Day At The Track

Hambo card heads big Grand Circuit week

03:10 AM 06 Aug 2020 NZST
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Harness Racing This Week: Hambletonian, Hambletonian Oaks, John Cashman Memorial, Sam McKee Memorial, Lady Liberty, Dr. John Steele Memorial, 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. 8) at Meadowlands Racetrack with one of the biggest Grand Circuit cards of the season. The afternoon program is led by the $1 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 $600,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old filly trotters, the $284,200 John Cashman Memorial for older trotters, the $229,660 Sam McKee Memorial for older pacers, the $177,100 Lady Liberty for older pacing mares, the $166,550 Dr. John Steele Memorial for older trotting mares, the $273,125 Cane Pace, the first leg of Pacing's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds, the $90,525 Shady Daisy for 3-year-old pacing fillies, the $319,000 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old colt trotters, and the $350,300 Jim Doherty Memorial for 2-year-old filly trotters.

Complete entries for the races are available at this link.

Last time: Catch The Fire hung tough against a host of pursuers Saturday (Aug. 1) to capture the $375,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids at The Meadows and provide an indelible career highlight for trainer John Ackey.

Chief Mate (Scott Zeron) rallied for second at 50-1 while the hard-used No Lou Zing (Josert Fonseca).earned show. The winning time over a sloppy surface was 1:49.3.

Catch The Fire hung tough against a host of pursuers to capture the $375,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids at The Meadows. Chris Gooden photo.

After Elver Hanover (Chris Page) seized the early lead from post nine, Wilder and Catch The Fire quarter-poled to the point, where they faced a backside challenge from No Lou Zing.

"I was really worried about that horse," Wilder said. "He went a humongous trip in the elimination. He showed he can take a lot of air. I couldn't shake him, and then a whole herd of them came at me. But my horse dug in. He's true grit."

Five horses remained live in deep stretch, but none could reach Catch The Fire, the 2-1 second choice in the wagering off his elimination win last week. Last year's Kentucky Sires Stake champion, Catch The Fire soared over $400,000 in career earnings.

Ackley, who trains a small stable at Ohio's Fayette County Fairgrounds and operated a forklift for 20 years before switching to racing, called the Adios victory the highlight of his career.

"It's a big win, to have a horse that can compete at this level and win," Ackley said. "No way I could have imagined this; it's fantastic."

For Wilder, the triumph was even more emotional. An Ohio native who has been a fixture at The Meadows for many years, Wilder and his family are exceptionally active in many aspects of racing and the community. His wife, Heather, is a popular interviewer on harness shows while serving as president of the United States Harness Writers Association Keystone Chapter. Their teenage daughters, Scarlett and Lauren, also are active in USHWA. Yet even though Wilder has amassed more than 8,300 career wins, he had never finished better than fourth in an Adios final. He choked up as he tried to describe his emotions.

"This means the world to me," Wilder said. "The Good Lord is in control of everything in this world, and I was the lucky man today. It means everything for my kids to see it and for my wife to be here. It's something I'll never forget. It's something that may never happen again, although you wish it would."

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

Grand Circuit Standings: In 2020, 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 2020 Grand Circuit awards.

Here are the leaders following this past weekend:

Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 277; 2. Tim Tetrick - 189; 3. Dexter Dunn - 174; 4. Andrew McCarthy - 167; 5. Brian Sears - 154.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 301; 2. Nancy Takter - 190; 3. Marcus Melander - 158; 4. Ake Svanstedt - 144; 5. Tony Alagna - 127.

Owners: 1. Burke Racing Stable - 62.5; 2. S R F Stable - 60; 3. Brad Grant - 58.6; 4. Weaver Bruscemi - 51; 5. Black Horse Racing - 50.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Northfield Park with the Carl Milstein Memorial for 3-year-old pacers; at Hoosier Park with the Dan Patch for free for all pacers; at the Indiana State Fair with the Fox Stake highlighting 10 stakes; at Tioga Downs with the Crawford Farm and Joie De Vie for older trotters and Artiscape for older pacing mares; at The Meadows with the Arden Downs for 3-year-old colt trotters; and at Charlottetown Driving Park with the Gold Cup and Saucer eliminations for older pacers.

by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit


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