Day At The Track

Mohawk Park hosts Grand Circuit biggies

01:40 AM 03 Sep 2020 NZST
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Harness racing this Week: Maple Leaf Trot, Canadian Pacing Derby, Goodtimes final, Simcoe Stakes, Peaceful Way eliminations and William Wellwood Memorial eliminations, Woodbine Mohawk Park, Milton, Ont. and Landmark Stakes, Historic Track, Goshen, N.Y.

Schedule of events: Another busy weekend of Grand Circuit action at Woodbine Mohawk Park kicks off this Thursday (Sept. 3) with two C$30,000 eliminations in the Peaceful Way for 2-year-old filly trotters and two C$30,000 eliminations in the William Wellwood Memorial for 2-year-old colt trotters.

The Saturday (Sept. 5) Mohawk Park card is led by the C$560,000 Maple Leaf Trot for older trotters, the C$540,000 Canadian Pacing Derby for older pacers, and the C$215,000 Goodtimes final for 3-year-old colt trotters. Also on the program will be two divisions in the C$227,023 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old colt pacers.

Goshen Historic Track on Sunday (Sept. 6) will feature eight Landmark Stakes events for 2- and 3-year-old male and female pacers and trotters.

Complete entries for the Mohawk Park races are available at this link. Entries for the Landmark Stakes will be available later today at this link.

Last time: Tall Dark Stranger looked like a million dollars in taking the C$1 million Pepsi North America Cup on Saturday night (Aug. 29) at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Tall Dark Stranger pulled away down the lane for another impressive score in 1:48.2. New Image Media photo.

Trained by Nancy Takter, Tall Dark Stranger and Yannick Gingras were content to let Tattoo Artist make his mark on the lead, as the latter powered from post seven to strike the front early in the proceedings.

With Bob McClure in the bike, Tattoo Artist took his nine rivals through an opening quarter-mile carved out in a snappy :25.4, with Tall Dark Stranger settling in second. Longshots Moneyman Hill, in third, and Mayhem Hanover, sitting fourth, watched the pace-setting duo set the tone early.

Soon after the quarter-mile mark, Gingras, contesting his ninth Cup, powered his 3-5 favorite to the outside and to the lead, as they cut a half in :53.3.

It was Tall Dark Stranger still calling the shots as the field geared up for the stretch drive. McClure pulled Tattoo Artist to the outside looking to track down the front runner. For a brief moment, it appeared as though they were cutting into the lead of Tall Dark Stranger, but he pulled away down the lane for another impressive score in 1:48.2.

Tattoo Artist was second, while 127-1 Moneyman Hill finished third. Odds On Osiris, leaving from post 10, rallied to take fourth.

There was plenty of emotion in the aftermath of the victory, including a teary-eyed Gingras, and an elated Marvin Katz, who co-owns Tall Dark Stranger with Crawford Farms Racing, Caviart Farms and Howard Taylor.

It was the second straight Cup title for Takter, who won last year with Captain Crunch.

And it was also a historic triumph.

"I'm overjoyed, I really am," said Katz. "I've been doing this for a very long time and I've been fortunate to have many great horses, but I think this guy really rates up with some of the greatest horses we've ever seen. This is historic. What he's done tonight has never been done before. He won the Metro as a 2-year-old, he won the Breeders Crown, he's come back to win the Meadowlands Pace and he's won the North America Cup. Somebeachsomewhere, Captaintreacherous... they couldn't do it, but he's done it."

The enormity of the accomplishment wasn't lost on Takter, who wasn't able to watch the race in-person.

"This is an extra-special colt in extraordinary circumstances," she told Woodbine Mohawk Park. "I'm so proud of the horse and my team."

Gingras had ample praise for the competitive spirit shown by the sophomore superstar.

"I rolled him to three-quarters pretty hard but he just never quits. He's just a tremendous horse - the best pacing colt I've ever driven, there's no doubt in my mind. He's just an amazing animal. I feel awesome, there's no doubt about it. This means so much. I couldn't be any happier right now."

A son of 2001 Cup winner Bettor's Delight, Tall Dark Stranger, closing in on $2 million in earnings, is now 14 for 16 lifetime.

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 - 452; 2. Tim Tetrick - 284; 3. Andrew McCarthy - 257; 4t. Dexter Dunn - 239; 4t. Brian Sears - 239.

Trainers: 1. Nancy Takter - 370; 2. Ron Burke - 336; 3. Tony Alagna - 267; 4. Marcus Melander - 228; 5. Ake Svanstedt - 224.

Owners: 1. Brad Grant - 98.7; 2. Determination - 90; 3. S R F Stable - 87.5; 4. Courant Inc. - 82; 5. Crawford Farms Racing - 78.9.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit racing will be taking place next week at Woodbine Mohawk Park and The Meadowlands. Mohawk Park's week will feature the finals of the Peaceful Way and William Wellwood Memorial, the Somebeachsomewhere for 3-year-old colt pacers, Simcoe Stakes races for 3-year-old filly pacers and sophomore colt and filly trotters and Champlain Stakes events for 2-year-old colt and filly pacers. The Meadowlands will host the fifth leg of the Miss Versatility for older female trotters.

by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit

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