Day At The Track

Mohawk stakes in Grand Circuit spotlight

05:20 AM 17 Jun 2016 NZST
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The Grand Circuit
The Grand Circuit

Harness Racing This Week: North America Cup, Fan Hanover, Roses Are Red, Goodtimes and Armbro Flight finals, Mohawk Racetrack, Campbellville, Ontario; Meadows Maturity, The Meadows, Washington, Pa.; and Roll With Joe, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y.

Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit spotlight will be on Mohawk Racetrack this weekend as the Ontario oval hosts five lucrative stakes finals on Saturday night (June 18) led by the C$1 million Pepsi North America Cup for 3-year-old colt pacers. Also on the card will be the C$438,000 Fan Hanover for 3-year-old filly pacers, the C$370,000 Roses Are Red for older mare pacers, the C$268,000 Goodtimes for 3-year-old colt trotters and the C$267,000 Armbro Flight for older mare trotters.

Also on Saturday, The Meadows will host the $54,000 Meadows Maturity Trot for 4-year-old horses and geldings.

Tioga Downs rounds out the weekend of Grand Circuit racing on Sunday (June 19) with the $179,000 Roll With Joe for open pacers.

Complete entries for the Mohawk races can be found by clicking on this link. Meadows and Tioga Downs entries can be found by clicking on this link.

Last time: Last weekend's Grand Circuit action was highlighted by the $210,000 Charlie Hill Memorial held on a steamy Saturday (June 11) evening at Scioto Downs. Obrigado fended off the late charge of track record holder and world champion Natural Herbie to claim the trophy for the Hill Memorial Trot. The 6-year-old gelding, piloted by regular reinsman Mark MacDonald, was the beneficiary of a perfect pocket trip, which the duo parlayed into a powerful 1:53.3 score.

Leaving from post six, the gelded son of Boy Band and the Malabar Man mare Malimony settled into second behind the leader and recent world champion Muscle Up The Goal. Content to allow the hometown favorite and the public's selection at 4-5 to set the pace, Obrigado simply followed that rival around the Columbus oval behind fractions of :27.1, :57.3 and 1:25.3 before he was pulled out of the pocket at the top of the stretch to commence his drive to the wire with a :27.4 final panel.

Obrigado glided by Muscle Up The Goal and completed his victorious journey to the wire seemingly well in hand. Natural Herbie placed pressure on the property of conditioner Paul Kelley, SRF Stable, Linwood Higgins, and Stable 45, however, his first over bid rendered him unable to match strides with the victor. Flanagan Memory, the 2013 O'Brien Award winner, closed from eighth to nab the show spot.

Sent off at odds of 3-1, Obrigado paid his supporters $8.20.

Betting Line and Boston Red Rocks head into Saturday's C$1 million Pepsi North America Cup final after defeating the finest 3-year-old pacers on the continent in a pair of eliminations on Saturday night (June 11) at Mohawk Racetrack.

Betting Line used a first-over trip to capture the first $39,500 elimination in 1:49.1. The Casie Coleman trainee, who was the 8-5 second choice, tracked from fifth in the early going, then made a bid for the lead at the midway point as Lyons Snyder took the field to the quarter in :27.2, half in :55.2 and three-quarters in 1:22.2.

Into the stretch, Lyons Snyder veered off the rail and gave a pocket-sitting Racing Hill room to sneak up the inside, but Betting Line was on the outside and used a :26.2 final quarter kick to breeze by his rivals and score the victory by three-quarters of a length. Lyons Snyder finished second, while Racing Hill was third. Also advancing is fourth-place finisher Control The Moment and Beast Mode, who finished fifth.

Betting Line notched his third victory of the season from four outings and ninth lifetime triumph. With the win, the son of Bettor's Delight and Heather's Western lifted his career earnings to $473,280 for owners West Wins Stable, Christine Calhoun and Mac Nichol.

In the second elimination, the Steve Elliott pupil Boston Red Rocks used an off-the-pace trip to win by a half-length in 1:50.3. Boston Red Rocks and driver Tim Tetrick followed from fourth as Nvestment Bluechip posted the opening panel in :26.4 and Nocturnal Bluechip clocked the half in :54.4. While the sophomores were passing the three-quarter marker in 1:22.4, Boston Red Rocks had advanced first-up and was stalking Nocturnal Bluechip from second.

When the pacers entered the stretch, Boston Red Rocks, the 3-5 favorite, struck the front and held off a late surge from Big Top Hanover, who finished second and third-place finisher Michael's Victory. Magnum J, who went from last to fourth and fifth-place finisher Manhattan Beach also advance to the final.

Boston Red Rocks scored his second triumph of the season from four outings and sixth career victory. With the win, the son of the late Rocknroll Hanover and McGibson lifted his career earnings to $639,455 for Peter Blood and Rick Berks.

Complete recaps of 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. Jordan Stratton - 191.5; 2. Tim Tetrick - 126; 3. Daniel Dube - 120; 4. Yannick Gingras - 112; 5. Matt Kakaley - 110.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 198; 2. Jeff Bamond Jr. - 168; 3. Peter Tritton - 139.5; 4. Rene Allard - 125; 5. Clyde Francis - 82.5.

Owners: 1. Harry von Knoblauch - 139.5; 2. Bamond Racing - 110; 3. Burke Racing Stable - 57.15; 4. Weaver Bruscemi - 52.15; 5. Purple Haze Stables - 44.

Looking ahead: Next weekend will see Grand Circuit action taking place at Meadowlands Racetrack and The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The Meadowlands will host the Arthur Cutler Memorial for older trotters on Friday (June 24), while Pocono will have eliminations for the Ben Franklin (older pacers), Earl Beal Memorial (3-year-old colt trotters), Max Hempt Memorial (3-year-old colt pacers) and James Lynch (3-year-old filly pacers) on Saturday (June 25).

Paul Ramlow

Grand Circuit Publicity Director

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