Day At The Track

Hambletonian Day in Grand Circuit spotlight

09:47 AM 04 Aug 2016 NZST
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The Grand Circuit
The Grand Circuit

Harness Racing This Week: Hambletonian, Hambletonian Oaks, John Cashman Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, Lady Liberty, Fresh Yankee, Cane Pace, Shady Daisy, Peter Haughton Memorial, and Jim Doherty Memorial, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.

Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action takes place this Saturday (Aug. 6) at Meadowlands Racetrack with one of the biggest Grand Circuit cards of the season. The afternoon program is led by the $1.14 million Hambletonian, the first leg of trotting's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Other major stakes races to be contested that day are the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old filly trotters, the $273,600 John Cashman Memorial for older trotters, the $225,550 U.S. Pacing Championship for older pacers, the $235,950 Lady Liberty for older pacing mares, the 188,350 Fresh Yankee for older trotting mares, the $320,000 Cane Pace, the first leg of Pacing's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds, the $94,675 Shady Daisy for 3-year-old pacing fillies, the $294,450 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old colt trotters, and the $306,500 Jim Dohery Memorial for 2-year-old filly trotters.

Complete entries for the races are available at this link.

Last time: Looped from the gate and forced into brutal fractions of :25.2 and :52.1 -- in the slop, no less -- Racing Hill showed his talent and heart when he drew away from the field late and captured Saturday's (July 30) $400,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids at The Meadows in a career-best 1:48.4. The pocket-sitting Check Six could not improve his position in the lane and finished second, 2-1/4 lengths back, while Fernando Hanover was a ground-saving third.

Racing Hill entered the 50th edition of the Adios with the flashiest credentials, including his victory in the $500,000 Hempt Memorial final and second-place finishes in the finals of the North America Cup and the Meadowlands Pace. But if his rivals didn't appear up to the task of beating Racing Hill, it seemed that weather and the trip might do him in.

Rain punctuated by storms -- the skies cleared shortly before the Adios went off -- created a surface that proved tiring to some early leaders throughout the card. And Racing Hill, the 2-5 favorite, couldn't take the lead from Check Six until just before the three-eighths.

"The race was not going the way I wanted it to go," said winning driver Brett Miller. "I was expecting a few more people to leave and kind of shooting for the three-hole. When that didn't happen, I said to myself, we're in trouble."

Once he thwarted the first-over challenge of longshot Another Daily Copy, the son of Roll With Joe-Chasing Ideals opened up and had only the timer to beat. The win pushed his career bankroll to $970,028.

Tony Alagna, who trains Racing Hill for owner/breeder Tom Hill, said he expected a swift opening half-mile if only because his colt was facing five foes from the powerful Ron Burke stable.

"I didn't think they would let us get to the half in :55," Alagna said. "I knew they would make us earn it. I'm a big believer in watching drivers' body language. I was watching Brett in the bike, and he was telling me that he felt he had something left."

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

Grand Circuit Standings: In 2016, 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 Farm is the sponsor for the 2016 Grand Circuit awards.

Here are the current leaders:

Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 448.5; 2. Tim Tetrick - 387.5; 3. David Miller - 341; 4. Matt Kakaley - 259; 5. Jordan Stratton - 236.5.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 584; 2. Jimmy Takter - 354.5; 3. Jeff Bamond Jr. - 175; 4. Clyde Francis - 152.5; 5. Peter Tritton - 149.5.

Owners: 1. Harry von Knoblauch - 149.5; 2. Burke Racing Stable - 138.25; 3. Bamond Racing - 117; 4. Weaver Bruscemi - 114.3; 5. Tom Hill - 87.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Northfield Park led by the Carl Milstein Memorial for 3-year-old pacers; at Hoosier Park with the Dan Patch for free for all pacers; at The Meadows with the Moni Maker for sophomore filly trotters; at the Indiana State Fair with the Fox Stakes highlighting 10 stakes; and at Tioga Downs with Tompkins-Geers events for 2-year-old colt and filly pacers and trotters.

Paul Ramlow

Grand Circuit Publicity Director

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