaders following this past weekend:

Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick - 701; 2. Yannick Gingras - 526; 3. David Miller - 379; 4. Dexter Dunn - 339; 5. Andrew McCarthy - 309.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 613; 2. Tony Alagna - 282; 3. Jim King Jr. - 274; 4. Marcus Melander - 249; 5. Jim Campbell - 206.

Owners: 1. Fashion Farms - 182; 2. Burke Racing Stable - 114.6; 3. Courant Inc. - 107.5; 4. Weaver Bruscemi - 104.6; 5. Jo Ann Looney-King - 101.2.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Vernon Downs, Tioga Downs, Red Shores Racetrack & Casino and Hippodrome 3R. Vernon will host the Zweig Memorial races for 3-year-old colt and filly trotters. Tioga Downs will feature the Roll With Joefor open pacers, Artiscape for older pacing mares, and a leg of the Miss Versatilty for trotting mares. Red Shores Racetrack & Casino has the Gold Cup and Saucer final; and Hippodrome 3R will contest the Prix d'Ete for 4-year-old pacers.

by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit


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