Day At The Track

Sun Stakes highlights great racing

12:44 AM 27 Jun 2019 NZST
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Atlanta,Harness racing
Atlanta, the 2018 Hambletonian winner trotted the fastest mile in Canadian harness racing history a week ago
Lisa photo

This Week: Ben Franklin Pace, Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, Max C. Hempt Memorial and James M. Lynch Memorial finals, The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Cleveland Trotting Classic, Northfield Park, Northfield, Ohio; Tompkins-Geers, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y.; and Graduate Series, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.

Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit spotlight will once again be on The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this Saturday night (June 29) as the track will host four lucrative Sun Stakes finals in the $500,000 Ben Franklin for older pacers, the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters, the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers and the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old filly pacers.

Also on Saturday, Northfield Park will host the $175,000 Cleveland Trotting Classic for 3-year-olds.

On Friday (June 28), Tioga Downs will card the $73,000 Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old male pacers and two $33,750 divisions in the Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old filly pacers.

Also on Friday, Meadowlands Racetrack will feature two $50,000 divisions in the fourth leg of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old open pacers.

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

Last time: Atlanta and Fiftydallarbill were the impressive winners of the fourth and final leg of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old trotters at the Meadowlands Friday night (June 21). The finals for both pacers and trotters take place on July 6 at the Big M.

Atlanta, who is trained by Ron Burke, trotted the mile in 1:50.4. Lisa photo.

Atlanta, the 2018 Hambletonian winner who trotted the fastest mile in Canadian harness racing history a week ago with a 1:50.2 clocking in the Armbro Flight, opted to come from off the pace in her Graduate division.

The daughter of Chapter Seven-Hemi Blue Chip picked up live cover from Muscle M Up down the backstretch after racing seventh to the opening quarter, tipped with an eighth of a mile to go, and stormed past the field to score by 1-1/4 lengths over a fast-closing Plunge Blue Chip. Crystal Fashion was third.

"I kind of wanted to race her off a helmet tonight," said winning driver Yannick Gingras. "I wanted to see what she would do. I was confident. There was never an anxious moment."

Atlanta, who is trained by Ron Burke, trotted the mile in 1:50.4 and returned $2.40 to her backers as the 1-5 public choice while staying perfect in five 2019 starts.

In the other Graduate division, Fiftydallarbill worked out a perfect pocket trip behind even-money favorite Six Pack and charged by his rival nearing the wire to record a neck victory. Phaetosive was third.

Driver Corey Callahan likely won the race during the initial quarter, extending Six Pack through an opening split of :27.4.

"I was trying to make him work a little bit into that first turn," said Callahan.

In mid-stretch, Callahan tipped the son of Swan For All-CR Dixie Chick out of the pocket with an eighth to go and wore down Six Pack to record his 18th lifetime win in 42 starts.

"I thought we were going to get by," said Callahan, who was fortunate to pick up this drive. "I really lucked out. He's gone through a couple of drivers but I really didn't have a horse for this class, so it worked out well for me."

Fiftydallarbill paid $8.00 as the second choice in the wagering for trainer Katricia Adams. His final clocking of 1:50.2 equaled Greenshoe and Atlanta for the fastest trotting mile of the year in the sport.

Complete recaps of the weekend races, including the Pocono Sun Stakes eliminations, 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 - 329; 2. Yannick Gingras - 199; 3. Jason Bartlett - 154; 4. Dexter Dunn - 141; 5 - Daniel Dube - 131.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 226; 2. Jim King Jr. - 189; 3. Tony Alagna - 128; 4. Rene Allard - 92; 5. Richard Banca - 71.

Owners: 1. Jo Ann Looney-King - 68.6; 2. Tim Tetrick LLC - 65.1; 3. Brad Grant - 57.6; 4. Richard Poillucci - 55.1; 5. J L Benson Stables - 53.2.


Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Historic Track, Meadowlands Racetrack, and Yonkers Raceway. Historic Track will feature eight Landmark Stakes for 2- and 3-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. The Meadowlands will host the Graduate Series finals for 4-year-old pacers and trotters, Meadowlands Pace eliminations for 3-year-olds, a Reynolds division for 3-year-old filly trotters, and the first leg of the Kindergarten Series for 2-year-old colt and filly pacers. Yonkers features Lawrence Sheppard eliminations for 2-year-old pacers.


Paul Ramlow

Internet News Manager

U.S. Trotting Association | 6130 S. Sunbury Rd. | Westerville, OH 43081-3909

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