Day At The Track

Four Grand Circuit races this week at Mohawk

09:34 AM 02 Jun 2016 NZST
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The Grand Circuit
The Grand Circuit

Harness Racing This Week: Graduate Series second leg and the Somebeachsomewhere stakes, Mohawk Racetrack, Campbellville, Ontario.

Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action will take place at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday night (June 4) with a pair of C$98,250 second leg divisions in the Graduate Series for 4-year-old pacers and trotters and two C$75,000 divisions in the Somebeachsomewhere for 3-year-old pacing colts.

Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link.

Last time: Last weekend's Grand Circuit action was highlighted by the Molson Pace for older pacers at The Raceway at Western Fair District, the Art Rooney for 3-year-olds at Yonkers Raceway, and a trio of invitational races at Harrah's Philadelphia.

Evenin Of Pleasure was sent off at odds of 35-1 in Friday night's (May 27) $115,500 Molson Pace, the signature race of The Raceway at Western Fair District. Luckily the horse didn't read the tote board.

Sunfire Blue Chip, looking to give driver Mark MacDonald his first Molson Pace win in 10 tries, rattled off fractions of :26.3, :55.2 and 1:23 but was caught in the stretch by the garden spot sitting Evenin Of Pleasure (Sylvain Filion) who hit the wire first in 1:50.3. The time established a new track record, shaving a tick off the previous mark set by MacDonald and Tigerama in 2008.

Sunfire Blue Chip held for second after the impressive performance. McWicked claimed the show spot while All Bets Off and P H Supercam took the final two checks. State Treasurer, vying for his fourth straight Molson title, hit some traffic trouble as the field paced through the backstretch the second time and finished sixth.

It was the first win in 2016 for Evenin Of Pleasure, a 6-year-old son of Dragon Again owned by Gestion JY Blais Inc. of Montreal, Quebec.

It was as uneventful an eight-hole trip as Missile J (Brian Sears, $2,60, part of entry) could possibly have wished for Saturday night (May 28) in winning Yonkers Raceway's $300,000 Art Rooney Pace.

A week after winning the lone, $40,000 elimination for the 26th Rooney, Missile J was blind-drawed behind the eight-ball in a field of two 3-year-old colts and six geldings.

He was in play early over a track that was moisturized by a fair amount of pre-card rain. Missile J fell into an open three-hole behind pole-sitting entrymate Artmagic (George Brennan) and Rodeo Rock (Dan Dube), who left a bit wide from post position two to make sure Missile J couldn't get around him early. Artmagic had things his own way over the "good" surface, getting a :27.3 opening quarter-mile and :56.1 intermission.

The leader then lost his closest pursuer, as Rodeo Rock gave up the ghost chasing a :27.2 third quarter (1:23.3). Missile J had taken out of third by then, getting into second and picking up the scent of the leader. Artmagic owned a 1-1/2 length lead into the lane, but his night was about to end. Missile J and a handful of closers rolled by, with Missile J drawing out to win by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:53. Second went to a much-improved Tailgunner Hanover (Ray Schnittker), with Yankee Artillery (Jordan Stratton), Artmagic and Manny (Brent Holland) settling for the smaller remainder.

For Missile J, an unraced at two, $100,000 American Ideal gelding co-owned by Ken Jacobs' KJ Stables and Wanda Polisseni's Purple Haze Stables and trained by Linda Toscano, it was his fifth (consecutive) win in eight seasonal starts.

Most people might be unhappy to see clouds block out the sun on their Memorial Day weekend, but Montrell Teague couldn't have been more overjoyed. Teague drives Wiggle It Jiggleit, a horse who has a penchant for jumping shadows on the racetrack. So when Teague saw the clouds roll in moments before heading onto the track for Wiggle It Jiggleit's start in Sunday's (May 29) $200,000 Dorothy Mullin Invitational for older male pacers at Harrah's Philadelphia, he was relieved.

And under the cover of those clouds, Wiggle It Jiggleit went out and paced the fastest mile in the 11-year history of Harrah's Philadelphia, stopping the timer in 1:47.3 as he captured the Mullin Invitational by 1-3/4 lengths over early pacesetter Rockin Ron. Rockeyed Optimist finished third.

The previous fastest mile at Harrah's Philadelphia was 1:48, a mark shared by Artistic Fella and Mister Big. The time was one-fifth of a second off the world record for a 4-year-old gelding pacer on a five-eighths-mile oval.

In the Mullin, Wiggle It Jiggleit found himself in second place behind Confederation Cup champion Rockin Ron. Teague and the 1-2 favorite made their move to challenge Rockin Ron just after reaching the race's midpoint and battled side-by-side around the final turn. From there, Wiggle It Jiggleit paced away from his rivals to post the victory for owners George Teague Jr., who is Montrell's father, and the Teague Racing Partnership. Wiggle It Jiggleit is trained by Clyde Francis.

Also on Sunday's card at Harrah's Philadelphia, Obrigado won the $200,000 Maxie Lee Memorial for older trotters by a neck over Il Sogno Dream in 1:52 and Venus Delight won the $200,000 Betsy Ross Invitational for older female pacers by 2-1/2 lengths over Katie Said in 1:50.4.

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 - 186.5; 2. Daniel Dube - 120; 3. George Brennan - 103; 4. Matt Kakaley - 100; 5. Jason Bartlett - 90.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 163; 2. Jeff Bamond Jr. - 138; 3. Peter Tritton - 134.5; 4. Rene Allard - 120; 5. Clyde Francis - 62.5.

Owners: 1. Harry von Knoblauch - 134.5; 2. Bamond Racing - 85; 3t. Burke Racing Stable - 45.55; 3t. Weaver Bruscemi - 45.55; 5. Purple Haze Stables - 44.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will take place next week at Scioto Downs, Mohawk, The Meadows, and Tioga Downs. Scioto will host the Charlie Hill for open trotters; Mohawk will feature five stakes eliminations, led by the North America Cup for 3-year-old male pacers; The Meadows will contest eliminations for the Meadows Maturity for older trotting mares; and Tioga Downs will offer the third leg of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old pacers and trotters.

Paul Ramlow

Grand Circuit Publicity Director

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