Day At The Track

Scioto Downs stakes lead Grand Circuit action

02:20 AM 05 Sep 2019 NZST
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This Week: Jim Ewart Memorial and Charlie Hill, Scioto Downs, Columbus, Ohio; Simcoe Stakes, Champlain Stakes, Peaceful Way eliminations and William Wellwood Memorial eliminations, Woodbine Mohawk Park, Milton, Ontario; and Miss Versatility leg, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y.

Schedule of events: Grand Circuit harness racing action kicks off on Thursday (Sept. 5) at Mohawk Park with a pair of C$30,000 eliminations in the Peaceful Way for 2-year-old filly trotters. The Friday (Sept. 6) program offers two C$30,000 eliminations in the William Wellwood Memorial for 2-year-old colt trotters, the C$174,503 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old colt trotters and two divisions in the C$171,057 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters. On Saturday (Sept. 7), there will be two divisions in the C$189,597 Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old filly pacers, two divisions in the C$180,876 Champlain Stakes for 2-year-old colt pacers and a single division in the C$168,557 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old filly pacers.

Grand Circuit racing at Tioga Downs will be held on Friday (Sept. 6) with a $40,000 leg of the Miss Versatility for trotting mares.

On Saturday (Sept. 7) Scioto Downs will host the $440,000 Jim Ewart Memorial for older pacers and the $220,000 Charlie Hill for older trotters.

Complete entries for the races at the U.S. tracks are available at this link. Entries for the Mohawk races are available at this link.

Last time: Yonkers Raceway hosted a pair of Triple Crown races on Saturday night (Aug. 31) in the $500,000 Yonkers Trot and the $500,000 Messenger Stake. Gimpanzee (Brian Sears) rolled home to capture the Yonkers Trot in a North American and track record 1:53.3 and American Mercury went up the inside to best Bettor's Wish in the Messenger Stake in 1:51.3.

Gimpanzee (Brian Sears) rolled home to capture the Yonkers Trot in a North American and track record 1:53.3. Mike Lizzi photo.

Trained by Marcus Melander, Gimpanzee ($2.60) made his bid for the lead in the Yonkers Trot first-over prior to the :28 quarter-mile pole. The son of Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows grabbed the bit and ran off with this event, posting subsequent fractions of :56.4 and 1:25 before cruising home in 1:53.3.

Hambletonian victor Forbidden Trade (Bob McClure) closed strongly for second after an overland journey, with Soul Strong (Dexter Dunn) hitting the wire in third.

"Since day one when I brought him here he lays down and turns over like a motorcycle," said Melander. "This is an amazing race to win and I don't think there is a better 3-year-old on a half-mile track."

An undefeated Dan Patch Award winner and New York Sire Stakes champion in 2018, Gimpanzee first tasted defeat when he finished fourth and third, respectively, in the Hambletonian eliminations and final.

Gimpanzee is owned by Courant Inc. and S R F Stable. He is now 16-14-0-1 and has earned more than $1.1 million.

After taking control and leading through fractions of :27, :55.3, and 1:23.3, Bettor's Wish (Dexter Dunn) was outlasted by an inside push to the wire by American Mercury (Tyler Buter) in a time of 1:51.3 in the Messenger. U S Captain was a very game third after a first-over trip.

"He was super sharp coming into the race," said Buter. "I came off Dexter's helmet there and he kicked off the gas. I think that was the winning move."

Owned by Crawford Farms Racing, Northfork Racing Stable, Chuck Pompey and Scott Bice, American Mercury is a son of American Ideal-Tessa Hanover. The 3-year-old gelding is trained by Chris Oakes. He sports a lifetime record of 17-9-3-3 and a bankroll of $508,463. American Mercury paid $16.20 to win.

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

Grand Circuit Standings: In 2019, 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 2019 Grand Circuit awards.

Here are the leaders following this past weekend:

Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick - 806; 2. Yannick Gingras - 611; 3. David Miller - 521; 4. Dexter Dunn - 479; 5. Brian Sears - 394.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 723; 2. Tony Alagna - 371; 3. Marcus Melander - 319; 4. Jim King Jr. - 299; 5. Ake Svanstedt - 293.

Owners: 1. Fashion Farms - 192; 2. Brad Grant - 142.1; 3. Burke Racing Stable - 134.6; 4. Courant Inc. - 132.5; 5. Weaver Bruscemi - 122.1.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit racing will be taking place next week at Mohawk and Tioga Downs. Mohawk will host the finals of the Peaceful Way and William Wellwood Memorial, as well as the Canadian Trotting Classic, the Elegantimage and eliminations in the Milton, Metro Pace, and She's A Great Lady. Tioga Downs will card another leg of the Kindergarten Series for freshman trotters and pacers.

by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit


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